Harvard Has a Homicide

WHEN, one March evening, Sergeant Rankin of the Cambridge police was called upon to take over the case of Albert Singer’s murder, he discovered that a lot of people might have killed the celebrated Fine Arts professor at Harvard, and with good reason: Connie Fairchild, because Singer and she were at the end of a love affair; Arthur Fairchild, her husband, for obvious reasons; Professor Hadley, Singer’s senior colleague, from jealousy; Fitzgerald, the renowned portrait painter, accused by Miss Slade — Singer’s secretary — of having stabbed him in a fit of anger. It was a baffling case, but Rankin was wise enough to encourage the assistance of Jupiter Jones, the eccentric graduate student who had found the dead man and who had ideas of his own about the case. The following morning . . .


OVER the dubious aroma of twenty-five hundred coffee cups floated the remarks of Harvard undergraduates and professors discussing the murder. No one talked of anything else, naturally. Total strangers spoke to one another. The murder had become a giant leveler. In every dining hall there was buzzing. Most were shocked, some were amused, none were indifferent. Hallowell House alone was subdued; people whispered, the maids moved softly; this was the centre — it had happened to them. Every face turned toward the door when someone entered; they were looking for celebrities. Things had leaked out; Hadley had been questioned; Sampson had spoken to the police; and Jones . . . No one came but Mr. Swayle, who kept appearing importantly in the hall and looking around. They were tired of him.

By nine o’clock every student and most professors had become amateur detectives. Rankin had had eighteen telephone calls reporting eighteen different types of people seen near Hallowell House between six and eight. They ranged from public enemies to scrubwomen. He listened patiently at first, then refused to talk to anyone. He investigated them all; they proved nothing.

Later in the morning a well-known professor met a class of inattentive newspaperreading freshmen. He said: ‘Gentlemen, a terrible thing has happened. It is a shock to the University and everyone connected with Harvard, but there is no reason why we should not go on with our studies in a sane and normal manner. However, as you will undoubtedly continue to view this tragedy as a Roman holiday, I am going to take the precaution of dismissing this class. Good day, gentlemen.’

Jupiter woke early. The Chapel bells were announcing the fact that nineo’clock classes were getting under way. He stretched, yawned, and put his hands to his head. As always, he was surprised that it did n’t come off and roll on to the floor. Once he’d had a dream that he was holding his head in his hands and looking down at his horrible rolling eyes; he’d never quite recovered from it. His tongue made an experimental trip around his mouth and he was pleased that it encountered no pigmies. He was suffering a mild hangover.

Sylvester was making soundless noises in the other room. Jupiter could sense his presence.

‘Sylvester!’ he called. ‘The master is awake.’

Sylvester appeared with a glass of orange juice and a pile of newspapers.

‘Good mornin’, Mr. Jupiter. Fine day.’

Jupiter looked out the window. The sun was shining.

‘Good morning, Sylvester. If the sun should stay out all day the Transcript will probably have an editorial on the phenomenon.’ He drank the orange juice quickly, then reached for the papers.

‘Oh, my God!’ He collapsed on his pillow. There was a large picture of Singer and beside it a smaller one of himself. It was from his Class Album. ’That’s a fine thing to be faced with in the early hours of the morning. They were certainly hard up for news.’

He read one or two stories through and glanced at the rest. No names were mentioned; the stories dealt with the finding of the body, Singer’s educational record, and the arrival of the police. There was not a hint about the Fairchilds. Good, he thought.

‘Ah’ll go an’ get some coffee an’ toast, Mr. Jupiter. Is they anything else yo’ want ? ’

‘Not a thing, Sylvester. Hurry back.’

Sylvester went out. Jupiter took a shower and got dressed; he was feeling almost normal by the time his breakfast arrived.

‘Any sign of the gendarmes outside?’ he asked Sylvester.

‘No, suh, but Ah saw the Sergeant go in Professor Singer’s room when Ah went out.’

‘Oh,’ said Jupiter, sipping coffee, ‘so he’s on the scene already. I wonder if he’s nabbed anyone yet. . . . Knock on the door and ask him to step in a minute.’

Sylvester knocked. Illinois opened the door.

‘Good morning, good morning!’ Jupiter waved. ‘How’s the world of crime?’

Illinois was becoming hardened to Jupiter’s insanity. ‘Mornin’, son; you get up late.’

Rankin came in smiling.

‘Sit down, Inspector. Have a cup of coffee.’

‘You guys sure have a tough life at college,’ said Rankin, sitting down.

‘This is unusual; only on rare occasions do I allow myself this luxury. The coffee already has sugar and cream, so I won’t ask you how you like it.’ He poured a cup.

‘You know, I like this scene. I remember a detective story where every once in a while the Inspector would sit down and discuss the case with his confederate. It gave the writer a chance to get in a lot of details he’d left out in his descriptions.’ Jupiter was enjoying himself. He had n’t felt so well in the morning for a long time. ‘How are things going?’

Rankin laughed. ‘I’ve never seen anything like it before. You lie in bed while all the rest of the college is out rushing around trying to be detectives. They ’ve been calling me up all morning. As far as I can make out, there must have been a parade going by outside here last night, but no one saw anyone come in or out of Singer’s entry. Did anything happen after I left?’

‘Not a thing, Inspector; I was disappointed. I thought at least there might be a ghost or two roaming around next door.’

‘Well, I’ve been over Singer’s room carefully. There’s nothing there that seems to bear on the case.’ Rankin reflected, then asked: ‘By the way, do you know of any woman who was intimate with him ? ’

Jupiter looked at the Sergeant intently, but he seemed innocent. ‘No; I’m sorry.’

‘What is Mrs. Fairchild’s first name?’


He said it too quickly. The Sergeant looked up sharply.

‘You know them pretty well?’

He was in for it. ‘They’re friends of my family. I’ve been to dinner there several times.’

‘How do they get on? Any trouble?’

You could shave with the tone of his voice, thought Jupiter.

‘Why don’t you ask them?’ Then he was sorry he’d said it.

The situation was tense. Jupiter tried to ease it.

‘I’ve solved Singer’s code message, Sergeant, if that will help.’

‘What is it?’

‘Notes for his lecture — nothing important.’ He described the abbreviations.

