Harvard Has a Homicide
JUPITER JONES threw down the rest of his hand and got up from the bridge table.
‘You know,’ he said, ‘it’s time something happened around here. I refuse to play bridge much longer. I want a fire, a riot, and lots of police cars.’
‘Have a drink,’ said his partner.
‘It’s too wet for a fire, March is n’t the season for riots in Cambridge, and one police car is very much like another,’ summed up opponent East. ‘Sit down and play bridge.’
‘I don’t blame you, Jupe,’ said West; ‘I feel the same way. If I were n’t going to Law School, I’d leave college now.’
‘Everyone says that in March,’ said South; ‘it’s chronic.’
‘Hell hath no fury like Cambridge in March or something,’ said Jones, putting on his hat. ‘Well, I’ve got to go down to the House and see the great Singer about a paper I’m writing for him, entitled “Early Northern Sources of Venetian Color.” It’s a pity you guys don’t study Fine Arts, so you could meet that prince among men. Good night, gentlemen.’
He went out.
‘There goes our fourth,’ sighed East, ‘and in a pleasant mood.’
They settled back in their chairs.
West said, ‘Why is Jones trying for a Ph. D. in Fine Arts? What does he expect to do?’
‘I think he wants to be a curator,’ said East. ‘Why, I could n’t possibly say.’
‘I can’t see him in charge of a museum.’
‘I can’t see him in charge of anything — except, maybe, a bottle of Scotch,’ said South.
‘That’s true enough,’ mused West. ‘When does he study?’
‘He does n’t need to.’
‘He uses the Jones System, his own fortunately, of starting his week-ends on Wednesday and ending on Monday. Tuesday is his day of work — his week,’ explained East.
‘Harvard, the Institution of Higher Learning!’
‘What does he do all the time?’ asked West. ‘Sometimes I don’t see him for weeks.’
‘I don’t know exactly,’ answered South. ‘He has lots of queer friends around Cambridge and I guess he goes off with them or even by himself now and then. He’s a mystery man. He knows more people in college than anyone I’ve ever seen; but I don’t think anyone knows him very well, or at all, for that matter.’
When Jones left the bridge game and came out on Mt. Auburn Street it was quarter of eight. The chimes, regularly cursed by students living near by, were ending their quarter-hourly concert.
Dodging pools of slush, he crossed a street and headed toward Hallowell House.
Edmund Jones was tall, he was thin, and he was slightly sunken; that is, his chest did not expand unless called upon to do so. Some said his face looked haggard, but this was not so. It was just terribly tired. When he sat down in a chair it was hard to believe he would be able to get up again. He did not collapse in a chair; he entwined himself in it. And yet he moved quickly and nervously; his clothes, drooping on his body, were always neat.
He looked as if he had just come out of a hospital after a lingering illness, but he could play five sets of tennis in a midsummer sun or an hour’s squash in a steam-heated court and come out perspiring slightly. He was a physical contradiction.
Someone, years before, inspired possibly by his heavy eyebrows and condescending expression, had called him Jupiter. Preparatory-school nicknames are everlasting. There is no need for quotation marks. Many of his acquaintances did not know his first name; he was Jupiter Jones, whether he liked it or not — and he did.
Across Mt. Auburn Street away from the Square, you go by dingy two-family houses and tenements and suddenly come upon a House. To a stranger, the transition from the squalid near-slum to the imposing white tower, the even rows of windows, the chimneys, and above all the endless red bricks of a House, is startling. After a while you get used to it. You have to. That may be why those old buildings are still there.
Jupiter looked at the clock on the tower of Hallowell House and saw that it was ten minutes of eight. He knew it was ten minutes of eight, but the tower is so placed that when you come to the House from the Square you have to look at the clock. It’s not easy to lose track of the time in Cambridge, he thought, even if it is to waste it.
Hallowell House forms a square. On the east end is the main tower, distinguished from the other Houses by its dome, which is painted orange, a horrid, almost unbelievable greenish orange. Opposite the main tower, across the court, there is another smaller tower which covers the dining hall, common room, and library. There are two entries on either side of the main tower, which read, from left to right, Entry A, B, C, and D. To get to the rest of the building you have to go through an arcade under the tower.
Jupiter lived on the ground floor of Entry B on the left — there are two rooms on each floor of an entry, one on each side of the stairs; there are four floors, making a total of eight rooms per entry. He went to his room, switched on a light, picked up a notebook from the table, switched off the light, and went out. Professor Singer’s room was next to his on the same floor; only a wall separated them, but he had to go outside and into Entry A to get to it. This annoyed him, as it always did.
As he passed Singer’s window he saw it was lighted. Through a crack in the curtain he caught a glimpse of the man at his desk.
I’ll be right with you, old boy,’ he said to himself, opening the entry door.
He knocked on the right-hand door and waited, his hand on the knob. Nothing happened. He knocked again, harder. Still nothing.
‘Come on, come on, it’s only me — or I,’ he muttered. He was getting nervous.
He went outside for another look in the window. Singer was still at his desk, but this time Jupiter saw that his head was resting on the desk. He had n’t noticed that before.
He went back inside and tried Singer’s door. It was unlocked. He went in and walked over to the desk. Singer was leaning forward, half covering the desk, his arms out flat. There was a little blood under his chin. Jupiter touched the back of Singer’s neck with his finger, then sat down quickly in a chair.
Every muscle in his body was twitching. After a struggle he got a package of cigarettes out of his pocket, but the cellophane licked him. He tried to get up and was surprised that he could. He stood looking down at the man, his mind coming back to normal. He put both hands on Singer’s shoulders and pulled backward. The body came back stiffly into the chair. There was a beautifully wrought gold knife hilt sticking out of Singer’s coat, near his heart. Jupiter let go of the shoulders and Singer fell forward — his head sounded hollow as it hit the desk.
‘Good God!’ said Jupiter. He sat down again.
His legs felt like old inner tubes and a large lump of iron had just landed somewhere in his stomach. Before, he had known that Singer was dead; now he knew that he had been murdered. Singer murdered! Someone had actually come into this room and pushed that knife into Singer’s heart. God! He had n’t been such a terrible old guy, after all; but —
He reached for the phone and tried to dial Operator. He had trouble getting his finger in the hole.
‘Police Department,’ he said. . . . ‘Hello?Hello? I want to report a murder . . . I guess he’s murdered. . . . I just found him dead. . . . What? . . .Yes, dead. . . . Professor Singer. . . . Hallowell House. . . . Entry B. . . . No, wait a minute, Entry A. . . . Room eleven — no, room twelve. Yes, that’s it.’ He hung up and glared at the phone. ‘Make sense, please — hell! ’
Doing something had steadied him. He managed to get the cellophane off his cigarettes and light one. He looked around the room, trying to think of something to do. He thought he ought to look for clues, but he did n’t know quite what a clue should look like. In a corner was a heavy wooden cabinet, obviously antique and Italian, like everything else in the room. Inspiration came to him; he walked over to it and opened a door. Inside was an assortment of bottles. He took out a whiskey bottle and filled a jigger. He had two without looking at Singer. They helped. After all, he told himself, if you’ve known a man as long as I’ve known Singer, you’d be expected to be somewhat unnerved. He guessed the police would be along any minute, so he had another short one, then put the bottle and glass back in the cabinet. He was feeling better.
Underneath Singer’s desk, near the edge, he saw a pocketbook. It was a small leather change purse, the kind women carry in their pocketbooks. On it he could see, in neat silver, the initials C. A. F. He recognized them.
Outside he heard the last wail of a siren in death.
He continued to look at the purse, his mind turning over slowly like an egg beater in molasses. Then he bent down, slipped the purse in his pocket, and went to the door.
The police had arrived.
Four policemen came in. Two were fat and red-faced, one was in plain clothes, the other was nondescript. They all wore overshoes. Mr. Swayle, the Hallowell House janitor, hovered near the door, his large eyes and small head moving from one to the other. He was known as the Owl Man.
Jupiter said, ‘Glad you’ve come,’ then, a little dramatically, ‘There’s the body.’
There was a general babble.
Mr. Swayle said, ‘Why, he’s dead!’
The plain-clothes man said, ‘Take it easy, boys.’
One cop said, ‘God!’
The two others grunted fittingly.
‘Close the door,’ said the plainclothes man to Mr. Swayle.
They gathered around the desk, looking at Singer. The plain-clothes man repeated Jupiter’s manœuvre of pulling the body back in the chair. The knife was still there.
‘Knifed!’ said one of the fat policemen, and Jupiter liked him for it.
