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This pastiche appeared in the New York Evening World in 1904. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.The Fatal Chord was published in twelve daily chapters, the excerpt below is chapter six.


The Fatal Chord,

or the Baffling Mystery of the Carnegie Hall Murder.

By Albert Payson Terhune.


Cyril Ballard, a young New Yorker, is killed during a musicale at Paul Craddock’s apartments in Carnegie Hall. Several apparently supernatural events attend his death. Poison tablets, also, are found in his pocket, but the autopsy reveals no trace of poison in his system. As Gresham and Beckwith, two detectives, are discussing the affair, they are joined by a tall, thin Englishman, whom Beckwith introduces to Gresham as the “ideal detective.” To which Gresham replies: “Do you mean to tell me this is SHERLOCK HOLMES?”

This other makes an evasive reply and tells Gresham that the latter may refer to him merely as “The Englishman.” The Englishman undertakes to solve the Ballard mystery.

The Englishman's suspicions at length fall on Royce Ballard, the murdered man's brother. He has reason to believe that Royce carries a certain document bearing on the crime, and resolves to secure it.

Securing a false warrant, The Englishman arrests Royce in Jersey City in order that Ballard may be searched. A policeman who sees the warrant eyes The Englishman with suspicion.


The Hunter Hunted

“Come,” suggested The Englishman, hiding his growing nervousness. “What are we waiting for? Let us move on. I want to get this man to the station-house.”

For answer, the policeman pocketed the warrant.

“Give that back to me,” commanded The Englishman sharply. “What on earth is the matter?” he wondered uneasily.

“This warrant” – began the policeman.

“Well,” interrupted The Englishman. “It’s regular and correct, isn’t it?”

“All reg’lar an’ c’rect,” assented the policeman. “The only thing is that it’s a New York warrant and you’re servin’ it in Jersey.”

“Well?” said The Englishman again.

“Well!” echoed the bluecoat. “How long have you been on the force not to know that a New York warrant don’t cut no ice over here in Jersey? You’re a nice sort of ‘tec,’ ain’t you? Say,” he added suspiciously as The Englishman reddened with anger under the knowledge of the error he had made, “there ain’t a cop or a detective in this whole country that don’t know that a warrant’s only good for the State it’s made out in. I believe you’re no more a detective than I am. What’s your game?”

As he spoke he threw back the lapel of The Englishman’s coat.

“Just as I thought,” he exclaimed, “not even a badge. I don’t know just what your game is, but I’ll take you to the station-house all Right. And this feller you were bluffin’ ‘ll go along as a witness.”

The Englishman, seeing that he had made too grave an error to permit his continuance of the role of Central Office man, tried a new tack.

“Look here, officer,” he whispered, “this is just a joke of mine. Help me out on it and it’s $10 in your” –

“Cut it out!” ordered the policeman tersely, “The Capt’n at our station’s a fine judge of jokes. We’ll just put it up to him.”

Catching The Englishman and Royce Ballard each by an arm, he started down the steps leading to Montgomery street. The Englishman walked meekly along, offering no resistance.

Never before I all his varied experience had he been confronted with a dilemma like this. Many a time had his life been in danger; but never once had a mere policeman overmatched him. He felt for the moment almost helpless against this mere nonentity whose brain was immeasurably inferior to his own.

“It is my own folly,” he thought wrathfully. “But for my conceit in wanting to crow over Beckwith and Gresham, I’d have told them this plan of mine and they’d have explained this warrant business to me. In England a warrant made out at Scotland Yard is effective in every corner of the British Isles. How was I to know that these Yankees restrict the power of a warrant to the mere State in which it happens to be issued? But what a godsend the North River ferries must be to New York criminals! In England we’d frame a law in a hurry that would shut off such a splendid path of escape from them. It’s as hard to catch a New York crook who crosses to New Jersey as to get a London refugee who escapes to France. But unless I do something quickly, my hopes of discovering the Ballard murderer are at an end, and my name will become the laughing stock of two continents.”

