Jim Hanvey, Detective/Homespun Silk
JIM HANVEY was not at all the type of man one envisions when the word “detective” is mentioned. He was immoderately large and shapeless and his cheap ready-made clothes flapped grotesquely about the ungainly figure. Above a collar of inconsequential height but amazing circumference arose a huge head which contained a face of incarnadined complexion, scant and unkempt hair, pendulous jowls and twin chins. His lips were large and loose, ears flappy, and his eyes——
The eyes were the outstanding feature of Jim Hanvey's topography. They were strikingly inexpressive; great sleepy orbs of fishy hue, impressing one with the idea of sightlessness. It seemed impossible that those eyes were capable of vision. They sat glassily in the red pudgy face beneath a hedge of overdeveloped brows. And Jim's blinking—as a matter of fact, he didn’t blink; he yawned with his eyelids. An interminably slow process of drooping the lids over the dull gray eyes, of holding them shut for a moment, and then of uncurtaining them with even more maddening deliberation.
Jim emerged heavily from the dilapidated taxicab which screeched to a halt before the ornate portals of the Hanover Apartments. He turned hesitantly toward the taxidriver, who made no effort to conceal the vastness of his contempt. “How much I owe you, son?”
The meter was consulted—a mere matter of form. “Dollar forty.”
Jim Hanvey whistled in protest as he counted out one wrinkled dollar bill, a quarter, a dime and a nickel. Then as he waddled into the Hanover he shook his head slowly. “Dollar forty! Holy smokes! An' I thought I knew every professional crook in America.”
He walked uncertainly through the cheaply magnificent lobby. The ebony lad at the switchboard eyed him insolently. Jim paused, toying with a gold toothpick which hung suspended from a watchchain of hauserlike proportions.
“Mr. Arthur Sherwood in?”
“Yeh. Who wants to see him?”
Hanvey's bushy eyebrows arched in surprise. “Why, me, of course.”
“Who you is?”
“Hanvey is my name. Mr. James Hanvey.”
“Huh!” The boy plugged in viciously, and then, into the transmitter: “That you, Mistuh Sherwood? … There's a guy down here wants to see you. … Says his name is James Hanvey. … Yeh! Hanvey. … All right, suh.” He turned back and vouchsafed his information grudgingly. “Mistuh Sherwood says come right up. Apahtment Fo’-twelve.”
Hanvey moved a couple of steps toward the elevator, then turned for a moment. “Son!”
“Next time I come remember I ain't no guy. I'm a feller.”
Sherwood answered Hanvey's ring in person; a slender man of medium height, distinguished in appearance, exquisitely groomed, very much at ease. He ushered his visitor into a richly comfortable library, where he motioned toward a chair, into which Hanvey thumped gratefully. He stared about the room in frank approval.
“Awful soft, eh, Arthur?”
The host smiled, exhibiting twin rows of even white teeth. “Rather comfortable.”
“Business must be good.”
“It is. Very.”
Hanvey yawned with his eyes, inspecting the rich furnishings, which gave testimony to the unerringly fastidious taste of the owner. Still gazing Jim produced from a tarnished almost-silver cigar case two projectiles of profound blackness. He handed one to Sherwood, who accepted it gingerly, smelled of it suspiciously, and then emitted a single exclamation of protest.
“It ain’t the worst in the world,” remarked Hanvey. Sherwood produced a bottle and glasses. Hanvey joined him with gusto. “Here's to you, Arthur. May the judge give you a light sentence.”
Sherwood smiled with his lips, but in his eyes lay a faint light of apprehension. He made no comment upon the detective's toast. For a few minutes silence maintained between them, Hanvey draining his liquor at a gulp, Sherwood sipping his with the relish of a connoisseur. It was the visitor who broke the silence.
“It’s gonna be pretty tough, Arthur—givin' up all of this.”
“Uh-huh. But you shouldn’t have done it.”
It was patent that Sherwood was very much on guard. “Done what?”
“Steal them jools off Mrs. Haley.”
“Yeh—you. It was a pretty slick piece of work, Arthur. But it wasn’t quite slick enough.”
Sherwood seated himself opposite the detective and crossed one leg over the other. He lighted a cigar of his own, a rich, fragrant, expensive thing.
His tone was quietly argumentative as he replied:
“I think it was slick enough, Jim.”
“Aw, Arthur! I’m sprised at you.”
“I was a bit surprised at myself, Jim. As a matter of fact, I don't believe you're going to arrest me for that little affair.”
“You can’t prove a thing. And if you arrest me without sufficient evidence to convict, you’ll have the double disappointment of seeing yourself made ridiculous while I go free. And safe.”
Hanvey nodded agreement. “You’re an awful plausible talker, Arthur.” He leaned forward in his chair. “Just between friends—you did steal them jools, didn't you?”
“Yes, I stole them. But you can’t prove it, Jim.”
“M’m! I could arrest you now an’ say that you confessed you stole 'em.”
“It wouldn't help you. Any flatfoot can do that any time he wishes—but it doesn’t secure a conviction. What you need, Jim, is evidence—and evidence is the one thing you can’t get. If you arrest me and say that I confessed I’ll simply deny it, and where will you be? You need proof, my boy; proof.”
Hanvey reflected heavily.