The plain-clothes man let Singer fall forward gently on the desk, then he straightened up.
‘You said over the phone he was murdered.’ He was speaking to Jupiter.
Jupiter did n’t get it. ‘I guess I did.’
‘What makes you think so?’ He was quite pleasant.
Jupiter was still in the dark. ‘Possibly the knife sticking out of his ribs.’
‘H’m,’ said the plain-clothes man. He picked up the phone and dialed a number.
‘Hello! Give me Hennessey.’ Pretty soon he had Hennessey. ‘Hello, Jim. Rankin speaking. . . . Yes, he’s dead. . . . A couple of hours, I guess. . . . I don’t know; it could be suicide.’ Jupiter saw the light. ‘Send up the usual stuff, and, Jim, better have some more men up here. There’ll be a mob when it leaks out. . . . O. K. I will, thanks.’
‘I never thought of suicide,’ said Jupiter.
‘Why not?’ asked the man whose name seemed to be Rankin.
‘I don’t know; it never occurred to me.’
‘You read too many detective stories,’ said Rankin, taking off his coat. ‘Well, we’ll skip that for a minute. I’m Sergeant Rankin and will probably be in charge of this case, at least for the time being, and if you’ll just tell me how you happened to find the body, you can go.’
Jupiter decided the case was in competent hands. The Sergeant was solidly built and wore a well-fitting suit and good-looking tie. Jupiter had a habit of classifying people by their taste in ties. His eyes were deep-set and it was hard to tell where he was looking. Jupiter thought he might be a trifle cross-eyed. His apparent intelligence and machine-gun type of speech made Jupiter wonder if he had been excessively brilliant in picking up the purse.
‘What’s your name?’ asked the Sergeant, to start the ball rolling.
‘Edmund Jones,’ he said.
‘No, I graduated last year; I’m doing graduate work.’
‘Oh. Where do you live?’
‘Entry B, room eleven. Or Winnetka.’
‘It’s right next door,’ said Mr. Swayle, who was feeling out of it.
‘It’s in Illinois,’ stated one of the fat policemen unexpectedly.
‘I mean his room,’ said Mr. Swayle.
‘Quiet!’ snapped the Sergeant. ‘I’ll ask the questions; Jones will answer them. . . . Now, tell me what you did from — say six-thirty.’
Jupiter was enjoying himself; he liked the scene, he felt that things were going as they should. Especially he liked the fattest of the policemen. He decided to call him ‘Illinois.’ Mr. Swayle was becoming more and more owlish, his head jerking from one to the other and then back to the dead man. Jupiter would n’t have been surprised if he had hooted; the life of a House janitor is usually uneventful.
In a few well-chosen words he told how he had found Professor Singer.
‘I guess that’s about all,’ he concluded, ‘except that I’ve wiped off all the fingerprints and hidden the important clues.’
‘A wise guy,’ said Illinois.
‘Thanks,’ said Rankin. ‘How well did you know Singer?’
Jupiter hesitated. ‘That’s hard to say. He was my tutor for three years and I’ve worked with him a lot this year.’
‘Your tutor?’ asked the Sergeant blankly.
Jupiter was glad to explain the tutorial system, one of his favorite subjects. ‘Yes. The unsuspecting sophomore is put in the hands of a tutor in his chosen Field of Concentration — in my case, Fine Arts. The tutor assigns him reading in related subjects that he ordinarily would n’t get in his regular courses. He also helps prepare him for divisional exams. The amount of work done by the student depends on the tutor and the student himself. It’s not exactly obligatory, although it’s becoming more so. The tutor and tutee meet once a week or every two weeks, sometimes less often if the student can think of enough original excuses for not going. Each tutor has eight or ten tutees, and — well, the conversation at their meetings is n’t likely to be about their private lives, so the average student knows little or nothing about his tutor, and vice versa.’
‘I see,’ said the Sergeant, but he did n’t look it. ‘You spoke about the “average student”; would you call yourself that?’
‘Well, I don’t know. What I meant was that if a student and tutor happen to be congenial, they may have dinner together or go to the theatre; but it seldom gets beyond that.’
‘The death of your tutor has n’t upset you very much,’ observed Rankin.
‘I never cared for the gentleman,’ said Jupiter simply.
‘All right,’ said Rankin, ‘now tell me something about Singer. What was he a professor of?’
‘He lectured on the architecture, sculpture, and painting of Italy.’
‘Was he considered an authority?’
Jupiter laughed. ‘About every professor at Harvard is supposed to be the greatest living authority on something, it does n’t matter what. In Singer’s case it was Italian Renaissance painting. His best-known course was called “Venetian Painting in Relation to Florence and the Central Italians,” which just about covers everything.’
The Sergeant was going through the papers on Singer’s desk. They seemed to be in order. He picked up a pad marked ‘Engagements.’ Then he turned to Jupiter.
‘Do you still think he was murdered?’ he asked.
‘Unless you’ve found a Suicide Note, I do,’ answered Jupiter.
‘So do I,’ said the Sergeant grimly. ‘A guy that makes out a programme like this would n’t kill himself. He’s got about every hour taken up for the next two days.’
‘One of his little ways,’ said Jupiter, looking at the pad. ‘Never a dull moment. . . . Can you make out the abbreviations? He abbreviated everything to a kind of shorthand. We called him the Great Abbreviator.’
‘No, but we’ll go over that later; I want another look at that knife.’
Again Professor Singer was set upright in his chair, while the Sergeant studied the knife hilt. Jupiter noticed that Singer’s healthy color had departed, leaving his face pasty like a plate of cold mashed potatoes. He guessed that Singer was around fortyfive, not much more, young to have a full professorship. He had taken pride in the graying hair at his temples, brushing it carefully to get the best effect. He had once tried a moustache and small beard, but they had made him look too much like an effete billy goat and he had shaved them off. Jupiter realized that everything he had done was for effect. He had long slender hands, well manicured, and during a lecture or even in conversation displayed them cleverly, pulling at his chin or letting one finger follow the contour of his lips. His success with women had been unusual, although in some cases not unquestioned.
‘When you get the guy that owns that, you’ll have your killer,’ said the nondescript policeman, alluding to the knife.
‘I’m afraid not,’ said Jupiter.
Rankin straightened up. ‘Why not?’
‘It belonged to Singer; he used it as a paper cutter.’
‘You’re sure about that?’
‘Yes, he kept it on his desk. Picked it up in Italy. He thought it might have been done by Cellini. It dates from about that time.’
‘You might have told me that before,’ said the Sergeant, lighting a cigarette a little savagely.
‘You did n’t ask me,’ murmured Jupiter, wondering how much the Sergeant would stand. He liked to be sure of his footing.
Rankin let it pass. He was scratching his chin. ‘Well, that brings in a different angle.’
‘How’s that, Chief?’ asked Illinois.
‘It means that if he was murdered it was n’t premeditated — probably done in a fit of anger.’ He blew out a cloud of smoke.
The policemen and Mr. Swayle were impressed.
‘Not necessarily, Inspector,’ said Jupiter.
Rankin coughed. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Plenty of people knew that knife was on Singer’s desk.’
The Sergeant was shaken; perhaps nettled is the better word. ‘Maybe you’d like me to go back to the station and let you take charge here,’ he said. ‘And I’m a sergeant, not an inspector.’
‘Yes, sir,’ said Jupiter. He was satisfied now; the scene was complete. The amateur had aroused the professional’s wrath.
Rankin had picked up the engagement pad again and was studying it without success.
‘Can you translate this thing?’ he asked, handing it to Jupiter.
‘I’ll try.’ They gathered around him, ‘Let’s see, we might as well start with Wednesday, as this is Wednesday. . . . Ten o’clock, “Vn. Pg., Rdfe.” That would be the Venetian Painting course for Radcliffe. . . . Eleven, “do. Hvd.,” ditto for Harvard. . . . You’d think he’d go crazy giving the same lecture right over again, but he liked it like that. . . . Twelve, “Off. Hr., Fg.” Easy. Office hour at the Fogg. That’s the Museum where all this takes place. . . . One, “Lch. Fac. Cl.” Lunch at the Faculty Club. Easy, is n’t it?’
He looked up and saw nothing but open mouths and bewilderment.
‘You get used to it, and, of course, I know more or less what to expect.’ He went on, ‘Two o’clock, “A. S. P. of R.” Took that one last year. It’s another course, the Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting of Rome. . . . Three, another office hour at the Museum. He usually left at four, so the rest would be here. . . . Four-thirty, “A. Rsn.” Let’s see, it must be somebody’s name. Oh yes, Rosen, Adam Rosen — one of Singer’s tutees. . . . Five, “P. App.” . . . Appleton.’
