This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
most questionable tricks. The story was published in Novembe r 1934 and was the fifth of the Perry Mason Mysteries. It features Perry, Della Street, and Paul Drake. Mason's courtroom adversary is John Lucas, a wily depu ty district attorney. Hamilton Burger still hasn't shown up, but this is the la st story without him. He'll appear in the sixth and next story. At all starts when Rhoda Montaine visits Perry Mason's office, seeking legal adv ice for "a friend." Perry's no dummy. He knows what she's up to. Seven years ago, she was married to Gregory Moxley, a con man and rotter of the worst sort. He disappeared and she's ready to have him declared legally dead. She's just r ecently married wealthy Carl W. Montaine, and is now horrified to find that her first husband, Gregory Moxley, is still alive. Not only that, but he's seeking blackmail money to keep quiet and out of sight. Seems like a setup for a certain murder. And that's just what happens. supposed to sneak out of the house at 2 AM to meet with Moxley and pay She shows up at his apartment a few minutes late, and is right in the f his murder. It's an open-and-shut case; she evens admits she hit him fireplace poker. Rhoda's him off. middle o with the
So how's Perry gonna pull this one out of the fire? He does, of course. It mak es for a great story that's hard to put down. But about that doorbell...
A Perry Mason Mystery THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE by Erle Stanley Gardner November, 1934 CAST OF CHARACTERS Perry Mason - the most famous criminal lawyer in fiction, whose mental agil ity once again baffles the District Attorney's office... Helen Crocker - a seemingly diffident soul who is most anxious to secure in formation for "a friend"... Della Street - the perfect secretary, whose insight into human nature is a valuable asset to her boss... Paul Drake - the quick-witted private detective who gets himself a job by w orking a hunch... Nell Brinley - a secretive trained nurse and "a receiver of other people's telegrams"... Gregory Moxley - a man with a way with the women... Rhoda Montaine - a bride with pride - and ideals... Carl W. Montaine - Rhoda's husband, who doesn't make the best use of his fo rtune or his family... Doctor Claude Millsap - a lovesick physician... C. Phillip Montaine - a pedigreed multi-millionaire, Carl's father and his worst enemy...
Danny Spear - a wide-eyed, yokelish private eye... John Lucas - belligerent and wily deputy district attorney... Benjamin Crandall - something in his memory rang a bell... 1. The woman was nervous. Her eyes held the eyes of the lawyer for a moment, t hen slithered away to the booklined walls, as the eyes of an animal survey the b ars of a cage. "Sit down," said Perry Mason. He studied her with a frank scrutin y which had been developed by years of exploring the dark recesses of human mind s - not only of witnesses, but of clients. "I'm calling," she said, "on behalf of a friend." "Yes?" asked Perry Mason tonelessly. "My friend's husband has disappeared," she said. "I understand there's an e xpression known as 'legal death' that covers such matters, isn't there?" Perry Mason didn't answer her directly. "Your name," he asked, "is Helen Cr ocker?" "Yes." "Your age?" he inquired abruptly. She hesitated a moment. "Twenty-seven," she said. "My secretary thought you were a bride," the lawyer went on. She squirmed uncomfortably in the big leather chair. "Please," she said, "l et's not discuss me. After all, my name or my age doesn't make any difference. I told you that I was calling on behalf of a friend. You don't need to know who I am. I'm simply a messenger. Your fee will be paid - in cash." "My secretary," Perry Mason went on, "doesn't usually make mistakes. She fe lt quite positive you had been recently married." "What ever gave her that impression?" "Something about the way you fingered your wedding ring, as though it were new to you." She spoke with quick desperation, after the manner of one who is reciting a speech which has been learned by rote. "My friend's husband was in an airplane. It's been a good many years ago. I don't remember the exact location, but it wa s somewhere over a lake. It was foggy. Apparently the pilot was trying to come c lose to the water, and he hit the water before he knew what was happening. A fis herman heard the plane but couldn't see it. He said it sounded as though it was just a few feet above the surface." "Are you a bride?" Perry Mason asked. "No!" she said with swift indignation. "Are you," asked Perry Mason, "certain the plane was wrecked?" "Yes, they found some wreckage. I think it was what they call a pontoon - I don't know much about airplanes. They found the body of one of the passengers. They never found the body of the pilot, nor the other three passengers." "How long have you been married?" the lawyer inquired. "Please," she said, "leave me out of it. I have already explained to you, M r. Mason, that I am trying to get information for a friend." "I take it," Mason said, "there was some life insurance, and the insurance company refuses to pay until the body has been recovered?" "Yes." "And you want me to collect the insurance?" "Partially that." "What's the rest of it?" "She is wondering about her right to re-marry." "How long since her husband disappeared?" "About seven years I think, perhaps a little longer." "No one," asked Perry Mason, "has heard from the husband in the meantime?" "No, certainly not. He died... But, about the divorce." "What divorce?" the lawyer inquired. She laughed nervously. "I'm afraid I'm getting the cart before the horse,"
she said. "This woman wants to remarry. Some one told her that unless her husban d's body had been discovered she would have to get a divorce. That seems foolish . Her husband is dead, all right. It seems foolish to get a divorce from a dead man. Tell me, could she re-marry without getting a divorce?" "It's been over seven years since the disappearance?" "Yes." "You're positive of that?" "Yes. It's been more than seven years now... but it wasn't when..." Her voi ce trailed off into silence. "When what?" Mason asked. "When she first met this man she's going with," Helen Crocker finished lame ly. Perry Mason studied her with calm, contemplative appraisal and did not seem conscious of the fact that he was staring. Helen Crocker was not beautiful. The re was a touch of the sallow about her complexion. Her mouth was just a bit too long, her lips too full. But she was well-formed, and there was a sparkle to her eyes. Taken all in all, she was not hard to look at. She bore his scrutiny calm ly, a touch of defiance in her eyes. "Was there," asked Perry Mason, "anything else that your friend wanted to k now about?" "Yes. That is, she's curious about it, that's all just curious." "Curious about what?" Mason asked. "Curious about what you lawyers call the corpus delicti." Perry Mason became rigid with watchful attention. His eyes stared with cold steadiness as he asked, "What did she want to know about it?" "She wanted to know whether it was true that, no matter what evidence they had against a person, they couldn't prosecute her for murder unless they found t he body. Is that right?" "And she wanted to know," said Perry Mason, "just to satisfy her curiosity, is that it?" "Yes." "So this friend of yours," Perry Mason went on, with steady remorseless ins istence, "finds it necessary to produce the body of her dead husband in order to collect the insurance and be free to re-marry, and, at the same time, has to ke ep that body concealed in order to escape a prosecution for murder. Is that it?" Helen Crocker came up out of the chair as though she had received an electr ic shock. "No!" she said. "Certainly not! Not at all. It's just curiosity that m ade her want to know about that last. She'd been reading a book." There was a scornful smile in Perry Mason's eyes. His manner became that of a big dog who has condescended to amuse himself for a few minutes with the gamb ols of a puppy, and, having wearied himself of the purposeless playing, walks to ward a shady corner with an air of complete dismissal. He pushed back his swivel chair, got to his feet and stood looking down at her with a patient smile. "Ver y well," he said, "tell your friend if she wishes to have her questions answered she can make an appointment through my secretary. I'll be glad to discuss the m atter with her." Dismay flooded Helen Crocker's features. "But," she protested frantically, "I'm her friend. She sent me to find out. She can't come herself. You can give m e the information and I'll give it to her." Perry Mason's eyes continued to hold a smile. There were mingled contempt a nd amusement in his manner. "No," he said, "that's a poor way to get legal infor mation to the ears of a client. Tell her to come in and see me - I'll talk with her." Helen Crocker started to say something, but checked herself with a single quick intake of the breath. The lawyer walked across the office, twisted the kno b of the door that led to the corridor and held it open. "You can," he said, "ge t out this way." His face held the expression of a poker player who calls the bluff of an op ponent. But that expression underwent a sudden change as Helen Crocker elevated her chin, clamped her lips together, said, "Very well," and swished past him thr ough the open door and into the corridor. Perry Mason stood in the door waiting
almost as though thinking out loud. Those eyes dominated her face. Della Street. the one about a mysterious friend wh o wanted certain information. Perry Mason's secretary. steady and unafraid . I'm a total stranger to them. "I shouldn't have done it. I betrayed my calling.for her to turn. If I'd given her t he answers. found out her secret and lightened the load of her troubles. She knew that inwardly I was mocking her. She wouldn't even admit that. and the fees received. Poor fo ols. too much character and too much self-respect to come clean after that. won her confidence. looked up inquiringly as he opened t he door of his private office. She knew that I'd pierced her subterfuge of lies. They're worried and frightened." he mused. she'd have walked out and tried to apply the law I had stated to the situation that terrified her. but she did not once look back. "What right have I got to sit back with that ' holier than thou' attitude and expect them to come clean with a total stranger? They come here when they're in trouble. Absently. you can't blame them for resorting to subterfuges. But I got impatient with her.the eye s of one who saw far beneath the surface. "and told her she'd better tell her friend to make an appointment with me." Mason slid his right leg over the corner of her desk. because she needed help. I figured she'd weaken and tell me the story. She fooled me. They com e to me for consultations. A descending elevator cage caught her signal alm ost as soon as she jabbed her thumb against the button. whi ch brings about a more perfect companionship than where companionship is conscio usly sought." "Was she frightened?" "Yes. I wasn't playing the game." Della Street's nod of the head was a quietly emphatic assertion. Their companionshi p was such that no apology from Perry Mason for having helped himself without pr offering the cigarette case was expected. she picked up a pencil and reached for a daybook in which was entered the names and addresses of those who called. She asked me several questions. They were clear. and she had too much pride. pencil still poised over the book. When I refused her that help. Her eyes showed inquir y. the lawyer extended the cigarette case to her. "She's a b ride. "So I quit playing. all right. All personal relations are subordinated to the task of achievement." Between Della Street and Perry Mason was that peculiar bond which co mes to exist between persons of the opposite sex who have spent years together i n an exacting work where success can only be obtained by perfect coordination of effort. "Gimme. "So what?" asked Della Street. took out a cigarette and said. "It was her pride that I hurt. I could have been sympat hetic and drawn her out. "Did she tell you she'd been recently married?" "No. They need help. there was no necess . pulled a cigarette ca se from his pocket. Her back was still to Pe rry Mason as the cage door slammed shut and the elevator dropped smoothly out of sight. the amount of time they consumed." Della Street's pencil made irrelevant designs in the upper corner of the bl ank page. This one didn't. T hey usually do. 2." "What was the trouble?" "She tried to pull the old line on me. I tried to force the iss ue. Automatically. Her heels clicked down the corr idor with quick. nervous steps. She came to m e for help." Della Street moved her hand toward the cigarette case. The results would have been disastrous. She sailed out of the office and didn't once lo ok back as she went to the elevator." Mason said." "Done what?" she asked. and explained: "I gave her a chance to come clean and she didn't. The lawyer faced the calm scrutiny of those eyes. and now she's gone." she said. On the other hand. "Done what I did.
S he thought she could get the legal information she wanted without tipping her ha nd. She was going to try and be casual about it. he ran his office without regard for appearance s or conventions. The door swung open." Della Street said reassuringly. "The poor kid. In more fo rmal law offices. Clients came to him because they had to. uncordial eyes at the door. "And I le t her go.there isn't a ny charge. "She'll go to some other lawyer." he said. It might have been a client with an important case." he said slowly. and it spoke volumes fo r the manner in which Perry Mason conducted his office and lived his life that h e made no effort to change his position. jerked out a fifty dollar bill and told me to use that as a retainer. She said she wanted some advice. Perry?" he asked. "There isn't any retainer .' That . "Did a little jane in brown. "Retainer?" Mason echoed blankly. Then I ripped off the cloak of her deception so easily and so casually that she lost confidence in herself. "Hello. an effective mask. Poor kid! She came to me for help and I didn't g ive it to her. but she left a retainer. his shoulders squared. covering a keen intelligence which passed upon life in the raw. regard ed them with protruding." Mason's voice held self-reproach. a secretary would have stood in apparent awe of her employer. As a result. but Perry Mason remained with one hip resting on the corner of the desk. "God. Della Street hastily withdrew her hand. Mason realized that his business must come from new clients. and turned to face the detective. Perry Mason shook his head in slow negation. Probably she didn't sleep much last night. A shadow formed on the frosted glass panel of the outer door." Della Street's eyes were troubled." "I'll make the charge just the amount of the retainer. She wen t over this interview in her mind a hundred times. She'd rehearsed that story about her friend. He had suf ficient ability to scorn the conventions. "Did she?" "Yes. Ord inarily a man is arrested for murder but once in a lifetime. where results were subordinated to methods. it seemed a perfect scheme. mostly criminal law. God knows how m any times she'd rehearsed it." he said.fingers tha t had grown strong from pounding typewriter keys . staring into the darkness. making notes in the daybook. There was no repeat business." Della Street said. She shook her head gravely. "No. The knob clic ked. Paul Drake.ity for the secretary to ask permission to smoke during office hours." Della Street's sympathetic hand dropped to his. But Perry Mason specialized in trial law.squeezed a message of silent understanding. Perry Mason slid from the desk. "got any more work for me?" Perry Mason managed a mirthless grin. but you're greedy! I've been ke eping your whole detective agency busy for the last few months. She planned a breezy method o f approach. "I'm sorry. "This. I asked her for her name and address and the nat ure of her business. dates and places because her 'friend' had been a little hazy with her. He did what he pleased when it suited him to do it. chief. smokin g his cigarette. and I told her that I pres umed she understood there would be a charge. staring with steady. chief. rather than from those who had previou sly been acquitted. opened her pu rse. his feet spread apart." The detective nodded. Lawyer and secretary lit cigarettes fr om a single match." he said. "Spill it!" he said. "she's lost con fidence in herself. glassy eyes which held a perpetual expression of droll humor. "is service with a capital 'S. His creed was res ults. folks. head of the Drake Detective Bureau. turning the situation over and over in a mind that had become weakened by worry. and now you want more!" The detective moved away from the door. leave your office about six or seven minutes ago. with snapping black eyes. She could be hazy about names. let it click shut behind him. an awe that would have been but a th in and spurious veneer covering inner amusement and a complete lack of respect. L ying awake last night. Fingers . She became irritated.
I guess she cou ldn't take it. I thought I'd see what it was all about. I didn't get all this in the first glance. "She walked fifteen or twenty steps and then stopped." Mason made an impatient gesture. So when they got to the street. I'd have given it more of a play. You know. lights a cigarette. Perry. No matter what happens. he gave a quick glance to make sure it was the party he wanted. When he heard your door open and the jane go out. The way the thing stacked up.a woman ab out twenty-six or seven." "Then what?" Mason inquired. or else she'd changed her mind about something. I kept on walking toward her..." the detective went on. until he hits my floor. "The way I figure it." "That's all right. I figured it would be a good plan to ride down on the sa me elevator with him. The guy was tailing her all right. "she fidgeted around for a minute and th . I thought I might be drumming up a job for myself. But she didn't. so he could catch the same cage do wn.'s what comes of maintaining friendly relations with a detective bureau that's i n the same office building. "No. but. Somehow." he said . "W hen I heard this guy tearing down the stairs. I don't know what had happened. his growing interest apparent in his voice." Mason ordered. Natur ally." "You must have had binoculars and an X-ray machine. He might have been a rad io announcer droning through a list of stock exchange quotations. She's got a trim figure. He saunters over to the elevator. He was probably parked at the head of the stairs. She acted as though she was afraid of som ething. "Well. There's only one passenger in it . expressionless voice." "Cut the comedy and give me the dope. She's nervous. the same cage stops for him. "I know all about that. While she was walking back. "Oh. The man that was back of her went into a pa nic and ducked for a doorway." Mason interrupted. Paul Drake spoke in a husky. When the indic ator shows that a cage has stopped at your floor. In the first place. She didn 't even look at me as she went by. he was too nervous. and then saw him start to saunter as he hit the corridor.. he n ever gets nervous and ducks for cover. "was that this guy was a tail . Smoke seeped through his nostrils. a full-l ipped mouth and snapping black eyes. she didn't know we were living. Then he ran down the stairs to the lower corridor and sauntered along to the elevator. Give me the dope. I figured that she'd acted on impulse when she turned around and started back." the detective told him. and her nostrils are expanded a bit. wearing a brown suit. but she didn't dare to come back. and then he forgets he's in a hurry. She'd either thought of something she' d forgotten to ask you. "I'm coming out of my office on the floor below yours. Well." he remarked. utterly insens ible to the fact that his words spelled financial independence or economic disas ter to his listeners." Mason said. She looks frightened. or perhaps it was her pride.. keeping out of si ght. as though she's been running." "You think she'd spotted one or the other of you?" Mason asked. he pushes the down bell. "Go on." "I wasn't sure she'd come from your office. I don't figure him for a professional shadow. she got to arguing with herself. Her complexion isn't anything to write home about. I expected she'd tu rn and come back before she got to the elevator." Mason's eyes were hard. about half a block from the buildin g. She wanted to come back." Drake nodded. trying to make hi mself look inconspicuous." the detective drawled. She didn't even see the chap who was standing in the doorway. He'd followed the jane to your office and was waiting in the corridor for her to come out. and making such hard work of it that he stuck out like a sore thumb. this woman suddenly turns around. She turned around and started back toward me. a good tail trains himself never to show surprise. He's running fast. and keeps his eye on the indicator. I trail ed along for a ways. "If I had been. "when I he ar a man's feet coming down the stairs from this floor. "You don't have to draw me a diagram." he said.
"I wish. There was a moment's pause. Paul. What the hell have you got a private office for?" 3. The initials I'm not certain about. I might have been a client. You don't know what she wanted you to do. "When she went by. A barber pats it on with a towel and doesn't rub it in. She lives at 496 East Pelton Avenu e. and Della Street frowned.. He's not a bad looking guy . I figured that if she cam e from your office and was being shadowed. "Somethin g in your facial expression. When he does. and." The receiver made more sound. Della. Once more. from the way he wore his clothes. in the first place. I'd stopped to light a cig arette. pulled out the plug and shook her head at Perry Mason.the one who was trailing her?" "Sure. but it was listed under her name." She dropped the receiver into place. What have you listed there?. he stepped out of the doorway and took up the trail. evidently. he puts the powder on with his hands. she was in some sort of trouble. Her shoulders were sagging. I'll let you know. I'll get in touch with her.en she turned around again and started down the street once more. Thanks very much .." "But we can't do it. "The address is four ninety-six East Pelton Avenue. and I had work to do. If we accepted a retainer from her we're going to see it through. The former num ber was Drenton six-eight-nine-four-two." she said. The highest number on it is two hundred and ninety-eight." Perry Mason nodded and said grimly. That number has been disconnected. "is Helen Crocker. brown eyes. "I am looking for a telephone list ed under the name of Crocker." she said. of course." he drawled.probably a mistake in the number. . She went past me a second time without seeing me. He'd been shaved and massaged in a barber shop. I'm going to back up. A man usually doesn't p owder his face when he shaves himself. dressed in tweeds.. If anything comes of it. the receiver made squawking noises." she said.about thirty-two or thirty-three. There isn't any four ninety-six East Pelton Avenue. "You'd know this chap. "was listed under the name of Tucker. then Della Street spoke into the transmitter. "Her name. light hair." "What did he do?" the lawyer asked. she plugged in a line and spun the dial on the telephone. paused to grin back over his shoulder. "How did he know. He had that barber shop smell about him. I'd say he was something of a ladies' man." he said. "That's all right. if you saw him a gain ." she asked." ." Mason told her. Thanks for the tip. His hands were manicured." Without waiting for comment from Mason. The receiver ma de noise. The nails were fres hly polished. but I wasn't c ertain she'd come from your office. Pelton Avenue is a street only two blocks lo ng. Perry Mason stared somberly down into Della Street's flushed face. his voice preoccupied. "Drenton six-eight-nine-four-two." "What did you do?" "I didn't want to make it look like a procession. "Drenton six-eight-nine-four-two.. so I figured I'd tip you off and let it go at that." Perry Mason frowned thoughtfully. She looked as though she'd lost the last friend she had in the wor ld. She didn't see the chap who had been sticking in the doorway. and the telephone number is Drenton 68942. "she called to consult me and then got cold feet and didn't. and there was powder on his face. "that I was holding your hand? I moved it bef ore the door opened. Della Street said. "you two would quit holding hands in the outer office and looking innocent when the door opens. she didn't expect to be tailed. What's her address?" Della Street took a sheet of yellow paper from the file. probably. was disconnected more than thirty days ago. "In a way she's a client of mine." "Just a shot in the dark. I'm going to give that girl a br eak.. find out what it is and either give her her retainer back or help her." Mason squinted his eyes." The detective moved toward the door. you'd like to know it.
A bottle of tablets marked 'IPRAL. if you want to. turned and jerked open the door. "One .(Signed) GREGORY. . Our caller left a purse behind her. GOLDEN EAGLE CAFE. He speared the elevator signal with his forefinger. holding the pencil poised. "Come in. but she raised s tartled eyes to the lawyer. I'm going out. polished them one at a time. Mason reclined in the cushions as the cab lurched forward. Whenever she calls see that I have a chance to speak with her. "One twenty-eight East Pelton Avenue." He stuck the purse into his side pocket. picked up the other articles with his handkerchief-c overed fingers. went on in the same droning monoton e: "Coin purse containing one hundred and fifty-two dollars and sixty-five cents . taking a handker chief and removing any fingerprints which might have been on the weapon. dropped them back into the purse. closed his eyes." he said. Perry Mason pulled it out. T he telegram he held for a moment then thrust it into his pocket. mounted three stairs to a stoop and held an insistent thumb against the bell button. It was heavy.32 caliber Colt automatic. Barrel seems to be clea n. Mason walked rapidly up a cement walk. closed the mechanism. The pencil made p othooks over the pages." She jumped to wordless obedience. Mason stopped to stare." he sai d. 25 WEST FORTY-THIRD STREET. Go so far as to tell her I'm sorry for the way I treated her. soft-nose d bullets. Della." Perry Mason said. She forgot about leaving th at retainer." Della Street's pencil flew over the pages of the notebook. That girl's in trouble. pulling out the leaf of the desk in a matter-of-fact manner. opening the notebook. folded the message so that the name and address were visible through the tissue-covered "window" in the envelope. bringing notebook and pencil. "what d id that girl want with a gun?" "What does any one want with a gun?" Perry Mason inquired. "Magazin e clip for automatic. "if she comes back. I'll give you a ring if I'm not back within an hour. No odor of powder discernible. "Wait her e. He weighed it speculativel y in his hand. I want y ou to inventory the contents as I open it. filled with cartridges containing steeljacketed. "That seems to be all . folded his arms across his chest and remained in that position for the twenty-o dd minutes that it took the cab to make the run to East Pelton Avenue. make her wait. one c ompact. What I'm really afraid of is that she may not come back. pulled his hat down on his forehea d.' A package of Spud cigarettes. a package of matches bearing advertising imprint. "Della. A brown purse had slipped down between the cushions. tapped on the bottom with his fingers." "Suppose she won't wait?" "Make her wait. Telegram reading as follows: AWAITING YOUR FINAL ANSWER FIVE O'CLOCK TO-DAY EXTREME LIMIT . only the cl asp visible.'" Perry Mason's voice ceased the droning inventory. Tell her anything you want to.' One pair brown gloves. strode to the door. A cartridge in the firing chamber of the gun. Perry Mason's voice droned on mechanically. one lipstick. There was the sound of steps ap proaching the door. then walked to the chair an d bent forward. She ca me to me for help. "Good heavens!" she said. number three-eight-nine -four-six-two-one. one telegram addressed to R. I'm going to open it. and said over his s houlder. He drop ped the gun into the purse." he told the driver as the cab swung in to the curb. Montaine. His pounding steps echoed along the corridor. chief?" "I don't know. glowered savagely at the big leather chair in which the young woman had sat while she told her story. "Brin g a notebook." He snapped the magazine clip back into the gun." he said. repla ced the ejected shell in the firing chamber. Della Street looked up from the notebook." He strode through the door." "How long will you be gone. Light streaming in from the windo w caught something metallic. Mason took the telegram from his pocket.Perry Mason jerked open the door of his private office. caught a down cage and signaled a cab a t the sidewalk. "One white lace-bordered handkerchief." he remarked. He held the purse upside down over the desk. 128 East Pelton Avenue. "She'll get in touch with us again somehow.
You signed for it and delivered it to R." she observed. She had no make-up on her face. "as that in this notebook. "Nell Brinley" under the "R. Nell Bri nley came to the doorway and stood staring at him. "Telegram for R. Perry Mason moved past her. "I'm the branch manager. "I'm sorry." "No. Her face went white to the lips." "You were signing for telegrams." "In the same handwriting. Mason's voice showed grim insistence. whipped out a pencil. I was going this way on another matter. "and sit down." Mason told her. "Now." "I don't know anything. Montaine. I'v e been expecting a telegram." Mason took the telegram from his pocket. as though afraid either to en ter the room or to leave him in sole possession. Montaine." He took a notebook from his pocket. "is that of R. "I want to talk with you." Mason told her. "You're not a regular messenger. "I'm telling you the truth." "I did no such thing. I was going to give it back to you.Nell Brinley. holding the telegram in his hand. "Sometimes the messengers don't understand these things. then answered. isn't it?" "Yes." she said. "You'll have to sign. If it hadn't been for me." "Look here. stepped into the liv ing room with calm assurance. Mon taine. I'm the branch manager. spread it out on his knee." said Perry Mason." said Perry Mason as she handed back the book and pencil. had not ripened into sus picion. then came toward him. "as a matter of fact. A young woman with tired eyes regarded Perry Mason in expr essionless appraisal. "I'm checking on the activities of R." Mason insisted." "The records show that you signed for it. "Sign on the top line. She nodded her head. Montaine. Montaine?" She hesitated a moment. "Wait a minute. I'm friendly with R." She wrote "R. was attired in a house dress and slippers." she objected." "The signature." Maso n said. Suspicion and panic filled the eyes of the woman who stood in the doorway. Montaine. Tell me exactly what you know about her. "that was received here at nine fifty-three thi s morning. Montaine" she had p reviously signed. "Just who do you think you are?" she asked in a voice that she strove to make vibrant with i ndignation. Montaine. I thought that it must be mine. "Then you'll have to sign your own name below that of R. walked along the corridor. I thought the name R. The young woman's eyes dropped to the address. glancing past Mason to t he cab that waited at the curb." she said. but which quavered with fear." he told her. Monta ine. which I saw you sign and under which appears your signature . sat down in a chair and crossed his legs." "I haven't had to before. I was going to read it." She drew back the hand which contained the notebook. "Try again. hesitated for an appre ciable interval and then wrote." he pointed out. That's yo ur name. As a matter of fact." She stood still for a matter of seconds. "I thought I could get the wire here quicker than by messenger. "I'm coming in." . as yet." Perry Mason told her. "This i s the telegram." handed the book back to him." he told her.The door opened. handed both penci l and notebook to the young woman. Montaine. Montaine was a mistake. "are you R. The eyes regarded him with curiosity that." Mason's laugh was scornful." Mason told her. "Come in. "I'm receiving messages for R." "I don't have to." He slipped the telegram back into his side pocket before the snatching fing ers could grab it from his hand." Perry Mason indicated the notebook.
Rhoda wanted to get some telegrams and some mail at this address. "I don't know anything about her. I'm telling you the truth. "it becomes necessary for me to disclose my real identity." Mason commented dryly. Nell Brinley lowered her eyes. you know that. I'm going to ask you to get your things on and come to the district attorney's office with me for questi oning." "You're a nurse?" "Yes. "It's a woman. she looked up and said." she said. but she doesn't know it. I've known her for years."You don't even know whether it's a man or a woman." "You mean on account of her husband? Married women shouldn't have secrets f rom their husbands . "I'm a nurse. I told her it would be quite all right." "Why not?" "If you knew Rhoda." . why don't you get in touch with her?" Nell Bri nley asked." "How did you get this telegram to her?" "She called up and asked if there was any mail. then?" "What?" "About her being a bride. "No." she challenged. "Rhoda is o ne of the most secretive women I have ever known in my life." Mason said." "Oh. I am a detective working for the telegraph company." he told her." "Of course. gasping intake of breath. "If you're a friend of hers. She came out and got it. no!" she said. We kept this little house together. She liv ed with me here before her marriage." "What's your telephone number?" "Drenton nine-four-two-six-eight. "That's what I'm trying to do. "I'm very friendly with Rhoda." "How long's she been married?" "Less than a week. "She hasn't given me the address." she said. "I'm going to tell you the truth. "Oh." "What was her maiden name?" "Rhoda Lorton." "I'm going to find her through you. Nell Brinley shook her head and said. That's al l that I know about him. "No." "Where does she live now?" Mason asked. There have been co mplaints of unauthorized persons receiving and reading telegrams.especially brides. Mason said nothing." She gave a quick." Ma son's laugh was scornful." asked Perry Mason. "No. are you?" she asked. I lived with her fo r more than a year. laughing. I know that his name is Montaine." Abruptly." "And why." "You gave her this telegram?" "No. you'd know where to find her. I'm a friend of Rhoda's. you'd know. and yet I don't know the man she married or where she lives. I told her about the telegr am." "Know his first name?" Mason asked. thinking." Mason said doggedly. but it's a felony under our state law. letting her th ink the matter over. I gave her the telegram. "couldn't Rhoda receive telegrams at her own house?" "She couldn't. "I'm acting for Rhoda." "If you're a friend of hers." said Perry Mason." "How do you know his name is Montaine?" "Only because Rhoda had the telegrams come here addressed to that name. You probably d on't realize it." "Then. "You're not a detective from the telegraph company." "It always helps. watching her narrowly.
" "You'll call me again to pick up what information I've received?" she asked ." "It's the same telegram you delivered to her this morning. that he has something of the greatest importance to te ll her. "Fine. I was special nurse on an operative case. When yo u get the right initials from the marriage license. as the cab driver pulled open the door of the cab. Keep all of this stuff under cover. but how did you get it?" "That. "In about twenty minutes. She's nev er given me her full confidence. She's very queer. "but it's going to if I can't get in touch with her. her eyes on Mason's pocket. Tell her that she left her purse in my office. when he heard Della Street's voice on the line. in which the name of the bride was Rhoda L orton. Have him get in touch with the Colt arms people and see if he can trac e the number on that gun. "It's addressed to Rhoda. Tell her that when Rhoda Montaine comes in she is to call you at once. Check over the marriage licenses. jumped inside. and." "When she rings up. He gav e the number of his office."A trained nurse?" "Yes. what do I do when she calls?" "When she calls. held his mouth close to the transmitter and cupp ed his fingers over the hard rubber mouthpiece so as to muffle his voice." Mason said. very secretive. ring up Nell Brinley at Drenton nine-four-two-six -eight. "is a professional secret. moved rapidly down the steps. Do you think you can remember that message?" "Yes. "I am the man who left you the message for Rhod a Montaine to go back to the attorney she called on earlier in the day. "Do you think Rhoda will call up again?" he asked. Stop at the first place where there's a telephone. check up with the telephone company and see if there's a telephone in his name. tell her who you are. Have Paul Drake send one of his men to the water. here's something else f or you." "Why. The cab driver swung toward the curb in front of a candy store which exhibi ted a public telephone sign." she said." "Okay. "has anything happened?" "No. G ive her a fake name." Mason said." Nell Brinley came to the door and stood staring at the cab as it lurched into m otion and swung around the corner. a nd." Mason said. There's some thing in her life that she's concealing." "When was your last case?" "I came in yesterday." Mason got up." he told her." "You're called out on cases?" "Yes. . Della. chief. said. "How will this do?" he asked. dro pped a coin into the telephone. Now. chief. "Okay. "I know that. Have Drake put a man on addr esses and see if he can run down the address of the bridegroom from the marriage license." Mason hung up. Tell her that it is a message from Gregory. light and gas companies and see if they have made a service connection for a Montaine recently. You've the number there in your notebook. "Probably. I want to get a line on that woman. across the strip of cement sidewalk. but he banged the front door. Find out if a marriage license was iss ued to a man by the name of Montaine. "tell her that she must go back to the law yer she called on to-day. She called some questions after him." he said." she asked. but I'm not sure. Tell her that I want to see her at once. "Around the corner. "Snappy!" he said." "Who are you?" Mason's smile was baffling. returned to the cab. Mason strode into the candy store. "Take a pencil and notebook." "Okay. I don't know just what it is. smiled. How about the telegram?" she asked. The cab stopped." He walk ed through the corridor. "Yes." he said.
The man behind the short counter leaned forward." "Don't you think." "No." "What is it?" "The number of Nell Brinley. "Would you like to wait here or come back?" "I'll be back. mopped perspiration from his forehead. She just took the last two num bers off of Nell Brinley's telephone number and put them on the front part of th e number." Della Street pointed out." He hung up the receiver. A placard announced that cards and stationery were pr inted while the customer waited. That will bring her in. He sa t at the counter. Perry Mason stared speculatively at the glass o blong. "She must have recollected where she left it by this time . Montaine. The number that Rhoda Montaine left for us to call when she was in the office is Drenton six-eight-nine-four-two. "I like this one. "Good girl. "to go as strong as he has to in order to get results. Della." Mason said. "there's something I thought you shoul d know. "you stick around. L." Perry Mason chuckled. The address was Chicago. until I give you another buzz ." Della Street remarked. "I should have known about the retainer. The license said she was a widow . It was made within the last week. Approachi . "The offices will be closing. is Drenton nine-four -two-six-eight." "Not even when she knows she left her purse?" "No. It will fool even an expert. Montaine at twenty-three hundred nine Hawthorne A venue. Montaine. chief? Aft er all." "Tell him. and let minutes s lip by unnoticed." he said. she's afraid to come back because of the gun. I'm going to see this thing through. it wasn't your fault. I've apparently accepted a retainer to represent a client. If this girl calls in. indicated on e of the cards. adjacent to another stal l which dispensed orange drinks." Mason said. Tell her we know her real name and address.' Down in the left-hand corner put 'Insurance and Inve stments. one twenty -eight East Pelton Avenue. "I can give you a quick drying ink." Della Street asked. "It 's a Carl W." "Has he heard about the gun yet?" "Not yet. That must mean that she's pretty familiar with that telephone number." "How much?" asked Perry Mason." "Okay." Mason instructed. The printer had a small stall between skyscrapers. Drake wants to know how strong you want him to go on expenses. learned that Della had received no message as yet from Rhoda Montaine. The man's ink-smeared forefinger indicated a schedule of samples and prices. and received t he stack of freshly printed cards." "By the way. At length he crossed the street to the printer." he said. " he said." the printer sai d." "It's after four. handing Mason his change." Mason said. She must have lived at that address and used that telephone before she was married. "Stick around until you hear fr om me again. He expects to hear before five. "Paul Drake has uncovered the marriage license.'" "It'll take me just a minute or two to get the type ready.4. "that will look like engraving.Rhod a Lorton. You didn't know about the retainer. Illinois. An oblong glass frame contained samples of the various types of printing." "But she knows where to come to get you. I'm going t o represent her." Della Street told him. He crossed to a drug store. "that you've done enough. be sure to hold her." "She won't come back. Drake's got about all the official information he can get for to-night." Mason told her. Mason took a bill from his pocket. and walked briskly around the corner to the main office of the telegraph company. "Make it 'R. that you told me to call. his manner that of one who is debating whether to buy or not to buy. Anyhow. but there's a water an d gas connection for a Carl W. telephoned his offi ce. because she rattled it off when I asked her. sipped a chocolate malted milk meditatively. He returned to the drug store called his offi ce again.
"You're Moxley?" Mason asked." "And now. Mason pressed the button on Apartment B . in turn. "I'm afraid I don't know you. left the telegraph office and summoned a cab. and a gen ial manner. his clothes were flawless and he wore t hem with distinction. The room was comfortably furnished. "Very well." he said. Perry Mason scrawled a telegram. The influx of more modern apartment houses on either side had spelled disaster for the made-over private residence. By the time the cigarette was consumed. I understand your company requires the senders to leave their addresses on file in connection with any wire sent. 316 Norwalk Avenue. lit a ciga rette and watched the passing scenery with thought-slitted eyes. "Good afternoon. were vacant." he said." He paid for the telegram. what can we do for you?" "I received this telegram on an important business deal and I've lost the a ddress. Certainly is hot. Montaine." the young woman said. opposite the pasteboard slip on which appeared the words "Gregory Moxley. Mont aine. For a swift instant the man stiffened as though bracing himself for a blow." "Oh." The young woman picked up the card." "Thank you very much. Across fifteen feet of space loomed the side of ." A hand shot out. The man was s ome thirty-six years of age. He climbed the stairs. addressing it only to Gregory. and Mason pulle d one of the freshly printed cards from his pocket. cordial clasp. "IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS NECESSITATE INDEFINITE POSTPONEMENT CALL ING IN PERSON TO EXPLAIN. "I would like. and wrote the name "Moxley" after the word "Gregory. Then the booming geniality was once more apparent in his voice. I am wondering if you can find the address of the sender by taking this key number and running down your records?" "I think so. for a larger apartment. watchful eyes. Gregory Moxley. taking both his card and the message an d walking toward the back of the room. although the furniture was rather old-f ashioned. "R." He signed the telegram "R. Come on in. the cab pulled in at the curb. "I'll have to ask you to fill in your addr ess. Montaine. "Please send this telegram. Mr." he said. She came to him. I was expecting a visitor who had an appointment with me. As the small numbered blocks of Norwalk Avenue had become choi ce apartment sites." he said. He leaned back in the cushions." and waited for the clerk to return. heard the sound of motion in the corridor and t hen nodded to a man whose figure loomed at the head of the stairs. apparently. come in and sit down." Almost immediately there was the sound of an electric buzzer releasing the door catch. leaving the address blank." he said. spread the purloined telegram flat on the counter and frowned. Mr. A long flight of stairs loomed ahea d of him. What's your name? " "Mason. a ready smile. Perry Mason noticed that three of the apartments. 128 East Pelton Avenue.ng the counter." "Glad to know you. Perry Mason pulled a telegraph blank toward him." he said. gripped Perry Mason's hand in a firm. the lawyer pushed open the door." adde d below it "Colemont Apartments. with quick. He emanated an atmosphere of physical well-being and prosp erity. "Yes. "Oh." "You mean Rhoda?" asked Perry Mason. "a little special service. "then I was right after all. took a pencil f rom his pocket. She returned within less than five minutes with the name and address of the sender written on the message in a pencil notation. Mason studied the notation for a moment. Mason. and wrote. There's some key number on this telegr am. Come on up. certainly. The Colemont Apartments was a huge two-story building that had at one time been a residence. indicated a chair. "Th ree sixteen Norwalk Avenue. The windows were open. Despite the heat of the day. the owners had remodeled the huge residence into four apartm ents. isn't it?" He led the w ay to a library. H e looked up and caught the eye of an attendant. In a short time it would be torn down to ma ke way." smiled the attendant. nodded. nodded and smiled.
Moxley gave it a frowning glance of annoyance. "I presumed as much. Personally." "I mean that I came here as a friend and not as a lawyer.." he asked." he said. read it. doesn't it?" he asked." Moxley grinned good-naturedly." "I thought I might be. He unfolded the message. The look of genial urbanity vanished. "What did you come to discuss?" Mason stared steadily at the man's watchful eyes." said Moxley. I don't like these big places where there's a manager constantly sno oping around. looked at Perry Mason." Mason remarked casually. It was the grin of one who has learned to ta ke the world philosophically." Moxley agreed." Moxley took a deep breath. "it won't be long before they tear this apartment down and put up one of those big apartments here. "Yes. a rustle of paper. "I came. "that it's inevitable. and stood where he could see both the corridor and Perry Mason. "Now." he said. "I presume. Moxley seemed undecided. "You told me that before. "Hardly. On days like this it makes an oven out of my apartment. apparently without interest. Moxley frowned. then looked suspiciously at Perry Mason." Mason said. Mason sat down. "Did you come here to discuss real estate?" he asked. Rhoda didn't know that I was coming." Moxley nodded. There were steps on the stairs. and an air of impersonal efficiency. accepting the bitter as well as the sweet." "I'm a friend of hers. "This message." "I came here as a friend.a modern apartment house. tearing the envelope open. Mason joined in his laugh. walked with quick. The smile faded from his face." the lawyer went on. "She doesn't. "It raises hell with both my privacy and my ventilation." said a man's voice." "I don't understand." Moxley had lost all of that veneer of quick friendliness. "you are telling me something. He got up from his chair without a word of excuse." The words were interrupted by the sound of a harshly strident bell which ex ploded the hot silence of the afternoon. I didn't suppose you ha d." he said. Moxley pressed a button. "That's why I took pains to tell you that I came as a friend." he said." he said." . reached mechanicall y for his cigarette case." Perry Mason said. The lines of hi s face were grim. "coming here to join you?" Mason shook his head. "That other apartment house shuts out some of your ven tilation. his eyes studying Mason's face in thoughtful ap praisal." he said." Perry Mason said." "I'm an attorney. Rhoda didn't reta in me.." "Uh huh. "as a friend of Rhoda. Moxley walked back to the room." "You seem to be the only tenant in this place. stood with his right hand resting on the knob of the drawer in t hat table. His eyes hardened into speculative appraisal. "Why?" "Because she didn't know I was coming. I like small apartm ent houses. His eyes were har d and watchful. I don't like it. "Was any one. purposeful steps across the r oom to a table. "is from Rhoda." "That also is no news to me. "Go on. and stood waiting while an el ectric buzzer released the door catch." "I suppose. "say anything about you. "Telegram. then steps going down the stairs and the slamming of the front door. crossed his legs." Mason said. walked on n oiseless feet to the doorway. Moxley's laugh was quick and contagious." "She wouldn't. The bell rang again. "tell me the rest of it. "Who is it?" he called in a voice that ha d entirely lost its booming cordiality.
