“Yes, Jason Cordell is the man responsible,” Ben agreed soberly. “I can’t prove it, but in my own mind I’m sure.”

“You used to work for him, didn’t you?” the police captain inquired, the inflection of his voice implying that he thought the former reporter might be prejudiced.

“I was fired,” Ben admitted readily. “Cordell let me go and blacklisted me everywhere to prevent me from exposing him. He wanted to discredit me, so that anything I might say would carry no weight.”

“Why were you really discharged, Ben?” Penny asked. “What did you learn about Mr. Cordell?”

“That he had pulled off no end of crooked deals and that he was mixed up with this outlaw labor group. Over a period of three or four years, Cordell has made a mint of money, and not from his paper either!”

“We’ll question Cordell tonight,” Captain Bricker promised. “The trick now is to get you to the station for first aid treatment. Then we’ll want you to look through the police morgue and identify the pictures of as many of the Snark’s crew as you can.”

The officer turned to Penny. “As for those undeveloped plates, can you get them right away?”

“I think so,” Penny returned. While Captain Bricker helped Ben up the companionway, she ran ahead to find her father and Salt and tell them of the latest developments.

The two were waiting in the press car. But when Mr. Parker learned how significant the pictures of the Conway Plant explosion might prove to be, he surprised Penny by declining to turn them over immediately to the police.

“We may want those plates for the Star,” he declared. “If the police once get their hands on them, it might be a job to get them back again in time to be of any use to us.”

“But Jason Cordell’s arrest may depend upon them,” Penny protested.

“We’ll have the plates developed, and let police see them,” Mr. Parker decided. “But the plates must remain in our hands. Come on, let’s go!”

At a nod from the publisher, Salt started the press car, and without being instructed, headed for the Star building.

“How long will it take you to develop those plates?” Mr. Parker asked the photographer.

“Ten minutes.”

“Good!” approved the publisher. “If they reveal anything, we’ll telephone the police station at once.”

As the car coasted to a standstill alongside the Star building, Penny’s gaze roved to the darkened offices next door. All of the floors save one were without light. But in the suite occupied by the Mirror, a man plainly could be seen moving to and fro.

“There is Jason Cordell now!” she drew attention to him. “Why do you suppose he’s at his office so late tonight?”

“There’s no crime in that,” replied Mr. Parker. “He may be guilty as Ben says, but I’ll not believe it until I have the proof.”

Letting themselves into the newspaper building, the three went up the back stairs to the photography studio. Salt immediately set about developing the plates.

“Something is coming up all right!” he declared jubilantly, as he rocked the developer tray back and forth.

In a few minutes, Salt had washed the plates and was able to examine them beneath the red light. One was blurred and revealed little. But the other plainly showed a man fleeing toward a waiting car.

“Why, the man is Webb Nelson!” Penny exclaimed, recognizing him.

“But notice the driver of the car,” Salt said. “It’s Jason Cordell! Ben was right.”

“Then the man is guilty!” Penny cried. “Oh, Dad, I was certain of it!”

Mr. Parker scanned the plate carefully to ascertain there was no possible mistake.

“Yes, it’s Jason Cordell,” he agreed. “The truth is hard to believe. Why, I lunched with him only yesterday—”

“Dad, he’s a criminal no matter how respectable he has acted.”

“You’re right,” acknowledged Mr. Parker. “I’ll notify the police at once and have him picked up for questioning.”

Transmitting the important information to police headquarters, Mr. Parker talked with Captain Bricker who promised to take personal charge of the matter. As the publisher hung up the receiver, he was startled to have Penny grasp his arm. Excitedly, she pointed out the window.

“Now what?” he asked, failing to understand.

“The light just went off in Mr. Cordell’s office! He’s leaving!”

“Then we’ll stop him,” her father decided. “Salt, you stay here and rush that plate through! I’ll detain Cordell by one means or another until the police arrive!”

With Penny close beside him, he ran down the back stairs to the street. Breathlessly they arrived at the next building. The elevator was not running, but they could hear someone coming down the stairway. Then Jason Cordell, a brief case tucked under his arm, came into view. He stopped short upon seeing Mr. Parker and his daughter.

“Working late?” Mr. Parker inquired pleasantly.

“That’s right,” agreed the other. He would have walked on, but the publisher barred the exit.

“By the way, I met a friend of yours tonight,” Mr. Parker said, stalling for time.

“That so? Who was he?”

“Webb Nelson.”

Mr. Cordell’s face did not change expression, but his eyes narrowed guardedly.

“Not a friend of mine,” he corrected carelessly.

“But I’ve seen him in your office,” Penny said.

Mr. Cordell looked her straight in the eyes and smiled as if in amusement. “That may be,” he admitted, “but all who come to my office are not my friends.”

He tried to pass again, but Mr. Parker stood his ground. “Say, what is this?” Mr. Cordell demanded, suddenly suspicious.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you a few questions about your friend Webb Nelson. Suppose we go back to your office.”

“Suppose we don’t,” Cordell retorted. “I’m tired and I’m going home. If you want to see me, come around tomorrow during business hours.”

“Which may be too late.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the Mirror editor blustered. “Furthermore, I’m not interested. Get out of my way.”

Instead, Mr. Parker grasped him firmly by the arm. Cordell tried to jerk free, and in so doing, dropped his brief case, which Penny promptly seized.

“Give that to me!” the man shouted furiously.

Penny smiled, for through the plate glass window she had observed the approach of a police car. Another moment and uniformed men were swarming about Mr. Cordell.

“What is the meaning of this?” the man demanded angrily. “I’ll report you all to the Safety Director who is my friend!”

“You’ll report to him all right,” agreed Captain Bricker. “Now come along quietly. If you can answer a few questions satisfactorily, you’ll be allowed to return home.”