Like most geniuses, The Englishman was particularly sensitive to ridicule. This latter fear therefore, awakened his keenest faculties of self preservation.

The policeman and his double convoy had well-nigh reached the bottom of the long flight of steps.

Whatever was to be done by The Englishman must be done at once.
The policeman was walking between the two. The Englishman being on his right. As the latter had shown no signs of fight, the bluecoat was not expecting trouble.
Suddenly, on the fourth step from the bottom, The Englishman’s foot apparently slipped, he plunged awkwardly forward and, owing to the grasp of the officer on his left arm, swung sharply to the left.

The sharp tug had pulled both Ballard and the policeman forward, and owing to the direction The Englishman’s body had taken, one of his long legs was thrust across the third step directly in front of his two companions. Against this barrier they stumbled before either could recover from the forward impetus which The Englishman’s sudden misstep had caused.

The trio fell in  a profane, awkward tangled heap at the foot of the stairs.

The Englishman being uppermost was first to extricate himself.

He delayed only long enough to snatch the bogus warrant from the policeman and thrust it into his own pocket. But the delay was well-nigh fatal to his plan of escape. For the agile bluecoat was on his feet in a trice and sprang on his prisoner.

Quick as he was, The Englishman was quicker. A left-hander in the mouth sent the policeman back against the wall. He recovered himself at once, but not before The Englishman had dashed through the idle crowd that had begun to collect, and passed through the entrance out into Montgomery street.

His pursuer was scarcely a yard behind him, and a second policeman joined in the chase as did half a dozen bystanders.

Across Montgomery street, dodging in and out among ferry-bound vehicles and Jersey City trolley cars The Englishman fled, his foes close on his heels. It was his first visit to Jersey City, In a strange land he was trying to escape from men whose home-ground it was. Another fugitive would have fled aimlessly, would have tried to double and would most infallibly have been caught in short order.

The Englishman, on the contrary, ran straight for the car stables diagonally opposite.
Rushing just ahead of his pursuers into the shed and slipping between two cars, he made for one of the low doors leading to the rear of the building.

Slamming this door almost in the face of his foremost pursuer he shot the bolt.

Barely five seconds passed before the combined shoulders of the two policemen had smashed the door in.

But that brief interval was apparently sufficient. For, search as they would, no sign of The Englishman could they find.

A large crowd had by this time gathered in front of the car stables, and the baffled officers were treated to a good amount of guying.

“Where’s your other prisoner?” inquired an old countryman, “the nice-dressed one you was holding when the other feller took it into his head to scoot?”

The first policeman started angrily. In the pursuit of The Englishman and the hopes of promotion for so clever a capture, he had quite forgotten Royce Ballard. The latter had taken advantage of this forgetfulness to move away unobserved and board a Cortlandt street boat.

“Guess the pair of ‘em was too slick for ya, eh?” jeered the old countryman.

“Move on, now,” threatened the policeman cholerically, “before I run you in, too.”

“ ‘Fore you run me in instead, I guess you mean, const’ble,” chuckled the old man, encouraged by the people in the crowd. “ain’t seen ya run ennybody in, so far.”

The policeman treated his rude tormentor to a disgusted glare.

“Guess you’re a funny man at the village store up to Pompton or some such place?” he sneered. “Chase back there; you’re too witty to be loose in town.”

Instead of following the advice, the old countryman slouched across to the ferry house, bought a ticket to New York, and sighed contentedly as he found a vacant seat on a Twenty-third street boat.

“That was a pretty close call [missing] this. I’ll study up some of this country’s criminal laws before [missing] detective again. Just the same,” he added doggedly, “I’ll find what it is Ballard carries so carefully in his breast pocket. One scheme has failed. The next shall succeed.

(To Be Continued.)

The Evening World, 9 April 1904



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