Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The news-herald. (Plattsmouth, Neb.) 1909-1911 | View Entire Issue (April 15, 1909)
The "Black Hand" at Tony's
By GEORGE F. BUTLER and HERBERT ILSLEY
Dr. Furnivall in the Solution of a Perplexing Case.
N' Ihe 12Ui of July at two o'clock
In the morning "LH'.le Italy"
was startled ly a sound that
sent Its constituent parta tum
bling out of bed and scamper
ing about us If demented It was
the report of an explosion, like that
of a gun discharged suddenly In
tho silence of the night. While women
in nightcloihcs ran wildly here and
ihere, squalling babieH in arms, and
men nearly naked vociferated exclt
edly and rushed for weapons, three
things happened in front of No. 110
with the Htiddeiine.su of u flash of
lightning. A first-floor window vom
ited a policeman to tho sidewalk, the
door flew open disclosing another po
liceman In the entry, and the near by
alley emitted a breathless third.
Meeting ut the foot of (he stairway,
these three officers regarded each
"Ilo took the stairs where Is ho,
Murphy?" gasped tho one who had
come by way of the window.
"Man, I tell you I saw him!" con
tradicted Finnegan. "lie banged open
Tony's door and hit the landing In
two jumps mid down he went. I was
looking right at him. And I heard
lilni on the stairs. He was in his
stocking feet, by the sound."
"I heard sounds all right, and that's
why I opened the door to let the light
In from tho street lamp so 1 could see.
Hut nobody showed up."
Detective Hirsch said nothing, but If
the darkness had been less dense they
would have seen that his face was set
ami grim. In the hall a thin line of
light ran beneath u door, from behind
which came sounds of sobbing and
moaning, nnd entering without cere
mony they beheld, through little
wreaths of smoke, a woman sitting on
a bed, holding In her arms a young
fellow down whose face the blood
streamed, and a man on his knees In
the middle of the floor praying ve
hemently with uplifted hands.
"Tony," be said then to the praying
man sharply, "anybody but him In
jured?" motioning towards the bed.
"None-a bud da boy," he answered,
and In the same breath continued his
screaming i implications.
"flood boy!" he said encouragingly.
"You've got the right stuff In your In
side. It takes more than a little
thin;; like this to knock you out, hey!
Now, tell us about It."
"I don't, think I know much." the
boy returned In a weak voice, but in
good English. "I woke up and saw
somebody outside my room on the
llreescapo, and 1 asked who was
there. Then something struck me on
the head, I heard a big roar, and I
supposo I fell out of bed, for when I
came to myself my mother was drag
ging me across the floor."
"Well, but say!" cried the aston
ished detective, "the window was
closd and locked, wasn't it, as I
found it just now? How could any
body throw a bomb through It with
out breaking the glass? It nln't
broken, and It was fastened when 1
went to put It up."
"It Is strange." said (he youth. "He
sides, father and mother heard some
body hurry across this room, open
the door and shut It, nnd then run
The detective looked Inquiringly at
tho woman, who nodded.
"We heard a da one," she said. In
the midst of her moaning. "He mnken
da foot on da floor, on da floor, an'
make a da door go bang. We hear
Detective Hirsch started suddenly
Into the next room, the sleeping quar
ters of tho parents, and the living
room of the ramily as well. On the
way he raised the praying little Ital
ian by the collar, and, carrying him
along, deposited him on a chair.
Then carefully closing the connecting
door ho gazed sternly at the fright
ened countenance of the man who in
the neighborhood was known as Tony
"Look here," he said, with all the
weight he could put Into his manner,
"didn't I say you mustn't let a liv
ing soul know you hRd received a let
ter from the Hlnck Hand? Yet here
you go and tell It"
"Non, nop, I no lal-a!" the Italian
interrupted. "You tal-a me no tal a
anybod'. I tal a nobod', for sure. Da
boy he ask for why I clos' da wind'
sosh da hot night. I no tal-a da boy.
I tal a nobod'. non non!"
"Well, but It's a sure cinch they
were on tho lookout for us, or the
thing wouldn't have been pulled off
i-o slick. They must have been onto
tho game for fair, however they got
Ihere. Why, here whs Murphy at the
foot of the stairs, Finnegan almost
right at your keyhole, and I myself
in the alley under your window; yet
his slick gazabo scoots in. bangs the
iKltllb and Slides to cover Without any
trouble Tho thing is Impossible. It's j
impossible any way you look at it.
