He had hung up the receiver before I could question him further. I think it cured Kennedy, temporarily of asking me to fib for him over the telephone. He was as anxious as I to see Carton, now, and plunged into the remaining work on the photographs eagerly.
He finished much sooner than he would, otherwise, and only to preserve the decency of the excuse that I had made did not hasten down to the Criminal Courts Building before a reasonable time had elapsed. As we entered Carton’s office we could tell from the very atmosphere of the halls that something was happening. The reporters in their little room outside were on the qui vive and I heard a whisper and a busy scratching of pencils as we passed in and the presence of someone else in the District Attorney’s office was noted.
Carton met us in a little ante-room. He was all excitement himself, but I could see that it was a clouded triumph. His mind was really elsewhere than on the confession that he was getting. Although he did not ask us, I knew that he was thinking only of Margaret Ashton and how to regain the ground that he had apparently lost with her. Still, he said nothing about the photographs. I wondered whether it was because of his confidence that Kennedy would pull him through.
“You know,” he whispered, “I have been working with my assistants on Dopey Jack ever since the conviction, hoping to get a confession from him, holding out all sorts of promises if he would turn state’s evidence and threats if he didn’t. It all had no effect. But Murtha’s death seems to have changed all that. I don’t know why—whether he thinks it was due to foul play or not, for he won’t say anything about that and evidently doesn’t know—but it seems to have changed him.”
Carton said it as though at last a ray of light had struck in on an otherwise black situation, and that was indeed the case.
“I suppose,” suggested Craig, “that as long as Murtha was alive he would rather have died than say anything that would incriminate him. That’s the law of the gang world. But with Murtha no longer to be shielded, perhaps he feels released. Besides, it must begin to look to him as though the organization had abandoned him and was letting him shift pretty much for himself.”
“That’s it,” agreed Carton. “He has never got it out of his head that Kahn swung the case against him and I’ve been careful not to dwell on the truth of that Kahn episode.”
Carton led us into his main office, where Rubano was seated with two of Carton’s assistants who were quizzing him industriously and obtaining an amazing amount of information about gang life and political corruption. In fact, like most criminals when they do confess, Dopey Jack was in danger of confessing too much, in sheer pride at his own prowess as a bad man.
Outside, I knew that it was being well noised abroad, in fact I had nodded to an old friend on the Star who had whispered to me that the editor had already called him up and offered to give Rubano any sum for a series of articles for the Sunday supplement on life in the underworld. I knew, then, that the organization had heard of it, by this time—too late.