Also, he depended greatly on Fibsy’s assistance. The boy was indefatigable, and he did errands intelligently, and made investigations with a minute attention to details, that delighted the heart of his master.
Young McGuire had all the natural attributes of a detective, and under the tuition of Fleming Stone was advancing rapidly.
When assisting Stone on a case, the two usually lived together at some hotel, Stone going back and forth between there and his own home, which was now in a Westchester suburb.
It was part of the routine that the two should breakfast together and plan the day’s work. These breakfasts were carefully arranged meals, with correct appointments, for Stone had the boy’s good at heart, and was glad to train him in deportment for his own sake; but also, he desired that Fibsy should be presentable in any society, as the pursuit of the detective calling made it often necessary that the boy should visit in well-conducted homes.
Fibsy was, therefore, eating his breakfast after the most approved formula, when Stone said, “Well, Fibs, how about Sykes and Barton? Now for the tale of your call on Willy Hanlon yesterday.”
“I went down there, Mr. Stone, but I didn’t see Hanlon. He was out. But I did a lot better. I saw Mr. Barton, of Sykes and Barton, and I got an earful! It seems friend Willy has ambitions.”
“In what line?”
“Upward! Like the gentleman in the poetry-book, he wants to go higher, higher, ever higher—”
“No, not that way—steeplejack.”
“Not only spires, but signs in high places—dangerous places-and, you know, Mr. Stone, he told us—that day at the Embury house —that he didn’t climb—that he painted signs, and let other people put them up.”
“Yes; well? What of it?”
“Only this: why did he try to deceive us? Why, Mr. Barton says he’s a most daring climber—he’s practicing to be a human fly.”
“A human fly? Is that a new circus stunt?”
“You know what I mean. You’ve seen a human fly perform, haven’t you?”
“Oh, that chap who stood on his head on the coping of the Woolworth Building to get contributions for the Red Cross work? Yes, I remember. He wasn’t Hanlon, was he?”
“No, sir; he was the original—or one of the first ones. There are lots of human flies, now. They cut up tricks all over the country. And Willy Hanlon is practicing for that but he doesn’t want it known.”
“All right, I won’t tell. His guilty secret is safe with me!”
“Now, you’re laughing at me, Mr. Stone! All right just you wait —and Hanlon goes around on a motor-cycle, too!”
“He does! Then we are undone! What a revelation! And, now, Fibs, if you’ll explain to me the significance of Hanlon’s aspiring ambitions and his weird taste for motor-cycles, I’ll be obliged.”