It was not until Herrick was well on his way back to the centre
of the Town, that he remembered his omission to ask Robin about the
typewritten letter. But after all, it did not matter. He knew
perfectly well that Joyce had typed it at his father’s dictation, and
the denial or admission of the little man would make no difference.
Things had got past that point.

“I must see Belcher and Kidd,” said Herrick to himself, “and learn
exactly how Santiago managed the business. Then I’ll give Frith a look
in. I must find some way of speaking to Frisco. Now that he is driven
into a corner, he may tell the truth–that is, if it is not likely to
hang him.”

When he arrived at the Strand office of the private inquiry firm, he
was received by Kidd. Belcher, it appeared, had gone out for the day
on business. Kidd was a heavy man with a red face, and a pair of
leering grey eyes. Dr. Jim could put up with the ferret but Kidd he
detested. However, as Kidd was the only representative of the firm
present, he tackled him, and with no light hand, for Jim was in a
royal rage at the way he had been tricked by this cunning pair of

“What is this I hear about the arrest of the man Frisco?” he asked.

“Just this doctor,” replied Kidd in his heavy voice but civilly enough
“Don Manuel Santiago gave Belcher the tip how Frisco could be trapped,
and as me and him wanted to earn the reward, we fixed the matter up.”

“Against my wish,” retorted Dr. Jim, “did I not say, that you were not
to meddle in the matter?”

“And why shouldn’t we get the reward if we could sir?”

“I had my own reasons that Frisco should be left at large. You have
spoilt a plan of mine, and likely as not have caught the wrong man.”

“As to that sir,” said Kidd doggedly, “I don’t know. But right or
wrong we’ve caught the man and claim the reward.”

“It is offered by Mr. Stephen Marsh-Carr,” said Herrick coolly, “and
the matter is in my hands. It is just as likely as not that I may stop
Mr. Marsh-Carr from paying you one penny. You had better have done my
business properly Kidd.”

“We did do it properly,” said Kidd in a surly tone.

“I don’t think so. It was my wish that the Mexican should be watched.
You have let him leave the country.”

“I didn’t,” protested Kidd, who would have been insolent but that he
was afraid of losing the reward, “that was Belcher’s game.”

“Belcher’s price for receiving instructions how to trap Frisco,”
scoffed Herrick. “Do you think I don’t know that Santiago taught the
cipher to your damned partner.”

“You might be civil Dr. Herrick.”

“I shall be what I please. You were engaged by me to do certain
business, and you have done it badly. Had I wanted Frisco caught I
should have told you. Now just you let me know, how it all came

“What about the reward sir?”

“I’ll see to that. You fools–to go against me like this. I can do
your business considerable damage by telling the way you have tricked

“Oh, sir! you won’t do that,” growled Kidd now thoroughly frightened.

“It all depends upon how you conduct yourself. The harm is done, but I
must know how Santiago managed the business.”

“It was this way sir,” replied the cowed Kidd. “Belcher watched the
foreign cove sir, and kept out of sight. But the Don knew him from
going to the gambling club.”

“Ah! that’s another matter I can spoil for you Kidd. I know too much
of your shady business for you to play the fool with me. Go on man.”

It took Kidd all he knew, to keep his temper under this speech. But he
knew that Dr. Herrick would do what he had threatened if he was not
implicitly obeyed. Had Jim been a smaller man, Kidd might have tried
conclusion with his fists; but he knew Herrick too well,
to attempt such folly. Once upon a time Kidd had seen the doctor
thrash a larger and much heavier man. From that day, he resolved never
to have a fight with a man so versed in the noble art as this
high-tempered gentleman.

“Well sir,” he continued in a sulky growl, “it was this way. Santiago
spotted Belcher, and asked him what he was up to. Belcher would not
tell, but in the end, the Don got the truth out of him. Then he said
that if Belcher and me could catch Frisco we could get a bigger sum of
money, than by watching him. Belcher was always anxious to know what
was at the back of all this. When he heard it was the Carr murder
case, he saw it was a big thing for him and me. So he said he would
let the Don go, if he helped him to catch Frisco. Then the Don showed
us the cipher–he wrote it out himself, and put it in the newspaper.
Frisco came to the place, and me and Belcher had a detective and a
warrant. We caught him easy. He is now in quod sir.”