" Mason said. his right hand remaining on the knob of the dr awer." "I was just wondering. "You've got a lot to learn yet. He picked up the receiver with his left hand." he co mmented. watchful hostility. "telling me?" "I intended to help Rhoda Montaine. That make s a presumption of death. hesitated for several seconds. but seemed to be held in poised readiness. "So I can help her." Moxley said. "may not be the same. "I tell you my story?" "Suppose you do. for instance. Moxley said." "Rhoda's name before she was married was Lorton. I can't get in touch with Rhoda. raised the rece iver to his ear." Moxley said." "Are you. he'd still be her husband. Moxley wet his lips wi th the tip of his tongue." Moxley remarked. did she?" "I have told you." Perry Mason's eyes were purposeful. "is a nice kid. "You seem to know a lot. but had only disappeared for the statutory period of seven years. "Rhoda Montaine. "So Rhoda spilled her guts to you." Mason told him." After a moment." "Such as?" "Such as not butting into things that don't concern you. I decided to ge t in touch with you. Moxley's laugh was sneering. "if perhaps Rhoda might have been mistaken." "You told me that before." "About a week ago Rhoda Montaine was married to Carl W." Perry Mason said." Perry Mason said." Moxley said. clamped the last two fingers of the hand against the rubber mouthpiece." inquired Moxley."Then why did you come?" "Simply as a matter of personal satisfaction. "the exact truth." A telephone began to ring with mechanical regularity." "For a friend. "What you're willing to do and what you're goi ng to do. no longer the hail-fellow-well-met. "Her application for license to marry says that she was a widow. Montaine. "you talk like a damn fool." "Go on. Something happened which caused me to interest myself in Rhoda. If." Mason said." "I don't have to answer your question. "Not now. It doesn't make any difference what it was. the man she married hadn't really d ied. "I've g ." "So you can help her?" asked Moxley. "for a friend." "That's no news to me. "For a lawyer." Moxley's left hand drummed steadily on the top of the table. a steady insistence. If the man showed up. metallic noises." he said." "You're still not answering my question. "you do a lot of talking. The ready friendliness of his manner ha d evaporated into a cold. I want you to tell me where I can find Rhoda." "Go ahead and tell me." "Mistaken about what?" "About being a widow. Unfortunately." Moxley was no longer the genial h ost. I knew you were in touch with her. It's only a presumption." he said. "If you're not goin g to tell me anything then I'm going to tell you something." he remarked. his face utterly without expressi on." "I'm ready to do a lot of listening." Mason told him. The receiver made rasping." "I'm an attorney. "Possibly I do. The first name of the former husband was Gregory." "What do you want?" "I want to know just what it is you're trying to get out of Rhoda." Moxley's eyes were glittering now with hostility. Therefore. "What is it?" he asked. the telephone to his lips. His right hand had left the knob of the drawer. "Suppose." "Go on. "I'm learning more every minute. then walked warily arou nd Mason to the telephone." Mason shrugged his shoulders. alive a nd well.
. "I've told you what I wanted to say. "was sold to Claude Millsap. Moxley's face twisted with rage. "aren't you getting in rather deep on this thing?" Perry Mason's tone was once more good-natured and light-hearted. "telephone my office!" Moxley slammed the receiver back into position. "we've chased back the records on Rhoda Montaine. the receiver in his left. I told you. "Rhoda. The clerk studied him for a moment. three sixteen Norwalk Avenue. Della. Perry Mason left the telephone and approached the drug counter. "A hypnotic. "I'm earning my retainer. Moxley came to the head of the stairs. who gave the address as n ineteen twenty-eight Beechwood Street. Moxley grabbed the telephone in his right hand.. stepped into his cab. turned his back on Moxley and walked slowly down the long flight of stairs. "I want to talk with her." she said. In fact. Clau de Millsap. "We've traced the gun that was in the purse. "Anything new?" he asked. Can I?." "Want him to put a shadow on Moxley?" "No." "Would it act like knock-out drops?" "Not at all .in any proper dose. "Yes. "but I want him to find ou t all he can about a man named Gregory Moxley. "If that's Rhoda." Mason nodded. He doubled his right hand into a fist." she cautioned . wife of Gregory Lorton. as though weighing two possible plans of . but a restfu l slumber. but you can draw your own conclusion s. and Gregory Lorton died in February of nin eteen hundred and twenty-nine of pneumonia. I tell you. His name is Mason. The attending physician was Dr. restful and deep slumber... She was Rhoda Lorton. "That's all so far. He signed the death certificate." "What's a hypnotic?" "A species of sedative.ot visitors." Perry Mason gave a low whistle." "What did you find out?" "The gun. In proper doses there's no after effect. "Thanks." "I'll say you are!" she exclaimed. opened the door of the cab. It induces sleep." he said. started to hang up.." p ut on his hat." "Where does Dr. who lives in the Colemont Apartme nts. "Get back!" Mason continued to advance. Perry Mason frowned speculatively. Millsap live?" "The Teresita Apartments ." Della Street's voice showed she was worried." "He can lay off on the other stuff.. "What's 'Ip ral'?" he asked. Mason slammed the front door shut. chief." Perry Mason jumped to his feet." he said. not a drugged sleep." Mason said. "Anything else?" he asked. He's a lawyer. I sa y you should. said. "I'm havin g the time of my life. shouted. "Where to?" he asked.." He strode toward the man at the telephone. His face twisted into a sna rl of hatred. "You've got no business butting into this. The cab driver ju mped to the sidewalk. 5. "that won't be necessary." he said. He emerged from the drug store whistling light-heartedly. stood staring with silent host ility at the broad shoulders of the departing attorney. because Moxley has got a brittle disposition and I don't know just what his tie-up in the case is.. turned away from the counter. "Listen. I'm not mentioning any names. it would be very inadv isable.nineteen twenty-eight Beechwood Street.." Mason shrugged his shoulders. not now." Mason said. "Damn you!" he said. it induces a natural. drove three blocks to a drug store and telephon ed Della Street." called Perry Mason in a loud voice." she said. Drake wants to know how much work you want him to do.. You should know who the visitor is." "What else?" he asked.
"Because I couldn't reach a decision. "That is one of the thing s you were going to tell me when you called at my office. and the n leaving me alone. "I've been trying to put mysel f in a position to help you." she said." she said. "Look here. "Who's Doctor Millsap?" She caught her breath in quick consternation. I've been getting around." she said bitterly." Her eyes were glittering points of black indignation. "Well." "Under certain circumstances he is. "Let's not work at cross purposes. "I didn't know you'd left a retainer. I started to drive out as quick ly as I could. I'v e been trying to get in touch with you all day. "I've got your purse." she explained vag uely. held up his hand. I didn't want to answer them. after a man has disappeared for seven years. "That." Mason observed." "You can't help me." He extended a bill. I started back after it. he's presumed to be dead. The lawyer's first words were as casual as though he had been expecting her ." "What one thing do you want to know?" "Whether. fi ve in others." There was vast relief on her countenance. buddy." "Why didn't you keep your five o'clock appointment?" he asked." asked Perry Mason. "except by telling me the one thing. the body swaying far over on the springs with the momentum of the turn. Mason stepped from the curb. " "What did you find out?" "Plenty. Why won't you tell me now?" "I wasn't going to tell you. "A woman driving." The lawyer stared at her speculatively. "a subsequent m arriage would be legal." "I presume. you did!" Mason laughed. we nt to see Nell Brinley." "You would have if I hadn't hurt your pride. Rhoda Montaine's fl ushed face stared at Perry Mason." she told him." "How much later?" "A lot later. "I know it. "is none of your business. Abruptly." he said. "Did you call it help ing me to bust in on Gregory?" He nodded. "you've rai sed the devil. and then decided to let it go. which the cab driver took. "Sorry. You've spilled the beans now." she said." Mason's shoulders gave an eloquent shrug. staring in puzzled speculati on at the woman in the coupe." . and the eyes of the cab driver followed those of Mason. I purloined your telegram. "is all." she said. The Chevrolet swer ved toward the curb. Mas on's eyes focused on it. Three blocks down the street a car swung into Norwalk Ave nue. When I found out about it. "Oh." "Every bit of it. The car jerked to a dead stop. and said. I telephoned him. "What's more. I did what I could to help you." he said." "Well. Mason jerked open the door of the car. I figured you' d open it and ask a lot of questions. "How did you find out about him?" she asked after a moment. What were yo u doing at Gregory's?" Perry Mason turned to the cab driver. "Sure is coming." he said. Tires protested as brakes were applied. climbed in beside Rhoda Montaine and grinned at her. "Does your husband know him?" "No. "does he want?" "That. It's seven years in some cases. to tell him that he 'd have to wait until later." he told her." he said." "What. yes.campaign in his mind. As soon as I knew you were there." he admitted. started detectives to work getting all the dope I could. "you went through my purse. "A friend." said the cab driver." he said. "I knew it before I'd gone half a block from you r office. "Then.
Carl is his son. "Oh. But the idea of his son marrying a nurse came as a shock to the old man." "Did you tell the police?" Mason asked. you know . no! If you understood about his background you wouldn't ask." Mason said. patted it reassuringly." he asked. I gave it to him to buy some stock. said. "you've got a lot on your mind." Mason's eyes narrowed. your first husband. Well. "I don't dare to. I wouldn't dare to tell you the truth!" "Does your husband know about any of this?" Mason asked." "Was that what the gun was for?" "No. I gave him the money. Perry Mason's hand dropped to her shoulder. If Gregory Moxley is really Gregory Lorton. her lips quiveri ng. "After the marriage?" "No. It was the impersonal gesture of the protective male. Montaine. "Look her e. "why you wanted to know about the corpus delicti?" Again she was silent. "I love him so. You need some one to confide in. but I've seen his letters to Carl. He had that air o f sophisticated deference that captivates a kid. and I got the police to look over the records of acciden ts. he took it and skipped out." he said. He's never seen me. "Good heavens. I can't even understand." she said." he invited." "You've met the father?" Mason asked. Slow tears welle d up in them.Mason's face was lined with sympathy as he slowly shook his head. "but that's only a presumption. "Did you give him the money. I nursed him when he was sick. innocent and i mpressionable. He went out and never came back.young. " "All right. I can help you. I was frantic.and nine years older than I was.one of those old fogies who traces his ancestry back to the Revolution. "ever hear of C. It's something that has driven m e to the verge of suicide." "I can't tell you about my marriage to Gregory. Her lips quivered. and he showed up alive and well. "I had a little money saved up." "Go on." he said. "That was ghastly. myself. Phillip Montaine disapproved of me. and I telephoned all of the hospitals." "Why?" "I can't tell you. "you wouldn't understand." She looked at him with eyes that were dark with suffering. Mason pressed his finger into her shoulder. Mrs. He was attractive ." she asked. Suppose you tell me the truth and the whole truth?" "I can't. what about him?" "He's a very wealthy man . C." she said. "Not about the money." Mason prompted as she paused. People warne d me against him. No man would understand. It happened when I was just a kid . what's his background?" "Did you. "or did he s teal it?" "He stole it. Phillip Montaine of Chicago?" "No. She shook her head. very. I was. "I'm sorr y." "Did he know Carl was going to marry you. I'll never forget t he way he kissed me just before he beat it with all of my money. and all that sort of stuff." Mason inquired. He had a drug habit and his folks would have died if they'd known. It was a long time before I realized what had really happened. "Everything. you r marriage to Carl Montaine is voidable. before the wedding?" "No. it's terrible. very much. "Was that. and I thought it was just jealousy and envy." . I thought he had been in an accident of some kind. He told me about a wonder ful bargain he could get by picking up some securities from a friend who was har d up.that is. "Tell me about him. We ran away and were married." "Go on." "Why can't you tell me?" "It's something I don't dare tell any one." she said simply." "Why not have him arrested?" Mason asked. I'm a trained nurse." "You intended to kill Moxley?" She was silent.
He's weak. That first marriag e killed something in me. Your husband disappeared.I don 't know. No matter how sympathetic you might be. I thought you'd fall for that line about the friend who wanted the legal inform ation. Then I didn't dare to go back after it. he hasn't a strong will power. but I couldn't bear the thought of facing you." "What. I could never love any man the way I could have loved my first husband." Mason said slowly. After that I didn't want that same kind of a marriage. You married in good faith ." She went on nervously. He thinks family means everything." "Wouldn't you have told me if I'd been more sympathetic when you called at my office?" "Good heavens." Mason told her." she said." she said. and yet I didn't have the nerve. After all. "and yet you love him?" "I love him. that I went down in the elev ator and walked for half a block before I realized that I'd left my purse behind . I'd rehearsed it in front of a mirror. what I wanted to find out w as about the legality of my marriage to Carl. He's nervous. You'd h ave to understand what I went through. I can stand anything if that marri age is only legal. I suppo se there's a lot of the maternal in my love now. realizing what she was saying. I was so afraid." Mason said. He's still we ak . "No." There was sympathy in the eyes of the lawyer. I decided to let it wait unt il afterwards. "I can't tell you all . She nodded vigorously. in tho ughtful speculation. magnetic men who sweep me off my feet. I was never so afraid in my life as I was when I left your office." "If. And t hen you saw that I was lying. I can't explain it." she said." She flushed. You're telling m e the things that are on your mind. Perhaps it's a starved mother complex. don't you think you're wasting your affection on him?" "That's just what I've been trying to make clear. it will break my heart. I love h im and perhaps one reason is because he's weak. "more than anything in the world. I started b ack. I'd gone over it hundreds of times . I knew just what I was going to say and just what you were going to say. He's very impressionable." "Now. "Does your husband. That was a terrible shock. "I never intended to tell you this much.oh. I've had enough of strong. "appreciate that kind of love?" "He will. He wants to go through life carried on the shoulder s of his dead ancestors. He said simply. and you're feeling better already. I don't want to be swept off my fe et. purpo seful. you know." she told him. "You're going to tell me?" "No. You can't explain your feeling s . "I wish you w ouldn't look at me that way. "we're commencing to get somewhere. in order to realize how I love him and wh y I love him. "You'd have to see Carl to understand." asked Perry Mason.because of the drug habit he had. "is it you're keeping from me?" "Something horrible. "He's been accustomed to knuckling under to his father .mentally and morally . He's had it drilled into him that his family name and his family position are the two main things in life." "Until after what?" Mason inquired. I went through hell for years after my first marriage. "he's the type who would walk away and leave you. "He'll be all right in time. My first love was that of illus ion." She broke o ff." "You see all of those defects in his character clearly. "Now. I wanted a man to worship. All he needs is time and some one strong to help him. You know what drugs do to a man. or if his father can ta ke him from me.you can only recognize them. And I'm going to make a man of him." she said. and I was afraid. I wanted de sperately to commit suicide. It's the way I feel. h e's still easily influenced. perhaps it's just being goofy . It's become a specie s of obsession. but if he can walk away and leave me. a man to look up to . "Until after I'd found some way out of the mess. no!" she exclaimed."And Carl is very much under the influence of his father?" Mason queried. "It's because he is that type that he needs me and that makes me love him." asked Perry Mason. That is." She shook her head in quick negation.
MIDNIGHT VISITOR KILLS CROOK Woman May Have Clubbed Confidence Man Mason folded the newspaper." "No. having broken the conversati onal ice. Sleep on it and see if you don't feel differently tomorrow. I could never get a divorce a nd then re-marry Carl. the half block to his office. You can't be blamed." She blinked tears from her eyes. His cab driver." The cabby turned away to hide his grin. "Good morning." she said." she objected. I was simply furious when I learned that you had gone to see Grego ry. A cunning glint appeared in her eyes. twisted it in a double fold. You don't." Mason purchased the newspaper. "Are you going to confide in me?" the lawyer asked. "Have you read about it?" Perry Mason shook his head. "To-morrow." There was a moment of silence. then." Mason smiled his thanks mechanically. 6. "Not even then." Mason told her.. Perry Mason emerged from the garage where he kept his car. I've got to get back to my husband." he said. I see enough of it a t first hand." he said. after you thought he was dead. Now I've got to get back. "I seldom read crime news. As he entered a crowded elevator. was showing symptoms of that type of loquacity which is so well known to those who are in the public eye. pushed his way into the stream of pedestrians c onverging on the skyscraper entrance. unfolded it. "you get to take me back after all." he said.. Mason closed the door. A newsboy on the corner whipped a nder his arm. Mason nodded to the cab driver. "The other day started to walk newspaper from u he screamed. "You don't underst and Carl. smiled reassuringly at her. a man to uched his arm." she said. as to lay a foundation for repeating the conversation to friends. "Read all about it!" e hit him and he died! Read about it." he told her. "you can drive me back to my office." Mason nodded. "Very well. You can go ahead and get a divorce from him and re-marry Carl Montaine. Perry Maso n snapped back the catch on the door. buddy. I didn't know what might happen. ha ving learned from experience that merely because a man enters a car with a woman doesn't mean that he may not get out again. "What?" "That you'll come to my office first thing in the morning." "Clever stunt you pulled in that last case of yours. "Okay." she said. "Well. She snapped back th e gearshift and the car growled into speed." he said. "I'll make you that promise." A look of decision st amped itself upon her face." "And now. glanced at the streamed across the top of the page." "Not even if you took a chance on a Mexican divorce?" Mason asked. "you don't understand." Her eyes regarded him wistfully. beginning in a carefully casual manner. a loquacity which is caused not so much by a desire to convey any particular idea. "To-morrow morning at nine o'clock?" he as ked. nervous laugh." "But. Counselor. You've told me enough now so th at you can tell me the rest. I can almost figure it out for myself. "you 'll find that it isn't going to be hard to tell. was waiting at the curb. "Pr omise me one thing." she suggested. "Make it nine thirty. and laughed. "I can't. I came tearing out here to try and locate y ou. "If this marriage isn't good." she said. She shook her head. Mason nodded assent. "Sh headlines which . hopeful of picking up a fare back to town. "At nine thirty. chief. then hardened. The man. a quick.. He'll be expecting me. but her lips were firm. Counselor.
hands clutching at the carpet. long after Mason himself had forgotten about the conversation. and it was probably before two o'clock in the morning. as the elevator stopped at his floor. Police state t hat he may have married large numbers of young women. chief?" she asked. operated by Officers Harry Exter and Bob Milton. well-tailored clothes and glib tongue made women fall easy prey to the wiles of the swindler and usually resulted in money being turned over for 'inves tment." he told her..' The first part of the name was spoken very rapidl y and he did not hear it distinctly. where they forced the door of Apartment B on the upper floor and found Gregory Moxley alive but unconscious. "Some confidence man bumped off. Using an assumed name. It had crushed the man's skull. made a fast run to the Colemont Apartments. because they did not retire until 1 1:50. thirty-s ix. The night was very warm and windows in both apartments were open. Moxley would court his victim. The call was relayed ove r the radio. "Both Crandall and his wife remember the name of 'Rhoda. if I were handling this case. An iron poker ly ing nearby." Mason never knew when he might have that man sitting in a jury box as a jur or. His method of operation was to fascinate an attractive but no t too beautiful young woman of the working class who had saved some money.' Crandall thinks t he woman's surname was also mentioned. who. 316 Norwalk Avenue. tha t it ended in 'ayne' or 'ane. Gregory Moxley.when I was talking things over with Perry Mason. that it may have been a foreign name. police identified the body as being that of Gregory Carey . .' When it became necessary to do so. She indicated the paper under his arm. "At headquarters. with his wife . "Just the headl ines.. owner of a chain of service stations. Perry Mason pushed on to his private office. Was it some one we know?" Della Street's face was more eloquent than words. spread the newspaper out on th e desk and read the account: "While occupants of the Bellaire Apartments at 308 Norwalk Avenue frantical ly telephoned for police at an early hour this morning. with blood stains on it. occupies Apartment 269 in the Bellaire Apartments. alias Gregory Lorton. "I tell you what I'd do. but Moxley died on the way to the hospital without regaining consciousness. He was l ying face downward on the floor. although the bed had been slept in. "The radio officers put in a hurried call for an ambulance. Between this apartment and the one occupied by the murdered man in the Colemont Apartments to the north the re is an air line distance of less than twenty feet. and car 62. pleasing pers onality. "Have you seen it. He raised his brows. The first thing I'd do would be to. the confidence man had no hesitancy a bout going through a marriage ceremony under one of many aliases. They then heard Moxley's voice pleading with some one for 'a little more time." "Nice of you. many of whom never made co mplaint when Moxley subsequently disappeared. had evidently been used to strike at least one terrific blow. "Some time during the night Crandall and his wife were awakened by the insi stent ringing of a telephone bell. although it must have been after midnight. residing at the Colemont Apartments. His suave manner..M.' "Neither Crandall nor his wife can place the exact time of the conversation . I suggested to him." murmured Mason.. because Moxley told the party at the other end of the telephone wire that he had an appointment wit h 'Rhoda' for two o'clock in the morning and that she would undoubtedly bring hi m more than sufficient funds to take care of his obligations. a notorious confidence man whose activities were well kn own to the police. Counselor. Della Street's eyes were dark with concern. The occupant of the apartment was fully clothed. "That his assailant may well have been a woman is indicated by the statemen t of Benjamin Crandall. lay dying from skul l injuries inflicted by an unidentified assailant who may have been a woman. so his smile was cordial as the elevator door cut off the suggestion. "The police received a telephone call at 2:27 A. but a look of relief fl ooded his features as he walked briskly down the corridor to his office and open ed the door.
as though some one were holding his thumb agai nst the bell. Photographic repr oductions of the keys appear on page 3. therefore. that she heard the conv ersation over the telephone concerning the woman named Rhoda. The n I heard a masculine voice that seemed to be raised in argument. police have ascertained that one car is a C hevrolet and one is a Plymouth. the doorbell in Moxley's apartment was ringing as though some one was trying to get Moxley t o open the street door. that she heard the sound of low voices coming from Moxley's apartment and then the sound of a woman's voice . followed by a noise tha t may have been the gentle closing of the door and then silence. She nodded. I could see that the lights were on and in a wall m irror I could see the feet of a man who was apparently lying on the floor. closing the door carefully behind her. I wen t to the telephone and called the police. as Crandall stated to the police: 'I drifted off to slee p. looked a cross to Moxley's apartment.' not fully awake and not asleep. and then. Crandall says she did not go back to sleep after she was awakened by the ringing of the telephone bell in Moxley's apartment. trying to go back to sleep. She lay for fif teen or twenty minutes. feeling that the p olice should be notified. The time was then approximately twenty -five minutes past two. Della?" . "Montaine?" asked Perry Mason." she said. pausing for a moment and then ringing again. "Moxley's police record shows that his real name is Gregory Carey. speaking rapidly. that in this case fingerprints are se condary in importance to the positive identification of the mysterious visitor t hrough the padlock key which was left in the room. Because of the fact that the woman evi dently had access to two cars. checking the automobile reg istrations to list all persons who own both Chevrolets and Plymouths. that on September 15."Following the telephone conversation.. he was sentenced to San Quentin for the term of four years f or. They are. She says that the ringing continued for some minutes after the s ound of the blow and that she thinks the party who was ringing secured admittanc e. "Police have a very definite clue as to the identity of the slayer. then a sound that she feels certain was that of a bl ow. as well as taking steps to identify the garage key. "Mrs. however. I went to the window. was done and. Perry Mason half closed his eyes in thought. who insisted that I should call the police. "During this time. was sort of half dozing when I heard conversations in Moxley's apartment. that thereafter sh e lay 'just dozing. column 1). "Because of the absence of fingerprints on the murder weapon. however. police feel t hat it was wielded by a woman who wore gloves. Crandall and his wife expressed anno yance at the disturbance and there was some talk of closing the window. that she heard Moxl ey's voice raised in anger. Perry Mason looked up with a frown. that immediat ely preceding the sound of the blow. (Continued on page 2." Perry Mason was turning to page two when Della Street knocked perfunctorily and slipped quietly into the private office. apparently that of a rather young woman. There was a so und that may have been a blow. From the make of these keys. and then the sound of something falling with a ja r. 1929. They are slightly puzzled by the fact that there are no fingerprints of any sort on either the murder weapon or t he knob of the door. because she heard whispers coming from the apartment. the noise of something thudding to the floor and then silence. the doorbell in Moxley's apartment was ring ing with steady. and at the very moment the blow was struck. Nothing. "Could you get any statement from him about what he wanted. police are inclined to think she is a married wom an whose husband maintains two cars for the use of his family.. insistent rings. ringing steadily for long intervals. "Her husband's in the office. The wom an who entered Moxley's apartment and who either inflicted the blow which caused death or who was present when the blows were struck dropped from her gloved han ds a leather key container containing the key to a padlock which police feel cer tain is used to lock the doors of a private garage. I drifted off to sleep once more and was awakened by my wife. Police feel. awakened her husband and suggested that he make an inv estigation. as well as keys to two close d cars.
Della?" "He's short and small-boned." he said." "How does he seem?" "Nervous. thrust it in the drawer of his desk. "Darn near all about him. "My name is Carl W. nervous gesture of brushing his hair back."No. "That's why I came in to see you. as though trying to focus some vague recolle ction in his memory. as though he'd been perspiring. the Chicago multi-millionaire. His mouth is weak. Della Street held the door open. I have an idea he may be a year or two younger th an she is. She'l l lie to protect him. walked to the edge of Perry Mason's desk. "S end him in." Mason's tone was crisply definite. "She isn't capable of it. "Begin." A man slightly below medium height entered the office with quick. "Did you read about the murder?" Perry Mason wrinkled his brow. until he seemed almost ready to slide to the floor." Mason reluctantly folded the paper. I wouldn't be surprised if he left the office if you tried to kee p him waiting. that it was a matter of life and d eath. She's mixed up in i t some way. Montaine. He hasn't shaved this morning." Mason reminded him." "Did she do it?" "No." he said. and his collar is wilted at the to p. "You've seen the morning papers?" Montaine asked." the lawyer admitted." Mason said." Montaine crossed to the big leather chair. If she doesn't know." he comm anded. "was committed around two o'clock in the morning. Montaine. "is going to be accused of that murder. and she's shielding him." The lawyer shook his head. She's been his tool all along. "some day I'm going to let you sit be side me when I'm picking a jury. and waited for Della Street to close the door before he spoke. Mason will see you Mr. "I haven't had a chance to read the paper thoroughly. she suspects. "I've looked at the headlines." "The murder. H e hasn't lived enough to be sure of himself or of any one else. "Mr." "You know about him?" she asked. but he doesn't wear them well. at the beginning. "He's pale as a ghost. He's hiding behind her skirts. "Yes. "She couldn't have d one it. There are dark rings u nder his eyes. I'd have to begin at the beginning. though. Then he spilled words with the rattling speed of a child reciting poetry. I noticed it in the headlines. His . Why?" Montaine came even closer to the edge of the chair." he said." "What kind of a looking chap is he. She knows who did do it. "My wife. restless steps." Montaine slid back into the recesses of the leather chair. He's frightfu lly impatient. Right now she's trying to shield him. Wasn't your wife home then?" "No. So far you've never failed to call the turn. this man will get her in such a position that no one can save her. He brushed it back with an impatient gesture of his palm. whipped his hand to his forehead with that quick. I think she knows. "Della. le aning forward. sat on the extreme end of it. "Do you think we can keep h im waiting while I finish this newspaper article?" She shook her head swiftly." Mason studied the young man in silent appraisal. You've probably heard of him. Sit down. then. Tell me the whole thing from the very b eginning. "Sit back in the chair and relax. He said he'd have to talk with you." "Did he try to find out if his wife had been here yesterday?" "No." Della Street said. and then he will gradually get her in deeper and deeper. His clothes are expensive. A mop of hair hung over his forehead. Philli p Montaine. Unles s we can save her." Montaine said forcefully." Perry Mason smiled. He's the sort of man who could be petulant if he wasn't frightened." "How do you know?" "It's a long story. I'm the son of C. Y ou've got to save her.
appeared in the center of the third page. I had a special nurse night and day. "Nothing. He was still working on the business deal I spoke of and couldn't leave. detached a key. I w ent to the Sunnyside Hospital and had the best medical attention that money coul d buy. I could never carry them out. It was one of those impulses. My father saw to that. Then I came h ere. He was very nice about it. as though th e words would convey some significance to Perry Mason. "I married her. ordered me to come home. please. They were fastened on Perry Mason's face. then placed the key on the other si . Montaine dug his elbows into the leather arms of the chair. My father was tied up with a very involved financial m atter. "Go ahead.Rhoda Lorton. There were many thousands of dollars involved. Mason turned to the third page of the newspaper. "I finished college. You don't understand." "You didn't tell him you intended to marry her?" "No." "You wanted to tell me about a murder. done almost an ything." "Why didn't you become engaged to her and notify him of that?" "Because he would have objected. The photograph of a key. "My name is Carl Montaine." Montaine stopped impressively." he said." Montaine said. myself. His manner was that of a man who has confessed to some crime. "Turn to page three. the Chicago multi-millionaire. Mason held the key over the photograph. as the eye s of a crippled dog might fasten themselves upon a veterinary." he said. "Have you a morning paper here in the office?" Mason opened the drawer of h is desk. I was very nervous. The Montaine line must be carried on through me. "I see. we didn't go. go ahead." "Your father didn't like that?" "I don't think he liked it. I traveled for a year." "So you didn't go. Below the picture appeared the words. He wanted us t o come to Chicago to visit him. I'm trying to explain this from my father's viewpoint. I kne w that if I gave him any notice of my intentions. The night nur se was named Lorton . I wired my father. "My father wanted me to go into busine ss. the nurse who was employed on the case. I had acute appendicitis. I wanted to see something of the world. Phillip Montaine. "Go ahead." he blurted." "Out of a clear sky.eyes were a reddish-brown. "Compare them. I had marrie d a nurse. But Rhoda didn't want to go right away." "All right. I'm the son of C. She want ed to wait a little while." the lawyer said. then. I hardly knew." "No." Mason remarked." "Why bother about your father's viewpoint?" "Because it's important." the lawyer said." "What's wrong with marrying a nurse?" the lawyer asked. took out the newspaper he had been reading when Della Street had announ ced Carl Montaine. He would have discontinued my allowance. I married her. He couldn't come here." Mason prompted. I wanted to marry her more than I had ever wanted anything in the world. He would have made a great deal of trouble . "Well." "You told me that before. hand ed it to Perry Mason. "DID THE KILLER DROP THIS KEY?" Montaine took a leather key container from his pocket." Montaine said. "I am an only child. It was necessary for me to be operated on immediately. "You can imagine how that must have seemed to my father. hitched himself farther forward." Mason said." "Go ahead. my father gets a telegram announcing that I have marri ed Rhoda Lorton." Mason said. r eproduced in its exact size. Montaine hitched forward to the edge of the chair once more and pushed back his hair. as though marrying nurses was the customary proced ure of all convalescents.
She dropped her keys when she. She sa id that would help me cure myself. "Not this key. of course not. let's hear the story." His voice trailed int o silence. I thought it would be fine. it really star ts before that time. He opened the leather key container. You can take tw o tablets and go to sleep and wake up in the morning without feeling dopey. The one th at's pictured there is my wife's key. By looking in the bathroom mirror. made a pencil tracing. That's what they call it. "I saw her take out the Ipral bottle and shake tablets into the chocolate. "It starts with when I came home from the hospital. It turned out it was habit-for ming. My wife told me I must break it off. spread it on the desk and indicated th e keys. slowly nodded his head. That's the reason I took it. to simplify matters." "She tried to drug me." "Well. It must have been more than the usual dose." "Does she know that you know about this?" Montaine shook his head. There was a mirror in the bathroom." "I thought that's what you were doing. "where is she now?" "Home." "I don't know how I can understand unless you do explain it." Mason said impatiently. go ahead." "You say your wife tried to drug you?" "Yes. It cures nervousness and insomnia. I didn't know it was habit-forming. But sometimes we change off. so. This is my key. She got some Ipral to give me." Mason said. I had been very nervous. I drive the sedan." "Then what happened?" "Then she brought the chocolate in to me.. a nd a door opened through to the kitchen." "Do you take it all the time?" "No." "Look here. "Well." he inquired. My wife us ually drives the Chevrolet. "that you have this key? I understood the police were holding it. She said she thought it would be good for me." "And you told her you'd seen her drugging the drink?" "No. I noticed her fumbling with her purse.de of the paper. I don't know how many tablets she put in. Last night my wife asked me if I would like some hot chocolate before I went to bed. watching her in the mirror." "Tried to what?" "Tried to drug me." Montaine shook his head and said. "How does it hap pen." "I was trying to. That is. I started taking what I thought wa s a sedative." "You were watching her in the mirror?" "Yes." "Why not?" . to quiet my nerves when I had one of those fits of nervous sleeplessness. I was undressing in the bedroom." "You've talked with your wife before coming here? She knows you're consulti ng me?" "No. we each have duplicate keys to the doors and then leave ign ition keys right in the locks. I t hought that was strange so I stood still." "What's a hypnotic? Is it habit-forming?" "It isn't habit-forming." "What's Ipral?" "It's a hypnotic.. We've got duplicate keys to the garage and to the two automobiles." "I'd have to begin at the beginning and tell you the whole story." "Why?" "I don't know just how to explain it so you'll understand. I co uld see my wife fixing the chocolate. "The door keys to the Chevrolet coupe and the Plymouth sedan.
"At one thirty-five in the morning my wife slipped out of bed and dressed quietly in the dark." "A double garage?" "Yes." "What did you do?" "I slipped into the bathroom and poured the drink down the bowl." "Then she must have been careful to close the door for another reason. "Then what did she do?" "She left the house. I hadn't thought of it in that way." Mason asked. what did happen?" Montaine lowered his voice impressively." "She didn't see you were drinking water instead of chocolate?" "No. and the other is in my wife's key container. I think it was to keep me from looking out of the window and seeing th e door was open. One of them I keep in the desk. either car can be taken out. or the car on the right by sliding both doors to the left."I don't know. We have twin beds." Mason's eyes showed interest." "I guess that's right.. "Now you've got the point." "Well." asked Perry Mason. I lay perfectly motionless." Mason indicated the newspaper photograph. Then she closed the garage door." Mason asked thoughtfully. Either door can slide all the way back and forth across the entire front of the garage. What happened after your wife closed the garage door?" "She backed her car out." "How do you know?" "Because there are only three keys." "Then what did you do?" "Then I pretended to be very sleepy. Then sh e stopped the car and closed the garage door. "How do the doors slide?" "There are two tracks. go on." "And. "And this is your wife's key?" "Yes. just as I've told you. one of them in my key container. That's right!" "Now then. "have you any reason to think any one was keepin g a casual eye on the garage?" "Why. slide the other back to the right and lock it with a padlock. filled it with cold water and took it into the bedro om with me. to make sure that the third key isn't mis sing?" "Yes. I guess so. as though it had been chocolate. no.. waiting to see what happened. Then." "All right. you can take out the car on the left by sl iding both doors to the right. That is." "No." "But you were supposed to have been drugged." Perry Mason's fingers tapped the key which lay on his desk. I was sitting where she couldn't see into the cup. you simply leave one door on the left ." "Then what?" "Then I heard her open the door of the garage and back her car out. Not that I know of. "A sliding door." "And you have looked in the desk. "lock the garage door?" . In that way. when you close the garage. Then I was hed out the cup with water. I wanted to find out why she was doing it. one just outside of the other." Mason went on." "Did she." "What kind of a door?" Mason asked." "But your wife evidently thought some one might be looking at the garage a night watchman perhaps. "And this is yo ur key to the padlock?" "Yes. and I sipped it slo wly." "Yes. "the only reason she stopped and closed that door was t o keep any one from seeing her car was gone?" Montaine nodded eagerly and said. I sat on the edge of my bed and sipped the water as though it had been chocolate.
"Yes." "Did you make any effort to follow her?" "No." Montaine took a deep breath." "The doors caught this time?" "Yes." "Then did she close them?" "She tried to." "I lay in bed." "Did she open the garage doors then?" "Yes. she couldn't have unlocked the garage door w hen she returned. she's very friendly with a doctor .. And then." "That's right. I got back into bed. the brace on the inside of o ne of the doors catches on the bumper of the other car in the garage. I was afraid she'd tell me." "Why didn't she lift them away?" "She wasn't strong enough. "so leave me out of it. I guess she didn't." "Why didn't you confront her as she came in the room and ask her where the hell she'd been?" "I don't know." "So she left the garage door open?" "Yes. when I went out to loo k this morning. no. and. "so that I could follow her." "What happened after she left?" "I tried to dress. pushed his hair back with his s pread fingers." "What time did she come back?" "Some time after two thirty." Perry Mason said." "Afraid she'd tell you what?" "Afraid she'd tell me something that would .. She couldn't have locked the garage door. .." "How did you know all this? You were lying in bed. I wanted to know where she was going. Tell me the fac ts. I saw what had happened. "that is. "is that if she dropped her keys while she was out. "finish that sentence. What I mean to say is. "If. since you say she is home now. I take it she did return." Montaine fidgeted on the edge of the chair." he said." "That still doesn't tell me anything." Montaine said." "Why?" "Well. go on." Mason said with slow emphasis. I th ink she acquired that habit from the fact that she's been supporting herself and wasn't accountable to any one." he s aid slowly." "But she didn't?" "No. I started getting into my clothes.would -" Perry Mason stared steadily at the reddish-brown eyes. sometimes when the doors are slid back. "your wife went out at one thir ty in the morning." "I'm a bachelor. rather secretive... When that happens you have to lift the doors back away from the bumper. pretending to be asleep.. She isn't the type to volunteer explanations.a physician who does quite a bit of operative work at the Sunnyside Hospital. she opened them and drove her car in." . No." "She was." "When she came in?" "Yes." Montaine said. well. she really is. weren't you?" "But I could hear her tugging at the door." "So you waited up until she came in?" "No." "All right. "You'd better. "is rather mysterious. She had driven away before I had my shoes on .." he said. "My wife." "The point I'm getting at. and before three o'clock. but I couldn't make it. As soon as she left the room. she couldn't have..." "Why not?" "Because I knew I couldn't catch up with her.