“Reckon you’re right, Arthur. I was hoping you wouldn’t put me to all the trouble of gettin' it. I was hopin’ to get away on a little fishin' trip.”
Sherwood was more at ease. “What makes you think I got that stuff?”
“I don’t think it, Arthur; I know it. I suspected it, and then I checked up. I’ll hand you one thing, son—you sure are—what-you-call-it?—an opportunist.”
“You are. I’m handlin' this affair for the company that Mrs. Haley's jools was insured in, and I’ve been down to N’Yawlins checkin' up. I reckon I know more about this affair than you do.”
“Ain’t it? An’ seein’ that you’ve been so frank as to admit that you done it, p’r'aps you’d like to know what I know about it myself, eh?”
Jim's voice, flat and expressionless, seemed to fill the expensively furnished room.
“Startin' at the beginnin', Arthur, there was Mrs. Grover Haley, wife of the president of the L. R. & C. Railroad. Hubby traveled the usual route to sudden wealth—engine wiper, fireman, engineer, superintendent. Then he made a killing in oil. They elected him president of the road. Worth close onto twenty millions now. Lives in Chicago. His wife—she ain’t exactly one of these here sylphs. He married her when he was a fireman. He's president of the road now, but she's still a fireman's wife. Fightin’ all the time to rise up, but not succeedin' specially well.
“This here Mrs. Haley ain't strong on polish, but she's got the old ambish by the tail on a downhill pull. Far as her appearance is concerned—she ain’t got any. She's sort of the same upholstery style that I am. An’ the only thing she craves in this world is society; none of your pikin' Society, either, but the genuine stuff; the kind that even twenty millions can’t buy. For seven years she's been trying to jimmy into the real crowd, an’ meetin’ with about as much success as an oyster in a hurdle race.” He paused briefly. “I’ve got it pretty straight so far, haven't I, Arthur?”
The other man smiled. “That much is fairly common knowledge.”
“Reckon it is. Well, to go on, this here Mrs. Haley starts out from Chicago about a month ago in her private car, headed for Palm Beach by way of Memphis an’ N'Yawlins. She carries with her a maid an’ a chef an’ a butler. Also she carries with her about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of joolry which she plans to wear all at one time, just to prove that she's a lady. An’ about the time she makes her plans a certain Mr. Arthur Sherwood, who is playin' the races down in N'Yawlins, gets wind of it and decides to make a play for them stones.
“Far as I can see, Arthur, you started out without any definite plan. Opportunist—ain’t that the word I used before? You figured that all you needed was to get close enough to them jools for a long enough time an’ they were yours. An’ so, as society is your fad, you went an' had some cards engraved which announced that you was Mr. Albert Grinnell Stoneham, said Mr. Stoneham bein’ the son of one of the most exclusive families socially in New York, where they have society as is society.
“You meet the train at Memphis and just after leaving there your card goes back to Mrs. Haley, an’ that dame nearly drops dead with joy. To make it brief, she lassoes the son of the great Stoneham family and makes him her guest. It looks like the first real break-in she's made in seven years, as it gives her an elegant excuse to drop in on Pa and Ma Stoneham when she gets to New York next time. And so Mr. Sherwood, alias Mr. Stoneham, gets an awful warm welcome on the private car, an’ Mrs. Haley wears a hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of joolry every time she comes within range of his eyes.” Jim lighted another cigar. “Wasn't your fingers itching to grab them stones an’ run, Arthur?”
“I’m very fond of jewelry, Jim.”
“Sure! Or you wouldn’t have taken all them chances. I’ve checked up, you see. To get ahead: You reached N'Yawlins at eight o'clock. You had been down there at the races, an’ you had gone to Memphis to meet that train. The car was going out on a Jacksonville train at six the next morning. An’ you asked Mrs. Haley wouldn’t she like to go for a sightseeing drive. You went out an' hired a big touring car an' you went for the drive. You gave her an awful good feed at Emil’s—they say you know how to order a swell dinner, Arthur—an’ about ten o'clock that night you showed up at the Spanish Fort Inn.
“Out there you had a swell time. Bein’ known to the head waiter, not to mention the proprietor, the sky was the limit. You had cocktails an’ champagne an’ maybe even a liqueur or six. Poor Mrs Haley, thinkin’ she was in Rome, done as the Romans did, an’, to put it mild an’ polite, got sweetly spifflicated. Not drunk, but terribly happy. She found herself sittin' on top of the world an’ didn't care who saw her. You left the inn about two in the A.M. an’ Mrs. Haley insisted on sittin’ in front with you so’s she could drive the car. You wasn’t particularly keen about it, but you didn’t kick hard enough, because same is what she done, the shoffer reclinin’ in the back.
“The old dame had started out to prove she could drive—an’ she proved it. I reckon she must have busted sixty sev’ral times comin’ into the city. Ol' gal was just naturally havin' a helluva time. That is, she was until you got 'most home. It was there that somethin’ happened—because it was there, Arthur, that a cop seen the speed you was goin' at an’ tried to stop you. An' poor Mrs. Haley, not carin’ nothin’ for no cops, with a bunch of drinks inside her, ran into him!