“And Santiago is on the high seas on his way to Mexico. You are a
precious pair of scoundrels Kidd. Why did you tell Mr. Joyce that I
had managed all this business?”

“It was the Don as asked us to do that sir.”

“To make trouble I suppose,” said Herrick rising, “you send Belcher to
see me at the Guelph hotel this evening. I have something to say to

“Take care sir. The ferret ain’t an easy man to tackle.”

Herrick paused at the door and looked the big man up and down.
“Confound your insolence,” he said, “do you think you or that rat can
stand up against me. I can ruin you both if I choose, and stop your
getting that reward. As for Belcher, if he is impudent I’ll wring his

“I am sorry we did it sir.”

“You may well be,” was Herrick’s grim reply.

“But I ain’t going to be bullied by anyone,” said Kidd with sudden

“That is quite enough my man,” replied Dr. Jim opening the door and
speaking quietly, “if you try that game, you’ll get the worst of it.”

Kidd looked dangerous for a moment, but after a glance into the eyes
of his proposed antagonist he cooled down considerably. He knew
perfectly well, that Herrick could smash him. Moreover the calm
courage of Herrick quelled his brute passion. Dr. Jim waited for a
time, then departed leaving Kidd growling and cursing in impotent

“A dangerous ruffian,” thought Herrick as he went into the Strand,
“but I think he and Belcher know me too well to play the fool.”

For the moment he intended to go back to the Guelph Hotel and see
Stephen; but on reflection drove to the solicitors. It was necessary
that he should interview Frisco, and Frith would be the man most
likely to obtain for him the permission to do so. The lawyer was in,
and expressed his pleasure at the capture of Colonel Carr’s assassin.

“As to that, I am not certain,” said Herrick lightly, “I want to hear
what he has to say Frith, and you must get me permission to see the

“Don’t you think he killed Carr?” asked Frith.

“On the face of it, I do,” replied Herrick, “all the same there have
been so many surprises in this case that I am prepared for more.
Besides, I am rather mad over the business,” and he told Frith how he
had been tricked by Belcher and his partner.

“Couple of scoundrels,” said Frith nodding, “it’s not the first dirty
trick they have played. Don’t you engage them again Dr. Herrick. I’ll
find men who are more to be trusted.”

“I hope to heaven that I won’t have occasion to employ any more
private detectives. I tell you what Frith, ever since I have engaged
in this affair I feel as though I had been bathing in dirty water. But
that I promised Mrs. Marsh to protect her son, I should not have done

“You seem to have gone pretty exhaustively into the business,” said
Frith after he had heard the whole story, “for an amateur you have
managed remarkably well.”

Herrick laughed, “I have made mistakes I admit. But then, as you say,
I am only an amateur and not the detective of fiction. He never makes
mistakes. I wish he had had this case to deal with. However the thing
is nearly at an end, thank goodness.”

“It will end with the hanging of Frisco.”

“Who knows. He may have some other story to tell.”

“You may be sure he will swear that he is innocent,” said Frith. “Very
likely,” responded Herrick, “and the queer thing is Frith that he may
really be innocent.”

“It looks to me, from what you have told me, as though he were

“Oh, as to that, I’ve thought several people guilty and have always
found out that I am wrong, when they came to explain. However, I want
to see this man and hear what he has to say. Can you manage it?”

“I’ll see what I can do. You are at the Guelph Hotel ain’t you? Very
good. I’ll see to it. I might come along and call on Marsh-Carr.”

“I should, if I were you,” replied Dr. Jim with a laugh, “always be
attentive to your clients Frith.”

Leaving the solicitor to arrange matters, Herrick went back to the
Hotel and dinner with Stephen. He told him all that he had done, and
the Squire was much interested. “I hope it is coming to an end
though,” he said. “I have had about enough of this sort of thing.”

“Think of me,” said Jim with a shrug.

“Oh, you have behaved like a brick Jim. I do not know how to thank

“Bosh my dear chap. There is no question of thanks between you and
myself. I promised your mother to see you through, and I intend to
keep my word.”

“And you won’t let me make things right for you,” grumbled Stephen.

“Wait till everything is squared up, then we will see. I may ask you
to be my banker after all. Well Steve, Santiago has gone away, so you
are relieved of at least one of your enemies. Joyce can do nothing
without his father, and that gentleman is in gaol.”

“Will you want me to go with you to-morrow?”

