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   Chapter 5 PAST AND PRESENT

Whispers at Dawn; Or, The Eye By Roy J. Snell Characters: 4565

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Several hours later, having quite recovered from his severe headache, and apparently not so very much the worse for the terrible thump he had received on the head, Johnny sat before the open fireplace in Drew Lane's shack on Grand Avenue. About that same fire were gathered his friends of other days, Drew Lane, Tom Howe and Joyce Mills. With them was the ruddy-faced, smiling Captain Burns, one of the best known and most feared officers of the law in that city.

If you have read "Arrow of Fire" you will know that the "Shack" was the one remaining structure of days long gone by when the east end of Grand Avenue-which, after all, has never been very grand-was at the edge of a sandy marsh where in the autumn one might hunt wild ducks.

This shack was now surrounded by tall warehouses. Hidden away and quite forgotten, it made a perfect meeting place for such as Drew Lane and his little group of crime hunters.

Drew Lane was still young. With his derby hat, bright tie and natty suit, he looked still very much the college boy he had been. Endowed with great strength, trained to the limit, with a brain like a brightly burning lamp, he was the despair of evil doers. Scarcely less effective was his team-mate, Tom Howe. Small, freckled, active as a cat, silent, full of thoughts, Tom planned, while, more often than not, Drew executed.

Joyce Mills, as you may know, had become a member of this group quite by accident. Her father, Newton Mills, after many years of distinguished service as a detective in New York, had at last fallen a prey to strong drink. Johnny and Drew had found him in Chicago drinking his life away. They had saved him to a life of further usefulness. Joyce, deeply grateful, and always at heart a "lady cop," had cast her lot with them. And now here she was.

"But your father?" Johnny was saying to her at this moment, "where is he?"

A shadow passed over the girl's dark face. "Haven't seen him for two months.

"But then," she added in a lighter tone, "you know him. Gets going on something and forgets everything else. He'll show up."

"Yes," Johnny agreed, "he's bound to."

Johnny was thinking of the time the veteran detective had turned himself into a gray shadow and had, all unknown, dogged Johnny's heels, saving him fro

m all manner of terrible deaths. The time was to come, and that soon enough, when he was to wish the "Gray Shadow" back on his trail.

"Drew," Johnny said, turning to his sturdy young friend, "I came here the moment I reached the city. How come the place was locked up and dark?"

"Been on a vacation; just got back." Drew's face lighted. "Went to the Rockies. Had some wonderful hunting-grizzly bears. Can't say that's more exciting than hunting crooks, though," he laughed.

"Met a girl you'd like on the way back." Drew Lane turned to Joyce. "Came on the bus. People in a bus, traveling far, get to be like one big family. Funny part was-" He gave a low chuckle. "She's coming here to help her uncle. He has a store on Maxwell Street. Maxwell Street! Can you imagine?"

"Rags, scrap-iron, poultry in crates, fish smells and noise-that's what Maxwell Street means to me!" Joyce shuddered.

"Just that!" Drew agreed. "This truly nice girl from somewhere in Kansas is going there to help in her uncle's store. She doesn't know a thing about Chicago. Thinks Maxwell Street is all the same as State Street, I'm sure. Believes her uncle's store is anyway six stories high. Well, she's in for a terrible shock. I feel sorry for her. Have to get round and see her-gave me the address. She asked me what I did in Chicago." Drew chuckled once more.

"What did you tell her?" Joyce asked.

"Said I looked after people, lots of them."

"And for once you told the truth," Johnny laughed.

"But Johnny!" Joyce exclaimed. "Tell me some more about this 'House of Magic' you've discovered. Sounds frightfully interesting. We all thought you were a little delirious when you first talked of it. But now-"

"Now you begin to believe me." Johnny's eyes shone. "It's a truly wonderful place."

"Tell us about it." Captain Burns insisted from his corner. "Heard about some of these things before. Shouldn't wonder if they'd do things in the end to lift the load off us poor, over-worked detectives."

"I'll tell you all I know, which isn't much," Johnny agreed.

And here I think we may safely leave our friends for a little time while we look in upon Grace Krowl, the girl from somewhere in Kansas. She had found her uncle's store on Maxwell Street. And how she had found it!

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