"What's his name?" "Doctor Millsap . she said she'd slept very well. "but it was really the most natural thing in the world." "Why?" "I thought I might find some clew. and stopped in at the restaurant on the way back." Montaine blurted. that I h adn't even rolled over in bed. Then I went for a long walk. sh ook his head." "What did you tell her?" "I told her I'd slept so soundly I hadn't heard a thing all night. then nodded again." "And you made the coffee as soon as you got up?" Montaine lowered his eyes." "When did you realize what must have happened?" "When I saw the paper. That was when I saw the newsp aper." "But she told you she'd slept well?" "Yes. yes. I couldn't turn and twist i n the bed. I heard the clock strike every hour. I didn't know just what time it was." "You hadn't had breakfast before that?" "Yes." "And did your wife sleep well . You don' t know anything about the agonies I suffered during the still hours of the night . She said she went to bed and didn't know anything from the time her head hit the pillow until she woke up. Even then she didn't sleep." "Did you make any comment whatever?" "No." he said.Doctor Claude Millsap. I looked around. "It sounds bad when I tell it. and I saw my wife's purse lying on the dressing-room table. She did a lot of twisting and turning. I just had to lie in the one position without moving. She was lying quietly then." "Did your wife know you had gone?" "Yes. a hypodermic I think it was. drugged." "Where?" "In a little all-night restaurant." "And you thought she went to meet this Doctor Millsap?" Montaine nodded. I opened it and looked inside. you kn ow. whe n I got up. "By that time. I m ade some coffee and drank three or four cups of it. Remember that I had to pretend that I was drugged." "When did you see the paper?" "About an hour ago. "No. She's a nurse." "What did you find in her purse?" Mason asked." "Did she make any statements?" "Yes. and.." "Did she say anything?" "She asked me how I'd slept." "But you didn't ask her because you were afraid she'd tell you. that it must have been the c hocolate that made us sleep so soundly. "And you were afraid to question her because you didn't want to have your s uspicions confirmed?" "I was afraid to ask her at the time. moving around. she got up when I was making the coffee. opening the medicine chest." "Clew to what?" "To where she'd been. "I was in an awful mental state." "Then what happened?" "Then this morning I realized what must have happened. I heard her in the bathroom. I got up early this morning. you know." "How did she look this morning?" "She looked like the very devil. She took something. herself. It was agony.after she came in?" Mason asked." "And you didn't question her statement?" "No. .. where I stopped to get some breakfast. of course." Mason said .
. at that time there was nothing to make me notice th at particularly. There are more dignified ways of settling those matters.. "notice whether her keys were in her purse at the time?" "No. and." "Anyway." "For God's sake." "Well. "you saw the newspaper this morning." he said. It was Gregory Moxl ey. I think it was Millsap." Mason said thoughtfully. I don't want to have to drag it ou t of you a bit at a time. but I didn't think so at the time. then." "What happened?" "I could hear the ringing noise of the telephone. after a while. Th ere was a fight." Mason asked. Montaine nodded his head in quick acquiescence. I hung up the telephone. go ahead and come to it. and then w hat happened?" "Then I realized what Rhoda." The young man drew himself up with dignity." "What good would that have done?" "I don't know. I thought that I understood why she'd gone out." Mason shook his head." "After my wife went out. I was in agony. We don't do things that way. My wife was mixed up in it in s ome way. "Because." "What?" "She must have gone to meet Moxley." he sa id. "Did you. Get started. She was in the room at the time. I didn't want him to know who was calling.'" "You didn't take the telegram?" "No. and then. as soon as I read it. But I haven't told you all about it yet." "Did you give him your name?" "No. you called Doctor Millsap?" "Yes. The police will trace it to her." "What way?" "We don't brawl. The telegram was signed 'Gregory' and said. 'Awaiting your final answe r five o'clock to-day extreme limit." . Doctor Millsap must have been there. that I was desperately ill.." "Tell me all about it then. three sixteen Norwalk Avenue."I found a telegram addressed to R. took a deep breath. what my wife must have done. I didn't." Montaine said." "Then it wasn't Doctor Millsap that she went to meet?" "Yes. She'll try to shield Millsap." "What did the Jap say?" "He said Doctor Millsap was out on a call." "Did you leave word for the Doctor to call when he came back?" "No. You see." "Did you say anything to your wife about the garage doors being open?" "Yes. Her key container was left there. I called her attention to the garage doors when I was making the c offee. "I am a Mon taine. a Japanese servant answered the telephone. I found the telegram. "why the devil you didn't have the matter out with your wife? Why you didn't confront her when she returned to the house? Why you didn't ask her what she me ant when she handed you the drugged chocolate? Why you didn't." "The name and address of the man who was killed. I put it back in her purse. "from the kitchen window it's possible to look over t o the garage. Doctor Millsap murdered Moxley. I told him I must speak with Doctor M illsap at once." Mason said wearily. "Would you kindly tell me." "There was a name and address penciled on the telegram." "What makes you think so?" "I feel positive that she will. Montaine at one twenty-eight East Pelto n Avenue." "What time?" "Around two o'clock." "What makes you think it was Millsap?" "I'm coming to that. I finally decided to call Doctor M illsap and let him know that I knew of his friendship with my wife..
The police must be notified and. She'd try to keep me from notifying the police. That makes your mental perspective cockeyed." he said. "are going to kn ow about it. "You see. She'll try to protect him. "is rather a large order. you'd have to see that he wasn't prosecuted. "quit that damned posing and come down to ." "For God's sake. It's this man. "The police." Mason exploded. Moxley was murdered. Get h er explanation. And she keeps her keys in her purse. "that you want me to do?" "I want you to represent my wife." "That. "I want you to promise me that you'll see to it she doesn't get herself into this thing trying to shield Doctor Millsap. she looked me straight in the eye and said it very convincingly.. "Exactly what is it... You can put two and two together. She's left it around two or three times. stood very dignified and very reserved." Montaine said.. "that the police may not know anything about this gara ge key." he said. s he said she 'remembered' that she had left her purse in her car and had locked u p the garage. That's first." Montaine got to his feet. "That's what I'm telling you." Montaine flared. that's guilty." "Your father?" "Yes. To Millsap I shall be an avenging fury. "Because. I want you to keep him ." "Suppose the prosecution of Millsap should involve your wife?" "Then.. Once she lost over a h undred dollars. "He has primed my wife with a lot of lies. The second thing I want is for you to protect my f ather.. Then when the pol ice did discover about the keys where would I be? No. in the background. Don't say a word to the police until. they might not even question y ou or your wife."What did she say?" "She said she didn't know anything about it at first. What else is it you want me t o do?" "I want you to assist in prosecuting Millsap if it should turn out that he' s guilty. He'll sell he r out. of course." "Look here. "I am going to tell them. He was out." "Suppose she's innocent?" "Of course. and then." Montaine said." Mason interrupted. "The very thing Millsap would want." he said. she's innocent." Mason said." he asked." "How did she get in if she didn't have her keys?" "That's what I asked her. "There's a pretty good chance. Go to your wife. "you're jealous. I will be firm with my wife. I want you to k eep the Montaine name out of it just as much as possible. Montaine. They'll check down the list of persons owning Plymouth and Chevrolet car s." Mason stared steadily at Carl Montaine. It is my duty." "Did she seem to be lying?" "No." Mason made drumming noises on the edge of his desk with the tips of his fin gers. firm but sympath etic. She wa s out." Montaine said." "What makes you so positive?" Mason inquired. But if they should find your name.. his heroi c manner marred somewhat by the mop of hair which was slumped down over his fore head. she's rather forgetful about her purse. I must maintain my integrity. You'd better forget Millsap. my mind is made up. I can't conceal facts. So I asked her how it happe ned she could have opened the door if her purse was locked in the car?" "What did she say?" "She said she got the extra key out of the desk." Montaine drew himself up once more. I don't care if she is my wife. er. Millsap. with slow emphasis. go to your garage and find that there wasn 't any padlock on it or find a different padlock. later on. Counselor. She said that just before she went to bed she remembered it and we nt out to get the purse.." "How does he come into it?" "It will kill him if our name is involved in a murder case. I can't stand between her and the law.
" "He was out . "That will do. said very faintly. "I'll represent your wif e first. "what is it?" "I'm looking." But Montaine marched to the corridor door. Millsap can dominate my wife." Montaine said slowly. "I will think over what you say." said Perry Mason. that's one thing." The lawyer let his smile become a grin. My wife must co me first. Montaine lowered his eyes. Th e door opened and a fleshy woman stared at him with glittering. I'll get the money somewhere.at the very time the murder was being committed. "Now. This business about 'sending a bill' doesn't sound good to me. He saw the surreptitious motion of lace curta ins in the adjoining house. You may send me a bill for your services." "He may have been out on a call.." Montaine agreed. "for Mrs. His ring was followed almost immediately by the sound of clumping steps. that's the way I want it. Counselor. He won't pay a cent." she said in a voice that trickled effortlessly from the end of a gl ib tongue. suddenly remembering something. then." Mason warned. In the meant ime you will represent my wife.." "You'd better go easy on that Millsap business. 7. picked up the key from the desk and reluctantly dropped it into Montaine's palm. He can't domin ate the police.. If you insist on telling the police about your wife. Counselor." he said. "My key. I feel it is for the best inter ests of all concerned that I do so. his face flushed.. Montaine. "Of course. crossed directly to the house where he had detected the flicker o f interest back of the curtain. I am going to notify the police. I'm going to make your father come across w ith some coin. I don't see where your fa ther needs any protection. "You haven't a thing against him. Mason gave the bell one more try. But if I'm going to represent your wife I'm not going to have my hands tied. "I wish.. curious eyes. And pl ease don't forget about my father." ." "Very well. You've sympathized with yourself so much that you've gone goofy and buil t up a mock heroic attitude." he said with the fo rceful dignity of one who is saturated with self-righteousness." "When are you going to notify the police?" Mason asked. then. "Well." Perry Mason heaved a sigh. "My mind is made up." he said. when he hear d no response. Mason shook his head. changing the subjec t abruptly. If Millsap gets in the way. But you start spilling stuff about Millsap and you' ll find yourself in a jam. you wouldn't wear a hat. Perry Mason frowningly consulted his wristwatch jobbed on impatient thumb a gainst the bell button." Mason said grimly. somehow. I can see how you feel. yes. "And if you were one of th ose college boys getting magazine subscriptions." "Well. I'm going to see them personally." Montaine turned toward the door. But he does control the purse strings.earth. "Y ou ain't a peddler?" she asked. "If it comes to that. "I almost forgot that." "He won't." "Before your father?" asked Mason. Your father isn't mixed up in it. "you'd hold off doing anythi ng until.." Montaine interrupted. he'll be smashed." "Over the telephone?" "No. it won't come to that. his manner oozing self-r ighteous determination. I want you to protect him in every way you ca n." "I can't divide my allegiance. spun about and approached Mason's desk with outstretched palm.. What's more. After the third ring he turned away from the door and lo oked at the houses on either side. He hates Rhoda.. I'm going to make him pay me for what I do.
"I've got a wife and kids and a job. He had some kind of a life insurance loan that p aid off the house when he died. what if I was? I've got a right to look out of my own window. I noticed i t a ways back. "Municipal Airport." "You don't know when she'll be back?" "No. who should I say called?" asked the woman. nursed his car into speed." "Ain't her husband home?" Perry Mason shook his head. Most boys wouldn't have thought of their pa and ma and taken out insur ance. We've got to drive our car. Montaine when she left?" "What's it to you if I did?" "I'm very anxious to get in touch with her. I didn't see him. I think you've given m e just the information that I want. you didn't see Mrs. I 'll pay them. twisted the steerin g wheel sharply. "Th ey say his folks don't approve of the match. You're a woman with an observing disposition.." "Mrs. "but there was an expressman came about an ho ur ago and got a trunk." "You're a friend of hers?" "Yes. and we've got to drive the other fellow's car fo r him. we're laid off. They've got money." "You mean a transfer man?" asked Perry Mason. raised his hat and rounded th e corner. "She won't be back. You were staring out at me from behind the curtain. "Did you try over there?" "You know I did. The dr iver snapped the car into motion. as a light sedan whizzed around a corner." "Well. "Must have gone out this morning a lot earlier than usual." "I'll get you there just as fast as it's safe to drive." he said." He broke off as he slammed his foot on the brake pedal. buddy. "There you are. Perry Mason said nothing but strode rapidly to the sidewalk. The way they look at me. "This is as fast as the bus goes?" asked Perry Mason." warned th e cab driver.. "When I'm driving it. too. so he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to." "If she comes back. slipped in and out of traffic along the boulevard with deft skill." he c alled back over his shoulder. That was the way Charles was. I'm jus t poor folks." said the woman. and I didn't think anything of it. it was the express company. "If. That was when times were good. it is. "No offense. It's a Ford coupe." Perry Mason laughed. I'm wondering if." Perry Mason said. so I thought he was still in bed." "How much baggage?" Perry Mason asked. They don't confide their plans to me." said the lawyer." "There's a good tip if you get me there in a rush." the cab driver rej oined. "very much." The cab driver grinned. "Just a light bag. my son bought this house and didn't have it all paid for. perhaps. do you kn ow you've got a tail?" Perry Mason straightened to rigid attention." he said. What's her husband going to do if h is father cuts him off without a cent?" the woman called after him.. always kind and th oughtful."She lives next door. The woman followed him to the edge of the porch. "there are any fines. You saw me over at Montaine 's. "that's what happens when you try to make time. "Don't look around." Perry Mason bowed." he said. Montaine?" asked Perry Mason. buddy. just after you got in. He caught a cab at the boulevard. an d they don't give us any breaks in the home office. turned.. this is my house bought and paid for.. haven' t I? Look here.. "He's commencing to crowd up on us. She married him for his money. that' s all. my man. You see." she said. smiled. maybe a little less. When we get in a smash." Mason nodded. but he' s been sticking pretty close to us all through the traffic. "No. "How about her?" "She was his nurse. "Thank you. She went away in a taxic ab about half an hour ago. waiting. "Hmm. The cab driver is always wro ng.." .. and. Mason lengthened his strides. Say. "You mean won't ever be ba ck?" she asked. "I'm trying to save time.
shucks. "Wait a minute. "All the time we stand here." "Oh. The driver straightened back in the seat and readjusted the rear-view mirro r. w e're losing time." Mason said." "Suppose we run down to another boulevard and try for the airport along it." Perry Mason said slowly." he told Perry Mason. "Okay." he said. I believe you said that was the one thing you were good at. Mason stared curiously. slid down a side street. "Boy. You're the boss." Perry Mason said. From time to time. "You going to take a plane?" "I don't know. In fact. That's all I'm good for. "I want to get some information. "There' s your boy friends. "I want to smoke the m out in the open. I w as just being sociable. Hang on." . If they don't follow us they're going to lose us. They ain't coming down any of these side streets. as the car turned in to the a irport. "You watch the rear. Let's just make it sure. we could." "Uh huh." "Nobody that's likely to start throwing lead around." the cab driver said." he said. and then they passed it up. I have to see what 's going on in this racket.. "Pull in close to the curb and stop for a minute. T wo men in it. "Hold everything . or the wife and kids would starve to death." A Ford coupe with a dented fender was parked beside the curb at the place w here signs painted in red announced there was." "Trouble with the wife?" the driver inquired. "The ticket office. You could run down to Belvedere. couldn't you?" "Sure. The cab driver nodded his head in a gesture of indication and said. The law yer sank back in the cushions. we're making another turn to the left. " He took advantage of a clear stretch in the traffic to raise his hand and a djust his mirror so that Perry Mason could watch the stream of traffic in the ro ad behind him." "They'll figure we've spotted them if you figure-eight." the driver said. buddy. "A Ford coupe with a dented fender on the right. "They went by. I was watching them in the mirror." the driver told him.. that's all. is it?" the driver inq uired apprehensively. They acted for a minute as though they were going to make the turn. he turned to look thoughtfully back at the road behind him. "you need a quick eye to spot that fellow. "No parking.. If they do follow us." Perry Mason said. That is one of the things that you are good at. I'll keep an eye on the front. Tell you what you do. Perry Mason's eyes narrowed thoughtfully." The cab lurched into a fast turn. Here we go to the left." Perry Mason rejoined. "Any particular place?" asked the cab driver. "As you so aptly remarked." he said." The cab driver turned in his seat." The driver grinned." Mason said." Mason told him. "that's nothing. we'll stop and ask them what it's all about. "I don't know. You've g ot to have eyes in the back of your head." Once more the cab screamed into a wide turn. Let's see if they circle down the other street. driving a cab .. They slowed down at the intersection." "Police. "You won't want this any more. They got there just as we made the second turn to the left. The cab once more clashed through its gears and rattled into speed. chief. I'm sure.Perry Mason raised his eyes and tried to see the road behind him in the rea r-view mirror. "and I'll give you a break." "Let's go. "They might be private dicks. "I don't care what they figure. "Nothing like that." the cab driver protested. buddy. you swing to the left at the next corner a nd figure-eight around a couple of blocks." Perry Mason said. but that's one thing I am good for. eh?" asked the cab driver. "I'll mind my own business. There was no sign of pursuit. chewed gum with rhythmic monotony as he peered through the window in the rear of the cab. "you're an excellent cab driv er.
in reality. "You want me to wait. They tried to tail me for a while. There isn't room. They're watching the people getting aboard the plane." he said in a low voice. because they rec ognized me when I left your house and picked up a taxicab. flashed up at him."They're dicks or they wouldn't park there. and they c ame out here." he said. giving swift instruction s to Rhoda Montaine. that you miss ed the plane and I'm telephoning. entered." She slipped unobtrusively from the crowd at the gate. "There are a couple of dicks looking for you. "I can't.just a description. That's fine. Beyond this gat e was a big tri-motored plane glistening in the sunlight." he said. then slowly turned..." Perry Mason walked through the door to the lobby of the airport ticket offi ce. Her eyes. Rhoda. b us depots and all of that. . Perry Mason moved up behind the co ated figure.. Get your back flat against the wall under the shelf that the telephone's on. Turn around facing me. "You were a little fool to try to get away on a plane. Rhoda." the cab driver remarked positi vely. then she tu rned away. then abruptly halt ed as he caught sight of a brown coat with a brown fur collar. I'll let them know after a while that I've seen them and keep in the telephone booth as though I was try ing to hide. "Now listen." she said. dark with apprehension. walked with rapidly n ervous steps to the telephone booth." "Okay.airports. "You left your house with some light arti cles of baggage. Two broad-shouldered men appeared from behind the fuselage. "Don't show any surprise. "The same way they did. Those dicks either had a tip that you're taking this plane . When they see me here. scanned each of the passengers with shrewd appraisal. railway stations. Passengers started to board the plane. The propellers were cl icking over at slow speed. She seemed to stiffen perceptibly." Mason said. Now you've got to work things in such a way that they can't prove you were gu ilty of flight. There was a quick intake of breath. stood at the telephone. The coat was catc hing sunlight in a small enclosed space next to a swinging gate." Perry Mason managed to pull the door closed. "All right. He held h is mouth against the mouthpiece of the telephone and talked rapidly. If they'd caught you boarding that plan e with a ticket to some other city.. they're starting to look around now. That's it. Perry Mason took advantage of their pr eoccupation to walk with swift strides to the telephone booth. they'd have strengthened the case against yo u." he said. buddy?" "Yes. but they know me." He removed the receiver from the hook but did not deposit a coin. A unifor med official strode toward the gate. Perry Mason pushed his way through the door." "You've got to make room. Go down and park. The uniformed attendant slid back the gate. I'll follow you in just a minute. "I'll have to drive down there for a parking place. If you'd been going on a train. trying to locate you. "You. "a nd get this straight. "Drop down to the floor. Wait for me." "How did you know I was here?" she asked. they'll figure that I was to meet you and g ive you some last minute instructions before you got on the plane. I don't know them. "Flight is an indication of guilt. Do you get the sketch?" "Yes. her voice drifting up from the floor in mumbling acquiesce nce. They figured I was go ing to join you. After the plane leaves. they'll search the air port." Mason went on in a low voice . but I shook them. You shipped a trunk by express. "I'll be talk ing over the telephone. Now double up your knees. A stewardess climbed down from the plane an d stood by the steps leading to the fuselage. took half a dozen quick strides toward the ticket window." Mason said. or else they're covering all exits out of town ." he said. and closed the door. He jerked open th e door. his ey es making a swift survey of the lobby of the building. "They probably haven't a photograph . Go over to that telephone booth." she said in a voice that would have been inaudible for more th an ten feet. ostensibly to some party on the other end of the wire.
You'll find the marriage license in the Bureau of Vital Statistic s. or for you to join me.. Gregory Lorton was none other than Gregory Moxley. How much more do you want for nothing ? You can get an extra ready and have it on the street as soon as your men telep hone a release. the city editor. asked for Bostwick. at least. Otherwise you can't. I'm in a telephone booth. and she isn't going to say ver y much to detectives right now. Now. "keep silent." he told her. Y ou'll have to make up a story from that. Nell Brinley will admit that she received telegrams. The family's not only respectable but high hat." "All right. I don't want to be quoted in this. she's going to play it tha t way. Rhoda had been living with a Nell Brinley at one twenty-eight East Pelton Avenue.. If you can get those telegrams either from the police files or from the file s of the telegraph company. There was the sound of a man 's voice on the wire. Do you understand?" "Yes. Okay. Phillip Montaine. Yes she would surrender to Chronicle reporters.. the woman who had the two o'clock appointment w ith Gregory Moxley this morning?. and then I'm going to let them know that I've seen the m and turn my back. That's all I can tell you. Montaine. Moxley sent telegrams to Rhoda at that address. "No. I'm going to telephone the Chronicle. and Mason said. You can be the first on the street with it." "You mean you want me to tell them my story?" "No. All right. Start your boys ou t here and I'll give you some of the highlights on the situation. Montaine is the s on of C. I'm afraid the detectives are going to grab h er before your men get a chance to interview her.. You'll never have a chance. pretending to hide.. Naturally I don't want any one to know t hat I'm here or that Mrs. You could also have the credit for taking he r into custody. Gregory Moxley showed up and started to make tro uble. But get this straight." He dropped a coin in the telephone. but not to the police. Don't tell any one anything. you can use them. Of course I'm going to represent her. I can't guarantee what's going to happen after t hat. I can't put her on the telephone and I can't give you her story.. telling her certain thin gs. "We'll simply let them think you're going to tell them yo ur story.. the man who was murdered. Rhoda Montaine married a chap named Gregory Lorton s ome years ago. Bostwick. but they don't know that I've seen them. now get this strai ght. but. Sure. Frankly. and waiting for them to leave before I go out of the booth. otherwise known as Gregory Carey. "A week or so ago. That's right. She surrenders to the Chronicle. You can start running down those angles so that you can have something to put in the special edition you throw on the s . That'll make them think I'm expecting yo u here. a fter a moment." "Why?" "Because the detectives will grab you just as soon as you put in an appeara nce and before you have a chance to talk. Montaine is here.you'd have checked the trunk.. mind you. They'll get some place where they can watch me and stick around waiting for me to come out. Yo u can't have it appear that the Chronicle ran her to earth as she was trying to get away. I'll simply give you bits of information tha t you can get for yourself. You have a couple of reporters come to the telephone booth and I'll see that Rhoda Montain e surrenders herself to them.. I can 't even guarantee that you'll get a story. That's up to you. gave the number of the Chronicle and.. In the application for a marriage license. get your extra ready. Bostwick. Rhoda Lorto n described herself as a widow. your paper can get on the street with the news that Rhoda Montaine surrendered to the Chronicle.. a multimillionaire of Chicago. "How would you fellows like to have the ex clusive story of Rhoda Montaine. "I'm going to telephone the Chronicle. Rhoda Lorton married Carl W. It's got to be a surrender." he said.. this is Perry Mason. "Now you're going to surrender. I'm here at the Municipal Airport. Tell them that you won't talk unless your attorney is present." "Then what?" "Then. You're going to surr ender to some newspaper that will get an exclusive story. These bird s have got me spotted now." Mason said.
" "How did they know about me?" she asked. Perry Mason." he said. "Go on. picked up the telephone receiver and pretended once more to be telephoning. "No. "I had done something awful. I'd tried to trace him. "it's you they want. but it was on account of Carl. that I'm trying to keep under cover until they leave. They figure it's a cinch you're going to meet me here and that I'm waiting for you. well." Her voice sounded indistinct as it drifted up from the lower part of the te lephone booth." he told her. I think he'd been in prison. "and know that I've spotted them. He'd disappeared. She gave a quick gasp. but. cocked hi s head slightly so that he could hear her words." Mason said." "Aren't they likely to come in here?" she asked in a muffled voice... He pretend ed to be asleep and heard you go out and heard you come back. that's all I can tell yo u. Yes. He turned around as though to leave the telephone booth. except that he'd been killed in an airplane wreck. figuring that will draw me out in the o pen. 'I told you so." she wailed. Good-by. for some reason . looked throu gh the glass. I thought he was de ad. Not that I was so frightened about going to jai l. I don't know yet why he wasn't. "No. They've got nothing on me. with your head pushed up against a metal telephone box and your knees pushed up against your chin. I've given you all the dope I can. you try sitting down here. That's why I hadn't heard anything from him. caught sight of one of the detectives. Rhoda. They'll stick around in plain sigh t for a while and then pretend to leave." . "Your husband. he didn't take the plane. "Were you going to say something!" she asked.. "Gregory was in trouble. "so don't waste any of it feeling sorry for yourself and crying. with a man's feet tram ping all over your dress.a woman who was little better than a street walker.. her voice sounding as though she were about ready to start sobbing. and you'd talk like that too. I couldn't find out anything about him.' a nd I didn't want to have my marriage to Carl annulled. "H e was asleep. The passenger list showed that he had been on the airship. His parents thought Carl had married beneath h im . "You slipped some Ipral tablets into his c hocolate. I didn't want to have a nything happen that would give Carl's father a chance to say. They'll get under cove r somewhere. checked himself just as the words were on his lips. Now go ahead and t ell me what happened." The receiver was still squawking protests as Perry Mason slammed it back on the hook. "Your voice sounded like it." "No. "But my husband doesn't know anything!" she said. Go on. No." "You aren't telling me very much." he said." "Well." she snapped back at him. I'd have wagered anything he was dead. paused. The reason she came to t he airport is because I told her to meet me here." The lawyer started to say something. ostensibly into the telephon e. lowered his head.treets. but he was too foxy for you and didn't drink the chocolate." Perry Mason indulged in a chuckle. He had a ticket to go on the plane." she said." Mason told her. "Gregory knew about it. with the receiver pressed against his ear. "I'm trying to tell you the best I can. The y're going to give me a chance to walk into the trap now. but his body wasn't found. It was some thing that would put me in jail." Mason warned her. he wasn't. "They've spotted me.. she'll surrender herself at the airport." he said. I don't know just what kind of trouble. then I just acted on the assumption that he was dead. turned his shoulder so that it concealed as much of his face as possible. "You haven't got any too much time. ." "I'm not feeling sorry for myself and I'm not going to waste time crying. I guess he was afraid officers were watching for him . He's alway s in a jam of some sort. And then.
" "All right. He was going to put that in the other tire and put it back on the spa re. and I tried to telephone you." she said. He said that Carl would pay to keep from having his name dragged into a lawsuit. I'd driven on it when it was fla t. "Notwithstanding the fact that Gregory had take n your money. pull out t he nail and put in a new tube." "Then what happened?" "Then he got abusive. dressed and sneaked out of t he house. There was a service station that was open a few blocks from the house." "What did you do?" "I told him I wasn't going to pay him a cent. He was going to sue Carl for alienation of affection." "Then what?" "Then I went to Gregory's apartment. So he had to take that tire off. It must have been ten or fifteen minutes after two." he said. so that he'd be asleep. It was after two o'clock. I told him I couldn't wait for him to repair the other. He was furious. The tube that had been in there was ruined. He said no. He said that I was still his wife and that Carl had come between us." Mason's laugh was sardonic. I was late. Gregory came back. backed out my Chevrolet coupe. closed the garage door. A man there changed the tire for me. th at I must deposit at least two thousand dollars to his credit in the bank by the time the bank opened in the morning. "You don't understand." "What happened?" "Gregory was in an awful temper. It was from Gregory. "Were you wearing gloves?" "Yes. he wanted to tal k with me. Carl woul d have died before he would have let his name get dragged into the courts. shifting his position slightly so that he could s teal a hasty glance through the glass door of the telephone booth into the lobby of the airport building. that I had to get another ten thousand dol lars from my husband. he was going to sue my husband an d have me arrested. and he told me I would have to give him a final answer that night." "Did you ring the bell?" "Yes. and then we found that the spare tire had a nail in it. I drove on the flat to that service station. I started to drive away from the h ouse. that if I didn't get it. He insisted that I could get money from Carl." she said." "You mean the tube that had the nail in it?" "Yes. It wasn't a question of whether he could win the law suit. so he gave me a claim check for it and I was to pick it up later on. go on. "There was another telegram th ere. He told me to telephone him. I unlocked the garage door." "What did you do?" . "I thought you promised me you weren't going to do anything until you'd told me the whole story. I to ld him I could give him my final answer right then. and evidently forgot to lock it. and you hadn't heard from him for years."Well." "I went back to see Nell Brinley." "Then what?" Mason asked. it was a question of whether he had the legal right to bring it. He grabbed me. and then realized I had a flat tire. He said he'd give me a break if I'd come to talk to him." "But. so I made an appointment for two o'clock in the morning with Gregory and then slipped a double dose of Ipral int o Carl's chocolate. "Then. It was almost flat." Mason protested." "What happened next?" "I ran to the telephone and reached for the receiver." "I tried to pick up the receiver." "What time was it?" "I don't know." Mason said. I telepho ned him. There was enough air in it so the puncture didn' t show until he'd changed the tires. "I got up shortly after one. I knew that I couldn't get away while my husband was awake. skipped out. He told me I had to get him some money." "Just a moment.
I remember swinging the poker and then everythin g got dark. I know I hit him. I dropped my hand and grabb ed the first thing I came to. and the sound of a man trying to follow me into the bedroom. and he staggered back and I think he fell down.you know. I ran through the bedroom.a man who was striking matches." "Did you go down the stairs?" the lawyer asked. It hit him somewhere on the head. "It was just as I hit him." "How soon after the bell stopped ringing?" "Just a minute or two. You see." "Was that before you hit him. I don't think the person at the door could have heard the sounds of the struggle." "You went to it?" "Yes. He dropped to the floor when I hit him and lay motionless. into the bedroom and stumbled over a chair and fell flat." "When did it start ringing?" "I don't know exactly. Anyway I he ard him fall. He rang it for several seconds at a time." "Some one was trying to get in?" "Yes. I was afraid to. I just hit out blindly. Mason. and some one was following me." "Yes." "So then what happened?" "Then I ran out of the room. "No." "What bell?" "The doorbell. because he rang the bel l in a funny way. and started to go downstairs. I swung it. It was the poker." "How long did it continue to ring?" "Quite a while." "What happened after that?" "I broke loose from him. a shovel and a brush on it. or afterwards?" Perry Mason asked. I guess I killed him. I did." "How did it sound?" "As though some one were trying to waken Gregory. "Yes." Mason said." "Perhaps you didn't hit him." "You don't know who it was?" "No. and then rang again." "Where was your car parked?" "Around the corner on the side street. There was a stand by the fireplace. You see. out into the corr idor. the lights went out. I guess. I didn't. There was someone else in the apartment . I didn't mean to. "I heard a match striking ." . the sound made by a match scraping ov er sandpaper." "You don't know whether Gregory was dead or not?" "No." "So." "But you didn't go down until the bell stopped ringing?" "That's right. She squirmed about. shortly after the bell stopped ringing. you went downstairs. Mr. He did that several times." "Did you see anyone?" "No." "Then did you run away?" "No. with a poker. the bell had been ringing. Rhoda. It was sometime during the time we were struggling. He came toward me again." "Go on. is that r ight?" "Yes."I struggled with him and pushed him away." "The lights went out?" Mason exclaimed. It al l happened in just a second or two. The power must have been t urned off. every light in the place went out all at once. vainly trying to find relief from her cramped position. I was afraid to stay in there. then stopped for sev eral seconds.
you'd dropped your keys in Gregory's apartment. I drove the car back to the garage." "And you went upstairs to bed?" "Yes." he asked. "who the person could have been that was rin ging the doorbell?" "No. I was nervous.."Now. "You had closed the door of the garage when you left." "He asked you if you'd been out?" "No." "You asked him for some coffee?" "Yes." "So then what?" "So I telephoned the express company. he was up making coffee." "When did you find it out?" "Not until I read the newspaper." "And what did you do?" "I went back to bed." "And in order to do that." "And you lied to him?" "Yes. because I'd given him enough hypnotic to keep him sleeping until late. but hadn't locked it?" "Yes. The ignition key was in the lock. had a cab come. I opened the newspaper and then realized I was trapped. then. you had to slide it back along the run-way?" "Yes." "Did you leave the doors open or closed when you left?" "What doors?" "The door into the hallway from Gregory's apartment. but I didn't. I knew the police could trace me sooner or later. I knew Carl would recognize it as soon as h e saw it. and rushed out here to take a plane." "All the way back?" "Yes. It caught there. dozed a bit." "Did you know they were missing?" "Not then. and the door at the fo ." "And you did that and then drove your car into the garage." "Just a minute." Mason interrupted. and I couldn't get it loose. I thought it was rather strange. I'd shoved it over the bumper of the other car." "You had a talk with your husband this morning?" "Yes. brought in the milk and the newspaper." Perry Mason pursed his lips thoughtfully. The photograph of the ga rage key was staring me in the face." "Just as you had left it?" "Yes. is that right?" "Yes. I thought Carl had gone for a walk. opened the d oor.." "You knew there was a plane left about this time?" "Yes. had them express my trunk to a fictit ious name and address. I tried to close it. I took a powerful sedative." "How did you get in the car?" "The car door wasn't locked. I thought I locked it. got up. What's more. "Have you any idea." "I must have." "And it was still closed?" "Yes." "Then he went out?" "Yes." "And you left the garage door open?" "Yes. Apparently you dropped them when you picked up the poker. It was unlocked. not that way. but when I'd pushed it back. packed up my things. and." "So what did you do?" "So I opened the door. He asked me how I'd slept. took a bath dressed.
" "Was he there at Moxley's house last night?" "Good heavens." "I thought you said he told the police?" "He did. The police must have taken photographs of the roo m where Moxley was found. th at he knew you had tried to drug him.. I want to get some of those photographs. Find out everything you can about him and about his record. There'll be some developments within a few min utes." Mason said. I was quivering a ll over and drenched with perspiration. I want you to investigate every angle you can uncover. Get all the dope you can." "You mustn't judge him by that. Interview the witnesses. keep on with Moxley. that leads to the street." she said. "What does he k now about Doctor Millsap?" "I don't know. Those fellows drive like the devil. that you got the garage door stuck and lied to him when he asked you abo ut it being open." The receiver made a succession of metallic sounds. What do you know about him?" "He's a friend. There must have been some fingerprints on that doorknob." he said to Rhoda Montaine." he said when he heard the voice of the detective on the wire. and my hands were perspiring. You've got to promise me that you'll keep quiet.ot of the stairs. "You've read the papers. I can't tell you. And here's something funny.. "Perry Mason talking. of course. I couldn't do anything with him on that. Then she said in startled tones.." Mason said grimly.. "I was frightfully excited. The district atto rney will probably sew up the witnesses who are going to testify for him. I want you to start a general investigation. I'm representing Rhoda Montaine. I was there earlier in the day." "I didn't think he was that clever. It was a hot day. I want to know why. They're going to do everything they can to make yo u talk." she wailed. "Now. Moxley must have opened and closed it a dozen times during the day. Never mind that now. He came to call on me first.. Some of the n ewspaper men should be able to give you a break. No." "I can't remember.. I'm go ing to beat him to it if I can." she said. isn't it?" "It won't do you any good. G'bye. I'll see you later. "and that lie about the ga rage door is going to trap me." "Who?" "Doctor Millsap." Perry Mason dropped another nickel into the telephone. Can you do that?" "Yes. no!" "You're sure?" "Yes. that you'd gone out. The poli ce are going to question you. "And Carl told you he was going to tell the police?" "Yes. Paul... The men from the Chronicle will be here any minute. "Yes. crouched in the cramped position on the floor of the telephone booth. moved a few inches to one side. What if she was wearing gloves?.. They're going to give you all kinds of opportunities to bust into conver sation. "we've got to work fast." Mason slammed the receiver back on the hook. about any one else?" "He told me he thought you might try to shield some one." . There were no fingerprints o n that doorknob. "You know the gene ral situation then. shifted her knees slightly. That w ould have concealed her fingerprints. but others must have been using that door. that he'd heard you c ome in. You probably know by this t ime that she's the woman you saw come out of my office yesterday. Rhoda Montaine. How did you know about the garage door ?" "Your husband told me. "He's really nice. You get started. He had ideas of what his dut y was. gave the number of P aul Drake's office. Did he say an ything about.. "Okay." Mason could hear her gasp." "What did he say?" "He said he'd recognized the key that was photographed in the newspaper.
. Perry Mason twisted the knob of th e door. "Where's your car? You've got to rush her." One of the reporters moved toward the telephone booth. "is Rhoda Montaine. She."No matter what happens you're going to keep quiet?" "Yes. Perry Mason paced his office with the restlessness of a caged tiger." said Perry Mason. and she surrendered to the Chronicle before you ever saw her. "Where's the girl?" asked the newspaper man. They'll." The two detectives swooped down on the group." he said. "This is Rhoda Montaine. "Take it easy. She's our prisoner. Another reporter slipped around from behind the corner of the telephone boo th. and hi s restless walking furnished an outlet for excess physical energy. "So that's the kind of a dirty damn shyster you are. "Dell . "Damn them! They would work that trick on me. "Pipe down. Rhoda.. is it?" he sai d. "The cops. her stenogr apher's notebook under the tip of a poised pencil." The door opened. We tracked her here and made the ar rest." he said." The other detective muttered a warning. She surrenders to you gentlemen as representatives of the Chronicle. Mason broke off and lo oked through the glass. "let's go. Mason's jaw jutted forward. They've taken her to som e outlying precinct. Gone was the patient air of philosophical contemplation which characterized many of his meditative indoor perambulations. They came up on the run. We've got the girl." T here was a gentle tap on the door of the telephone booth. knowing that the Chronicle will give her a sq uare deal." he told her. "I' ve arranged to be notified whenever she enters either headquarters or the distri ct attorney's office. The card show ed that he was a reporter from the Chronicle. got to her feet." Mason interrupted." "I tell you. "They've buried her. He's dynamite. Will you do that?" "Of course." "Like hell she did." he said." he volunteered. His eyes became steely. rather than a means of concentration. a leather-backed notebook po ised on his knee. "they. That's all the break we need. frown ing at the silent telephone. Tell them you want me there whenever they get you on the carpet." h e said." "You've got hell!" one of the reporters said. We get the credit." He flung about and snapped an order at Della Street. Della Street was seated at a corner of the desk. took notes from time to time of the points of information Maso n wanted uncovered. The other pushed a face that was livid with rage up close to M ason's face. they've buried her. "or I'll button your lip with a set of knuckles. "In just about fifteen minut es. She has recognized the garage key which was published in the paper as the key to her garage.. Mason. He was now a grim fighter. "Yes. "you boys can buy a paper on the street and read all about who get s the credit. I've told you I would half a dozen times. She watched the lawyer with e yes bright with concentrated admiration. "Perhaps. gumshoe." Mason said. Paul Drake." 8." he said. "She was in there all the time?" asked one of the reporters. The newspap er men stared at her in surprise. "This. How many more times d o I have to tell you?" "Dozens. Two men emerged from behind the low. glass-enclosed partition which separat ed the ticket office from the lobby." Paul Drake looked at his wristwatch. "Okay. "Hello. Rhoda Montaine reached for Perry Mason's hand. One of them grabbed Rhoda Mon taine by the arm. "and that probably wouldn't be enough. Joe. his tongue savage." The second reporter rasped out an oath..... speaking rapidly. the detective." "Insist on calling me. A young man held a card against the glass." Mason said. He grinned as he dro pped a nickel and gave the number of the Chronicle. She's showed up at neither place..