“No, prefer to see him alone. I’ll get more out of him in that way. I
wonder what I’ll hear this time. However let us think no more of the
matter just now. We might take a turn down to see the Earl’s Court
Exhibition. There’s always something going on there. It’s not exactly
like a theatre Steve or I should not ask you to go. But you must be
cheered up somehow. We can’t stay in this dismal hotel all the evening
talking about a criminal.”

Stephen assented, as he always did to whatever Herrick proposed. They
went to the exhibition and spent a pleasant evening. When they
returned Dr. Jim retired straightway to bed, “I shall have a lot of
talking to do to-morrow so I must get as much rest as I possibly can,”
said he.

In some mysterious way, Frith obtained the required permission, and
Herrick found himself introduced into a small cell, where Frisco sat
on his bed in a gloomy frame of mind. After exchanging a few words
with the warder, Frith got the man to go away leaving Herrick and
Frisco alone.

“So you are Dr. Herrick,” remarked Frisco calmly, “I am glad to meet

He spoke in a rather refined voice, and did not at all look like the
truculent ruffian Herrick had expected to meet. He was no longer fat,
but had quite a shapely figure. Also his face had lost the redness of
incessant drinking. Misfortune had sobered and improved the man. He
was plainly dressed in a suit of black serge, which as he afterwards
informed Herrick had been supplied by his son. But even if he had
been still more changed Dr. Jim would have recognised him from the
cries-cross scar on his forehead. Frisco saw him looking at it, and

“The Colonel’s handiwork,” said he quietly. “He marked me with a bowie
in Los Angelos one drunken evening. But I gave him as good as he gave
me Dr. Herrick. He lost a finger.” And Frisco fell to whistling at the
pleasing recollection. There was no doubt about the man being a
scoundrel. Herrick felt his way carefully.

“How did you know me?” he asked abruptly.

Frisco smiled, “I heard the man who came with you, call you by your
name. As for the rest, of course Robin has told me all about you. You
are a clever man Dr. Herrick, and I think a kind one. If you had not
been, you would not have burdened yourself with that miserable rat I
have the misfortune to call my son. All the same,” added Frisco with a
scowl. “You trapped me in rather a shabby way.”

“Ah! That is one reason why I came to see you,” said Herrick coolly,
“I did not trap you at all. No one was more surprised than I at the
news of your arrest. It was Santiago who put that cipher in the paper
and told the police about you. And Santiago is beyond your reach on
the high seas. So you see that I am not so mean, as you thought me.”

“That’s it,” said Frisco, “you always fought fair and I could not
understand your playing low down like this. So it was the greaser was
it? By Heaven! when I catch him–” Frisco doubled his arm. “It’s time
he was out of the world,” said Frisco, “a beating’s too easy. I’ll go
west for him.”

“How do you mean you’ll go west?” asked Herrick thinking of the man’s
position which was–apparently–considerably within the shadow of the

Frisco looked at him with a careless laugh. He understood, “Oh, I’ve
been in worse holes than this,” he said, “why once in California the
rope was round my neck for horse-stealing. Carr got me out of that

“You were a great friend of Carr’s?”

“Why,” said the man slowly, “he was my cousin you know, and we had the
same blood in us–the bad Carr blood. How I ever came to have such a
brat of a Methodist parson for a son I can’t make out. Got it from his
mother I suppose, she was always a whimpering devil.

“I didn’t come here to discuss your son and wife Joyce—-”

“Frisco’s my name for the time being,” said the man coolly, “when I
get across the pond again I’ll take to a more Christian one.”

“Humph! You won’t have an easy time getting out of this scrape.”

“Well no, you’re about right there Herrick. You don’t mind me dropping
the Mister I hope. I feel friendly to you. You’re about the only man
of the whole lot. Stephen isn’t a bad chap; but if he hadn’t had you
beside him, I’d have got that money. Well I’m to be tried for my life.
What are you going to do Herrick?”

“Something quixotic,” replied the doctor, “Robin has no money, neither
have you, so I am going to supply you with a solicitor and see you
through. If you are guilty I wish to see you hanged, if innocent free.
All the same,” said Herrick frankly, “I tell you candidly Frisco, that
I don’t think it fair to hang you for the killing of a brute like

Frisco stared at Dr. Jim in a hard unwinking manner, but he was
visibly moved. “You’re a white man Doc,” said he, “and I’m a bad lot.
All the same if you don’t mind–” he held out his hand.

