The Case Of He Golden Bullet





"Please, sir, there is a man outside who asks to see you."



"What does he want?" asked Commissioner Horn, looking up.



"He says he has something to report, sir."



"Send him in, then."



The attendant disappeared, and the commissioner looked up at the

clock. It was just striking eleven, but the fellow official who

was to relieve him at that hour had not yet appeared. And if this

should chance to be a new case, he would probably be obliged to

take it himself. The commissioner was not in a very good humour

as he sat back to receive the young man who entered the room in

the wake of the attendant. The stranger was a sturdy youth, with

an unintelligent, good-natured face. He twisted his soft hat in

his hands in evident embarrassment, and his eyes wandered helplessly

about the great bare room.



"Who are you?" demanded the commissioner.



"My name is Dummel, sir, Johann Dummel."



"And your occupation?"



"My occupation? Oh, yes, I - I am a valet, valet to Professor

Fellner."



The commissioner sat up and looked interested. He knew Fellner

personally and liked him. "What have you to report to me?" he

asked eagerly.



"I - I don't know whether I ought to have come here, but at home - "



"Well, is anything the matter?" insisted Horn.



"Why, sir, I don't know; but the Professor - he is so still - he

doesn't answer."



Horn sprang from his chair. "Is he ill?" he asked.



"I don't know, sir. His room is locked - he never locked it before."



"And you are certain he is at home?"



"Yes, sir. I saw him during the night - and the key is in the lock

on the inside."



The commissioner had his hat in his hand when the colleague who was

to relieve him appeared. "Good and cold out to-day!" was the

latter's greeting. Horn answered with an ironical: "Then I suppose

you'll be glad if I relieve you of this case. But I assure you I

wouldn't do it if it wasn't Fellner. Good-bye. Oh, and one thing

more. Please send a physician at once to Fellner's house, No. 7

Field Street."



Horn opened the door and passed on into the adjoining room,

accompanied by Johann. The commissioner halted a moment as his

eyes fell upon a little man who sat in the corner reading a

newspaper. "Hello, Muller; you there? Suppose I take you with me?

You aren't doing anything now, are you?"



"No, sir.



"Well, come with me, then. If this should turn out to be anything

serious, we may need you."



The three men entered one of the cabs waiting outside the police

station. As they rattled through the streets, Commissioner Horn

continued his examination of the, valet. "When did you see your

master last?"



"About eleven o'clock last evening."



"Did you speak with him then?



"No, I looked through the keyhole."



"Oh, indeed; is that a habit of yours?"



Dummel blushed deeply, but his eyes flashed, and he looked angry.



"No, it is not, sir," he growled. "I only did it this time because

I was anxious about the master. He's been so worked up and nervous

the last few days. Last night I went to the theatre, as I always

do Saturday evenings. When I returned, about half-past ten it was,

I knocked at the door of his bedroom. He didn't answer, and I

walked away softly, so as not to disturb him in case he'd gone to

sleep already. The hall was dark, and as I went through it I saw

a ray of light coming from the keyhole of the Professor's study.

That surprised me, because he never worked as late as that before.

I thought it over a moment, then I crept up and looked through

the keyhole."



"And what did you see?"



"He sat at his desk, quite quiet. So I felt easy again, and went

off to bed."



"Why didn't you go into the room?"



"I didn't dare, sir. The Professor never wanted to be disturbed

when he was writing."



"Well, and this morning?"



"I got up at the usual time this morning, set the breakfast table,

and then knocked at the Professor's bedroom door to waken him. He

didn't answer, and I thought he might want to sleep, seeing as it

was Sunday, and he was up late last night. So I waited until ten

o'clock. Then I knocked again and tried the door, but it was locked.

That made me uneasy, because he never locked his bedroom door before.

I banged at the door and called out, but there wasn't a sound. Then

I ran to the police station."



Horn was evidently as alarmed as was the young valet. But Muller's

cheeks were flushed and a flash of secret joy, of pleasurable

expectation, brightened his deep-set, grey eyes. He sat quite

motionless, but every nerve in his body was alive and tingling. The

humble-looking little man had become quite another and a decidedly

interesting person. He laid his thin, nervous hand on the carriage

door.



"We are not there yet," said the commissioner.



"No, but it's the third house from here," replied Muller.



"You know where everybody lives, don't you?" smiled Horn.



"Nearly everybody," answered Muller gently, as the cab stopped

before an attractive little villa surrounded by its own garden,

as were most of the houses in this quiet, aristocratic part of

the town.



The house was two stories high, but the upper windows were closed

and tightly curtained. This upper story was the apartment occupied

by the owner of the house, who was now in Italy with his invalid

wife. Otherwise the dainty little villa, built in the fashionable

Nuremberg style, with heavy wooden doors and lozenged-paned windows,

had no occupants except Professor Fellner and his servant. With

its graceful outlines and well-planned garden, the dwelling had a

most attractive appearance. Opposite it was the broad avenue known

as the Promenade, and beyond this were open fields. To the right

and to the left were similar villas in their gardens.



Dummel opened the door and the three men entered the house. The

commissioner and the valet went in first, Muller following them more

slowly. His sharp eyes glanced quickly over the coloured tiles of

the flooring, over the white steps and the carpeted hallway beyond.

Once he bent quickly and picked up something, then he walked on with

his usual quiet manner, out of which every trace of excitement had

now vanished.



The dull winter sun seemed only to make the gloom of the dark

vestibule more visible. Johann turned up the light, and Horn, who

had visited the Professor several times and knew the situation of

the rooms, went at once to the heavy, carved and iron trimmed door

of the study. He attempted to open the door, but it resisted all

pressure. The heavy key was in the inner side of the big lock with

its medieval iron ornamentation. But the key was turned so that

the lower part of the lock was free, a round opening of unusual size.

Horn made sure of this by holding a lighted match to the door.



"You are right," he said to the valet, "the door is locked from the

inside. We'll have to go through the bedroom. Johann, bring me a

chisel or a hatchet. Muller, you stay here and open the door when

the doctor comes."



Muller nodded. Johann disappeared, returning in a few moments with

a small hatchet, and followed the commissioner through the

dining-room. It was an attractive apartment with its high wooden

paneling and its dainty breakfast table. But a slight shiver ran

through the commissioner's frame as he realised that some misfortune,

some crime even might be waiting for them on the other side of the

closed door. The bedroom door also was locked on the inside, and

after some moments of knocking and calling, Horn set the hatchet to

the framework just as the bell of the house-door pealed out.



