is a swank suburb. The best stores and shops in the nearby metropolis have
branches there. The local tradesmen have not only well-to-do patrons, but
very wealthy ones as well; so Warrington supports three banks, two branch
banks and one independent: The Warrington National Bank.
About six o'clock one evening Inspector Muldoon telephoned
me and asked me if I would like to drive out to Warrington with him.
"Who's been murdered now?" I asked.
"A bank examiner."
"Now, who would want to murder a bank examiner?" I demanded.
"Probably a banker," said Muldoon, "but that is what I
am going out there to find out. Do you want to come along, or don't you?
"Sure, I want to come. Anyone who commits a murder just
when I am about to dress for dinner and an evening of Contract deserves
to be apprehended, and I want to see it done."
"Unless your bridge has improve a lot, you should be grateful
to him; he will probably have saved you as much as thirty cents, if you're
still playing for your usual stakes."
"Thirty cents are thirty cents," I said. "I'll be waiting
Muldoon picked me up a few minutes later, and at a quarter
before seven we entered the Warrington National Bank. A police officer
just inside the doorway directed us to the President's office.
There, we found Mike Jarvis of the homicide squad and
two of his men. In addition to these there were six other men. One was
sitting at a large, imposing looking desk; the others on a leather divan
and leather covered chairs.
"Well?" inquired Muldoon of Jarvis, I found these six
men here when I come in. All I can get out of 'em is that a man named Morgan
is dead downstairs in the directors' room. This Morgan was a bank examiner,
and he'd been goin' over the bank's books all this week.
"This bein' Saturday, the bank closed at one o'clock;
and every one went home except these men and the examiner. About four o'clock,
this Morgan goes downstairs. The washroom is down there, and between four
and five o'clock every man who was still in the bank went down to the washroom.
"Around five, someone realized that they hadn't seen noting
of the bank examiner for about an hour, so they sends this young feller
down to find him. He found him -- dead in the directors' room."
"I'll go down and have a look," said Muldoon. "You come
along, Mike." He turned to one of Jarvis's men. "You two see that no one
leaves this room," then he motioned me to accompany him, and we three went
Morgan had evidently been sitting in one of the directors'
chairs with his back toward the door, smoking a cigarette. HIs body was
sprawled forward across the great table that almost filled the room. The
cigarette had burned down to his fingers before it had gone out, and the
butt was still clenched there in his dead hand. The back of his head had
been caved in with some blunt instrument. The murderer must have entered
quietly behind him, and Morgan had probably died without ever knowing that
his life was in danger.
Muldoon took a slow turn about the room, stopping at a
fireplace at one end. He knelt there and carefully examined the contents
, then he reached in and drew out a hammer, the handle of which was badly
"The fingerprints went up the flue," he remarked. "but
here is something that didn't." He gingerly lifted out some charred bits
of paper and laid them on a newspaper on the table. "Get me some more of
these, Mike," he directed, as he commenced to examine those he had, using
the pocket microscope with which I was so familiar.
Jarvis salvaged several of the remaining larger pieces
and brought them to the table, and for several minutes no one spoke as
Muldoon concentrated on his examination.
"They look to me," said Muldoon, "like a record of securities
held as collateral. Let's go upstairs."
The men were sitting just as we had left them. The air
was thick with tobacco smoke, possibly evidencing the nervousness of those
Muldoon paced up and down the room for a full minute without
speaking, then he turned and suddenly on one of the men. "What is your
name?" he demanded. Muldoon has a way of asking the most innocuous question
in such a way as to make it sound like an accusation, but this man
never turned a hair, he just smiled.
"King," he replied.
"You work here?"
"Yes, I am a teller."
"How old are you?"
Again the man smiled. He as about the coolest proposition
I ever saw. "If I were four years young," he said, "I'd be one year older
than that man there who is twenty years young and much poorer than the
man sitting at the desk and who has the same name as he."
"Are you trying to be funny?" demanded Muldoon. "If you
are, you'd better save it for the jury, they'd be more appreciative than
King smiled that rather supercilious smile of his. "I
am not trying to be funny I am merely stating facts. Your reputation for
deductive reasoning is well known. I shall be interested in seeing you
at work. Furthermore, someone in this room must have killed Mr. Morgan.
As all of those who might have killed him are my friends, I do not wish
to be a party to the apprehension of the guilty one."
I saw a suggestion of amusement on Muldoon's eyes, and
I knew that he had accepted the challenge. H turned next to a noticeably
well dressed man sitting at the right of the man at the big desk. "Who
are you?" he asked.
I am the doctor that Mr. James called in after the --ah--"
"What is your name, doctor?"
"My name is the same as the only man in the room who is
exactly fifteen years younger than Thaddeus James and five years older
than Ralph James. It was evident that the doctor was taking his cue from
The shadow of a smile touch Muldoon's lips, he was evidently
enjoying this. Then he wheeled on the man sitting at the desk. "You are
Mr. Thaddeus James?" he asked.
The man had been chewing nervously on an unlighted cigar.
He took it out of his mouth, and said, "Yes."
"How old are you," asked Muldoon. "I suppose you are seven
years older than someone else who is eight years younger than some other
James smiled. "No," he replied; "I am twice as old as
the young gentleman whom King describes as being poorer than I."
"Well, that helps a lot," said Muldoon; "now we are getting
I had noticed a small man half asleep in his chair in
a corner of the room. He didn't seem to be paying any attention to what
had been going on. Muldoon suddenly stopped in front of him and scrutinized
him intently for several moments as though he were some strange and unfamiliar
species of insect. Muldoon is a very large man, and when he stands in front
of a sitting victim and inspects him in this manner it usually induces
a feeling of abject inferiority in the sitter that renders him easy prey.
"What do you do for a living?" he demanded.
"I am a clerk in this bank."
"What did you do with those securities you stole?" thundered
The man looked Muldoon straight in the eyes.
"You are barking up the wrong tree, Inspector," he said.
"I am disappointed in you , you are not living up to your reputation,"
"How old are you?"
"I am the same age as the twins in this room."
"What is your name?"
The man grinned. "The same as the man who is five years
younger than the man who is fifteen years older than Ralph James."
Muldoon walked the length of the room several times immersed
in deep thought, or apparently so; you never can tell about Muldoon. He
might have been planning on what he was going to have for dinner. Presently
he stopped in front of the desk.
"Now, Mr. James, " he said, "how long have you known Mr.
Crowder and what is he doing here?"
"Which one?" asked James. "There are two Crowders in the
room. One of them is my attorney, whom I telephoned to come over immediately
when the body was discovered."
"I mean your attorney, whom I have known for several years,"
"I have known him for one-third of his life and one-quarter
of mine; I first met him when Ralph was ten years old."
"Do you k now who killed Morgan, Mr. King?" snapped the
Inspector, wheeling quickly around and facing the teller.
"Yes, sir," replied King.
"It was you, wasn't it?" asked Muldoon softly. "Didn't
Mr. Morgan discover a shortage in your accounts?"
"I can answer no to both of those questions. The man who
killed Mr. Morgan was five years older than I."
"Thank you, Mr. King," said Muldoon, and then he turned
to Jarvis. "Mike, there is your man," and he pointed.
At whom did the Inspector point?
The Solution is presented below.