‘Who’s he?’ asked the Sergeant.
‘Another tutee,’said Jupiter. ‘Fivethirty, “Mr. Arthur Fairchild.’” Jupiter stopped. The purse in his pocket felt much larger.
‘I wonder why that is n’t abbreviated?’ mused Rankin. ‘Do you know Fairchild? ’
‘Yes,’ said Jupiter. The truth never hurt anyone, he thought — much. ‘He’s a banker, friend of Singer’s. You’ve probably heard of his wife. They five in Cambridge.’
‘She’s the Society one,’ explained Illinois, to everyone’s surprise.
‘Yes, I’ve heard of her, but what about Fairchild? What did he want to see Singer about?’
‘I can’t answer all the questions, Inspector; it’s your turn,’ said Jupiter, figuring it would get him out of a hole. It did.
‘I’ll find out, all right. . . . Let me see that thing.’ He took the pad from Jupiter. ‘Six o’clock, “Fitz.” . ..’
‘Fitzgerald,’ said Jupiter meekly.
Rankin sighed. ‘Do you know him too?’
‘Not personally, but by reputation. He’s a portrait painter, quite famous. He’s doing the President now.’
‘What’s he doing here?’ asked Illinois.
‘The President of Harvard,’ explained Jupiter softly. He did n’t like to hurt the man’s feelings. Illinois was not bright, but he was willing.
‘You’d better do this; it’ll save time,’ said Rankin, handing the pad back to Jupiter.
Jupiter took it without comment. The next entry was for six-thirty — ‘Dr. with Hdly.’
‘That’s funny,’ said Jupiter. ‘This must mean “Dinner with Hadley.”’
‘Who’s this Hadley?’ asked the Sergeant, hot on the trail.
‘He’s a professor — an assistant professor, actually; he lives right across the hall. Let’s go see him,’ said Jupiter.
‘He’s not there; I did n’t see a light as I came past the door,’ said Mr. Swayle.
‘He’ll keep,’ said the Sergeant.
Someone knocked heavily on the door and the Sergeant went over and opened it. There was quite a mill going on in the hall. Rankin gave a few orders to someone outside and then led a small procession into the room. Jupiter found a chair in a corner and sat down to watch the festivities.
A man, obviously the medical examiner, began to do professional things to Singer. Two cops started to set up a stretcher at the other end of the room, while another man with a camera fiddled with flash bulbs. A big shot in a uniform covered with gold stripes walked around the room with Rankin, finally disappearing into Singer’s bedroom. Someone was taking fingerprints from the desk. Jupiter realized that this was the first high-class murder the Cambridge police had had in years. Mr. Swayle came over.
‘You know, Mr. Jones, I think someone ought to tell Professor Sampson about this.’
‘Do you think he’d like it, too?’ asked Jupiter; then, ‘I guess you’re right, although he probably knows already. Ask the Inspector before you go. He may have ideas.’
Mr. Swayle met Rankin coming out of the bedroom and after a few words rushed out of the room as if he were bringing the good news from Ghent to Aix. The Sergeant walked over with the man in gold braid.
‘Lieutenant, this is Mr. Jones; he found the body. We were just going over Singer’s appointment memorandums when you came in. Mr. Jones was very helpful; in fact, I’m going to ask him to stick around for a while and help me some more, if he does n’t mind.’ Then turning to Jupiter, who had got to his feet, ‘You see, in the usual murder case, such as a gang killing, the police have a definite method of procedure which goes on without the help of anyone outside, but here we really need someone closer to the actual facts.’
Jupiter wondered how many gang murders the Cambridge police had on their hands in a year, but decided not to ask.
‘I’ll do my best,’ he said, trying not to sound like a boy scout.
The doctor had finished prodding and was packing things in his bag.
‘Can you tell when he was killed?’ asked the Sergeant.
‘Can I tell when he was killed?’ sneered the doctor. ‘Why, certainly. He was found at about eight, I hear. Well, then, he was killed between eight and five. That’s three hours. Even with a post-mortem, I don’t believe I could get much closer; it depends on too many things. You ought to know that, Sergeant.’
‘Well, we’ll want a post-mortem, anyway. I want to know if he had any supper, too,’ said Rankin. It was hard to ruffle the man.
Jupiter figured he could think of an easier way of discovering if Singer had had dinner, but again he practised self-control.
‘All right, Jenkins, take your pictures. They won’t be much use, since he was n’t shot, but we’ll need them for the records.’
Jenkins adjusted his camera towards the desk and raised a flash bulb. Instinctively Jupiter straightened his tie.
After the pictures, two policemen laid out the stretcher and Singer was lifted on to it. It was an inartistic sight. A little blood had dried on the man’s chin, making his mouth seem elongated, almost shapeless. There was a strange silence in the room as a sheet was pulled over the body, covering the face. Even Jupiter was affected by it; it seemed as if for the first time everyone was conscious that a man had actually died. In analyzing the silence, Jupiter reflected that it was really man’s inbred wonder at death, a doubt, and the silence a ceremony.
The telephone ringing cut that silence to shreds; Jupiter could almost feel the vacuum left by indrawn breaths. The bell rang three times before anyone moved.
‘I’ll take it,’ said Rankin finally, going to the desk. The spell was broken; policemen were policemen again. The receiver came up. ‘Yes? . . . No, he’s not. . . . No. . . .Who is this, please? . . . Miss Slade? . . . Could you come down here? . . . Yes, right away. . . . Yes, it is. . . . Very important. . . . All right; thank you.’ He turned to the room. ‘Singer’s secretary. She’s coming over.’
Singer’s body was carried out. With it went the doctor, the lieutenant, the photographer, and three policemen. Jupiter walked over to the window; a damp but undaunted gathering of undergraduates saw the stretcher placed in the ambulance. He turned to Rankin. ‘What’s next, Inspector?’
‘Let’s finish with that engagement pad,’ he answered, picking it up. ‘I’ll want to get hold of all the people listed here and talk with them. I’ve sent the janitor to tell the man in charge of this House the news. I guess he’ll inform the proper authorities and then I ’ll have to see him. . . . The last thing was “dinner with Hadley,” was n’t it? I think Hadley’s the man we want to see. Well, there’s only one more entry —that’s eight o’clock. “J. J.” Is that you?’
‘Yes, the J is for Jupiter, a nickname.’
‘O. K. Let’s see what we’ve got. From four-thirty on at half-hour intervals we have Rosen and Appleton, students; Mr. Arthur Fairchild, banker; Fitzgerald, the artist; Professor Hadley, and finally you.’
The door opened and Illinois’s red face appeared.
‘Hey, Chief, these reporters out here want to see you. They’re trying to break down the door.’
‘Tell ’em to wait a minute. I’ll see them as soon as I can.’
Illinois disappeared in a roar from the hall.
The Sergeant turned back to the desk. ‘I have n’t a legal right to go through Singer’s papers yet; have to wait and see his lawyer. What I want to find out is his financial standing, relatives, insurance, and so forth.’
The Sergeant was thinking out loud.
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(Continued from page 200)
‘I suppose that Miss Slade, his secretary, can help when she gets here. This kind of case will either take a couple of hours or it may drag on for a year. That’s the trouble: you never know and you’ve got to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes. I have a man looking for Hadley now; he may be the key to all this. If he is, there’s no point in bothering a lot of other people. I don’t suppose you can think of any reason why he’d kill Singer?’
Jupiter felt that the Sergeant was hitting his stride; he was getting organized. Why should Hadley kill Singer? Jupiter knew the college gossip about the men — the usual thing, petty jealousies whispered about in the library, in the Museum, in classes. Hadley was the elder, been teaching for years, still an assistant professor; then Singer the brilliant, the forceful, came along, advanced rapidly, got the appointments. But was n’t there something more? There had been something about a book. Oh yes, Hadley had started a short treatise on Giorgione, the attributions of his paintings, an interesting and well-known subject, but with some good ideas. Then Singer had come out with his book covering the whole Venetian School and including most of Hadley’s theories. It had eclipsed Hadley’s thesis and done much to win Singer his full professorship. The plagiarism had been overlooked by everyone except Hadley, who had almost resigned. But still that had been years ago, and hardly a reason for murder. And Hadley himself! He barely had the courage to call his hat his own, let alone his soul.