When he had finished, Rankin was still serious. ‘So far you’ve been a great help, Jones. I like you and I’d like to have you keep on helping me, but you ’ve got to play ball. So far you have n’t.’

Jupiter was more than curious. ‘What do you mean?’

Rankin sighed. ‘I have n’t had your education, Jones, but I know a lot more about police work than you do or than you think I know. I have n’t asked you this before because I was trying to find out myself, but I can’t. Why did you go to the Fairchilds’ house last night?’

Jupiter blushed for the first time in his life. He felt like a little boy caught playing marbles in Sunday School.

‘I guess I underrated you, Inspector,’ he said weakly.

‘Answer my question.’

Jupiter swallowed. ‘Mr. Fairchild telephoned me and asked me to come out. Mrs. Fairchild wanted to see me.’

‘Had they heard about the murder?’

‘Yes, they heard it over the radio.’

‘What did she want to see you about?’

Oh hell, he thought, it might as well be the works.

‘She wanted to know if I had found her purse in Singer’s room. I had.’

Rankin exploded, ‘Well, for God’s sake!’

‘It was stupid, I’ll admit. I thought it would keep her out of the publicity of the murder. It did n’t. As a matter of fact, I advised her to tell you that she had seen Singer.’

The Sergeant was sarcastic. ‘That was nice of you. Of course it gave her a chance to make up a good story, but still it was nice of you. All right, now you can tell me the whole story. What was the connection between the Fairchilds and Singer?’

There was no backing out now. Jupiter told the entire conversation between himself and Mrs. Fairchild.

He concluded, ‘I don’t know why I think so, but I could swear that she did n’t kill him, and until you’ve got absolute proof that she did, it’s only fair that you hush things up. You know what would happen if that scandal got in the papers.’

During Jupiter’s talk, Rankin sat perfectly still; now he got up.

‘If people weren’t so damn worried about publicity it would be a lot easier on the police. I ought to run you in for concealing evidence, but I’m not going to. You’re just a college boy who thinks the police are a bunch of idiots and that you can solve this murder all by yourself.’

‘I’ve changed, Inspector,’ said Jupiter.

‘You’d better.’ He was starting to leave. ‘I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again, you can help me if you play ball. As a matter of fact, I probably would n’t have found out the truth about the Fairchilds for some time without your help. You ’re in closer to this than I first thought. Remember, after this no secrets.’

Jupiter smiled. ‘O. K., Inspector, from now on we go hand in glove together. What are your plans for the morning?’

‘Routine stuff in Singer’s office at the Museum. I’ll see you later.’

He went out. Jupiter relaxed. Sylvester, who had been watching the proceedings with interest, said, ‘That man there sure is smart, Mr. Jupiter.’

‘Smarter than I thought, Sylvester,’ murmured Jupiter. ‘I was under the impression that I was way ahead of him for a while, but now he seems to have closed the gap.’

Sylvester cleared away the breakfast dishes while Jupiter smoked a cigarette. His next move seemed obscure. He could always tag along after Rankin to the Museum and have a talk with Betty. She might have something to offer.

He went out.

The rain had annihilated the last of the snow and slush, leaving Cambridge a fresher and happier place. Although he had seen it hundreds of times, the morning sun glistening on the gilt and colored domes made Jupiter aware of the beauty of Harvard’s Houses. Perhaps it’s just as well, he thought, that it does rain so much around here, because when the sun appears it gives such a satisfying shock to the citizens. It was typical of him that he should have these thoughts when his mind would ordinarily be on other things. And it was also typical that he should find nothing unusual about it.


On the way to the Museum Jupiter discovered he was running out of cigarettes. He stopped in at Joe’s.

Joe was dithering. It was Jupiter’s first contact with the excitement that the murder had caused.

‘Ah, Mr. Jones!’ called Joe. ‘You finda da bod’, huh?’

Several customers stared at Jupiter.

‘Two packs,’ said Jupiter, not wasting words.

Joe would not be muted. ‘You know who done da job, huh, Mr. Jones?’

‘No idea,’ said Jupiter.

‘Sure, sure, I see. You know, a man come in here las’ night, ask where to fin’ Hallowell House. He say, “Where I fin’ Hallowell House?” Like dat.’

‘Tell it to the police, Joe; they’re collecting people like that.’

Joe smiled. ‘You maka da joke, eh?’

‘Yeah,’ said Jupiter. ‘How about my cigarettes?’

‘Sure.’ He handed them to him. ‘He was a little man, so high.’

Joe made a motion with his hand. Jupiter smiled and went out. Everyone, including Joe, has ideas, he thought; I pity the Inspector.

Coming around a corner on to Massachusetts Avenue, he practically bumped into Fitzgerald.

‘Small world,’ he cliché’d.

Fitzgerald recognized him. ‘Good morning, good morning.’ He seemed happy. ‘I don’t believe I remember your name.’

‘Good morning, Mr. Fitzgerald. Jones is the name I struggle along with.’

‘Oh, of course. You discovered the body, did n’t you?’

‘Yes,’ said Jupiter. Suddenly he wondered if he was destined to go through life known as the man who discovered Singer’s body, like the man who ran the wrong way in the football game.

‘I’ve been trying to think what to do all morning,’ continued Fitzgerald. ‘But I suppose Sergeant Rankin will send for me if he wants to see me.’

‘ Doubtless,’ said Jupiter pleasantly. ‘No work to-day?’

‘No, I couldn’t possibly paint a thing to-day and I imagine the President feels the same way.’

‘I didn’t know he painted, too,’ murmured Jupiter. He hoped Fitzgerald would get mad. He could n’t tell why he hoped so.

‘Ha, ha! I meant he probably would n’t feel like sitting.’

‘I’d like to see it when it’s finished. By the way, I can’t remember ever having seen your portrait of Professor Singer. I wonder where he keeps it.’

‘What? Portrait of Singer? Oh, I have no idea where he keeps it. It was n’t very complimentary. He probably does n’t hang it.’

‘Well, it looks as though you’d have to wait to get paid for it.’

‘I’ve waited quite some time already,’ said Fitzgerald, starting to walk off. ‘Well, glad to have seen you.’

