I was walking in Central Park with Avery Knight, the great New York
burglar, highwayman, and murderer.
"But, my dear Knight," said I, "it sounds incredible. You have
undoubtedly performed some of the most wonderful feats in your
profession known to modern crime. You have committed some marvellous
deeds under the very noses of the police--you have boldly entered the
homes of millionaires and held them up with an empty gun while you
made free with their silver and jewels; you have sandbagged citizens
in the glare of Broadway's electric lights; you have killed and robbed
with superb openness and absolute impunity--but when you boast that
within forty-eight hours after committing a murder you can run down
and actually bring me face to face with the detective assigned to
apprehend you, I must beg leave to express my doubts--remember, you
are in New York."
Avery Knight smiled indulgently.
"You pique my professional pride, doctor," he said in a nettled
tone. "I will convince you."
About twelve yards in advance of us a prosperous-looking citizen was
rounding a clump of bushes where the walk curved. Knight suddenly
drew a revolver and shot the man in the back. His victim fell and
lay without moving.
The great murderer went up to him leisurely and took from his clothes
his money, watch, and a valuable ring and cravat pin. He then
rejoined me smiling calmly, and we continued our walk.
Ten steps and we met a policeman running toward the spot where the
shot had been fired. Avery Knight stopped him.
"I have just killed a man," he announced, seriously, "and robbed him
of his possessions."
"G'wan," said the policeman, angrily, "or I'll run yez in! Want yer
name in the papers, don't yez? I never knew the cranks to come around
so quick after a shootin' before. Out of th' park, now, for yours, or
I'll fan yez."
"What you have done," I said, argumentatively, as Knight and I walked
on, "was easy. But when you come to the task of hunting down the
detective that they send upon your trail you will find that you have
undertaken a difficult feat."
"Perhaps so," said Knight, lightly. "I will admit that my success
depends in a degree upon the sort of man they start after me. If it
should be an ordinary plain-clothes man I might fail to gain a sight
of him. If they honor me by giving the case to some one of their
celebrated sleuths I do not fear to match my cunning and powers of
induction against his."
On the next afternoon Knight entered my office with a satisfied look
on his keen countenance.
"How goes the mysterious murder?" I asked.
"As usual," said Knight, smilingly. "I have put in the morning at the
police station and at the inquest. It seems that a card case of mine
containing cards with my name and address was found near the body.
They have three witnesses who saw the shooting and gave a description
of me. The case has been placed in the hands of Shamrock Jolnes, the
famous detective. He left Headquarters at 11:30 on the assignment.
I waited at my address until two, thinking he might call there."
I laughed, tauntingly.
"You will never see Jolnes," I continued, "until this murder has been
forgotten, two or three weeks from now. I had a better opinion of
your shrewdness, Knight. During the three hours and a half that you
waited he has got out of your ken. He is after you on true induction
theories now, and no wrongdoer has yet been known to come upon him
while thus engaged. I advise you to give it up."
"Doctor," said Knight, with a sudden glint in his keen gray eye and
a squaring of his chin, "in spite of the record your city holds of
something like a dozen homicides without a subsequent meeting of the
perpetrator, and the sleuth in charge of the case, I will undertake
to break that record. To-morrow I will take you to Shamrock Jolnes--
I will unmask him before you and prove to you that it is not an
impossibility for an officer of the law and a manslayer to stand face
to face in your city."
"Do it," said I, "and you'll have the sincere thanks of the Police
On the next day Knight called for me in a cab.
"I've been on one or two false scents, doctor," he admitted. "I know
something of detectives' methods, and I followed out a few of them,
expecting to find Jolnes at the other end. The pistol being a .45-
caliber, I thought surely I would find him at work on the clue in
Forty-fifth Street. Then, again, I looked for the detective at the
Columbia University, as the man's being shot in the back naturally
suggested hazing. But I could not find a trace of him."
"--Nor will you," I said, emphatically.
"Not by ordinary methods," said Knight. "I might walk up and down
Broadway for a month without success. But you have aroused my pride,
doctor; and if I fail to show you Shamrock Jolnes this day, I promise
you I will never kill or rob in your city again."