The detective's puzzled gaze hap
pened at this moment to light upon
Murphy, who was poking around In
u closet wiili his night-stick, and a
gleam of surprised intelligence shot
Into his face. He paused abruptly
In liis speech and stood considering.
Then he looked at his watch. "I'll
leave this to you, Murphy for the
l ri s.'tn," ho said, finally. "You know
what io do, and I'll see you later. 1
"Dr. Furnivall," said Detective
Hirsch, "here Is something thnt will
Interest you, or I am mightily mis
taken." Hn passed a letter to the celebrated
psychologist as he spoke, his thin,
clean-shaven face flushed with eager
ness. Dr. Furnivall, silting back in
his chair, glanced at bis visitor, and,
taking the dirty sheet of paper, read
"'Tony, you gotta four thous-a dol
lar wat wo gotta get from you
Wednesday, sure. We donna wan no
foolin'. We need-a da mon bad, an'
gotta get it by this n time Wednesda'
da 10 July, or we kil a you. We kll a
da boy firs' an' da worn'. Thursda'
we kll-u da boy If we donna getta da
mon Wednesda'. You sen In letter
to Jon Kllbrult.li, fleneral Delivery,
San Francisco, (,'allf. We mean a da
biz now, an' we donna wan no chin
about da mat. You sen da mon or
we kil a sure.' "
Heading the sheet were a. rudely
drawn black hand and coflin. Dr.
Furnivall regarded it In silence for
sonw seconds after finishing the read
ing. Then he examined the detec
tive through his colored spectacles.
"Well?" he asked.
Detective Hirsch leaned forward In
"A week ago yesterday," he said,
speaking rapidly and in a low voice,
as if fearing possible listeners, "Tony
Macdluso, the barber, brought this
letter to our station, lie had just
received it by mail. It seems he has
sav-d up $4,000 to put his son, who
graduated from the Latin school last
month, through a collego In Koine and
make a priest of him. Now, the
strange thing is that nobody but Tony
and his wife knows ho has this money,
not even the boy, for they intended
It for a surprise for him on his birth
day, which comes next week. They
have lived so poorly in order to scrape
the stuff together that they nre sup
posed lo be about down and out. So
It's a puzzle from Hie start who
could write that letter. We told
Tony to hold his grip on the cash,
and we would see him through. First
we sent a dummy letter to the San
Francisco general delivery, and then
I... I 111... I . 1. A .
I ikmiiii-ii in ponce mere to iook out
for 11. At this end of the line we
could do no more till yesterday, Thurs
day, because nothing was threatened
against the boy until then. We kept
the whole family covered all day, and
last night I hid myself under the fire
escape, within eight feet of Tony's
windows: another man. Murphy,
sneaked around In the lower hall,
where lie could see everybody that
went over the stairs, and still another
man. Finnegan. laid on the landing
almost right at Tony's door. Just the
same, at two o'clock Ibis morning,
nobody being seen going in, we all
heard an explosion, which turned out
to have been In Tony's room. Finne
gan beard a door open and shut right
on top of the explosion, saw a ninn
jump out of Tony's rooms, and heard
him running down the stairs towards
the front door, where Murphy was
posted, and out goes Finnegan from
the hall window, dropping right In
front of tho door. There stands Mur
phy, rubbering It up the stairs, be
cause he heard some noises. Hut
when Finnegan asks him for his man
he swears he has seen nobody!"
The detective paused nnd looked
suggestively at Dr. Furnivall, who
"(lo on," he said.
"We hiked it for all we were worth
for Tony's, ami found him praying on
the floor, and the boy with a gash a
foot long, more or less, in his face,
his mother holding him up In bed, nnd
scattered all round were murks of a
bomb good and plenty. The boy was
hurt so that ho was only half taking
notice, but ho was leaking grit, just
the same, and managed to tell me all
he knew, which wasn't much. He
said that he woke up in the niitbt
and saw a person on the fire-escape
outside his window, and when he
asked who was there something struck
him In the head, and he fell out of
bed unconscious. Tony and the old
woman heard the sound of feet run-
nlng across the boy's floor, heard tho
am due somewhere else now."
be went out.