‘No, Inspector, I’m afraid I can’t pin a motive on Hadley. You ’ll have to try.’
The Sergeant held out a pad of paper. ‘Here’s another abbreviation. Do you know what it means?’
The pad was marked at the top, ‘Today,’ and underneath, in Singer’s writing but not in his usual neat, scroll-like script, were the words, ‘IMP: CON+MAD.’
‘“IMP” — that must mean important; “CON plus MAD” — that’s a tough one. “Con” and “Mad” . . . maybe C-O-N and M-A-D — who knows? . . . The writing’s funny, too — printed in large letters. It must have been important for him to go to all that trouble.’
‘ It probably does n’t mean a damn thing, but I wish to God he did n’t write everything in code.’
‘It’s getting fictional,’ smiled Jupiter; ‘but maybe the Slade will know what it means.’
‘We can’t do much more until she gets here or we find Hadley. I suppose I might as well see those reporters.’
‘Here’s an idea, Inspector; why don’t you herd them into my room? It’s right next door. Then you can keep this room clear for your little chats with embryonic witnesses.’
The Sergeant looked up and smiled. ‘Would that be all right? It’s a good idea to keep in good with the press.’
Jupiter wondered vaguely if there was ever a policeman who had shunned publicity. ‘We can open the fire door to my room, and then you can keep popping in and out with the latest news flashes.’
‘The fire door?’
‘Yes, all these rooms are connected by fire doors. When a group of friends get together in adjoining entries, they open the fire doors to make connecting rooms. You’re supposed to have the permission of the janitor to do it, but no one bothers about that. Have you got a knife?’
Dubiously the Sergeant handed Jupiter his knife, and in a moment the glass and red cardboard were removed from the lock and the door opened.
A light was on in the room, and in a chair sat a small Negro, smoking a cigarette.
Rankin managed: ‘ Good God! ’
Jupiter said, ‘Hello, Sylvester!’
The Negro arose. ‘Ah thought yo’ might need me, Mr. Jones.’
Sylvester was very black, with a touch of indigo. His head, a big head, was shaved and polished like a number-eight ball and on his nose he wore a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. In his junior year Jupiter had won Sylvester in a crap game: that is, he had won his wages from another student for three months. When the three months were up, Jupiter had been unable to get along minus Sylvester, so he had kept him ever since. There are many Negroes around Cambridge employed as valets for students living outside the House Plan in rooming houses. They polish shoes, press clothes, run errands, and have become one of Harvard’s little-known institutions. Although frowned on by House authorities, Jupiter kept Sylvester for these purposes. To him, Sylvester was indispensable; he had become a nurse, a confidant, and even a friend.
‘Go ahead, Sylvester, slide into your white coat.’
‘Yassir,’ said Sylvester.
Illinois appeared in the fire door looking seared.
‘I could n’t find you, Chief.’ He seemed relieved. ‘There’s a guy outside that’s been trying to see you. He says it’s important.’
‘Who is it?’
‘His name’s Fitzgerald — you know, the painter.’
‘Harvard indifference’ is a household word around Boston; it has become so mainly through the efforts of the Boston Evening Transcript and other papers which have seized on this as a method to explain any untoward action on the part of a student or group of students. It is difficult — no, impossible — to generalize about Harvard. That is not a new thought. But if only thirty-six undergraduates turn out to see East Providence High School beat the Harvard Varsity basketball team 45-8, there is a good chance that ‘ Harvard indifference ’ will crop up in the morning papers. As a matter of fact, only about 15 per cent of the entire university will know that a game has been played. The point is that Harvard, like anyone else, is indifferent to things that do not interest it. On the other hand, if ten students start throwing water at each other out of windows on a warm spring evening and a policeman is foolish enough to blow his whistle, 75 per cent of the student body will be there in twenty minutes. This sounds impossible, but it has happened.
Professor Singer’s body was found at eight o’clock on a cold, wet March night. The police arrived at eight-fifteen. The undergraduates arrived at eight-sixteen. They continued to arrive, gape, and depart, until the police left.
The word went around: —
‘Hey! There’s been a murder!’
‘There always is.’
‘No, I mean here — a professor!’
‘ Really! ’
‘Don’t know. In Hallowell House.’
‘Let’s go over.’
‘I hear someone was murdered.’
‘Who was it?’
‘Someone in Fine Arts.’
‘Singer, I think.’
‘Never heard of him.’
Mr. Swayle edged his way through the crowd of undergraduates that had formed outside Hallowell House. Many of them knew him and stopped him to ask questions.
‘ Yes, Professor Singer was killed — with his own knife — that’s all I can tell you.’ He said the same thing to everyone, as if he knew a lot more, too important to tell.
The House Master’s lodgings, as they are called, were a separate building, connected to the main House on the opposite side from Singer’s room. Swayle rang the bell and the door was opened by Professor Sampson himself.
‘Oh, it’s you, Swayle. What’s the trouble?’
‘Well, sir, it’s — it’s about Professor Singer — he’s — ’
‘What about him?’
‘He’s been — he’s dead — he’s been murdered.’
‘Murdered? You’re quite sure?’
‘Yes, sir, the police are there now in his room.’
‘Good Lord! I’ll come right over.’
‘The police said you’d better tell the President, sir.’
‘Yes, of course, of course. Thank you, Swayle. This is horrible!’
‘Yes, sir,’ said Mr. Swayle, departing.
Professor Sampson closed the door and leaned back against it, spreading out his hands at his sides. Tall and thin, with a narrow face, beaked nose, and lined mouth, he justified his name of ‘The Eagle of Economics.’ His hands moved slowly up and down the cool paneling of the door, then he called: —
His wife appeared at the top of the stairs.
‘Yes?’ She had started slowly down the stairs.
‘Albert—Albert Singer has been murdered.’
If I don’t telephone, thought Miss Slade, if I just sit here and don’t telephone —
’I’ve got to stop thinking,’ she said definitely, getting up. She went into the kitchen, poured some milk into a saucepan, and put it on the floor for the cat. Idly she watched the animal stretch herself toward it, front legs bent, back legs out straight.
For twenty-three years Miss Slade had been at Harvard; before that she had taught school in a small town in New Hampshire. Twenty-three years as an underpaid, overworked secretary at Harvard. It was a long time, nearly six generations of students. And fifteen of those years as secretary to Albert Singer. That, too, was a long time. She was Miss Slade of the Fogg Museum; outside that, she had no identity. It being Wednesday, she wore a black dress with lace collar and cuffs. This was her Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday dress; on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday she wore a flowered print. Every Friday night she went to the movies at Loew’s State Theatre in Boston; there were n’t two people in Cambridge who knew this.
The cat had finished the milk. She picked up the dish, rinsed it in the sink, and went back to the other room. She lay down on the sofa and read three pages in a book called Youthful Folly, then she closed the book. She pressed both hands to her forehead and sighed. If I don’t telephone, if I don’t telephone — I should get up and wash those stockings, but if I don’t telephone —
She got up, took a nickel from her purse, and went out to the hall telephone.
Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were playing backgammon. They rolled the dice and moved the checkers conventionally, hardly bothering to double. The radio was tuned to a symphony programme.
Mrs. Arthur Fairchild, as Illinois had pointed out, was ‘the Society one.’ She headed committees, attended luncheons and smart lectures, and entertained. Her Thursday evening buffet suppers and musicales were famous; they were The Thing. If she was n’t mentioned three times a week in the Society columns, it was safe to say she was out of town. She wore tweeds and skied at Peckett’s. In time she would wear a ‘choker’ and look down her nose at unsteady freshmen at the Brattle Hall dances. The Fairchilds had a son at Milton, a daughter at Winsor, and a house at Gloucester. Once a year they went to Bermuda.
Arthur Fairchild had three subjects of conversation: the Roosevelt Administration, club life at Harvard, and yachting; but he had acquired sufficient wealth and looked very impressive in evening clothes.
A voice interrupted the music on the radio: ‘. . . bring you a special announcement. Professor Albert Singer of Harvard was found murdered in his room in Hallowell House at eight o’clock this evening, by Edmund Jones, graduate student. He was noted as an authority on Italian Art and had written several books on the subject. The police are at work on the case. For further details see your local newspaper.’
Mrs. Fairchild went completely limp and slipped sideways in her chair. She was on the floor before her husband could reach her.
It was the first time she had ever fainted.
Coming down from the Square, Betty Mahan overheard two undergraduates talking about the murder. She stopped them and asked for details. They were gladly given.