He walked away rapidly. That, said Jupiter to himself, is the one person I can’t figure in this case.

Before he had reached the Museum eight people had stopped him and said in various forms that they had heard he found the body.

‘If many more people tell me that,’ said Jupiter to the last one, ‘someone will find my body under the ice in the Charles.’

The usual cigarette-smoking group of students was missing from the steps of the Museum. There was not even a harassed Radcliffe girl in sight. Jupiter deduced correctly that classes had been called off for the day in the Fogg.

Betty Mahan was sitting behind her desk doing nothing.

She saw him come in, but paid no attention to him. Jupiter, in his own modest way, knew she was trying to keep from showing she was glad to see him.

When he came up to her desk she said, ‘You’re wasting your time in here, young man; there’s not a sign of a body. I’ve been all over with my fine-tooth comb. How are you ? ’

‘I am well,’ he said. ‘I see you are hard at your daily tasks as usual, letting no grass grow under your feet.’

She waved an arm, taking in the whole Museum. ‘This place is a madhouse; everyone rushing around trying to look sad when they are all damn glad Singer got what he deserved — Miss Slade, of course, excepted.’

‘How is the good woman, by the way?’

She grimaced. ‘A horrider sight I have yet to see. Why do you ask?’

‘And the law? Is it present?’

‘In Singer’s office. I am waiting for your story.’

‘Patience. In due time you shall know all, but I’ve got to see the Sergeant.’

Rankin was looking through papers at Singer’s desk, while Miss Slade, pale and straggly, looked on as if the examination were a personal affront.

‘Find anything there?’ Jupiter pointed to the desk.

‘Not a thing except piles of notes about a lot of Italians I never heard of.’

‘The old boy knew his stuff, I’ll hand him that,’ said Jupiter.

‘Well, I’m going back to Hallowell House; there’s nothing more to do up here.’

They walked back through the library together. Several ardent students who had been straining to overhear their conversation looked at Jupiter enviously. Jupiter stopped at Betty’s desk.

‘Sergeant, I’d like you to meet Miss Mahan. She has often made threats on Singer’s life; you might do well to check up on her.’

The Sergeant was embarrassed. He looked as if he’d never seen an attractive girl before. ‘How do you do,’ he stammered.

Betty gave him her prettiest smile, the smile that had caused undergraduates to flock to the library. ‘If this young man is bothering you, Sergeant, I’ll be glad to chain him up.’

Rankin was floored. He was getting used to Jupiter, but here was a girl who appeared to talk the same way.

He laughed nervously. ‘No need of that, I guess. Well, see you later, Jones.’

After a nod to Betty he stamped out of the Museum.

‘Charming man,’ said Betty. ‘Not much of a line, perhaps, but still altogether charming.’

Jupiter relaxed on the edge of her desk. ‘And smart, too. Well, I suppose you’re waiting for the gory details?’

‘I have such a hard time concealing my emotions,’ she said.

He gave her a look and proceeded to render an unexpurgated edition of the evening’s events. By the time he had finished, she was gasping.

‘Well, well,’ she said, ‘if Harvard isn’t a pretty little nest of sedition! Are you sure you have n’t left anything out? There must have been a chorus girl or two somewhere in the background. Gosh, I can almost hear the Borgias turning in their graves.’

‘A delightful tale, the kind of thing the Watch and Ward Society holds meetings over. By the way, how has Singer been acting lately?’

She pondered prettily, wrinkling her forehead. Miss Mahan’s face had been the subject of many technical discussions by undergraduate experts, who generally conceded that, next to her smile, her expression while musing became her most. She was not unaware of this.

‘I’d say offhand that he’s been his usual smug self. Of course, I only see him darting in and out of his office, but Miss Slade has been acting queerly, if it’s possible to say that she acts at all.’

‘Very good. Now about Father Hadley. Has he been on the scene this morning?’

‘Oh, yes, bright and early. He’s trying unsuccessfully to hide his joy under a mantle of gloom. I’ve often suspected him of harboring illusions of grandeur.’

‘That’s good, too, but don’t let your prose style get out of hand.’ He patted her head, getting up. ‘Where shall I be apt to find him?’

‘He’s showing a Personage around the Museum; you’ll probably find him in the galleries. Thanks so much, Mr. Jones, for your confidences.’

‘Not at all. I think the situation calls for a celebration of some kind. How about dinner to-night regardless of whether the culprit has been apprehended or not?’

‘Love it,’ she smiled.

‘Fine. If I don’t see you before, I’ll pick you up at six-thirty. Keep your eye on Miss Slade.’

The Fogg Museum has a fine collection of paintings. But the small galleries are usually devoid of pedestrians except before exams, when they are filled with anxious undergraduates trying frantically to learn all the pictures by heart on the off chance that they will be questioned about them. Knowledge and appreciation by fear of failure — a pity, but nevertheless inevitable, opined Jupiter.

He found Hadley in a gallery on the second floor. He was with an exquisite little man with wavy hair. Exquisite little men with wavy hair are not an oddity in the Fogg Museum, or in any museum, for that matter, so Jupiter was not surprised. He must be the Personage.

When Hadley saw Jupiter his whole expression changed; the memory of the tragedy came back to him. It was like the reverse process of a man awaking from a nightmare.

‘Ah, Jones, good morning. Come in. I was just showing Mr. Renier about the Museum. He has come all the way from Paris to see our collection. He has — er — come, it seems, at a — er — rather unfortunate time.’ He was struggling. ‘Mr. Renier, this is Mr. Jones, who — er — found Professor Singer’s body last evening.’

There it goes again, groaned Jupiter.

‘Oh yes, I recognize Mr. Jones from the newspaper — the photograph, it was a good likeness.’ He spoke with what is often called a charming French accent.

Jupiter bowed. He could think of nothing to say.

Hadley filled the gap. ‘Mr. Renier is an art dealer. His office is in Paris.’

Suddenly Jupiter remembered where he had heard the man’s name before. He was going to Mrs. Fairchild’s musicale.

‘Oh yes, of course; I’ve heard of you,’ said Jupiter. You could lay it on thick with these people; they ate it up. ‘As a matter of fact, are n’t you going to Mrs. Fairchild’s musicale to-night?’