uoor open and stmt and the feet go ; are waiting we will Improve the nio
patterlng down the stairs just as 1 ments by indulging in a word or two
Finnegan says. And Murphy swears i of psychology. In the first place, you
nobody came down." should know that the proper method
He paused again, regarding Dr. Fur-! of beginning the search for the perpe
nlvnll earnestly, and again his listen-1 trator of a crime Is to learn all the
er smiled delightedly, but said noth- j fneH that you possibly can, and then
1"R- iimkM'stund that you almost certainly
"Now." Hirsch continued, "the kcc- have not learned them all. and par
otid stratiL'e Ihlnir
Utrange things, Is that the hov's win-
dow was shut and fastened, the per-1
; , Knw wa9 0Ul8,jo ()f u,,,
I )01n iMat m-lson threw .irneL- M, J
)0V without breaking the glass, and
without the sash being raised, und i usual method la to get a few facts and
the mother and father heard some- then go at Ihe job without the slight
body cross the room, open Ihe door. . est regard for the character of the In
shut It, and skip downstairs. Finne-! divlduals Involved, neglecting to allow
gun saw this somebody, heard the
door open and shut, and saw and
heard the person going down the
stairs, but Murphy at the foot of these
stairs sees nothing of any person of
For ihe third time the detective :
paused meaningly. Dr. Furnivall j
laughed and stroked hU beurd. j
"I see," he said. "Murphy let the
bomb-man in and out. That'B why
he didn't seo him!"
The detective appeared gratified at
this evidence of perspicacity on Dr.
Furnivall's part. Hut only for a mo
ment. Then he searched the' bearded
face with his eyes. He did not like
the tone of (hat laugh.
"There's no other way out of it"
"I could give you six different ways
out of it," the doctor interrupted.
"Hut the one in which It really hap
pened will do. I suppose you have
come to ask me to hypnotize Murphy
and extract the truth from him Is
The detective Hushed and gnawed
"Yes," ho answered, shortly.
Dr. Furnivall rang for a maid, and
scribbling a note, passed It to her.
"Uead that aloud all but the ad
dress," he said.
" If you will come with the bearer
T sew? of Mio iwwrirm
of this note," the maid read, "'to my
office, you may save yourself some
trouble, and the humiliation of being
taken to the police station, Instead
of here. Dr. Furnlvall., "
The doctor looked at the detective,
whose face was blank, and then said
to the maid:
"Explain that to Mike and let him
deliver It. Tell him to hurry. Now,"
he continued briskly to the detective,
you shall see tho culprit nnd hear
his confession. I have no time to
j waste over Ibis affair, and while we
Then, making large allowances for
what you don't know, you should
round up the person concerned whose
rlmr.icler fits slimiest Int.-. nil tho
circumstances nnd question him. The
for the facts that are unknown. In
this way always some Innocent person
becomes the first suspect. In this
particular case you say there is only
one way lu which this peculiar assault
I nil utlll tllnro lirllltnr mlfinnn .wtiil.1
have happened. That Is one of the
things you don't know, und for which
you have made no allowance lu your
deductions. Suppose, for example,
that a criminal, after starting down
the nairs, and seeing or hearing Mur
phy there at the foct, hurried back
again and up the higher flight? Fin
negan had dropped to (he street, nnd
he cculd easily have done so, making
his escape by way of the roof "
Detective Hirsch made an involun
tary movement of chagrin.
"You see," smiled Dr. Furnivall,
"you had your idea, tho first that
came to you, so firmly fixed in your
mind, Jumped to the belief in Mur
phy's guilt so quickly, not seeing any
other way, and were so incapable of
entertaining any other idea that you
really could not recognize this other
way out though It so openly confront
ed you. Then you never dreamed of
considering the characters of the sev
eral persons concerned. There were
three people In that tenement, nnyone
of whom could, as far as physical pos
sibilities go, have done the act, and
It Beenis as If nobody else could. Not
another soul was near. The first
question you should have put to your
self Is, which one of these three has
the character in which lurks the pos
sibility of throwing that bomb. Let
us in fact begin the Inquiry now.
You have seen them all, while I never
even heard of any of them before.
Now tell me If you think the boy
could be guilty?"
"Him? Hardly," the detective grunt
ed. "He wouldn't be likely to bust
his own face all up. Hesldes, the
money was for him, anyway. It would
be only stealing from himself, for he'd.
have It in a day or two. And on
top of that, he didn't even know that !
his father had the stuff, and was all
broke up because he couldn't go to
college and be a priest."