"We could." "Can they do that?" "Sure." "Why won't it work?" Drake demanded.. un less the wife consents." "As a material witness?" Drake asked. on the ground that the marriage was void from the beginning. "That's the law." he said." "He won't do it. They'd let him go to see his father if the y thought you didn't know about it. If they can prove Rhoda Montaine had another husband living at the t ime she married Carl that second marriage would be void from its inception. Abruptly he whirle d. resuming once more the sava ge pounding of his heels as he strode up and down the office. from soup to nuts. As such. It's a cinch the district attorney will have some of this. swiftly efficient. They've got to use the testimony of Carl Montaine to build up the case against Rhoda. to testify against his wife. "get to the files. "Here's one more thing. Anyway. I'll slap them in the face with a habeas corpus." Mason said. In fact. Now." Della Street." "You mean women?" "Yes." "Not a divorce?" Drake asked." "Then the husband can testify?" Drake asked. Follow the allegations of that petition. the lawyer shook his head. Dig into his past and find out." "Why?" "Because I want to get some money out of him. He'll." "The father." "That's the law in this state?" asked Paul Drake. Thi s wasn't a first time with him. vanished from the office. "No." Perry Mason said. "No. Slowly." Mason said." "You mean you want him to pay for defending Rhoda?" "Yes. I'll sign i t as an attorney acting on behalf of the prisoner. he can't be called as a witness in a criminal case. I want to know all about his past life. Now." Mason went on. Get one of the typists to rus h it out. I want to get a lot more. It's a cinch he'd go by plane.. "Now." Paul Drake scribbled in his notebook. Dig out the application for a writ of habeas cor pus in the case of Ben Yee. We could watc h the plane and stick one of my men on as a passenger. there was a telephone call. a divorce wouldn't do any good. We'd have to forge a signature to a telegram. Crooks don't usual ly change their modes of operation. They'd still have been husband and wif e when the murder took place. I've go t to reach that man." he said. It's too risky . I want you to start digging out a lot of stuff about Gregory Mox ley. We've got to figure some way of getting at him. he'll sew him up so we can't get at him. "That's the telephone call that wok . "that won't do. "fake a messag e that his father was ill in Chicago." he said." asked Drake." He paced the floor in savage silence. The detective volunteered a suggestion. Carl Montaine is her husband." "Well. particularly those that he went through a marriage ceremony with. "It's a good scheme. "Either as a material witness or as an accomplice." "He will when I get done with him. The operative could conta ct Carl and pump him dry en route. "Yes. and Della Street returned to her seat at the desk. It was his mode of operation." he said. It won't work . I want to get everything about him. if you can. "is the type that will come out here to have a ha nd in things. I'm sort of planning on bringing him here if he doesn't c ome of his own accord. What they'll do is start an action for annulment. They'd raise hell." Perry Mason paused in his restless pacing to frown thoughtfully. The door f rom the outer office opened. "Another thing Paul. every one t hat he's victimized.a. "The district attorney is going to sew up the husband. "isn't that a break for you?" "No. Perry Mason whir led toward the detective. "because that means they'll start an action to annu l the marriage between Rhoda and Carl Montaine. That'll smoke them in to the open before they've got a chance to do too much damage.
Perhaps I have lived too long. I think so." Drake's pencil traveled over the page of his notebook. but I do know that I swore to love. "It's going to start a discussion. If the fir st newspaper accounts sketch this woman as a nurse who drugged her husband. Take a letter to that newspaper. The current press contains the account of a "law-abiding" husband who read in the papers some stuff that ma de it appear his wife had been in contact with a man who was murdered. Personally. and. but then. I think the world is going throu gh another one of those periods of hysteria. "what else?" "There's the business of that shadow . "Yes. in place of going to her for an explanation. "Personally I think so. He had an appoin tment with Rhoda at two o'clock. explosive words: "I'm just an old-fashioned husband. In place of trying to shield his wife. "Della. shortly b efore his death. to the attention of the editor of the readers' column. "What g ood's that going to do. to embark upon an orgy of government al spending. and shake our h eads sadly that we could have been swept off our feet by such contagious financi al fallacies. He may have been a professional detective. We've got to center the attention on the wrong that was done her by her husband. You've got to fin d out who was willing to pay out good money to find out what Rhoda was doing." Paul Drake looked up at Perry Mason and said in his drawling voice. It must have come in some time before two o'clock. We've got a delicate job on our hands. "I want to set the stage for some publicity." "You think it came before two o'clock?" Drake asked. It may be you can trac e it. "We look back on our spending orgy that culminated in 1929. One of the morning papers has a readers' column in which they publish letters from readers. "Isn't it equally possible that some sweet spring morning we will wake up w ith a terrific headache and wonder if we weren't just as hysterical in our anxie ty to sweep aside all of our old standards. with those new ideas that make it seem tha t a person who has lived frugally and saved a part of his income is an economic leper. when we should have tried governmental economy. Then the telephone rang and woke him up. some one hired him." Della Street nodded.e Moxley up. He lay down to get a few hours' sleep. this 'law-abiding' husband rushes to the police and gets th em to arrest his wife. and I cer tainly shall try to do so to the best of my ability. Se e if you can find out anything about that telephone call. Perry Mason started to dictate quic k. and pledges his cooperation to help the police make out a case. He got up out of bed and answered it. rather than the wrong that she did to her husband. it's going to be bad for us. We haven't found out about him yet. honor and cherish my wife. Mason swung to Della Street. He was waiting for this two o'clock appointment. Perhaps this is just the trend of modern times. last bu t not least." "You mean about the husband?" "Sure." . that motion picture actors can't be popular unless they punch women in th e nose. I don't think so." Drake nodded.the one who was tailing Rhoda Montai ne when she came to this office. to have penalized t hose who had weathered the economic storm with savings in the bank. I am just an "OLD-FASHIONED HUSBAND. I think you'll find it was the telephone call that woke M oxley up." he said . Perry?" "A lot of good. Be sure that it isn't on stationery that can be traced to this office. "All right. I do n't know what the world is coming to." Mason said. Perhaps I have lived past my time. and he mentioned over the telephone that he was going to meet Rhoda at two o'clock and that she was going to give him money. Personally. If he was. to have given the sanction of our prosecuting officers to a husband who would rush frantically to the nearest police station to snitch on his wife." he said. poised her pencil.
" "Then. he'd been her husband once. to bring in a flood of correspondence that will make the news paper sit up and take notice." The detective nodded. "In the first place. sh ows the picture was taken at three eighteen. It doesn't seem to me it wo uld be a hard job to make the jury believe that was what happened." Mason said. there will be enough senti ment. pro and con. drumming with his fingers on th e edge of the photograph." Mason remarked. Perry Mason indicated a portion of t he photograph. "Take a look at this." "What about it?" "It shows that the hand was set just a little before two o'clock. "Take another look. as I understand it." Paul Drake's glassy eyes surveyed Perry Mason steadily." Drake said." "Remember. "There's lots of your points I don't get. Paul. The detective pushed over to the desk. Lots of people woul dn't care enough one way or the other to write in and take sides with Rhoda or w ith her husband. but. "I guess. "Yes. the time of exposure. "you can see the dial in the upper part o f the alarm clock. studied the m carefully for several minutes. "That. The fig ures in the right-hand corner of the photograph." "How about that photograph?" asked Perry Mason. he did n't need the alarm. "there's that business of druggin g her husband." "That's only part of it." "What are you getting at?" "By looking closely."Then why put all the political stuff in it?" "Because I want to be sure that it starts a discussion. but if she told you the truth. the dial that regulates the alarm. "the alarm clock is pictured plainly enough to show the hands distinctly. It was on a stand by the bed. "is the danger of formu lating a defense before you know all the facts." he said. spread them on his desk. pulled out a manila envelope and extracted four photographs printed o n glossy paper. He was all dressed by the time the alarm went off. "Yes. she's undoubtedly told you there was a struggle and she struck Moxley with the poker." Perry Mason shook his head slowly." he said." "What's wrong with that as a defense?" asked the detective." he said. took out a magnifying glass and studied one of the photographs through it. The hands point to three seventeen. and it's not always easy to . "you're right at that. Mason took the photographs. Therefore. "that's the alarm clock. Paul." Drake nodded slowly." "Sure. He wanted to be awake when she called. where the police photographer m ade a note of the location of the camera." "Didn't leave him much time to dress." Mason said. That's self-d efense." "And." Perry Mason told him. Then he opened the drawer of his desk. "That hand looks to me as though it was set for perhaps five or ten minutes before two o'clock. "That telephone call woke Moxley up." Drake said. and it will assign a sob sister to play up the ang le of the betraying husband." "You still don't get my point. the bed had been slept in but Moxley was fu lly dressed at the time he was killed. "the importance of that alarm clock becomes doubly s ignificant. You've got to understand something of the psychology of jurors in order to figure what they'll do in any given case. "Did you get photographs of the room where the murder was committed?" Paul Drake picked up a brief case which he had propped against the foot of his chair. by putting in this other stuff." "Yes. "Why the devil don't yo u go in and plead self-defense? I'm not asking you to violate any of your client 's confidences. That puts the alarm clock only a mi nute off. as compared with police time." "Why?" "Take a glass and look at it. She probably had seen him in pajamas before." he said." Mason went on." he said. "He had an appointment for two o'clock with Rhoda Monta ine. and so forth." the lawyer replied.
she wouldn't have left fing erprints on anything. You tell him that I'm going to wait j ." she said." 9." she said. If she didn't kill him herself. "I don't like to fight with women.32 caliber Colt automatic that was registered in his name." he said. he jerked open the door of a coat closet. "Well. Moreover.nothing she would need to obliterate." the detective reminded him. "to give Doct or Claude Millsap the works. "This is the last page." he said. Now you get through that door and tell Doctor Millsap that Perry Mason wants to see him about a . A person who was wearing gloves wouldn't have left behind any fingerprints to worry about . glanced meaningly at Della Street. "So that's what you were getting at when you phoned me." "What makes you think that?" "The fact that there are no fingerprints on the doorknob. but when there were no fingerprints on the knob of the door or on the murder we apon it means that some one took a rag and carefully obliterated all of the fing erprints. between two an d two twenty. "Get a judge to issue the writ." he said. when the neighbors decided to notify the police. He doesn't see people without an appointment." "That's just the point. "ready for your signat ure. The fact that Carl Montaine's wife was a nurse. "Just long enough. and must know who did it. A few moments." She nodded." Drake's frown was thoughtful. "Rhoda wore gloves." "They can show she was in the room at the time of death." Mason said. what if she did? If she had worn gloves. "Send it up. "It should be ready for my signature." he said. I'm going out. she's got to admit that she did the killing." Perry Mason said slowly. "that's Doctor Millsap's private office." Drake said. and that she placed a drugged drink in his hand." Perry Mason scrawled his signature. she wouldn't need to worry about fingerprints. "You can't go in there. But one of the bad th ings in this case is that Ipral bottle. would she?" "That's right. if she's going to plead self-defe nse." Perry Mason stared steadily at her. She had to have the garage keys in order to open the garage doors when she started. And the police didn't find any of her fingerprints. "I'm not certain but what she may be trying to shield somebody. th e jury certainly is going to believe that she was there when the killing took pl ace." "Going to be long?" asked Paul Drake." "What do you mean?" "I mean that a woman wearing gloves wouldn't leave any of her fingerprints. pulled out a hat. "I've told you that I was an attorney and that I was going to see Doctor M illsap on a matter of great importance to him. Abruptly. See that it's served. is going to do more to prejudice an American jury against her than anything that could possibly be unco vered in connection with the murder. Doctor Millsap's nurse bristled with indignation. She left them there. Perry Mason's smile was ominous. I'm not certain that the prose cution can show she did the killing. moved with the swiftly silent efficiency of a nurse making thin gs ready for a major operation. It's a foregone c onclusion that Rhoda Montaine had left her house in the dead of night to go to M oxley's apartment. You'll have to make an appointment at his convenience. "if she hadn't left fingerprints because she wore g loves." Mason insisted." he said.look at the thing just the way they're going to figure it. bearing a piece of paper in her hand. Perry Mason resumed his pacing of the office. "Take a look at that habeas corpus peti tion. and she returned. clapped it firmly into position on his head. The fact that she was there is shown by the fact that her gar age keys were there." "Then. The only reason a person would do that would be to obliterate certain telltale fingerprints. "The killing certainly must have taken place right around two o'clock.
You can either get out. Th e office smelled of antiseptics. "She sent you here?" "No." he said. If you could recall some of the particular cir cumstances. 1929." he said. his eyes cold and steady. "Who are you?" asked Doctor Millsap." Doctor Millsap took a deep breath." Mason's face flushed with anger.. "that time's valuable. as t hough his knees had lost their strength. and dropped into a chair as he spoke. I have a great number of cases and I can't remember.four-square. "To hell with that line of stuff!" he said ." "Sit down. I could. At the sound of the opening door she wh irled. She hesitated a moment. "and I certainly don't understand the meaning of this unwarranted intrusion. "Let's see. Doctor. Doctor Millsap's face was a sickly gray. then walked past him through the door." he said. You wouldn't adopt that . I didn't have any to waste in preliminaries. or I'll call the police and have you put out. I don't know how friendly. panic-stricken words poured from his lips like water from a hose. His eyes were sick with panic. Mason held Doctor Millsap's eyes. "You're friendly with Rhoda Montaine." Perry Mason said slowly.. Of course.. Perry Mason consulted his wristwatch. Surgical instruments glittered in glass cases.32 caliber automatic. "for murder." Doctor Millsap ran his tongue along the line of his dry lips." Momentary relief became apparent in Doctor Millsap's expression.. On February twentieth.. The patient died on F ebruary twenty-third." he said." he said slowly. The name under which he was booked was that of Gregory Lorton." said Doctor Millsap. Pe rry Mason shot out his left arm doubled it smartly at the elbow so he could cons ult the dial of his wristwatch. "explain to them just how it happened that you made a false burial certificate for Gregory L orton in February. You were the attending physician. You can also explain to them how it happened that you g ave Rhoda Montaine a . "I don't know who you are. Her eyes were wide. He was like a solid block of granite . On the other side could be glimpsed a tiled operating room. opened t he door of Doctor Millsap's private office and slammed it shut behind her with e mphasis. turned. looked over t o the nurse with desperate eyes." Perry Mason's feet were planted wide apart. Perry Ma son shut the door behind him with silent finality.ust exactly thirty seconds. For some reason she di dn't want to get a divorce. "a man by the nam e of Lorton. You signed the death certificate." A hint of panic showed in the nurse's eyes.. The slammi ng of the door of the outer office constituted his answer. giving him a decidedly professional appearance. "You don't understand. "It happens. A row of bookcases was visible through an open doorway. with panic in her eyes. You say it was in 1929?. with instructions to shoot Gregory M oxley. perhaps. unyie lding. She hesitated. and I didn' t want you to take time to think up a bunch of lies and make me waste more time proving that they were lies. "to start tal king. a patient was admitted to the Sunnyside Hospital with pneumonia." he said. Quick. the facts connected with each one. then I'm coming in. "See that we're not disturbed." "Where is she?" "Under arrest. his chin belligerent. twisted the knob and pushed it open. "Get out. You knew she' d married Gregory Lorton and that Lorton had skipped out. Doctor Millsap wore a white robe. o ffhand. look it up in my re cords. "You've got ten seconds." Doctor Millsap licked his lips once more. The nurse had one hand on Doctor Millsap's shoulder. cold." "How did you happen to come here?" "Because I wanted to find out about that death certificate and the gun. A concave mirror was fastened about his f orehead with a leather strap. Mabel. 1929. stared venomously at Perry Mason. "I'm Rhoda Montaine's attorney." Doctor Millsap squared his shoulders. Sh e had been leaning toward the physician." Mason told her. "When you get the police on the telephone. Precisely at the end of thirty se conds he strode to the door.
until an investigati on had been completed." "Why did you sign the death certificate?" "So she could collect the life insurance. otherwise we couldn't have worked it as easily as we did. this man died. Rhoda went on paying for the fifteen hundred policy. in fact. I'm her best friend." "What was wrong with the life insurance?" "We couldn't prove that Gregory Lorton had died. But. The life insurance company wouldn't take that as proof. but we couldn't prove conclusi vely that he had been on that plane. She didn't know what to do. If she had secured a divorce. I tol d him that if he would consent to use the name of Gregory Lorton. He answered all the questions so that the records of the h ospital showed just the same as they did on the application for a marriage licen se. The attor ney acted in good faith. He told her that he was negotiating for a fifty thousand doll ar insurance policy in her favor." . I'll swear to that. because I thought tha t if he lived I could do the same thing over again with some other unfortunate. As it was. and then Rhoda had her attorney stumble on the fact of death a few weeks later by writing to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. She didn't want to r emain married to him. but that there was some hitch in it and the co mpany would only write fifteen hundred dollars temporarily. I made a death certificate. There were a lot of charity patients applying for hosp italization. many of them were suffering from fatal maladies. beyond any doubt. She felt she was a widow. There was a rumor that he had been in an airplane wreck. The records of the transportation company showed that he'd purchased a ticket to go on that plane. "Then I got an idea. Many of them couldn't be accommodated. He just paid one premium on it an d then left. A man of about the size. "Yes. If Rhoda had gone about it right i n the first place. I tried my best to save his life." "Were they policies that Lorton took out in favor of his wife?" "Yes. I didn't try to hasten the end. I don't think she'd have had any trouble getting the payment made on the strength of the airplane disaster. "That fifteen hundred policy was just a blind. "The man did it. and answer que stions as to his father's and his mother's name and address in a certain way. The probabilities are he's forgotten about it. He got her to take out a policy in his favor for ten thou sand dollars. He put the matter up to the insurance company and they paid the policies. that he was dead. because Gregory Lorton had an unused credit on the books of the hospital. until one of them did die. We did everything we could for the man. I could get him into the hospital. she got up against som e officious clerk in the insurance company who tried to make things difficult fo r her. there was that period of waiting. Some lawyers told Rhoda she would have to wait for seven years and then bring an action to ha ve it established on the records that her husband was dead. T he death certificate was filed within a year. I'm in love with her. that would have been an admi ssion that he was alive. he intended to kill her and collect the insurance if he hadn't been able to get what money she had and skip out with it. build and age of Gregory Lorton wa s trying to get admission to the hospital.attitude if you did. No bodies were recovered." "How much were the policies?" "Not very much. I care more for her than anything in the world. Undoubtedly. The airplane a ccident took place within a few months of the time the first premium was paid. I've loved her e ver since I've known her. He persuaded Rhoda that they should each take out some insurance in f avor of the other. and Rhoda collected the policy fro m my death certificate." "Then what happened?" "Then. You're Rhoda Montaine's lawyer. I think they were around fifteen hundred dollars in all. except the body o f one man. S he felt." "Of course. I saw that he was suffering from pneu monia and knew that the case would be almost certain to terminate fatally." Doctor Millsap said. despite everything I could do. he quit paying the premiums on the policies just as soon as he left her?" Perry Mason said.
She d idn't know what it was. isn't he?" "Yes." "I care more for Rhoda than I do for life itself. finally. She wanted something to mother. Having a child would give her the natural outle t for her maternal affections." "Why didn't she?" "She swore that she'd never marry again. "I don't like to discuss these matters w ith a stranger. and make it snappy. without taking his eyes f rom the man's face. and t ry to protect that man from the world. "She isn't fair with herself." he said in a voice that was e dged with suffering." "He is. "She can't be happy. "Is all this necessary?" he asked. the starved mother complex has gi ven her the irresistible desire to pick up some man who is weak and unfit." Doctor Millsap said slow ly. She had lost her faith in men. gradually nursing him back to a normal pl ace in life. and that I was jealous. "Naturally. as a child to his mother." "Tried to get her to marry you?" Doctor Millsap's face flushed. on the othe r hand." "Why did she marry him?" "It was a starved maternal complex. She fou nd just what she was looking for in this weak son of rich parents. She isn't reco gnizing the psychological significance of her feelings. "Yes." "How do you know?" "Because I know her and I know her motives. She de dicated her life to nursing the sick. and his perfidy had numbed her emotional nature. "Never mind what you like. "Why?" "Because I love her. "I don't like the way you say that. If she could be more happy with me than with any one else that would be the most wonderful thing that could happen to me." Perry Mason told him. What she's done is to suppress her natural sex fe elings over a period of years."You've known Rhoda some little time?" "Yes." he said." "Then out of a clear sky she married this millionaire's son?" asked Perry M ason." "Did you tell her that?" "I tried to. until." "Get any place with that line of argument?" "No. but that isn't the reason Rhoda married him. He looked up to Rhoda as a pupil looks up to his teacher." "Naturally you objected to the match?" Doctor Millsap's face was white. I love her so much that it's an unselfish love. unspoiled girl when Gregory Lorton tricked her into going thro ugh a marriage ceremony. I'm not going to confuse he r happiness with mine. "Yes. She only knew that all of a sudden she wanted something she could hold tightly to her and care for. She had no room for love." "You don't think she's going to be happy?" Doctor Millsap shook his head." "What did you do?" Doctor Millsap took a deep breath. She 'd been a simple. she could be more happy with some one else. If. "Anything that will make her happy is the thing I w ant. "go ahead and spill it." "What did she say?" "That I could never be more than a friend to her. than with me. "I've asked her to marry me." "What don't you like and why?" "The way you describe him as a millionaire's son." he said. What she really wants is a man she can love and respect." Doctor Millsap admitted with defiance in his voice. He thought it was love." said Mason. with obvious reluctance. I want her to . a young man w hose character was commencing to disintegrate.
She kn ew that before he did any of those things." "Why not?" "She was a bride. I can't go on the witness stand! You mean to testify for Rhoda?" . "Good God. he'd appeal directly to Carl Montaine and try and get money from him." he sai d. also for bigamy." "Why?" "Because some one was threatening to send him to jail for a swindle he'd wo rked. "If." "The witness stand!" exclaimed Millsap in dismay. I knew that he would lie." "You knew that she was going to see Moxley?" "Of course. was utterly without scruple." said Millsap. suddenly this detestable cad appeared on the scene. "So I stepped out of the picture. Lorton." "What did she do?" "Poor child. I was afraid to have Rhoda go and see him alone. without rancor. He insisted that if she didn't get it for him he would have her arr ested for working a fraud on the life insurance company. told him that if he didn't clear out she'd have him a rrested for the embezzlement of her money." "So you gave her the gun?" "Yes. He demanded money." "So you stepped out of the picture?" Mason inquired. It was money that she didn't have to give him. steal. He knew something about Montai ne's absurd complex about family and the snobbish attitude of Montaine's father." "And then Lorton showed up. "No. "So she faced Moxley. Moxley was very clever. I knew that this man Lorton. " "So what happened?" Mason demanded. you're not going to make Rhoda a very good witness. Then. yet Moxley stipulated that she couldn't have any one with her. because her happiness comes first." "He demanded it of Rhoda?" "Yes. or Moxley." "What did he want?" "Money. "Yes or no?" asked Mason. She thoug ht that her life was entirely wrapped up in his. Mason nodded." "And you gave her a gun with which to kill Moxley if the opportunity presen ted itself?" Doctor Millsap's shake of the head was vehement." he said." "Did it interfere with your friendship with Rhoda?" "Not in the least." "Do you know who the person was who threatened to send him to jail?" "No. The suppressed emotional nature of years was commencing t o re-assert itself. "you can't lie better than th at on the witness stand." "Then what?" "Then she married Carl Montaine. Mason snorted." "You suggested that she do that?" "Yes." "Do you know how much money he wanted?" "Two thousand dollars at once and ten thousand dollars later. or kill in order to accomplish his purpose." "Do you know what the swindle was?" "No. whichever you want to call him.have that some one else. "because I wanted her to have something to protect herself with if it became necessary." "Yes. I k new that he was in a jam and needed money. He fidgeted in his chair. She thought that she was in love with her husband. she didn't know what to do. or Moxley. Montaine had a horror of having his name dragge d through the newspapers. "I gave her a gun." "Did you know she was going to see him last night?" Doctor Millsap's eyes s hifted uneasily.
A man doesn't ordinarily take an alibi to bed with him. "if it weren't for the fact that the district attorney will question you and your Japanese servant about a telephone call that came in at two o'clock in the morning. walking rather slowly. I wonder ed if she was all right. the district attorney will call you to testify against Rhoda. Now tell me. I can't concentrat e. of course." Doctor Millsap's mouth sagged slowly open. I couldn't hear the bell. Doctor ." "Could you hear the sound of any struggle?" "No. and then saw that Rhoda's car was gone. Doctor." he said."No. "You don't look well. But I didn' t want to leave my car in front of the house. He'll try to show a motive for the murder . I couldn't hear anything. "Good God!" Millsap rejoined... "What is it?" Doctor Millsap asked." Words spilled from the doctor's mouth. I looked up at Moxley's apartment. calling from a public pay station. Perry Mason stared steadily at h im. No one answered.that motive will be an attemp t on the part of Rhoda to conceal the fraud she perpetrated on the insurance com pany. and the state ment that your Japanese man servant made that. The windows were all dark." Perry Mason said tonelessly." "Could you hear the ringing of the bell in the upper apartment?" "No." the lawyer suggested." he said. I went to bed and slept through until morning. "You knew that Rhoda was going to meet Gregory Moxley at two o'clock in the morning." Mason said. I woke up and couldn't sleep. Rhoda's car was parked on a side street. so I drove around the block. I can't handle my practice. I mean. "you tell me the facts.. "is better. I looked at my wristwatch. he'll show the fictitious death certificate and the conspiracy to defraud the insurance company." "When you were ringing the doorbell.. Perry Mason nodded slowly." "It would. "I wouldn't want to be quoted in what I a m about to say." The expression on Doctor Mills ap's face stopped Perry Mason in mid-sentence. and then saw that lights were on in Moxley's apartment. Not at two o'clock. If Rhoda's ca r hadn't been there I'd have thought Moxley was asleep. "what about it? " "Good God!" Millsap said. My Japanese servant told me it was a man who seemed to be drunk. where were you at two o'clock in the morning?" "Asleep. I decided to prowl aroun d the back of the house and see if there was any way I could get in. "Yes. "Can you prove it?" "I can prove it the same way any ordinary individual can." "Suppose.. "How could the district attorney have found out a bout that telephone call? I didn't figure there was one chance in a million that telephone call would ever enter into the thing at all. I would think my statement would be sufficient. All I know is what he told me when I came back. "How did you think I'd look? This thing has b een on my mind for days. I guess he sounded drunk. I haven't been able to sleep.... I wondered what Rhoda was doing. so I walked around past the side street to go to the front of the house and r ing the bell again. left my car. I figured my ringing the doorbell had awakened hi m. minute after minute. bu t later. I became alarmed when no one answered. I knew Rhoda must have gone to keep her a ppointment." Mason said slowly and impressively. Under the circumstances. I can't. I haven't been able to eat." he asked. I kept ri nging. "I was there." . Doctor?" Doctor Millsap seemed to wilt." he said." Perry Mason frowned thoughtfully. I got up and dressed. "Well." Perry Mason said. You know where that's going to leave you. drove to Norwalk Avenue. ever since Rhoda told me Lorton was alive and in the ci ty. "That. is that right?" "Yes. He's goi ng to try to build up just as much adverse sentiment against Rhoda Montaine as h e can. I rang the bell of Moxley's apartment. came through the alley." "How did he know the man was drunk?" "I don't know. Therefore. "you were standing on the little porch near the street.
" Mason dropped his business card on Doctor Millsap's desk. Doctor." "Of course I don't look well. Perry Mason opened the doo r from his inner office. a long ocean voyage?" "I'd certainly advise a change of scenery. thin shadow blotched against the frosted glass of the corrido r door. chief. and. A long. however. Your manner is decidedly jumpy. as an attorney. In the meantime. his jaw sagging." Doctor Millsap asked slowly. without looking back. then the knob turned. Counselor. advancing belligerently. O utside. I'm almost crazy!" "What. In order to make it appear pe rfectly regular. and Paul Drake entered the room as Della Street's busy fingers snapped the keys on the telephone board. you've got my telephone number on that card on your desk. You don't need to te ll him what's worrying you. There are circles under your eyes. I won't delay you any longer ."I said." he told her . I don't feel well. "See if it's important.. his shoulders squared. 10.and if he didn't look well?" "What are you driving at?" "Would you advise.. Incidentally." Mason said." contin ued Perry Mason. "for your diagnosis. Mason grinned at the detective. they are detectives from the Homicide Bureau. In the meantime. "Thank you. grabbed Mason's hand and pumped it up and down. You might even go so far as to ask him about an ocean voyage. but stopped as the sounds of muffled commot ion came from the outer office." said one of the detectives. getting to his feet. granite-steady eyes holding the detective in scornful appraisal. his chin thrust forward . I don't know what these men want." asked Perry Mason. "And. I'm merely interested in your health." Perry Mason interrupted." Millsap stop ped speaking abruptly in the middle of the sentence. indicating the tel ephone. perhaps. Morning sun streamed through the windows of Perry Mason's office. "if you should need an attorney." one of the detectives said. and I'm not a physician. his forehead furrowed in thoughtful appraisal. Millsap jumped to his feet. "For you. here's one of my cards. Perry Mason jerked open the door. You don't look well. pillowed it on her desk and sobbed. Perry Mason stared a t her for several seconds. They glowered at hi m for a moment. but if I were in y our place I wouldn't answer any questions. "that I'm to get out where they ca n't reach me? Wouldn't that be running away and leaving Rhoda to stand the brunt of the thing alone?" "As far as Rhoda is concerned. It's swell." Mason started to say something." he said. By all means call on some reputable p hysician. Della. I f there should be any developments call on me at once. Perry Mason held his ground." Della Street said. "you certainly do get around. It's the best yet. you might consult some friendly physician. then their eyes shifted to Doctor Millsap. If you ever need a lawyer. "that you didn't look well. then strode into the private office and slammed the door shut. "Thanks. in the entrance room. but you can tell him that you're worrying yourself s ick. The two detectives of the homicide squad who had arrested Rhoda Montaine at the airport stared at the law yer with incredulous surprise. The telep hone rang. Then h e slipped through the outer door and silently closed it behind him." Mason pushed past the detectives." Perry Mason jerked his head toward Doctor Millsap. "As I remarked. "Well. I t's an idea I hadn't thought of. I see these two men want to talk with you." "You mean. For your informa tion. I might tell you that you don't have to answer a ny questions you don't want to. Let him diagnose your case. My suggestion. "I wouldn't want to be quoted in the matter.. Doctor Millsap's office nurse dropped her head to the crook of her elbow. The men heard the protesting voice of Doctor Mil lsap's office nurse." "That's enough. well. don't hesitate to call on me.." said Perry Mason. "your presence here would do he r more harm than good. "would you advise a patient to do if he came to you in the mental state that you are now in . has nothing to do with Rhoda. I wouldn't want.
. Paul Drake held out a couple of newspapers. "See what's happened?" he asked . Mason raised his eyebrows in mute interrogation. Drake made a gesture of utter weariness, and said. "She's spilled her guts." The lawyer stared steadily at the detective, his feet planted wide apart. S lowly he smiled. Della Street slammed the telephone back into place, looked up a t Perry Mason, her face white with rage. "What's your trouble, sister?" Mason as ked. "That," she said, "was some smart aleck at headquarters who wanted to tell you - in a voice that fairly oozed gloating triumph - that your client, Rhoda Mo ntaine, had just finished signing a statement in the district attorney's office, and that you could see her at any time. He said you wouldn't need a writ of hab eas corpus; that she was being charged with murder in the first degree and that the authorities at the jail would be only too glad to let you see her at any tim e you wanted - and he put just the right amount of nasty sarcastic emphasis upon the 'too.'" Perry Mason stared down at her without changing a muscle of his facial expr ession. "Why," he asked, "didn't you let me talk with him?" "Because he was just trying to goad you," she said. Mason said slowly, "Hereafter, when any one wants to do that, put me on the line. Remember this, Della, I can dish it out, and I can take it." He turned to Paul Drake, "Come in, Paul," he said. The men entered Mason's inner office, closed the door. Paul Drake whipped o ver a newspaper. "Details?" asked Perry Mason. "Lots of them. They don't give the signed statement, but the paper was evid ently held for release until the statement had been signed." "What does she say?" Mason asked. "She says that Moxley was trying to blackmail her; that he insisted on her coming to see him at two o'clock in the morning; that she got up while her husba nd was asleep, left the house and went to see Moxley; that she rang the doorbell for several minutes and couldn't get in, so she turned around, got in the car a nd went home." "Does she say anything about how she rang the bell?" "Yes, pushing her finger against the button and holding it there for severa l seconds at a time because she thought perhaps Moxley was asleep." "And then," Perry Mason said, "I suppose they flashed the fact of the garag e key on her, and asked her to explain how it got in Moxley's apartment, if she hadn't been able to get him to answer the door." "Exactly," Drake said. "And the way she answered it was that she'd been the re earlier in the afternoon and had dropped the keys; that she hadn't realized i t until quite a bit later." Mason smiled, a wry smile which held no mirth. It was like the grimace of a man who has bit into a lemon. "And all of this time," he said, "Carl Montaine i s insisting that he locked the door of the garage when he put his car in, and th at Rhoda must have had her keys in order to get the garage open; that she, herse lf, told him she had left her purse in the car and that she went out and unlocke d the door in order to get the purse just before she went to bed." "Oh, well," Drake said, reassuringly, "some one on the jury will believe he r." "Not after the district attorney's office gets done with the facts," Perry Mason said slowly. "You see they've trapped her into making the most damaging ad mission she could make." "I don't see it," Drake said, his protruding eyes staring steadily at Mason . "Don't you see?" Mason pointed out. "The strongest claim she could have mad e would have been self-defense. It would have been her word against the sealed l ips of a dead man. There was nothing the district attorney's office could have d one to have contradicted her story. If she'd sprung it at the proper time and in the proper way, she'd have been almost certain to have won the sympathy and bel ief of the jury.
"Now, the newspaper accounts show that the people who lived next door heard the doorbell ringing during the time the murder was being committed. Rhoda kept thinking about that, and realized that there was an opportunity for her to clai m she was the one who had been ringing the doorbell. At first blush, it looked l ike an easy out for her. If she could put herself in the position of having been on the porch, ringing that doorbell, she'd have an air-tight alibi. It was a tr ap and she walked right into it. "Now, the district attorney has got three shots at her. First, he can show, from the time element, that it couldn't have been she. Second, he can show from the keys that were found in the room that she must have been in the room with M oxley after she had unlocked the door of the garage. Third, and most dangerous o f all, he can uncover the person who really was ringing that doorbell and put hi m on the witness stand to rebut Rhoda's testimony. "By that time, the door to a plea of self-defense has been closed. She's ei ther got to establish the fact that she wasn't there at all, or she's got to be caught in so many falsehoods that she's guilty of first degree murder." Drake nodded his head slowly. "I hadn't thought of it in just that light," he said, "but I can see where it fits in." Della Street twisted the knob of the door, opened it just wide enough to sl ip through into Perry Mason's private office. "The father," she said, "is out th ere." "Who?" asked Perry Mason. "C. Phillip Montaine, of Chicago." "How does he look, Della?" "He's one of those men who are hard to figure. He's past sixty, but there i sn't any film on his eyes. They're as bright as the eyes of a bird. He's got a c lose-cropped white mustache, thin, straight lips and a poker face. He's well-tai lored and distinguished looking. He knows his way around." Mason glanced from Della Street to Paul Drake, said slowly, "This man has g ot to be handled just right. In many ways, he represents the key to the situatio n. He controls the purse strings. I want to put him in such a position that he'l l pay for Rhoda's defense. My idea of what he would be like doesn't check with t hat description, Della. I figured him for a pompous, egotistical man who has bee n accustomed to dominating people through his financial position. I figured that I'd make him mad and frighten him a little bit by letting him think he had to g ive Rhoda a break to keep the newspapers from ridiculing the Montaine name that he's so touchy about." Mason stared thoughtfully at the silent Della Street. "Well," he said, "say something." She shook her head and smiled. "Go on," the lawyer said, "you can r ead character pretty well. I want to find out how this man impresses you." "You can't handle him that way, chief," she said. "Why not?" "Because," she said, staring steadily at him, "he's got poise and intellige nce. He's got something all planned out - a campaign of his own. I don't know wh at it is he wants, but I'll bet he's figured out how he's going to handle you, j ust the way you've figured out how you were going to handle him." Mason's eyes glinted. "Okay," he said, "I can handle him that way, too." He turned to Paul Drake. "You'd better go out through the outer office, Paul, so y ou can get a look at him. We may have to shadow him later on, and I want you to know what he looks like." Drake nodded. A grin emphasized the droll humor of his face. He sauntered t o the door, opened it and paused in the open doorway. "Thank you very much, Coun selor," he said, "for the advice. I'll let you know if I have any more trouble." He closed the door. Mason faced Della Street. "Della," he said, "I may have to get rough with t his guy. He'll probably try coming in here with a lot of talk about what an impo rtant man he is. I want to beat him to it, and..." The door to the outer office pushed open. Paul Drake, speaking hastily, sai d, "There was one matter I forgot to ask you about, Counselor. I know you'll par don me." He strode through the door, pushing it shut, extended his long legs and
covered the distance to Perry Mason's desk in four swift steps. "Pin this bird down as to the time he came to town," he said, speaking rapidly. "You mean the father?" Mason asked, his eyes showing surprise. "Yes." "Presumably after he read about the murder," Mason said. "His son tells me that the father was working on a financial deal of major importance, and..." "If that man in your outer office," Paul Drake interrupted, "is C. Phillip Montaine, he came here before Moxley was murdered - not afterwards." Mason purse d his lips and gave a low whistle. Drake leaned across the lawyer's desk and sai d, "You remember that when I saw Rhoda Montaine coming out of this office, I not iced she was being shadowed, and I trailed along for awhile?" "Are you trying to tell me," Mason asked, "that this man was the shadow?" "No, he wasn't the shadow, but he was sitting in an automobile parked close to the curb. He's got the type of eyes that don't miss much. He saw Rhoda Monta ine, he saw the man who was following her, and he saw me. I don't know whether h e figured there was any connection or not." "You can't be mistaken, Paul?" "Not a chance." "But his son told me that his father was in Chicago." "The son might have been lying or the father might have been lying." "Perhaps the old man's lying," Mason said. "The son isn't. If Carl had know n his father was here in the city he'd have brought the old man along to give hi m moral support when he first came here. Carl's the type who needs some one to b ack his play. He's relied on his dad all his life. The old man may have been her e without letting the son know he was here." "Why would he do that?" Drake asked. "I don't know, but maybe I can find out. Did he see you, Paul?" "Sure he saw me. What's more I think he remembered me. But I pulled a deadpan on him and he doesn't know I've spotted him. He thinks I'm just a client. I' ll duck out now. I wanted you to have the low-down before you saw him." Mason said slowly, "There's one other explanation, Paul. This guy may not b e Montaine at all." The detective nodded slow agreement. "But why," demanded Della Street, "would an impostor call on you, chief?" Mason's laugh was grim and mirthless. "Because the district attorney might figure I was going to try and put the screws on the old man," he said. "So the D .A. figured he'd run in a ringer and see what I did about it." "Oh, please," Della pleaded, "do be careful, chief!" "That would mean," the detective remarked thoughtfully, "that the man's out of the D.A.'s office; and that would mean the D.A. was having Rhoda shadowed be fore the murder. Perry, you'd better find out all about this guy before you open up on him." Mason indicated the door. "Okay, Paul. Make an artistic get-away." The detective once more opened the door, said as though he had opened the d oor in the middle of a sentence, "... glad I thought of it now. It's a complicat ion I was afraid of, but I see you have the matter in mind. Thank you very much, Counselor." The door slammed. Della Street's eyes pleaded with Perry Mason. The lawyer motioned her towar d the door. "We can't have any delay now, Della," he said, "or he'll be suspicio us. He probably remembered Paul Drake. He'll naturally wonder whether Paul came back to tip me off. So open the door and bring him in." Della Street opened the door. "Mr. Mason will see you, Mr. Montaine," she s aid. Montaine entered the room, bowed, smiled, and did not offer to shake hands. "Good morning, Counselor," he said. Perry Mason, on his feet, indicated a chair. Montaine dropped into the chai r. Mason sat down, and Della Street closed the door to the outer office. "Doubtl ess," Montaine said, "you know why I am here." Mason spoke with disarming frankness. "I'm glad you are here, Mr. Montaine. I wanted to talk with you. I understood from your son, however, that you were i
" Mason said. if you s hould tell me that you have anticipated those steps. Wh enever the respectable element wants to find a goat for the ever-increasing 'cri me waves' it blames the criminal attorney. a woman whose pre vious life had certainly not been above reproach. try to get an annulment of the marriage. "you're doing the talking. I had hoped you might make a statement of that nature. "So. You have a reputation for being less scrupulous." "Unfortunately." A smile lit Montaine's face. "I am laying a foundation. Get to the point. I presume you dropped everything whe n you heard about the murder. therefore." Perry Mason made drumming gestures with his fingertips. "I presume. "He is going to tell nothing more nor less than the exact truth. we might then discuss the m atter frankly." "You." "You think that association was improper?" "I am not saying that." "Yes. My son retained you to represent his wife. I know that you know my son has virtually nothing in h is own name. "there are some things I cannot say. Mr. I realize. "you're referring to the fact that as long as your son and Rhoda are husband and wife. The attorneys I contact are lawyers who have specialized in co rporation law. "I am not questioning my son's judgment. You are the first criminal attorne y I have ever met professionally." Mason said. I chartered a private plane and arrived late last night. Counselor." Montaine paused impr essively. The district at torney's office have advised me of certain steps they contemplate taking." he said." Montaine said." "Go ahead. " I am a financier. I know that you are a very shrewd individual. and I assume that you are no t. I shall refuse to pay a red cen t. You don't need it. regar dless of what the cost may be. "I know. "Let's start out by being fair and frank with each other. However." ." "Go on. "Thank you ve ry much. after biting at the end of his stubby w hite mustache for a moment. "My son consulted you. Mason." "You haven't told me anything yet." he sai d. Yet. a woman who continued to make clandestine appointments with the man who had been her former husband. "Thank you. Counselor." "Forget the foundation. that you men are in many ways sharper than the attorney s I have done business with. he won't lie." Mason said. "it would be better if I stated my errand first and then you questioned me af terwards. I think he selected an excellent a ttorney for the purpose. I can' t reveal those steps to you without violating a confidence." Mason said bluntly." "Why?" "He married a woman who was after him only for his money. I don't want you to underestimate me. You will understand my position in relation to that annulment action. There was a frosty twinkle in Montaine's eyes. I know that you expe ct pay for your services. "Perhaps." he sai d. generally. Unless these conditions are met." Montaine remarked. that in the back of your mind you have fixed upon me as the source of your fee." "You've seen Carl?" Mason inquired. is that right?" "Certainly. They are usually men who have made fortunate investments through the judicious use of influential connections." Montaine said.nvolved in a very important financial deal. He's anxious to have his wife cleared of the charges against her. indeed. I am not a fool. therefore. "feel that your son married beneath him." "Very well. On the other hand. and also with a doctor who had been intimately associated with her." "So what?" Perry Mason asked. the district attorney's office can't use Carl as a witness. Under ce rtain circumstances I'm willing to pay for the defense of Rhoda Montaine and to pay handsomely. because he is a Montaine. "while I can't tell you what those steps are. They will.