With a cracking and tearing of wood the bedroom door fell open, and

in the same moment Muller and the physician passed through the

dining-room. Johann hurried into the bedroom to open the

window-shutters, and the others gathered in the doorway. A single

look showed each of the men that the bed was untouched, and they

passed on through the room. The door from the bedroom to the study

stood open. In the latter room the shutters were tightly closed,

and the lamp had long since gone out. But sufficient light fell

through the open bedroom door for the men to see the figure of the

Professor seated at his desk, and when Johann had opened the

shutters, it was plain to all that the silent figure before them

was that of a corpse.



"Heart disease, probably," murmured the physician, as he touched

the icy forehead. Then he felt the pulse of the stiffened hand

from which the pen had fallen in the moment of death, raised the

drooping head and lifted up the half-closed eyelids. The eyes

were glazed.



The others looked on in silence. Horn was very pale, and his

usually calm face showed great emotion. Johann seemed quite beside

himself, the tears rolled down his cheeks unhindered. Muller stood

without a sign of life, his sallow face seemed made of bronze; he

was watching and listening. He seemed to hear and see what no one

else could see or hear. He smiled slightly when the doctor spoke

of "heart disease," and his eyes fell on the revolver that lay near

the dead man's hand on the desk. Then he shook his head, and then

he started suddenly. Horn noticed the movement; it was in the moment

when the physician raised up the sunken figure that had fallen half

over the desk.



"He was killed by a bullet," said Muller.



"Yes, that was it," replied the doctor. With the raising of the

body the dead man's waistcoat fell back into its usual position,

and they could see a little round hole in his shirt. The doctor

opened the shirt bosom and pointed to a little wound in the

Professor's left breast. There were scarcely three or four drops

of blood visible. The hemorrhage had been internal.



"He must have died at once, without suffering," said the physician.



"He killed himself - he killed himself," murmured Johann, as if

bewildered.



"It's strange that he should have found time to lay down the

revolver before he died," remarked Horn. Johann put out his hand

and raised the weapon before Horn could prevent him. "Leave that

pistol where it was," commanded the commissioner. "We have to look

into this matter more closely."



The doctor turned quickly. "You think it was a murder?" he

exclaimed. "The doors were both locked on the inside - where could

the murderer be?"



"I don't pretend to see him myself yet. But our rule is to leave

things as they are discovered, until the official examination.

Muller, did you shut the outer door?"



"Yes, sir; here is the key."



"Johann, are there any more keys for the outer door?"



"Yes, sir. One more, that is, for the third was lost some months

ago. The Professor's own key ought to be in the drawer of the

little table beside the bed."



"Will you please look for it, Muller?"



Muller went into the bedroom and soon returned with the key, which

he handed to the commissioner. The detective had found something

else in the little table drawer - a tortoise-shell hairpin, which

he had carefully hidden in his own pocket before rejoining the

others.



Horn turned to the servant again. "How many times have you been

out of the apartment since last night?"



"Once only, sir, to go to the police station to fetch you."



"And you locked the door behind you?"



"Why, yes, sir. You saw that I had to turn the key twice to let

you in."



Horn and Muller both looked the young man over very carefully. He

seemed perfectly innocent, and their suspicion that he might have

turned the key in pretense only, soon vanished. It would have been

a foolish suspicion anyway. If he were in league with the murderer,

he could have let the latter escape with much more safety during the

night. Horn let his eyes wander about the rooms again, and said

slowly: "Then the murderer is still here - or else - "



"Or else?" asked the doctor.



"Or else we have a strange riddle to solve."



Johann had laid the pistol down again. Muller stretched forth his

hand and took it up. He looked at it a moment, then handed it to

the commissioner. "We have to do with a murder here. There was

not a shot fired from this revolver, for every chamber is still

loaded. And there is no other weapon in sight," said the detective

quietly.



"Yes, he was murdered. This revolver is fully loaded. Let us

begin the search at once." Horn was more excited than he cared to

show.



Johann looked about in alarm, but when he saw the others beginning

to peer into every corner and every cupboard, he himself joined in

the man-hunt. A quarter of an hour later, the four men relinquished

their fruitless efforts and gathered beside the corpse again.



"Doctor, will you have the kindness to report to the head

Commissioner of Police, and to order the taking away of the body?

We will look about for some motive for this murder in the meantime,"

said Horn, as he held out his hand to the physician.



Muller walked out to the door of the house with the doctor.



"Do you think this valet did it?" asked the physician softly.



"He? Oh, dear, no," replied the detective scornfully.



"You think he's too stupid? But this stupidity might be feigned."



"It's real enough, doctor."



"But what do you think about it - you, who have the gift of seeing

more than other people see, even if it does bring you into disfavour

with the Powers that Be?"



"Then you don't believe me yet?"



"You mean about the beautiful Mrs. Kniepp?



"And yet I tell you I am right. It was an intentional suicide."



"Muller, Muller, you must keep better watch over your imagination

and your tongue! It is a dangerous thing to spread rumours about

persons high in favor with the Arch-duke. But you had better tell

me what you think about this affair," continued the doctor,

pointing back towards the room they had just left.



"There's a woman in the case."



"Aha! you are romancing again. Well, they won't be so sensitive

about this matter, but take care that you don't make a mistake again,

my dear Muller. It would be likely to cost you your position, don't

forget that."



The doctor left the house. Muller smiled bitterly as he closed the

door behind him, and murmured to himself: "Indeed, I do not forget

it, and that is why I shall take this matter into my own hands. But

the Kniepp case is not closed yet, by any means."



When he returned to the study he saw Johann sitting quietly in a

corner, shaking his head, as if trying to understand it all. Horn

was bending over a sheet of writing paper which lay before the dead

man. Fellner must have been busy at his desk when the bullet

penetrated his heart. His hand in dying had let fall the pen,

which had drawn a long black mark across the bottom of the sheet.

One page of the paper was covered with a small, delicate handwriting.



Horn called up the detective, and together they read the following words:



"Dear Friend: -



"He challenged me - pistols - it means life or death. My enemy is

very bitter. But I am not ready to die yet. And as I know that I

would be the one to fall, I have refused the duel. That will help

me little, for his revenge will know how to find me. I dare not be

a moment without a weapon now - his threats on my refusal let me

fear the worst. I have an uncanny presentiment of evil. I shall

leave here to-morrow. With the excuse of having some pressing

family affair to attend to, I have secured several days' leave.

Of course I do not intend to return. I am hoping that you will

come here and break up my establishment in my stead. I will tell

you everything else when I see you. I am in a hurry now, for there

is a good deal of packing to do. If anything should happen to me,

you will know who it is who is responsible for my death. His

name is - "



Here the letter came to an abrupt close.



Muller and Horn looked at each other in silence, then they turned

their eyes again toward the dead man.