Monsieur Renier looked startled. ‘Ah, oui! I believe Monsieur Burnhart of the Boston Museum asked me to go with him.’

Hadley broke in: ‘But Mrs. Fairchild telephoned me this morning and said she was going to cancel it. It is very unfortunate. They are always delightful.’

This was the first Jupiter had heard of it. He had forgotten about the musicale when he asked Betty to have dinner with him. Perhaps it is better to call it off, he mused, but it would have been an amazing gathering; I’d have given a lot to see the Sampsons, Hadley, Fitzgerald, and the Fairchilds in one room to-night.

Renier was chattering. ‘But I cannot understand your American newspapers. In France when one is murdered the press is full of details — his mistresses, his enemies, all are mentioned. But here, pouf! There is nothing!’

If you only knew, thought Jupiter.

Renier continued: ‘He was stabbed, I read. Now to me that would suggest a woman. . .‘

Somewhere in the back of Jupiter’s mind something clicked. Stabbed! That was the word, the one word that brought back the point he had missed the night before.

He whooped. The mouths of Hadley and the Frenchman dropped open.

‘Excuse me,’ said Jupiter, ‘but what you ’ve just said, Mr. Renier, may help a lot. I can’t tell. Glad to have seen you.’

He rushed out. They stared after him.

‘That young man is perhaps mad?’ Renier asked incredulously.

Hadley was mute.

As Jupiter tore down the stairs he laughed at his own stupidity.

‘To think,’ he muttered, ‘that a lightweight Frenchman would be the one to make me remember this! Of course, things happened pretty swiftly last night, but I bet the Inspector would have had it in a second if he’d been in my place.’

When he was outside he slowed down. He was doing some rapid thinking. ‘There’s no mistake about it, I ’m sure of that, but I wonder if I ought to hold out on the Inspector again. No, it will be wiser to tell him, although I hate to.’

Mr. Fairchild had telephoned just after the radio report had come on, but in the dispatch there had been no mention of stabbing. It had merely said that Singer was murdered, but when Jupiter had arrived at the Fairchilds’, some ten minutes later, Mr. Fairchild had met him at the door and mentioned casually that he had heard that Singer was stabbed.

‘There’s only one way he could have found that out,’ said Jupiter grimly.


Rankin was back in Singer’s room telling reporters he had nothing to say. Jupiter recognized some of them when he came in. The Sergeant took one look at Jupiter’s face and then told the reporters to clear out.

When they had gone he said, ‘What’s on your mind?’

‘Plenty,’ said Jupiter, with feeling. ‘But first tell me if you’ve checked on Mr. Fairchild’s alibi.’

‘Sure I have. What’s the trouble?’

‘What time did he get home?’

Rankin frowned. ‘I don’t see what you’re getting at, but he got home a little after seven. He said he had stopped in at his club here in Cambridge for a cocktail after seeing Singer. I saw the steward at his club this morning. He told me he thought Fairchild left about quarter of seven after coming in just after six. Does that sound all right?’

‘It sounds all right,’ nodded Jupiter. ‘But listen to this.’

For a while after he had finished, Rankin was silent.

‘You don’t think there can be any mistake about it?’ demanded the Sergeant.

‘I don’t see how,’ answered Jupiter, ‘unless he was lying when he said he had heard the news over the radio and I can’t see any reason why he should if he had nothing to do with it.’

‘Do you suppose he went to his office this morning?’

‘I’ll find out,’ said Jupiter, dialing a number.

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the Sergeant. ‘Don’t tell him I want to see him.’

‘Don’t worry,’ said Jupiter. ‘Hello? Is Mr. Fairchild there? ... He is? Thank you.’

He hung up.

‘I’m coming with you,’ he said.

‘My God, you work fast, don’t you?’ smiled Rankin. ‘Well, I suppose I’ll have to take you along. Come on.’

Rankin found Illinois and they piled into a car.

Jupiter sat back comfortably as they drove along the Charles.

Rankin turned to him. ‘You know, Jones, you may have solved this murder.’

‘It looks that way. I think Singer deserved to be killed and I kind of hate to see anyone caught for doing it. Fairchild may be a stuffed shirt, but I like him.’

‘You think he did it?’

Jupiter stared at the Sergeant. ‘Hell! Don’t you ? ’

‘We have no proof of it. Just because he knew that Singer was stabbed does n’t mean he killed him.’

‘Is there any other explanation?’

‘There’s a very good explanation,’ said Rankin, ‘which you have overlooked entirely. To me it’s the obvious one. Look here. Fairchild left his club at quarter of seven and was home just after seven; that does n’t leave him much time to kill a man, but I’ll admit that if everything broke right for him he could have done it. Now the obvious thing seems to me that if he did n’t do it someone told him that Singer was stabbed.’

‘Who could have?’

‘His wife,’ said Rankin simply.

‘My God!’ said Jupiter. That had never entered his head — he’d been so convinced that she was innocent.

‘We’ll wait and see,’ he said.

‘Right, but I would n’t be surprised if Fairchild broke down and confessed,’ said the Sergeant contradictorily.

Jupiter was in the dark. ‘Now what are you suggesting?’

‘If he knew she did it, he might try to save her.’

‘You think of everything, Inspector,’ said Jupiter, impressed.

They were silent while Illinois fought his way through the maze of Boston’s downtown traffic and at length drew up in front of the bank.

Rankin got out. ‘ You stay here,’ he told Jupiter.

Jupiter climbed in front with Illinois. ‘Turn on the radio, Captain, while we wait for the General.’

Rankin sent his name through to Mr. Fairchild and in a very few minutes was ushered into the executive’s office. Like his study at home, Fairchild’s office was decorated almost entirely with pictures of sailboats. The banker arose, shook hands, and offered Rankin a chair.

‘I just want to ask you a few questions about last night, Mr. Fairchild,’ said the Sergeant, sitting down.

Fairchild held up his hand. ‘I think I can save you the trouble, Sergeant; I have an idea why you wanted to see me this morning.’ He paused and passed his hand over his tanned forehead. ‘I should have told you all this last night. I don’t know why I did n’t, except that everything happened so fast I did n’t have a chance to think clearly. . . . Well, what I’m going to tell you is the absolute truth; it will be hard to believe and I hardly expect you to, but nevertheless . . .’