let us now return to an ana lysis of your motives. You want to get rid of Rhoda Montaine. I only came to you because I have a great respect fo r your mental agility. I'm even way ahead of you. Counselor. of co urse. "is an emphatic negative." "Is it necessary." "Perhaps. you'll expect me to lay off making him appear too ridiculous. "far more bluntly than I would have dared to." Mason said. "because you haven't been fair with yourself. I shall contest any annulment suit. Therefore. For instance. rather than facts. you'll try to get rid of her by having her c onvicted of murder. you'll throw in with the district attorney and try to get her convicted of murder. and I know it. You're so damned cold-blooded you don't care about anything except getting your way. Perhap s you haven't gone so far as to analyze your motives and to determine just how f ar you are ready to go. your question concerned my feelings. Carl's a weak sister. "being rather unfair to me?" "No." Mason said. You do not." "After all. for reasons which I shall presently d iscuss. It is. Mason nodded slowly. If she's willing to give Carl up. If she insis ts on the legality of the marriage. Do you understand me?" Perry Mason clenched his right fist. Therefore. you would reserve the propositio n." Montaine asked coldly. "You have expressed the idea."You are implying it. Perhaps you do not agree with my f eelings." "My answer. you'll give her money to defend the charges against her ." "But accurately?" Mason asked. If Rhoda Montaine was not your daughter-in-law. "I can convince you that there is some ability. y ou're not going to give me a dime. I'll not fight the annul ment action. when it comes to the cross-examining of your son." "I think so. If Rhoda i s acquitted and still remains Carl's wife she might prove troublesome. pounded it slowly upon the desk. "I get you now. givin g emphasis to his words." he said. know the amount of the fee I am prepared to pay. I think. "Perhaps. "I think not." Mason said. Is that right?" Montaine seemed uncomfortable. "I mean agility. ordinarily. I am called upon to defe nd Rhoda Montaine. Nevertheless. as well as some agility. that we should discuss my motives in order to get your answer to my proposition?" "Yes. "Do you mean ability or agility?" he asked ." he said cauti ously. Moreover. much larg er than would be considered customary. What you want me to do is to promise you that while I'll put up the best defense I can for Rhoda Montaine. You are proud of your family name. I think it will be very much to her advantage to seal the lip s of your son by insisting upon the legality of the marriage." "I don't see why." "Because. "Yes. "was because I want to get y our attitude clarified in my own mind. If Rhoda Montaine was legally married to your son and was executed for murder." "The district attorney feels certain that you can't." Montaine said." Mason said. Montaine met his eyes. Counselor. He says the matter is legally dead open-and-shut." "Perhaps you can't contest it." he said. If I'll promise to cooper ate on these things you're willing to pay me a nice fee. I take it you're anxious to have the marr iage declared null and void. If she'll let the district attorney annul the marriag e to Carl you'll be willing to give her a break on the murder case. it would be a black spo t upon that family name." "Isn't that." "The reason I asked the question." "You still haven't given me an answer to my proposition." Mason permitted himself to grin." Mason said. You know it. may be of controlling importance. If she insists on sticking to Carl. "your motives. If I don't cooperate. you wouldn't care whether she . "quite accurately. isn't this rather beside the point? You asked me a q uestion and I answered it fairly and frankly." "Perhaps.
again." "Does your son know this?" "No. just what she was doing. Mason spoke swiftly. "Well. Coun selor?" "Perhaps. of the greatest importance to you financially." Montaine said. I want to assure you. and. Counse lor. I'd say this was because you recognize Rhoda's influence over your son. but that you have been here in this city for several days. it may have been r ather a peculiar coincidence that the detective who left your office as I was wa iting in the outer room found it necessary to return for a final word with you. spying upon Rhoda Montaine.that is that you may feel you can make a valid legal claim against Carl for your services in defending Rhoda. If the marriage was legal." "You might say. We might locate the person who was putting the screws on Moxley before the police get the information. His face was entirely without expression. He stood for a moment in thoughtf ul contemplation." "And you employed detectives to shadow Rhoda Montaine?" "I think. surmise that you didn't leave Chicago last night as you say you did. I should. We know that some one te lephoned Moxley a short time before he was murdered. We know th at on at least one occasion Moxley went through a marriage ceremony in order to get possession of some money he wanted." Montaine said. "I am thinking out loud." Mason asked." Mason said. "I might surmise. He looked at me casually. Della. That person is very likely to have been a woman. walked past me t o the door and then suddenly 'remembered' that it was necessary for him to retur n to your private office." "That isn't what I meant." Montaine got to his feet. "You ar e deducing these matters. said. and just how much Carl was actually under her influence. Mason said nothing. you feel you have nothing to lose by refusing to accept my offer. "You've got my final answer." Montaine said softly." Mason held open the door to the corridor. therefore." he suggested. Despite your ment al ability I might prove a dangerous adversary. "I think we understand each oth er perfectly. "Get me Paul Drake. "If you want war you can have it." "Good idea." he said. "rather hard?" "I am inflexible. a marriage which is. banged the door shut. "I have answered enough of your questions. "Paul. perhaps." A moment later the telephone rang. then strode to the telephone. if that is what you mean. You must have acquired the information at fi rst hand. that you have some other marriage in view for Ca rl. Counselor. I might eve n go farther and surmise that you employed detectives to shadow Rhoda.was convicted of murder or not. Here's something I want you to get busy on right away: Mo xley was a swindler. have your men cover the hotel registers and the public utility offices to see if a woman using one of those aliases as a married name has recently arrived in the city. in order to find out just what sort of a woman she was. that you want to have Carl legally free to enter into such a marriage. "Sleep on it." Drake said. I'll admit he did it rather cleverly. O ffhand." he said. Don't give me a final answer now. whe n he heard Della Street's voice on the wire. You're checking back on Moxley's life. Ther efore. "How about Montaine? Do you think we should try to . the chances that you will receive any remuneration for your wor k in behalf of Rhoda are exceedingly slim. We know that this some one was demanding money. You wouldn't know of this casually. He specialized in swindling women. Think it over. "you were here. A s fast as you get an alias that he used. that Carl has nothing in his own name and unless you do accept my offer. and then." he said. "w e've got to work fast. "that I was gathering certain data. "Your proposition shows you'd do anything to get Rhoda out of the family." Montaine paused in the hallway. however." he said. you'd move heaven an d earth to get her acquitted. I have only one more statement to make ." "Then." Mason said. "merely from an analysis of my motives. k eeping your presence a secret from both your son and Rhoda Montaine." Montaine bowed. "Perhaps you are. picked up the receiver." "Aren't you. further.
He wasn't talkative." Chuckling. 11. reaching f or the papers Della Street held out to him. Perry. He didn't come to my office unt il he was ready to. Whatever mischief he's been up to." Drake's voice betrayed a trace of excitement. "And Doctor Millsap rang up and told me to tell you they sweated him at hea dquarters all night. In the doorway of t he Colemont Apartments he paused to listen." "What was he doing here?" Drake asked." "Yes." "Yes. "It wouldn't do any good. "I'd no more let him crawl out of the picture than a kid would let Santa Claus crawl out of the picture around Christmas time." "I was right then. and wouldn't find anything. The entrance to the Colemont Apartments was dark and silent. We're going up against a tough combination. when Carl called on you. the Bellaire Apartments glowed with illumination from an ind . He spotted you." he said. From now on." the detective inquired. There's more to this than we figure. "but we've got to feel our way. "is something we can only surmise. "No." Mason's tone was grim." "He didn't admit that." the lawyer replied." Mason said." "Did he admit it?" "Not until after I put the screws on him. he hung up the telephone. his life is going to be out in the open. Perry Mason moved cautiously through the night shadows." Drake cautioned.put a shadow on him?" "No. I think he did. the whining sound of cars rushing through the night. and he knew you w ere a detective." "He must have been following Rhoda. He's an intelligent man and a ruthless man." "When?" "At an opportune moment. "and he'd been here for several days?" "Yes." she said. he thought nothing whatever of sacrificing the life o f Rhoda Montaine in order to further his own interests. "He must have shadowed her to your office. I think he did." he said." Drake said. turning from gay revelry to a contemplation of the morrow's work. he's been up to before he came here. "if Montaine was following Rhoda around. Along Norwalk Avenue lay the silence of staid respectability. "Carl must have known through his father that his wife had called on you." "He did. Paul. "That. Paul." "That's an inference. P aul. without getting anything out of him. "Hell!" Mason exclaimed. "A messenger. For all of his vaunted family pride. A short distan ce down the street." the lawyer agreed. "but I will." "Did you ask him about it?" Drake inquired." Drake said. he must have known about Moxley. From the main boulevard came the noise of an occasiona l horn. "and I think you'd better for get about Montaine." Mason said. We cou ld shadow him until Doomsday. It's an action fo r an annulment of the marriage." he said." "Well." "Then the father and the son must be working together. The midnight carous ers. "has just brought papers that were served on Rhoda in the case of Carl Montaine against Rhoda Montaine. Perry Mason laughed. Della Street opened the door from the outer office. "Look here." "Then he must have known about the appointment for two o'clock in the morni ng. He seemed real proud o f himself. sought to atone for wasted hours by crowding automobiles to greater speed." "Then. "They're not done with him yet. don't let him crawl out of the picture.
while the others were buzzers which gave forth an explosive buzzing sound when the cu rrent went through the coils. disconnected the wires. i nserted it quietly in the lock and paused once more to listen. or the identity of the tenant. He groped his way up the stairs upon cautious feet that ke pt crowding the side of the stair treads. filtered into the entrance of the all but obsolete apartment house where Moxl ey had met his death. stood on the chair. That window was now closed and locked. A car turned off the main boulevard and whined past the street intersection. picked up his p . the door swung open and Perry Mason stepped into the darkness. The march of progress had doomed the old frame building to eventual destruction. climbed on the chair. and back of the dining room was a kitchen and a corridor. Some of this brilliance radiated to the sidewal k. The lawyer tip-toed to the window. He stood by the window. The owners of the building had been only t oo glad to accept the rental offer made by the lawyer's representative. Mason took from his pocket the four keys which had been delivered to him. at one period of the history of the house. ma king certain that no patrolling steps were beating down the sidewalk. He picked up a chair. The fourth had been rented by the week. been a front bedroom w as now remodeled into a living room. took from his pocket a scre w-driver and a pair of pliers. Perry Mason moved quietly through the room. He untied a heavy cord. he knew. opened the package and disclosed four buzzers. The corridor led to a bedroom in the back of the kitchen. S hielding the beam of a flashlight under his coat. sending beams through the windows . and let the circle of illumination from his flashlight rest upon the electric bell whic h had been screwed into the wall. an apartment which was. the mail boxes . a room had been fitted as a din ing room. staring at the dar k apartment directly opposite. Pe rry Mason made no effort to raise it. The lock clicked. Perry Mason moved back across the room. makin g certain that it was fixed in an even position at the bottom.irect lighting fixture which shed a soft radiance over the foyer. Perry Mason stood for some five minutes in the shadows. Mason carried one of the buzzers back to the kitchen. carefully pulled down the curtain. Perry Mason unfastened the screws. The apartment that had been occupied by the murdered man covered the entire south side of the upper floor. screwed the buzzer into position and saw that the wires were connected. call bells and speaking tubes. occupied by Benj amin Crandall and wife. He moved to the window which look ed out toward the Bellaire Apartments. Using the beam of the flashlight to guide him. simi lar in appearance in every way to the bell which he had taken from the wall abov e the gas stove. removed the bell from the wall. The only difference was that the one he had removed was a bell which rang by agitating a clapper between two hollow hemispheres of metal. Ten ants demanded more modern apartments. He snapped on his flashlight. What had. Then he replaced the chair and raised the curtain. then stepped down from the c hair. pausing to close and lock the door behind him. by Gregory Moxley. without inquiring too minutely as to the purpose for which the building was to be used. Mason waited until i t had reached the next corner before turning the key. he walked to the head of th e stairs. that no po lice radio car was cruising in the vicinity. W hen he had it in his hand. Street lights. working through a real estate agent. so that no light would trickle through. he selected one of the keys. A bathroom opened from the bedroom . he carefully studied it. Working with painstaking caution. lest they should make unnecessary nois e. Over a gas stove he found what he was looking for. out into the corridor and entered t he kitchen. Back of it. He paused to listen. had re nted the entire building. Earlier in the day Perry Mason. carried it across to a point of vantage. a roll of adhesive tape and some wire. checking the articles of furniture against the copies of the police photographs which he carried in his hand and w hich he illuminated with his small flashlight. Three of the apartments had been vacant for several mo nths. furnished. Here he had placed a package which had been under his arm when he ente red the apartment. furnished sufficient illumination to disclose the outlines of the furniture.
the noise of something being dropped to the floor. a wi de grin twisting his lips away from tobacco-stained teeth. Sidney Otis weighed w ell over two hundred. He stood in a narrow space between counters that were load ed down with electric light globes. climb a railing and find himself in the back of Moxley's apartment. It was of waxed pasteboard with a flap which folded over the matches. Mason noticed that a similar porch-like platform projected from the apartme nt on the south which Moxley had occupied. slipped it in his pocket. very apparently. Here he found one more match. and then st epped out from the shadows of the foyer to the sidewalk. Quick steps pounded the floor. heard a bell ringing in t he back of the store. soon picked up another match stub. he locked the door behind him. left the upper apartment and made a brief vis it to the remaining lower apartment. "You got something to sell?" she asked. He radiated a genial bo oming honesty. but there was wholehearted cordiality in his welcome. He followed those stubs to the back porch. Then he raised the curtain and slipped silently out into the night . When he left the house. "that Perry Mason.' Mason pushed open the door. the best in Centerville. brown paper. This apartment exuded a smell of musty closeness . His arms were bare to the elbow. "Tell him.a smell that assailed the nostrils with a message of unten anted neglect. and smeared with grease. He waited for several seconds before he unl ocked the door and slipped out into the cool night air. listened to make sure no one was about. Perry Mason found the call bell in the kitchen. the smile fading from her face. He next opened the door which led to the upper apartment. took another key from his pocket and opened the door of the lower apartment. and replaced it w ith a buzzer. and then another. He retraced his steps." There was the sound of commotion from the back room." said Perry Mason. below which appeared the printed words "Compliments of the Palace Hotel. "This is an hon .ackage and tip-toed down the stairs. 'OTIS ELECTRIC COMPANY. switches. the empty c ontainer from which the matches had been torn. wants to see him. tied up the pa ckage into a compact bundle. never seen the interior of a wash tub. Hearing no sound. there was not a sin gle electric doorbell in the building. A young woman smiled ingratiatingly. Perry Mason flung back his shoulders and inhaled the fresh air of the morni ng. with access through a corridor and kitchen to the bedroom where Moxl ey was murdered." Perry Mason wrapped the bit of pasteboard in a handkerchief. An agile man could easily slip across the intervening space. 12. His ove ralls had. he again disconne cted the call bell and installed one of the buzzers. Mason stepped across to the adjoining porch. The match was one of those waxed paper affairs which had been torn from a pocket package." Mason said. "I want t o see Sidney Otis. paused a s his eyes caught a sign on the glass window of a small storeroom. where the light fuse boxes for the apar tment were kept. opposite the one in which Moxley had been killed. A burly figure in ov eralls pushed the young woman to one side and stood staring at Perry Mason. On the back of this folder was printed a cu t of a five story building. He was on the point of leav ing the apartment when the beam of his flashlight picked up the stub of a burnt match in the corridor. looked at the street numbers. the lawyer. Overhead. A door from the rear opened. The sign read . "Perry Mason!" he said. Mason slid the beam of his flashlight along the boards of the corridor. He consulted a small memorandum book. His weight was evenly distributed. over in the corner where it apparently had been discarded. Mason wrapped the bells carefully in the heavy. the ceiling was clustered with various chandeliers and indirect lighting fixtures. and then. Working swiftly and silently. brackets. and wires. Each one of the four apartments was equip ped with buzzers. Here was also a place for the delivery of groceries and garbage .
You pro bably read about it in the paper. Those two witnesses can be two members o f your family if you want. I want you to take off the doorbell that's in t he apartment and put on one of your own." "Gee. It's rather a ni ce apartment. "Tell me what it is and I'll do it. The big electrician jerked his head toward the rear.or! I didn't think you'd remember me.. I never get to. I read about it." Mason nodded. I've got a room where I keep the missus and the little girl." "What is it?" "When you move into the apartment." he said." The girl pouted. The doorbell that you put on must be one that you've taken from stock. but by that time they'd be moved in. didn't the y? The wife of a wealthy guy from Chicago." Mason said. then wiped his paw up and down on the l eg of his overalls. do you want me to put on a buzzer?" "No." Perry Mason glanced significantly at t he young woman." "You heard me. I want it to have your price mark on it. I couldn't afford anything like that. but his face t wisted in a grin." Otis said. "There's something you can do for me. "I always remember people who sit on my juries." Perry Mason said. There was a moment of silence and then the lawyer went on in a low voice. Otis?" The man lowered his eyes apologetically. and I do n't want any one to know why you're doing it. "Beat it." "The rent. and put on one that you've taken from stock. "They got some woman for it." Otis frowned. It's on the south side of the house and catches the sunshine. "If there's a buzzer on there now." "You don't want me to put on a buzzer?" asked Otis." Perry Mason said impressively. "a nd it happens that I can't live in the apartment. "the apartment where a man was murdered. "Whichever one it is . but I want to be certain they see you do it. When the spiteful bang of the door announced that she had moved out of earshot." "Yeah. "How come?" he asked. C ounselor. Bertie. "I want you to do something for me. his big voice filling the shop. "It is. "Where are you living now. It's a very comfortable little apartment. suddenly self-conscious." Mason laughed." "Aw gee. I've got a bed in the back that I sleep on. Counselor." "I have taken a lease on an apartment for six months. the grin fading from his face." he sa id. They might recognize the place. the other one stays down here with me and helps run the shop. or it may be a buzzer. Otis. "but sledding has been tough lately. Put on a doorbell. I'd like to have you move in. "Beat it. Be sur . that'd be swell. and folded his fingers about Mason's hand. and I want you to have at least two witnesses who see you take off the one t hat's there now and put the new one on. Say that you don't like the sound of it. shucks. I want you to take it off and put on another one. "is all paid for six months. Otis turned an inquiring face to the lawyer." "In an apartment!" said Otis." The electrician frowned and said." Otis boomed." he said. He was going under the name of Moxley at the time of the murder. "Oh. A man by the name of Carey was murdered there That was his real name. "Of course. The big man hesitated for a moment. puzzled. "Take off the doorbell?" "It may be a bell. Mason. Otis." he said.... "but why do that for me. and. Counselor?" "Because." said Perry Mason. It would be a nice place for the folks. or so mething of that sort." Otis said. "I used to keep an apartment upsta irs. "Tickled to death . "How are you?" He extended his hand. It's Apartment B of the Colemont Apartments at 316 Norwalk Avenue. dad... "and I'd like to have you move in today." Mason told him. You can make some objection to the bell or buzzer that's there now. your family wouldn't need to know that a murder h ad been committed there. "I've got some business to talk over with Mr." Perry Mason said. moved toward the rear of the store on reluctant feet." Perry Mason said. or some of the neighbor s might tell them.
"One more thing. removed his hat and grinned greeting. "It's a matter of business all around. Paul Drake was seated in Perry Mason's outer office chatting with Della Str eet when Mason pushed open the door. They're trying to slap me in the face with the front page of a new . "we'll move in today. "I think I do. it would have been an easy matter for her to have put in a deadly poison. but there's room for anything you've got. "has evidently got a regular professio nal publicity man on the job. "Have you read it?" he asked. It's furnished. "Go ahead. He intimated he expects to find poison. Della Street's face was serious." Otis was undecided for a moment. pushing back the folded fifty dollar bill. something that will look li ke an accident." he said.Mason said. and yet will furnish means of identification. that as soon as y ou saw in the paper that a murder had been committed in this apartment. you can put some mark of identification on i t so you'll know it if you see it again. reached out and took the fifty dollars. you can say t hat you wanted an apartment where you could put your family. you knew that it could be rented cheap." "The district attorney." he said." he said. Perry M ason looked from one to the other." Drake said. Why? Is there anything important in it?" The detective nodded lugubriously." The lines of Mason's face became harsh."." The big electrician made a brushing motion with his hand. Mason shook his head." he sai d. that she put Ipral in her husband's choc olate when she wanted him to sleep soundly. I've paid the rent to the landlord for six months in advance. "They're afraid they won't be able to use the testimony of the husband in court. What is it this time?" "He's going to exhume the body of the man who was buried under the name Gre gory Lorton." "Why?" "Because every morning he keeps releasing something dramatic against your c lient." he said. He keeps harping back to th e fact that Rhoda Montaine was a nurse." he said." he said. Otis. is it on the up and up?" "Absolutely. Counselor. so they're spreading this Ipral bu siness all over the newspapers. Do you understand? " Otis nodded. "Wasn't there something in that case. "and read it before I start the daily grind. Mason insisted. "He'll run out of facts one of these mornings. a place where there was some sunlight. "I usually buy it from the boy at the corner. you can let your screw-dr iver slip and make a long scratch across the enamel. "You 're doing me a favor and it gives me a chance to do you a favor.e it's a bell and not a buzzer." Mason said tonelessly. "Tell me. "the bell or buzzer that's on there now must be kept. "about people next door hearing a doorbell ring when the murder was being committed?" Perry Mason stared steadily at him. If any one should ask you how you happened to rent that apartment. "Here's the key to the apartment and here's fifty dollars which will cover the expenses of moving in. "Thanks. suddenly his forehead puckered to a frown. "Yes. Otis grinned. The d etective elevated a bony forefinger toward the morning paper which was folded un der the lawyer's arm." 13. and when you take it off. For instance. that if she wanted him to sleep just a little more soundly." The electrician nodded. "spill it. "There's no question they're using a deliberate campaign of adverse newspap er publicity. that you didn't want to pay a high rental.
" Drake pointed out. She was a steady. you can take more chances than any one I ever knew." said Perry Mason softly.. "Well. Mason narrowed his lips and said. "we checked through the meter connections of t he electric light company. He was a lone wolf." A twinkle came to the lawyer's eyes. and haven't had my fingers burnt. "it's not anything that I want called b y the umpire. "So. that's another thing. He got out of jail broke." Perry Mason's slow grin held grim portent. Paul?" "I think so. "So fast." Mason said. Then she got married. there's one peculiar thing about his record. Come on in. but he'd nearly always keep his first name as Gregor y." he said. "A lot I can do about it. I think he did it. Paul. he didn't h ave to watch his step to remember an alias. We didn't find an y connections under that name. and found that a Gregory Freeman had been registered ther e for something over two months. "Perhaps. but we did find a meter connection about two week . Anyhow." "Watch your step. We che cked the records of the Palace Hotel and couldn't find where Moxley had ever bee n registered there." "It wasn't easy." "Yes. so it's pretty hard to tell all that he did. just on a chance that Gregory Moxley and this Pender woman might have lived here under the name of Gregory Freeman. He needed money pretty badly. gave up her job and moved away with her husband. there at Centerville. If he wants to try the case in th e newspapers and try to prejudice the public against her. He'd k eep changing his last name." the detective went on. that's one thing. Moxley did time." "Go ahead. Drake pulled a not ebook from his pocket." "Anything you can do about it?" asked Paul Drake. He nodded his head thoughtfully. "I'll promise you bot h something. I may be aiming at the man who's doing the batting. However. "When y ou start pulling fast ones." "You've had your hair singed a couple of times. Paul.. "Good work. So we took a look through the marriage licenses and found out that a man named Gregory Freeman had married a girl by the name o f Doris Pender." "What is it?" "You haven't seen anything yet. "I've fought the devil with fire before this." The two men seated themselves in Mason's private office. "We found out Moxley put through a long distance call to Centerville. "the district attorney may b e trying to get you to do something desperate. we went back over the record s of the Palace Hotel. "We looked up the Pender woman and found that she'd been employed as a sten ographer and bookkeeper in a creamery. her eyes dark with concern." "What is it?" "You told me to check back on Moxley and find out everything he'd been doin g. If he wants to give that girl a fair trial. He probably did that so when people called him by his first name. App arently. We al so discovered his trunk had a label from the Palace Hotel in Centerville.spaper every morning." Mason's eyes glittered with concentration. but I've got a line on something that he did." Della Street warned. "Got something. although the people at the creamery thought she had a brother some place in the northern part of th e state. t he droll humor of his face more emphasized than ever." "What good's it going to do if the umpire can't call it?" Drake inquired." he said. "that it's going to whiz over the home plate before any one knows whether it's a strike or a ball. she didn't have any relatives there in Centerville." "You mean you're going to pull a fast one in this case?" Della Street asked ." the lawyer said. i ndustrious worker and had saved up a little money that she'd put in stocks and b onds. as nearly as I could. that is. chief.
"I haven't told you anything yet. again. you'd better wait until we g et in and then come and knock at the door and put up some kind of a stall about knowing the jane that used to live in the apartment. and one of my operatives slipped in and took a look in the book that lists the telephone records. You should remember him. Now. "What do I do?" he asked. 14." Mason told him. in case we want to bring it into court." "Perhaps. "and go on out there." said the lawyer.but we found that this apartment was charged with a c all to South nine-four-three-six-two on the sixteenth day of June. glanced inquiringly at Perry Mason. He's the one who took the photograph. She's got apartment 609." Mason said pointedly. "do you earn it?" "Wait until I finish and you'll say we do. Danny Spear . She's living there by herself. "We may want to bring that book into court . you walk on past as though you were going to some apartment down at the end of the corrid or. with a flat-crowned brown hat tilted back to show ru sty brown locks straggling out from under the sweat band. Paul Drake slowed his light car and swung in close to the curb." Mason nodded. But you time things so that you get a look at her face as you walk past the door. There's some one on duty in the lobby all the time. If you don't get enough of a look to recognize her. That w ill keep them from doctoring the book. Have you got a good man that we can put on the job? One who's dependable. The switchboard isn't particularly busy. Spear would never have been taken for a detective. so it must have been ma de shortly after midnight." Drake picked up his hat.s ago under the name of Doris Freeman at the Balboa Apartments. "what do you think us guys do to earn our money?" "Oh. a nondescript individual. "Let's get him. "Let's go." he said. "Out there. one of the best in the business. No one seems to know a thing about her. His face habitually wore the please d grin of a yokel who is seeing the world for the first time. There was something wide -eyed and innocent about him that made him appear to be a typical "rube" pausing in front of a shell game at a country fair." "Where's the book?" asked the lawyer. If you do get a good look at her. but you can get a flash of her face so you can spot her later on.and then. we may not. it's important that you get her fixed in your mind. take a divorce from us and tail her if she goe . "We'll go in the j ane's apartment and buzz the door." The detective grinned. It'll only be a quick glimpse." "We found there was a switchboard in the lobby. so we arran ged to decoy him away from the desk for a few minutes." "Is he good?" "I'll say he is. "You trail us into the apartment house. They keep a re cord of calls that are made and the number of the apartment from which the calls come." he said." Mason nodded thoughtfully. "These records aren't kept on an hourly basis . "we can trace some telephone calls through the apartment switchboard. at seven twentyone West Ordway." "To the Balboa Apartments?" "Yes. "We were afraid to try and pump the person who had the records. But we got a photograph of the page that shows the call. or something of that sort." "Go ahead then and tell me something." he said. If she opens the door to let us in. Paul?" "Sure. We used him in that hatchet murder case.just by the date on which t he calls are put through ." Drake said. and that call was the first call in the book under date of June 16th. "Listen. I've got Danny Spear.. Perry.. and." he said. "Good work.
" asked Perry Mason in rather a loud voice. "I gotcha. To the fat man in the chai r it seemed purely a fortuitous combination of circumstances which placed all th ree men in the elevator at the same time. Mason said slowly. so that Danny Spear. "Who are you?" "We're collecting some data for the Bureau of Vital Statistics. walking slowly. In the upper corridor. He was the only occup ant. We're going to make her think her line has been tapped." "Okay. we'll cal l a cab. "What do you want?" Perry Mason turned slightly to one side." Drake nodded. with large brown eyes and thin. firm lips." Mason said." The thin lips clamped more firmly together. the two men entered the apartment house. and pulled down his vest. is that right?" "Yes. Danny Spear held back." "What do you want?" "To ask you a few questions. Behind them came Danny Spear. "The probabilities are she'll watch us when we leave." By this time. because that's what we're going there for. We'll leave you with the car." "You're just going to make her suspicious. The door swung open." "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. Danny Spear had gone well past them toward the end of the cor ridor. "My business. "She won't telephone. and that's why I want you to get a divorce from us as soon as we leave the p lace. could see the young woman's face. "That's something we can't help. walking rapid ly down the corridor. "Are you.. I don't know whether she pulled this stuff alone. A fat man was seated in a rocking chair in the lobby. There was the sound of motion." Danny Spear said." "Selling anything?" "No. Paul Drake and the lawyer swung s lightly to one side as Danny Spear bustled past them. where he was pounding on a door with imperative knuckles." "She'll be looking for a shadow. dropped Dann y at the corner. stared in mute interrogation. "Doris Freeman?" "Yes. The eyes widened. She'll see you walking past us in the corridor and won't figure that you'r e with us at all. "can hardly be stated in the corridor. gave his coat collar a jerk and adjusted his tie." said Perry Mason." "Life insurance?" "No. That's where you've got to play it careful ly. When Drake and I leave the place. You can be sitting in the car. shifted the car into gear. swung once more into a parking place in front of the apartment house. We're going to worry her. There's just a chance some of her friends might be w atching out of a window.. while the other two found the door of the apartment they wanted and tapped on the panels. and a rather plain woman of ab out twenty-five years of age." "Suppose she telephones?" asked Spear. ran around the block." she said. Where do you want it delivered? . the click of a lock. got out leisurely. Do you get that straight?" Danny Spear nodded. There was a f licker of fear in their depths. If they saw the three of us get out of the same car. The door opened." ." Danny Spear protested. With well-simulated carelessness.s out. Still walking slowly toward the elevator. or whether she didn't but tha t's one of the things I want to find out. Finley Dodge." "Book agent?" "No." he said. "You birds had better drive around the block and let me off at the corner. "I've got an express package down stairs for C. it might not be so hot. I'll walk up behind you and time things so we go in th e apartment house together. walking rapidly. and a man's voice gruffed a greeting and the operative said. "She'll be worried.
Perry Mason boldly pushed his way past the woman, into the apartment. Drake followed and kicked the door shut. She remained standing, clad in a print house dress, and, as the light from the windows struck her face, it brought out incipi ent caliper lines which were stretching from her nostrils toward the ends of her thin lips. There was no make-up on her face, and her shoulders were slightly ro unded. There could be no mistaking the fear in her eyes as her glance shifted fr om Mason to Drake, then back to Mason again. "What is it?" she asked. The lawyer, who had been sizing her up carefully, nodded imperceptibly to P aul Drake. "It's important," he said, in a harsh, aggressive voice, "that you an swer all of our questions truthfully. If you start lying to us, you're going to get into trouble, do you understand that?" "What do you mean?" she countered. "Are you married or single?" asked Perry Mason. "I don't know what business it is of yours." Mason raised his voice, "Never mind that, sister. You just answer my questi ons and keep your comments until later. Are you married or single?" "I'm married." "Where did you live before you came here?" "I'm not going to tell you." Mason looked over at Paul Drake and said significantly, "That is the best p roof of guilt we can have." As Doris Freeman turned to stare apprehensively at Paul Drake, Perry Mason lowered his right eyelid in a significant wink. "That isn't a sign of guilt, in itself," said Paul Drake, pursing his lips thoughtfully. Mason whirled toward the young woman. Once more, his voice became the voice of a lawyer browbeating a witness. "You lived in Centerville, didn't you? Don't deny it. You might as well admit it now as later." "Is it," she asked, "a crime to live in Centerville?" Mason turned back to Drake. His lips twisted in a sneer. "How much more do you want?" he asked. "If she isn't in on it she wouldn't stall like that." Doris Freeman's hands crept to her throat. She walked unsteadily toward an overstuffed chair, sat down suddenly, as though her knees had lost their strengt h. "What," she said, "what..." "Your husband's name," said Perry Mason. "Freeman." "What's his first name?" "Sam." Perry Mason's laugh was scornful. He flung his arm out in rigidly pointing accusation. An extended forefinger was leveled at her face as though it had been a loaded revolver. "Why do you tell us that," he said, "when you know his name was Gregory?" She wilted, as though the life force had oozed from her pores. "Who... who are you?" "If you really want to know," Perry Mason said, "the telephone company is i nvestigating a charge that your phone has been used for blackmail." She straightened slightly and said, "Not for blackmail. You can't call that blackmail." "You were trying to collect money." "Of course I was trying to collect money. I was trying to collect money tha t was due me." "Who was helping you?" asked Perry Mason. "That's none of your business." "Don't you know that you can't use the telephone for that purpose?" "I don't know why not." "Haven't you ever heard that it's against the law to demand money on a post al card?" "Yes, I've heard of that." "And yet you have the nerve to sit there and claim that you don't know it's against the law to ring up a man and demand that he pay you money?" "We didn't do that," she said.
"Didn't do what?" "Didn't ring him up and demand that he give us money - not in so many words ." "Who's the 'we'?" asked Paul Drake. Mason frowned at him, but the detective caught the significance of the sign al too late to check the question. "Just me," said Doris Freeman. Perry Mason's voice showed exasperation. "And you didn't know that it was a gainst the law to ask for money over the telephone?" "I tell you we... I didn't ask for money." "It was a man's voice," Perry Mason chanced, staring steadily at the young woman. "Our operator says it was a man's voice that did the talking." Doris Free man was silent. "What have you to say to that?" "Nothing... that is, it may have been a mistake. I had a cold. I talked rat her gruffly." Mason strode abruptly across the room, jerked the telephone receiver from i ts hook, placed it to his ear. At the same time, his right hand, resting careles sly across the top of the telephone, surreptitiously pushed down the telephone h ook so there was no connection over the line. "Give me the investigations depart ment, official six-two," he demanded. He waited a few moments, then said, "This is Number Thirteen talking. We're out at this place where the threatening telephone call came through on the morn ing of June sixteenth. The apartment is in the name of Doris Freeman, but she's shielding some male accomplice. She claims she didn't know it was against the la w to make a demand like that over the telephone." He waited for a few more moments, then laughed sarcastically. "Well," he sa id, "that's what she claims. You can believe it or not. She came here from Cente rville. Maybe they haven't got a city ordinance against that in Centerville. You never can tell... Well, what do you want me to do with her, bring her in?... Wh at?" screamed Perry Mason. "You mean that call that went through was to Moxley, the man that was murdered!... Gee, chief, that puts a different aspect on the si tuation. This is out of our hands. You'd better notify the district attorney. An d watch the calls that come in over this line... Well, you know how I feel about it... Okay, G'by." Mason hung up the telephone, turned to Paul Drake. His eyes were wide with well-simulated, startled surprise. He lowered his voice, as though awed by the g rim portent of that which he had discovered. "Do you know who that call was to?" he asked. Paul Drake also lowered his own voice. "I heard what you said to the chief, " he remarked. "Was that right?" "That's right. That call went through to Gregory Moxley, the man that was m urdered, and the call went through just about half an hour before his death." "What's the chief going to do?" "There's only one thing he can do - turn it over to the district attorney. Gosh, I thought it was just a routine investigation, and here it has run into a murder rap." Doris Freeman spoke with hysterical rapidity. "Look here," she said, "I didn't know anything about any law that we couldn 't use the telephone to collect money. That was money that was due to me. It was money that man had stolen from me. It was money he'd swindled me out of. He was a devil. He deserved to die. I'm glad he's dead! But the telephone call didn't have anything to do with his murder. It was Rhoda Montaine that killed him! Don' t you fellows ever read the papers?" Mason stared at her with scornful appraisal. "The woman that was in the roo m when he was killed may have been Rhoda Montaine," Mason said, "but it wasn't a woman that struck that blow, and the district attorney's office knows it. That blow was struck by a powerful man. And you folks certainly had a motive for murd er. It's a perfect case. You rang up less than half an hour before the death and told him he had to kick through..." Mason abruptly shrugged his shoulders, laps ed into silence.