When Miss Mahan became an assistant librarian at the Fogg Museum, the influx of students using that library was noticeable. Officials were at a loss to explain it until Jupiter pointed out that the students did n’t come to the library to study but to look at Miss Mahan. He stated further that, if pretty girls were placed in every library in college, professors would be amazed at the rise in scholastic standing; but that there was n’t much chance of this, because the supply of pretty girls was limited and all the attractive ones were working in the Deans’ Offices, anyway. Jupiter decided that it was his duty to look after Miss Mahan — his interest had exceeded the brotherly.
‘Jupiter Jones found the body,’ said an undergraduate, concluding his story.
‘He did, did he?’ murmured Miss Mahan. ‘Thanks very much for telling me about it.’
She walked off.
‘He would find the body,’ she told herself. ‘If there are any old bodies lying around, trust Jupiter to find them, the snake.’
That Singer had been murdered upset her very little, but that Jupiter should find the body and get in on all the fun was too much for her. She was that kind of girl.
‘I’ll bet he’s being smug and conceited,’ she muttered, ‘and having the time of his life.’
Rankin had gone back to Singer’s room. Uninvited, Jupiter followed him. Fitzgerald came in with Illinois. Like most good painters, Fitzgerald did n’t look like an artist. He was short, middle-aged, getting fat, and now he appeared bewildered.
Rankin said, ‘What can I do for you?’
‘I just heard that Mr. Singer was murdered.’ He seemed to feel that that explained everything.
‘Yes, he was murdered, I think.’
‘Well, I —’ He was pretty nervous.
‘You said you had something important to tell me.’
‘I was just coming to see him and now he’s dead. I mean, he’s dead and I can’t see him.’
‘That’s true.’ The Sergeant was very patient. ‘You saw him this afternoon, did n’t you?’
Fitzgerald looked surprised. ‘Why, yes. How did you know?’
Jupiter felt Rankin had been foolish to mention the visit first.
‘I knew,’ said Rankin. ‘And you wanted to see him again. Was he expecting you?’
Fitzgerald tightened. ‘Yes, he was.‘
‘What time did you leave here this afternoon?’ Rankin asked the question pleasantly.
The artist thought for a minute. ‘A little after six, I think; I had an appointment to see him at six. I did n’t stay more than five minutes. He seemed to be expecting someone else and he asked if I would mind coming back this evening.’
‘You’re sure of the time? You left at five past six?’
‘Yes, I should think so. Maybe a few minutes later.’
A strange policeman put his head in the door. ‘Hey, Sergeant! There’s a lady out here says you want to see her. Name’s Slade.’
‘Tell her to wait a minute; I’ll see her as soon as I can.’ Then turning to Fitzgerald, ‘Well, sir, I’m afraid there’s not much more I can tell you about the murder; but if you’ll leave your address I may want to talk with you again. You were n’t planning to leave Cambridge right away?’
Fitzgerald was relieved. ‘No, I have about two weeks’ more work to do here. I’m doing a portrait of the President, you know. I ’m staying at the Hotel Continental, room 303 — you can reach me there. I’m afraid I’ve caused you a lot of trouble coming here, but it was quite a shock. I expected to see Professor Singer, and I —’
‘That’s all right; I’m glad you came in.’ He turned to Illinois. ‘Ask Miss Slade to come in now.’
She must have been standing just outside the door in the hall, because Illinois did n’t go out. Her gray hair straggled over her forehead and the only color in her face was a bit of red on the end of her nose. She stood in the doorway looking around the room. Then she saw Fitzgerald. Jupiter had seen a lot of movies, but he’d never seen such a look of hatred on any person’s face in his life. He actually tingled.
‘Make sure that mail does n’t get away,’ she said quietly.
Fitzgerald turned white.
Rankin said, ‘What the hell do you mean?’
Miss Slade looked at the Sergeant and hesitated, but not for long. ‘I see you don’t know who killed Singer. He did — just as sure as I’m standing here. I know it and he knows it.’
Fitzgerald coughed. ‘This woman is obviously insane.’
Jupiter thought for a minute she was going to attack him. The Sergeant stepped closer to her.
‘Insane — insane, am I? Not insane and not deaf, either.’ She was hysterical. ‘I heard you threaten him this afternoon. Do you deny that?’
Rankin put his hand on her arm. ‘ Please, Miss Slade, just a minute. You’re making a serious charge.’ Then to Fitzgerald, Do you know what she ’s talking about?
‘Mr. Singer anil I had a few words this afternoon in the Museum which she seems to have overheard. I assure you I did n’t threaten his life.’ He had grown much calmer.
Miss Slade had not. ‘A few words! A few words! You said if he had n’t made a logical explanation by to-night you would take action — drastic action; and now lie’s murdered.’
‘Those were my words, I’ll admit; but my action did not involve murder, Miss Slade.’
His tone was level; even Miss Slade was affected by it.
Rankin said, ‘You don’t have to answer now, but I’d like to know what explanation you demanded of Professor Singer.’
Fitzgerald nodded his head. ’In view of Miss Slade’s accusation, I think some explanation is necessary. Some time ago I painted Mr. Singer’s portrait, and I did not press him for payment. He had made no move to pay me and, knowing he had the money, I wanted an explanation. As you doubtless know, artists are always poor. I needed the money, that’s all.’
‘That sounds logical,’ said Rankin. ‘I’m afraid Miss Slade was shocked by the news of the Professor’s death. Spoke a little hastily.’
A transformation had come over Miss Slade. She had wilted. Jupiter was sorry for her, but, watching the scene, he felt that she had stepped too far out of character. But then he could n’t tell; maybe she was inclined to be hysterical. He’d seen her only drifting peacefully around the Museum. He really knew nothing about her.
Fitzgerald was leaving. Rankin went to the door with him.
‘I’ll be at the hotel when you want to see me. I hope I can be of some help.’
‘Thanks,’ answered Rankin. ‘I’ve been working on this case only an hour and I don’t know where I’m at. I’ll probably call you in the morning.’
The artist went out. Miss Slade was sitting in a chair, blowing her nose. Very unattractively, thought Jupiter. The Sergeant went out into the hall. Illinois was mopping his face. There was quite a letdown in the atmosphere.
Rankin came back. ‘I’ve told those reporters they could go to your room. I want to have a talk with Miss Slade. Don’t tell them anything.’
Jupiter took the hint. He almost knocked Sylvester over when he opened the fire door.
‘Must n’t eavesdrop, Sylvester; it’s very bad taste.’ He went over and turned on the radio. ‘The press is imminent. Are we prepared ? ’
Sylvester had whiskey, glasses, ice, and soda ready on a tray. Jupiter went to the door. There were about seven of them.
‘Come in, gentlemen, come in,’ he greeted them. ‘It makes cold outside, hein?’
Sylvester was mixing.
One reporter said, ‘ What the hell is this, a murder or a party?’
Another said, ‘Where’s Rankin?’
‘He’s collecting data,’ answered Jupiter, ‘but will join us presently. Keep your hats on, but take off your coats. The evening is in swaddling clothes.’
‘ Who in God’s name are you?’ asked an outspoken scribe,
‘My name is Jones; I discovered the deceased,’ answered Jupiter. Immediately there was clamor.
Jupiter held up his hand. ‘Sorry, but my lips are sealed. I am not to talk.’
‘Who was the last person to see him alive?’
‘What time did he get it?’
‘Was there much blood?’
‘Blood?’ said Jupiter. ‘I’ve never seen so much blood. It was ankle deep. They’ve got three scrubwomen in there now mopping it up.’
‘Come on, kid, give us a break. What do you know about it?’
‘Tell us how you found the body.’
‘It was quite simple,’ said Jupiter, and he told them his story. He was just finishing when the radio report came on.
‘Oh, hell!’ said a reporter disgustedly. ‘“For further details, see your local newspaper”!’
‘Radio’s certainly knocked hell out of our stuff.’ It was the old complaint. ‘Everyone knows what the next day’s headlines are going to be.’
‘Look what it’s done to advertising.’
Rankin came in through the fire door. They fell on his neck.
‘Now wait a minute, you guys; there’s not much I can give you — nothing definite now, no names. Here it is.’ Rankin was enjoying himself. ‘I am fairly sure Singer was murdered. He was stabbed with his own paper cutter, an antique Italian dagger. He was killed between six and eight — that’s as close as I can come now. There are several people I want to talk to. No one’s directly under suspicion. You’ll have to work on that. I’ve got to see Professor Sampson, the head of this building, now. I’ll try and give you some more later.’ He went back through the fire door.
