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A Master Hand by Richard Dallas

A MASTER HAND

THE STORY OF A CRIME

BY RICHARD DALLAS

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK AND LONDON The Knickerbocker Press 1903

Copyright, 1903 BY G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

Published, August, 1903

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

[Illustration: "It is no use," he said; "I can see by the papers that everybody thinks I am guilty."]

INTRODUCTORY

Twenty years have passed since the happening of the events, the history and sequel of which I am going to relate. It is the tale of a crime committed in one of the large cities of this country, and which, baffling the authorities at the time, still remains a mystery to all but myself and one other. Even now, at this late day, in deference to a plea that bore the seal of death, I shall only write of it with such changes of scene and names as I hope may prevent identification.

To me the history of this tragedy has always seemed convincing proof of the insufficiency of circumstantial evidence, except where such evidence is conclusive. I do not intend, however, to indulge in any abstract discussion of that subject, but shall consider that I have sufficiently fulfilled an obligation I owe to the law when I shall have submitted the bare facts of this particular case as I know them to have occurred.

While the changes of scene and names which I shall allow myself may involve some minor changes in the same line, I shall take no advantage of the opportunity that may thereby be afforded to complicate or exaggerate in any way the mystery that veiled the case, for to do so would be to subvert my purpose; but shall adhere to a plain statement of the facts, in every particular, as they successively discovered themselves to me. That it will prove an entertaining tale I do not promise, but that it will be a curious and interesting one I feel sure, and especially so to those who by profession are brought in contact with crime in its various phases.

CONTENTS

I.--A SOLILOQUY

II.--A GAME OF CARDS

III.--A TRAGEDY

IV.--THE SUSPECT

V.--THE INQUEST

VI.--THE INQUEST CONCLUDED

VII.--AN EVENING AT THE CLUB

VIII.--THE PROSECUTION AND THE PRISONER

IX.--A CLUE AND A CONFERENCE

X.--THE TRIAL

XI.--THE TRIAL CONCLUDED

XII.--AN EPISODE AND A DINNER

XIII.--THE TRUTH AT LAST

XIV.--THE DEATH OF WINTERS

A MASTER HAND

CHAPTER I

A SOLILOQUY

On a Monday evening in January, 1883, I had returned comparatively late from work in the District Attorney's office in New York, and was in my rooms at the Crescent Club on Madison Square, corner of Twenty-sixth Street, making a leisurely toilet for dinner, when a note was brought me from Arthur White. In it he asked me to join a few mutual friends at his rooms on West Nineteenth Street off Fifth Avenue later in the evening for supper. He named the men--Gilbert Littell, Ned Davis, and Oscar Van Bult--who were to join him at euchre before supper. This was a favorite pastime with them, and I was bidden to come early, if I wished, and look on.


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