"Very good," smiled the doctor.,
"Facts, facts, facts, and never a word
of character! 1 fear you are incor-
rlglble. However, so much for the;
boy he's obliterated. Now, how'
about Tony? Did ho really wish tho
boy to have all that money? Could
he afford to let him take It? Did
you inquire Into his business, in or
der to find If he happened to be des
perately pressed for money Just now,
as most men nre sometimes?''
Hirsch appeared uncomfortable.
"Why, anyway," the detective ex
claimed, "It was Tony himself who
brought us the Hlnck Hand letter and
told us about it, asking us to send
men to protect him. He wouldn't do
thai, would he, If he had this thing
up his sleeve? Hesldes, he's scared
blue. 1 never saw anybody before
frightened clean in to his marrow, the
way he was last night. He hasn't
the brains, or the spunk, either, to fix
up such a plant and get up at two
o'clock in the morning and throw a
bomb into his own sou's room. Hosh!
The notion Is ridiculous." The detec
tive sniffed In contempt.
"Well, you ure improving." the doc
tor grinned. "You do finally glance,
If ever so slightly, nt character In this
instance. And you put Tony out of '
It. Now we have left ouly the moth-1
er, I lie doctor proceeded luiper-
turbably in th? face or hji listener's
look of Incredulity and downright rtls-
gust. "Had the mother any ieuon.
coul J the have any reason for Going
such a thing, and if so, has she the
qualities necessary 'to the carrying
out of so bold a plan?"
"I don't see what you're getting at,"
growled Hirsch. "and It don't seem to
me there's any sense in this kind of
business, guessing nt all these things,
and wondering which one of 'em done
It. None of 'em done It. Somebody
else done It, and If you know who it
is. which I doubt, tcfl me, and I'll go
and nab him." .
"Now," the doctor continued, as if
the other had remained dumb, "you
have practically eliminated the three
who were the only persons in a posi
tion, physically speaking, to do this
thing, and that settles the matter,
with you, us far as they are con
cerned. You would take your oath,
wouldn't you, that neither one of
these persons is, or reasonably could
be, the culprit?"
"Yes," he replied, shortly. "Keep
up your Jollying if it does you any
good, but I'd go my oath on these peo
ple, just the same, and I guess you
would yourself. It ain't In any sort
of reason that one of them done it.
It was the man outside on the fire
escape, and that skipped downstairs,
or up, and that Finnegan and Murphy
and Tony and the old woman heard,
and that Finnegan saw as well as
"Then the ramlficatious of the prob
lem must be, to you, how did this
man reach the fire-escape without
your knowledge, you being right un
der it; how did he enter the room
without raising tho window or break
ing it ; how did he escape so miracu
lously; and what did he enter the
room at all for? For he could have
thrown the bomb through the glass,
you know, and It would have been
both safer for hlni and more within
Hirsch set his lips and for a moment
said nothing. Finally he hurst forth:
"Seems to me you ain't helping any
thin; great! In a minute you'll make
It oit that nobody could do it, and
that consequently it wasn't done!"
"I am only showing you, so far. my
frlnnd, what your method amounts
to." said the doctor. "Ily it 1 can
proii or disprove any thing under the
sun. because It has to do with ap
pearances. Instead of character, with
ihe tupei fit lals as distinguished from
the realities. I can even turn com
pletely a roil ml and prove to you. by
your method, that each one of these
persons whem we have, by my meth
od, proved innocent. Is the only per
son who could have committed the
crime. Wlsit you lack Is psychol
ogy." Dr. Furnivall did not wish to
nay ' brains,'" nor "learning," nor "In
telligence," nor even "I raining," so,
after some hesitation., ho said "psy
chology." And ho continued: "Now,
the nionwnt I saw this letter and
heard tho story, I knew indubitably
the guilty party."
"The Ihe nation you did!" burst
nu rieraive, involuntarily,
"The easiest -thing in Ihe world,"
smiled the doctor. "Just consider
this letter was it written by an edu
cated or an uneducated person?"
"Why. uneducated, of course." re
turned Hirsch. "See the spelling, and
the language. Or else it was an edit
cated person trying to seem unedw
"I fancy it was one or the other,"
he said, "but which?"