‘Well, that was a great help,’ sneered a reporter. ‘We knew all that half an hour ago.’
‘We’ll have to dig up some stuff on Singer ourselves,’ said another. They seemed to be working together. ‘ You can’t expect much more yet.’
The telephone rang. Jupiter answered it.
‘Is that you, Jupiter?’ said a voice. This is Mr. Fairchild.’
‘Yes,’ said Jupiter.
‘We just heard about the murder over the radio — shocking.’ He was upset.
‘Yes,’ said Jupiter again.
‘It was you who found the — him?’
‘Mrs. Fairchild is naturally very shocked — upset, you know, coming so suddenly. She seems to want to see you.’
‘Do you suppose you could come up? Right away? She says it’s important.’
‘Yes, I think I can.’
‘I wish you would. Thanks. Good-bye!’
Jupiter hung up.
‘Who was that?’ asked a newspaper man.
Jupiter thought quickly. ‘That was my mother. She wanted to know if my laundry was ready.’ It was n’t very good, but they took it.
He was putting on his hat and coat. ‘Just make yourselves at home. Sylvester will look after you. You can use the telephone, if you want to.’
‘Where are you going?’ Three of them asked the question together.
‘I’m going out to buy another bottle of Scotch.’
That held them.
‘Tell teacher I’ll be right back,’ he said, going out.
‘That guy’s a nut,’ commented one.
‘Just a college boy,’ explained another. ‘Come on, Sylvester, we’ll have another drink.’
Jupiter’s car was parked outside Hallowell House in an alley. He got in and drove out toward Brattle Street. He did n’t know exactly what he expected to accomplish by visiting the Fairchilds, and if the Sergeant found out he would probably give him hell. His father had been a classmate of Mr. Fairchild’s at Harvard, and when Jupiter had arrived as a freshman they had invited him to Sunday dinner. From then on, he had spent a good deal of time at the Fairchilds’.
He thought what a damn fool Mrs. Fairchild was to get mixed up with Singer. Singer, of all people! If she must have her fun, why not someone a little less obvious? She had been pretty clever about it, though; he doubted if even her husband knew about it.
He turned into the driveway. The house was set back from the street. It was large and yellow.
‘You ’ve got some explaining to do, lady,’ he said, getting out.
A maid met him at the door. Mr. Fairchild was right behind her.
‘Come in, Jupiter, come in. Awfully nice of you to come so soon.’ The maid faded out. ’This is terrible, terrible! Must have been a shock, finding the body. Terrible!’
‘ Yes it was, sir — terrible! ’
‘I saw him a minute myself, this afternoon. Oh, it’s frightful — unbelievable! Stabbed, you say?’
‘Yes. Where’s Mrs. Fairchild? I’m afraid I can’t stay more than a minute.’
‘Of course. Yes. She’s upstairs. Don’t know what she wants to see you about. Better go up. She’s in the front sitting room.’ He waved toward the stairs.
Jupiter expected to find her pale and nervous, but was impressed, as he always was at first seeing her, by her healthy color and tremendous energy. If she was shocked by the news, as she surely must be, she hid it well.
‘Oh, Jupiter, you’re here,’ she said.
He sat down.
‘Tell me about it,’ she ordered.
‘Why don’t you tell me about it?’ he asked.
‘What do you mean, Jupiter?’ She seemed sincere.
‘Really, Connie,’ — she liked him to call her that, — ‘you did n’t ask me to come up here to tell you the gruesome details.’
‘Oh, Jupiter, don’t joke now, please.’ She was hurt.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said, and he was. ‘But I can’t stay long. What did you want to see me about?’
‘Were you there when — when the police came?’
‘Did they find anything? I mean, did they find —’
He’d been expecting that.
‘They did n’t find this.’ He showed her the purse.
‘Oh, I’m so glad,’ she whispered. ‘Oh, I’m so glad!’
‘But that is n’t going to make much difference,’ he added.
She stared at him wide-eyed. ‘You did n’t tell them?’
‘No, I did n’t tell them,’ he answered. ‘But maybe you’d better tell me how that purse happened to be in Singer’s room.’
‘I left it there, I did n’t remember it until I got home.’ She explained it simply, like a schoolgirl who had forgotten her rubbers. It seemed all right to her now that she knew the police did n’t know.
‘Listen, Connie,’ said Jupiter softly. ‘This is a murder — remember that. I don’t know what you were doing in Singer’s room, but the police will find out you were there. Someone probably saw you go in or come out. They will be up here asking questions. What time did you see Singer?’
‘You don’t think they’d suspect me?’ She was beginning to realize the situation. ‘Oh, if this gets in the papers!’
‘They won’t suspect you, and it won’t get in the papers.’ He said that to quiet her. ‘What time did you see Singer?’
‘About six, I guess. Just for a minute, though,’ she said. ‘I don’t know — maybe it was later.’
‘Try to make sure; it’s pretty important.’
‘Let’s see. I got home at six-thirty. I must have left about six-fifteen. I was there only a very few minutes.’
Well, that clears Fitzgerald, thought Jupiter.
‘Just for the records, Connie,’ — he thought he’d have a try at it, — ‘did you kill him ? ’
She glared at him. He had expected a reaction; he got it.
‘That’s not like you, Jupiter.’ She spoke softly but intensely.
He sighed. ‘I’m very young and unworldly, but you can’t expect me to miss everything that goes on. I’ve known about you and Singer for some time.’
She broke down. She pulled out a handkerchief and began dabbing at her eyes.
‘I’m a fool!’ Jupiter realized he was in for it. ‘I don’t know why I thought no one would know. Oh, Jupiter, you say you’ve known about it, but you have n’t — you ’re too young. You’ve read novels about married women with families who make fools of themselves with other men, but it was n’t like that. Really it was n’t. I love my family and my husband — I do. My life has been happy; I’ve had everything I want. But you know what Arthur is like; I don’t have to tell you. He’s a model husband, — everyone says so, — but he’s sometimes tiresome, he really is.’ Jupiter agreed with her. ‘He has no feeling about the things I like; he pretends to like music and painting, but he does n’t; he hates them. I’ve known Albert Singer a long time; we’ve always been friends. That’s true; really, it was n’t any more than that. He is — was a charming man. I know you don’t think so, but from a woman’s point of view he was. We saw a lot of each other, at dinner parties and here — never alone. And then, well, things changed. We went out alone together; lunches in the country — that sort . Oh, you know what happened. It was nobody’s fault — no, I guess it was my fault. I was weak. After that, we had to be careful, and—’ She was crying openly now. ‘I never loved him, I never thought about divorce. He — he — I think he loved me; he wanted me to divorce Arthur and marry him. I told him I could n’t — it would n’t be fair — fair to Arthur and the children; so I told him it was over.’
She sank back in her chair, exhausted. Jupiter watched her; he hated to see a woman cry. He felt inadequate.
‘God, what a mess!’ he murmured. He wanted to say something that would help, but could n’t think of anything. ‘How long ago was this?’
She sat up; she was getting hold of herself. ‘I don’t know why I told you all that, but I feel better now that you know the truth. It was last week. I had n’t seen him until to-day.’
‘Does your husband know about it?’
‘Yes, we had it out; I told him the truth.’ She had stopped crying. ’He was wonderful; said it was n’t my fault and that we would begin over again.’
‘ There must have been a good reason for your going to see Singer this afternoon?’
‘I went to return some things he had given me. I should n’t have.’
‘I’m not trying to be inquisitive, Connie; but how did he take all this? I mean your giving him up?’
She frowned. ‘He was nice, at first; but this afternoon he was different; said some nasty things I’d rather not repeat. Of course in a way I don’t blame him; he got a bad deal. But then — oh, let’s not talk about it. It’s all over.’
‘It’s not all over, Connie,’ said Jupiter seriously. ’It’s only beginning. Did you know that Mr. Fairchild saw him this afternoon?’
‘Yes, I know,’ she said wearily. ‘Albert said some nasty things about that, too — about crawling to my husband. Oh, it was terrible!’
‘You’ve got to face facts now. I’m serious. When the police find out both you and your husband saw Singer just before he was murdered, they’re going to wonder.’
She put her head in her hands. ‘Oh, it’s too awful,’ she moaned. ‘The papers will get hold of it and there will be a terrible mess.’
‘Don’t worry about the papers yet. Until they have some definite proof, the police won’t publish any names, I know that.’ He was doing some thinking. ‘I want to talk to Mr. Fairchild.’
At the door he stopped. ‘Tell me truthfully, Connie: did you kill him?’