‘Suppose you tell me, Mr. Fairchild. I have no reason not to believe you.’

‘Of course. Well, I don’t know how much you know about my affairs or what happened last night. Let me start this way: my wife had been having an affair with Singer. I knew nothing about it until last week when she told me. She said then that she had told Singer that she could n’t go on with it — that is, get a divorce from me and marry him; her home and our children meant more to her than that. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe she ever loved him really — merely infatuated. . . . I am not a brilliant man; I have few interests in life, and those — well, those were not her interests. I can understand her infatuation for Singer, and in a way I can forgive her, but that is beside the point. . . . This past week Singer had been telephoning her regularly, against her will. I decided to see him and put a stop to it. It may not have been my affair, but I decided to make it so. Anyway, last evening, as you know, I went to see him — that was at five-thirty. I told him my wife did not want to see him again and for him to stop making an ass of himself. He told me quite frankly that it was none of my business; that my wife loved him and he was n’t going to let me or anyone else interfere with his happiness. . . . I am convinced that he was in love with her; for that I can’t blame him, but I told him that she was not in love with him and that he would have to reconcile himself to the fact. He told me that I was mistaken and that I was trying to influence her. By that time both of us were pretty well wrought up, as you may imagine, and he told me to get out and I did. . . . Well, as I told you last night, I went to my club. There, I thought the thing over and decided to go back and see Singer again to try and make him see my point. I was prepared to do anything to stop him. I want you to know that. By the time I reached his room I had worked myself up to a point where I was prepared to stop at nothing. Without knocking, I walked into his room and there I had the shock of my life . . .‘

He stopped. He was breathing as if he had just run a quarter mile.

Rankin waited.

Fairchild took a deep breath and continued: ‘Singer was sprawled at his desk. I went up to him and saw wet blood near his head; I lifted him up and saw a knife. Then I did a stupid thing, the stupidest thing I ever did in my life: I ran out of that room! ’

Rankin did not speak.

‘It sounds fantastic, but try and picture my state of mind. I had come to his room ready for anything — no definite plan, except to stop Singer from annoying my wife. And then to find him like that — dead — the shock was terrific! I could n’t think of anything except that people would think that I had done it. Driving home, I thought the whole thing out and decided to call the police; then it seemed to me to be worse to do that because they would ask me why I had n’t reported it immediately. . . . I wanted to keep my wife out of it if I could, because I knew if it all came out there would be a terrible scandal.’

‘Is that all?’ asked Rankin.

‘Yes, that’s all, and it’s all the truth — you’ll have to believe me.’

The Sergeant sat back in his chair. ’Mr. Fairchild, did you know when you found Singer in his room that your wife had been to see him?’

‘No, I did not; young Jones — I mean I found out later that she had been to see him.’

‘That’s all right; I know about Jones’s visit to your house,’ went on Rankin. ‘But when you found that she had been there between your two visits, what did you think?’

‘ What do you mean? ’ He was perplexed.

‘Well, it must have been evident to you that she was the last person to see Singer alive.’

Fairchild thought a minute. ‘Do you mean did it occur to me that she might have murdered him?’

‘ Exactly.’

‘No, it did n’t,’ he said definitely. ‘You see, we were playing backgammon when the news came over the radio that Singer had been found murdered. My wife fainted when she heard it.’

‘Then you had told her nothing about your finding the body?’

‘No; you see, I had planned then not to tell anyone. She does n’t know it yet.’

‘It never entered your head that Mrs. Fairchild might have murdered Singer,’ mused the Sergeant.

Fairchild got up, his face crimson. ‘She could n’t possibly have done it, I know that for a fact! . . . I don’t know how many clues you have found, but you can be sure she had nothing to do with it!’

‘You’re asking me to believe quite a lot, Mr. Fairchild,’ said Rankin softly.

‘Believe what you like of my story, but don’t drag my wife into it! ’ He was raging; then suddenly he quieted. ‘I’m sorry, Sergeant; you’ve been very patient. . . . I’m not saying that my wife is incapable of murder, because I believe if she set her mind on it she could easily murder someone. But not Singer. . . . I told you she fainted when she heard the news of his death. It was genuine, I assure you. My wife is not an actress.’

‘We’ll let it rest at that, Mr. Fairchild,’ said Rankin, getting up. ‘Now if you will tell me the exact time you found Singer’s body, I’ll go along.’

‘Let’s see. When I went to his room I was n’t thinking of the time, but I remember seeing the clock on the tower of Hallowell House. It was about ten minutes of seven — I’m quite sure of that.’

‘Thank you, Mr. Fairchild. I wish you had told me all this last night; it would have saved a lot of time.’ He was going out.

‘You have n’t said whether you believe my story.’

At the door Rankin turned. ‘Frankly I don’t know what to believe, Mr. Fairchild. You said, did n’t you, that the knife was in his back?’

Fairchild did n’t hesitate. ‘No, I did n’t say that. It was through his heart, in front.’

‘Thanks,’ said Rankin, going out.

The Sergeant seated himself with a sigh in the back of the car, telling Illinois to go back to Cambridge. Jupiter joined him in the back seat.

‘No arrests, Inspector?’ asked Jupiter.

Rankin told him of the interview, calmly and without committing himself.

‘There’s nothing like a murder to make people lose their heads and do damn-fool things,’ he finished sadly.

‘Looks as though Fairchild crossed both of us up.’

‘That’s just the trouble,’ sighed Rankin. ‘I went in there expecting almost everything and he gave me that story. It’s so improbable that I nearly believe it.’

‘Do you still cling to Mrs. Fairchild as the logical candidate?’

‘He doesn’t, anyway,’ said Rankin circumspectly. ‘I don’t know what to make of him; he’s not as stupid as he thinks he is.’

‘He’s not stupid, he’s just dull. There’s a difference.’

‘Well, anyway, it narrows down the time of Singer’s death — we’ve got that much, at least.’

When they got back to Hallowell House they got more.

A policeman met them at the door.

‘There’s a student here, Sergeant, who’s been looking for you; says he has something that may be important.’

‘Let’s hope so,’ said Rankin.