"He was a coward," said the detective coldly, and turned away.

Horn repeated mechanically, "A coward!" and his eyes also looked

down with a changed expression upon the handsome, soft-featured

face, framed in curly blond hair, that lay so silent against the

chair-back. Many women had loved this dead man, and many men had

been fond of him, for they had believed him capable and manly.



The commissioner and Muller continued their researches in silence

and with less interest than before. They found a heap of loose

ashes in the bedroom stove. Letters and other trifles had been

burned there. Muller raked out the heap very carefully, but the

writing on the few pieces of paper still left whole was quite

illegible. There were several envelopes in the waste-basket, but

all of them were dated several months back. There was nothing that

could give the slightest clue.



The letter written by the murdered man was sufficient proof that

his death had been an act of vengeance. But who was it who had

carried out this secret, terrible deed? The victim had not been

allowed the time to write down the name of his murderer.



Horn took the letter into his keeping. Then he left the room,

followed by Muller and the valet, to look about the rest of the

house as far as possible. This was not very far, for the second

story was closed off by a tall iron grating.



"Is the house door locked during the daytime?" asked Horn of the

servant.



"The front door is, but the side door into the garden is usually

open."



"Has it ever happened that any one got into the house from this

side door without your knowing it?"



"No, sir. The garden has a high wall around it. And there is extra

protection on the side toward the Promenade."



"But there's a little gate there?"



"Yes, sir."



"Is that usually closed?"



"We never use the key for that, sir. It has a trick lock that you

can't open unless you know how."



"You said you went to the theatre yesterday evening. Did your

master give you permission to go?"



"Yes, sir. It's about a year now that he gave me money for a

theatre ticket every Saturday evening. He was very kind."



"Did you come into the house last night by the front door, or

through the garden?"



"Through the garden, sir. I walked down the Promenade from the

theatre."



"And you didn't notice anything - you saw no traces of footsteps?"



"No, sir. I didn't notice anything unusual. We shut the side

door, the garden door, every evening, also. It was closed

yesterday and I found the key - we've only got one key to the

garden door - in the same place where I was told to hide it when

I went out in the evening."



"What place was that?"



"In one of the pails by the well."



"You say you were told to hide it there?"



"Yes, sir; the Professor told me. He'd go out in the evening

sometimes, too, I suppose, and he wanted to be able to come in that

way if necessary."



"And no one else knew where the key was hidden?"



"No one else, sir. It's nearly a year now that we've been alone in

the house. Who else should know of it?"



"When you looked through the keyhole last night, are you sure that

the Professor was still alive?"



"Why, yes, sir; of course I couldn't say so surely. I thought he

was reading or writing, but oh, dear Lord! there he was this morning,

nearly twelve hours later, in just the same position." Johann

shivered at the thought that he might have seen his master sitting

at his desk, already a corpse.



"He must have been dead when you came home. Don't you think the

sound of that shot would have wakened you?"



"Yes, sir, I think likely, sir," murmured Johann. "But if the

murderer could get into the house, how could he get into the

apartment?"



"There must have been a third key of which you knew nothing,"

answered Horn, turning to Muller again. "It's stranger still how

Fellner could have been shot, for the window-shutters were fastened

and quite uninjured, and both doors were locked on the inside."



As he said these words, Horn looked sharply at his subordinate; but

Muller's calm face did not give the slightest clue to his thoughts.

The experienced police commissioner was pleased and yet slightly

angered at this behaviour on the part of the detective. He knew

that it was quite possible that Muller had already formed a clear

opinion about the case, and that he was merely keeping it to himself.

And yet he was glad to see that the little detective had apparently

learned a lesson from his recent mistake concerning the death of

Mrs. Kniepp - that he had somewhat lost confidence in his hitherto

unerring instinct, and did not care to express any opinion until he

had studied the matter a little closer. The commissioner was just

a little bit vain, and just a little bit jealous of this humble

detective's fame.



Muller shrugged his shoulders at the remark of his superior, and

the two men stood silent, thinking over the case, as the Chief of

Police appeared, accompanied by the doctor, a clerk, and two hospital

attendants. The chief commissioner received the report of what had

been discovered, while the corpse was laid on a bier to be taken to

the hospital.



Muller handed the commissioner his hat and cane and helped him into

his overcoat. Horn noticed that the detective himself was making

no preparations to go out. "Aren't you coming with us?" he asked,

astonished.



"I hope the gentlemen will allow me to remain here for a little

while," answered Muller modestly.



"But you know that we will have to close the apartment officially,"

said Horn, his voice sharpening in his surprise and displeasure.



"I do not need to be in these rooms any longer."



"Don't let them disturb you, my dear Muller; we will allow your

keenness all possible leeway here." The Head of Police spoke with

calm politeness, but Muller started and shivered. The emphasis on

the "here" showed him that even the head of the department had been

incensed at his suggestion that the beautiful Mrs. Kniepp had died

of her own free will. It had been his assertion of this which,

coming to the ears of the bereaved husband, had enraged and

embittered him, and had turned the power of his influence with the

high authorities against the detective. Muller knew how greatly he

had fallen from favour in the Police Department, and the words of

his respected superior showed him that he was still in disgrace.



But the strange, quiet smile was still on his lips as, with his

usual humble deference, he accompanied the others to the sidewalk.

Before the commissioners left the house, the Chief commanded Johann

to answer carefully any questions Muller might put to him.



"He'll find something, you may be sure," said Horn, as they drove

off in the cab.



"Let him that's his business. He is officially bound to see more

than the rest of us," smiled the older official good-naturedly.

"But in spite of it, he'll never get any further than the vestibule;

he'll be making bows to us to the end of his days."



"You think so? I've wondered at the man. I know his fame in the

capital, indeed, in police circles all over Austria and Germany.

It seems hard on him to be transferred to this small town, now that

he is growing old. I've wondered why he hasn't done more for

himself, with his gifts."



"He never will," replied the Chief. "He may win more fame - he may

still go on winning triumphs, but he will go on in a circle; he'll

never forge ahead as his capabilities deserve. Muller's peculiarity

is that his genius - for the man has undeniable genius - will always

make concessions to his heart just at the moment when he is about

to do something great - and his triumph is lost."



Horn looked up at his superior, whom, in spite of his good nature,

he knew to be a sharp, keen, capable police official. "I forgot

you have known Muller longer than the rest of us," he said. "What

was that you said about his heart?"