"Nonsense, man," I replied. "When our burglars walk into our houses
and politely demand, thousands of dollars' worth of jewels, and then
dine and bang the piano an hour or two before leaving, how do you, a
mere murderer, expect to come in contact with the detective that is
looking for you?"
Avery Knight, sat lost in thought for a while. At length he looked
"Doc," said he, "I have it. Put on your hat, and come with me. In
half an hour I guarantee that you shall stand in the presence of
I entered a cab with Avery Knight. I did not hear his instructions
to the driver, but the vehicle set out at a smart pace up Broadway,
turning presently into Fifth Avenue, and proceeding northward again.
It was with a rapidly beating heart that I accompanied this wonderful
and gifted assassin, whose analytical genius and superb self-
confidence had prompted him to make me the tremendous promise of
bringing me into the presence of a murderer and the New York detective
in pursuit of him simultaneously. Even yet I could not believe it
"Are you sure that you are not being led into some trap?" I asked.
"Suppose that your clue, whatever it is, should bring us only into
the presence of the Commissioner of Police and a couple of dozen
"My dear doctor," said Knight, a little stiffly. "I would remind you
that I am no gambler."
"I beg your pardon," said I. "But I do not think you will find
The cab stopped before one of the handsomest residences on the avenue.
Walking up and down in front of the house was a man with long red
whiskers, with a detective's badge showing on the lapel of his coat.
Now and then the man would remove his whiskers to wipe his face, and
then I would recognize at once the well-known features of the great
New York detective. Jolnes was keeping a sharp watch upon the doors
and windows of the house.
"Well, doctor," said Knight, unable to repress a note of triumph in
his voice, "have you seen?"
"It is wonderful--wonderful!" I could not help exclaiming as our cab
started on its return trip. "But how did you do it? By what process
"My dear doctor," interrupted the great murderer, "the inductive
theory is what the detectives use. My process is more modern. I
call it the saltatorial theory. Without bothering with the tedious
mental phenomena necessary to the solution of a mystery from slight
clues, I jump at once to a conclusion. I will explain to you the
method I employed in this case.
"In the first place, I argued that as the crime was committed in New
York City in broad daylight, in a public place and under peculiarly
atrocious circumstances, and that as the most skilful sleuth
available was let loose upon the case, the perpetrator would never
be discovered. Do you not think my postulation justified by
"Perhaps so," I replied, doggedly. "But if Big Bill Dev--"
"Stop that," interrupted Knight, with a smile, "I've heard that
several times. It's too late now. I will proceed.
"If homicides in New York went undiscovered, I reasoned, although
the best detective talent was employed to ferret them out, it must
be true that the detectives went about their work in the wrong way.
And not only in the wrong way, but exactly opposite from the right
way. That was my clue.
"I slew the man in Central Park. Now, let me describe myself to you.
"I am tall, with a black beard, and I hate publicity. I have no money
to speak of; I do not like oatmeal, and it is the one ambition of my
life to die rich. I am of a cold and heartless disposition. I do not
care for my fellowmen and I never give a cent to beggars or charity.
"Now, my dear doctor, that is the true description of myself, the man
whom that shrewd detective was to hunt down. You who are familiar
with the history of crime in New York of late should be able to
foretell the result. When I promised you to exhibit to your
incredulous gaze the sleuth who was set upon me, you laughed at me
because you said that detectives and murderers never met in New York.
I have demonstrated to you that the theory is possible."
"But how did you do it?" I asked again.
"It was very simple," replied the distinguished murderer. "I
assumed that the detective would go exactly opposite to the clues
he had. I have given you a description of myself. Therefore, he
must necessarily set to work and trail a short man with a white
beard who likes to be in the papers, who is very wealthy, is fond
'of oatmeal, wants to die poor, and is of an extremely generous
and philanthropic disposition. When thus far is reached the mind
hesitates no longer. I conveyed you at once to the spot where
Shamrock Jolnes was piping off Andrew Carnegie's residence."
"Knight," said I, "you're a wonder. If there was no danger of your
reforming, what a rounds man you'd make for the Nineteenth Precinct!"