“What do you want to know?” Cordell asked sullenly.

“Where were you on the night of the 16th?”

“Now how should I know?” the man retorted sarcastically. “I can’t remember that far back. But probably I was home in bed.”

“You’re wanted in connection with the Conway dynamiting,” the officer informed him.

Mr. Cordell snorted with anger. “Of all the ridiculous charges! I know nothing about the affair.”

Out of the door burst Salt Sommers. He was without a hat, but he carried a picture, still wet, in the palm of his hand.

“So you know nothing about the dynamiting,” he mimicked. “Well, gentlemen, take a look at this!”

Mr. Cordell and the policemen gathered about him, studying the photograph. Plainly it showed Webb Nelson fleeing toward a car driven by the Mirror editor.

“What does this prove?” the man blustered. “I admit the car is mine. I was driving past the plant at the time of the explosion. This fellow, Nelson, leaped into my auto and ordered me to drive on.”

“A moment ago you claimed you weren’t even near the Conway Plant,” Penny tripped him. “You knew Webb Nelson very well. Furthermore, you entered the Star offices several times trying to get your hands on this picture!”


“At least once when you found the stairway door locked, you went in through the skylight,” Penny accused.

“Of all the crazy ideas!” The editor laughed jeeringly. “Imagine me crawling through a skylight!”

“I notice your coat has a torn place,” Penny said, taking a scrap of blue wool from her purse. “This, I believe, is a perfect match.”

Mr. Cordell gazed at the wool and shrugged. “All right,” he admitted coolly. “I did crawl through the skylight twice to see if I could find the picture. I knew this fool photographer had snapped a picture of me, and I feared I might be falsely accused.”

“Then you knew Nelson was mixed up in the dynamiting?” Captain Bricker questioned.

“I wasn’t certain,” Mr. Cordell said in confusion. “The reason I didn’t report to the police was that I was afraid of being involved. After that night, Webb Nelson tried to blackmail me. Because of my position, I dared have no publicity.”

The Mirror editor’s explanation carried a certain amount of conviction, and Penny was dismayed to hear Captain Bricker assure him that if a mistake had been made he would be granted freedom immediately after he had talked to the police chief.

“I shall accompany you without protest,” the Mirror editor returned stiffly. “Later I shall file charges against those who have tried to damage my character.”

Captain Bricker asked Salt for the picture which he intended to take to police headquarters.

“May I see it a moment?” Penny requested.

He gave the picture to her. She studied it and her face brightened. “Captain Bricker, look at this!” she exclaimed, pointing to an object in the car which barely was noticeable.

Everyone gathered about Penny, peering at the photograph. On the rear seat of the car driven by Mr. Cordell was a box which plainly bore the printing: “Salvage Company—Explosives.”

“Ed McClusky who works for the Salvage Company, told me that dynamite had been stolen from his firm,” Penny declared. “And here it is in Mr. Cordell’s automobile! Apparently, he wasn’t just driving by the plant at the time of the explosion! This picture proves why he was there!”

“Right you are, young lady,” chuckled Captain Bricker. “You’ve pinned the goods on him for fair.” Prodding the Mirror editor with his stick, he ordered curtly: “Get along, you! This puts a different face on it. You’ll be spending the rest of the night in the Safety building.”

After Mr. Cordell, still protesting his innocence, had been taken away, Penny, her father, and Salt returned to the deserted newspaper building.

“Will Cordell manage to get free?” she asked anxiously.

“Not a chance of it,” Mr. Parker answered. “That picture tags him right. With Ed McClusky and Ben to testify against him, he’s the same as convicted now.”

“Speaking of Ben, what’s to be done about him, Dad?”

“We’ll give him a job here. He’s had unfair treatment, but we’ll make it up to him. However, we’ll have to let one employee go.”

“Not me?” Penny asked anxiously.

“No,” her father laughed. “It’s your friend, Elda Hunt. Her attitude isn’t right. We’ve tried to give her a chance, but over and over she has demonstrated that she isn’t cut out to be a newspaper woman.”

“She’ll probably blame me for her discharge,” Penny sighed. “Not that it matters. I ceased worrying about Elda a long while ago.”

“She’ll have no difficulty getting work elsewhere, and I hope she’ll be better adjusted.”

“How about the story of Mr. Cordell’s arrest? And the picture?” Penny inquired. “Will the Star print them tomorrow?”

“On the front page of our first edition,” Mr. Parker chuckled. “Salt didn’t turn over the plate to the police, so we’re all set. By morning, the story should be bigger and better than ever. By then, the guilt will be well pinned on Cordell, and some of the Snark gang may have been rounded up.”

Curious to learn the very latest details, Salt called the police station. He was told that Ben Bartell had identified several of the Snark’s crew from police pictures, and it was expected all would be arrested within twenty-four hours.

“Not a bad night’s work,” Mr. Parker chuckled, as he snapped off the photography room lights. “Everything locked?”

“How about the skylight?” asked Penny.

“Open again,” reported Salt as he checked it. “It’s just no use trying to get folks to cooperate around here. Too many fresh air fiends.”

“Let it stay unlocked,” Mr. Parker directed carelessly. “With our prowler safely behind bars, we’ve no further cause for worry.” He looked at his watch. “Now, even though it is late, suppose we go and celebrate?”

“Oh, fine!” cried Penny. “And why not stop at the Safety building and ask Ben Bartell to go with us? I want to tell him about his new job.”

“So do I,” agreed her father heartily. “Where shall we go?”

Penny linked arms with Salt and her father, skipping as she piloted them down the dark hall.

“Just a quiet place where they serve big juicy steaks,” she decided. “If I know Ben, that’s what he would like best of all.”

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