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|The Voice of the City||O Henry|
The Clarion Call
|Page 1 of 5||
Half of this story can be found in the records of the Police Department; the other half belong behind the business counter of a newspaper office.
One afternoon two weeks after Millionaire Nor-cross was found in his apartment murdered by a burglar, the murderer, while strolling serenely down Broadway ran plump against Detective Barney Woods.
"Is that you, Johnny Kernan?" asked Woods, who had been near-sighted in public for five years.
"No less," cried Kernan, heartily. "If it isn't Barney Woods, late and early of old Saint Jo! You'll have to show me! What are you doing East? Do the green-goods circulars get out that far?" said Woods.
"I've been in New York some years, I'm on the city detective force."
"Well, well!" said Kernan, breathing smiling joy and patting the detective's arm.
"Come into Muller's," said Woods, "and let's hunt a quiet table. I'd like to talk to you awhile."
It lacked a few minutes to the hour of four. The tides of trade were not yet loosed, and they found a quiet corner of the cafe. Kernan, well dressed Slightly swaggering, self-confident, seated himself opposite the little detective, with his pale, sandy mustache, squinting eyes and ready-made cheviot suit.
"What business are you in now?" asked Woods. "You know you left Saint Jo a year before I did."
"I'm selling shares in a copper mine," said Ker-nan. "I may establish an office here. Well, well! and so old Barney is a New York detective. You always had a turn that way. You were on the police in Saint Jo after I left there, weren't you?"
"Six months," said Woods. "And now there's one more question, Johnny. I've followed your record pretty close ever since you did that hotel job in Saratoga, and I never knew you to use your gun before. Why did you kill Norcross?"
Kernan stared for a few moments with concentrated attention at the slice of lemon in his high-ball; and then be looked at the detective with a sudden, crooked, brilliant smile.
"How did you guess it, Barney? " he asked, admiringly. "I swear I thought the job was as clean and as smooth as a peeled onion. Did I leave a string hanging out anywhere? "
Woods laid upon the table a small gold pencil intended for a watch-charm.
"It's the one I gave you the last Christmas we were in Saint Jo. I've got your shaving mug yet. I found this under a corner of the rug in Norcross's room. I warn you to be careful what you say. I've got it put on to you, Johnny. We were old friends once, but I must do my duty. You'll have to go to the chair for Norcross." Kernan laughed.
"My luck stays with me," said be. "Who'd have thought old Barney was on my trail!" He slipped one hand inside his coat. In an instant Woods had a revolver against his side.
"Put it away," said Kernan, wrinkling his nose. "I'm only investigating. Aha! It takes nine tailors to make a man, but one can do a man up. There's a hole in that vest pocket. I took that pencil off my chain and slipped it in there in case of a scrap. Put up your gun, Barney, and I'll tell you why I had to shoot Norcross. The old fool started down the hall after me, popping at the buttons on the back of my coat with a peevish little .22 and I had to stop him. The old lady was a darling. She just lay in bed and saw her $12,000 diamond necklace go without a chirp, while she begged like a panhandler to have back a little thin gold ring with a garnet worth about $3. 1 guess she married old Norcross for his money, all right. Don't they hang on to the little trinkets from the Man Who Lost Out, though? There were six rings, two brooches and a chatelaine watch. Fifteen thousand would cover the lot."
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