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by [?]

Empty with the exception of Tictocq, the great French detective, who springs from behind a mass of tropical plants to his side.

The professor rises in alarm.

“Hush,” says Tictocq: “Make no noise at all. You have already made enough.”

Footsteps are heard outside.

“Be quick,” says Tictocq: “give me those socks. There is not a moment to spare.”

“Vas sagst du?”

“Ah, he confesses,” says Tictocq. “No socks will do but those you carried off from the Populist Candidate’s room.”

The company is returning, no longer hearing the music.

Tictooq hesitates not. He seizes the professor, throws him upon the floor, tears off his shoes and socks, and escapes with the latter through the open window into the garden.


Tictocq’s room in the Avenue Hotel.

A knock is heard at the door.

Tictocq opens it and looks at his watch.

“Ah,” he says, “it is just six. Entrez, Messieurs.”

The messieurs entrez. There are seven of them; the Populist Candidate who is there by invitation, not knowing for what purpose; the chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, platform No. 2, the hotel proprietor, and three or four Democrats and Populists, as near as could be found out.

“I don’t know,” begins the Populist Candidate, “what in the h—-“

“Excuse me,” says Tictocq, firmly. “You will oblige me by keeping silent until I make my report. I have been employed in this case, and I have unravelled it. For the honor of France I request that I be heard with attention.”

“Certainly,” says the chairman; “we will be pleased to listen.”

Tictocq stands in the centre of the room. The electric light burns brightly above him. He seems the incarnation of alertness, vigor, cleverness, and cunning.

The company seat themselves in chairs along the wall.

“When informed of the robbery,” begins Tictocq, “I first questioned the bell boy. He knew nothing. I went to the police headquarters. They knew nothing. I invited one of them to the bar to drink. He said there used to be a little colored boy in the Tenth Ward who stole things and kept them for recovery by the police, but failed to be at the place agreed upon for arrest one time, and had been sent to jail.

“I then began to think. I reasoned. No man, said I, would carry a Populist’s socks in his pocket without wrapping them up. He would not want to do so in the hotel. He would want a paper. Where would he get one? At the Statesman office, of course. I went there. A young man with his hair combed down on his forehead sat behind the desk. I knew he was writing society items, for a young lady’s slipper, a piece of cake, a fan, a half emptied bottle of cocktail, a bunch of roses, and a police whistle lay on the desk before him.

“Can you tell me if a man purchased a paper here in the last three months?” I said.

“Yes,” he replied; “we sold one last night.”

“Can you describe the man?”

“Accurately. He had blue whiskers, a wart between his shoulder blades, a touch of colic, and an occupation tax on his breath.”

“Which way did he go?”


“I then went—-“

“Wait a minute,” said the Populist Candidate, rising; “I don’t see why in the h—-“

“Once more I must beg that you will be silent,” said Tictocq, rather sharply. “You should not interrupt me in the midst of my report.”

“I made one false arrest,” continued Tictocq. “I was passing two finely dressed gentlemen on the street, when one of them remarked that he had ‘stole his socks.’ I handcuffed him and dragged him to a lighted store, when his companion explained to me that he was somewhat intoxicated and his tongue was not entirely manageable. He had been speaking of some business transaction, and what he intended to say was that he had ‘sold his stocks.’

“I then released him.

“An hour afterward I passed a saloon, and saw this Professor von Bum drinking beer at a table. I knew him in Paris. I said ‘here is my man.’ He worshipped Wagner, lived on limburger cheese, beer, and credit, and would have stolen anybody’s socks. I shadowed him to the reception at Colonel St. Vitus’s, and in an opportune moment I seized him and tore the socks from his feet. There they are.”

With a dramatic gesture, Tictocq threw a pair of dingy socks upon the table, folded his arms, and threw back his head.

With a loud cry of rage, the Populist Candidate sprang once more to his feet.

“Gol darn it! I WILL say what I want to. I—-“

The two other Populists in the room gazed at him coldly and sternly.

“Is this tale true?” they demanded of the Candidate.

“No, by gosh, it ain’t!” he replied, pointing a trembling finger at the Democratic Chairman. “There stands the man who has concocted the whole scheme. It is an infernal, unfair political trick to lose votes for our party. How far has thing gone?” he added, turning savagely to the detective.

“All the newspapers have my written report on the matter, and the Statesman will have it in plate matter next week,” said Tictocq, complacently.

“All is lost!” said the Populists, turning toward the door.

“For God’s sake, my friends,” pleaded the Candidate, following them; “listen to me; I swear before high heaven that I never wore a pair of socks in my life. It is all a devilish campaign lie.”

The Populists turn their backs.

“The damage is already done,” they said. “The people have heard the story. You have yet time to withdraw decently before the race.”

All left the room except Tictocq and the Democrats.

“Let’s all go down and open a bottle of fizz on the Finance Committee,” said the Chairman of the Executive Committee, Platform No. 2.