They went into Singer’s room and Jupiter recognized Bob Berrings, an athlete who lived on the top floor of the entry. He looked as if he had just got up. He had.

‘You wanted to see me?’ asked Rankin.

Berrings’s mind, even while working at top speed, was not a thing to rave over. He said, ‘Well, I thought I ought to.’

‘What about?’

‘Well, last night I was out pretty late and I just woke up half an hour ago. That was the first I heard of the murder.’

‘Very interesting,’ said Jupiter.

‘I read in the paper how you did n’t know when Professor Singer was murdered, so I thought I ought to tell you.’

Rankin gasped, ‘Good God, do you know when he was murdered ? ’

‘Well, here’s what I wanted to tell you. I was writing a report for Singer that was supposed to be in Monday, but I asked him if it was all right if I got it in last night. He did n’t like it, but he said if it was in by six-thirty it would be all right.’

He stopped; the mere effort of speaking was a strain on him.

Rankin waited patiently.

‘Well, I finally finished the damn thing at about six-thirty, and you see, I had a date with this girl for dinner. She lives out in Dedham and I was supposed to be there at seven, so I was in a hurry. As a matter of fact, I was a little late, but I had to wait for her, so it was all right.’

He was winded.

‘Now here’s what happened,’ he went on. ‘I brought the report downstairs with me to give to Professor Singer. I guess it must have been twenty minutes of seven by then. I had a little trouble tying my tie, and you know when you ’re in a hurry it takes a lot of time. Well, I knocked on the door and nothing happened, so I thought Singer must be in the dining room, so I put the report in his mailbox and went out.’

He smiled triumphantly.

‘Is that all?’ asked the Sergeant, dumbfounded.

Berrings nodded.

‘Anticlimax Department,’ whispered Jupiter.

‘You can check up on the time, because Professor Sampson and Professor Hadley came out of Hadley’s room as I was going out,’ said Berrings.

‘Well, well,’ said Jupiter. ‘Then you think Singer must have been dead when you knocked on the door?’

‘Yes, that’s what I meant.’

‘How long did you wait after knocking?’ asked Rankin.

‘I did n’t wait long, because, you see, I was in a hurry, and I thought of course Singer was having dinner; I just put the report in the mailbox and went out. It’s still there.’

‘You heard no sound from Singer’s room? He could n’t have called to you to come in?’ asked the Sergeant.

‘No, I’m pretty sure he did n’t,’ he said, scratching his head.

‘Well, thanks a lot. There’s nothing more you can say that might help?’

‘No, I don’t think so.’

‘Thanks very much, then. If you think of anything let me know.’

Rankin ushered him to the door. When he had left, Jupiter said, ‘That would seem to put the pants on Fairchild’s story.’

‘It might, but it doesn’t help his wife,’ answered Rankin. ‘If Singer was dead at twenty minutes of seven, that leaves twenty-five minutes for the murder.‘

‘Nice figuring; anyway, we’re getting warmer. How about lunch, Inspector? I can’t vouch for the food, but it’s free.’

‘Sorry, I’m having lunch with Singer’s lawyer. I’ll see you this afternoon. I’m late now,’ he said, going out. ‘This has been quite a morning.’

Jupiter nodded. ‘Not quite up to last night, perhaps, but interesting, yes.’


Back in his room after lunch, Jupiter collapsed on his couch to wait for Rankin. He could think of nothing to do, and when that situation persisted he usually relaxed. He was almost asleep when the telephone rang. It was Betty.

‘What’s on your mind?’ asked Jupiter, regaining consciousness.

‘Nothing; I’m just lonely,’ she said sadly. ‘All alone with the ghosts of all these beautiful paintings around me — not to mention Miss Slade, a wraith if ever I saw one. And that’s why I called you. But first, what was the meaning of your sprint down the stairs after you left me ? ’

‘Oh, that! A tame goose chase, I’m afraid. What about the mystery woman?’

‘Don’t think you’re the only sleuth in these parts, my boy. Listen to this. Just after you and the charming Sergeant had departed, I spied Slade coming out of Singer’s office bearing papers. She headed downstairs, and just for the hell of it I decided to trail along under the pretext of answering a call. Well, I came upon her dumping the bundle in that great bucket of waste papers they keep in the basement. She’d just tossed the pile in, and in her hand was a thing that looked like a newspaper clipping, and when she saw me she tore it in small pieces into the bucket. I went by her, nodding in my own attractive manner, and kept on going. When I came back she had gone. So-o-o-o, I proceeded to dig around until I found the pile she’d thrown in first. They were just lecture notes, which she’d throw away ordinarily. Then I tried to find the pieces of the newspaper clipping. Well, you know what it’s like trying to find a lot of tiny bits of paper in a basket like that, but what I did find was a piece giving the date of the paper. It said, “New York, March 3, (AP)" which proves nothing, but I kept it.’

‘Well, if it is n’t Mary Roberts Rinehart, herself!’ laughed Jupiter. ‘Are you sure there wasn’t another one saying, “The person who killed Singer was . . .”?’

‘Shut up, you mug. Why would she tear it up in small pieces if it was n’t important?’

‘I’m ashamed of you. You’ve known Miss Slade for a long time and you don’t realize she has a dual personality. She is obsessed with a sense of the dramatic.‘

‘Oh, excuse me,’she said elaborately. ‘Of course I’d forgotten that the only way to solve crimes these days is by psychology. I ’ll throw it away immediately and watch the movements of her hands. Oh, Lord, here she comes now. Good-bye.’

Jupiter hung up and smiled. The spirit of amateur detection was really getting a firm grip in the community.

‘I may be getting senile,’ he told himself, ‘but I fail to see how a ten-day-old newspaper clipping can have anything to do with our troubles.’

He fell back on the sofa and lit a cigarette, waiting for the Sergeant.


He did n’t have to wait long. Rankin materialized in the fire door, looking worn.

‘Cheer up, Inspector,’ smiled Jupiter, ‘it’s just the after-lunch letdown — it gets us all. No luck with the advocate?’

‘Not much. I was hoping he would give me something to go on. I was disappointed. Come on in here — I want someone to talk to.’

