The coffin was carried from the house by eight pallbearers, all in the uniform of the force. The narrow street was crowded with men, women and children, all of them eager for a last look at the plain brown casket.
While the coffin was being lifted into the hearse, the men bared their heads; most of the women held handkerchiefs to their eyes. Even the children kept an awed and reverent silence. All but one of them. A lad of about seven, redheaded, chubby, strong-necked and slightly bandy, pushed his smaller sister and called out, “Look! Cap’n Jimmy’s in that!”
Cap’n Jimmy—that’s what he was to his friends in the neighborhood—and by “friends” we mean everyone within a radius of five blocks, old enough to walk, crawl or be wheeled about in the streets. As a boy and young man he had been merely Jimmy; then he “made the cops” and after a phenomenal career of seven years reached the rank of captain. But even at that he was never promoted from Jimmy to James.
The parents came out of the house and entered the first coach. Then came Commissioner Anderson and by his side Alan Nevins, a plain-clothesman with the rank of sergeant.
Nevins had come half way down the stoop, when he suddenly faltered. The commissioner seized him by the arm and said, rather roughly, “Come! Come! Don’t go to pieces! Steady now!”
Thereupon the commissioner had a violent coughing spell, which was strange, considering it was a warm April day, that he had no cold, and that nothing he had tried to swallow had lodged in his throat.
So Captain of Police James Cornell was buried.
Five days later, Sergeant Nevins called at the Cornell home. In the little front parlor a girl was waiting for him. Slight of build she was and of the fragile loveliness of an anemone; her dark eyes were the more sparkling because of the pallor of her cheeks.
The Sergeant came toward her and held out his arms as if to take her into them and hold her close. The girl took a sharp breath, stepped back a pace and nodded toward a chair. Nevins sat down and nervously tapped the brim of his derby against his fingers.
Marguerite Cornell had been in Europe as traveling companion to a wealthy woman when her brother Jimmy died. She had come home too late for the funeral. She now spoke to Nevins (her fiancé) with the detachment of a person discussing a purely professional matter in which she had no personal interest at all.
“The news reports are always garbled,” she said. “And I can’t bear to speak of it to mother or father. Tell me—give me the facts straight.”
Sergeant Nevins cleared his throat. “We know nothing definite about— about—Jimmy was found—a roundsman stumbled, by accident, over his body, in an empty lot. That was at three o’clock in the morning. Jimmy was in uniform at the time, but not on duty. On—on his chest was found a small, plain white card—an ordinary visiting card—bearing the words The Mogul in a flashy handwriting. Jimmy was dead.’’
“Three. The one in his forehead did for him instantly.”
“Did he have a chance to—fight—?”
“Evidently. Two of the cartridges in his gun had been exploded.”
“Five shots—and no help—”
“He wasn’t shot in the lot—that’s the explanation. He was brought there in a car.”
“Who or what is The Mogul?”
“We don’t know. We surmise— that is—there seems to be plenty of evidence to support the theory that quite a bit of the crime in this city is organization-crime. We are often able to link crimes together—different types of crime—counterfeiting, robberies, assaults; something in the manner in which they are executed, something in the precautions used by the criminals to avoid detection, seems to indicate that there is a central idea, a single brain, if you will, that is giving directions. We have, however, no inkling as to this person’s identity, nor are we able to point out the individuals who are the links in this chain of hirelings. Every member of the department was questioned, of course, but only one had previously heard the name The Mogul.”
“Two men seemed to be having an argument in the Bird’s-Eye, a dance hall on lower Third Street. A detective came as close as he dared, but one of the men ended the argument with ‘The Mogul has slapped his O.K. on the scheme, so I’m going ahead, whether you like it or not.”
“I see. The Department infers that Jimmy, by accident or design, stumbled upon The Mogul and was shot—”
“For knowing too much.”
“Damn them!” The girl was standing near a small round table. Her cheeks became whiter, she suppressed a sob and shrank back; she had become suddenly aware that with her oath she had unconsciously laid her hand upon the family Bible.
With this realization, a strange, mystic light glowed in her eyes. She stared straight ahead of her, and it seemed beyond, beyond everything material and into some other world. Quite gently she put her hand upon the Bible again.
And now her voice was as from out of the distance, low and echo-like but distinct. “Jimmy! Jimmy! Do you hear me? I’m keening for you, Jimmy, and my mourning shall be long and bitter! And the heart of me shall be torn and smarting with hate, and I shall be fierce and cruel and pitiless till my vow is fulfilled.
“Jimmy! Jimmy! I’ll get them for you! Each one of them, Jimmy! And may the soul and flesh of me writhe in agony, may the mind of me be in torture and torment, till my mission is done!”
Quietly Marguerite came over to Sergeant Alan Nevins. “You said this— Bird’s-Eye dance hall is on lower Third Street?”
“A respectable girl doesn’t go there— if that’s what you’re intending,” replied Nevins.
He rose suddenly, alarmed by the strangeness of her manner. “Look here. Marge, don’t attempt anything foolish! You can’t mix with that gang! You’d die of nausea—”
“If Jim isn’t avenged. I’ll die of shame!”
“But you’re no match for them. You are kind, they are pitiless; you are fragile, they are robust; you are innocent of all evil, they are practiced in every conceivable kind of crime and violence.”
And now the bright round eyes of the girl narrowed till they were as two slits; her rich, red lips were drawn thin. “Against all of that, I match my courage! A courage that will be eternally fired and fanned by the memory of Jimmy, lying there in a lot—”
Once again Alan Nevins came toward her with outstretched arms. Again she drew away.
“Mr. Nevins, from now on, and until that gang has paid, you and I are strangers!”
The story continues … buy it today and find out who killed Cap’n Jimmy and if Marguerite will get her justice!
MBIN No: 55ccf75fb3901011515aef53
Length: ~ 40 pages (depending on ereader font and font size)
Original Publication: The Black Mask | Sep. 1922 | Vol. 1, No. 6