“What happened then, Arthur”—and Jim Hanvey shook his enormous head reprovingly—“was downright unfortunate. The cop was stunned. You stopped your car, an’ just when you did the cop moved, indicating that he wasn’t so terribly hurt. With which the missus slipped into gear, stepped on the gas an’ let 'er rip. Cop fired one time in the air an’ you were free. Mrs. Haley drove that car to somewhere in the French quarter, you got out an’ slipped the scared shoffer a nice piece of change to keep mum, and back you beat it to the private car.
“That's where good luck played into your hands, Arthur; right plumb into 'em. Bein’ an opportunist——Say! That’s a swell word, ain't it? I got it out of the dictionary before I come here. Bein’ an opportunist like I was sayin', you’d just stuck around with the fat dame, knowin’ that sooner or later you'd get a chance at them jools. An’ kerflooie, her cop-knockin’ experience puts everything in your paws. How? Because you knew darned good an’ well that shoffer was goin’ to lay pretty low on account of what they’d give him if they ever found out it was his car. The farther away he keeps from the spotlight in connection with that case the more comfortable he's gonna be.
“An’ of course Mrs. Haley is now a fugitive from justice down in N'Yawlins.
“You took her back to the private car. She had sobered up more than a little, but the strong stuff was still there inside of her. Her nerves was doin' a shimmy, an’ you gave her plenty more to drink. Finally she went to sleep. When that happened you grabbed the jools an’ hopped the car. Mrs. Haley didn’t wake up until she was on her way to Jacksonville. It was a couple hours later that she found out the jools was gone—an' you too. The old gal nearly went nuts until she remembered her insurance, then she figured she was sittin' on Easy Street. An’ it may interest you to know that the insurance money has already been paid to her; one hundred thousand dollars.”
Sherwood sat motionless, staring admiringly at the portly detective. By no slightest physical sign did he give indication of his genuine enthusiasm for Hanvey's deductive powers, although he marveled at them with the frank appreciation of one brainy man for the accomplishments of another.
Hanvey's story was correct to a detail. Sherwood knew the exhaustive search that the detective must have made, the painstaking probing.
And now—“You’re working for the insurance company aren't you, Jim?”
“Yeh.” Hanvey was very open about it. “We’ve already paid the money, but we're interested now in gettin' the jools back an' puttin' you in stir. That's why I come to see you.”
Sherwood smiled. “You’re not going to arrest me, Jim.”
“Because you can’t prove a thing.”
Jim grinned. “Maybe not just yet. I’ve talked to Mrs. Haley. Bein’ a social climber she ain't any too keen to let it be known publicly that she was imposed on by a faker. That'd make folks laugh at her. An’ if, in addition to that, it was ever known that she was the woman who flattened the N'Yawlins cop at the end of a wild party it’d sort of queer her about as queer as could be. An' since she ain't sufferin' only a fifty-thousand-dollar loss anyway—she most certainly wouldn't identify you.
“Y’see, Arthur, it's thisaway: I spotted you easy enough. You are known out at the inn. But nobody knew the dame who was with you. An’ it was her that hit the cop. Also, I’m confessin' frankly that the maid an’ the chef an’ the butler ain’t gonna identify you neither. Mrs. Haley has fixed them a-plenty. So she's in the clear, you’ve got the jools, an' we're stung. That makes us plumb angry, Arthur; bein’ rode for a hundred thousand thataway. It just naturally puts it up to me to get you an’ the jools both.”
“I hope you enjoy yourself trying, Jim.”
“I been havin' a good enough time a'ready. But I ain’t particularly keen about the job. You're too good a crook to be in jail. But, by gosh, Arthur, you never should of fooled with no woman!”
Sherwood was unimpressed. “You can’t find the jewels, Jim.”
“Reckon I can. Reckon I can land you too.”
“Because a crook can’t get away with it if the tecs are really after him. You’ve slipped somewhere. It's just up to me to find out where.”
“I’m surprised at you—thinking I’ve slipped.”
“You ain't no different from other crooks, Arthur, except you’ve got more sense.”
“Well”—Arthur rose ostentatiously—“I reckon you want to trot me down to headquarters.”
“No. Certainly not. Ain't no use of my arresting you unless you're going to plead guilty.”
“Sometimes you’re a real humorist, Jim.”
“Ain't I? I’m awful cute occasionally. What I really come up for, Arthur, was to tell you how much I know. I want you to see just where you stand. I figured you’d be willin’ to help me all you could.”
“Certainly, Jim, certainly. Just drop around any old time and talk things over. I’ll do all in my power to hinder you.”
“Thanks, Arthur. I counted on you for that.”
They shook hands; slender, immaculate, polished man-about-town and the mammoth expressionless detective. The contrast was striking. Sherwood ushered Hanvey to the door and bade him a cordial farewell. Then alone, the criminal dropped into a chair and mopped his forehead with a silken handkerchief.
Hanvey had startled him—just as Hanvey had intended. With uncanny intuition Hanvey had pieced together a story so nearly approximating the facts that Sherwood was amazed. And he was now very much on guard. The one hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry nestled in a safety-deposit box at one of the Manhattan banks. It was a box Sherwood had possessed for several years, holding it against just such an opportunity as this. It was rented under an assumed name.
