Professional Sleuth


by Burns Patterson

Detective Story Magazine | Mar. 5, 1916 | Vol. 2, No. 5

Will Captain McCarthy go to far to get a confession from his suspect?

“You lie!” The words were snapped out like the spiteful crack of a revolver by Captain McCarthy, whose great hulking form towered over the cowering figure of Wellington van Sandt.

“You murdered your father!” shouted McCarthy, as his eyes, with a baleful glare, held the red-rimmed orbs of the younger man.

Aside from a white shaft of light that played on the features of the youth thus accused of murder, the room was in semidarkness. McCarthy was resorting to that timeworn instrument of torture of the police, known as “the third degree.”

“You murdered your father, I tell you!“ yelled McCarthy.

“I didn’t,” replied young Van Sandt. His eyes were bloodshot, and in them there was the hunted look of a creature in fear of death.

“You lie; you did! Here’s the gun with which you finished the old man!” And McCarthy shoved the revolver, with which he declared the crime had been committed, before Van Sandt’s eyes. “Your finger prints are on its wooden butt. It has been identified as your gun.”

A shudder of agony convulsed the figure of the young man. His weak chin trembled, and his lips sagged at the comers. The muscles of his face twisted and contorted into a grimace of abject fear. Tears welled up in his eyes. Would this torture never end?

“I didn’t murder my father,” whined Van Sandt. “The gun was stolen from my room by the murderer. I hadn’t—”

There was a resounding crack, of the impact of flesh against flesh, as the heavy open band of McCarthy fell full on the white cheek of the alleged murderer. Van Sandt’s head went back with a jolt.

“You’ve told me that before. You know you are lying. You’ve done nothing but lie ever since you have been in this room. You’re guilty of the murder of your father”’

“Oh. Lord, stop it, will you!” pleaded Van Sandt, with tears in his eyes. “Stop it! I tell you I didn’t kill my father. The gun was stolen from my room by the man who murdered dad. I tell you.”

Grasping the young man by either shoulder, McCarthy jerked him to his feet. Then, much like a terrier shakes a rat, he shook his prisoner.

For a moment he gazed into the eyes of Van Sandt. Many criminals had quailed before that terrible glint which now shone in the eyes of the policeman. No one had ever been able to withstand those cold, cruel, steel-gray eyes, which looked through, rather than at the person upon whom they were fixed.

With a final shake, McCarthy threw the accused man in his chair and followed with a blow in the face.

McCarthy straightened up; a grim smile of conquest playing about the corners of his cruel mouth, for his prisoner was thoroughly cowed and would tell all.

“Cut!” shouted the director, and the cameraman at the Great Western Studio ceased to turn the crank.

“That was great, boys.” said the director jubilantly “It ought to get over big on the screen.”

~ The End ~

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