"I said that it is one of those inconvenient hearts that will always

make itself noticeable at the wrong time. Muller's heart has played

several tricks on the police department, which has, at other times,

profited so well by his genius. He is a strange mixture. While he

is on the trail of the criminal he is like the bloodhound. He does

not seem to know fatigue nor hunger; his whole being is absorbed by

the excitement of the chase. He has done many a brilliant service

to the cause of justice, he has discovered the guilt, or the

innocence, of many in cases where the official department was as

blind as Justice is proverbially supposed to be. Joseph Muller has

become the idol of all who are engaged in this weary business of

hunting down wrong and punishing crime. He is without a peer in his

profession. But he has also become the idol of some of the criminals.

For if he discovers (as sometimes happens) that the criminal is a

good sort after all, he is just as likely to warn his prey, once he

has all proofs of the guilt and a conviction is certain. Possibly

this is his way of taking the sting from his irresistible impulse to

ferret out hidden mysteries. But it is rather inconvenient, and he

has hurt himself by it - hurt himself badly. They were tired of his

peculiarities at the capital, and wanted to make his years an excuse

to discharge him. I happened to get wind of it, and it was my

weakness for him that saved him."



"Yes, you brought him here when they transferred you to this town,

I remember now."



"I'm afraid it wasn't such a good thing for him, after all. Nothing

ever happens here, and a gift like Muller's needs occupation to keep

it fresh. I'm afraid his talents will dull and wither here. The

man has grown perceptibly older in this inaction. His mind is like

a high-bred horse that needs exercise to keep it in good condition."



"He hasn't grown rich at his work, either," said Horn.



"No, there's not much chance for a police detective to get rich.

I've often wondered why Muller never had the energy to set up in

business for himself. He might have won fame and fortune as a

private detective. But he's gone on plodding along as a police

subordinate, and letting the department get all the credit for his

most brilliant achievements. It's a sort of incorrigible humbleness

of nature - and then, you know, he had the misfortune to be unjustly

sentenced to a term in prison in his early youth."



"No, I did not know that."



"The stigma stuck to his name, and finally drove him to take up

this work. I don't think Muller realised, when he began, just

how greatly he is gifted. I don't know that he really knows now.

He seems to do it because he likes it - he's a queer sort of man."



While the commissioners drove through the streets to the police

station the man of whom they were speaking sat in Johann's little

room in close consultation with the valet.



"How long is it since the Professor began to give you money to go

to the theatre on Saturday evenings?"



The first time it happened was on my name day. "What's the rest

of your name? There are so many Johanns on the calendar."



"I am Johann Nepomuk."



Muller took a little calendar from his pocket and turned its pages.

"It was May sixteenth," volunteered the valet.



"Quite right. May sixteenth was a Saturday. And since then you

have gone to the theatre every Saturday evening?"



"Yes, sir.



"When did the owner of the house go away?"



"Last April. His wife was ill and he had to take her away. They

went to Italy."



"And you two have been alone in the house since April?"



"Yes, sir, we two."



"Was there no janitor?"



"No, sir. The garden was taken care of by a man who came in for

the day."



"And you had no dog? I haven't seen any around the place."



"No, sir; the Professor did not like animals. But he must have

been thinking about buying a dog, because I found a new dog-whip

in his room one day."



"Somebody might have left it there. One usually buys the dog

first and then the whip."



"Yes, sir. But there wasn't anybody here to forget it. The

Professor did not receive any visits at that time."



"Why are you so sure of that?"



"Because it was the middle of summer, and everybody was away."



Oh, then, we won't bother about the whip. Can you tell me of any

ladies with whom the Professor was acquainted?"



"Ladies? I don't know of any. Of course, the Professor was

invited out a good deal, and most of the other gentlemen from the

college were married."



"Did he ever receive letters from ladies?" continued Muller.



Johann thought the matter over, then confessed that he knew very

little about writing and couldn't read handwriting very well anyway.

But he remembered to have seen a letter now and then, a little

letter with a fine and delicate handwriting.



"Have you any of these envelopes?" asked Muller. But Johann told

him that in spite of his usual carelessness in such matters,

Professor Fellner never allowed these letters to lie about his room.



Finally the detective came out with the question to which he had

been leading up. "Did your master ever receive visits from ladies?



Johann looked extremely stupid at this moment. His lack of

intelligence and a certain crude sensitiveness in his nature made

him take umbrage at what appeared to him a very unnecessary question.

He answered it with a shake of the head only. Muller smiled at the

young man's ill-concealed indignation and paid no attention to it.



"Your master has been here for about a year. Where was he before

that?"



"In the capital."



"You were in his service then?"



"I have been with him for three years."



"Did he know any ladies in his former home?"



"There was one - I think he was engaged to her."



"Why didn't he marry her?"



"I don't know."



"What was her name?"



"Marie. That's all I know about it."



"Was she beautiful?"



"I never saw her. The only way I knew about her was when the

Professor's friends spoke of her."



"Did he have many friends?"



"There were ever so many gentlemen whom he called his friends."



"Take me into the garden now."



"Yes, sir." Muller took his hat and coat and followed the valet

into the garden. It was of considerable size, carefully and

attractively planned, and pleasing even now when the bare twigs

bent under their load of snow.



"Now think carefully, Johann. We had a full moon last night. Don't

you remember seeing any footsteps in the garden, leading away from

the house?" asked Muller, as they stood on the snow-covered paths.



Johann thought it over carefully, then said decidedly, "No. At

least I don't remember anything of the kind. There was a strong

wind yesterday anyway, and the snow drifts easily out here. No

tracks could remain clear for long."



The men walked down the straight path which led to the little gate

in the high wall. This gate had a secret lock, which, however, was

neither hard to find nor hard to open. Muller managed it with ease,

and looked out through the gate on the street beyond. The broad

promenade, deserted now in its winter snowiness, led away in one

direction to the heart of the city. In the other it ended in the

main county high-road. This was a broad, well-made turnpike, with

footpath and rows of trees. A half-hour's walk along it would bring

one to the little village clustering about the Archduke's favourite

hunting castle. There was a little railway station near the castle,

but it was used only by suburban trains or for the royal private car.



Muller did not intend to burden his brain with unnecessary facts,

so with his usual thoroughness he left the further investigation of

what lay beyond the gate, until he had searched the garden thoroughly.

But even for his sharp eyes there was no trace to be found that

would tell of the night visit of the murderer.



"In which of the pails did you put the key to the side door?" he

asked.



"In the first pail on the right hand side. But be careful, sir;

there's a nail sticking out of the post there. The wind tore off

a piece of wood yesterday."



The warning came too late. Muller's sleeve tore apart with a sharp

sound just as Johann spoke, for the detective had already plunged

his hand into the pail. The bottom of the bucket was easy to reach,

as this one hung much lower than the others. Looking regretfully

at the rent in his coat, Muller asked for needle and thread that

he might repair it sufficiently to get home.