Immediately after the jewel robbery he had boarded a train for New York, but not before he carefully had unset the gems and pitched the elaborate platinum settings into the depths of Lake Pontchartrain. The jewels in their little chamois sack were safe.
From the outset Sherwood had realized that he would have difficulty in disposing of the gems. He was content. A stake of that size was worth waiting for—two years, three, five. But he had not anticipated that suspicion would so readily attach to himself. Now that Jim knew the story, he felt that he must redouble his precautions.
The Mrs. Haley end of the situation was safe. He smiled at recollection of the pitifully gullible wife of the railroad president; the blatant, rather vulgar woman who thought to get into the most exclusive social circles by a display of jewelry. She had been so eagerly responsive to his glib chattering about prominent New Yorkers, had so warmly welcomed his casual invitation to telephone when next she came to New York in order that his supposed parents should have the opportunity of entertaining her.
He had understood fully the value of social position to Mrs. Haley. For years she had struggled gamely, mounting with horrid slowness. She was jealous of her trifling successes. This story, made public in the newspapers and expanded in the dirt-slinging weeklies, would ruin her forever. Safety was possible to her in only one way—she must not identify the man who had been her guest on the private car. And Hanvey had reassured him on that point. That had been the single doubtful link in his safety chain; and he knew now that it was one of the strongest.
He’d have to watch Jim Hanvey for a while. It would be an interesting game, laughing in his sleeve as Hanvey banged his fat head against an endless succession of brick walls. Eventually Jim would tire of the search, and then he would dispose of the jewels one by one. Not in a group, of course—they were of such great value that the attention of the police would immediately be attracted through the kind efforts of stool pigeons—but singly, at distant points, and with utmost discretion. The more Sherwood contemplated the plan the more assured he became. He felt sorry for Jim Hanvey. “Nice fellow too. I hate to see him fall down on the case.”
As for the detective, he apparently did not share Sherwood's fear for his non-success. If he had a worry he concealed it exceedingly well behind the pudgy face. Too, he fell into the habit of calling casually on Sherwood at odd hours, and discussing the case.
“Hello, Jim. How’s old Sherlock Holmes getting on?”
“So-so, Arthur; just so-so.”
“Haven’t gathered any definite information, have you?”
“You know durn well I haven’t, Arthur.”
“You’d better get them to shift you to something else. You'll never get the dope on me.”
“Maybe not. An' maybe so. There ain't no tellin’.”
Sherwood leaned forward and rested a friendly hand on Jim Hanvey’s knee. “On the level, Jim, you're wasting your time. You know me; you know I’m not a fool.”
“Sure, I know that.”
“And you know that I’ve taken every possible precaution. I was careful enough before; I’m doubly careful now. With you on the case, Jim, I wouldn't take a chance for anything in the world.”
“You’re terrible complimentary.”
“I know you, Jim. You ain’t half the fool you look. You couldn't be. Now, frankly, I don't expect to cash in on this little deal for four or five years, and——”
“You ain't ever going to cash in on it, Arthur.”
The narrow, rather ascetic face of the criminal broke into a broad grin. “Trying to make me apprehensive?”
“No; just talkin' sense. You know the gang I’m working for. It ain’t so much the hundred thou’ insurance money they’ve shelled out as it is the principle of the thing. They’re just butt-headed enough to be willin' to spend money an’ time to get you.”
“Nothin's impossible. No matter how clever you are, you’ve slipped somewhere.”
“I haven't slipped.”
“You think you haven’t. An’ as for you cashing in, you never will. You're playing a lone hand, Arthur, but I ain’t. Real detectives never do. I’ve got the police of the country helpin' me on this thing, an’ every stool pigeon we’ve got is watching for them jools. They’re going to keep on watching. An’”—Jim Hanvey leaned forward earnestly—“you ain’t gonna cash in on this deal, Arthur, because there ain’t a livin' human bein’ who'd buy them jools offen you. Not a single living soul.”
Sherwood laughed shortly. He was impressed, and tried not to show it.
“We know every fence who'd handle a deal of that size, Arthur. Every one of them. An’ they're all bein’ watched. The little jools don’t matter, but the minute one of them big ones shows up—we're on a hot trail. An’ then Mr. Sherwood does a stretch—worse luck.”
“So will we. Waitin’ is the best thing we do. We're just naturally bound to get you. I'd be doubtful if there was any person in the world you could sell them jools to, but there ain’t. Not a one. We’ve taken care of that. An’ the comp’ny has told me the sky’s the limit. Besides, Arthur, there ain’t so bloomin' many places you could of hid them jools. All the time you're waitin' we're workin'. You can’t get away with it. The minute I was sure it was you I knew it was just a question of time before I landed you with the dope. Now if you was willin' to make a clean breast of it——”
Sherwood threw back his head and laughed. “Jim Hanvey! I thought better of you than that.”
“A'right.” The detective hoisted himself from the depths of a leather rocker. “Have it your own way, Arthur. But I sure do wish it was some other feller than you. I’m awful strong for you.”
“I know it, Jim.” There was genuine feeling in the other's voice. “It’s just a little game; you’re on one side and I’m on the other. One of us has got to lose—and I’m plumb sorry it’s you.”
