“The Superintendent,” he said to the sergeant on duty in the outer office.
“The Chief has gone home, Mr. Harleston,” was the answer.
“Yes, sir, two hours ago; he’ll not be back tonight.”
“Get him on the telephone,” Harleston directed.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Harleston.... Here he is, sir—you can use the ’phone in the private office.”
“Hello! Is that you, Ranleigh? Yes, I recognized the voice. Did you telephone me at the Chateau about six-thirty?... You didn’t?... You were on your way home at that hour.... Yes, exactly; it was a plant.... Do you know Crenshaw escaped from my apartment.... Yes, I saw him in the Chateau this evening.... What?... Yes, better look up Whiteside at once.... Yes, in the Collingwood.... Very good; I’ll meet you there.... All right, I’ll tell the sergeant.”
Harleston took a taxi to the Collingwood, arriving just as Ranleigh came up, and the two men went in together.
Whiteside was there; gagged and bound to the same chair that had held Crenshaw.
The rooms were in confusion. Everything had been gone through; clothes were scattered over the floor, papers were strewn about, drawers stood open.
They released Whiteside, and presently he was able to talk.
“When did it happen?” Ranleigh asked.
“About five o’clock this afternoon, sir,” Whiteside replied, in a most apologetic tone. He knew there was no sympathy and no excuse for the detective who let his prisoner escape. “The bell rang. I went to the door—and was shot senseless by a chemical revolver. When I came to, I had exchanged places with the prisoner, and he and another man were just departing. ‘My compliments to Mr. Harleston when he returns,’ said Crenshaw, as he went out.”
“Describe the other man!” said Ranleigh.
“Medium sized, slender, dark hair and eyes, good features, looked like a gentleman, wore a blue sack-suit, black silk tie, and stiff straw hat.”
“It’s Sparrow,” Harleston remarked. “Did they take anything with them?”
“Nothing whatever that I saw, sir.”
“You’re excused until morning,” said the Chief curtly.
The detective saluted and went out.
“I am exceedingly sorry I overlooked Whiteside when I escaped from Crenshaw’s garrote in the Chateau,” Harleston remarked. “The simple fact is, I clean forgot him until I was talking with you on the telephone.”
“It’s just as well, Mr. Harleston,” Ranleigh replied. “It served him right. He will be fortunate if his want of precaution doesn’t cost him his job.”
“No, no!” Harleston objected. “Whiteside has been punished. I intercede for him. Let him continue in his job, please.”
“Very good, sir,” Ranleigh acquiesced. “But he’ll be informed that he owes his retention entirely to you.”