She stood up. ‘No, I did n’t, Jupiter. I swear it.’
He smiled. ‘ I did n’t think so, but I like to make sure. Let’s go down and see Arthur.’
They went downstairs together. Mr. Fairchild was in his study, a small room decorated chiefly with pictures of racing yachts.
Jupiter was businesslike. ‘Connie’s told me everything. I can’t stay here much longer, and if the police find out I’ve been here at all I’ll get in trouble. Did you know that she saw Singer after you did to-day?’
Evidently he did n’t. ‘No, no, I did n’t. Why, Connie —’
Jupiter cut in. ‘Don’t bother about that now. She explained it to me. Did you keep your appointment with him this afternoon ? ’
‘Yes, I left him a little before six.’
‘All right. Now if you want my advice, Connie, you’d better tell the police you were there this afternoon. It’s better than having them find out themselves later. Make up any excuse you like; tell them you went there to ask Professor Singer to come to your musicale to-morrow night — anything.’
Mrs. Fairchild gasped, ‘Heavens! I’d forgotten all about to-morrow night. What shall we do about it?’
‘Call it off, of course,’ said Mr. Fairchild.
‘But how can we?’ She was bewildered. ‘It’s been planned for weeks. I’ve engaged those people from the Symphony; everyone’s coming!’
‘ Hell! ’ said Jupiter. ‘Have your musicale. Why not?’
‘What will people say?’ said Mrs. Fairchild. It was important to her.
‘Never mind,’ said Jupiter. ‘If the usual crowd is coming, it will be fun.’
Mrs. Fairchild looked at him. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Sampson always come, and Professor Hadley; but the others — Mr. Burnhart from the Boston Museum and, oh dear! that Frenchman from New York — Renier, I think his name is — what shall we do?’
Jupiter was amazed at her. The musicale seemed more important than the murder.
‘ Have you asked Fitzgerald, the painter ? ’
‘Why, yes. Why?’
‘Have your musicale, then,’ Jupiter laughed. ‘Don’t worry; everyone will come. There won’t be much music, but there ’ll be plenty of conversation.’
‘It might be wiser,’ put in Mr. Fairchild.
A maid appeared at the door. She was wild-eyed.
‘There is a policeman at the door, sir. He wants to see you.’
‘Good God!’ said Jupiter. ‘It’s the Inspector. I’ll go out the back door. Don’t tell him I was here, and remember to tell most of the truth.’
He slid into the hall and out into the kitchen. Behind him he heard the Sergeant lumbering down the hall. He waited until the maid came back.
‘Much excitement, Mary — much excitement. My hat and coat are in the hall. Sneak out and collect them, will you?’
She was back in a minute, panting. ‘Here they are; he did n’t see me.’
‘Pretty work, Mary,’ said Jupiter, smiling. ‘What time did Mrs. Fairchild come in this evening?’
‘Come, tell Uncle Jupiter; it’s all right.’
‘I don’t know as I ought.’ She was building up suspense.
Jupiter had his coat on. ‘Oh, well, it does n’t matter. Good night, Mary.’
‘She came in at half-past six, sir.’
‘Thanks,’ he said, going out.
His car was parked at the side of the house in the driveway. There was a police car on Brattle Street, directly opposite. He could n’t tell if there was anyone in it,
’Thank God this driveway has a back entrance,’ he murmured. ‘See you later, Inspector.’
He drove out. On the way back to Hallowed House he reviewed his talk with Mrs. Fairchild. As much as he liked her, he could n’t help thinking she was in a tough spot and that it was her fault she was there. He could understand her feeling about the papers. One word of scandal, the kind of scandal connected with a murder trial, and she would have to move away from Boston, He was not a native of Boston, but he knew something about the town — enough. Rankin would undoubtedly connect the two visits to Singer, — he could n’t miss it, — but so far he had nothing to go on. The time of Singer’s death had n’t been established, although Jupiter was convinced that he never got any dinner. That would put the time between six-fifteen and seven, at the latest.
‘Well,’ he mused, ‘if some good cleanliving citizen does n’t come forward and say he saw Singer alive after six-fifteen, Connie is going to have to answer a lot of questions and they won’t be asked by Sergeant Rankin.’
There was a line of cars parked near Hallowell House. He had to hunt around for a space. He was just climbing out when he saw the familiar figure of Professor Hadley approaching in the rain.
Professor Hadley was that extremely rare character, an absent-minded professor. All the hackneyed jokes ever made about absent-minded professors could be applied to him and nobody would be surprised. In the field of Fine Arts at Harvard he was at home.
‘Good evening, Professor Hadley,’ said Jupiter quietly.
He was startled. ‘Oh — ah, good evening, sir. Oh, it’s you, Jones. Excuse me.’
Coming from anyone else, this would be a crack. ‘Yes,’ said Jupiter.
‘I’ve just seen a most lovely girl, Jones — most lovely. Something Botticelli about her, hard to define, and an extremely good actress.’ He was excited.
Jupiter guessed his secret. ‘You’ve been to the movies?’
‘Yes — er, yes, at the University. As I was saying, this girl — ’
‘Professor Singer’s been murdered.’
Nothing registered. ‘Murdered? Oh, well, as I say, there was one scene, a scene in a field— What was that you said? Professor Singer? I think I misunderstood you.’
‘Professor Singer was murdered sometime between six and eight, this evening.’
Jupiter could almost see his mind working.
‘Murdered? There must be some mistake, Jones. That’s impossible — really. Murdered? Oh no!’
‘I’m afraid it’s true, sir. I found him, and the police are there now.’
Hadley had accepted the fact. Jupiter was startled by the change in him. He had somehow expected him to go to pieces, but the little man seemed to grow stronger. He drew his coat tighter around his neck and started off toward his room. Jupiter went with him.
‘Of course, Jones, this is a horrible thing for the University.’ He spoke definitely; most of his stuttering and groping for words had gone. ‘Professor Singer and I were friends — co-workers, you know. I shall miss him. Yes, I shall miss him. You have probably not been unaware of the animosity between Singer and myself, but that was inevitable. A few years ago — but I shan’t mention that.’
Jupiter could n’t figure it; it did n’t add up. Here was old Professor Hadley, the timid rabbit, talking about a man who had been murdered three hours ago as if the whole thing had happened years before. There was no explanation. Or was there? Suppose Hadley had hoped for something like this — something that would remove the brilliant Singer from his field, make him the recognized leader in his work at Harvard. It sounded impossible, but, hell! professors must have some ambition; they could n’t go on instilling the same old facts into unreceptive students unless they had something to look forward to. Jupiter had always thought Hadley must be reconciled to mediocrity. He was a dull lecturer, one of the dullest; he seemed happy enough pottering around the Museum, collecting slides for his next class. Do you suppose he hoped for the time when students would whisper, ‘There goes Hadley. You’ll have to take his course on sculpture; it’s the only one given, but God help you!’ Funny how little you know about your professors, thought Jupiter.
Hadley was still talking. ‘The police are there, you say? I dare say they will find the guilty person. I have no idea how they go about it — not the slightest. Well, this will be a blow to the department. Yes, a distinct blow. I wonder who will take over his courses?’
There it is, thought Jupiter; he’s thinking about it already.
‘The police will want to talk to you,’ said Jupiter. He thought he’d break it gently.
‘Talk to me? Oh yes, of course. They will want to know if I heard the shot or something. I’m afraid I won’t be able to help them much.’
Rankin will kill me for this, he thought, but then I’m far enough in it now. ‘Did you have dinner at the House, sir?’
‘Why, yes.’ He looked at Jupiter sharply. ‘Why did you ask that?’
‘When did you last see Professor Singer?’
‘Now just a minute, Jones. I think the police had better ask those questions.’
‘They will,’ he said. ‘I was just preparing you.’
‘Did you say you had found the body?’
‘Yes. I’m working with the police,’ he lied.
‘Well, in that case, perhaps, it would be better if I told you and avoided the police altogether.’
Jupiter coughed. ‘Well, there may be a few odds and ends they’d like to check up with you.’
They were approaching the crowd outside Singer’s room. Jupiter did n’t care about being seen with Hadley. After all, the police had been looking for him for a couple of hours.
He stopped. ‘ What time was it you last saw Professor Singer?’
‘I came down with him from the Museum about four. I have n’t seen him since.’
Jupiter had to work quickly. Mr. Swayle was mingling with the crowd.
‘Do you remember that you had an appointment to have dinner with him tonight?’
