The Significance of the High „D” - J.U. Giesy, Junius B Smith - ebook

The Significance of the High „D” ebook

J.U. Giesy, Junius B. Smith



The story begins at the Central Police Department. Where led Sheldon for the fourth time. The prisoner asked to speak with the detective, saying that he has a lead on the case, which the detective is so interested in. But is he not lying? And would a detective believe this? After all, what the prisoner will say will affect many of the detective’s decisions.

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I WAS sitting in the “dog-house,” as we jokingly called the reporters’ room at Police Central, when they led Sheldon in. I had known him personally for some years in a casual way, because he was the paying-teller in the Fourth National Bank, and there was where Billy Baird, my prospective brother-in-law, worked over the books.

Consequently, when the motor patrol stopped and they brought him in and lined him up before Harrington, it gave me a sort of shock.

He was a clean-cut chap, with a strong, good-featured face, the latent strength of which struck one at a glance. Now he was very pale as he stood between two roundsmen, while Harrington wrote him up in the blotter, before sending him to a cell.

I edged up as close as I could, and pricked my ears to get the charge against him. It was “uttering a forgery” against the bank where he worked, and noticed that Sheldon actually flinched at the words, almost as though they had been a physical blow.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and then raised his head with a visible effort, as though deciding that after all he might as well brazen the thing out.

“Who’s makin’ the charge?” asked Harrington as he finished writing it down.

“Cashier Malin, for the bank,” said one of the roundsmen, and Harrington nodded his head, as he resumed work with his scratchy pen. A moment later he nodded in dismissal: “All right. Take ‘im back,” he said.

They were turning away when Sheldon caught my eye, and for the instant, as I nodded toward the poor devil, his expression cleared and gave way almost to one of hope. He spoke to one of his captors, who turned and looked at me.

“Oh, hallo, Glace,” he said grinning. “Sheldon here wants to slip you a word or two. Come ‘ere.”

Rather wondering, I approached, with a nod to the officers, and waited for what the prisoner might say. It was surely brief and to the point.

“After the rest are done with me, come and see me,” was all he said. Then he turned away and went back toward the cells.

I watched him walk away straight-backed, head up, then I slipped into, a phone-booth and called up Smithson, my city editor on the Record, and told him my little tale.

“There’s something more to it than appears on the surface, and I want you to put somebody on the story of the arrest, and let me stick around Sheldon a bit.”

That might have been a risky thing to say to Smithson at one time, but some time before I had won my spurs on a difficult case, and now the old man was my friend. As it was he chuckled before he yielded the point.

“All right,” said he briefly, “I’ll let Grant handle that end of it; get busy and dig up something good.”

I left the booth and ostensibly the station, but I only went as far as the corner drug-store, where I hung about for a half-hour and then slipped back and approached Harrington with a grin.

“Did you hear what Sheldon said to me?” I inquired.

“Uh, huh,” grunted Dan, smiling. “You’ll be wantin’ a turnkey, I suppose?”

“You’re a good guesser,” I countered. “Have a cigar?”

“I will, and so will me brother,” said Harrington, and I handed him two, for that was our stock joke, on occasions like this. He pounded a bell, and turned me over to the officer who answered.

“Front,” he cried in imitation of a hotel clerk. “Show the gentleman back. Wants to see Sheldon, Jake.”

Jake and I took up our journey rearward to where the corridors of the receiving prison began their dreary rows, and he passed me through the gates with a word to the guard, while he turned his own back to light another of my cigars. A few moments after, I was at Sheldon’s cell, and he rose as he saw me at the door.

“It’s good of you to come, Glace,” he greeted. “Excuse the appointments and take the stool.” He seated himself upon the bunk at the side of the cell.

“I hardly know why I asked you to come,” he continued, “unless it was that I felt the need of talking to some one, and I knew I could trust you, because young Baird has told me you were about the best in your line. Now, don’t think that’s said for any reason except that it is true. As for myself I don’t know you personally at all, though I do by sight, of course.

“Anyway, I took the fancy to tell you all about this thing as far as I can, and first there are some parts of it which I must ask you to treat as confidences, rather than as anything for your paper; that is, if we are to talk.”

“I’ll try to respect your confidence, Sheldon, wherever I can,” I assured him. “Here, take a cigar, and let’s get down to facts.”

“Thanks.” He lighted the cigar at my match.

“To begin with, then. Some time ago there was a check passed through our bank for the sum of five thousand, which I believed to be good, but which later came back declared a forgery, so that our institution, which had cashed it, was naturally left with a loss on their hands.

“On the day that the check came back the assistant cashier was out and I performed his duties. The funny thing was that several similar checks, similarly endorsed, had been cashed at intervals, and as far as I could see, the signature was genuine. If it hadn’t been for that, I would have been more careful than I was.

“Anyway, when I found that the check was a forgery, I did a foolish thing. Instead of reporting it at once, I began to juggle accounts so as to cover the matter up, and, in the mean time, I tried to find the man who had cashed the thing, in the hope of recovering the money or squaring the affair up somehow or other; I guess I hardly knew how.

