The Gatewood Caper
by Dashiell Hammett
Harvey Gatewood had issued orders that I was to be admitted as soon as I arrived, so it took me only a little less than fifteen minutes to thread my way past the doorkeepers, office boys, and secretaries who filled up most of the space between the Gatewood Lumber Corporation's front door and the president's private office. His office was large, all mahogany and bronze and green plush, with a mahogany desk as big as a bed in the center of the floor.
Gatewood, leaning across the desk, began to bark at me as soon as the obsequious clerk who had bowed me in bowed himself out.
"My daughter was kidnaped last night! I want the --- that did it if it takes every cent I got!"
"Tell me about it," I suggested.
But he wanted results, it seemed, and not questions, and so I wasted nearly an hour getting information that he could have given me in fifteen minutes.
He was a big bruiser of a man, something over 200 pounds of hard red flesh, and a czar from the top of his bullet head to the toes of his shoes that would have been at least number twelves if they hadn't been made to measure.
He had made his several millions by sandbagging everybody that stood in his way, and the rage he was burning up with now didn't make him any easier to deal with.
His wicked jaw was sticking out like a knob of granite and his eyes were filmed with blood - he was in a lovely frame of mind. For a while it looked as if the Continental Detective Agency was going to lose a client, because I'd made up my mind that he was going to tell me all I wanted to know, or I'd chuck the job.
But finally I got the story out of him.
His daughter Audrey had left their house on Clay Street at about 7 o'clock the preceding evening, telling her maid that she was going for a walk. She had not returned that night - though Gatewood had not known that until after he had read the letter that came this morning.
The letter had been from someone who said that she had been kidnaped. It demanded $50,000 for her release, and instructed Gatewood to get the money ready in hundred dollar bills - so that there would be no delay when he was told the manner in which the money was to be paid over to his daughter's captors. As proof that the demand was not a hoax, a lock of the girl's hair, a ring she always wore, and a brief note from her, asking her father to comply with the demands, had been enclosed.
Gatewood had received the letter at his office and had telephoned to his house immediately. He had been told that the girl's bed had not been slept in the previous night and that none of the servants had seen her since she started out for her walk. He had then notified the police, turning the letter over to them; and a few minutes later he had decided to employ private detectives also.
"Now," he burst out, after I had wormed these things out of him, and he had told me that he knew nothing of his daughter's associates or habits, "go ahead and do something! I'm not paying you to sit around and talk about it!"
"What are you going to do?" I asked.
"Me? I'm going to put those --- behind bars if it takes every cent I've got in the world!"
"Sure! But first you get that 50,000 ready, so you can give it to them when they ask for it."
He clicked his jaw shut and thrust his face into mine.
"I've never been clubbed into doing anything in my life! And I'm too old to start now!" he said. "I'm going to call these people's bluff!"
"That's going to make it lovely for your daughter. But, aside from what it'll do to her, it's the wrong play. Fifty thousand isn't a whole lot to you, and paying it over will give us two chances that we haven't got now. One when the payment is made - a chance either to nab whoever comes for it or get a line on them. And the other when your daughter is returned. No matter how careful they are, it's a cinch she'll be able to tell us something that will help us grab them."
He shook his head angrily, and I was tired of arguing with him. So I left, hoping he'd see the wisdom of the course I had advised before too late.
At the Gatewood residence I found butlers, second men, chauffeurs, cooks, maids, upstairs girls, downstairs girls, and a raft of miscellaneous flunkies - he had enough servants to run a hotel.
What they told me amounted to this: The girl had not received a phone call, note by messenger, or telegram - the time-honored devices for luring a victim out to a murder or abduction - before she left the house. She had told her maid that she would be back within an hour or two; but the maid had not been alarmed when her mistress failed to return all that night.
Audrey was the only child, and since her mother's death she had come and gone to suit herself. She and her father didn't hit it off very well together - their natures were too much alike, I gathered - and he never knew where she was. There was nothing unusual about her remaining away all night. She seldom bothered to leave word when she was going to stay overnight with friends.
She was nineteen years old, but looked several years older; about five feet five inches tall, and slender. She had blue eyes, brown hair - very thick and long - was pale and very nervous. Her photographs, of which I took a handful, showed that her eyes were large, her nose small and regular, and her chin pointed.
She was not beautiful, but in the one photograph where a smile had wiped off the sullenness of her mouth, she was at least pretty.
When she left the house she was wearing a light tweed skirt and jacket with a London tailor's labels in them, a buff silk shirtwaist with stripes a shade darker, brown wool stockings, low-heeled brown oxfords, and an untrimmed gray felt hat.
