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The Missing Mr. Master
by [?]

That evening Mr. Gubb received a short note from Mr. Medderbrook that was in the form of a bill or statement. It read: “Due from P. Gubb to J. Medderbrook, $11,900. Please remit,”–so he put on his hat and walked to Mr. Medderbrook’s elegant home.

“I want you to hurry up with what you owe me,” said Mr. Medderbrook, when Mr. Gubb explained that he could pay nothing on the Utterly Hopeless Gold-Mine stock at the moment, “because I know you are soft on Syrilla, and from a telegram I got from her to-day it looks as if it would be no time at all before she reduced her weight down to seven hundred pounds and Mr. Dorgan of the side-show broke his contract with her. And if you want to read the telegram you can do so by paying half what it cost me, which was three dollars.”

Mr. Gubb paid Mr. Medderbrook one dollar and a half, as any lover would, and read the telegram from Syrilla. It said:–

Love is triumphing. Have given up all cereal diet. Have given up oatmeal, rice, farina, puffed wheat, corn flakes, hominy, shredded wheat, force, cream of wheat, grapenuts, boiled barley, popcorn, flour paste, and rice powder. Weigh now only nine hundred and twenty-five pounds. Soft thoughts to dearest Gubby.

Mr. Gubb hesitated a moment and then said:–

“Far be it from me to say aught or anything, Mr. Medderbrook, but I would wish the cost of telegrams would reduce themselves down a little. This one is marked onto its upper corner ‘PAID’–“

“Yes, the telegraph boy said that was a mistake,” said Mr. Medderbrook hastily.

“And very likely so,” said Mr. Gubb, “but for a reduction of five pounds one dollar fifty is a highish price to pay. Thirty cents a pound is too much.”

“Well,” said Mr. Medderbrook, “I don’t want to have any quarrel with you, so I’ll do this for you: I will make you a flat price of twenty-five cents per pound.”

“Which is a fair and reasonable price for glad tidings to a fond heart,” said Mr. Gubb, and this matter having been amicably settled, he returned to his office.

That evening he sat on the edge of his cot bed minus his coat, vest, and trousers, with his bare feet comfortably extended. At his back a pillow made a back-rest, and a bundle of wall-paper served as a rather lofty footstool. He was deeply immersed in Lesson Eleven, his bird-like face screwed into tensity. From time to time he wiggled one toe or another as a fly alighted on it. Sometimes, when more than one fly alighted on his toes at once, he wiggled all ten toes simultaneously.

A trunk, a varnished oak washstand and a cot showed that the room was not only a decorator’s shop, but a living-place; and that this was the office of Philo Gubb, detective, was shown by a row of hooks from which hung various disguises used by the celebrated detective, by a portrait of William J. Burns, cut from a magazine and pasted on the wall, and by a placard which read, “P. Gubb, Graduate and Diploma-ist of the Rising Sun Detective Agency’s Correspondence School of Detecting. Detecting done by the Day or Job. Terms on Application.”

On the cot at Philo Gubb’s side lay a copy of that day’s morning Chicago paper, with a two-column spread headline reading, “Wife Offers $5000 Reward,” and it was this that had driven Philo Gubb, the paper-hanger detective, to renewed study of Lesson Eleven–“Procedure in Abduction and Missing Men Cases.”

Mr. Custer Master, of Chicago, had mysteriously disappeared. One paragraph in the article had caught Mr. Gubb’s particular attention:–

Mrs. Master feels that her husband is still alive, and insists that Mr. Master will be found in one of the Iowa towns on the Mississippi River. The police of these towns have been notified, and detectives have gone to investigate. The Masters stand high in South-Side society. Mr. Master, it is understood, recently inherited $450,000 from a maternal uncle. At the time the will was probated considerable interest was aroused by the fact that the legacy was to go to Mr. Master only on condition that he carried out certain provisions contained in a sealed envelope, to be read only by the executors and Mr. Master.