Paul Drake took up the conversation. "Well," he said, "you'd better come cl ean and..." "Let's just forget it, Paul," Perry Mason said. "The chief is going to turn it over to the district attorney. The D.A. won't like the idea of having us mix ed in on it. It's entirely outside of our province. Let's quit talking about it. " Drake nodded. The two men started for the door. Doris Freeman jumped to her feet. "But let me explain!" she said. "It isn't what you think it is at all. We didn't..." "Save it for the D.A.," Perry Mason told her, and pulled the door open, mot ioning to Paul Drake to precede him into the corridor. "But you don't understand," she said. "It's just a question of..." Mason literally pushed the detective into the corridor, jumped out after hi m and slammed the door shut. Before they had gone five steps, Doris Freeman had the door open. "But won't you let me explain?" she said. "Can't I tell you..." "We're not mixing in that kind of a mess," the lawyer declared. "That's out side of our jurisdiction. The chief has taken it up with the D.A. It's up to him ." The men almost ran to the elevator, as though the woman who stood in the do orway might be afflicted with some sort of plague. When the elevator door had cl osed on them and the cage was rattling downward, Paul Drake glanced inquiringly at Perry Mason. "She was ready to spill her story," he said ruefully. "No, she wasn't. She was going to pull a line to get our sympathy, a long t ale of woe about how Moxley tricked her. She'd never have told us about the man. He's the one we want. She'll go to him now. There's nothing that gets a person' s goat like not letting them talk when they are trying to make a play for sympat hy." "Do you suppose it's some one living there with her?" Drake asked. "It's hard to tell who it is. The thing that I'm figuring on is that it may be a detective or a lawyer." The detective gave an exclamation. "Boy, some lawyer is going to be plenty mad when she comes to him with a story about a couple of dicks who were going to arrest her for using the telephone to demand money. Do you suppose she'll call him on the telephone to tell him?" "Not after the line we handed her about the calls being watched. She'll be afraid to use the telephone. She'll get in touch with him personally, whoever he is." "You think she smelled a rat?" asked Drake. "I doubt it," Mason answered. "Remember, she's awed by the city - and, if s he does smell a rat, she'll think we're police detectives laying a trap for him. " The men piled out of the elevator, strode across the lobby and were careful not to even glance in the direction of the car, where Danny Spear sat slumped b ehind the wheel. They turned to the right, crossed the street, so that they woul d be in full view of the apartment house, and signaled a cruising cab. 15. Back in his office, Perry Mason paced the floor, his thumbs thrust in the a rm-holes of his vest. Della Street, seated at the corner of the big desk, the sl iding leaf pulled out to hold her notebook, took down the words which Perry Maso n flung over his shoulder as he paced up and down the room. "... wherefore, plaintiff prays that the bonds of matrimony existing betwee n her, the said Rhoda Montaine, and the defendant, the said Carl W. Montaine, be dissolved by an order of this court; that the said plaintiff do have and recove r of and from the said defendant, and that the said defendant pay to the said pl aintiff by way of alimony, and as a fair and equitable division of the property rights of the said parties herein, the sum of fifty thousand dollars, twenty tho usand of which to be paid in cash, the remaining thirty thousand to be paid in m
If they got the annulment there wouldn't be any alimony.. grinning. because it hasn't suited the district attorney to jerk the line and s et the hook. "Yes. Is someone watching the telephone board?" "Yes." Mason said. The law plainly says that a subsequent marriage contracted by any person during the life of a former spouse is void from the beginning. "Don't you think it would have been better if you'd relied on self-defense?" He whirled on her savagely. She doesn't know that she's h ooked yet. "Sure. Phillip Montaine is figuring. when Rhoda married Carl Montaine. It's one of those cases where the truth sounds more . but it's a cinch the prosecution could never have secured a convictio n. he can't testify?" "That's right. "from Danny Spear.. rais ed her eyes to Perry Mason and asked." "Won't that be dangerous. They gave her a nicely baited h ook. that the said plaintiff prays for such other and further relief as to thi s court may seem meet and equitable. and the grin. I think w e're going to find the persons who were putting the screws on Moxley for the mon ey. That's one o f the things that C." "But.A. Della. She 's placed herself in front of the door. "I can lick them on that wit h my eyes shut." Mason resumed his savage pacing of the office. chief?" "She is when I get done with her.'s trap. "Is she really going to file this suit for divorce. it would. We might not have secured an acquittal." Mason answered." "And if you can beat the annulment action." he said." "I'm glad it does. and she grabbed at it." he said. compounding a felony. "We could have worke d up a case of self-defense that would have stuck. chief?" "No. was an eloquent answer. In the eye s of the law a void marriage is no marriage at all.onthly installments of five hundred dollars each. I may hav e something for you to write out. until the whole of the same is paid. "you can't keep them from getting an annulment. she didn't tell them the truth." "I'm expecting an important call." he said. If they can annul the marriage Carl can give his testimony. Stick a round. "But she walked into the D. such deferred payments to bear interest at the rate of seven percent per annum. Put a blank on there for the signature of the attorney for the plaintiff and an affidavit of verification for Rhoda Montaine to sign. ringing the doorbell. or something of that sort?" He grinned at her. chief?" "Because she couldn't. "But. He wants to save his pocketbo ok. he said softly. yet filing a n action for divorce?" Della Street asked. hook. when the murder wa s committed." "Will he be able to testify if he gets a divorce. her former husband was still living . "You mean she didn't t ell the police the truth?" "Of course. I want to think out loud. chief?" "I don't want the district attorney to subpoena them." Della Street finished making pothooks across the page of the notebook. After a moment. line and sinker. "I want to get them out of the country." "Do you want to find them. "And are you telling me?" She looked worried and made aimless designs on the pages of her notebook.." "That puts you in a position of fighting the annulment action.." "That's all. and give me a chance to think. in itself. She can't claim self-defense now. A t length she glanced up at him. followed his pacing with anxious eyes and said." Della objected. "It's the other things that are worrying me." Della Street pursed her lips and asked thoughtfully. Della. even if it was subsequently dissolved by divorce." "But why didn't she tell them the truth. The district attorney wants Carl to testify in the murder trial. he can't testify against hi s wife without her consent. If there was a valid marriag e.
"I walked into something. "What happened. "I'm going to try to make the stories o f the prosecuting witnesses sound improbable. the facts don't sound nearly so plausible as they do when they're fabricated. The cab driver grinned. "Forty-six twenty Maple Avenue." They pushed their way through the swinging doors. "You. ja mmed it down on his head. but that Drake wasn't in his office. depressed the brim so that it shaded his bad eye." Della Street objected. flagged a cab at the entrance to the office building. Danny was a dejected and bedraggled looking individual." he said. "There you are. "I'm waiting to see wha t comes back. One of the typists who watched the switchboa rd when Della Street was in Perry Mason's private office said in a thin. waited until the cab had rounded the corner before he turned to Danny Spear. "Type out the divorce complaint. tilted his head forward and turned toward the Greenwood Hote l. a clever attorney makes up a story for him to te ll the jury. and was now held in place with a safety pin. His neck tie had been torn. yourself. He said that he was one of Pau l Drake's detectives. that he'd be waiting for you in front of the entrance." Danny Spear said. the first thing he t ries to bear in mind is to make up a story that's plausible. and his lower lip was puffed out and red." "What are you going to do?" she asked. Wh en a defendant is caught in that kind of a trap." "I can't exactly see that. Spear pulled the hat lower on his forehead. nodded. Half a dozen men were spr awled about the narrow lobby of the third-rate hotel. Dan . "Why the chuckle?" she asked. "A man named Danny Spear just rang up. and said. His left eye was discolored. "It's the dump over there on the rig ht . a nd keep a heavy foot on the throttle." he said. "Barge right past the bench warmers in the lobby. "I've thrown some bread out on the water. pulled out his hat." Danny Spear was standing at the curb as the cab pulled in to the sidewalk." she said. I'm going to try and prove an alibi. H e said for you to come to forty-six twenty Maple Avenue just as fast as you coul d get there. "that truth is stranger than fictio n?" She nodded. "This is simply a concrete example of that same principle." He nodded and chuckled. When a person makes up a story. and that you should come at once. the defendant's story usually sounds pretty convincing. and that he couldn't wait for me to get you on the line. waited for further informa tion." he said." Perry Mason jerked open the door of the coat closet. the story doesn't sound as plausible. have just admitte d that the witnesses for the prosecution will prove that Rhoda Montaine was out keeping an appointment with Gregory Moxley. Therefore. There are millio ns of facts that may fall from the wheel of chance in any possible combination. but once out of a hundred the actual truth challenges credulity. it's one of the worst cases a l awyer can get hold of. They stared curiously. That happens sometimes in a criminal case. "You've heard the old adage. Mason surveyed the battered countenance. The collar of his s hirt had been ripped open." "But you can't prove an alibi. When he relates eve nts just as they happened. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred those combinations of facts are plausible and convincing. "I'll say it's a dump. When a person is guilty." said the cab driver." Mason fumbled in his pocket for change. frighte ned voice.unreasonable than any lie you can think up. Danny?" asked Perry Mason.the Greenwood Hotel." he asked. The girl nodded her head." he said. When a defendant is innocent. "Did he sound as though he was in trouble?" he asked. He sprinted down the corridor. "Under the circumstances." There was a knock at the door. caught an elevator. What's more. boss." Perry Mason said as he shot throug h the door. He said that he'd already tried to get Paul Drake. "Want me to wait?" Mason shook his head. "Let's go in. I k now the way. Della.
so I took the stairs to the second floor. as though it had been in a show window on display or had been left out in the sun somewhere. large enough to wrap a bundle of laundry in. She didn't take a cab this time. "I stepped on my tonsil. Evidently she never figure d on being followed. It was one of those cheap. She'd rounded the corner before I found her. went over there in the shadows by the fire escape and sat tight. because you hadn't any more than rounded the corner before she came out i n a rush and ran over to the curb. It didn't look so much as though she suspected she'd been followe d. looking for a cab to flag. A laundry ticke t was beside it. He was in his shirt sleeves. She took a surface car that would take her to within a block of the Balboa Ap artments at seven twenty-one West Ordway. A big guy came to the door. lumpy mattress. climbed the stairs and knocked on the door of the room. They reached the corridor on the second floor. So I figured it was a safe bet she was just economizing on cab fare and that I could come back and spot the bird she'd been talking with. brass cuspido rs. A piece of brown paper . and then started for the stairs. "Let's have it. hesitated and then ducked into the hotel." Mason prompted impatiently. and by the time I hit the lobby." he said. The cage seemed hardly as large as the average telephone b ooth. Chips of wood lay all over the floor. There were just the usual bunch of bar-flies hanging around the lobby. I was sitting on top of the heap." "Well. he didn't recognize me. I figured she'd left it th ere. She came to this place and paid off the cab . n ot taking any chances on losing her." Danny Spear called back over his shou lder. "Did he recognize you?" "New. and it was pretty w ell sun-bleached. and then went on down after h er. big-be llied suitcases that the country merchandise stores feature. go on. "When she started to go in the hotel. I guess it was ten minutes later t hat she opened the door of this room. I started the crate and jogged along behind." "What happened?" asked Perry Mason. A pair of socks. The elevator was at the second floor. It took her three or four minutes to get a cab. The lower part of the door had been whittled away and broken out. stood in the corridor for a minute." "Well. and she was almost wringing her hands with impatie nce." "Why?" asked Mason.ny Spear led the way past the long row of chairs and thickbellied. "I marked the room. She was walking down to the car-lin e. A wrinkled necktie hung to the side of the mirror. if I hadn't tried to get too smart. "Well. had been thrown over the iro n rail of the bed. Over on the left was an elevator shaft screened with heavy iron wire. she seemed to get a little b it suspicious. Half a dozen rusted safety razor blades were on the top of the scarred bureau. That was where I pulled the prize bonehead play of the day. She didn't even bother to look out of the rear window as th e cab pulled away. A shaving brush with dried lather on it was standing on the b ureau. "A yellow finally pulled in to the curb for her. The guy was about thirty years old. She looked up and down the s treet. "You and Paul crossed over to the other corner and took the taxicab after y ou came out of the Balboa Apartments. watching the corridor. and I had a little trouble picking her up. There was a white enamele d bed with a thin. Danny Spear closed the door to the corridor. a bedspread with several holes in it. with heavy-mu scled shoulders as though he'd been pitching hay all of his life. one of them with a large hole in the toe. however. let her get a good start. Somehow though . sh e'd gone on up. "We can make time using the stairs. She was wide open. To the left of the bureau was a half open door which led to a cl oset. "I was afraid to crowd her too closely. I came back to the hotel. There was a suitcase on the bed that he'd been packing. lay on the floor. I guess the jane was watching you from a w indow. to a narrow. pullin g the old business of looking up and down. The room was dark and smelly. as though she was doing something she shouldn't. and Spear led the way to a d oor which he flung open. She didn't take the elevator. nice and easy. swept his arm about the room in an inclusive gesture. dark stairway.
I didn't have time to think it over. cat-fish mouth that the woman had I'd trailed over there. but groggy. I played 'possum and went limp as though I was out for ke . and th e price is right. He was grinning like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. and I saw that he had the same peculiar eyes." "What did he do?" "There. so I smirked at him and said. he put on an act. and I pulled the old stall about being a bootlegger who had been selling the place and I'd sold a guy who had the room two or three weeks ago. they l ook like hell and get you fired." "You figure this guy was her brother?" Mason asked. a fellow who told me he was going to be there permanently. your name's Pender!'. "and I'm damned whether I know if it was an act or not. he kept hold of my right hand with his right hand and pulled me in t he door. He kicked the door s hut with his left foot. I bounced back jus t in time to connect with one in the solar plexus that took all the joy out of l ife. Hell' s bells. and get yo u patted on the back as being a smart guy. "but all the time I was sizing him up. but there was grime worked into his hands. tell him that I've got some stuff that's way ahead of this blended caramel water the drug stores are passing out. and I figured I was going to pull a fast one. and said. "is where he fooled me. Come in. I figured that if I could pull a good lin e on him. tied my hand s and feet. he jugg led me around in the air like a Jap juggler tossing billiard balls. he'd take me into his confidence and loosen up. "and what a dumb boob I was! I was watching him like a hawk to see how he'd take it. and with that I stuck out my hand." "Were you out?" "Not clean out. It was just one of tho se hunches that go across like a million dollars when they go across. say. opened the closet door and stuffed me inside. as for a garage mechanic." Spear said. when I saw what I was up against. all right. and he started pumping my hand up a nd down. 'Now I place you. I remember something coming up and smacking me in the face. say. 'Ho w are all the folks back home?' and crossed his left over to my eye with a sock that damn near put me out. and realized it was the dirty carpet. "After I was in the closet. "He looked pretty hostile and just a little bit scared. There's where he slipped one over on me.. buddy. I r emembered that her name had been Pender and that she came from Centerville. pumped my hand up and down two or three times. stuck some rags down my mouth. Of course. don' t you come from Centerville?' "He looked at me sort of strange and gulped a couple of times and said. Why. so I figured this guy was a roommate. 'Sure." said Danny Spear. "I think he was falling for it. he w as flabbergasted as though I'd knocked him off of the Christmas tree. and when they don't go across. I just pla yed the hunch. I let my face light up with recognition and said. and something ab out the way he kept his sleeves rolled up that spelled garage to me. and smacked me one i n the kisser that smashed me back up against the closet door." "What did he do?" asked Perry Mason." "Go on. I didn't figure him so much for a ranch hand." "Did he fall for it?" asked Perry Mason." "Go ahead." Spear remarked ruefully. and then a ll of a sudden his face lit up into a smile. For a moment. Don't make any mistake whether I'd been out or not. 'Wh o are you?'. He handled his fists just lik e the girl in your office handles the keys on the switchboard. There couldn't be any mistaking that lon g upper lip and those eyes. the same long. said. "I played him for a hick. "Tore a pillowslip into pieces." Danny Spear went on ruefully . 'Why. I co uld see that this bird wasn't going to do anything except listen to me sing my s ong and then slam the door in my face.' "Well. Maybe it was just a hunch." Mason said." Mason said.' He wanted to know what I was talking about. I'd got a good look a t her when she paid off the cab driver. 'When your partner comes in. He let go of my right hand then. "Sure he was her brother. there was no percentage in fighting that boy. and I got a grin all over my face and said. I remember you now.
she evidently asked him if he'd told h er the truth. he said that they had to start traveling. he was a darn goo d actor. 'Hello. They talke d for darn near ten minutes. and then he kept insisting that she told the two detectives who had called on her more than she'd admitted. "New. in the course of the conversation. Figure him either for a dumb guy with lots of beef and a sudden temper . Danny Spear said." "That's the number of the Balboa Apartments." "Did he use that word?" Mason asked. He gave her hell for being so dumb a s to let a dick trail her to the hotel. that's the sketch.eps. She seemed t o be all worked up. I figured I might be able to twist my wrists a little and get some slack on the tie. or whether he thought I was out. and was just t alking. "to find out just what you're getting at. but that apparently Moxley ha d been asleep." "Well. you see. and after awhile he was soothing her and trying to quiet her down. They seemed to be gabbing over the telephone just as th ough they'd been farmers talking with the neighbors to while away a long evening . Evidently she didn't want t o travel with him. and then got her on the line.' She probably told him not to talk over the telephone. He kept denying it. and it . It freezes that door into a wall as solid as a rock." Danny Spear explained. Somebody answered at the other end all right. because it may make som e difference. I cou ld hear every move he made and every word he said. trying to wake Moxley up. asked for Miss Fr eeman. Finally he got done packing." Mason asked crisply. He'd hold the phone for a minute or two and there wouldn't be any answer. this is Osc ar." "There was an answer then?" "Yeah. You pay your money and take you r choice. or a bird who's as fast with his mind as he is with his fists. he was in a hurr y. and he'd ask for Miss Freeman and wait awhile and then hang up. because he told her t he fat was in the fire and nothing made any difference now. About every two minutes he'd stop and call Garvanza three-nine-four-aught-one. they put that song and dance on over the telephone for a while. and. the way he'd started in. "Well. "What happened after that?" "Well. believe me. "I know it. I give it to you complete. I heard him say. He closed the door and twisted the bolt . He slammed open drawers and banged things into the suitcase and ran back and forth between the bed and the bureau like a rooster on a hot stove. because there wasn't a sound from the apartment." Mason said. He said that a detec tive had called on him and knew who he was. when he should h ave been taking it on the lam." "I'm still listening. he's just a hick. "The thing that makes me suspicious about the conversation was that it was so long and so complete. and that he'd gone up to the room and cracked Moxley over the head. He kept packing and calling t hat number. he went ahead with the packing up. The girl evidently t hought he might be trying to put sugar coating over the pill. and that's plen ty fast. instead of bawling her out. "What I'm getting at is that I don't know whether he knew I was listening a nd put on an act for my benefit. The closet door was pretty thin. and. but he told her they were in it up to their necks now." "What was the act he put on?" Mason asked curiously. He kept calling that number and asking for Mi ss Freeman. He tossed me in the closet as though I'd been a sack of grain he was putting in the barn. "I want you to get the picture. and then the guy told her that they were going to have to take it on the lam. brother." Mason said with a trace of impatience. or whether he didn't give a damn one way or the other. bec ause it's important you see it just the right way. "Now.and. I heard the bed springs creak as he sat down on the edge of the bed. and he'd got as far as the door of Moxley's apartmen t and had rung the bell. He called the same number again. gassing with his sister. If he was just sitting there. Doris. let me tell you there's a strong bolt. If he did. so I pulled a dead flop. He said he figur ed the murder must have been committed before he got there. He started in and swore up one side and down the other that he'd t old her the absolute truth. He may have put it on for my benefit.
I take it you d on't want these people stopped. to take a look at all of the railroad stations and to cover the airport. and went to work on the door. Rhoda Montaine as the defendant in a murder case." Mason said. "I'm sorry. I only had one shot." Danny Spear looked at his watch. but I want them kept moving. a d eputy district attorney." 16." he said. I figured that if I could get on their trail and f ind out where they were going. I twisted and wiggled and finally got my hands loose. Carl Monta ine as a material witness. grabbed a bag or two and beat i t down the corridor. that if they separate d it left two trails for the cops to follow and if they stayed together it only left one. I knew that seconds were precious." "Then what?" asked the lawyer. so I can bring them back if I have to. so I beat it down to the corner and telephoned the agency. adjusted his glasses and peered down at the crowded courtroom. it wouldn't have made sense anyway. After I got the agency to working on the thing. doors on op posite sides of the courtroom opened and officers brought Rhoda Montaine through the one door. He couldn't miss them very well." he said. but I got one of the boys and told him to get busy and sew up the Balboa Apartments. strode from his chambers to the bench." "Perhaps. I want them kept going. I figured there was no use telling you all the details. Judge Frank Munroe. It was the first opportunity either had had to see the other since their arrest. They're the kind of people who figure nobody can catch up with a railroad train. "I had a choice to make. I'd lose a lot of time. I want to know where they are . because after they'd left the Balboa Apartments. because there was nothing you could do. so I wanted to get you down here just as quickly as you could come. with the kind of mouths that run in that Pender family. but that's a clean breast of the whole situation. I'd say it was a ten to one shot they did. and then I figured you could use your own judgment." . Carl Montaine through the other. representing the plaintiff. and I figured you wanted me to play them close to my chest. Slowly. Perry Mason representing th e defendant." Spear rejoined. Both were in custody." Danny Spear said. Simultaneously with the banging of Judge Munroe's gavel. it's a cinch the y'd try a railroad train. A bailiff intoned the formula which marked the openin g of court. "Why didn't you tell me this over the phone?" "Because. I knew if I tried to explain to you over the telephone. it would be a good thing. "Well." Mason said rather testily. "Well. We can ring up the agency in half an hour a nd find out if the boys picked them up. "John Lucas. I could have got out by making a racket or by smashing out the panels with my feet. and took t he rest of it out with one kick that didn't make too much noise. So I got out my pocket knife and whittled through the thin part of the panels. and if I tried to tell it over the telephone. he shook his head." said Judge Munroe. I was afraid to telephone from here because the calls apparently go through the desk. got r id of the bandages. He told her he was getting a taxicab and for her to have her things al l packed up. I don't want them stopped. Personally. "Then he dragged a bunch of baggage around. thin carpet.was sink or swim and there wasn't any good in separating. but that would have brough t a crowd. Paul Drake will probably be there by that time. fell to pacing the faded." "I was hoping they hadn't. "The case of Montaine versus Montaine. of the Domestic Relations Department of the Superior Co urt. "they hadn't left the Balboa Apartments when you tel ephoned. I figured I could call the agency and get them to pick up the trail while it was hot. and the guy would loom up like a mountain anywhe re. said gravely. "let's get back to the offic e. do you?" Perry Mason frowned thoughtfully. "because I'd pulled enough of a bonehead play for one day." Abruptly Perry Mason grinned. Drake wasn't in. I gave him a de scription of the pair. "No.
Mr. and then glanced inquiringly at Lucas." he said. Montaine. "Your name is Carl W. who occupied a seat at the counsel table immediately adjacent to his son." "You subsequently went through a marriage ceremony with her?" "Yes. Both men showed their s urprise." he said. that there will be no deviation from the issues in this case. "Step down." Lucas turned to Perry Mason with a wave of his hand. therefore." "You are acquainted with the defendant." "You reside here in the city. held up his right hand. clamped his lips in a firm line. "to this action are in custody. "That's all. her face ghastly wh ite. Montaine?" "Yes. It was Judge Munroe who broke the tensio n of the courtroom. held his eyes straight ahead. Is that understood. The judicial admonition. said no word. Her tear-dimmed eyes made it necessary for the deputy at her side to guide her with a hand at her elbow. The defendant is c harged with murder. sat down beside the deputy. The Court notices that the action is filed on b ehalf of the plaintiff by a counsel in the district attorney's office." he said. John Lucas flashed a glance of triumph at him. and he was careful not to intrude upon the stage. Carl Montaine. Perry Mason. gentlemen. in anticipation of a rig id cross-examination. was sworn. The boy then marched with steady dignity to the witness stand. From the courtroom came a low murmur which was silenced by the peremptory g avel of a bailiff. It is rumored that the plaintiff will appear as a witness fo r the People in the murder case. Counsel for neither side w ill be allowed to cross-examine opposing witnesses for the purposes of eliciting information which may subsequently be used in the trial of People versus Rhoda Montaine." said Lucas.Rhoda Montaine gave an involuntary exclamation. therefore. we have a right to call the defendant to the stand for cross-examination as an adverse party. and in advance of any examination on the part of her counse . "You may inquire. He wanted the full force of what had happened to impress the spectators. There could be no question but what the charge from the judge a mounted to a distinct victory for the district attorney's office. She was employed by me as a nurse." said Judge Munroe sharply. The action before the Court is one to annul a marriage. The Court wishes to announce. "Call Carl Montaine as the first witness for the plaintiff. lea ving his wife standing. marched t oward the chair which had been prepared for him. his face bearing the evidence of sleepless nights and worrie d days. Perry Mason co uld always have his client refuse to answer questions on the ground that the ans wer might incriminate her. stepped swiftly forward." "Of this year?" "Yes. made no move. Lucas had been in tense readiness to jump to his feet with an objection. on the ground that there was a prior husband living. Mr. Perry Mason's smile was urbane. "under the Code of Civil Proc edure. "Carl!" she exclaimed. Montaine?" "Yes. gentlemen?" Perry Mason bowed his head in silent assent. should Mason ask any important questions. The witness had apparently been carefully coached." Lucas was on his feet." "Can you give the date of that?" "The eighth day of June." "When did you first meet her?" "At the Sunnyside Hospital. "Your Honor. "Both parties. spectator of the silent drama. with incredulous dismay in her eyes. Rhoda Montaine walked blindly toward the chair which had been reserved for her. Rhoda Montaine?" "Yes. Carl Montaine dug his hand into the shoulder of his father. "No questions." he said. Th e restraining arm of a deputy barred her way. amounted to a cur tailment of Mason's right to cross-examine Carl Montaine.
1925. that this man's name was Gregory Lorton. He might have had two dozen pre vious wives living. then jumped up again." "Did you recognize them?" "Yes. she becomes a widow. sat dow n. held up her right hand and was sworn. Your co mments were entirely uncalled for. "Call Mrs. who was killed on the morning of June sixteenth of the present year?" "I will. Perry Mason remained significantly silent." and sat down." "In view of the Court's statement." Perry Mason's smile became a grin. you have your right to do so. alias Gregory Moxley. Lucas showed surprise." The spectators gasped with surprise." "Did you see the remains?" "I did. It makes no difference how many prior marriages this man. I move to strike out the answer as not responsive to the question. Bessie Holeman to the witness stand. Perry Mason said." "Just what. "And to counsel. Rhoda Montaine could have filed suit for annulment during hi s lifetime." said John Lucas. when the defendant went through a marriage ceremo ny with Carl Montaine. "I also desire. "Proceed." he said. glancing at the Court." asked Perry Mason. I therefore desire to call Rhoda Montaine to the witness stand. "your objection is well taken." said Perry Mason.. There was. his face red." "Who was the man?" "He was the man whom I married on the fifth of January. strode t o the witness stand." said Lucas. she had previously been party to a marriage ceremony with another man. alias Gregory Lorton.l. "I don't believe. Lucas half rose from his seat. And. "In view of our stipulation." said Perry Mason. with tired eyes. Judge Munroe frowned thoughtfully. "Did you." "I apologize to the Court." asked Lucas. it becomes entirely immaterial in this action who it was that was buried under the name of Gregory Lorton. "to interrogate this witness as to the identity of a person who w as buried in February of nineteen hundred and twenty-nine under the name of Greg ory Lorton." asked Perry Mason. the man who was killed on the six teenth day of June of this year?" "I did." Judge Munroe's gavel banged on his desk. you also hav e the right to pursue that inquiry by giving out statements to the newspapers in timating that you suspect this defendant of having poisoned that individual. However. as incompetent. "do you expect to prove by this witness?" Lucas frowned. He hesitated a moment. " that the Gregory Lorton who was married to the defendant in this case was alive at that date. If you wish to pursue that inquiry in a criminal action. driving and hostile. "The law of this state provides that a subsequent marri age contracted by any person during the life of a former husband or wife of such . the faint twinkle of h umor in his eyes. his voice harsh." said Perry Mason. With his death. smilingly polite. "is our case. "That insinuation is unjustified!" he shouted.." he said. "You can't. "Your Honor." "Will you stipulate. "That. then said slowly. "go to the inquest which was held over the re mains of Gregory Moxley. Moxley. t his line of testimony takes me completely by surprise." suggested Lucas. There was a rustl e of motion in the crowded courtroom. he r marriage is not subject to collateral attack." he said to Perry Mason. She did not. might have had before he married Rhoda Montaine." Lucas whirled." A young woman of perhaps thirty-two years of age. "that it is necessary for me to disclose my plan for procedure nor the purpose of my examination. "I was about to state that I thought we would stipulate whatever you wished to prov e from this witness. "t hat on the eighth day of June. In other words. Munroe looked from face to face. perhaps." Perry Mason smiled." he said. unfortunately. "Counselor. irrelevant an d immaterial.
P hillip Montaine retained his poise." Perry Mason turned and caught the eye of the elder Montaine. There was no expression whatever upon the face of the o lder man. "I show to counsel. in that he has. Perry Mason said to the deputy who had Rhoda Montaine in custody. All you have to do is to sign it. "Cross-examine.. every one talking at once. so that his eyes were staring steadily int o hers. "Yes." "Motion to strike is denied." he said in a low voice." "Then what?" she asked. held a chair for her." announced Perry Mason. "Then. being null and void. In the Estate of Gregorson. presented it to Lucas with a flourish." The judge leaned over his desk and said to the clerk of the court. I make allowances for his character. was no bar to a subsequent valid ma rriage to Carl Montaine. returning with two books which the judge consulted thought fully. "you are g oing to sue him for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty." He took Rh oda Montaine's arm." Tears came to her eyes. in that he has betrayed the confidence you have mad e to him. Court is adjourned. 19 25?" asked Perry Mason. "What does it all mean?" she asked. I tell you." "It will be received. People milled into curious throngs." Judge Munroe said.person with any person other than such former husband or wife is illegal and vo id from the beginning. "That is all. it is held that a void marriage is subject to collateral attack. Lucas approached the witness." Perry Mason unfolded a legal paper. "a certified copy of the decree of divorce. I have listed some of those times and occasions in this co mplaint. in that he has fa lsely accused you of murder." he said." she said. Gregory Lorton could not enter into a valid marriage with Rhoda Montaine as long as Lorton's prior wife was living Therefore. "Judgment. "I want to take my client into the jury room for consultation. Carl Montaine seemed rather dazed. Judge Munroe looked up from the books and disposed of the case with a sin gle sentence. piloted her into the jury room. pulling the complaint from his pocket. "It means. sat ac ross a table from her and smiled reassuringly. "you've told your story. and volume sixteen of Califo rnia Jurisprudence. "Did you ever secure a divorce from the man who has been variously describe d as Gregory Moxley or Gregory Lorton subsequent to the fifth day of January. You've given t he district attorney a signed statement. You can sit in the door if you wish. treated you in a crue l and inhuman manner. You can't deviate from that story now." Lucas shrugged his shoulders. "Bring m e that one hundred and sixtieth California Reports. I love him. "Rhoda. "that Judge Munroe has held your marriage to Carl Montaine absolutely valid and binding. John Lucas looked crushed. an eye that wa s glittering and frosty. stared steadily at her and said." said Judge Munroe. on numerous times and occasions." he said. but C. Don' t you understand. the previous marr iage of this defendant. I offer this ce rtified decree in evidence. So far. "But." There was a restless silence in the courtroom while the clerk stepped into the Judge's chambers." Perry Mason leaned close to her. You've got to stand or fall by it. and ca ll to the attention of Court and counsel the fact that the decree of divorce was subsequent to the marriage of this defendant to Gregory Lorton. "Obviously. "Are you cer tain of the identity of this man you saw in the morgue?" "Yes." said Perry Mason." said Perry Mason. "I don't want to divorce him. 160 Cal. It was impossible to tell whether he was sur prised by the decision. The petit ion to annul the marriage is denied. 61. but I have uncovered . the district attorney hasn't been abl e to uncover the person who actually did stand on the doorstep and ring the door bell of Moxley's apartment while Moxley was being murdered. "must be entered for the defendant. said to Judge Munroe. Newspaper men sprinted for telephones. The courtroom buzzed with activity.
The officer moved forward." he told her. held out his foun tain pen. Rhoda Montaine took the foun tain pen. "You got yourself in this mess. and who is utterly ruthless." She stared at him with consternation in her eyes." Rhoda Montaine said.'s office. has given t he newspapers signed statements covering your husband's testimony. but the main thing is that I'm going to slap a subpoena on Carl Montaine.. He's held you r husband as a material witness. "I am ready." he said. We're going to file this divorce. Your c ar was parked around the corner on a side street. we re cold. I have uncovered two of them. "Why. however. The district attorney is going to try and get the death penalty and back of the district attorney is a man who has a great deal o f intelligence. If he do esn't change his story." he said." he said. He's had too much coddling. "Then. Before the district attorney's offic e realizes what has happened. "The other one is Doctor Clau de Millsap. We've won that annulment case." "Listen. "Time's up. The district attorney." "Sign. You r husband can't testify against you. you may get big alimony. Right at pres ent. where I couldn't talk with him." There was fear in her eyes as she asked." he told her.A. Perry Mason shoved the divorce complaint in front of her. both may be telling the truth.." "Who do you mean?" she asked. I want to make a man out of him. "he doesn't approve of me. a man from Centervill e who was trying to get money from Moxley." Perry Mason went on. in a whis per. "C. "is Oscar Pender.. The testimony of either one will get you the dea th penalty. "it's going to make some nice copy for the newspapers." she said." "I don't know anything about him. "I don't want a divorce from him. He couldn't sleep." she said. He said slowly. Moxley had swindled Pender's sister out of her savings. but he wouldn't. He got up and drove to Moxley's house. "by not doing what I told you. "Who's the other on e?" Mason's eyes bored into hers. "Why. you're accused of murder." Mason told her. they'll find that I've got Carl sewed up. She dashed off her signature. The fingers of her hand. I've drawn it on the theory that your husband was guilty of cruelty in telling a bunch of lies to the district attorne y." Mason said." she said. You can't change a man over night. forcing h im to attend at the taking of a deposition." she said." "But. "One of them. You can't kick the props out from under him and expect him to stand on his own feet all at once.." The officer in the doorway coughed suggestively. He knew of your appointment. we've got to combat that prop aganda. "he's Carl's father! He wouldn't. The lights were out. Now you're going to follow instructions. but he's let ev ery newspaper man in town talk with him. On the other hand.. Phillip Montaine. He's been taught to lean on his father and his ancestors . You were there. "Sign on that line. He rang the bell. "Claude Millsap!" she said. I know he has weaknesses . If he does. One of them may be lying." Rhoda Montaine was white to the lips.. raised tear-moistened eyes to the officer . lies that linked you with a murder of which you are innocent. brushing against the back of Mason's hand. a great deal of poise.him. Now then. it's going to look like hell for the D. 17. He's willing to spend any amount of money that is necessary to get you convicted and get you a death penalty. "Can they use this deposition agai nst me in the murder case?" "No. "I don't care how you feel about Carl. Her eyes stared appealingly into his. . This money Pender was to get for his sister. You can't." "Then what?" she asked. I love him in spite of those weaknesses.
if necessary. then blurted out. that he did it by making threats. and Rhoda Monta ine would draw a verdict of first-degree murder. I want the m kept on the move." Drake nodded thoughtfully. His eyes.Perry Mason's fingers drummed on the edge of his desk. I got busy on the telephone and ha d operatives board the train at different points to give him reinforcements. You could make him either admit that he was on the scene of the murder at about the time it happened." The detective smoked silently for several seconds. He found them about ten minutes before train time. at the very moment the murder was . the jury would put her down for a liar. instead of getting this man on the run. Paul?" "Yes." Drake said slowly. "I want them hounded. He took the same t rain they did. let him admit. would put Pender on the witn ess stand. "Your man picked them up at the railroad depot. That's only natural. if. And Pender would testify that he stood in fron t of the street door which opened on Moxley's stairway and rang the bell repeate dly and didn't get any answer." "Then what?" "Why then. Then he would have Pender testify that he went to Moxley's apartment sometime after two o'clock in the morning. rested on Paul Drake's face. and by the time Rhoda Montaine got on the witness stand and tried to swear that she was the one who was ringing the bell while the murder wa s being committed. that Moxley had told him he was going to meet Rhoda Mont aine at two o'clock and that she would have money for him. He telephoned his sister and a dmitted that he rang the doorbell of Moxley's apartment at around quarter past t wo in the morning. wired me from a suburban stop. Every time they go to a place and register under assumed nam es. "what's the idea of keeping thos e people on the run?" "Sooner or later. You could show the way he t reated my operative. You could demand that Pende r be arrested. He had undoubtedly been t hreatening Moxley. For a while I'd be sitting pretty. steady in their cold concentration." he said. Then the district att orney would start dangling that garage key in front of the jury. that he made threats to Moxley. "I thi nk you're crazy. We' ve kept the pair in sight ever since they started. Now. You could show that he came here to get money out of Moxley. "That's what Della Street told me. I wanted to find out just what it was you wanted. must have been on the scene at the time of the murder. I want them to think detectives are just blundering around. "but this man. "you'd have him before the jury and you could rip h im to pieces. I want photographic copies of the hotel register." Mason said slowly. "Then the district attorney would be in a spot.A. I don't want them to think detectives ar e too close on their trail. Pender." Mason said. he'd make a lot of favorabl e publicity for Rhoda Montaine. I wasn't certain I got the message strai ght. "Yes." "You want them to know that detectives are on their trail?" "Yes. "the district attorney is going to realize t he really vital point in this case. but I want it done cleverly." "Then what?" Mason asked. Perry!" "Why?" "It's none of my business. "But. let Pender admit that he called up Moxley and tried to get money out of Moxley. Pender went to collec t the money. Then we'd go to trial. or else you could impeach him by showing the conversation he had with his sister. He had a motive for killing Moxley." he said. Some one was standing in front of the street door of Moxley's apartment ringing the bell." Drake said. I want those names. I want them frightened." "I want them kept on the run. "I could do all those things. "That would tie in with the testimony of the witnesses who lived in the oth er apartment house. you should h ave him arrested and turn the newspaper boys on him." Mason said. The D. You could demand that the district attorney call him as a witness ." Mason smiled. covering the various hotels with descriptions and that sort of stuff.
Both of these people will insist that they were the ones who rang the doorbell." Drake nodded his head. and Pender tells him his story. On the other hand. "Who's the other one?" "I can't tell you. slinking about the country from city to city as a common criminal. "only it happens that there are three people who claim to have rung t hat doorbell. just as I see fit. Then is when I will show his guilty co nduct. and the jur y will get so hopelessly confused they'll let the two men fight it out and acqui . it is going to weaken Rhoda Montaine's case. the district attorney will make him a star w itness for the prosecution. "You say there will be two people who w ill claim to have been on the scene of the murder. It is weakened very materially by the presence of her garage keys in Moxley's apartment. tha t's what I'm doing with Oscar Pender." A slow smile twisted Perry Mason's countenance." "Then. a person can't ring a doorbell on a street door and. the more th e jury is going to believe that they are the guilty ones. Paul. the other one is Rhoda Montaine. "Rhoda Montaine has been the first one to advance her claim. if I'm forced to cross-examine this man along the usual lines of simply trying to prove he's lying. Therefore. we have two p eople who are going to fight over that doorbell. But. Therefore. Now. Paul. becaus e. One of them is Oscar Pender . said slowly. the person who was ringing that doorbell isn't going to be anxious to come forward and admit being in the vicinity of the murde r at the time it was committed. the more attempts they make to disguise themselves and to conceal themselves. leaving places in the dead of night. and. the district attorney hasn't been able to get an y admissions from him because this man is trying to protect Rhoda. one of these people must be guilty of the murder. however. obviously. That's more particular ly true because Pender will probably forget some of the places he went to and so me of the names he used. but when he is once run to earth by the district attorney. club a man over the head in an apartment on an upper floor and in the back of the house. using differe nt aliases. The distri ct attorney will have coached him and coached him carefully. the district attorney can f ind some one who will go on the stand and swear positively that he was the one w ho was ringing the doorbell. but I want to have it in my power to produce him. I'll have to cross-examine him and try to prove to t he jury that he is the murderer instead of the one who was really ringing the do orbell. We now have found these two people. whoever that person was." "Three?" the detective asked in surprise. he or she must be innocent of the murder. "the district attorney gets hold of Pend er. Now. "Excellent reasoning. Sooner or lat er they'll drag his story from him. and the ot her person will be the one who was murdering Moxley at the time the doorbell was ringing. The more places th at they go to and leave hurriedly. Then is when I will mix the whole ca se up so badly the district attorney won't know what it's all about." Drake said. That's going to put Rhoda in an awful spot. So far." Drake nodded. "I may let the district attorney get hold of Oscar Pender. I'm not going to get very far. "you intend to let the district attorney discover Oscar Pender eventually. at the same t ime. The testimony of the prosecution's main witnesses will establish that . I can rip him wide open. and then is when I will produce Oscar Pender. "If. " he said. the more different names they take. but t he jury may believe her. Then is when I will show his motive. The other one will be the one who was actually ringi ng the doorbell." Mason went on. he's going to tell his story eagerly enough. "The district attorney will bear down heavy on this doorbell business." "At the proper moment. ringing the doorbell. incidentally. ringing that doorbell. If. just the same." Perry Mason said. One of them will be the murderer.committed. I can brand his testimony as a lie. If I can produce hotel registers to impeach his testimo ny. or n ot to produce him. if I can cross -examine him by proving to the jury that he fled over the country. with his sister. I can only tell you that he's a person the distric t attorney knows about. I'm gi ving them an opportunity to impeach themselves before a jury. One of them will be the person who actually was standing in front of the door. Obviously.
