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The Crimeometer
by [?]

The alarm wakened me all right, but to my surprise Kennedy had already gone, ahead of it. I dressed hurriedly, bolted an early breakfast, and made my way to Trimble’s. He was not there, and I had about concluded to try the laboratory, when I saw him pulling up in a cab from which he took several packages. Donnelly had joined us by this time, and together we rode up in the elevator to the jewelry department. I had never seen a department-store when it was empty, but I think I should like to shop in one under those conditions. It seemed incredible to get into the elevator and go directly to the floor you wanted.

The jewelry department was in the front of the building on one of the upper floors, with wide windows through which the bright morning light streamed attractively on the glittering wares that the clerks were taking out of the safes and disposing to their best advantage. The store had not opened yet, and we could work unhampered.

From his packages, Kennedy took three black boxes. They seemed to have an opening in front, while at one side was a little crank, which, as nearly as I could make out, was operated by clockwork released by an electric contact. His first problem seemed to be to dispose the boxes to the best advantage at various angles about the counter where the Kimberley Queen was on exhibition. With so much bric-a-brac and other large articles about, it did not appear to be very difficult to conceal the boxes, which were perhaps four inches square on the ends and eight inches deep. From the boxes with the clockwork attachment at the side he led wires, centring at a point at the interior end of the aisle where we could see but would hardly be observed by any one standing at the jewelry counter.

Customers had now begun to arrive, and we took a position in the background, prepared for a long wait. Now and then Donnelly casually sauntered past us. He and Craig had disposed the store detectives in a certain way so as to make their presence less obvious, while the clerks had received instructions how to act under the circumstance that a suspicious person was observed.

Once when Donnelly came up he was quite excited. He had just received a message from Bentley that some of the stolen property, the pearls, probably, from the dog collar that had been taken from Shorham’s, had been offered for sale by a “fence” known to the police as a former confederate of Annie Grayson.

“You see, that is one great trouble with them all,” he remarked, with his eye roving about the store in search of anything irregular. “A shoplifter rarely becomes a habitual criminal until after she passes the age of twenty-five. If they pass that age without quitting, there is little hope of their getting right again, as you see. For by that time they have long since begun to consort with thieves of the other sex.”

The hours dragged heavily, though it was a splendid chance to observe at leisure the psychology of the shopper who looked at much and bought little, the uncomfortableness of the men who had been dragged to the department store slaughter to say “Yes” and foot the bills, a kaleidoscopic throng which might have been interesting if we had not been so intent on only one matter.

Kennedy grasped my elbow in vise-like fingers. Involuntarily I looked down at the counter where the Kimberley Queen reposed in all the trappings of genuineness. Mrs. Willoughby had arrived again.

We were too far off to observe distinctly just what was taking place, but evidently Mrs. Willoughby was looking at the gem. A moment later another woman sauntered casually up to the counter. Even at a distance I recognised Annie Grayson. As nearly as I could make out they seemed to exchange remarks. The clerk answered a question or two, then began to search for something apparently to show them. Every one about them was busy, and, obedient to instructions from Donnelly, the store detectives were in the background.