I went up to her rooms - she had three on the third floor - and looked through all her stuff. I found nearly a bushel of photographs of men, boys, and girls; and a great stack of letters of varying degrees of intimacy, signed with a wide assortment of names and nicknames. I made notes of all the addresses I found.
Nothing in her rooms seemed to have any bearing on her abduction, but there was a chance that one of the names and addresses might be of someone who had served as a decoy. Also, some of her friends might be able to tell us something of value.
I dropped in at the Agency and distributed the names and addresses among the three operatives who were idle, sending them out to see what they could dig up.
Then I reached the police detectives who were working on the case - O'Gar and Thode - by telephone, and went down to the Hall of Justice to meet them. Lusk, a post-office inspector, was also there. We turned the job around and around, looking at it from every angle, but not getting very far. We were all agreed, however, that we couldn't take a chance on any publicity, or work in the open, until the girl was safe.
They had had a worse time with Gatewood than I - he had wanted to put the whole thing in the newspapers, with the offer of a reward, photographs, and all. Of course, Gatewood was right in claiming that this was the most effective way of catching the kidnapers - but it would have been tough on his daughter if her captors happened to be persons of sufficiently hardened character. And kidnapers as a rule aren't lambs.
I looked at the letter they had sent. It was printed with pencil on ruled paper of the kind that is sold in pads by every stationery dealer in the world. The envelope was just as common, also addressed in pencil, and postmarked San Francisco, September 20, 9 P.M. That was the night she had been seized.
The letter read:
We have your charming daughter and place a value of $50,000 upon her. You will get the money ready in $100 bills at once so there will be no delay when we tell you how it is to be paid over to us.
We beg to assure you that things will go badly with your daughter should you not do as you are told, or should you bring the police into this matter, or should you do anything foolish.
$50,000 is only a small fraction of what you stole while we were living in mud and blood in France for you, and we mean to get that much or else!
A peculiar note in several ways. They are usually written with a great pretense of partial illiterateness. Almost always there's an attempt to lead suspicion astray. Perhaps the ex-service stuff was there for that purpose . . . or perhaps not.
Then there was a postscript:
We know someone who will buy her even after we are through with her - in case you won't listen to reason.
The letter from the girl was written jerkily on the same kind of paper, apparently with the same pencil.
Please do as they ask! I am so afraid -
A door at the other end of the room opened, and a head came through.
"O'Gar! Thode! Gatewood just called up. Get up to his office right away!"
The four of us tumbled out of the Hall of Justice and into a police car.
Gatewood was pacing his office like a maniac when we pushed aside enough hirelings to get to him. His face was hot with blood and his eyes had an insane glare in them.
"She just phoned me!" he cried thickly, when he saw us.
It took a minute or two to get him calm enough to tell us about it.
"She called me on the phone. Said, 'Oh, Daddy! Do something! I can't stand this - they're killing me!' I asked her if she knew where she was, and she said, 'No, but I can see Twin Peaks from here. There's three men and a woman, and - ' And then I heard a man curse, and a sound as if he had struck her, and the phone went dead. I tried to get central to give me the number, but she couldn't! It's a damned outrage the way the telephone system is run. We pay enough for service, God knows, and we . . ."
O'Gar scratched his head and turned away from Gatewood.
"In sight of Twin Peaks! There are hundreds of houses that are!"
Gatewood meanwhile had finished denouncing the telephone company and was pounding on his desk with a paperweight to attract our attention.
"Have you people done anything at all?" he demanded.
I answered him with another question: "Have you got the money ready?"
"No," he said, "I won't be held up by anybody!"
But he said it mechanically, without his usual conviction - the talk with his daughter had shaken him out of some of his stubbornness. He was thinking of her safety a little now instead of only his own fighting spirit.
We went at him hammer and tongs for a few minutes, and after a while he sent a clerk out for the money.
We split up the field then. Thode was to take some men from headquarters and see what he could find in the Twin Peaks end of town; but we weren't very optimistic over the prospects there - the territory was too large.
Lusk and O'Gar were to carefully mark the bills that the clerk brought from the bank, and then stick as close to Gatewood as they could without attracting attention. I was to go out to Gatewood's house and stay there.
The abductors had plainly instructed Gatewood to get the money ready immediately so that they could arrange to get it on short notice - not giving him time to communicate with anyone or make any plans.
Gatewood was to get hold of the newspapers, give them the whole story, with the $10,000 reward he was offering for the abductors' capture, to be published as soon as the girl was safe - so we would get the help of publicity at the earliest possible moment without jeopardizing the girl.
The police in all the neighboring towns had already been notified - that had been done before the girl's phone message had assured us that she was held in San Francisco.
Nothing happened at the Gatewood residence all that evening. Harvey Gatewood came home early; and after dinner he paced his library floor and drank whiskey until bedtime, demanding every few minutes that we, the detectives in the case, do something besides sit around like a lot of damned mummies. O'Gar, Lusk, and Thode were out in the street, keeping an eye on the house and neighborhood.