"Oh, don't bother about sewing it; I'll lend you one of mine,"

exclaimed Johann. "I'll carry this one home for you, for I'm not

going to stay here alone - I'd be afraid. I'm going to a friend's

house. You can find me there any time you need me. You'd better

take the key of the apartment and give it to the police."



The detective had no particular fondness for the task of sewing,

and he was glad to accept the valet's friendly offering. He was

rather astonished at the evident costliness of the garment the

young man handed him, and when he spoke of it, the valet could

not say enough in praise of the kindness of his late master. He

pulled out several other articles of clothing, which, like the

overcoat, had been given to him by Fellner. Then he packed up

a few necessities and announced himself as ready to start. He

insisted on carrying the torn coat, and Muller permitted it after

some protest. They carefully closed the apartment and the house,

and walked toward the centre of the city to the police station,

where Muller lived.



As they crossed the square, it suddenly occurred to Johann that he

had no tobacco. He was a great smoker, and as he had many days of

enforced idleness ahead of him, he ran into a tobacco shop to

purchase a sufficiency of this necessity of life.



Muller waited outside, and his attention was attracted by a large

grey Ulmer hound which was evidently waiting for some one within

the shop. The dog came up to him in a most friendly manner, allowed

him to pat its head, rubbed up against him with every sign of

pleasure, and would not leave him even when he turned to go after

Johann came out of the shop. Still accompanied by the dog, the two

men walked on quite a distance, when a sharp whistle was heard

behind them, and the dog became uneasy. He would not leave them,

however, until a powerful voice called "Tristan!" several times.

Muller turned and saw that Tristan's master was a tall, stately man

wearing a handsome fur overcoat.



It was impossible to recognise his face at this distance, for the

snowflakes were whirling thickly in the air. But Muller was not

particularly anxious to recognise the stranger, as he had his head

full of more important thoughts.



When Johann had given his new address and remarked that he would

call for his coat soon, the men parted, and Muller returned to

the police station.



The next day the principal newspaper of the town printed the

following notice:



THE GOLDEN BULLET



It is but a few days since we announced to our readers the sad

news of the death of a beautiful woman, whose leap from her

window, while suffering from the agonies of fever, destroyed

the happiness of an unusually harmonious marriage. And now we

are compelled to print the news of another equally sad as well

as mysterious occurrence. This time, Fate has demanded the

sacrifice of the life of a capable and promising young man.

Professor Paul Fellner, a member of the faculty of our college,

was found dead at his desk yesterday morning. It was thought at

first that it was a case of suicide, for doors and windows were

carefully closed from within and those who discovered the corpse

were obliged to break open one of the doors to get to it. And

a revolver was found lying close at hand, upon the desk. But

this revolver was loaded in every chamber and there was no other

weapon to be seen in the room. There was a bullet wound in the

left breast of the corpse, and the bullet had penetrated the

heart. Death must have been instantaneous.



The most mysterious thing about this strange affair was

discovered during the autopsy. It is incredible, but it is

absolutely true, as it is vouched for under oath by the

authorities who were present, that the bullet which was found

in the heart of the dead man was made of solid gold. And yet,

strange as is this circumstance, it is still more a riddle how

the murderer could have escaped from the room where he had shot

down his victim, for the keys in both doors were in the locks

from the inside. We have evidently to do here with a criminal

of very unusual cleverness and it is therefore not surprising

that there has been no clue discovered thus far. The only

thing that is known is that this murder was an act of revenge.



The entire city was in excitement over the mystery, even the police

station was shaken out of its usual business-like indifference.

There was no other topic of conversation in any of the rooms but

the mystery of the golden bullet and the doors closed from the

inside. The attendants and the policeman gathered whispering in

the corners, and strangers who came in on their own business forgot

it in their excitement over this new and fascinating mystery.



That afternoon Muller passed through Horn's office with a bundle

of papers, on his way to the inner office occupied by his patron,

Chief of Police Bauer. Horn, who had avoided Muller since yesterday

although he was conscious of a freshened interest in the man, raised

his head and watched the little detective as he walked across the

room with his usual quiet tread. The commissioner saw nothing but

the usual humble business-like manner to which he was accustomed

- then suddenly something happened that came to him like a distinct

shock. Muller stopped in his walk so suddenly that one foot was

poised in the air. His bowed head was thrown back, his face

flushed to his forehead, and the papers trembled in his hands. He

ran the fingers of his unoccupied hand through his hair and murmured

audibly, "That dog! that dog!" It was evident that some thought

had struck him with such insistence as to render him oblivious of

his surroundings. Then he finally realised where he was, and walked

on quickly to Bauer's room, his face still flushed, his hands

trembling. When he came out from the office again, he was his usual

quiet, humble self.



But the commissioner, with his now greater knowledge of the little

man's gifts and past, could not forget the incident. During the

afternoon he found himself repeating mechanically, "That dog - that

dog." But the words meant nothing to him, hard as he might try to

find the connection.



When the commissioner left for his home late that afternoon, Muller

re-entered the office to lay some papers on the desk. His duties

over, he was about to turn out the gas, when his eye fell on the

blotter on Horn's desk. He looked at it more closely, then burst

into a loud laugh. The same two words were scribbled again and

again over the white surface, but it was not the name of any fair

maiden, or even the title of a love poem; it was only the words,

"That dog - "



Several days had passed since the discovery of the murder. Fellner

had been buried and his possessions taken into custody by the

authorities until his heirs should appear. The dead man's papers

and affairs were in excellent condition and the arranging of the

inheritance had been quickly done. Until the heirs should take

possession, the apartment was sealed by the police. There was

nothing else to do in the matter, and the commission appointed to

make researches had discovered nothing of value. The murderer

might easily feel that he was absolutely safe by this time.



The day after the publication of the article we have quoted, Muller

appeared in Bauer's office and asked for a few days' leave.



"In the Fellner case?" asked the Chief with his usual calm, and

Muller replied in the affirmative.



Two days later he returned, bringing with him nothing but a single

little notice.



"Marie Dorn, now Mrs. Kniepp," was one line in his notebook, and

beside it some dates. The latter showed that Marie Dorn had for

two years past been the wife of the Archducal Forest-Councillor,

Leo Kniepp.



And for one year now Professor Paul Fellner had been in the town,

after having applied for his transference from the university in

the capital to this place, which was scarce half an hour's walk

distant from the home of the beautiful young woman who had been

the love of his youth.



And Fellner had made his home in the quietest quarter of the city,

in that quarter which was nearest the Archducal hunting castle.

