I am so fortunate as to count Shamrock Jolnes, the great New York
detective, among my muster of friends. Jolnes is what is called the
"inside man" of the city detective force. He is an expert in the use of
the typewriter, and it is his duty, whenever there is a "murder mystery"
to be solved, to sit at a desk telephone at headquarters and take down the
messages of "cranks" who 'phone in their confessions to having committed
But on certain "off" days when confessions are coming in slowly and three
or four newspapers have run to earth as many different guilty persons,
Jolnes will knock about the town with me, exhibiting, to my great delight
and instruction, his marvellous powers of observation and deduction.
The other day I dropped in at Headquarters and found the great detective
gazing thoughtfully at a string that was tied tightly around his little
"Good morning, Whatsup," he said, without turning his head. "I'm glad to
notice that you've had your house fitted up with electric lights at last."
"Will you please tell me," I said, in surprise, "how you knew that? I am
sure that I never mentioned the fact to any one, and the wiring was a rush
order not completed until this morning."
"Nothing easier," said Jolnes, genially. "As you came in I caught the
odour of the cigar you are smoking. I know an expensive cigar; and I know
that not more than three men in New York can afford to smoke cigars and
pay gas bills too at the present time. That was an easy one. But I am
working just now on a little problem of my own."
"Why have you that string on your finger?" I asked.
"That's the problem," said Jolnes. "My wife tied that on this morning to
remind me of something I was to send up to the house. Sit down, Whatsup,
and excuse me for a few moments."
The distinguished detective went to a wall telephone, and stood with the
receiver to his ear for probably ten minutes.
"Were you listening to a confession?" I asked, when he had returned to his
"Perhaps," said Jolnes, with a smile, "it might be called something of the
sort. To be frank with you, Whatsup, I've cut out the dope. I've been
increasing the quantity for so long that morphine doesn't have much effect
on me any more. I've got to have something more powerful. That telephone
I just went to is connected with a room in the Waldorf where there's an
author's reading in progress. Now, to get at the solution of this string."
After five minutes of silent pondering, Jolnes looked at me, with a smile,
and nodded his head.
"Wonderful man!" I exclaimed; "already?"
"It is quite simple," he said, holding up his finger. "You see that
knot? That is to prevent my forgetting. It is, therefore, a
forget-me-knot. A forget-me-not is a flower. It was a sack of flour that
I was to send home!"
"Beautiful!" I could not help crying out in admiration.
"Suppose we go out for a ramble," suggested Jolnes.
"There is only one case of importance on hand just now. Old man McCarty,
one hundred and four years old, died from eating too many bananas. The
evidence points so strongly to the Mafia that the police have surrounded
the Second Avenue Katzenjammer Gambrinus Club No. 2, and the capture of
the assassin is only the matter of a few hours. The detective force has
not yet been called on for assistance."
Jolnes and I went out and up the street toward the corner, where we were
to catch a surface car.
Half-way up the block we met Rheingelder, an acquaintance of ours, who
held a City Hall position.
"Good morning, Rheingelder," said Jolnes, halting.
"Nice breakfast that was you had this morning." Always on the lookout for
the detective's remarkable feats of deduction, I saw Jolnes's eye flash
for an instant upon a long yellow splash on the shirt bosom and a smaller
one upon the chin of Rheingelder -- both undoubtedly made by the yolk of
"Oh, dot is some of your detectiveness," said Rheingelder, shaking all
over with a smile. "Vell, I pet you trinks und cigars all round dot you
cannot tell vot I haf eaten for breakfast."
"Done," said Jolnes. "Sausage, pumpernickel and coffee."
Rheingelder admitted the correctness of the surmise and paid the bet.
When we had proceeded on our way I said to Jolnes:
"I thought you looked at the egg spilled on his chin and shirt front."
"I did," said Jolnes. "That is where I began my deduction. Rheingelder
is a very economical, saving man. Yesterday eggs dropped in the market to
twenty-eight cents per dozen. To-day they are quoted at forty-two.
Rheingelder ate eggs yesterday, and to-day he went back to his usual
fare. A little thing like this isn't anything, Whatsup; it belongs to the
primary arithmetic class."
When we boarded the street car we found the seats all occupied --
principally by ladies. Jolnes and I stood on the rear platform.
About the middle of the car there sat an elderly man with a short, gray
beard, who looked to be the typical, well-dressed New Yorker. At
successive corners other ladies climbed aboard, and soon three or four of
them were standing over the man, clinging to straps and glaring meaningly
at the man who occupied the coveted seat. But he resolutely retained his
"We New Yorkers," I remarked to Jolnes, "have about lost our manners, as
far as the exercise of them in public goes."
"Perhaps so," said Jolnes, lightly; "but the man you evidently refer to
happens to be a very chivalrous and courteous gentleman from Old
Virginia. He is spending a few days in New York with his wife and two
daughters, and he leaves for the South to-night."
"You know him, then?" I said, in amazement.