“I’ll take that only on one condition,” said Herrick, “that you tell
me you are innocent of murder.”

Frisco drew back his hand, and recovered his hard manner. “You bet I’m
not,” he said, “that is where Carr had the pull over me. There are two
Towns in South America I daren’t go near–” he burst out laughing. “So
you won’t shake hands,” said he “well I don’t blame you. I am a bad
lot–but Carr was a damned sight worse sonny. You can take that from

“We are wasting time I think,” said Herrick coldly, “I want to help
you if I can. You shall have a lawyer, to defend you. But I want to
ask you as man to man:–Did you shoot Carr?”

Frisco thought for a moment stroking his chin. “Well there’s not many
men I’d tell my mind to but you are one. I did not kill Carr.”

“Then who did?”

“I’ll tell you in a few minutes. But you let me reel out my yarn

“I know most of it from Robin and Santiago.”

“You don’t know all,” replied Frisco quietly “I’ve been with Carr
these twenty years and more. He was a devil and treated me like a dog.
I helped him to get that treasure and he cheated me of my share of

“I shouldn’t think you were the man to be cheated.”

“Not in an ordinary way, you bet. But the Colonel had the bulge on me
I guess. He could have handed me over to the authorities in San
Francisco for a murder. Oh! don’t look scared Herrick. I’m not going
to own up to all my crimes. I have committed heaps though.”

“Oh, damn your beastly talk,” said Herrick angrily, for the
shamelessness of the man made him sick, “just tell me about that

“All in good time sonny,” said the unmoved Frisco, “I stayed with the
Colonel and let him keep my money because I did not want my wife to
know I was alive. She was a good woman and I treated her like a brute.
That was one reason. The second was because of my own skin. I did not
want to be hanged, and Carr could have hanged me any day. The third
reason,” and here Frisco looked curiously at Herrick, “you’ll hardly
believe the third reason. But it was a kind of tenderness for Carr.
Somehow, devil as he was, I liked him. Never met a man I cottoned to
more. He saved my life, I saved his, we fought with knives and with
fists, and played the devil with one another all round. Yet somehow we
stuck together, and never went back on one another. Rum thing wasn’t
it Herrick.”

“Honour amongst thieves,” said Dr. Jim with a shrug. “You bet that’s
it,” retorted Frisco. “So you can see Herrick that I was not the sort
of man to put Carr out of the way. I got drunk, so did he but we held
together in that blamed house always waiting for death.”

“Ah! The Indians, I suppose.”

“Santiago told you that I guess,” said the man. “Yes, there was some
half Spanish half Indian greasers in Lima that would have followed us
to the end of the world had they spotted our whereabouts. Santiago was
one, but he wished for the money on his own hook and didn’t split.
Well Carr is dead so he is safe enough, but if I’m not hanged I guess
Santiago will let out on me. Then I’ll have a time getting away.”

“Was it on account of this fear that Carr built the tower.”

Frisco nodded. “You’ve hit it. Queer chap Carr, a mixture of bravado
and fear. He threw down all the fences and walls and left the doors of
the house open every night just to show he was not afraid. All the
same he never slept but in that tower. I didn’t. If any of the
greasers had come, they’d have knifed me easy enough. Well Carr went
under before his time but by the hand he least expected.”

“Who was it?” asked Herrick impatiently.

“Well,” drawled the ruffian “it wasn’t Mrs. Marsh. We had a talk–”

“I know all about that. I also saw the letter you wrote her.”

“Oh, you did. She kept that as an ace. Robin typed it on his blamed
machine for me. I wanted to get the money quietly, but the old lady
went under in time and spoilt my game there.”

“She killed herself,” said Herrick curtly.

“Did she now,” said Frisco in admiration, “she was a screamer of a
woman–not like my wife. Killed herself. Lord,” he chuckled.

“Go on with your story.”

“It is a story isn’t it. Well I guess it was this way. I let Carr keep
the money, when he was alive on the understanding that it was all left
to me. He made a will in my favour, and then, the devil made a later
one giving the money to Stephen with a reversion to me if his bones
weren’t looked after.”