Jupiter rolled off the couch. ‘Your unfailing instinct has led you to the right person. I wonder how many times my friends have come to me and said, “Jones, old man, there’s something I’ve got to tell you; no one else would understand.”‘

In Singer’s room Rankin sat down at the desk in the chair in which Singer had died.

Jupiter stared at him. ‘Oh, I know what we ’re going to do — we ’re going to reënact the crime. Please, teacher, can I be the murderer?‘

Rankin looked at him gloomily. ‘Are n’t you ever serious?’

‘Certainly I am, but you look like one of the darker moments in Crime and Punishment. I’d hoped my lively banter would help you recapture that devil-may-care spirit I knew of old. Have you forgotten so soon, Inspector, those mad, carefree student days in Paris when we wandered bareheaded through the streets with a song on our lips and a girl on our arm?’

Rankin smiled. ‘Please shut up; I’m trying to think.’

He had a sheet of paper before him and was making some notes. Jupiter looked over his shoulder.

‘Aha!’ grinned Jupiter. ‘I thought it was about time for that. You know, I’ve yet to read a detective story where there was n’t a time-table or a list of alibis tucked in somewhere. Where do we begin?’

Rankin disregarded him. ‘Fitzgerald left here at about six-five and stopped in at the Square for a glass of beer. I talked with the bartender and he remembers him, but he can’t remember how long he stayed. He says he thinks he had two beers. Fitzgerald got back to the hotel at ten minutes of seven, I know that. Now, say he got to the Square at six-ten and left the joint at six-thirty — time enough for two drinks — then it took him twenty minutes to get from there to the Continental. How does that sound?’

‘It sounds like a good argument for the W. C. T. U.,’ said Jupiter. ‘Fairchild leaves here and has cocktails, Fitzgerald has two beers, and, as you must know by this time, I was doing a little drinking myself at about that time.’

‘What I mean is the time element. Fitzgerald said he left the bar at six-forty, but that seems a long time for two beers. How long do you think it would take to walk from the Square to the Continental?’

‘Ten minutes.’

‘Yes. Well, I guess that that lets Fitzgerald out, although he could have come back here and then taken a taxi to the hotel.’

‘Hell, everyone that left here could n’t have come back. We’ve had one already. Have you got any motive for Fitzgerald to come back?’

‘None at all, but I have to leave the possibility open. Of course if Singer was dead at twenty minutes of seven, as I think he must have been, it would n’t leave Fitzgerald much time. No, I think he’s all right.’

The Sergeant looked at his paper and frowned. ‘We know Fairchild’s story, and the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to believe it. That leaves Mrs. Fairchild.’

‘More or less holding the satchel,’ said Jupiter seriously.

‘Yes. And except for one point I’d think she did it. As it is, I don’t think so.’

Rankin got up from the desk and wandered across the room to the sofa at the other end. Jupiter watched him closely without any idea of what he was thinking.

‘I confess I don’t know what goes on, Inspector,’ said Jupiter.

‘ I may be wrong myself, but it’s a point I thought of last night as soon as I came into the room. Look, Singer died instantly — I know that from the examiner. Does that suggest anything?’

‘Let’s not play guessing games, Inspector. I’m not up to it.’

‘Well, if he died instantly he must have been at his desk when he was stabbed. Unless, of course, someone put him there later, and there’s no reason to think that. Now if he had been expecting Mrs. Fairchild to call on him, as we know he was, what would he do when she came in?’

‘I’m impressed, Inspector. You answer the questions.’

‘He’d get up, naturally, and he would offer her a chair, — probably the sofa, — and then he would sit down beside her. Do you see my point? Why would he sit at his desk way over at the other end of the room for an interview with a woman he was in love with?’

‘I see that, all right, and it’s a good point,’ mused Jupiter. ‘But why did it occur to you last night when you knew nothing about Mrs. Fairchild?’

Rankin waved his hand. ‘I did n’t connect it with her, of course, but I figured immediately that a man must have killed him, because he would be unlikely to talk to a woman seated at his desk.’

‘Right; it would be unlikely, but not impossible.’

‘No, not impossible. But there’s a cigarette butt with lipstick on it still in this ash tray by the sofa.’

He held up the stub.

‘Good work,’ laughed Jupiter. ‘Now we have cigarette butts coming in. It’s practically perfect.’

He was relieved that the Sergeant had admitted that he did n’t think Mrs. Fairchild had done it. Then a horrible thought struck him like a whack on the head. He had picked up the pocketbook at the edge of the desk! That knocked hell out of Rankin’s theory that she had never come near the desk!

Rankin talked on while Jupiter tried to keep his face from giving him away.

‘Another thing that occurred to me is that if she had come here with the idea of killing him, she would have brought a gun or something to do it with. Even if she had knowm about that knife on Singer’s desk I doubt if she would have used it. Do you remember my saying when I first learned that the knife belonged to Singer that the person who did it must have done it in a fit of rage and not by premeditation?’

‘Yes,’ said Jupiter weakly.

‘Then, even if she had got mad enough to kill him, she would n’t have seen the knife on the desk when she was sitting over here. I’m forced to admit that she did n’t do it.’

Jupiter sighed. Hell, if Rankin thought she did n’t do it, and he thought she did n’t do it, and Mr. Fairchild thought she did n’t do it, why should he try to change the Sergeant’s mind?

‘And where does that leave us?’ asked Jupiter.

‘I’ll tell you in a minute, but first there are some other points that need going over. Singer’s lawyer said that there were no relations close enough to matter. That is, no one who might have a financial interest in his death. As a matter of fact, he left no will, and his insurance money was made out to the Fogg Museum. It came to ten thousand dollars. Now here’s the most interesting thing I learned from his lawyer. He said that Singer had told him that he was considering retiring at the end of this year.’

Jupiter was surprised. ‘Really? Why, I had n’t even heard a rumor about it.’

‘No one seems to have heard about it. He must have been keeping it secret.’

‘Singer was going to retire?’ mused Jupiter. ‘That means he must have had a certain amount of cash lying around. I thought he was almost dependent on his salary.’

‘I asked the lawyer about that and he told me he thought Singer had just about enough to live on. You know, he goes abroad almost every summer, and he seems to have planned to live there permanently. He told the lawyer that he was sick of teaching and wanted to devote the rest of his life to research and writing.’

‘Well, well, he seems to have retired a little prematurely.’

Jupiter lit a cigarette with the vague feeling that he was smoking too much. He had, by experience, established the fact that when a cigarette tastes wonderful in the morning it’s going to taste terrible in the evening. Knowing this, however, seldom made him cut down. A question arose in his mind.

‘I just wondered, Inspector, why Miss Slade telephoned when she did last night. I suppose you’ve asked her?’

Rankin looked puzzled. ‘Why do you ask that?’

Jupiter shrugged. ‘I don’t know. It just popped into my head.’

‘I thought of that and asked her. She said she wanted to find out something about her work. Is there any reason why she should n’t telephone?’

‘None at all that I know of,’ conceded Jupiter.

The Sergeant shook his head and sat down on the couch. Jupiter felt sorry for him.

‘Keep your chin up, Inspector. After all, Singer was only killed last night. You can’t expect to have the murderer tied up and ready for delivery right away.’

Rankin got to his feet. ‘Well,’he sighed, ‘back to the grind.’

‘See you later, Inspector,’ said Jupiter vaguely.


After the Sergeant had left, Jupiter went into his bedroom and threw himself on his bed. He could think better lying down.

‘Now, Jones, you old detective, you’re going to start from the time when you found the body and go over every minute detail that happened up to the present writing and see if there’s anything you missed.’

For an hour and a half he concentrated. For an uninterrupted period of heavy thought, it set a record. But when Jupiter put his mind on a subject it stayed there. That partly explained his ability to get good marks without apparently doing any studying. There are students who will say: ‘Well, I worked five hours last night — I know this stuff cold,’ and when they are tested on it fail miserably. Jupiter had a photographic memory. He could go over a pile of two hundred slides, the basis of the study of Fine Arts at Harvard, and with half an hour’s study be able to recognize any one of them a month later, giving the name of the painter, his dates, and his school.

When the period of brain exercise was over, there were several points that he felt could stand more explaining.

‘I think the person to see is our old friend the Ghost Woman,’ he said, getting up. ‘Hell, if the Inspector can have a theory, I see no reason why I can’t work one up.’

A telephone call to Betty at the Museum disclosed that Miss Slade had gone home and was not expected to return. After much difficulty Betty found out where she lived and passed the information on to Jupiter.

In a few minutes he was walking up the murky staircase of her rooming house.

‘I’m sure she’ll be pleased to see me,’ he muttered. ‘We shall take tea together.’

Miss Slade opened the door cautiously and looked at him blankly. There was absolutely no expression on her face. He had expected some reaction to his sudden appearance at her home. Astonishment, dislike, fear, or at least interrogation should have been written on her face in capital letters. But there was nothing — just a white face, and an ugly one at that. My God, what a woman, he thought.

‘ What do you want ? ’ she said in a tone so flat you could lay it on the floor and use it as a rug.

‘I just wanted to talk to you a minute, Miss Slade. Do you mind if I come in?’

She said nothing and walked back into the room. He followed her.

‘What is it?’ she asked calmly.

Jupiter had been ready to ask her a lot of things, but her complete indifference to him had shaken him badly.

He gazed around the dark, unattractive room. Somehow he knew that her room would be like this, devoid of any taste or character. Yet, when he had told Betty that Miss Slade had a dual personality, he believed it to be true, and had hoped for some touch of color in the room to corroborate it. There was none. He decided she was an enigma. Come, come, Jones, he told himself, this is getting you nowhere.

‘Did you know that Professor Singer had been planning to retire at the end of this year?’ he asked. That question at least would do no harm.

‘If you have come here to ask me questions about Professor Singer, Mr. Jones, you will be disappointed. I told the policeman all I know about it and I do not want to discuss it further.’

Her mouth closed with a snap.

Jupiter tried another line. ‘I’m just trying to find out who killed him, Miss Slade. I think you can help.’

She sighed. ‘He is dead — there’s nothing anyone can do about that.’

‘That’s perfectly true,’ agreed Jupiter. ‘But are n’t you interested in who killed him?’

‘I told you before, I have nothing to say.’

Jupiter was having trouble keeping his temper. ‘Last night when you came to Singer’s room you seemed fairly sure that Mr. Fitzgerald had killed him.’

She sat down, still with the empty expression on her face.

‘Mr. Jones, I think the police are capable of handling everything; I don’t think it’s any of your affair. I would be pleased if you would leave. I am very tired and would like to rest.’

The statement was final. Anyone but Jupiter would have departed, but he had walked all the way to her room and had no intention of leaving until he had finished. He could see she was keyed fairly high and he wanted to say something that would shake her calm.

He took a shot in the dark. ‘I have been talking with Sergeant Rankin and he does n’t seem satisfied with your explanation of why you telephoned when you did last night.’

The shot landed. She was staggered.

‘I — I phoned about some work I was doing. Is there anything unusual about that?’

Her voice trembled, and for the first time there was a look of fear on her face.

Jupiter followed it up. ‘But when you arrived at the room you were convinced that Fitzgerald had killed Professor Singer. How did you know that he had been murdered ? ’

She did n’t hesitate. ‘I did n’t know he was murdered until I got to Hallowell House. I heard people talking about it.’

‘But as soon as you saw Mr. Fitzgerald you accused him of the murder,’ he said quietly.

‘You were there last night and heard Mr. Fitzgerald’s explanation.’

‘And you ’re satisfied with that now?’

‘I am,’ she answered softly. ‘Now, Mr. Jones, I wish you would leave me. I don’t want to talk any more.’

There was nothing he could do. He smiled and started for the door.

‘Thank you very much, Miss Slade. I’m awfully sorry to have bothered you. I know how tired you must be. But I have been under suspicion myself and I’m just trying to help the police.’

At the door he stopped and gave her what he considered his most charming smile. ‘By the way, have you ever seen Fitzgerald’s portrait of Singer?’

She got up. ‘No, I never have. Goodbye, Mr. Jones.’

Her cat was massaging itself against her ankles.

He went out and closed the door.

‘Net profit of interview, zero,” he told the stairs. ‘But, reading between the lines, not quite a total loss.’

(To be concluded)