He had lived very quietly, had not cultivated the acquaintance of

the ladies of the town, but was a great walker and bicycle rider;

and every Saturday evening since he had been alone in the house,

he had sent his servant to the theatre. And it was on Saturday

evenings that Forest-Councillor Kniepp went to his Bowling Club

at the other end of the city, and did not return until the last

train at midnight.



And during these evening hours Fellner's apartment was a convenient

place for pleasant meetings; and nothing prevented the Professor

from accompanying his beautiful friend home through the quiet

Promenade, along the turnpike to the hunting castle. And Johann

had once found a dog-whip in his master's room-and Councillor Leo

Kniepp, head of the Forestry Department, was the possessor of a

beautiful Ulmer hound which took an active interest in people who

wore clothes belonging to Fellner.



Furthermore, in the little drawer of the bedside table in the

murdered man's room, there had been found a tortoise-shell hairpin;

and in the corner of the vestibule of his house, a little

mother-of-pearl glove button, of the kind much in fashion that

winter, because of a desire on the part of the ladies of the town

to help the home industry of the neighbourhood. Mrs. Marie Kniepp

was one of the fashionable women of the town, and several days

before the Professor was murdered, this woman had thrown herself

from the second-story window of her home, and her husband, whose

passionate eccentric nature was well known, had been a changed

man from that hour.



It was his deep grief at the loss of his beloved wife that had

turned his hair grey and had drawn lines of terrible sorrow in his

face - said gossip. But Muller, who did not know Kniepp personally

although he had been taking a great interest in his affairs for the

last few days, had his own ideas on the subject, and he decided to

make the acquaintance of the Forest Councillor as soon as possible

- that is, after he had found out all there was to be found out

about his affairs and his habits.



Just a week after the murder, on Saturday evening therefore, the

snow was whirling merrily about the gables and cupolas of the

Archducal hunting castle. The weather-vanes groaned and the old

trees in the park bent their tall tops under the mad wind which

swept across the earth and tore the protecting snow covering from

their branches. It was a stormy evening, not one to be out in if

a man had a warm corner in which to hide.



An old peddler was trying to find shelter from the rapidly

increasing storm under the lea of the castle wall. He crouched so

close to the stones that he could scarcely be seen at all, in

spite of the light from the snow. Finally he disappeared altogether

behind one of the heavy columns which sprang out at intervals from

the magnificent wall. Only his head peeped out occasionally as if

looking for something. His dark, thoughtful eyes glanced over the

little village spread out on one side of the castle, and over the

railway station, its most imposing building. Then they would turn

back again to the entrance gate in the wall near where he stood.

It was a heavy iron-barred gate, its handsome ornamentation outlined

in snow, and behind it the body of a large dog could be occasionally

seen. This dog was an enormous grey Ulmer hound.



The peddler stood for a long time motionless behind the pillar, then

he looked at his watch. "It's nearly time," he murmured, and looked

over towards the station again, where lights and figures were

gathering.



At the same time the noise of an opening door was heard, and steps

creaked over the snow. A man, evidently a servant, opened the

little door beside the great gate and held it for another man to

pass out. "You'll come back by the night train as usual, sir?"

he asked respectfully.



"Yes," replied the other, pushing back the dog, which fawned upon

him.



"Come back here, Tristan," called the servant, pulling the dog in

by his collar, as lie closed the door and re-entered the house.



The Councillor took the path to the station. He walked slowly,

with bowed head and uneven step. He did not look like a man who

was in the mood to join a merry crowd, and yet he was evidently

going to his Club. "He wants to show himself; he doesn't want to

let people think that he has anything to be afraid of," murmured

the peddler, looking after him sharply. Then his eyes suddenly

dimmed and a light sigh was heard, with another murmur, "Poor man."

The Councillor reached the station and disappeared within its door.

The train arrived and departed a few moments later. Kniepp must

have really gone to the city, for although the man behind the

pillar waited for some little time, the Councillor did not return

- a contingency that the peddler had not deemed improbable.



About half an hour after the departure of the train the watcher came

out of his hiding place and walked noisily past the gate. What he

expected, happened. The dog rushed up to the bars, barking loudly,

but when the peddler had taken a silk muffler from the pack on his

back and held it out to the animal, the noise ceased and the dog's

anger turned to friendliness. Tristan was quite gentle, put his

huge head up to the bars to let the stranger pat it, and seemed not

at all alarmed when the latter rang the bell.



The young man who had opened the door for the Councillor came out

from a wing of the castle. The peddler looked so frozen and yet so

venerable that the youth had not the heart to turn him away.

Possibly he was glad of a little diversion for his own sake.



"Who do you want to see?" he asked.



"I want to speak to the maid, the one who attended your dead

mistress."



"Oh, then you know -?"



"I know of the misfortune that has happened here."



"And you think that Nanette might have something to sell to you?"



"Yes, that's it; that's why I came. For I don't suppose there's

much chance for any business with my cigar holders and other

trifles here so near the city."



"Cigar holders? Why, I don't know; perhaps we can make a trade.

Come in with me. Why, just see how gentle the dog is with you!"



"Isn't he that way with everybody? I supposed he was no watchdog."



"Oh, indeed he is. He usually won't allow anybody to touch him,

except those whom he knows well. I'm astonished that he lets you

come to the house at all."



They had reached the door by this time. The peddler laid his hand

on the servant's arm and halted a moment. "Where was it that she

threw herself out?"



"From the last window upstairs there."



"And did it kill her at once?"



"Yes. Anyway she was unconscious when we came down."



"Was the master at home?"



"Why, yes, it happened in the middle of the night."



"She had a fever, didn't she? Had she been ill long?"



"No. She was in bed that day, but we thought it was nothing of

importance."



"These fevers come on quickly sometimes," remarked the old man

wisely, and added: "This case interests the entire neighbourhood

and I will show you that I can be grateful for anything you may

tell me - of course, only what a faithful servant could tell. It

will interest my customers very much."



"You know all there is to know," said the valet, evidently

disappointed that he had nothing to tell which could win the

peddler's gratitude. "There are no secrets about it. Everybody

knows that they were a very happy couple, and even if there was a

little talk between them on that day, why it was pure accident and

had nothing to do with the mistress' excitement."



"Then there was a quarrel between them?"



"Are people talking about it?"



"I've heard some things said. They even say that this quarrel

was the reason for - her death."



"It's stupid nonsense!" exclaimed the servant. The old peddler

seemed to like the young man's honest indignation.



While they were talking, they had passed through a long corridor

and the young man laid his hand on one of the doors as the peddler

asked, "Can I see Miss Nanette alone?"