Alone again Sherwood walked to the window, where he stood looking down into Central park. Dusk was merging gently into night. The shadowy walks under the trees were dislimning in the softly gathering gloom. There floated up to his ears the commanding screech of automobile sirens, the clang of passing Eighth Avenue cars, the voices of a group of children. Then into the picture bulked the slouching figure of Jim Hanvey.
Sherwood watched the ungainly hulk interestedly. He saw Hanvey enter the park and pause to light a cigar. There was something almost pathetic about the big hulking man, a humbleness that was deceptive to those who did not know him intimately. Too, there was a fairness and squareness which made him popular with the higher class of criminals. They knew he was on the level. He took no unfair advantage of them. He played the game clean. “If I’ve got to be caught I’d rather Jim Hanvey made the pinch.” That was the idea; they were proud of their friendship with Jim Hanvey. They played clean with him and he with them. He looked out for them after he arrested them; saw they were given a square deal; didn't forget them when they were doing time. A lonely man, Jim Hanvey; big and ugly and ungainly—and eagerly friendly. His best friends stood high in the criminal social register. Outside the underworld he had no intimates.
Sherwood saw him walk on slowly, in the lumbering gait of a man too bulky for his feet. And gradually the big figure was lost in the gloom. He was there—then gone. Sherwood turned away from the window, “It’s a dirty shame. He would have made a wonderful crook.”
He pondered over his recent conversation with the detective. Jim's utterances were worthy of serious reflection; Jim was not given to trickery of speech. Besides he knew Sherwood too well to bluff. He understood that Sherwood would play a waiting game.
Sherwood was willing, but a trifle disturbed. He hadn’t anticipated having the robbery traced to his door so promptly. There had been no opportunity to dispose of even a few of the gems. And he wasn't too well supplied with cash. Of course with Jim watching every move it would be impossible to pull another job; he'd have to lay low and take things easy. Worse luck.
Jim was right of course. At present there was no one to whom he could sell the jewels. No professional fence would handle them, and if an amateur took over the jewels he, Sherwood, would be lucky to get ten thousand dollars. “And I’ll never let them go for that; not if I have to wait ten years.”
He visited Jim Hanvey a couple of days later. “I’ve been thinking over our little talk, Jim.”
“Suppose I handed the jewels to you, would you forget that you knew who took them?”
“Wish I could, Arthur, but it isn't possible. We want you.”
Sherwood shrugged. “I’ll just have to wait then.”
“That’s foolish. I’ll get you sooner or later. You might as well come clean and start serving your time now. Every day you put it off is just that much time wasted. ”
“I’ve got plenty of time, Jim.”
“Yeh, reckon so. I hardly thought you'd 'fess up.”
“Not a chance.”
“I’m real sorry for you, Arthur. All that trouble, all that risk—and you ain’t gonna get nothin’ out of it.”
“I’ll make out very well.”
“Nope. You can’t sell 'em, an’ there ain't no other way of realizin’ on your investment of time and effort.” Sherwood knew that he must hold on for a long, long while. It was awkward, but necessary. He was too clever a performer to worry about financial stringency. Jim was after him now as keenly as he was after the jewels, even more so. Of course he had never intended turning the jewels over to Hanvey; had quizzed him solely for the purpose of finding out whether it was the man or the jewels they were seeking. The fact that it was the former made greater caution imperative.
Jim was using the police too. That was further embarrassment. The police system bothers criminals, it is so extensive and comprehensive, a system of surveillance that eventually wears a man down. Playing lone hands, Sherwood knew that the advantage would always be with the criminal. But fighting against the individual brilliance of a detective and the inexorable patience and scope of the nation's police departments, a man had to watch his step pretty carefully.
Sherwood was willing—but it was deucedly uncomfortable.
Jim had impressed him. There was no one to whom he could sell the jewels; not for several years, at any rate, not a soul. Unless, perhaps—— Sherwood nodded slowly. “It’s worth thinking over,” he told himself.
Two days later Sherwood's telephone buzzed, and Jim Hanvey's monotonous droning voice came to him over the wire:
“That you, Arthur?”
“This is Jim Hanvey.”
“How 'bout droppin’ over to my rooms a minute. I got somethin’ to show you; somethin’ real interestin’.”
A taxi, a swift journey uptown to West 110th Street; Jim Hanvey's three-room apartment—a stuffy affair grotesquely furnished and vilely kept; three rooms which sagged under the heavy odor of Jim's cigars. Sherwood swore fervently and threw up the windows in the tiny parlor.
“Jim, you shouldn't.”
“Smoke those cigars indoors.”
“Oh! Them? Gosh! I like 'em.”
“The other tenants don't kick?”
“Dunno. The janitor done time once in Joliet, an’ him an’ me is buddies. He was a awful rotten —— Anyway, you ain’t interested in him; n'r me neither for that matter. I got somethin’ to show you.”, but he's a swell janitor. That just shows
“So you said.”
Sherwood trailed his host into the dining room. Jim motioned him to a chair. “Just got one thing to ask, Arthur; that is that you use your eyes—not your hands.”
“Whatever you say, Jim.”
“Good.” From the capacious hip pocket of his voluminous trousers Hanvey extracted a little chamois sack. Sherwood's eyes narrowed slightly. Chamois sack! Jewelry! Hanvey, apparently unmindful of his visitor, droned on:
“Just you watch, Arthur—but remember, hands off.”