“Then came the bank examiners, and, of course, the thing came out. In view of what I had done, I was suspected, of course, and as a result Malin had me brought down here.

“Worst of all, the writing on the blamed check resembles mine, or they say it does–yet I swear I never touched the thing save to pay out the cash.”

“Is that all?” I asked as he paused for a minute and resumed puffing on his cigar.

“No; worse luck,” said Sheldon. “There’s more, and the confidential part. Nobody knows this but Myrtle and myself, and you’ve got to keep it to yourself.

“Glace, I’m engaged to be married. That’s the reason I wanted to see you. I want you to go to see the girl. She’s an orphan, and she’s got a brother, and the brother’s a poor sort. Some time ago he got into trouble, and it looked as though he was going to land where I am. Myrtle told me about it, and I agreed to help her out.

“Some time ago I sold some stocks which I held, and I got the money for them in large bills, and put them into my safe-deposit box. We bank people aren’t supposed to dabble in stocks, by the way, so I didn’t say anything about that.

“Well, when Myrtle’s brother got into trouble, I went and got some of that money and gave it to her, and she squared things for the kid. As it happens, I did that on the day after this check was cashed, and the vault attendant remembers seeing me with the stuff in my hands after I had come from my box, and also states that they were bills of large denominations.

“Of course, I gave them to Myrtle and she paid the kid’s debt, so that I can’t trace them, or prove that they were other than what was paid out from our bank, and I was seen with them the day after; get that?”

“It looks bad,” I remarked.

“It is bad,” Sheldon replied. “Nobody knows it better than I; but what can I do? I can’t drag Myrtle into this, and I won’t; I’ll go to the ‘pen’ first.”

“That would be rather rough on her, too, wouldn’t it?” I said.

Sheldon winced. “Don’t,” he said. “What a hole I’m in! Either way I look, it is bad. If I should tell this part of things, and drag Myrtle in, I’d have to expose her family secret, you see. If I keep still, I’ll probably be sent up for five or ten years, be a convict at the end, and ruin all our hopes that way, too, and I swear I’m an innocent man, Glace. Man, it’s tough.”

“I don’t doubt it,” I said.

“But my story?” said Sheldon. “The one I’ve got to tell to the jury?”

“It’s as full of holes as a Swiss cheese.”

“Then what am I to do? That’s really why I sent for you, Glace; it was the hope that you, a trained newspaperman, might be able to find some way out of the impasse, I am too upset to think of any myself.”

“Do you know the man who forged the check?” I asked of a sudden and watched Sheldon’s face.

He paled visibly, and finally shook his head. “Not unless I saw him,” he said.

“Maybe the one who presented it didn’t forge it,” I suggested.

“Maybe,” agreed Sheldon, with what I thought was relief.

I decided to change the subject. “About this brother of your fiancée’s,” I asked. “What do you know about him?”

“He’s wild,” said Sheldon. “Runs with a pretty fast set. Some years ago he ran away and went West. Now he’s back and works in the office of Pearson & Co., the brokers.

“Where he went in the West he would never say, nor what he did, so I guess it was not very savory, whatever it was. Some time ago he took some of the firm’s funds and speculated and lost. That’s what Myrtle needed the money for–to make good his embezzlement.”

“Hum–and his name?”

“Archie Parton,” said Sheldon. “He lives with his sister at Number 1351 Welton Street.”

“What was the amount of money you had in the safety box?” I inquired.

“Five thousand dollars.” Sheldon shook a disconsolate head.

“How much did you give Miss Parton?”

“One thousand.”


“In two bills of five hundred each.”

“Do you know their numbers?”

“I can get them. I have a memorandum.”

“Then you have four thousand still in the box. If you know the numbers of the notes which went to cash the check, you ought to be able to prove that those are not that money, shouldn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Sheldon, “but how could I prove that there was no exchange made?”

“I don’t know,” I confessed. “Were they changed?”

Sheldon looked at me sharply. “You certainly do go right to the point, don’t you?” he said. “Well, Baird told me that.”

“Well, were the original bills changed?”

“Who could change them?” Sheldon laughed, and I felt sure that his laugh was forced.

“Look here,” I said. “There’s no use in your holding out on me, you know, if you expect my help. Who changed those bills?”

“I did,” said Sheldon, and lapsed into silence, puffing gloomily on the cigar.

I looked at the man in amazement. Either he was a consummately guilty man, or he had acted in a way little more sensible than the doings of an irresponsible boy. Finally, I decided to go on with my questions and learn what I could, at least.

“Why did you do it?” I asked.

“As an accommodation,” said Sheldon. “That was before I knew the check was forged,” he added as an afterthought.

“As an accommodation for whom?” I snapped. The man’s manner was getting on my nerves.

“That I can’t tell you, Glace,” said Sheldon. “To do so might make people very near to me suffer more than I care to think.”

“Meaning Miss Parton and her brother, of course?” I put in.

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