"Alone? Oho, she's engaged to me!"



"I know that," said the stranger, who seemed to be initiated into

all the doings of this household. "And I am an old man - all I

meant was that I would rather not have any of the other servants

about."



"I'll keep the cook out of the way if you want me to."



"That would be a good idea. It isn't easy to talk, business before

others," remarked the old man as they entered the room. It was a

comfortably furnished and cozily warm apartment. Only two people

were there, an old woman and a pretty young girl, who both looked

up in astonishment as the men came in.



"Who's this you're bringing in, George?" asked Nanette.



"He's a peddler and he's got some trifles here you might like to

look at."



"Why, yes, you wanted a thimble, didn't you, Lena?" asked Nanette,

and the cook beckoned to the peddler. "Let's see what you've got

there," she said in a friendly tone. The old man pulled out his

wares from his pack; thimbles and scissors, coloured ribbons, silks,

brushes and combs, and many other trifles. When the women had made

their several selections they noticed that the old man was shivering

with the cold, as he leaned against the stove. Their sympathies

were aroused in a moment. "Why don't you sit down?" asked Nanette,

pushing a chair towards him, and Lena rose to get him something

warm from the kitchen.



The peddler threw a look at George, who nodded in answer. "He

said he'd like to see the things they gave you after Mrs. Kniepp's

death," the young man remarked



"Do you buy things like that?" Nanette turned to the peddler.



"I'd just like to look at them first, if you'll let me."



"I'd be glad to get rid of them. But I won't go upstairs, I'm

afraid there."



"Well, I'll get the things for you if you want me to," offered

George and turned to leave the room. The door had scarcely closed

behind him when a change came over the peddler. His old head rose

from its drooping position, his bowed figure started up with

youthful elasticity.



"Are you really fond of him?" he asked of the astonished Nanette,

who stepped back a pace, stammering in answer: "Yes. Why do you

ask? and who are you?"



"Never mind that, my dear child, but just answer the questions I

have to ask, and answer truthfully, or it might occur to me to let

your George know that he is not the first man you have loved."



"What do you know?" she breathed in alarm.



The peddler laughed. "Oho, then he's jealous! All the better for

me - the Councillor was jealous too, wasn't he?" Nanette looked at

him in horror.



"The truth, therefore, you must tell me the truth, and get the

others away, so I can speak to you alone. You must do this - or

else I'll tell George about the handsome carpenter in Church street,

or about Franz Schmid, or - "



"For God's sake, stop - stop - I'll do anything you say."



The girl sank back on her chair pale and trembling, while the

peddler resumed his pose of a tired old man leaning against the

stove. When George returned with a large basket, Nanette had

calmed herself sufficiently to go about the unpacking of the

articles in the hamper.



"George, won't you please keep Lena out in the kitchen. Ask her

to make some tea for us," asked Nanette with well feigned assurance.

George smiled a meaning smile and disappeared.



"I am particularly interested in the dead lady's gloves," said the

peddler when they were alone again.



Nanette looked at him in surprise but was still too frightened to

offer any remarks. She opened several boxes and packages and laid

a number of pairs of gloves on the table. The old man looked

through them, turning them over carefully. Then he shook his head:

"There must be some more somewhere," he said. Nanette was no longer

astonished at anything he might say or do, so she obediently went

through the basket again and found a little box in which were

several pair of grey suede gloves, fastened by bluish mother-of-pearl

buttons. One of the pairs had been worn, and a button was missing.



"These are the ones I was looking for," said the peddler, putting

the gloves in his pocket. Then he continued: "Your mistress was

rather fond of taking long walks by herself, wasn't she?"



The girl's pale face flushed hotly and she stammered: "You know

- about it?"



"You know about it also, I see. And did you know everything?"



"Yes, everything," murmured Nanette.



"Then it was you and Tristan who accompanied the lady on her walks?"



"Yes."



"I supposed she must have taken some one into her confidence. Well,

and what do you think about the murder?"



"The Professor?" replied Nanette hastily. "Why, what should I know

about it?"



"The Councillor was greatly excited and very unhappy when he

discovered this affair, I suppose?"



"He is still."



"And how did he act after the - let us call it the accident?"



"He was like a crazy man."



"They tell me that he went about his duties just the same - that he

went away on business."



"It wasn't business this time, at least not professional business.

But before that he did have to go away frequently for weeks at a

time."



"And it was then that your mistress was most interested in her

lonely walks, eh?"



"Yes." Nanette's voice was so low as to be scarcely heard.



"Well, and this time?" continued the peddler. "Why did he go

away this time?"



"He went to the capital on private business of his own."



"Are you sure of that?"



"Quite sure. He went two different times. I thought it was because

he couldn't stand it here and wanted to see something different.

He went to his club this evening, too."



"And when did he go away?"



"The first time was the day after his wife was buried."



"And the second time?"



Two or three days after his return."



"How long did he stay away the first time?"



"Only one day."



"Good! Pull yourself together now. I'll send your George in to

you and tell him you haven't been feeling well. Don't tell any

one about our conversation. Where is the kitchen?"



"The last door to the right down the hall."



The peddler left the room and Nanette sank down dazed and trembling

on the nearest chair. George found her still pale, but he seemed

to think it quite natural that she should have been overcome by the

recollection of the terrible death of her mistress. He gave the

old man a most cordial invitation to return during the next few days.

The cook brought the peddler a cup of steaming tea, and purchased

several trifles from him, before he left the house.



When the old man had reached a lonely spot on the road, about half

way between the hunting castle and the city, he halted, set down

his pack, divested himself of his beard and his wig and washed the

wrinkles from his face with a handful of snow from the wayside. A

quarter of an hour later, Detective Muller entered the railway

station of the city, burdened with a large grip. He took a seat

in the night express which rolled out from the station a few moments

later.



As he was alone in his compartment, Muller gave way to his

excitement, sometimes even murmuring half-aloud the thoughts that

rushed through his brain. "Yes, I am convinced of it, but can I

find the proofs?" the words came again and again, and in spite of

the comfortable warmth in the compartment, in spite of his tired

and half-frozen condition, he could not sleep.



He reached the capital at midnight and took a room in a small hotel

in a quiet street. When he went out next morning, the servants

looked after him with suspicion, as in their opinion a man who

spent most of the night pacing up and down his room must surely

have a guilty conscience.



Muller went to police headquarters and looked through the arrivals

at the hotels on the 21st of November. The burial of Mrs. Kniepp

had taken place on the 20th. Muller soon found the name he was

looking for, "Forest Councillor Leo Kniepp," in the list of guests

at the Hotel Imperial. The detective went at once to the Hotel

Imperial, where he was already well known. It cost him little time

and trouble to discover what he wished to know, the reason for the

Councillor's visit to the capital.