With a quick deft motion he opened the sack and spilled its contents on the imitation-mahogany table. The fishlike eyes of the detective were focused vacantly upon Arthur Sherwood, who had started involuntarily from his seat. Then Sherwood caught himself, controlled his nerves with an effort and tried to smile.
“What's the idea, Jim?”
Hanvey’s glassy eyes were turned to the table top, upon which glowed and flamed a handful of magnificent gems—matched pearls, diamonds of rare cut and brilliance, a huge blood ruby, twin emeralds of enormous size and clarity, deep Oriental sapphires. The eyes of the detective closed slowly, sleepily, then opened with maddening leisureliness.
“How you like 'em, Arthur?”
Sherwood appeared at ease, but his nerves were under a terrific tension. “Very much.”
Sherwood nodded frankly. “Yes.”
They were familiar; stone for stone they were the jewels he had stolen from Mrs. Haley—stolen from her, stripped from their mountings, and which at that moment he could have sworn were safe in a box at one of the city's largest banks. There was no mistaking them—the ruby, the big diamond with the odd workmanship.
“What are they, Jim?”
Hanvey grinned genially.
“Sure. Can't you tell?”
“Where did you get them?”
“Had 'em made from the descriptions the insurance company has. I think they look grand—for paste.”
Sherwood stared at the glittering gems as though hypnotized. And while he gazed Hanvey's huge hand went out and swept them back into the chamois sack. “Awful good imitations, I think, Arthur.”
Sherwood laughed weakly. “They are. Mighty clever.”
The sack was returned to Hanvey’s pocket. “I got to be trottin' along downtown, Arthur. That’s all I wanted of you—just to show you them imitation jools.”
Sherwood was nervous. He more than half expected to be arrested, and he drew a deep breath of relief as he stepped into the street. He walked swiftly toward the corner, turned sharply, and saw Hanvey emerge from the apartment house and follow him. A slight frown corrugated the criminal's forehead.
He was frankly worried. Hanvey was too insistent about the brummagem quality of the gems. Doubt assailed him. Perhaps they were the genuine stones. It was impossible—but if they were imitations they were wonderful. Suppose Hanvey had discovered the location of his safety-deposit box and the name in which it was held? Suppose he had actually secured the gems?
Sherwood hailed a passing taxi and entered. As he did so he saw another cab ease around the corner. Jim Hanvey overflowed the back seat, cigar between his pursy lips. Sherwood spoke swiftly to his driver. “See that cab yonder?”
“Lose it and you get twenty dollars.”
At the same moment Hanvey was speaking with his own driver. “See that cab up ahead—the one the good-lookin’ feller is just gettin' into?”
“Foller it an’ you get five dollars.”
The chase started. Both cabs swung into Riverside Drive at moderate speed, Sherwood's driver playing a careful game until such time as he might find an opportunity to elude pursuit in a traffic jam. Along Riverside they went, turning eastward to Broadway on Seventy-second Street, thence down that thoroughfare to Park Circle. It was there that luck played into Sherwood's hands. His cab crossed Park Circle just as the traffic policeman raised his hand. It took Hanvey fully a half minute to exhibit his credentials to the policeman, and by that time Sherwood had sped eastward on Fifty-eighth Street, turning downtown on Sixth Avenue and doubling back uptown via Fiftieth Street and Ninth Avenue.
Sherwood was confident that he had eluded Hanvey, but he was taking no chance. As a matter of fact, additional precaution was unnecessary. Hanvey's taxi reached Fifty-eighth, Jim glanced down the avenue through an endless line of cabs, touring cars and busses, and motioned his driver to a halt. “Needn’t go no farther, son. They’ve got away. How much?”
Hanvey handed him a two-dollar bill. “Keep the change.” Then, as he started across toward the Subway kiosk, he glanced at his watch. “Three-thirty—hmph!”
He entered the Subway and rode uptown. When he alighted it was to walk to Central Park West and seat himself on the steps of Sherwood's apartment house. He was smiling slightly and there appeared to be a faint sign of life in his dead fishy eyes. Sherwood had proceeded with meticulous care. He left his taxi on West Sixty-fourth Street, took a surface car to the Pennsylvania Hotel, entered the Subway via the lobby of that hostelry, rode downtown and thence to his bank, where he secured access to the safety-deposit box held by himself under the alias of Roger Clarkson.
His examination took but a moment. The jewels were there, every last one of them. He sighed relievedly. Then as he left the bank he found himself worrying. He realized that Jim Hanvey had some deeply ulterior motive, that he had not gone to the trouble and expense of securing the paste duplicates without making them a part of an elaborate trap. Hanvey's very frankness had been disquieting. Paste, said Hanvey, made from the insurance-company descriptions. Well, Hanvey had told the truth. But why? Sherwood was apprehensive. Here had entered the first element the criminal was unable to understand. Until this moment he had felt a bit sorry for Jim Hanvey’s heavy blundering, his bovine indifference and his lethargy. But now——
Still seeking a solution Sherwood rode uptown on the Elevated and then walked to his apartment. As he turned in at the door the monster figure of Jim Hanvey hoisted itself from the marble steps.
“Jim! You here?”
“Naw! I’m over in Brooklyn huntin’ for the other end of the bridge.”
