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The Un-Burglars
by [?]

Although Detective Gubb’s experience with the oubliette-elevator did not lead to the detection of the dynamiters for whom a reward of five thousand dollars was offered, it resulted in the payment to him of one half of three fines of five hundred dollars for each of the three stores of whiskey he had unearthed. With this money, amounting to seven hundred and fifty dollars, Mr. Gubb went to the home of Jonas Medderbrook and paid that gentleman the entire amount.

“That there payment,” Mr. Gubb said, “deducted from what I owe onto them shares of Perfectly Worthless Gold-Mine Stock–“

“The name of the mine, if you please, is Utterly Hopeless and not Perfectly Worthless,” said Mr. Medderbrook severely.

“Just so,” said Mr. Gubb apologetically. “You must excuse me, Mr. Medderbrook. I ain’t no expert onto gold-mines’ names and, offhand, them two names seem about the same to me. But my remark was to be that the indebtedness of the liability I now owe you is only thirteen thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars.”

“And the sooner you get it paid up the better it will suit me,” said Mr. Medderbrook.

“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Gubb, and hesitated. Then, assuming an air of little concern, he asked: “It ain’t likely to suppose we’ve had any word from Miss Syrilla, is it, Mr. Medderbrook?”

For answer Mr. Medderbrook went to his desk and brought Mr. Gubb a telegram. It was from Syrilla. It said:–

Eating no potatoes, drinking no water. Have lost eight pounds. Kind love to Mr. Gubb.

“She’s wore herself down to nine hundred and ninety-two pounds, according to that,” said Mr. Gubb. “She has only got to wear off two hundred and ninety-two pounds more before Mr. Dorgan will discharge her away from the side-show.”

“And at the rate she is wearing herself away,” said Mr. Medderbrook, “that will be in about ten years! What interests me more is that the telegram came collect and cost me forty cents. If you want to do the square thing, Mr. Gubb, you’ll pay me twenty cents for your share of that telegram.”

Mr. Gubb immediately gave Mr. Medderbrook twenty cents and Mr. Medderbrook kindly allowed him to keep the telegram. Mr. Gubb placed it in the pocket nearest his heart and proceeded to a house on Tenth Street where he had a job of paper-hanging.

At about this same time Smith Wittaker, the Riverbank Marshal–or Chief of Police, as he would have been called in a larger city–knocked the ashes from his pipe against the edge of his much-whittled desk in the dingy Marshal’s room on the ground floor of the City Hall, and grinned at Mr. Griscom, one of Riverbank’s citizens.

“Well, I don’t know,” he said with a grin. “I don’t know but what I’d be glad to be un-burgled like that. I guess it was just somebody playing a joke on you.”

“If it was,” said Mr. Griscom, “I am ready to do a little joking myself. I’m just enough of a joker to want to see whoever it was in jail. My house is my house–it is my castle, as the saying is–and I don’t want strangers wandering in and out of it, whether they come to take away my property, or leave property that is not mine. Is there, or is there not, a law against such things as happened at my house?”

“Oh, there’s a law all right,” said Marshal Wittaker. “It’s burglary, whether the burglar breaks into your house or breaks out of it. How do you know he broke out?”

“Well, my wife and I went to the Riverbank Theater last night,” said Mr. Griscom, “and when I got home and went to put the key in the keyhole, there was another key in it. Here are the two keys.”

Marshal Wittaker took the two keys and examined them. One was an old doorkey, much worn, and the other a new key, evidently the work of an amateur key-maker.