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The Anonymous Wiggle
by [?]

Any one reading a history of the detective work of Philo Gubb, the paper-hanger detective, might imagine that crime stalked abroad endlessly in Riverbank and that criminals crowded the streets, but this would be mere imagination. For weeks before he took on the case of the Anonymous Wiggle, he had been obliged to revert to his side-line of paper-hanging and decorating.

Four hundred of the dollars he had earned by solving the mystery of the missing Mustard and Waffles he had paid to Mr. Medderbrook, together with five dollars for a telegram Mr. Medderbrook had received from Syrilla. This telegram was a great satisfaction to Mr. Gubb. It brought the day when she might be his nearer, and showed that the fair creature was fighting nobly to reduce. It had read:–

None but the brave deserve the thin. Have given up all liquids. Have given up water, milk, coca-cola, beer, chocolate, champagne, buttermilk, cider, soda-water, root beer, tea, koumyss, coffee, ginger ale, bevo, Bronx cocktails, grape juice, and absinthe frappe. Weigh eight hundred ninety-five net. Love to Gubby from little Syrilla.

Crime is not rampant in Riverbank. P. Gubb therefore welcomed gladly Miss Petunia Scroggs when she came to his office in the Opera House Block and said: “Mr. Gubb? Mr. Philo Gubb, the detective? Well, my name is Miss Petunia Scroggs, and I want to talk to you about detecting something for me.”

“I’m pleased to,” said Mr. Gubb, placing a chair for the lady. “Anything in the deteckative line which I can do for you will be so done gladly and in good shape. At the present moment of time, I’m engaged upon a job of kitchen paper for Mrs. Horton up on Eleventh Street, but the same will not occupy long, as she wants it hung over what is already on the wall, to minimize the cost of the expense.”

“Different people, different ways,” said Miss Scroggs, smiling sweetly. “Scrape it off and be clean, is my idea.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Philo Gubb.

“Well, I didn’t come here to talk about Mrs. Horton’s notion of how a kitchen ought to be papered,” said Miss Scroggs. “How do you detect, by the day or by the job?”

“My terms in such matters is various and sundry, to suit the taste,” said Mr. Gubb.

“Then I’ll hire you by the job,” said Miss Scroggs, “if your rates ain’t too high. Now, first off, I ain’t ever been married; I’m a maiden lady.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Philo Gubb, jotting this down on a sheet of paper.

“Not but what I could have been a wedded wife many’s the time,” said Miss Scroggs hastily, “but I says to myself, ‘Peace of mind, Petunia, peace of mind!'”

“Yes’m,” said Philo Gubb. “I’m a unmarried bachelor man myself.”

“Well, I’m surprised to hear you say it in a boasting tone,” said Miss Petunia gently. “You ought to be ashamed of it.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Philo Gubb, “but you was conversationally speaking of some deteckative work–“

“And I’m leading right up to it all the time,” said Miss Scroggs. “Peace of mind is why I have remained single up to now, and peace of mind I have had, but I won’t have it much longer if this Anonymous Wiggle keeps on writing me letters.”

“Somebody named with that cognomen is writing letters to you like a Black Hand would?” asked Mr. Gubb eagerly.

“Cognomen or not,” said Miss Scroggs, “that’s what I call him or her or whoever it is. Snake would be a better name,” she added, “but I must say the thing looks more like a fish-worm. Now, here,” she said, opening her black hand-bag, “is letter Number One. Read it.”

Mr. Gubb took the envelope and looked at the address. It was written in a hand evidently disguised by slanting the letters backward, and had been mailed at the Riverbank post-office.

“Hum!” said Mr. Gubb. “Lesson Nine of the Rising Sun Deteckative Agency’s Correspondence School of Deteckating gives the full rules and regulations for to elucidate the mystery of threatening letters, scurrilous letters, et cetery. Now, is this a threatening letter or a scurrilous letter?”