Sherwood took his friend by the arm. “Come upstairs a minute, Jim. I want to chat with you.”
Hanvey selected the most comfortable chair and crashed into it. Sherwood walked to the window, put up the shade and turned toward the Gargantuan figure of his friend. Sherwood's face was in shadow, that of the detective in the full glare of daylight—as expressionful as putty.
“I’ve been trying to figure out your little play, Jim.”
“Yes. And I don’t get the answer. About the only idea I can see behind it was that you showed me those imitations to make me go down to the vault where I have the real stones to reassure myself.”
“You’re hittin' on all six so far, Arthur.”
“And that you'd trail me there and find out what box——”
“Arthur Sherwood! I’m plumb disappointed in you—knockin’ me thataway. You don’t honestly think I thought I could trail you through the streets of New York, do you?”
“It didn’t seem so, Jim—unless you were attaining your second childhood. But I couldn’t figure out any other reason—and you did try to follow me.”
Hanvey shook his head slowly. “Nope.”
“In that taxi?”
“That wasn't my idea, Arthur.” The detective's big spatulate fingers drummed lightly on the table. “All I was doin', Arthur, was to make sure that you was tryin’ to shake me!”
“A-ah!” Sherwood's thin lips compressed. Hanvey waved genially. “Think it over.”
Sherwood thought it over. Then: “Well, I was trying to shake you. Where does that get you?”
“A heap of places, Arthur. 'Cause how? 'Cause the minute you tried to shake me I knew good an’ well you was doin’ it because you was headed for the vault where you had the jools hid. Of course it is a vault—no crook of your intelligence would hide 'em anywheres else. So the minute you gave me the slip I come on back here an’ waited for you.”
“Ye-e-es.” Sherwood was puzzled. But why?”
“Because, Arthur, I laid an awful clever trap for you, an’ you fell into it. You don’t mind my callin' myself clever, do you, Arthur? I really do think it was an awful good stunt I pulled.”
“Just what was it, Jim.”
Hanvey glanced at his enormous watch. “Just this: At some time between 3:45 and 4:30 this afternoon you went to your bank box. You signed your card—under an alias, of course. An’ tomorrow mornin' I start out inspectin’ the vault cards of every bank in New York. I’ll get help from headquarters, an' eventually we'll check up on every man, woman an' child who entered a bank box in that three-quarters of an hour.”
The detective grinned in boyish approval of his own acumen. “’Tain't gonna be such an easy job, Arthur, but it ain't gonna be so hard neither—me not carin’ particularly about time in this case. Of course I know the box is in a Manhattan bank, because you got back too quick to have gone to Brooklyn or even Jersey City. Jerry Naschbaum, chief of the headquarters identification force, will let me have a few good men to help. In one week, two weeks mebbe three, we'll check up on everybody who entered a bank box between 3:45 and 4:30 today. An' when we’ve done that, Arthur, we'll have you. See?”
Arthur saw. “I wish some one else was on this case, Jim. You're too blamed painstaking.”
“Better 'fess up now.”
“No; I'll take my chances.”
“Ain’t gonna get you nowhere. You can't sell them jools; there ain't a soul in the world would buy 'em offen you.”
“Maybe not.” Sherwood opened the door invitingly. “Sorry you have to be going, Jim.”
“I’m sorry myself, Arthur.” He turned at the door way. “I’m kinder cute yet, ain't I?”
“I hope not, Jim,” was the answer.
It did not take Sherwood long to realize that he was nearing the end of his rope. He might have known that Jim Hanvey was going to trap him. That had been a clever trick of Jim's, and it promised definite and fairly immediate results. Hanvey was right; the task of checking up would be a slow and difficult undertaking, but Sherwood knew the police system sufficiently well to understand—and fear—its tirelessness. Eventually they’d complete their check-up, and when they did——
Sherwood admitted to himself that he must dispose of the jewels. Thought of transferring them to an other box was out of the question. They’d discover that eventually. The thing to do was to rid himself of the gems. But Jim Hanvey had insisted that he could not sell them because there was no market. Jim had spoken truly. No market. “Oh, confound Mrs. Haley and her jewelry!”
Sherwood caught his breath suddenly. Mrs. Haley! Puffy, ponderous Mrs. Haley! The poor, bewildered, self-sufficient Mrs. Haley, who had lost one hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry and been partially reimbursed with one hundred thousand dollars of the insurance company's money. Sherwood smashed his right fist into the palm of his left hand.
“There's my market! I'll sell the jewels back to Mrs. Haley!”
He paced the room, his brain running riot with the sardonic daring of his scheme. He knew Jim Hanvey was not infallible. Jim had been so confident that no one would buy the jewels—so confident that he had completely overlooked Mrs. Haley.
And Mrs. Haley would buy. He'd make her buy. No one would think of looking to her for the gems. She could have them set in new mountings and no one would ever be the wiser. He’d sell them to her for fifty thousand dollars, and she'd be fifty thousand dollars winner on the transaction. Then Jim Hanvey could search all he pleased.
He telephoned Mrs. Haley. She was decidedly disinclined to meet him. He assumed a threatening tone. She consented fearfully. They met at Port Chester, he going there by train and she by automobile. She refused frankly to have anything further to do with him.
