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- The Sheridan Road Mystery - 1/34 -


THE SHERIDAN ROAD MYSTERY

by PAUL AND MABEL THORNE

CONTENTS I THE SHOT II DETECTIVE SERGEANT MORGAN III INVESTIGATION IV THE APARTMENT ACROSS THE HALL V PECULIAR FACTS VI THE CABLE FROM LONDON VII MR. MARSH VIII A DEFINITE CLUE IX THE LAST LETTER X THE STOLEN SUITCASE XI THE TRAIL GROWS CLEARER XII MISSING XIII STARTLING DISCLOSURES XIV THE NIGHT CALL XV "DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES" XVI THE CLOSED COUNTRY HOUSE XVII WHAT THE CARETAKER SAW XVIII THE ENEMY SHOWS HIS HAND XIX KIDNAPPED XX THE FALLEN PINE XXI THE CHIMNEY THAT WOULDN'T DRAW XXII CORNERED XXIII SUNSET

THE SHERIDAN ROAD MYSTERY

CHAPTER I

THE SHOT

It was a still, balmy night in late October. The scent of burned autumn leaves hung in the air, and a hazy moon, showing just over the housetops, deepened the shadows on, the streets.

Policeman Murphy stopped far a moment, as was his custom, at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Sheridan Road. He knew that it was about two o'clock in the morning as that was the hour at which he usually reached this point. He glanced sharply up and down Sheridan Road, which at that moment seemed to be completely deserted save for the distant red tail-light of a belated taxi, the whir of whose engine came to him quite distinctly on the quiet night air.

JUST THEN POLICEMAN MURPHY HEARD A SHOT!

Instantly his body quickened with an awakened alertness, and he glanced east and west along the lonely stretch of Lawrence Avenue. He saw nothing, and concluded that the sound he had heard must have come from one of the many apartment buildings which surrounded him.

Murphy pondered for a moment. Was it a burglary, a domestic row, or perhaps a murder? The position of the shot was hard to locate, for it had been but the sound of a moment on the still night. Murphy, however, decided to take a chance, and started stealthily north on Sheridan Road, keeping within the shadow that clung to the buildings.

He had moved only a short distance in this way when a man in a bath robe dashed out of the doorway of an apartment house just ahead of him and ran north. Murphy instantly broke into pursuit. At the sound of his heavily shod feet on the pavement, the man in the bath robe stopped and turned. Murphy slowed up and the man advanced to meet him.

"I'm glad you're handy, Officer," panted the man. "I think somebody has been murdered in our building. Come and investigate."

"Sure," assented Murphy. "That's what I'm here for," and as they mounted the steps of the apartment house, he inquired, "What flat was it?"

"The top floor on the north side," replied the man, who then informed Murphy that his name was Marsh, and that he lived on the second floor, just below this apartment. "You see," Marsh continued, "a little while ago my wife and I were awakened by a noise in the apartment over us. It sounded like a struggle of some kind. As we listened we felt sure that several people were taking part in it. Suddenly there was a shot, and a sound followed as if a body had fallen to the floor. After that there was absolute silence. I hastily put on my bath robe, and was hurrying out to find a policeman when I met you."

By this time, Marsh, with Murphy at his heels, had reached the door of the third floor apartment. Murphy placed a thick forefinger on the button of the electric hell and rang it sharply several times. The men could distinctly hear the clear notes of the bell, but no other sound reached them. Again Murphy pressed the button without response.

"Murder, all right, I guess," muttered Murphy, "and the guy's probably slipped down the back stairs. Who lives here, anyway?" he inquired, turning to Marsh.

"That's the peculiar part about it," was the reply. "The people who rent this apartment went to Europe this summer, and as I understand it, they won't be back for another month. The apartment has been closed all summer. That is what amazed Mrs. Marsh and myself when we heard this sound above us."

"It looks like we'll have to break in," said Murphy. "Let me use your telephone."

"Certainly," agreed Marsh, and led the way to his apartment.

Murphy sat down at the telephone. His hand was on the receiver when he suddenly paused and turned to Marsh. "You know," he commented, half meditatively, "it's funny we haven't seen anybody else show up in the halls. I heard that shot way down at Lawrence Avenue. At least the people across the hall ought to have been waked up by it. Are you sure it was in this house?"

"Why certainly," retorted Marsh. "Didn't I tell you that we heard the struggle and the shot right over our heads?"

"Well, it sure takes a lot to disturb some people," said Murphy, as he placed the telephone receiver to his ear and called for his connection. After some words he got his precinct station.

"Hello!" he called. "Is that you, Sergeant? This is Murphy. I'm in the Hillcrest apartments on Sheridan Road. . . . Yes, that's right. . . . Just north of Lawrence Avenue. I think somebody's been murdered and we'll have to break in. Send the wagon, will you? . . . Don't know a damn thing yet," he added, evidently in reply to a question. "Hurry up the wagon." He replaced the receiver on its hook; then turned to Marsh as he stood up.

"I think I'll hang around the door up there until the boys come. Much obliged for your help. You'd better get back to bed now."

"Oh, no," objected Marsh. "I couldn't sleep with all this excitement going on. And then--Mr. Ames is a friend of mine. He would want me to look after things for him."

Murphy looked Marsh over in evident speculation. The man was tall and broad shouldered. His face was clean shaven. The features were strong, with a regularity that many people would consider handsome. He was what one would call a big man, but this appearance of bigness arose more from a heavy frame, and exceptional muscular development, than fleshiness. Murphy took in these details quickly, and the pause was slight before he spoke.

"Who's Ames?" he said.

"The man who rents the apartment upstairs." Then apparently taking the matter as settled, Marsh added, "I'll go along with you."

Murphy grunted, whether in assent or disapproval was hard to tell, but as he climbed the stairs again, Marsh was close beside him.

Murphy placed his hand on the doorknob and shook the door as he violently turned the knob. The door was securely locked. Then he threw his two hundred and some odd pounds against the door itself. The stout oak resisted his individual efforts.

"No use," he grumbled. "I'll have to wait 'till the boys come."

The two men then sat down on the top step to wait for the coming of the police. They chatted, speculating upon the possible causes of the disturbance. Marsh, however, seemed more interested in getting Murphy's ideas than in expressing opinions of his own. At length they heard the clang of the gong on the police patrol as it crossed Lawrence Avenue. They stood up expectantly. An instant later there was a clatter in the lower hall as the police entered. They mounted the stairs rapidly-two officers in uniform and another in civilian clothes.

"Where's the trouble?" cried the latter, as the party climbed the last flight.

"In here, as far as I know," returned Murphy, as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward the door of the apartment. "I can't get arise out of anybody. We'll have to break in."

Marsh stood aside while the four men took turns, two-and-two, in throwing themselves against the door. It creaked and groaned, and from time to time there was a sharp crack as the strong oak began to give.

In the meantime, the murmur of voices came up from the lower floors. Presently faces appeared on the landing just below where the police were working. Marsh leaned over the rail and in a few words outlined to the excited tenants what was going on.

Intent on their work of breaking in the door, the policemen paid little attention to their audience, and apparently did not notice that the door across the hall was still closed and silent. Murphy,


The Sheridan Road Mystery - 1/34

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