At midnight Harvey Gatewood went to bed. I declined a bed in favor of the library couch, which I dragged over beside the telephone, an extension of which was in Gatewood's bedroom.
At 2:30 the bell rang. I listened in while Gatewood talked from his bed.
A man's voice, crisp and curt: "Gatewood?"
"Got the dough?"
Gatewood's voice was thick and blurred - I could imagine the boiling that was going on inside him.
"Good!" came the brisk voice. "Put a piece of paper around it and leave the house with it, right away! Walk down Clay Street, keeping on the same side as your house. Don't walk too fast and keep walking. If everything's all right, and there's no elbows tagging along, somebody'll come up to you between your house and the waterfront. They'll have a handkerchief up to their face for a second, and then they'll let it fall to the ground.
"When you see that, you'll lay the money on the pavement, turn around, and walk back to your house. If the money isn't marked, and you don't try any fancy tricks, you'll get your daughter back in an hour or two. If you try to pull anything - remember what we wrote you! Got it straight?"
Gatewood sputtered something that was meant for an affirmative, and the telephone clicked silent.
I didn't waste any of my precious time tracing the call - it would be from a public telephone, I knew - but yelled up the stairs to Gatewood:
"You do as you were told, and don't try any foolishness!"
Then I ran out into the early morning air to find the police detectives and the post-office inspector.
They had been joined by two plainclothesmen, and had two automobiles waiting. I told them what the situation was, and we laid hurried plans.
O'Gar was to drive in one of the cars down Sacramento Street, and Thode, in the other, down Washington Street. These streets parallel Clay, one on each side. They were to drive slowly, keeping pace with Gatewood, and stopping at each cross street to see that he passed.
When he failed to cross within a reasonable time they were to turn up to Clay Street - and their actions from then on would have to be guided by chance and their own wits.
Lusk was to wander along a block or two ahead of Gatewood, on the opposite side of the street, pretending to be mildly intoxicated.
I was to shadow Gatewood down the street, with one of the plainclothesmen behind me. The other plainclothesman was to turn in a call at headquarters for every available man to be sent to City Street. They would arrive too late, of course, and as likely as not it would take them some time to find us; but we had no way of knowing what was going to turn up before the night was over.
Our plan was sketchy enough, but it was the best we could do - we were afraid to grab whoever got the money from Gatewood. The girl's talk with her father that afternoon had sounded too much as if her captors were desperate for us to take any chances on going after them roughshod until she was out of their hands.
We had hardly finished our plans when Gatewood, wearing a heavy overcoat, left his house and turned down the street.
Farther down, Lusk, weaving along, talking to himself, was almost invisible in the shadows. There was no one else in sight. That meant that I had to give Gatewood at least two blocks' lead, so that the man who came for the money wouldn't tumble to me. One of the plainclothesmen was half a block behind me, on the other side of the street.
We walked two blocks down, and then a little chunky man in a derby hat came into sight. He passed Gatewood, passed me, went on.
Three blocks more.
A touring-car, large, black, powerfully engined, and with lowered curtains, came from the rear, passed us, went on. Possibly a scout. I scrawled its license number down on my pad without taking my hand out of my overcoat pocket.
Another three blocks.
A policeman passed, strolling along in ignorance of the game being played under his nose; and then a taxicab with a single male passenger. I wrote down its license number.
Four blocks with no one in sight ahead of me but Gatewood - I couldn't see Lusk any more.
Just ahead of Gatewood a man stepped out of a black doorway, turned around, called up to a window for someone to come down and open the door for him.
We went on.
Coming from nowhere, a woman stood on the sidewalk 50 feet ahead of Gatewood, a handkerchief to her face. It fluttered to the pavement.
Gatewood stopped, standing stiff-legged. I could see his right hand come up, lifting the side of the overcoat in which it was pocketed - and I knew his hand was gripped around a pistol.
For perhaps half a minute he stood like a statue. Then his left hand came out of his pocket, and the bundle of money fell to the sidewalk in front of him, where it made a bright blur in the darkness. Gatewood turned abruptly, and began to retrace his steps homeward.
The woman had recovered her handkerchief. Now she ran to the bundle, picked it up, and scuttled to the black mouth of an alley a few feet distant - a rather tall woman, bent, and in dark clothes from head to feet.
In the black mouth of the alley she vanished.
I had been compelled to slow up while Gatewood and the woman stood facing each other, and I was more than a block away now. As soon as the woman disappeared, I took a chance and started pounding my rubber soles against the pavement.
The alley was empty when I reached it.