“Very well, Mrs. Haley. When they arrest me I'll tell the whole story. What happened in New Orleans for one thing; then about your refusal to identify me—I know they’ve shown you my picture. It will be a choice morsel for the newspapers, and a wonderful story for the society weeklies. You'll be laughed out of the country.”
“But if they find out that I’ve bought them back from you——” The woman was on the verge of hysteria. She was horribly frightened.
“They won’t. You're the last person on earth they'd think of in connection with those jewels. You buy them. They can search all they please and they can’t get the goods on me. They won’t even arrest me because there’ll be no evidence to convict. And you will be fifty thousand dollars to the good.”
“Well, I won't.”
A steely light crept into his eyes. “You will! You must!”
Eventually she consented. There was nothing else she could do. Petrified with terror, fearful of losing the tiny bit of social recognition for which she had so valiantly struggled, inordinately afraid of arrest in connection with the New Orleans escapade which had assumed Brobdingnagian proportions in her eyes—she agreed to meet him in the private dining room of a quiet hotel, bringing with her fifty thousand dollars in cash, which was to be exchanged for the jewels. And then, apprehensive and nervous, she left him.
Sherwood returned to the city, exultant. His plan had worked. It was safe, supremely safe. For, even should she be eventually discovered in possession of the jewels, she would never dare tell the true story.
But Jim Hanvey had not been idle. He made careful investigation and then spent the entire afternoon chatting with the presidents of the four New York banks where Mrs. Haley maintained personal checking accounts. “She’ll cash a big check here in the next few days,” explained the detective to each of them. “A thunderin’ big check; an' she'll take the money in legal tender. Minute she does, telephone my apartment. Ask for a feller named Henry Jones. He'll take the message an’ get in touch with me.”
And then Jim Hanvey personally took unto himself the task of watching Mrs. Haley.
It was not difficult. Suspecting no surveillance Mrs. Haley conducted herself so that a blind man could have shadowed her. Mrs. Haley's single major sorrow in life was the stubborn refusal of her husband to take up his residence in New York. Her apartment was a sop, and during her occasional sojourns in the metropolis she expended a vast amount of effort in the task of letting people know that she was somebody. Purple limousine, uniformed chauffeur and footman, shrieking clothes and diamond-studded lorgnette combined to make Hanvey's self-appointed task absurdly simple. And on the morning of the third day following, the man called Jones notified his superior that only a few hours previously Mrs. Haley had personally cashed her check for fifty thousand dollars.
Jim received the report with a nod. He was lolling comfortably in a taxicab owned by the police department and driven by one of his own operatives. “Yeh! I knew somethin’ was about to break. I follered her down to the bank an’ seen her when she went in. She's in yonder now”—he nodded in the general direction of the gingerbready apartment house—“an’ she'll be comin’ out directly. Beat it, Henry.”
Henry beat it. The purple limousine appeared. So, too, did Mrs. Haley. Twenty minutes later she entered a modest downtown hotel. Hanvey waited until she had crossed the lobby in the wake of a bellhop and disappeared into an elevator. Then he followed and exhibited his credentials to the manager, receiving from that startled dignitary a bit of helpful information.
“There's a man in that private dining room already, isn’t there?”
“Good. I’ll trot along up.”
He allowed them ample time for conversation. And when he opened the door with a master key furnished by the hotel management it was to interrupt an interesting tableau.
By the table stood Mrs. Haley, clutching in her two hands the sack of jewels. Sherwood was busily engaged in counting the money she had paid over to him. Neither moved.
Hanvey closed the door gently. His wide-open, fishlike eyes blinked with amazing slowness. Mrs. Haley choked, spluttered and collapsed into a chair. Sherwood's eyes met Hanvey's levelly. The criminal was apparently emotionless, a game loser. Very quietly he took the sack of jewels from the nerveless hands of Mrs. Haley, returned her money and extended the jewels to Hanvey.
“There has been no transaction here of the kind you think, Jim. I am handing over the jewels of my own accord, and confessing to the robbery. There is no need to drag this lady's name in the mud.”
Hanvey bowed with ungainly grace. “Always a gent, eh, Arthur? I’m proud of you.” He turned to Mrs. Haley. “I reckon it wasn’t ever your fault, ma'am. An’ me an’ my friend Mr. Sherwood here will see that you don’t get no rotten publicity out of it.”
She was dazed, but volubly and tearfully grateful. Sherwood, calm and dignified, questioned the detective.
“You’ve got me, Jim. I had a hunch that I wouldn’t get away with it. But I have a professional and academic interest in the matter. There are one or two things I don’t quite understand.”
“Always at your service, Arthur.”
“First and most important”—Sherwood's voice was quietly conversational—“what made you think I planned to sell the jewels back to Mrs. Haley?”
Hanvey shook his head reprovingly; “I’m s'prised at you for not knowin’ such a simple thing as that, Arthur. The reason I knew you was gonna sell them jools back to Mrs. Haley was because I suggested it to you.”
“You suggested ” Then Sherwood smiled in frank admiration. “You mean you suggested it when you said——”
“Sure,” interrupted Hanvey pleasantly, “when I kept repeatin’ that there wasn't nobody in the world you could sell 'em to–I meant nobody except Mrs. Haley.”