“I know,” said Herrick coolly, “and you tried to have Stephen

“Right you are; and the blamed Santiago bungled the affair. If I had
been on the spot–well that’s all done with. About the will. Mrs.
Marsh came and kicked up a row about the will in favour of her son
saying the Colonel was going to alter it. She picked up something of
that from me when I had a cargo aboard. But I never knew till after
she came, how Carr was tricking me. When she went–and she did curse
him–I had a row with Carr. He told me the kind of will he’d made. We
had almost a stand up fight. He brought in the murder business about
me as usual, and I knuckled under as usual. Then I went off to drink
rum at the Carr Arms.”

“Yes, and to threaten the Colonel.”

“Oh! that wasn’t on my own account. All I meant was that if I gave the
tip to the Lima greasers, Carr would be knifed. That fool Napper
thought I meant to do the job myself. Well sir I came back and lay
down to sleep off the rum. Carr got his own dinner, and then dressed
himself up as he always did. Blamed foolishness I always called it.
Cooking your dinner and then wearing a starched shirt to eat it. Pah!”
Frisco spat.

“He wanted to keep his self-respect I suppose.”

“He had no occasion for an article of that sort Herrick. Self-respect
and Carr!–well I should smile. However, I was asleep. When I was
pulling round sober, and thinking of getting up to eat, I heard a
shot. Oh! I am too used to the sound of shooting not to know it when I
hear it. I wondered if Carr was in the shooting gallery. After a
time–twenty minutes maybe I got up and went into the gallery. No one
there. I went up to the tower after visiting the dining-room. I found
the Colonel dead. I was in a fright I can tell you. In a flash I saw
that my neck was in the rope. I had threatened the Colonel and they’d
think I’d killed him. Also I was wanted in Frisco and South America
and half a hundred places. My name would come out may-be (but I am not
afraid of that now Herrick) and I would be turned off as sure as a
gun. I went downstairs and drank some wine. In the house–and coming
down from a room under the one in which Carr lay shot–I saw someone.
As he came down the tower steps, it is my opinion he shot the Colonel.
If it wasn’t him I don’t know who could have done it.”

“And who was it you say?”

“Why! don’t jump Herrick. It was Sidney Endicotte.”

Herrick stared. “That lad never killed the Colonel,” he said.

“Then who did?” asked Frisco impatiently, “that boy just hated Carr. I
never could make out why, and he was half-witted besides. Then there
was the pistol I read about in the papers. It is just the kind of
weapon a boy of that sort might pick up cheap in a shop of sorts. A
man like me would have used a Derringer. No, I’m sure that boy shot
him. He came right upon me, as cool as you like and says, ‘He’s quite

“Did he say that?”

I swear he did, “He’s quite dead,” says Sidney, “then before I
could get my breath he went out into the night, and I lost him.

“Why did you not follow?”

“I had to think of my own safety. It was no use my accusing a boy and
a half idiot you see. No one would believe he’d killed Carr when I was
in the house–and with my blamed past. I just went to the back to make
up a bundle and clear out. While I was packing I heard three shots,
and jumped for the door. Lord I was in a fright.”

“It was Mrs. Marsh.”

“Yes. She came down looking like a tigress, and said I’d killed Carr.
I was at the door with my bundle. I denied it, and said I’d make it
hot for her. She said I’d better look after myself and cleared. I
didn’t wait you may be sure, for in spite of her firing the shots I
didn’t know but what she’d rouse the village. So I went straight
across the moor and caught the train at Southberry. Here I’ve been
hidden in London ever since. I had money. When that ran out I dropped
across that cipher in the paper, and met my fool of a son. Then–well
you know the rest.”

“It’s a strange story,” said Herrick much distressed. It did not seem
at all unlikely, but that Sidney had killed the Colonel.

“It’s a true one. Well, what are you going to do.”

“I shall see this boy, and find out if what you say is true.”

“Oh! I expect he’s such an idiot that he’ll think he’s done something
fine and own up. But that my neck is in danger, I would not split on
Sidney. But they’ll only shut him up in an asylum. They would hang me,
so of two evils I choose the least. Are you off Herrick?”

“Yes, I’ll see if this is true, and get you a lawyer.”

“Thanks old man. You’re a good sort. So-long,” and Frisco quite calm
waved his hand as Dr. Jim left the cell. He did not seem to be in the
least afraid, and evidently thought his release was a foregone
conclusion. A dangerous cool-headed ruffian was Frisco.