He thought a minute. ‘Yes. Yes, I do. To tell you the truth, I forgot about it. I forgot about it purposely.’
Jupiter almost collapsed. Why, the man seemed proud of the fact!
He managed, ‘You forgot about it purposely?’
Hadley was excited. ‘Yes, purposely. I was sick and tired of having Singer order me to eat with him. That’s what he did — order me! I said to myself, I ’ll go over to the dining hall and he can join me if he will; but I won’t call for him!’
Mr. Swayle had spotted Hadley; he was coming over.
‘Maybe, sir, maybe you’d better just tell the police you forgot about it. They might not understand. I forgot something in my car; I’ll see you later.’
He ran up the street. Mr. Swayle had n’t seen him.
He waited at a safe distance until Hadley and Mr. Swayle had gone into the building, then he walked quickly toward the House.
‘So far,’ he told himself, ‘I’m doing all right. I’ve hidden evidence, told the Fairchilds what to say, and now I’m covering up Hadley. The Inspector will lock me up if he finds out and I can’t say that I’d blame him.’
A small crap game was in progress on the floor of his room. Only three reporters remained. Sylvester was trying for a four.
‘Don’t let me interrupt,’ said Jupiter, taking off his coat.
‘Where ah yoo, little Joe!’ said Sylvester, rolling. ‘Ha!’
‘Stop me if I’m wrong,’ said Jupiter. ‘But I thought there’d been a murder. Don’t you guys have to write stories?’
‘ Hell, no, we ’re photographers,’ explained one. They went on with the game.
Jupiter mixed a drink and came back to the game.
‘Do you mind if I sit in?’
‘Come ahead,’ said one, moving over. ‘But lay off Sylvester; he’s having a heat wave.’
The gaming proceeded. He had another drink; they all did. The pleasant pastime was broken up by Rankin appearing in the fire door.
The Sergeant was not boisterous. ‘I’d like to see you a minute, Jones.’
Jupiter thought he looked a trifle like an old headmaster he had once known.
The Sergeant closed the door in Singer’s room.
‘Now listen here, Jones, I’m in charge of this case and I ’m supposed to question the witnesses. What’s the idea of talking to Hadley? ’
‘So you’ve seen the good pedant?’ He was feeling the last drink.
‘You can cut the wisecracks. What did he tell you?’
‘Probably the same thing he told you.’
Rankin was losing control. ‘Listen, Jones, this murder may be a lot of fun for you, but it’s my job — get that. I won’t have anyone working against me. As I pointed out before, you can be of some help to me, but you’ve got to work with me, not against me.’
‘I see your point,’ said Jupiter. ‘As a matter of fact, I just happened to bump into Hadley on the street. My curiosity got the better of my usual good judgment and I asked questions. I’m sorry.’
‘That’s better. Now what did he tell you?’
I asked him if he’d had dinner at the House; he answered yes. Then I asked him if he remembered his date with Singer for dinner and he said he’d forgotten it. I did n’t talk with him very long.’
‘Is that all? asked the Sergeant.
‘All,’ answered Jupiter.
‘Did he know about the murder when you spoke to him?’
‘No, I broke the news to him; he’d been to the movies.’
‘How did he take it?’
‘I’d swear on any amount of Bibles i was the first he’d heard of it.’
‘Maybe,’ said the Sergeant doubtfully. ‘But forgetting about dinner was a hot one.’
‘If you think Hadley killed Singer you ’re crazy.’
‘I’m not thinking who killed him yet; I’m trying to find out the time of his death. As a matter of fact, Professor Sampson was with Hadley until quarter of seven.’
‘You’ve been doing all right,’ said Jupi ter. He thought he’d sound him on the Fairchild situation. ‘Well, then, the last person to see Singer was Fitzgerald.’
Rankin took the bait. ‘No, I’ve found the person Singer was expecting. Mrs. Fairchild, the wife of the banker, paid him a short visit; left about six-fifteen, she says.’
Jupiter whistled. He hoped it sounded authentic.
‘It looks bad for the lady,’ he suggested.
’Not necessarily. I tell you I’m just trying to place the time, but their both seeing him to-night needs some explaining. He says he saw him on business and she says she was inviting him to some party she’s throwing.’
They were both thinking.
Finally Rankin said, ‘I’m convinced Singer did n’t have dinner. I’ve checked with them over in the dining hall and they say he never appeared. The dining hall closes at seven, and so if he was n’t dead before then he would have gone over. How does that strike you ? ’
‘I’ll admit that had occurred to me, Inspector.’
‘That places it between six-fifteen and seven,’ mused Rankin.
‘What’s the story on that dramatic little scene we had here a while ago featuring Miss Slade?’ He wanted a change of subject.
‘I had a talk with her about that. She’s still convinced Fitzgerald killed him. Says for the last week, ever since he got here, Singer’s been nervous, hardly able to do his work. There may be something in it.’
‘Did Slade translate Singer’s little note, “Con plus Mad”?’
‘No, she could n’t figure it out. . . . I don’t think it’s important, though — probably something to do with his work. I’ve been through the notes in his desk, but I can’t connect it. . . . You go on back and look after those reporters, but don’t tell them anything, remember that, and if you come across any more witnesses let me talk to them.’
Rankin was pleasant again. Jupiter figured he was satisfied with the way the case was going.
He had started through the fire door. ‘I suppose you’ve already done it, Inspector, but how about checking up on Fitzgerald ? Find out what time he got back to his hotel?’
The Sergeant smiled. ‘Thanks, I’m checking everyone’s alibi, don’t worry about that. I’m going to talk to the students in this entry. Have n’t had a chance yet. Tell the boys I ’ll give ’em their story as soon as I can.’
Back in his own room Jupiter found things much as he had left them. Sylvester was still dominating the game. A few more news hounds had wandered in; they wanted information.
‘Sorry, no dice,’ said Jupiter. ‘Rankin has pledged me to silence, but he will appear in person directly.’
Time passed. Someone brought in the American extra. There was n’t much to the story — an account of Jupiter finding the body, a picture of Singer, and a brief biographical sketch. It was going big outside; students were fighting for copies.
About twelve the Sergeant came back and said he was leaving for the night — he’d be back in the morning. Sylvester and Jupiter were alone.
Jupiter relaxed. ‘Quite an evening, Sylvester.’
Sylvester was all smiles. ‘All can’t complain.’
Sylvester collected glasses and began washing them in the bathroom. Jupiter never thought of going to bed before one-thirty or two; it was against his principles. Idly, he reviewed the evening’s events. He was convinced that Connie Fairchild was innocent; but if she had n’t done it, who had? Fitzgerald and Hadley were alibied, and after all the field of possible murderers was fairly limited.
‘I’ll have to wait until the Inspector has done more groundwork, then I can let my master intellect sift the facts,’ he thought.
Puzzles fascinated him. He toyed with Singer’s note, ‘Con+Mad.’ On the rare occasions when he actually studied, he let his thoughts out vocally.
‘“Cou” — I have a feeling that must be Connie, but I kept that from the Inspector — “plus Mad.” If “Mad” is a woman’s name, it would be what? Madeline — marvelous, Jones, you’re wasting your time at Harvard — Madeline who? I know no Madelines.’ He scratched his head. ‘But if it was Connie and Maddy, why would he write that down? If a man was trying to make up his mind about two women, why in God’s name would he mark it important and write it out on a scratch pad? The man may have been queer, but not that queer. Forgetting for a minute that there are any women involved, what would Singer be apt to write on a pad. . . . Notes about his work, as the Inspector suggests? Very probably. What kind of work?’ Suddenly he sat back in his chair and yelled. Sylvester dropped a glass. ‘Oh, my God !‘ Jupiter was laughing. ‘The boy detective at Harvard. Here I’ve been looking for women’s names and the thing is juvenile.’
Sylvester stuck his head in the door. ‘What is it, Mr. Jupiter?’
‘It’s nothing, Sylvester; this murder has gone to my head. I’ve been looking for mysterious messages and I’ve found a reminder of Singer’s about his lecture for to-morrow. The plus sign fooled me. It’s nothing but a cross, just a plain cross — Singer’s own abbreviation for a Crucifixion, some painting he wanted to speak about. I might have known. I’ve seen it enough times. Of course “Mad” stands for Madonna and “Con” could mean a lot of things — Conversazione, Consecration, Condottiere.
‘Sylvester,’ he added, ‘if you’ve finished, you’d better go home. Come in early and bring the papers.’
Sylvester departed happily. He was in twenty-three dollars.
(To be continued)