Kniepp had asked for the address of a goldsmith, and had been

directed to one of the shops which had the best reputation in the

city. He had been in the capital altogether for about twenty-four

hours. He had the manner and appearance of a man suffering under

some terrible blow.



Muller himself was deep in thought as he entered the train to

return to his home, after a visit to the goldsmith in question.

He had a short interview with Chief of Police Bauer, who finally

gave him the golden bullet and the keys to the apartment of the

murdered man. Then the two went out together.



An hour later, the chief of police and Muller stood in the garden

of the house in which the murder had occurred. Bauer had entered

from the Promenade after Muller had shown him how to work the lock

of the little gate. Together they went up into the apartment,

which was icy cold and uncanny in its loneliness. But the two men

did not appear to notice this, so greatly were they interested in

the task that had brought them there. First of all, they made a

most minute examination of the two doors which had been locked. The

keys were still in both locks on the inside. They were big heavy

keys, suitable for the tall massive heavily-paneled and

iron-ornamented doors. The entire villa was built in this heavy

old German style, the favourite fashion of the last few years.



When they had looked the locks over carefully, Muller lit the lamp

that hung over the desk in the study and closed the window shutters

tight. Bauer had smiled at first as he watched his, protege's

actions, but his smile changed to a look of keen interest as he

suddenly understood. Muller took his place in the chair before the

desk and looked over at the door of the vestibule, which was

directly opposite him. "Yes, that's all right," he said with a

deep breath.



Bauer had sat down on the sofa to watch the proceedings, now he

sprang up with an exclamation: "Through the keyhole?"



"Through the keyhole," answered Muller.



"It is scarcely possible."



"Shall we try it?"



"Yes, yes, you do it." Even the usually indifferent old chief of

police was breathing more hastily now. Muller took a roll of paper

and a small pistol out of his pocket. He unrolled the paper, which

represented the figure of a French soldier with a marked target on

the breast. The detective pinned the paper on the back of the chair

in which Professor Fellner had been seated when he met his death.



"But the key was in the hole," objected Bauer suddenly.



"Yes, but it was turned so that the lower part of the hole was free.

Johann saw the light streaming through and could look into the room.

If the murderer put the barrel of his pistol to this open part of

the keyhole, the bullet would have to strike exactly where the dead

man sat. There would be no need to take any particular aim."

Muller gazed into space like a seer before whose mental eye a vision

has arisen, and continued in level tones: "Fellner had refused the

duel and the murderer was crazed by his desire for revenge. He came

here to the house, he must have known just how to enter the place,

how to reach the rooms, and he must have known also, that the

Professor, coward as he was - "



"Coward? Is a man a coward when he refuses to stand up to a maniac?"

interrupted Bauer.



Muller came back to the present with a start and said calmly,

"Fellner was a coward."



"Then you know more than you are telling me now?"



Muller nodded. "Yes, I do," he answered with a smile. "But I will

tell you more only when I have all the proofs in my own hand."



"And the criminal will escape us in the meantime."



"He has no idea that he is suspected."



"But - you'll promise to be sensible this time, Muller?"



"Yes. But you will pardon me my present reticence, even towards

you? I - I don't want to be thought a dreamer again."



"As in the Kniepp case?"



"As in the Kniepp case," repeated the little man with a strange

smile. "So please allow me to go about it in my own way. I will

tell you all you want to know to-morrow."



"To-morrow, then."



"May I now continue to unfold my theories?" Bauer nodded and

Muller continued: "The criminal wanted Fellner's blood, no matter

how."



"Even if it meant murder," said Bauer.



Muller nodded calmly. "It would have been nobler, perhaps, to

have warned his victim of his approach, but it might have all come

to nothing then. The other could have called for help, could have

barricaded himself in his room, one crime might have been prevented,

and another, more shameful one, would have gone unavenged."



"Another crime? Fellner a criminal?"



"To-morrow you shall know everything, my kind friend. And now, let

us make the trial. Please lock the door behind me as it was locked

then."



Muller left the room, taking the pistol with him. Bauer locked the

door. "Is this right?" he asked.



"Yes, I can see a wide curve of the room, taking in the entire desk.

Please stand to one side now."



There was deep silence for a moment, then a slight sound as of metal

on metal, then a report, and Muller re-entered the study through the

bedroom. He found Bauer stooping over the picture of the French

soldier. There was a hole in the left breast, where the bullet,

passing through, had buried itself in the back of the chair.



"Yes, it was all just as you said," began the chief of police,

holding out his hand to Muller. "But - why the golden bullet?"



"To-morrow, to-morrow," replied the detective, looking up at his

superior with a glance of pleading.



They left the house together and in less than an hour's time Muller

was again in the train rolling towards the capital.



He went to the goldsmith's shop as soon as he arrived. The

proprietor received him with eager interest and Muller handed him

the golden bullet. "Here is the golden object of which I spoke,"

said the detective, paying no heed to the other's astonishment.

The goldsmith opened a small locked drawer, took a ring from it and

set about an examination of the two little objects. When he turned

to his visitor again, he was evidently satisfied with what he had

discovered. "These two objects are made of exactly the same sort

of gold, of a peculiar old French composition, which can no longer

be produced in the same richness. The weight of the gold in the

bullet is exactly the same as in the ring."



"Would you be willing to take an oath on that if you were called

in as an expert?"



"I am willing to stand up for my judgment."



"Good. And now will you read this over please, it contains the

substance of what you told me yesterday. Should I have made any

mistakes, please correct them, for I will ask you to set your

signature to it."



Muller handed several sheets of close writing to the goldsmith and

the latter read aloud as follows: "On the 22nd of November, a

gentleman came into my shop and handed me a wedding ring with the

request that I should make another one exactly like it. He was

particularly anxious that the work should be done in two days at

the very latest, and also that the new ring, in form, colour, and

in the engraving on the inside, should be a perfect counterpart of

the first. He explained his order by saying that his wife was ill,

and that she was grieving over the loss of her wedding ring which

had somehow disappeared. The new ring could be found somewhere as

if by chance and the sick woman's anxiety would be over. Two days

later, as arranged, the same gentleman appeared again and I handed

him the two rings.



"He left the shop, greatly satisfied with my work and apparently

much relieved in his mind. But he left me uneasy in spirit because

I had deceived him. It had not been possible for me to reproduce

exactly the composition of the original ring, and as I believed that

the work was to be done in order to comfort an invalid, and I was

getting no profit, but on the contra





The Cambered Foot The Case Of Lady Sannox facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback