As word spread through the office that Jerry had received a threat from the escaped convict, reporters gathered to read the telegram and comment upon it.

“Great stuff!” exclaimed Editor DeWitt, thinking in terms of headlines. “Riverview Star reporter threatened by Danny Deevers! We’ll build it up—post a reward for his capture—provide you with a bodyguard.”

“But I don’t want a bodyguard,” Jerry retorted. “Build up the story if you want to, but skip the kindergarten trimmings.”

“You ought to have a bodyguard,” DeWitt insisted seriously. “Danny Deevers is nobody’s playboy. He may mean business. Reporters are hard to get these days. We can’t risk having you bumped off.”

“Oh, this telegram is pure bluff,” Jerry replied, scrambling up the yellow sheet and hurling it into a tall metal scrap can. “I’ll not be nursemaided by any bodyguard, and that’s final!”

“Okay,” DeWitt gave in, “but if you get bumped off, don’t come crying to me!”

Jerry took a long drink at the fountain and then said thoughtfully: “You know, I have a hunch about Danny.”

“Spill it,” invited DeWitt.

“He didn’t come back here to get even with me for those articles I wrote—or at least it’s a secondary purpose.”

“Then why did he head for Riverview?”

“I have an idea he may have come back to get $50,000.”

“The money he stole from the Third Federal Bank?”

“Sure. The money disappeared, and when Danny took the rap, he refused to tell where he had hidden it. I’ll bet the money is in a safe place somewhere in Riverview.”

“You may be right at that,” DeWitt agreed. “Anyway, it’s a good story. Better write a couple pages before you go over to the theater—let that other stuff go.”

Jerry nodded and with a quick glance at the clock, sat down at his typewriter.

“Ready, Penny?” called Salt, picking up his camera and heading for the door.

“In a minute.”

Penny hesitated and then walked over to Jerry’s desk.

“Jerry, you’ll be careful, won’t you?” she asked anxiously.

“Oh, sure,” he agreed. “If I see Danny first, I’ll start running.”

“Do be serious, Jerry! You know, there’s a chance Danny may be hiding in the swamp.”

The carriage of Jerry’s typewriter stopped with a jerk. He now gave Penny his full attention.

“What’s that about Danny being in the swamp?”

“I didn’t say he is for sure, but today when Louise and I were out there, we heard a very strange conversation.”

Penny swiftly related everything that had occurred on the tiny island near the swamp entrance. She also described the bearded stranger who had ordered her away.

“That couldn’t have been Danny,” Jerry decided. “Not unless he’s disguised his appearance.”

“There was another man,” Penny reminded him. “Louise and I never saw his face.”

“Well, the swamp angle is worth investigating,” the reporter assured her. “Personally, I doubt Danny would ever try living in the swamp—he’s a city, slum-bred man—but I’ll tell the police about it.”

“Do be careful,” Penny urged again, turning away.

Salt was waiting in the press car when she reached the street. Quickly transferring the flowers from her own automobile to his, she climbed in beside him.

“The Hillcrest?” he inquired, shifting gears.

“Yes, I’ll decorate the tables. Then we’ll drive to the theater.”

With a complete disregard for speed laws, safety stops, and red lights, Salt toured the ten blocks to the hotel in record time. Pulling up at the entrance, he said:

“While you’re in there, I’ll amble across the street. Want to do a little inquiring at the Western Union office.”

“About the telegram Danny Deevers sent Jerry?”

“Figured we might find from where it was sent.”

“I should have thought of that myself! Do see what you can learn, Salt. It won’t take me long to fix those tables.”

Penny disappeared into the hotel but was back in fifteen minutes. A moment later, Salt sauntered across the street from the Western Union office.

“Learn anything?” Penny asked.

“A little. The manager told me a boy picked up the message from a rooming house on Clayton street. That’s all they know about it.”

“Did you get the address?”

“Sure—1497 Clayton Street—an apartment building. The clue may be a dud one though. Danny wouldn’t likely be dumb enough to leave a wide open trail.”

“All the same, oughtn’t we to check into it?”


“Naturally I’m included,” grinned Penny. “By the way, aren’t we near Clayton street now?”

“It’s only a couple of blocks away.”

“Then what’s delaying us?”

“My conscience for one thing,” Salt said, climbing into the car beside Penny. “Your father’s expecting us at the theater. I’m supposed to take pictures of the visiting big-boys.”

“We’ll get there in time. This may be our only chance to trace Danny.”

“You’re a glutton for adventure,” Salt said dubiously, studying his wristwatch. “Me—I’m not so sure.”

“Danny probably won’t be hiding out at the rooming house,” Penny argued. “But someone may be able to tell us where he went.”

“Okay,” the photographer agreed, jamming his foot on the starter. “We got to make it snappy though.”

The dingy old brick apartment house at 1497 Clayton Street stood jammed against other low-rent buildings in the downtown business section.

“You wait here,” Salt advised as he pulled up near the dwelling. “If I don’t come back in ten minutes, put in a call to the police. And arrange to give me a decent burial!”

The photographer disappeared into the building.

He was back almost at once. “It was a dud,” he said in disgust. “The telegram was sent from here all right, but Danny’s skipped.”

“You talked to the building manager?”

Salt nodded. “A fellow that must have been Danny rented a room last night, but he pulled out early this morning.”

“Why, the telegram didn’t come until a few minutes ago!”

“Danny took care of that by having the janitor send it for him. He evidently escaped from the pen late yesterday, but authorities didn’t give out the story until today.”

Disappointed over their failure, Penny and Salt drove on toward the theater in glum silence.

Suddenly at the intersection of Jefferson and Huron Streets, a long black sedan driven by a woman, failed to observe a stop sign. Barging into a line of traffic, it spun unsteadily on two wheels and crashed into an ancient car in which two men were riding.

“Just another dumb woman driver,” observed Salt. He brought up at the curb and reached for his camera.

“Nobody’s hurt so it’s hardly worth a picture. But if I don’t grab it, DeWitt’ll be asking me why I didn’t.”

Balancing the camera on the sill of the open car window, he snapped the shutter just as the two men climbed out of their ancient vehicle.

“Looks as if they’re going to put up a big squawk,” Salt observed with interest. “What they beefin’ about? That old wreck isn’t worth anything, and anyhow, the lady only bashed in a couple of fenders.”

The driver of the black sedan took a quick glance at the two men and said hastily:

“Please don’t call a policeman. I’ll gladly pay for all the damage. I’m covered by insurance. Just give me your names and where you live. Or, if you prefer, I’ll go with you now to a garage where your car can be repaired.”

The two men paid her no heed. In fact, they appeared not to be listening. Instead, they were gazing across the street at Salt and his camera.

“Button up your lip, lady!” said one of the men rudely.

He was a heavy-set man, dressed in a new dark blue serge suit. His face was coarse, slightly pale, and his steel-blue eyes had a hard, calculating glint.

His companion, much younger, might have been a country boy for he wore a lumber jacket, corduroy pants, and heavy shoes caked with mud.

The older man crossed the street to Salt’s car. He glanced at the “press” placard in the windshield and said curtly:

“Okay, buddy! I saw you take that picture! Hand over the plate!”

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