"I never saw him before we stepped on the car," declared the detective,
"By the gold tooth of the Witch of Endor!" I cried, "if you can construe
all that from his appearance you are dealing in nothing else than black
"The habit of observation -- nothing more," said Jolnes. "If the old
gentleman gets off the car before we do, I think I can demonstrate to you
the accuracy of my deduction."
Three blocks farther along the gentleman rose to leave the car. Jolnes
addressed him at the door: "Pardon me, sir, but are you not Colonel
Hunter, of Norfolk, Virginia?"
"No, suh," was the extremely courteous answer. "My name, suh, is Ellison
-- Major Winfield R. Ellison, from Fairfax County, in the same state. I
know a good many people, suh, in Norfolk -- the Goodriches, the Tollivers,
and the Crabtrees, suh, but I never had the pleasure of meeting yo'
friend, Colonel Hunter. I am happy to say, suh, that I am going back to
Virginia to-night, after having spent a week in yo' city with my wife and
three daughters. I shall be in Norfolk in about ten days, and if you will
give me yo' name, suh, I will take pleasure in looking up Colonel Hunter
and telling him that you inquired after him, suh."
"Thank you," said Jolnes; "tell him that Reynolds sent his regards, if you
will be so kind."
I glanced at the great New York detective and saw that a look of intense
chagrin had come upon his clear-cut features. Failure in the slightest
point always galled Shamrock Jolnes.
"Did you say your _three_ daughters?" he asked of the Virginia gentleman.
"Yes, suh, my three daughters, all as fine girls as there are in Fairfax
County," was the answer.
With that Major Ellison stopped the car and began to descend the step.
Shamrock Jolnes clutched his arm.
"One moment, sir," he begged, in an urbane voice in which I alone detected
the anxiety -- "am I not right in believing that one of the young ladies
is an _adopted_ daughter?"
"You are, suh," admitted the major, from the ground, "but how the devil
you knew it, suh, is mo' than I can tell."
"And mo' than I can tell, too," I said, as the car went on.
Jolnes was restored to his calm, observant serenity by having wrested
victory from his apparent failure; so after we got off the car he invited
me into a cafe, promising to reveal the process of his latest wonderful
"In the first place," he began after we were comfortably seated, "I knew
the gentleman was no New Yorker because he was flushed and uneasy and
restless on account of the ladies that were standing, although he did not
rise and give them his seat. I decided from his appearance that he was a
Southerner rather than a Westerner.
"Next I began to figure out his reason for not relinquishing his seat to a
lady when he evidently felt strongly, but not overpoweringly, impelled to
do so. I very quickly decided upon that. I noticed that one of his eyes
had received a severe jab in one corner, which was red and inflamed, and
that all over his face were tiny round marks about the size of the end of
an uncut lead pencil. Also upon both of his patent leather shoes were a
number of deep imprints shaped like ovals cut off square at one end.
"Now, there is only one district in New York City where a man is bound to
receive scars and wounds and indentations of that sort -- and that is
along the sidewalks of Twenty-third Street and a portion of Sixth Avenue
south of there. I knew from the imprints of trampling French heels on his
feet and the marks of countless jabs in the face from umbrellas and
parasols carried by women in the shopping district that he had been in
conflict with the amazonian troops. And as he was a man of intelligent
appearance, I knew he would not have braved such dangers unless he had
been dragged thither by his own women folk. Therefore, when he got on the
car his anger at the treatment he had received was sufficient to make him
keep his seat in spite of his traditions of Southern chivalry."
"That is all very well," I said, "but why did you insist upon daughters --
and especially two daughters? Why couldn't a wife alone have taken him
"There had to be daughters," said Jolnes, calmly. "If he had only a wife,
and she near his own age, he could have bluffed her into going alone. If
he had a young wife she would prefer to go alone. So there you are."
"I'll admit that," I said; "but, now, why two daughters? And how, in the
name of all the prophets, did you guess that one was adopted when he told
you he had three?"
"Don't say guess," said Jolnes, with a touch of pride in his air; "there
is no such word in the lexicon of ratiocination. In Major Ellison's
buttonhole there was a carnation and a rosebud backed by a geranium leaf.
No woman ever combined a carnation and a rosebud into a boutonniere.
Close your eyes, Whatsup, and give the logic of your imagination a
chance. Cannot you see the lovely Adele fastening the carnation to the
lapel so that papa may be gay upon the street? And then the romping Edith
May dancing up with sisterly jealousy to add her rosebud to the adornment?"
"And then," I cried, beginning to feel enthusiasm, "when he declared that
he had three daughters" --
"I could see," said Jolnes, "one in the background who added no flower;
and I knew that she must be --"
"Adopted!" I broke in. "I give you every credit; but how did you know he
was leaving for the South to-night?"
"In his breast pocket," said the great detective, "something large and
oval made a protuberance. Good liquor is scarce on trains, and it is a
long journey from New York to Fairfax County."
"Again, I must bow to you," I said. "And tell me this, so that my last
shred of doubt will be cleared away; why did you decide that he was from
"It was very faint, I admit," answered Shamrock Jolnes, "but no trained
observer could have failed to detect the odour of mint in the car."