"Perry. Paul. just in case some other accomplice should show up. That is one of the reasons why I would l ike to have enough ammunition in my hands when I cross-examine him to rip him wi de open. I think he realizes something of what I have in mind. ringing the bell. trying to find where Pender and his sister were. Della Street nodded. he said. Mason nodded to Della Street. for some reason. Perhaps it was the same way you did. "I've stumbled on to something else." "Why?" "Because. "Mabel Stri ckland." Perry Mason's eyes narrowed. "Police detectives?" he asked. "Her eyes are red and tears are streaming down her fac e." Drake stared thoughtfully at the tip of his cigarette. "You don't seem to have a great deal of faith in your client's innocence. She says she's got to se e you at once." he said." Drake's stare was steady." he said. She's crying. and. She's crying so badly she can hardly see. slipped into the room." Mason frowned. "Come in." Mason's eyes showed interest. is in the outer office. She can't stop them. Paul?" "I'll say. "That doesn't seem a str ong enough motive. and I think we'll find C. "is a dangerou s antagonist. Miss Strickland. Yester day evening a bunch of detectives came down on the place like flies coming to a syrup jar." "Why?" "Because he wants to keep Rhoda Montaine from being acquitted. where do you suppose Oscar Pender really was at the time Gregory M oxley was being murdered?" "There's just a chance." Mason said. got to his feet and said. He half turned and r aised his eyes to the lawyer's countenance. "Show her in. "What?" "Some one is looking for Pender. "Be seeing you later. Some one certainly is spending money on the case. "That. Phillip Montaine." "How do you know?" "We've had men watching the place where Pender stayed and the apartment tha t his sister occupied. Drake slid over the arm of the chair. "No. "You think old man Montaine is working up this case inde pendently of the district attorney's office?" "I'm certain of it. they seemed anxious to keep their activities from coming to the attention of the police. when C. she 'll be his son's legal wife. said nothing. glanced significantly at Paul Drake. jerked his head toward the corridor door.t the woman." he said. "to cause a man to try to get a woman convicted of murder. and said to Perry Mason. "that he actually was standing in fron t of the street door." then stood to one side so the lawyer could see the sobbing woman grope toward the doorway. Doctor Millsap's nurse. I don't know how he got on Pender's trail. guided her to a chair." When the door closed on the detective. "if she is acquitted. " he said. Perry. Paul. "C." "There were lots of them." he said." The detective stared incredulously at Perry Mason." Mason's lips twisted in a grin. Phillip Montaine has some very definite plans for his son's matrimonial future. Della Street opened the door. After a moment of thoughtful silence." "Crying?" Mason asked. ." Drake said slowly. They swarmed all over the place and moved heaven and earth. is what I thought at the time." The detective gave a low whistle." Mason said slowly. they were agency detectives. Della Street piloted her into the office. Della Street opened the door. Mason grinned. said. in the first place. Phillip Montaine approached me with a proposition to pay me a handsome fee for representing Rhoda if I would consent to place her in a position where h er defense would be materially weakened.
" "Did you get the license number?" "No." she sobbed. "He was kidnapped. We were driving along in the car when another car crowded us in to the curb." "But he couldn't. "What's happened?" Mason inquired. he reached forward and snatched the handkerchief out of her hand. started pacing the office." "Did you report the affair to the police?" "Yes. There were two men in it." "What color was it?" "Black." "What kind of a gun did the men have?" "Automatics. He raised it to his nostrils. grabbed at his hand." "What happened?" "The police came out and talked with me and went out to the place where our car had been stopped. "We had been working late at the office last night. "Grabbed Doctor Millsap so that he couldn't testify against your client at the trial." "Tell me about it. "almost unti l midnight." she said."What is it?" asked Perry Mason. has it?" "I don't know. He was going to drive me home. the district attorney thoug ht you had done it. "Look here. hold ing a handkerchief to her nose." "You put Doctor Millsap on the spot. Abruptly." "Did the men say anything to you?" "No. The nurse tried to speak. "What happened to him?" Mason asked." Perry Mason said thoughtfully." Perry Mason got up from the desk. his eyes wary and watchful." "Had they made any demands on you?" "No. Big black automatics. took a deep inhalation." "Do I?" "I think you do." the lawyer said. made certain that th ey were closed. They told Doctor Millsap to get in th e car with them and then they drove off. We're alone. g roped along the arm until she found his hand and tugged at the handkerchief. that's got nothing to do with his being kidnapped. "Doctor Millsap didn't want to testify. "I told him to take a sea tr ip for his health. I'd never seen either one of them before." "Was he going to testify against her?" "I don't know anything about it. but failed. They looked around but couldn't find anything. watching the girl's quiveri ng shoulders." "How do you know what he thought?" "Because of the questions he asked me. "You can talk frankly to me." Mason nodded. clutched his arm. apparently. They had guns. The district attorney served some papers on him. "A Buick sedan. of course. All I know is what the district attorney t hought." he said slowly. "Yes. who slipped unobtrusively from the office." "Kidnapped?" "Yes. and then. Mas . Perry Mason glanced at Della Street. She jumped to her feet." "You were frightened?" asked Perry Mason. walked to the doors. Then they made a report to headquarters." "Thought I had done what?" Mason asked." "Well." "Didn't he?" "You know he didn't. missed it." "What kind of a car?" Mason asked. He strode up and down the office.
groped for a button on his desk and pressed it. her voice catching in a sob." said Perry Mason. slowly. you could telephone me. "You dropped a little tear-gas into your han dkerchief before you came into my office. There were tears in his own eyes." she confided. loo ked over the alert." Perry Mason laughed. capable woma n might well commit murder. regardless of the strain. Doctor Millsap just went away. The strain had to ld upon her. "Did you." "Did the police fall for this story?" Mason inquired. Judge Markham. relieved only by a white trimming at her throat and sleeves. because otherwise I wouldn 't believe it was you. Mason retained the biggest portion of the handk erchief. "but be sure you talk plainly so I can recognize your voice. He wanted you to know that he wouldn't be a witness at the trial. She was clad entirely in dark brown . The lawyer brushed the back of his hand across his eyes and laughed grimly. Lucas." said Perry Mason. chief. "it blurs my eye s. staring at her with tear-streaked eyes. is it?" he said. far bett er to coach her to take advantage of all the prerogatives of her sex . "I think so." "If anything important develops. the trial deputy who h ad been selected to represent the rights of the people. "drop some tear-gas in your handkerchief when you talked with the police? " "I didn't have to then.on held to the tear-sodden bit of linen. quivering eagerness of John C." she said. "they f-f-f -rightened me so that I didn't have to. veteran of a thousand major criminal trials." Rhoda Montaine sat by a deputy sheriff. They're tracing all of the Buick cars in the city to see if any of the m are owned by detectives who might be working for Paul Drake. and then a corner of the handker chief ripped loose in her hands. but there was something in the tilt of her head." Mason stood staring at her. tears that commenced to trickle down his chee ks. she would retain her poise and self-pos session. sat in austere dignity behind the elaborately carved mahogany "bench." He stared down at the cr owded courtroom." She said nothing." John Lucas glanced at the defendant and frowned." he said. "And for the defendant. surveyed the patient. "What do you mean?" "Did any two men crowd you in to the curb in an automobile the way you said ?" "No. something in the set of her lips that proclaimed to even the most casual observer that. Della slipped through the doorway from the outer office." Lucas snapped. "Damn this tear-gas." she said." "I got an awful dose of it. even should the verdict of the jury be "murder in the first degree. "you're crying!!!" Perry Mason laughed." she said. to apparently be on the verge of hysteria. "It's contagious." Mason asked. 18. and her manner was nervous. "So that's it. "My heavens. There was the sound of tearing cloth. A stern. delicate woman whose nerves were quiveri . She got one corner of it and tugged fra ntically. "Was there any automobile?" he asked.to be fem inine and weak. "could you reac h him?" "If anything important develops." Della Street gave a gasp. a feminine. "The case of the People versus Rhoda Montaine. because they thought the men might have been detectives you'd employed. her eyes were swift and darting as they shifted rapidly about the courtroom. "Della. mask-like countenance of Perry Mason. "Ready for the prosecution." he said. "g uide Mabel Strickland down to a taxicab." he told her. This was a dangerous attit ude for any attorney to encourage in a woman who was accused of murder.
made a brief statement of the nature of the case. The droning voice of the clerk called men to the jury box." Perry Mason's voice rose. such questions brought out no disqualifications . if so. Simpson has an swered it? If so. nodde d their heads in silent acquiescence from time to time. "In what I am about to say. listening to the droning monotone of the judicial monologue. "Mr. "Yes. or would you not. Perry Mason got to his feet. Simpson ." he said. "that the legislatu re sought to expedite trials by providing that the Court should examine prospect ive jurors. you should find yourself un lucky enough to be placed in the chair now occupied by the defendant. hold up your hand. in a tone of voice which indicated he was merely perfo rming a meaningless chore. it is a question which I consider it my duty to ask on behalf of my c lient. would you. calling the juror by name. in the meantime. "there is no personal im plication. virtually without meaning. Mr." he said. "I am aware. so far as the se lection of the jury was concerned. "the Court is required to ask a few pr eliminary questions of the prospective jurors. yet circumstances which have. The defense may inquire." he said. The jurors. circums tances which have subsequently been completely clarified and found to have no si nister significance whatever. "Is there any member o f this jury. Suddenly dazed by this swift turn of events." "You have no bias. nodded to Mason. Mr. I ask you. Those questions may be supplemented by other questions from couns el. " Judge Markham settled back in his seat. such opinion could be set aside and they could embark upon the trial of the case with a fair and o pen mind. charged wi th the crime of murder in the first degree." He turned to the jury and went through a ritual which was." he said. Simpson. whether they had formed or expressed any opinion conc erning the merits of the case. sir." "You feel that you can treat the defendant in this case with fair impartial ity?" "I do.ng from contact with a courtroom would be less likely to kill in cold blood. an examin ation by counsel is far more efficacious than interrogations by the Court for th e purpose of ascertaining the qualifications of jurors. looked up to Judge Markham." said Judge Markham. . no prejudice one way or the other?" "No. be will ing to trust your fate in the hands of twelve persons who felt toward you as you now feel toward the defendant?" The dazed juror. Judge Markham turned to counsel. they look ed from one to the other for mutual support. and that this examination might be supplemented by questions asked b y counsel. if through some fortuitous chain of circumstances. Therefore. turned to face the first juror who had been ca lled to the box. listening to the dramatic array of words. None of them fully understood the q uestion. if they were selected as jurors. None of them felt like making himself conspicuous by holding up his han d. sir. res ulted in the conviction of an innocent person. I am equally aware that within certain limits of propriety. As was to be expected. His hands flung out in a dramatic gesture. slowly nodded his head." The other jurors had been waiting for the time when they would be singled o ut for a verbal heckling. "who would not answer that question as Mr. It is a question which is necessitated by reason of the fact that legal h istories fairly swarm with instances in which circumstantial evidence has brough t about convictions predicated upon a fortuitous chain of circumstances. Lucas arose." he said. Simpson. touching their qualifications to act as jurors. getting the gene ral idea without the specific meaning of each and every word impressing itself u pon him. "you have st ated that you can fairly and impartially act as a juror in this case?" "Yes. "Under the law. He asked the jurors. Perry Mason turned to the other members of the jury. or whether. such an opinion would require evi dence to remove. whether.
Lucas showed a recognition of th e losing battle he had been waging by excusing four of the jurors under perempto ry challenges. at time of the evening adjournment." said Judge Markham. Lucas . Mr. blinded the deputy district attorney to the impression he was creating upon the jurors. a juggler who could manipulate facts as a puppeteer manipulates his dummy figures. that at two twentyeight A. we could ask for nothing better than this jury. a member of the police force of the city. He was. "that you're passing for cause in a murder case with no more examination than t his?" Judge Markham banged his gavel." John Lucas had a reputation for mental agility and a deep learning in the l aw. but he could n ot anticipate just what it was in this case. Pass for cau se. on the morning of June 16th. And John Lucas proceeded to examine the jurors in detail. "Very well. in response to that call. but that the dis trict attorney's office must heckle and browbeat them in an attempt to prove tha t they were liars. serene and courteous. Court attaches who knew the dazzling technique o f the lawyer realized that when he seemed the most innocent was the time when he would bear the closest scrutiny. his fac e almost twisted into a smile. Officer Harry Exter was called to the stand. that. to members of the jury. swung his chair around and said. Lucas saw no alter native other than to smoke this friendly juror out into the open. commented that he had "been satisfied with the jury all along. he had made a quick run to the Colemont Apartmen ts at 316 Norwalk Avenue. he looke d at Perry Mason with twinkling eyes. it seemed that Ma son had a calm confidence in his case and his client. Perry Mason. Once or twice. Slowly Judge Markham's face relaxed. Very obviously he thought that Perry Mason had "planted" some very friendly person on that jury. was trying to slip nothing over on any one. "You mean. he had picked up a call over the radio. "You heard the remark of counsel. He was calm. But even the eyes of the magistrate sought Perry Mason's face in puz zled speculation. But.M. his voice incredulous. so very apparent to every one in the court room." he asked.Perry Mason turned to the Court with a triumphant smile. suave. he said. And slowly the conviction was built up in the courtroom that Perry Mason. that he had entered the apartment and found therein a man in an unconscious condition." John Lucas jumped to his feet. Judge Markham had seen enough of Mason's swift strategy in cou rt to realize that the lawyer was playing for some master stroke. your Honor. The afternoon session opened with John Lucas showing the strain. " "You may examine the jurors. Lucas had em barked upon the battle with a grim determination that Perry Mason was not going to slip anything over on him. Before the afternoon had finished there was a distinct attitu de of snarling hostility creeping into the manner of John Lucas. had been satisfied to take t he jurors' word for the fact that they were fair and impartial. belying the reputation which had grown up about him of being a legal trickster. Moreover. and he proceed ed throughout the course of an interminably long afternoon to question the juror s as to their fairness and impartiality. John Lucas was still nagging at the jurors the next morning. By eleven o'cl ock he finished and passed for cause. and." he said. was one of the officers who was assigned to a radio car beat in car 62. and this determination. bu t in doing so. He testified with the belliger ent emphasis of a police officer who defies counsel for the defense to try to ra ttle him. that he had summoned an ambulance and that the . John Lucas took a deep breath. with Perry Mason. He had been selected by the district attorney to enter the lists against the hitherto invincible Perry Mason because of that quickness of mind. for the defense. at some particularly fl agrant example of mutual distrust between the questioner and the jurors. apparently confident that the innocence of his client would become plainly discernible from the testimony. Whereas Perry Mason not only waived his peremptory challenges. while the prosecution felt decidedly dubious. Knowing the reputation of the man against whom he was pitted. apparently. "Under the circums tances. courteous.
He called members of the homicide squad. that he had notic ed a leather key container. was turned over to Perry Mason for cross-examination. pointed out the alarm clock. introduced the poker which had been found in the apartm ent." Judge Markham said. when he had testified to various details. "I have no more questions. or perhaps a minute or two before two o'clock. as yet." Perry Mason turned to John Lucas. on the floor." "Who took it?" "One of the men on the homicide squad. that no one. indicat ed the position of the body." he said. He sat slumped in his ch air. "Yes. "Will you produce it?" asked Perry Mason." "Very well. "Did you notice anything about this alarm clock?" he asked." said Perry Mason." "Look at the photograph. in which were several keys. until after fingerpri nt men had gone over the apartment looking for fingerprints. that they lay slightly under the bed on the carpet. The witn ess identified photographs of the room in which the body had been found." John Lucas remarked." "What was it?" "The alarm had been set for two o'clock in the morning. and. Perry Mason looked at Judge Markham. save t he police. "There was an alarm clock in the room?" he asked in a conve rsational tone of voice. had entered the apartment from the time he arrived. "You have the alarm clock?" he asked." said Lucas. The witness took the keys and identified them as the keys that he had disco vered in the apartment. He established the death of the man who had been t aken from the apartment. "Would you mind pointing it out to the jury?" There was a craning of necks as the jurors leaned forward and the witness. Lucas produced a leather key container. that. holding the photograph in his hand." "The clock was running?" "It was. jingled the keys. like some huge bear lying asleep in the sunligh . his head bowed. held it toward Perry Mason. m embers of the ambulance crew." "The alarm clock has not been definitely brought into the case by the prose cution. He seemed utterly indifferent. you desir e to examine this witness further. Peo ple's Exhibit B. "Might I ask to have the alarm clock produced now?" asked Perry Mason." said Perry Mason listlessly. thereafter. after the alarm clock is produced. "When we are ready. Perry Mason raised neither his voice nor his eyes." "It does. Counselor?" he asked.man had been removed. The keys were introduced as People's Exhibit A. "Do you desire to inspect this. puzzled. "I think I will not force the prosecution t o put on its case out of order." "What became of it?" "It was taken as evidence. "It will be produced when we are ready to produce it. Perry Mason sat motionless. If. "I would like. Perry Mason shook his head. turned his attention once more to the w itness. "Yes. Perry Mason shrugged his shoulders. "to cross-exa mine this witness upon the alarm clock." John Lucas said." John Lucas forged rapidly ahead." "Would you know the alarm clock if you saw it again?" "Yes. he may be recalled for further cross-examinat ion. "and see if the photograph. that he would know those keys if he sa w them again. shows the alarm clock. with the gruesome stains of blood and the bits of hair adhering to the encr ustations. the witness had remained in the apartmen t until a photographer had arrived and taken a photograph. "We have it." said the witness.
Then." John Lucas turned to Perry Mason with a sarcastic gesture. yes. unscrewed the lugs. She told me to put in a new tube and repair the old one. "Have you any qu estions of this witness?" he asked. "At one forty-five in the morning. address and gave his occupation as that o f employee in a service station. if anything?" "She drove the car into the service station and asked me to change the tire . The time was checked in a book that I keep for entering r epair work that is to be done by the day shift. unscrewed the spare tire lugs and put it back on the right rear. sir." "You gave her a ticket to serve as a claim check?" "Yes. I looked at the clock when she drove in. alert young man of some twenty-five y ears of age. took off the spare tire and put in a new tube. when I let the car off the jack. It might have been a few seconds one way or another. did not so much as move his body." "What time did the defendant leave your service station?" "At exactly ten minutes past two o'clock in the morning." "Did you have any conversation with the defendant about the time?" "Yes." John Lucas produced a bit of numbered pasteboard." "What did she do. "Is this it?" he asked." "What did you do?" "I jacked up the car." "What was she doing?" "She was driving a Chevrolet coupe." "What?" "The right rear tire was flat. He asked no question s upon cross-examination. He was then as ked if he had seen Rhoda Montaine on the morning of the sixteenth of June of the present year." "During the interval between one forty-five and two ten she was in your ser . and answered crisply in the affirmative." "And the defendant told you that she had an appointment to keep?" "Yes." "Was there anything peculiar that you noticed about that coupe?" "Yes. sir. I listened and heard air es caping from a small leak in the spare tire. and then he called Frank Lane to t he witness stand.t and taking no notice of the circling approach of hunters." "Exactly one forty-five?" "Almost on the minute." "Did you check the time in any manner?" "I did. took off the tire." "Did she say what time the appointment was for?" "Two o'clock in the morning." "Did she say where?" "No. He testified to his name." "What was it?" "I asked her if she wanted me to repair the tube and she said that she was late for an appointment and that she couldn't wait. sir. "The d efendant drove into your station at one forty-five?" "Yes. but filled the courtroom with the booming resonance of his voice as he said. "That is it. Perry Mason looked up at the witness. that she'd call for it later. giving the location of the service station and identifying it with reference to the residence of Rhoda Montaine. Frank Lane was a bright. "When?" asked John Lucas. Bit by bit John Lucas built up his case." "She left at two ten?" "On the dot. I saw that the spare tire was nearly flat." "Then what did you do?" "I jacked the car back up.
"You have some side elevation ma p or sketch." said Perry Mason." "You resided there on June 16th last?" "Yes. yo ur Honor." "No objections to the map or the questions." Judge Markham snapped. "I will w ithdraw that question. John Lucas paused for a thoughtful moment.vice station?" "Yes. "That. 308 Norwalk Avenue. John Lucas prod uced a scale from his pocket. There was a moment of silence. she was there all the time. upon the assumption that the map is correct. Counselor?" Judge Markham asked. in this city." said the witness. making an elaborat e show of extreme accuracy in applying the scale to the map." "Was she ever out of your sight?" "No. "There is." said Judge Markham. "I'm afraid." he said. "Can you tell us how far it is. "Proceed. but does not take into account any sl ope or elevation between the windows of the two apartments. this map shows only a projected distance." Perry Mason shifted slightly in his chair. "Objected to as leading and suggestive. first. that I will subsequently connect up this map as far as its accuracy is concerned. "is acting. "I will state." said Judge Markham." said Perry Mason. secondly. The witness pointed out the location of the two apartments." said Judge Markham." "Is there any chance you're mistaken in your identification?" "None whatever. It measures an air line between two apartments." "You're positive?" "Absolutely. "you may examine this witness as to any ot her matters and at three thirty o'clock the jurors will be taken to view the pre ." "Where do you reside. your Honor." he said. "Sustained. and." "Were you in your apartment from midnight until two thirty on that date?" "Yes. and will ask you to designate your apartment on this diagram and also the position of Apartment B in the Colemont Apartments. I will ask at this time that the jury be taken to view th e premises so that they may see for themselves." Judge Markham looked across at John Lucas. "It is about twenty feet?" asked John Lucas." "The objection is sustained. Crandall?" "At the Bellaire Apartments." said Perry Mason. "Your Honor." "There will be no objection on the part of the defense." he said. "Your name?" "Benjamin Crandall. "Very well. your Honor. John Lucas called Ben Crandall to the stand. "Not in just so many feet or so many inches." "Are you familiar with the apartment known as Apartment B in the Colemont A partments at 316 Norwalk Avenue?" "Yes. In other words. "a distance of less than twenty feet between your apartment and Apartment B in the Colemont Apartme nts. measuring in an air line." "I'll show you a diagram purporting to show the Colemont Apartments and als o the Bellaire Apartments. with re ference to your apartment. of your own knowledge?" asked John Lucas of the witness. His deep voice rumbled across th e courtroom." said Perry Mason. plainly nettled. Mr. so f ar as lateral distance alone is concerned." "That's all. Lucas bit his lip. upon the assumption that there is no di fference in elevation between the two apartments. therefore." he said." Lucas glanced up at Judge Markham." "Watching you work?" "Yes. "that I do not have s uch a map.
the way he pronounced it made it so und like a foreign name." "And during the struggle you heard the doorbell?" "That is correct. ending with 'ayne' or something like that . "could you hear an ything which took place in Apartment B in the Colemont Apartments early in the m orning of the sixteenth day of June of the present year?" "Yes. "Cross-examine." "Do you know who was talking?" "No. He said that this woman was to call o n him at two o'clock in the morning and give him some money." "Then what did you hear?" "I heard a conversation.. Then I realized the telephone was ringing in the apartme nt house to the north ." said the witness belligerently. I'm pretty sure the name was." "Then later on. "Mr." he snapped. At first I thought the telephone was ringing in my apartment. "What did you do and what did you see and what did you hear? That's all we're interested in." "That woke you up?" "I guess so. during the time the blow was being struck ." "What was said in the telephone conversation?" "He mentioned the name of a woman .Rhoda. After that I thought I heard whispers. it was repeated. He pronounced the last name so that I couldn't get it. I only know that there was the sound of a voice . persistent ringing of a doorbell.a man's voice ." John Lucas smiled triumphantly. sir. "Now. a scraping and banging. It was a warm night." "What was it?" "The steady. let's get this straig ht." "Did you hear anything else at that time?" asked Lucas." "When did that ringing take place. then another ring. some one talking into a telephone. "Yes. but I'm not sure.mises.a ring for a second or two. I was sleeping ver y lightly. with reference to the sound of struggle? " "During the time of the struggle. and then I heard peculiar sounds.that it was coming from Apartment B in the Colemont Apartments." "I heard the ringing of a telephone bell. "you heard the struggle?" "That is right. "You first heard the ringing of the telephone bell?" "Yes." "Never mind what you thought. then two or three seconds of silence." "What sort of sounds?" "The sounds of a struggle. sir. You know how a telephone rings ." "Was it repeated?" "Yes. but it had a foreign sound." said Perry Mason. the sound of a blow and then silence. it was repeated several times." "What did you hear after that?" "I dozed off. Perry Mason straightened slightly in his chair." "Can you tell me how many times?" "No.. absolutely not. The windows were open.the Colemont Apartments." "How did you know it was a telephone bell?" "Because of the manner in which it rang." he said." John Lucas turned to Perry Mason. I then heard the sound of a voi ce talking over the telephone." "Wasn't it the telephone bell that you heard?" "No." he said. Crandall." "Just how was that?" "It rang mechanically." "Why are you so certain that it was not?" ." "What did you hear?" "I heard a telephone ring. "I got up and listened." Perry Mason said.
You don't know that it was the doorbell . I know a doo rbell when I hear one." he sai d." asked Lucas hastily." "Answer the question." said Perry Mason. "is all. I don't kn ow exactly. "You never heard the doorbell ring in that apartment before?" "I can't remember. "Don't you know. "that you were absolutely certain it was not the telephone?" "I am swearing it. "You were able to hear the tel ephone bell when it rang?" "Yes. I heard it. and said." John Lucas took the witness for redirect examination. which brought no answering expression to the eyes of the jurors. "Objected to." "You are swearing that it was not the telephone?" "Yes. it rang at longer intervals than a telephone bell rings." he said. "Regardless of the me asurements in feet and inches." "But you don't remember ever having heard the doorbell ringing in that apar tment before?" "No." Perry Mason dropped back in his chair. "The objection is sustained. smiled at the jury. I know it was a doorbell. I notified the police. "that it is a physical impossibility for one who is in Apartment 269 of the Bellaire Apartme nts to hear the doorbell ringing in Apartment B in the Colemont Apartments?" "It isn't an impossibility. it is obviously impossible for him to tell whether he could have heard a doorbell rin g. when I became more wide awake. by the way. "That. your Honor. It was then two twenty-seven A." "Was that bell distinctly audible or faintly audible?" "It was distinctly audible." "In your experience.I don't know exactly how long . still night." Perry Mason seemed much disappointed by the answer." "You are as positive that it was not the telephone as you are of any other testimony you have given in this case?" "Absolutely. as leading and suggestive. "It was somewhere in the vicinity of two o'clock in the morning. there was more of a whirring sound to it . Subsequently. There were no noises. There had been an interval of perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes . It was a quiet. "you may state whether the distance is too great for you to have heard a doorbell." "And you haven't listened to the doorbell since. Never having heard a doorbell ring." he s aid. in order to tell whether i t was the doorbell that you heard or not?" "No." "Do you know what time this was?" asked Perry Mason. I didn't do it because I didn't have to do it. This i s the conclusion for the jury to draw. This witness has stated that to the best of his knowl edge he never has heard a doorbell in this apartment. but a smile. "as not pr oper redirect examination. In the first place. as argumentative.I had been dozing. "You mean you heard a bell ringing. It is only a surmise on his part." Lucas frowned." Judge Markham nodded thoughtfully." he said. "Could you swear." Perry Mason slowly got to his feet." "How do you know it?" "Because I recognized the sound of the ring. I haven't. Therefore." "I know it was the doorbell." he said.it was an entirely diff erent type of bell. It sounded so plain that I thought it was my ow n telephone. it is not prope r for him to state whether a doorbell could or could not have been heard. "are telephone bells and doorbel ls about equally loud?" . and then said after a moment. The windows were all open."Because it was not the sound of a telephone bell . this was a very hot night." said the witness truculently. a smile which wa s a scornful comment upon the testimony of the witness. as assuming facts not in evidence. In the second place.M." Perry Mason was on his feet.
and introduced in evidence. stared significantl y at him.. Cars are in readiness to transport the jury and the court officials to the premises. John Lucas motioned to Judge Markham. a d eputy sheriff pointed out the windows of the Crandall apartment and also the win dows of Apartment B in the Colemont Apartments. a whi rring bell exploded the silence. long and insistent. "We will." John Lucas hesitated a moment." said Perry Mason. themselve s. "We will do that. suggestive." he said. "What's the name of the present tenant of the apartment?" he asked." he said. Upon stipulation of counsel. "During the trip which we are about to ma ke. drew him off to one side and beckoned to Perry Mason. Perry Mason shook his head. "as leading." said John Lucas in an undertone. "when we return to court. And disconnect that doorbell and bring it into court. looked at the space between the two apartment houses.. and were starin g across the space into the apartment where the murder had been committed. Duri ng such time no testimony will be offered or taken. "Now." ordered John Lucas in the majestic manner of a ki ng who is accustomed to command and receive implicit obedience." "Recross-examination?" asked Judge Markham. therefore." He turned to the deputy sheriff." Judge Markham nodded and said decisively. "we'll take the jurors up to Ap artment B in the Colemont Apartments." Judge Markham said. A deputy sheriff pointed out the bell button." "Slap a subpoena on him."Objected to. "Bring him into court. The jurors were taken up to the apartment where the murder had been committed." Judge Markham turned to the jurors. calling for a con clusion." he said. The jurors stood in a body on the sidewalk. When the jurors had all been assembled and had crowded to the windows. "you gentlemen will remember the previous admonition of the Court and not discuss the case or allow any one to discuss it with you. "can be disconnecting that doorbell while we're up the re." 19. Once or twice. as he whispered. "May we point out the doorbell and press the button?" "No objection. "That's all. the elevator being packed to capacity both times. and whispered for several seconds. he smiled. take a recess at thi s time and we will proceed to the premises which will be shown to the jury. Nor will you f orm or express any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant. There was an interval and then the bell rang ag ain. The fa int ringing of the bell could be heard in the upper apartment. which were open." Perry Mason said. A look of cunning was on his face. The Court will endeavor to do its part by having the trip made expeditiously. ." Perry Mason said. The question is improper. "You. Officials from the sheriff's office hod paved the way for the examination o f the premises by the jurors. it sh ould be removed. "It is approaching the time heretofore fixed for an examination of the prem ises by the jury. as to certain matters which are to be pointed out to the jurors. "Counselor. so they can look across into the windows o f this upstairs apartment. He pressed the button. and said. the objection is sust ained. "Sidney Otis. We will then return to court for further testimony." He turned to the deputy sheriff. Lucas straightened in h is chair. Deputies had previously arranged with Sidney Otis to have the apartment open for inspection. properly identified." John Lucas thought for a moment. The jurors w ill inspect those things and observe the premises. "if tests are being made with that doorbell. "And now. Counsel can agree. so that the case may continue its usual rapid progress . The deputy nodded. leaned toward one of the deputies at his s ide." It took two trips of the elevator for the jurors to reach the Crandall apar tment.
There was no stipulation that the doorbell was to be rung while the juror s were assembled here. "Of course. stared at Perry Mason. Waiting cars whisked them back to the courtroom. "I will. You have raised your voices and it is possible for the jurors to hear what we are discussing. "if you wish to have an investigation. "That will do.. Judge Markham retained his judicial impassivity of countenance. "I'm very sorry it occurred." he said.Perry Mason grabbed John Lucas by the arm." John Lucas kept his face innocent and guileless. Judge Markham said slowly." "I had the right. The jurors weren't supposed to have heard it ring. The doorbell rang onc e more in the apartment where the murder had been committed. said. You can't erase from the minds of the jurors what they have heard. "We will then. "Proceed. in disco nnecting it he pressed the button which caused it to ring. "to use that as a point in my defense. further." Perry Mason's laugh was sarcastic. "Your Honor. but undoubtedly the deputy district attorney is correct. straight line. "Gentlemen. "return to court." said John Lucas." he said. gentlemen. John Lucas shook his head. "You know how much I'd find out. I certainly didn't know that the bell was going to ring." he said." Ellen Crandall had dressed with care for the occasion. "Is there a ny further inspection to be made?" he asked. "You might strike it out of the records." One of the jurors snickered audibly. it will take place in court. Counselor." Judge Markham said. remained ringing fo r several seconds. John Lucas ran to the window and shouted. If there should be any further discussion.. rushed him across to confront Ju dge Markham." ordered Judge Markham." Perry Mason said. "Shut off that door bell. of any possible understanding between the deputy and the district attorney's office. that is manifestly u nfair. as well as the importance of the testimony she was about . "call Ellen Crandall." he said." Perry Mason said thoughtfully." Perry Mason said in a low voice. "No. there's nothing in particular that can be done about i t. Doubtless. "You can." Perry Mason said curtly." "I am going to move. of course. "to have the jury in structed to disregard the ringing of that doorbell. an expression which evidently had been carefully practiced for the occasion." John Lucas nodded." Despite his attempt to keep his features politely expressionless. We can probably ta ke some additional testimony before the evening adjournment." Lucas laughed. Having occurred. "but you'd never strike it out of the minds of the jurors." Judge Markham shook his head firmly. Her face held a fixed expression. Perry Mason hesitated. "this discussion will terminate immediately. "comes as very much of a surprise to me." Judge Markham frowned at him. It was as though she wished the spectators to understand her appreciation of the g ravity of the occasion. where they promptly took thei r places in the jury box." The jurors elected to walk down the stairs rather than ride in the elevator . there was a glint of triumph in John Lucas's eyes. and his laugh was triumphant. and said in a low voic e. c onscious of the eyes of the crowded courtroom. "And I noticed you were engaged in a whisper ed conversation with him when the question was brought up in court as to whether it was possible for a witness to have heard the doorbell ring across the interv ening space." "Are you making an accusation?" Lucas flared. "still argue the point. That's equivalent to the taking of testimony. We'll discuss the matt er later. Perry Mason clamped his lips in a firm . to argue that it was a physical impossibility for the ringing of a doorbell to have been distinctly audible." Judge Markham said in a low tone of voice. "This. moved away. And I noticed. out of earshot of the jury. that you gave the deputy a very significant look just before you left the other apartment house. I did instruct a deputy to disconnect the doorbell." he sai d bitterly. She moved forward.
heard surreptitious whispers. "it appe ars that the usual hour of evening adjournment has been reached. that you have a responsibility as a part of the machinery of justice." said Perry Mason. "Well." The judge's gavel banged upon the marble slab on the top of his bench and t he jurors filed from the courtroom." "Gentlemen. It may." he said. "This is purely a civil matter. In order to facilitate matters." agreed Judge Markham. The Court is no t impounding the jury during the trial of this case." Judge Markham's gavel again banged on the desk. require a l ittle additional time to complete the deposition. my secretary... she testified to exactly the same set of facts that her husband had testified to. Mason. The Court is about to adjourn until ten o'clock to-morrow morning. In connection with the proper preparation of that case for trial. did you?" .to give. but wishes to impress upon you." said Judge Markham. "I have a matter to take up with Court and counsel which conc erns another phase of the case and should probably be discussed in the absence o f the jurors." Perry Mason bowed mockingly. I have arranged that the deposition may be taken during the noon recess. You will refrain f rom reading any newspaper accounts of the trial. made an impatient gesture. When the jury had gone." he said. Therefore it has been necessary for him to retain other counsel. "this discussion is entirely out of order. Perry Mason got to his feet." sai d Perry Mason. Duri ng that adjournment you will be careful not to discuss this case among yourselve s. That is the law. nevertheless." he said. Counsel for Carl Montaine and myself will be present. who is a notary public as well as an efficien t shorthand reporter. in which event I shall ask the indulgence of the Court. You di dn't get very far cross-examining the Crandalls about the doorbell. and you will promptly report to the Court any one who seeks to discuss this matter in your presence or any one who makes any advances to you. gloating in the triumph of a day during which he had built up a case against the defendant which Perry Mason had been unable to shake. Counsel is entitled to take the deposition of the witness if he wishes. The deposition is a purely civil matter." thundered Lucas. She had heard the sound of the b low more distinctly. "that the only object of that deposition is to go on a fi shing expedition with one of prosecution's witnesses before that witness is put on the stand. "A witness. it has become necessary for me to take the deposition of Carl Montaine. "Counsel well knows. sneeringly sure of himself. "Rhoda Montaine has filed suit for divorce against Carl Montaine. turning to the jury. You do no t now appear as civil counsel for Montaine." John Lucas." he said.. smiled s neeringly at Mason and said in a voice loud enough to be heard over much of the courtroom. that deposition has b een noticed for to-morrow." "Under stipulation with the counsel who is representing Carl Montaine. "Your Ho nor. it will be taken up to-morrow. The other counsel agrees with me that this is purel y a civil matter. Court will suit your convenience to-morrow in the taking of the deposition. you seem to lack much of your usual fire to-day. "Gentlemen. Perry Mason arose and faced Judge Markham. If the deposition is noticed for to-morrow. "You have not. b een more awake during the time of the struggle. perhaps." John Lucas. You will form or express no opinion concerning the guilt or innocence of the accused. Under the questioning of John Lucas. Mason." he said. and she was positive that she had. "who has been wet-nursed by the prosecution ever since the death of Gregory Moxley.. and. however. and." "I've got a right to be present if I want to. The hour for the evening adjournment found John Lucas just completing his d irect examination. except that she had." "Very well. said. Cou rt is adjourned. It will be taken befor e Miss Della Street. "After your Honor admonishes the jurors. "the deposition will be somewhat informal. "that will do. If. I do not understand that Counselor Lucas wi ll seek to be present. Mr. following the sound of t he blow. nor to permit others to discuss it in your presence.
"You forget that I have not finished with my cross-exa mination. saying that if he would meet me at my office at se ven-thirty to-morrow night I would arrange a complete property settlement betwee n Rhoda and Carl. was registered." ." said the telephone clerk. he stepped through the swinging doors of the courtroom." "Okay. chief. with the eagle eye of a newspaper man who had seen Perry Mason in action and who knew that lawyer's masterly technique of placing bombs i n the prosecution's case timed to explode with deadly effect at the most inoppor tune moments. i t rang at longer intervals than a telephone bell rings. id entifying the doorbell and making it available for such tests. In t he first place. Montaine had not as yet returned to his room. properly wired with clamps which can be adjusted to the bell. Perry Mason stopped at a telephone booth and telephoned the hotel where C. such testimony is merely the co nclusion of a witness. freshly shaven. Will you see that he gets that message?" "Yes. your Honor. "Is Mr. "Della." said Perry Mason. Tell him that if he will arrange to be at my office at seven-thirty to-morrow evening I think I can arrange matters with him in regard to a property settlement in his son's divorce case. with a certain jauntine ss in his manner. Obviously. Crandall. Th e district attorney is keeping him in custody." "Listen." The answering laugh of John Lucas was taunting. Judge Markham." he said. "Your Honor. Not until court convened the next morning did Perry Mason put in a public appearance." she told him. Will you ring h im this evening and make sure?" "Yes. Montaine in h is room?" he asked. In the second place. He sent two of his best reporters out with instructi ons to corner the attorney and get an interview from him in regard to the signif icance of that particular phase of the case. Crandall to once m ore take the witness stand for cross-examination. however. Phillip Montaine. Phillip Montaine to be here anyway. Della. Perry Mason addressed himself to the court. Then.Mason said politely. precis ely five seconds before court was called to order. Crandall has given sim ilar testimony. the Chicago millionaire. The Cour t will remember that yesterday the husband of this witness testified generally t o the sound of the bell as having been 'an entirely different type of bell. I desire to crossexamine this witness concerning the sound of that doorbell. taking his place on the bench. I don't know whether he will get that message. and. isn't he?" Perry Mason chuckled." she said. observed that the jurors were all present. The reporters. in view of the fact that Mrs. there was more of a whirring sound to it.' "I have quoted." That night the city editor of the Chronicle. After a moment he was assured that Mr. "it was agreed between counsel yesterday that the doorbell taken from the apartment wher e Gregory Moxley met his death would be received in evidence. "You won't be coming to the office?" "No. examining the transcript of pr oceedings for the day. "I left a message for C. "please give him a message from P erry Mason. I ask permission of the Court to have this witness step down fr om the stand long enough to enable the prosecution to introduce its evidence. I feel that I should be able to cross-examine these witnesses wi th the doorbell itself in evidence. Perry Mason rang Della Street. In view of the fact that the bell has been b rought to court. the defendant was in court. chief. was impressed by the peculiar phraseology of Perry Mason's questio ns concerning the doorbell. so that I can ring the bell itself in court. from the testimony of Mr. "When he returns." she said. "I'll see that he gets the message. "Carl Montaine can't come to your office. and have had an elec trician prepare a set of dry batteries." "But you want C. and instructed Mrs. P hillip Montaine at his hotel." he said. so as to test the recollection of the witness as to the manner in which it was rung. is that it?" "Yes. as it has b een written up by the court reporter. scoured the city and were unsuccessful. "That's right.
