January 3, 1910


Covered With Mud, He Broke
Into Station, but Later
Showed Big Roll.
Detective Joe Halvey Narrates a Tale.

Murder was in the air in the detective bureau rooms of Central police station -- murder, along with other things, particularly tobacco smoke. This is said to be the atmosphere of a police secret service department the world over.

It is stronger when there is a story telling contest on and the sweating of a murder suspect in an adjoining room. Detective Joe Halvey had elected to while away the time until the end of the secret conference. His audience consisted of newspaper men, Inspector of Detectives Edward Boyle and Detectives Robert Truman and Dave Oldham.

"It was a late spring night three years ago," said Detective Halvey. "One of those chilly early mornings when reporters love to sit about the 'phone in the lobby and call up instead of going out after their stories," he added, with a ponderous wink.


"It was a very cold night and a wind like the one spoken of in the scriptures was blowing down Missouri avenue."

"What kind of a thing was that scriptural wind?" inquired the reporter.

"I don't see why you intellectual cubs never seem to have had a religious bringing up," scornfully broke in Inspector Boyle, who prides himself in having maintained a Bible in his home since his marriage twenty years ago. "I think it is in Psalms where a March wind is spoken of that blows the straw hat wherever it listeth while many a good man and strong sweareth thereat."

The silence which followed the inspector's quotation was profound. The narrator took advantage of the lull.

"Well, it was getting along toward the second owl car. Michael O'Brien had just brought in a 'drunk' and booked him under the charge of investigation and Pat O'Brien and I were toasting our shins by a warm fire in this same office. I remember every detail, you see, just as though it was yesterday.


"Suddenly there came from somewhere on Fifth street near the Helping Hand institute, a blood curdling yell ending in a sort of a sob, as though some man was being choked.

"There were twelve good men in different parts of the station, wherever there was a heating stove, and all jumped at once. There had been a good many holdups during the winter months and of course the first thing we thought was that some villain had made a touch under the eaves of the station. We were not going to stand for that, no sir-e-e-e.

"I was about the first of the officers to reach the big folding doors in the north end of the station. My six shooter was in my hand and there was blood in my eye, I can tell you. If there was something going on I wasn't bound to let the blue uniformed mutts with the brass buttons do the pinch act to the discredit of the detective department.

"Just as I had reached the last step the doors flew open in my face. There was just enough time for action and no time for thought. A lean white streak had started to unwind itself up the stairway when I dropped on it like a thousand bricks.


" 'Look out below!' I yelled, grabbing it by the neck and bearing it to the linoleum. Then I made a careful analysis. what I was holding was a naked man shivering with the cold and dirtier than any tramp from having been dragged in the mud. 'Great thunder,' said I, 'this must be Adam returned to look after his Eden interests. Who are you, anyway?'


"It didn't take much tugging and hauling after I got up off of him to get him in front of the desk sergeant and it took still less time for the entire force to see that he was in the last stages of destitution. He didn't have a finger ring left and his clothing was mud.

" 'What's your name?' the sergeant asked.

" 'You can put me down John Smith,' said 'Adam' with a groan. 'I ain't got any other name, for political reasons. Gentlemen, what I want is clothes, clothes, clothes.'


"The nude wonder somehow looked respectable and we could see that he was right about what he wanted. Half a dozen of us took him into the sink room and gave him a bath, while the rest of the shortstops went in search of clothes. He was not a very tall man and very slim, while the officers we had to draw from were all big, so when we got done with dressing him he looked like a Populist of the short grass country the year of the drought.

"I can't help but laugh when I think of him sitting there in the detectives' room with the waist band of the sergeant's extra trousers drawn up under his arm and his feet in shoes the size of four-dollar dictionaries.


"But for all his togs he couldn't help but look respectable. Every time he opened his mouth he emitted an idea by the double handful, which was strange considering his appearance when we first saw him. He was no ordinary man, that was a cinch. He was a genius.


"About the time we were settling back into the humdrum of waiting until morning the unknown quantity took a hitch on himself and asked: 'Where are the reporters? Seems like there ought to be one or more around. It isn't time for the second mail edition yet.'

"We told him there was a little reporter named Billings in the room allowed for the use of newspaper men and that he was probably at that moment writing a story of how a naked, insane man had broken into the police station with the intent to murder the captain.

" 'I'll risk it,' he said with a laugh, 'send him to me.'

"We sent for Billings and it was evident that the two would be kindred spirits. The very first thing the stranger said to the reporter was what he refused to tell the sergeant, and that was how he had come to be naked. We had set him down to be a sort of a crank with spells of lucidness who had undressed and run into the station on a bet, but now we knew better.


" 'I was held up and robbed because I got into bad company trying to have a good time when I ought to have been decent,' he told Billings. 'I am sure none of this I tell you will get into the papers because I am a fellow newspaper man.

" 'Now what I want is clothes. I haven't got a cent but plenty of credit. I can get $10,000 anywhere when the banks open. I want you to strike some second-hand clothing store where the proprietor sleeps in the rear and get me a complete suit. I'll pay you when pay day comes.'

"Billings did not answer at once, and we could see he was studying hard. He had the money, for it was Saturday, the day he got paid, but he appeared not to like the idea of lending so much on such a short acquaintance. Finally an idea seemed to come to him. He looked sharply at the stranger and asked rather quick: 'What's thirty?' Now 'thirty' is a newspaper term that few people understand, but this one answered in a second, grinning from ear to ear: 'It means to chuck work and go home,' he answered.


"Well, sir, the reporter did just as he said and got a whole outfit for $14.50 and the stranger left at daybreak telling us all to stick around until he could get another and better rig and return.

"In three or four hours he was back. He had on a brand new suit of the best ready-made clothes in town, patent leather shoes and a plug hat. Also he had a roll of $100 bills so large that they wouldn't go into his inside coat pocket without a special effort. He was showing us that he had the credit he had boasted about.

"This time when we saw him he was feeling better toward the world and would talk more about himself, but he wouldn't tell his name, although I have since suspected the reporter knew it. He told us, though, that he was a prominent Missouri editor with aspirations to the United States senate.

"He had been in politics for years with his paper and never wanted anything so bad as that Senate plum. His platform from the start, he said, had been the cleaning up of the state morally.


" 'I have preached against immorality so much," he explained, 'that I just had to get out and find the truth about the other side. If my political enemies get hold of last night's caper it will be my undoing.'

"After he had gone the reporter looked at me and said: 'Well, we have promised never to mention this and it is safe, I guess. But my! what a story it would be for some newspapers I know.'

"The reporter is out of town now. By the way, Billings wasn't his name, either. I wonder which United States senatorial candidate that was?"