"How do I know?" responded Birsch,
fatuously. The doctor smoothed hti
features and answered, mildly:
"That Is where, psychology yes,
psychology gives me the advantage
of you. Would an uneducated Italian,
such as apparently wrote this letter,
spell 'Wednesday' with a 'd Invari
ably in the first syllable, once with a
', us If to let the reader know that
he really knew how to spell it, audi
then write it twice without the 'y,' an
well as to leave the same letter out
of 'Thursday?' Would an unedu
cated Italian spell 'thousand' with tk
dash, 'thous a,' would he write 'need-a"
for 'need,' or 'kll-a' for kill, and s&
on? He would speak this way, but
he would require some education ia
order to write this way. Moreover
the punctuation and use of capitals
are perfect two positive proofs of a.
certain degree of education. And to'
clinch the evidence, look at the hand
writing. It is disguised, but irregu
larly, as if done by an immature mind,
and the vertical penmanship taught a
little while ago lu our public schools
sticks out all through the letter. The
character and attainments of the
writer of this letter, taken together
with the injured boy's testimony,
points with finality to a certain one of
the persons known to be concerned..
In short, whatever his motive may
be, and Impossible as the known facts
alone seem to render it "
The doctor paused as footsteps
sounded without, and then went on
"the person who threw that bomb
"Master Frank Macalusco," an
nounced the maid, opening the door
And forward stepped the son of Tony,
his face bandaged, but wearing a
smile of deprecating good humor.
Detective Hirsch stared at the boy
and then looked at the doctor.
"You don't mean" he began, anil
paused. Dr. Furnivall smiled some
"Take a seat, Master Frank," he
said. And when the grinning youth
had taken a tentative position on the
edge of the couch, hat in hand, the
doctor continued: "Shall I be com
pelled to hypnotize you, or will you
tell your story freely?"
"Oh, it's all off now, and I might
as well talk," the boy answered. Far
from feeling embarrassed, he seemed
to enjoy the situation, grinning Im
partially at each of his hearers aa
he proceeded with his confession.
"You can take it straight," he said.
In schoolboy slung, "that It wasn't ma
for the priesthood. It was my folka
that put up that job for me. It is
me for ihe stage I'm going to be an
actor. It wouldn't do to let my father
know that, though he'd go nutty. He
thought it was all settled long ago.
and I let him think so because It
would be no good to start in flghllnr
him before I had to. Of course I
Knew ne nnd tne money saved up.
How could I help getting wise to It,
when they're always whispering about
it to each other, looking mysterloua
and acilng funny, me right there with
'em so much? So I fixed up this deal
lo lift the money from father. I
wouldn't, use It all I wanted was to
make sure he wouldn't send me to
college. I could not do that this way
without making him mad at me for
not doing as he wished, and I could
give the stuff hack to him later. I
knew he was easily frightened, and
thought he would give up right oft
as soon as 1 was threatened, without
goln? to the police, but when I heard
him In the other room talking with
mother about the letter and the trap
the police had set I didn't know what
lo do. At first I thought I'd call It
all off. It was too risky, nut the
excitement sort of appealed to me,
and I thought that as I was bound to
be an actor, this was as good a tlm
as any to begin. So finally I hit on
the thing I did. Last night I got an
old piece of lead pipe and split it, to
make it look like an exploded bomb,
and put it on the rug, which I
scorched with a match, cut my face
a little with my razor, and then
touched off a cannon firecracker. I
had no gun, you know, and these
things wouldn't tell any tales. I had
my door nlready unlocked, and ran
and opened It, and slammed it back
without latching it, Jumped a few
ptepa downstairs, and then ran back
ngain. closing the door softly. I had
meant to unlock my window, to make
believe the Hlack Hand got In that
way, hut I guesB I was a little nervous,
and I forgot it, and so had to say the
-man I saw was on the fire-escape out
side, instead of In the room, as I had
intended to say. The situation was
Impossible, wasn't it? It was funny
the way everybody swallowed such a
stiff as that!" He threw the cha
grined detective a sly glance. He
was the "everybody" referred to.
Then the boy, this would-be actor,
thrilling with a pride over his ex
ploit thnt not even its detection and
failure could materially lower, added:
"I told father In the letter to send the
money to the San Francisco post of
fice, then I wrote to them there to
forward any letters for John Kll
bralttt to another post office, and I
wrot that ofllce to forward the mall
to nuother, nnd so on, und the last
one was to forward It to our general
delivery here, where I could get It."
(Copyright, by W. (J. Chapman.)
(Cupyrlaht in Oreat Britain.)
1'rof. Rogers Have, you .Isucn'a
plays? Fair young llbrarUu No, air,
but we have Ibssa'a works. HarDer'a
Powered by Open ONI