" he said." said Sidney Otis. We want counsel to have every possible opportunity for cross-examination. Eyes of judge. been changed or tampered with in any way pr ior to the time you moved into the apartment?" "Yes. jurors and spectators turned to the frank. dramatic silence in the courtroom. He held his eyes downcast while he raised his hand. Counselor." "You're familiar with the doorbell in the apartment which you occupy." said Lucas. "Not since I moved into the apartment." "Had it. "proceed to intro duce the doorbell in evidence. was twisting with emotio .Judge Markham glanced at John Lucas." "How old are you?" "Forty-eight. "Your name?" asked John Lucas. "You say the bell has not been changed since you moved into the apartment?" John Lucas asked. "Very well. to your own knowledge. his face taking on a slow flush of an ger. listened to the oath being administered. then turned to stare at John Lucas." he sai d in a voice sufficiently uncordial to apprise Lucas that further attempts to gr andstand in front of the jury would meet with judicial rebuff." "As an electrician you have perhaps noticed it more or less particularly?" "Yes. "Any objections?" he asked.it was a buzzer. yes." "Has the bell been changed or tampered with in any way since you occupied t he apartment?" Sidney Otis squirmed uncomfortably on the witness stand." said Sidney Otis simply. "Sidney Otis." There was a tense." "Where do you reside?" "Apartment B. "I said it had been changed." John Lucas suddenly snapped to startled. 316 Norwalk Avenue. Crandall. "and the bell that you took out when you installed yours you have kept in your possession. flushed and angry red. "It had what?" "Been changed. Colemont Apartments." he said." he said. "Just step down for a moment. "We are only too glad to put our evidenc e in in such a manner that it will assist counsel for the defense in his cross-e xamination of our witnesses. Mrs. "That's right. Mr." "How? In what way?" asked John Lucas. have you?" "I kept it. is that it?" "Yes. O tis?" "Oh." With a smirk. upright rigidity. so you wanted to put on one of your own bells. honest face of Sidney Otis." "Call Sidney Otis. His manner was aggres sively frank. then glanced hurriedly away." There was an expression of relief apparent on the face of the deputy distri ct attorney. glanced at Perry Mason." "When did you move into the apartment which you now occupy?" "About the twentieth of June. C randall. The big electrician lumbered forward." "What's your occupation?" "An electrician." said Sidney Otis. "I'm an electrician." said Lucas." "I see. "What was that?" he demanded. I think it was. "When I moved into that apar tment I put on a doorbell that I took from my own store. smiling now. "Certainly not. and then nodded to John Lucas. he sat down. "Oh. "but it wasn't a bell . Judge Markham nodded to Mrs. whose face. Then he sat on the edge of the witness chair and lo oked expectantly at John Lucas. puzzled. John Lucas made a throwing gesture with his arms spreading them wide apart as though baring his breast to the inspection of the jury.
but on the other upstairs apartment my wife could hear the buzzer sounding when I pressed the button. Crandall. be true that it couldn't have bee n the doorbell which you heard. then he said." he said. It now appears that this doorbell wasn't the one that was in the apartment when Moxley was killed. "I'm going to ge t to the bottom of this." he said." "Have you had occasion to go in the other apartments in that building?" "No. Judge Markham banged his gavel. a nd if it should appear that there wasn't any doorbell in that apartment. "Directing your attention to the bell that you heard during the time when t he sounds of struggle were coming from the apartment where the murder was commit ted." Ellen Crandall again took th e witness stand. and it's a higher-pitched bell. sir." he said. "I've no questions." "Now. and while I was doing that I pressed the buttons on the other apartments. I will call. "but if you m ean that my apartment was the only one that had a buzzer in it. "you may proceed with the cross-examinatio n of Mrs. Crandall. sir." "Then you don't know. then." John Lucas snapped his mouth shut with grim determination." said Judge Markham. then it must." he said. if you've never been in the apartment? Did some one tell you?" "No. "are you prepared to state positively that that was not a telephone bell that you heard?" "I don't think it was. Mr. "About the twentieth or twenty-first of June somewhere along in there. Otis." Lucas was quivering with rage. of course." said Perry Mason. in a voice that was distinctly audible to the jury. you're wrong. He whirled to a deputy sheriff. could not trust his v oice. but tha t there was a buzzer. A telephone bell rings a sho rt ring. in order to permit you to call Sidney Otis as your witness." he said. Crandall was on the stand for cross-examination. be cause the other upstairs apartment had a buzzer. I had just started my cross-examination of her when she was withdrawn. turned to Perry Mason and." "The question may be argumentative.. This was more of a whirring sound. and that the very remarkable and single exception was discov ered by you when you moved into your apartment and found a buzzer in it?" "I don't know as I get just what you mean. His hands were gripping the edge of the counsel table so that the skin showed white over his knuckles. then there's a minute of silence and then another ring. if the Court please.." "How do you know." said Mrs. after an abortive motion of his lips. In fact." John Lucas whirled to face the witness. Take the stand." said Judge Markham. when I was putting on the bell in my apartment I sta rted checking up on the wiring. Crandall. you will confine your remarks to questions of the witn ess and comments to the Court. It's a mechanic al ringing. "Counselor. "Cross-examine. as my next witness. "You're excu sed.n. I took off the buzzer and put on a bell." Sidney Otis said. "I don't want to trick you. "as long as you are i n court before this jury. "as argumentative. you changed the doorbell?" "That's right. "Objected to. that there are bells in the othe r three apartments." said Perry Mason. sir. looking very much bewildered. Mrs. "That's all. "Look here. "What are your reasons for saying that?" "Because it didn't ring like a telephone bell. "You're an electrician?" "Yes. "When did you move into this apartment?" he asked omin ously. Mrs." he said." "And just before you moved into the apartment. "Why. but you see. "Get out ther e and find if there are buzzers on those other apartments. Crandall. I find myself very much at a loss as to how to proceed b ecause I had intended to make some tests with the doorbell. as a matter of fact." Perry Mason waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal. "but I am going to ." "Very well." he said. I don't know what's on the two downstairs apartments. He bowed his head in silent assent to the Co urt's admonition." Lucas took a deep breath." John Lucas got to his feet." "You forget." interrupted Perry Mason. for a moment. "that Mrs.
and show you that there is an alarm clock in tha t photograph. even if the p hraseology of the question may make it objectionable." "I thought it was a doorbell." he said. There was a moment of silence. i mpossible to locate. Y our comments are improper as argument or as statement. "Why. Mrs. and to let her listen to it for t he purpose of ascertaining whether it is the bell in question or not.. that the alarm clock was." the enraged prosecutor said. I direct. "The jury is instructed to disregard the remarks of counsel. The objection is overruled .." said Perry Mason. Crandall. Perry Mason looked at the alarm clock. but occasional whispers crept into the tense atmosphere. yet surreptitiously adding to the emotional tension." Judge Markham looked down at John Lucas." Judge Markham turned toward th e jury with the admonition. It f urther appears.permit it. therefore." John Lucas sat rigid. "Counselor. hysterical giggle. perhaps it was. Isn't it possible. "Counselor. your Honor. "We'l l put on our case in any way we see fit. indignation giving him sudden loquacity." Judge Markham's voice was stern as he said." said Mrs. "And. "bring that alarm clock into court. your Honor. We were trapped into breaking into the cross-examining of Mrs." he said. turned it over in his hands. that the bell which you heard on the night of the murder. the sounds of rustling garments as p eople squirmed in an ecstasy of excitement. In view of the testimony that has been introduced on the direct examination of this witness concerning the ringing of a bell in the apartment. You will be seated. This is manifestly a fair method of cross-examination." she said. There followed a period during which comparative silence was restored. The deputy sheriff brought an alarm clock into court. She has had her recollection tested by hearing the ringing of a doorbell i n the apartment occupied by the victim of the homicide on the night of the killi ng. "Now. Crandall's face lit up. then the hissing sibilants of excited whispers. she is rushed along in her cross-examination without the opportunity of conferring with counsel for the prosecution. "Now. with the witness confused by this spectacular devel opment which I have had no chance to thoroughly investigate. jumping to his feet. turning to the bailiff." Judge Markham's gavel banged repeatedly. Crandall." he said. I believe th at it is within the legitimate bounds of cross-examination to ask this witness c oncerning any bell which was in the apartment. "You bet there's objection!" shouted John Lucas. "I am going to direct your attention to the photograph. indefinite sounds. "stating that it is the same clock which wa s taken from the apartment of Gregory Moxley on the morning of June sixteenth of . A request has been made t hat the prosecution produce an article which was taken from the room where the h omicide was committed. "it might have been. Cranda ll." Perry Mason addressed the Court. "I desire to c ross-examine this witness by letting her hear the identical bell on this alarm c lock." said John Lucas. "There's a label pasted on this c lock. "You have the alarm clock in your possession?" asked Judge Markham. Now. vague. We're not going to be brow-beaten or tr icked." then.." The bailiff stepped from the courtroom. "Any objections?" he asked. I therefore insist that the prosecution shall produce this alarm clock here and now. if the Court please. "sit down. It must have been. "you can see the manner in which this whole thing has been ma nipulated. yes. People's Exhibit B. From the back of the courtroom came a sharp. from the prosecution's own testimony. your remarks are im proper and are out of order. was the bell on the alarm clock?" Mrs.. then. It now appears that that doorbell was not in the apartment at the time. at the same time you heard the sounds of a struggle an d conflict. in order to be confronted with the surprise which counsel on the other side apparently anticipated. speaking with an effort. This article is admittedly in the custody of the prosecut ion. that the alarm clock be brought into court. "The sheriff has it. getting to his feet. Judge Markham's gavel commanded silence. Com e to think of it.
You will further notice that the clock has now stop ped." said John Lucas sarcastically.this year. stepped up to the bench. Counselor. Mrs. When those hands registered two minutes before two." "Are you sure that it was?" "Yes." said Perry Mason." said Judge Markham. "Proceed. Perry Mason. Perry Mason bowed in the direction of John Lucas. the alarm clock in his hands. turned the hands of the clock slowly. "that I may use this in my cross-examination of the witness?" "In view of the fact that it was produced by the prosecution. handing the alarm clock to Mrs. "I guess it must have been. "Y ou will observe. "come very close to being contempt of court." he said. " "There need be no argument. suddenly started drumming his fingers on the bench." Perry Mason suddenly dominated the courtroom. in response t o an order of this Court directing the prosecution to place in your hands the id entical alarm clock which was taken from that room. then whirred again. He wound up the alarm. It has. a trick of counsel." he said. Lucas. approached the witness stand. If the deputy district attorney has any objection he will make it now." Judge Markham nodded. "turn the hour and minute han ds of the clock so that it may definitely be ascertained when the alarm was set." said Judge Markham." "You're willing to swear that it was?" "Yes. He frowningly surveyed Perry Mason." Judge Markham frowned at him." said Judge Markham. you're as certain of the fact that it must hav e been the bell of the alarm clock which you heard ringing." said Judge Markham. "you ma y use it. "I take it. . don't you think that the bell you heard must have been that of the alarm clock?" "Yes. Crandall." John Lucas sat rigid. then turned to regard the alarm cloc k with a scowl. the alarm whirred into action. I will also call to the attention of the Cour t and counsel that the alarm seems to be run down. "St ep up with the alarm clock. as you are of any ot her testimony you have given in this case?" "Yes." "It would." He turned to Perry Mason. as t hough satisfied with what he had done. "It is irregular. no motion. and sat down. Gone was all the indifference of his former manner." he observed ominou sly. "No further cr oss-examination. "Your remarks. No one would have heard it ring in the sheriff's office at two o'clock in the morning. putting on a headline act. He toyed with the key which wound the alarm. turned to smile at the jury. Counselor?" "I wish to wind the alarm." said Perry Mason. and then she can testify whe ther that was the bell which she heard. inspected it frowningly. Counselor. since you are equally positive that it wasn't the telephone bell that you heard. Crandall and smiled at her. if you wish to step up to the bench while counsel is winding the clock you are invited to do so." he said." "Now that you think it over. Perry Mason set the clock on the judge's desk. th en paused for an appreciable interval. "What is it you wish to do with the alarm clock. "since it appears that it cou ldn't have been the doorbell that you heard. Mr." Judge Markham picked up the alarm clock. " John Lucas sat very straight and very erect at the table assigned to counsel f or the prosecution. turned and walked away." she said dazedly. "I refuse to have anything to do with this." "Very well. "you will wind the alarm clock and set the hands under the supervision of the Court. apparently. I want the witness to hear the sound of the alarm." he said. "naturally have run down. it must have been. paused and once more exploded into noise. He bow ed to the judge. Perry Mason stepped forward and shut off the alarm. "that the a larm is set for two o'clock. run down. Crandall. He was now the showman. The alarm whirred for several seconds. He made no sound. "Now. turned to Mrs.
the spectators welcomed a chance to find some relief fr om the emotional tension." John Lucas jumped to his feet. "may I recall Mr. " It was this alarm clock which you heard?" he asked. "Yes. Crandall looked somewhat dazed at the savagery of his attack. the witness blurted a reply. John Lucas took a deep breath. or.. but the bell of an alarm clock?" Mrs." he said. "The objection. "Your Honor." he sa id. despite the pounding of his gavel. this is a witness on behalf of the prosecution. I'll put it this way. who sat in an aisle seat. and turned to the witness." he said quietly. Counsel must well realize the impropriety of such a questi on. "Argumentative." he said. He is seeking to cross-examine his own witne ss. sir. your Honor. and incorporating that argument as a part of his question." Before Judge Markham could rule on the point." Judge Markham nodded. which Judge Markha m could not silence. "Objected to!" he said. Crandall for one question on further cross-examination?" Judge Markham nodded. This is not my witness. "Yes." he said.. That 's not proper cross-examination and counsel knows it. "That's just the point that Mason was trying to drill into the mind of this witness. Counsel will keep his examination within the legitimate province of orderly questions. "It now appears from the physical facts of the case that you couldn't have heard a doorbell. M r. locked with the steady eyes of his wife. whether he heard a doorbell or whether he didn't h ear a doorbell." he said." "The objection is sustained." said Perry Mason. keeping control of himself with an effort. "Why. It's not the way to cross-e xamine this witness. After the tense drama of the previous situation." Perry Mason accepted the rebuke meekly. "You have heard your wife's testimony?" asked Perry Mason. Counsel is carefully making an argument to this man. "That's all. "Your Honor. John Lucas made an objection in a voice which quivered so that it almost broke. "in contradiction of your previous testimony." "I think." he shouted. "desire to contradict your wife's testimony tha t it was the alarm clock she heard. your Honor. Why doesn't he come out and ask him fairly and frankly." said Judge Markham. dramatic silence of the courtroom was so impressive that the pou nd of Benjamin Crandall's feet as he walked up the aisle to the witness stand so unded as audible as the pulsations of some drum of doom. "Under the circumstances. but withal. "is sustained. smilingly. sir. Counselor?" asked Judge Markham of the deputy distri ct attorney." he said . "Yes. John Lucas said in a voice that was like the complaint of a wronged child to its mother. He keeps da ngling the wife's testimony in front of the husband. Crandall." "Do you. "Now. inasmuch as you have stated positively that it wasn't a telephone bell which you heard. that it was not a doorbell which y ou heard. patronizing." he muttered. wit hout all these preliminaries. John Lucas got to his feet. your H onor. "that question is argumentative. "the Court will p ermit it. "you're crazy!" The courtroom broke into a roar of spontaneous laughter." said Perry Mason. "Are you now swearing positively." The tense. "that this is legitimate cross -examination." Perry Mason insisted. John Lucas sat down abruptly. "Counselor has forgotten himself. "If you fellows think I'm going to contradict my wife. He was trying to make him realize the position he'd put his wi . When some semblance of order had been restored by Judg e Markham's threat to clear the courtroom if there were any further demonstratio ns." said the witness with a sudden truculent emphasis. Crandall resumed the wi tness stand. His eyes moved around the courtroom." "You have heard the alarm clock!" "Yes. insulting. don't you think it must have be en this alarm clock which you heard?" The witness took a deep breath. and."Redirect examination. Perry Ma son's laugh was good-humored. in tones of grim severity.
was in a service station where she was under the eyes of an attendant who has carefully checked the time. because the testimony of the prosecution's own witnesses shows that she was not at the scene of the mu rder at that time. "That's all the cross-examination. He raised the alarm clock. I notice tha t he said that the alarm was run down. shaking it violently until the sound of metal tinkling against metal was audible throughout the courtroom. "that it was this alarm clock that you heard?" "If that's the alarm clock that was in the room." he said. Now I notice that counsel fo r the defense took that clock from the hands of the deputy sheriff. "because the witnesses have now testified positively that it was the alarm clock that they heard. on the morning when the murder was committed. The means by which a witness is induced to make a sta tement are controlled by the Court. Perry Mason sat down. As I remember the s ituation." said the witness slowly. However. The Court is administering this rebuke in the presence of the jury. the defendant. in view of that fact. can't possibly have been the one who was guilty of that murder. It would have been an exceedingly simple matter for counsel to have manipulate d that lever while he was winding the alarm clock and turning the hands." he said." Lucas looked at the witness with exasperation on his face." he asked. it now is app arent that the point has at least occurred to the mind of the witness. but until some ten minutes after two o'clock. Lucas. I. Indignant words poured from his li ps. The Court specifically invited counsel to step up to the bench and watch counsel for the defense while he was winding and setting the clock. The jury are instructed to disregar d the comments of both Court and counsel. ther efore. counsel was afforded that privilege. that if counsel had desired to safeguard the interests of the People against any such manipulation of the alarm clock. turned and walked toward the counsel table. without hesitation. Midway to the table he paused as though he had suddenly been struck with some idea.fe in if he didn't testify the way Mason wanted him to. despite himself. holding the alarm clock in his hand. "Your Honor. your Honor. However. Luc as. or allowed to run down. Crandall left the stand. then whirled to face Judge Markham." The Court motioned Perry Mason to silence. holding the alarm clock in his left hand. the Court desires to state." said Judge Markham. they have mad e it. "Redirect examination?" asked Judge Markham. "Now." he said. and the alarm was ringing at the ver y moment when Gregory Moxley was murdered. "that was the one I heard. Rhoda Montaine. "the object of this examination is apparent. "That's all. "Are you going to tell this jury. I will sustain the objection. Lucas walked toward the witness. "You can't strike out that evidence." . and refused to participate in the safeguards which were offe red you by the Court. and the testimony must stand. Mr. You sat at the counsel table sullen and sulking. so far as having any probative weight in this case is concerned. stood stari ng at it. "whether that may or may not have been the case. but there's no proof that it was run down . Regardless of the means by which they were induced to make such a statement." he said. with a smile twisting the corners of his mouth. your attitude was that of a sulky child. stared steadily at John Lucas. The effect of the statements made by witness es are for the jurors. Counsel will ask questions which are free from arg umentative matter. If this alarm was set for five minutes before two." "Well." Perry Mason bowed." he said." said Crandall. "Was it a doorbell that you heard. suggest that all of this evidence be stricken out." "And it wasn't a doorbell at all?" "It couldn't have been. it appears that the most important part of this whole situation hinges upon the question of whether the alarm on th is clock had been shut off. "or was it an alarm clock?" "It was an alarm clock. because your accusation of misconduct on the part of counsel for the d efense was made in the presence of the jury.
" Perry Mason said slowly and impressively. 20. that the judge wore a very human gri n which stretched from ear to ear. the prosecution desired that the defense have every opportunity to pre sent its case. "'Q. almost casually.John Lucas stood. ther e is no objection whatever. During the interim. the granite-hard features of Perry Mason. "Go ahead. Mr. perhaps." "I was just wondering. "Co urt is adjourned until tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. Montaine? A. some one were not trying to keep me from giving Carl a vig orous cross-examination. in order that the jury might not s ee any possible quivering at the corners of his mouth." he said in a voice which was barely audible. You know the district attorney h as him held in custody as a material witness. his robes fluttering behind him. Montaine. "Have you seen yo ur son this afternoon. Della Street. that he be kept in custody?" "Certainly not. May I ask. The lights of Perry Mason's private office beat down upon the mask-like cou ntenance of C. if. "Wasn't it your suggestion. "No." Mason said. I am going to ask Della Street to read to you what happened at that deposition.: You understand that Rhoda Montaine has filed a complaint for divorce . or per mit it to be discussed in their presence. Now it gives counsel for the defense equal pleasure to assert to the Court that it desires the prosecution to have every opportunity to try and m ake out a case against this defendant . Montaine's face was inscrutable. nor form or express any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant.: Yes. yes. "this case has t aken an unexpected turn.: Yes. I have had nothing to do with it." "Doesn't it impress you as being rather strange." Montaine said. Montaine. "So far as the defense is concerned. As counsel for the prosecution remarked. "Did you know that I saw him th is afternoon?" Mason inquired. face white. and asked. the district attorney should keep Carl locked up as a material wi tness?" "I see no particular significance connected with it. the jury will remember the admonition of the Court. "Do you wish me to read just what I have here in my notebook?" "Yes. "'Q." And with that. his hands clenching and unclenching at his si des. Phillip Montaine. Judge Markham whirled about in his chair." Mason suggested. and not discuss the case. that a continuance be granted until to-morrow morning?" Judge Markham hesitated. held an open notebook on her knee." Judge Markham placed a hand to his lips. you can read just what you have there. obviously excited. earlier in the case.if it can. who subsequently swore. "Very well. Montaine?" Mason asked. Your name is Carl W. I.: You are the husband of Rhoda Montaine? A." Montaine started to speak." Mason said. then checked himself. "that de spite the fact the district attorney knows he cannot call Carl Montaine as a wit ness because of the law which provides a husband cannot be called as a witness a gainst a wife. "you know that I have not." said Perry M ason to Della Street. "Is t here any objection on the part of the defense?" Perry Mason was smilingly urbane. and strode to his chambers." "Both the questions and the answers?" "Yes. "I know you were to take his deposition in a divorce action. perhaps. "Certa inly. "if there wasn't something back of all of this." "'Q. however. His face was as a mask. "Mr. "Your Honor. his voice well-modulated and slightly scor nful. deserve the rebuke of the Court." Montaine said nothing." he said. But there were those among the specta tors who caught a glimpse of the judicial profile just as it turned into chamber s. glanced dubiously at Perry Mason." he said. with great glee. Mr. that no one can see him.
: And.: I gue ss that's right.: Now. that the shadow trailed her to Gregory Moxley's apartment? A. "'Q. a fact that you planned to delay your wife after she started so that you would have sufficient time to arrive first on the scene? Didn't you.: Yes. and crawled into bed as though nothing had happened. Isn't it. let the air out of the right rear tire on her car and dr ive a nail into the spare tire. charging you with cruelty? A. "'Q.: Now. don't you? You heard her open and close the door.: Yes. there was a flat tire on her car. You know. Isn't it a fact that you retained a so-called sha dow to follow your wife. after your wife had dressed and left the garage. "'Q. was there not? A. "'Q.: Yes. but its condition would not be apparent until after it had been put on t he car? Didn't you then.: No. "'Q. "'Q.: Isn't it a fact that you knew your wife was going out at two o'clock in the morning? A. that this shadow followed her to my office on the day b efore the murder. wait a minute. which was also in the garage? A. "'Q. She sneaked her car out of the garage. when your wife returned her car to the garage. therefore. "'Q.: Therefore.: Was that accusation false? A.: And isn't it a fact that the reason the door wouldn't close when your wife tried to close it the second time was that the door caught on the bumper o f your automobile. making a slow puncture. is that right? A.: Yes. committed the m urder.: You understand that one of the allegations of that complaint is that you falsely accused her of the murder of Gregory Moxley? A.: Now.: Go ahead and answer that question. how it would be possible for a spare tire on the back of a car. that door closed freely when she left the garage? A. and remember you're under oath.: And isn't it a fact that on that telegram the address of Gregory Moxl ey was written? A. jump into your car. "'Q.: Isn't it a fact that you knew all about Moxley prior to the time your wife slipped out at two o'clock in the morning? A.: You admit that you looked in your wife's purse and found a telegram s igned "Gregory"? A. and drive to Gregory Moxley's apartment house? Didn't you climb up the back sta irs and enter the adjoining apartment on the second floor on the north? Didn't y ou secrete yourself there until your wife came to keep her appointment with Moxl ey? Didn't you then climb over the rail separating the back stoops or porches. "'Q. to get a nail in it. Mr.: Yes. Yes. it was necessary for her to b oth open and close the sliding door? A. e . A. elevated some three feet from the ground. Is n't that a fact? A. and when it was retu rned to the garage it wasn't driven in quite far enough to clear the door? A.: What grounds have you for making such an accusation? A.: Yes. fails to answer. Yes. "'Q. I employed a person to shadow her.: I don't know . did it not? A.: But the air had not entirely leaked out of that spare tire? A. that was afterwards. "'Q.: You repeat that accusation then? A.: I don't think so. when she left the garage.: Plenty of gr ounds.against you.: It was not.: Nevertheless.: Well. "'Q.: Yes.: No.: (The witness hesitates.: So I understand.: And didn't you know that your wife intended to go to an appointment w ith Gregory Moxley? Didn't you determine that you would be in the house where Gr egory Moxley resided. I guess so.: You don't have to guess.: Now.) "'Q.: Yes. in order to see what was taking place between your wife an d Moxley. she couldn't get the door closed. unless that nail had been driven into it? A. "'Q.: So I understand. She tried to drug me in order to keep me in bed while she went to keep an appointment with Moxley.: Yes. returned. isn't it a fact that your automobile must have been moved during the time your wife's car was absent from the garage. "'Q. "'Q. "'Q. therefore. so that the tire would b e flat. Montaine.: Yes.: And the spare tire had a nail in it. "'Q. will you kindly tell us. when your wife left the garage around one thirty in the morning. "'Q. and wh ile she was at the service station getting the car repaired. "'Q.
"'Q. yes! And I've kept it bottled up so long that it's nearly dri ven me crazy. I turned out the lights to g ive Rhoda a break and then I was afraid he might overpower her. that's right. and having used the last of the matches. you got up. the matches being those that you had picked up from a smoking stand in Moxley's apartment? Didn't you then encounter another person in the cor ridor? A man who had been ringing the doorbell.: My God. but he w as in a murderous rage. walk dow n the said corridor. striking a match to see what had happened? Didn't you find Moxley just getting to his feet. She didn't answer. Then some one else struck a match. put your car away. That was Pender. Then I called to Rhoda. and. I didn't intend to accuse Rhoda at the time. had received no answer. therefore. felling him to the floor? Didn't you. I heard some one fall. you're wrong about the killing. went to your bedroom. The poker was lying on a table. and it was her leather key container that you showed to me in my office. start to the back of the house.: Ye s. in a sudden panic. and didn't you then thi nk that perhaps your wife might have run out through the back door and have clim bed into the corridor of the adjoining apartment? Didn't you therefore. beat your wife there by a matter of seconds . opene d her purse and took out her garage key and the keys to the cars. thereupon. acting upon impulse . having been dazed by a blow which had been struck him on the head with a poker? Didn't you. drive hurriedly home. when you fo und the corridor was empty. He started for me. and then hearing your wife run from the apartment? Didn't you sneak into the ro om where Moxley had been. I came to you before I went to the police because I knew you could get her off. who had been trying to force Moxley to give money to his sist er? Didn't you two hold a whispered conversation.nter the kitchen in the Moxley apartment. therefore. pull out the master switch on the switch b ox in the back of the said apartment. I groped around in the dark. striking mat ches as you went. I didn't have any more matches. hear Moxley demanding that your wife s hould get money. thereby plunging the apartment into darkne ss? Didn't you then dash into the Moxley apartment. toss away this empty match container? Didn't you then throw bac k the master switch which turned on the lights once more in Moxley's apartment? Didn't both you and Oscar Pender then hastily leave the premises? Didn't you jum p in your car. as soon as your wife came in and went to sleep. from Centerville. and didn't you explain to the said Pender that you were both in a very dangerous position? Didn't you state th at you had found Moxley dead when you entered the apartment. I struck matches and groped my w ay through the rooms. . and who had. Only. and isn't that the reas on your wife couldn't get the garage door closed? "'A. but when both doors were pushed over from the other side of the gar age one of them would lock into position on your bumper. The rest of it happened just as you said. gone around to the back of the house and effected an entrance in the same manner that you had done? Wasn't that person a man named Oscar Pender. It wasn't until I was almost home that I looked fo r my garage keys and realized what had happened. lest your name and the name of your family should be dragged into such a mess and bring disgrac e or fancied disgrace to your father. pick up the poker. seeking to cover your tracks. but that the police would never believe you? Didn't you.: So then you left the garage unlocked. I mus t have pulled the leather container out of my pocket. Is that right? A. return to the Moxley stoop. hearing the sound of a blow. neglect to put your car far enough in the garage so that b oth doors would move freely? You could move the door back of your car freely bac k and forth. sir. start to walk down the corridor. grabbed the poker. I heard the soun d of a blow in the dark. I found Moxley on his feet. thereupon. striking matches to give you illumination. I thought Rhoda would claim self-defense and a jury would believe her. in your haste. I dro pped my match. t ake cloths and wipe all fingerprints from the door knobs and the weapon of death ? Didn't you. I gave Pender money so that he could skip out. and. He wasn't badly hurt. strike Moxley a terrific blow over the head. I didn't know it at the ti me. even if it became necessary for her to poison you and collect t he insurance? Didn't you hear your wife state she was going to telephone me? And then the sounds of struggle? And didn't you. and it was then I dropped the garage key and car keys. and. and swung in the dark as hard as I could. thereupon.
And t hen I suddenly realized the only motive that could have been strong enough to ha ve made you play your cards that way. I wanted to find out in such a way that I could convince my son of his mistake and. Counselor. That was the reason you came to me and tried to get me to weaken Rhoda's defense by letting your son testify against her and by tying my hands so that I couldn't rip into him on cross-examination. "the man who shadowe d her from this office was the rankest kind of an amateur. When Rhoda Montaine left your office s he was shadowed by my man.I don . "I know that Moxley needed killing. "I know something of Carl's character. he d id so because he thought his wife was having an affair with Moxley. had become suspicious. also. He said nothing. Montaine." he said. "but a jury wo uldn't . "That." he said." Montaine said." Perry Mason remarked slowly. Frankly. It's been rather clever of you. I know that he's impulsive and I know that he's weak. I know that when he first went to Moxley's apartment. I couldn't figure what motive would be powerful enough." he said. he could doubtless have made out a case of self-defense. He had left the garage unlocked when he took out his car. That man was so shrewd even Paul Drake never suspecte d him. and he had sense enough to leave it unlocked when he returned. That motive was a desire to save your son. not to attend th e trial. But remember that Carl. I don't blam e your son for the killing. Therefore. I know that he isn't a particula rly strong character. "is far enough. I had her shadowed night and day." "That.: And. No one will believe him. You may leave us. I learned it from talking to Rhoda. When it came down to a real test. Della." The secretary shut her notebook. "I'm licked. you know what has happened. vanished into the outer office. returned home in a panic and realiz ed that he had left his garage key in Moxley's apartment. Montaine's face was white. I know that he fears your disapproval more than anything on earth. He passed the buck t o Rhoda.. He had hired a so-ca lled private detective. I know that he values his family name b ecause he has been taught to value it. I came to this city while my son thought I was stil l in Chicago. "was one of those peculiar coincidences w hich upset the most carefully laid plans. "If your son had had simple manhood enough to have gone to the authorities and told his story. I do blame him for trying to pass the buck. of course. Personally. to shadow Rhoda. he acted upon impulse. " Montaine took a deep breath. "Why. A jury will never convict her. His hands gripped the arms of the chair. I couldn't understand why a man of your character and intelligence would try to bribe me to let a client ge t a death penalty. who was little more than an amateur. that was one of the first things that aroused my suspicions. your son didn't have guts enough and didn 't have manhood enough to stand up and take it on the chin.. so that Rhoda would find it unlocked. He has alway s had you to lean on. You're t he one that I blame.not after the way he's behaved in this case. hold the whip han d over the woman. My men were not regular detectives. "I believe what your son said. I was kept advised of every move she made." Mason puckered his brows thoughtfully. at the same time. Never mind the rest of it. Mason face d C. "undoubtedly read the afternoon papers. I'm satisfied that you either knew what had happened or sus pected what had happened. but. as I understand it. After he rea lized the true facts. The prosecution's own witne sses have given Rhoda Montaine an alibi. As it stands now. he can't do it. By the use of that shadow he had discovered something about Doctor Millsap . I know th at your son has never faced any real crisis in his life by himself."'Q." Perry Mason remarked. not after the way he tried to get out from under by shifting the blame to Rhoda's shoulders. They were confidential investigat ors whom I kept constantly in my employ. "I realize now that I m ade fatal mistakes in the training I gave Carl. When he wired me that he was married to a nurse I wanted t o find out what sort of a woman she was. He knew by that time he had left his keys in Moxley's apartment and he had made his plan to steal Rhoda 's keys so that it would appear her key container was the one left in the apartm ent. "You have. Phillip Montaine.'" Perry Mason raised his hand. if ever a man needed killing.
however. deliberately s igned two checks in blank and passed the signed checks over to Perry Mason. He made a shrugging gesture with his shoulders. although his lips were trembling." she said simply. Remember. I am in your hands. When he lost her. motioning to Rhoda Montaine to enter. By that time it was too late to do an ything about it. I won't talk. Tears came to her eyes. I presume. "of course. "Lots of it. That was the first really serious blunder this detective had eve r made. flung open the door and stood to on e side. we can't forgive you! You're an intelligent man and a strong man. Counselor. The main thing I want is money for Rhoda. "No. "I realized t he deadly significance of the information. Late morning sun." He took his fountain pen from his pocket. The newspapers were on the street. The attorney who represented your son can't talk b ecause he's bound professionally to protect Carl. "was on the job when Rhoda left t he house to keep her appointment with Moxley. I had left orders that I wasn't to be disturbed under any circumstances. and Della Street won't talk. "Now. I want you to put up that money. "of the last time I saw this office ." Mason said. "You . however." he said in a voice that was steady. and." "You knew. He tried to follow her. It might." "How much money?" Montaine asked. looking about the office. all of this is beside the point." Perry Mason's eyes burned steadily into those of the multimi llionaire. it was late and the streets were almost deserted? He didn't dare to follow her too closely. His lips were compressed into a thin line. You see. "I was thinking." Mason said grimly. he didn't appreciate the deadly significance of what he had discovered?" "Not until after he read the later editions of the newspapers. The woman's face showed the strain under which she had been laboring." "And." he said." Mason nodded slowly. He was in time to see Carl return to the garage. and yo u're going to pay. "Your son did her an irreparable wrong." Montaine sa id. fell across the big desk in splotches of golden light. This deposition was privately taken. of course. The lawyer fitted a key to the exit door of his private office. Her cheeks. of course. streaming through the windows of Perry Mason's private of fice. C. Do you want anything else? Do you insist on communicating these facts to the district attorney?" Perry Mason slowly shook his head. We can forgive him. That. It would seem to me that it is up to some one to redeem the family." he said. by God. Phillip Montaine took out his checkbook. "However. he was a weakling. be a good t hing if you would give him a rather substantial retainer to defend Carl in the e vent it should become necessary. were flushed with color . His face was utterly without ex pression.how indep . " that both my son and myself have. But you did her an irreparable wrong. however.'t know just what. "Yes. perhaps. "can as sess the fine. "It would seem. Her eyes were sparkling. "the importance of this?" "As soon as my detective made a report to me. and Carl had gone to the pol ice. I slept late that morning and my detectives didn't awaken me to gi ve me the information. but she ga ve him the slip." "One of my detectives. then. "as soon as Carl told me about Doctor Millsap I felt certain he must have acquired the information by the use of a det ective. is a minor matter. park h is car and enter the house." Montaine said." Mason said. "I'm not going to tell th e district attorney anything." 21." he said. in regard to money: I want money for the work I did for Rhoda M ontaine. taken too much credit because of our ancestors. you want mon ey." Montaine went on. unscrewed the cap. he returned to the hous e and concealed himself. He obeyed orders. She stood by the desk. Counselor.
which was taken yesterday. And. they were licked." "I will." Rhoda Montaine said. "is that e veryone else figured the same way. but I have for her." Mason said smilingly. "is something that C. It's a ll in that check. " "The trouble with that line of reasoning. turning." "Just a minute. patted her shoulder.. took out a check and handed it to her. It would have been easier for you if I had followed your instructions." He disengaged one of her hands. She came here to collect it. and. it represents a penalty that was assessed agai nst a rich man for losing his moral perspective. and then I want you to destroy it. "why . It was necessary. gave the lawyer both of her hands." Della smiled. a nd I don't mind telling you that he paid a generous fee. how I tried to lie to you." he told her. Her brother came to help her. Why should C. stepped to the outer office and returned with sheets of typewritten paper. Maso n. we'll call it a property settlement between you and Carl Montaine. "You can skim through the fi rst part and concentrate on that long question and the answers that come after t hat. "you'll understand a little better when you re ad the deposition of your husband.. So that this money is n et to you. There's one payment you've got to make.what's this? " "That. if it hadn't been for you." Mason told her. to get them on the run and keep them on the run. "You don't have to. "married Gregory Moxley under the na me of Freeman. Mr." . with one exception. Did you write up that deposition. congratulate Mr. "Why!" she said. Perry Mason motioned her to a seat. but you could have worked me out without much tro uble if I'd only had sense enough to put myself in your hands and follow your in structions. Montaine to read it. "I'm proud of you." Perry Mason said. "I don't understand." He pressed a call button on his desk and almost immediately the door to the outer office opened. " she said. "But the district attorney kept commenting about the fact that someone was standing downstairs ringing the doorbell while Gregory Moxley was being murdered . They threw up their hands." She shuddered. "Congratulations. Legally. then came forward with outstretched hands." she said. dropped into his swivel chair and reached for a cigarette. Della. chief." "But I don't understand. I figured it out when I fixed the amount of the check. so I thought that all I had to d o was to swear that I was the one who had been ringing the bell and stick to it. She gave his hand a quick squeeze. "Yes. Therefore. "I can't begin to tell you. and. I want you to pay her back the money Gregory took. paused when she saw Rhoda Montaine." she said." He opened the drawer of his desk. Rhoda Montaine took her hand." Della said. "Don't congratulate me." "But. "how ashamed I am of myse lf." "I want Mrs." "The district attorney dismissed the case?" asked Della Street. Phillip Montaine did by way o f squaring things with you." "What is it?" "This Pender woman. I haven't any sympathy for her brother. as she sank into th e big leather chair. incredulous eyes. drew her to him." Perry Mason said. "Than ks. I knew that the district attorney could prove that I was in the neighborhood a t about the time the crime was being committed. and the things that have happened since . "Read these. Sh e stared at it with wide. I kne w that I was in an awful mess. Gregory took her money. I'd have been convicted of murder." Perry Mason told Rhoda Montaine. st ood for a long moment looking into his eyes. as a part of your defense. Montaine paid my fee. "Furthermore. Phillip Montaine make a check to me? And why should he make it for any such enormous sum?" "I think.endent I was. Actually. Della?" "Yes. Della Street rushed across the threshold.
Montaine. I'd intended to give Carl's father his check back. reported me to the police." Slowly the hard look faded from Rhoda Montaine's eyes. "So that's what they did!" she said. A man can't be a child. "I'm cured. still using the same low tone." he sa id. Della Street stood at Perry Mason's side. If he could prove that you even went to that house with out the permission of the owner he'd have you arrested." She stared at the paper with wide eyes. "was that doorbell business on the squ are?" He smiled down into her troubled eyes. In cross-examining a witness I have got a right to use any sort of test I can think up. "Please." "I know. Now.. There was a wistful tilt to her mouth. threw the deposition on the desk. "but the distric t attorney is resentful. Her eyes stared at Perry Mason with burning scrutiny. Rage showed in her eyes. Perry Mason nodded slowly. He tried to blame the murder on me. her eyes moving rapidly from side to side as they read down the typewritten lines." She paused her nostrils dilated." she said soft ly. surely. So f ar they've never been criminal. Mrs. any sort of a buildup that's within the law. "You might. "Can you. Perhaps they're tricky. I'm cured. Then her eyes so ught those of Della Street." she said. I thought I'd make an investment in real estate. "Why?" he asked. "for the building at 316 Norwalk Avenue." she told him." she went on. speaking with low-voiced rapidity. "I wanted to get a m an who was weak and mother him. A smile of slow." she said. . I wanted a child . said nothing. Her hand touched his arm. Rhoda Montaine jumped to her feet. "that I'd never touch a cent of the Montaine money. framed a murder on me." she said slowly." Perry Mason watched her." she said." Perry Mason gravely took a folded paper from his pocket. Her gl oved hands were clenched. "file this among our receipts. He stole t he keys from my purse. her shoulders heaving. "call Doctor Claude Millsap for me. "I had decided. He can only be weak and selfish. It wasn't that I wanted a mate. Her voi ce was a half-whisper. "that s ome day you'd go too far and some one might make trouble for you." he said. "Chief. speaking rapidly now.. You see. satisfied comprehe nsion gave her face a whimsical expression. Carl didn't have nerv e enough to stand up and take it." she asked." She stared at the folded paper." THE END.. "My methods. "are unconventional. He'd. but they're the legitima te tricks that a lawyer is entitled to use. "A rental re ceipt.. I'm finished. Her face lighted with intere st. "get me some one on the teleph one?" "Why.. "I should have known." the lawyer explained.." His laugh interrupted her.Rhoda Montaine started reading the deposition. "I've always been afraid. and his father tried to get me convicted to spare his son.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.