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The Bomb Maker
by [?]

We stared at each other in blank awe, at the various parts, so innocent looking in the heaps on the table, now safely separated, but together a combination ticket to perdition.

“Who do you suppose could have sent it?” I blurted out when I found my voice, then, suddenly recollecting the political and legal fight that Carton was engaged in at the time, I added, “The white slavers?”

“Not a doubt,” he returned laconically. “And,” he exclaimed, bringing down both hands vigorously in characteristic emphasis on the arms of his office chair, “I’ve got to win this fight against the vice trust, as I call it, or the whole work of the district attorney’s office in clearing up the city will be discredited–to say nothing of the risk the present incumbent runs at having such grateful friends about the city send marks of their affection and esteem like this.”

I knew something already of the situation, and Carton continued thoughtfully: “All the powers of vice are fighting a last-ditch battle against me now. I think I am on the trail of the man or men higher up in this commercialised-vice business–and it is a business, big business, too. You know, I suppose, that they seem to have a string of hotels in the city, of the worst character. There is nothing that they will stop at to protect themselves. Why, they are using gangs of thugs to terrorise any one who informs on them. The gunmen, of course, hate a snitch worse than poison. There have been bomb outrages, too–nearly a bomb a day lately–against some of those who look shaky and seem to be likely to do business with my office. But I’m getting closer all the time.”

“How do you mean?” asked Kennedy.

“Well, one of the best witnesses, if I can break him down by pressure and promises, ought to be a man named Haddon, who is running a place in the Fifties, known as the Mayfair. Haddon knows all these people. I can get him in half an hour if you think it worth while–not here, but somewhere uptown, say at the Prince Henry.”

Kennedy nodded. We had heard of Haddon before, a notorious character in the white-light district. A moment later Carton had telephoned to the Mayfair and had found Haddon.

“How did you get him so that he is even considering turning state’s evidence?” asked Craig.

“Well,” answered Carton slowly, “I suppose it was partly through a cabaret singer and dancer, Loraine Keith, at the Mayfair. You know you never get the truth about things in the underworld except in pieces. As much as any one, I think we have been able to use her to weave a web about him. Besides, she seems to think that Haddon has treated her shamefully. According to her story, he seems to have been lavishing everything on her, but lately, for some reason, has deserted her. Still, even in her jealousy she does not accuse any other woman of winning him away.”

“Perhaps it is the opposite–another man winning her,” suggested Craig dryly.

“It’s a peculiar situation,” shrugged Carton. “There is another man. As nearly as I can make out there is a fellow named Brodie who does a dance with her. But he seems to annoy her, yet at the same time exercises a sort of fascination over her.”

“Then she is dancing at the Mayfair yet?” hastily asked Craig.

“Yes. I told her to stay, not to excite suspicion.”

“And Haddon knows?”

“Oh, no. But she has told us enough about him already so that we can worry him, apparently, just as what he can tell us would worry the others interested in the hotels. To tell the truth, I think she is a drug fiend. Why, my men tell me that they have seen her take just a sniff of something and change instantly–become a willing tool.”

“That’s the way it happens,” commented Kennedy.