It ran all the way through to the next street, but I knew that the woman couldn't have reached the other end before I got to this one. I carry a lot of weight these days, but I can still step a block or two in good time. Along both sides of the alley were the rears of apartment buildings, each with its back door looking blankly, secretively, at me.
The plainclothesman who had been trailing behind me came up, then O'Gar and Thode in their cars, and soon, Lusk. O'Gar and Thode rode off immediately to wind through the neighboring streets, hunting for the woman. Lusk and the plainclothesman each planted himself on a corner from which two of the streets enclosing the block could be watched.
I went through the alley, hunting vainly for an unlocked door, an open window, a fire-escape that would show recent use - any of the signs that a hurried departure from the alley might leave.
O'Gar came back shortly with some reinforcements from headquarters that he had picked up, and Gatewood.
Gatewood was burning.
"Bungled the damn thing again! I won't pay your agency a nickel, and I'll see that some of these so-called detectives get put back in a uniform and set to walking beats!"
"What'd the woman look like?" I asked him.
"I don't know! I thought you were hanging around to take care of her! She was old and bent, kind of, I guess, but I couldn't see her face for her veil. I don't know! What the hell were you men doing? It's a damned outrage the way . . ."
I finally got him quieted down and took him home, leaving the city men to keep the neighborhood under surveillance. There were fourteen or fifteen of them on the job now, and every shadow held at least one.
The girl would head for home as soon as she was released and I wanted to be there to pump her. There was an excellent chance of catching her abductors before they got very far, if she could tell us anything at all about them.
Home, Gatewood went up against the whiskey bottle again, while I kept one ear cocked at the telephone and the other at the front door. O'Gar or Thode phoned every half hour or so to ask if we'd heard from the girl.
They had still found nothing.
At 9 o'clock they, with Lusk, arrived at the house. The woman in black had turned out to be a man, and had got away.
In the rear of one of the apartment buildings that touched the alley - just a foot or so within the back-door - they found a woman's skirt, long coat, hat and veil - all black. Investigating the occupants of the house, they had learned that an apartment had been rented to a young man named Leighton three days before.
Leighton was not at home when they went up to his apartment. His rooms held a lot of cold cigarette butts, an empty bottle, and nothing else that had not been there when he rented it.
The inference was clear: he had rented the apartment so that he might have access to the building. Wearing women's clothes over his own, he had gone out of the back door - leaving it unlatched behind him - to meet Gatewood. Then he had run back into the building, discarded his disguise, and hurried through the building, out the front door, and away before we had our feeble net around the block - perhaps dodging into dark doorways here and there to avoid O'Gar and Thode in their cars.
Leighton, it seemed, was a man of about 30, slender, about five feet eight or nine inches tall, with dark hair and eyes; rather good-looking, and well-dressed on the two occasions when people living in the building had seen him, in a brown suit and a light brown felt hat.
There was no possibility, according to both of the detectives and the post-office inspector, that the girl might have been held, even temporarily, in Leighton's apartment.
Ten o'clock came, and no word from the girl.
Gatewood had lost his domineering bullheadedness by now and was breaking up. The suspense was getting him, and the liquor he had put away wasn't helping him. I didn't like him either personally or by reputation, but this morning I felt sorry for him.
I talked to the Agency over the phone and got the reports of the operatives who had been looking up Audrey's friends. The last person to see her had been an Agnes Dangerfield, who had seen her walking down Market Street near Sixth, alone, on the night of her abduction - some time between 8:15 and 8:45. Audrey had been too far away for the Dangerfield girl to speak to her.
For the rest, the boys had learned nothing except that Audrey was a wild, spoiled youngster who hadn't shown any great care in selecting her friends - just the sort of girl who could easily fall into the hands of a mob of highbinders.
Noon struck. No sign of the girl. We told the newspapers to turn loose the story, with the added developments of the past few hours.
Gatewood was broken; he sat with his head in his hands, looking at nothing. Just before I left to follow a hunch I had, he looked up at me, and I'd never have recognized him if I hadn't seen the change take place.
"What do you think is keeping her away?" he asked.
I didn't have the heart to tell him what I had every reason to suspect, now that the money had been paid and she had failed to show up. So I stalled with some vague assurances, and left.
I caught a cab and dropped off in the shopping district. I visited the five largest department stores, going to all the women's wear departments from shoes to hats, and trying to learn if a man - perhaps one answering Leighton's description - had been buying clothes in the past couple days that would fit Audrey Gatewood.
Failing to get any results, I turned the rest of the local stores over to one of the boys from the Agency, and went across the bay to canvass the Oakland stores.
At the first one I got action. A man who might easily have been Leighton had been in the day before, buying clothes of Audrey's size. He had bought lots of them, everything from lingerie to a coat, and - my luck was hitting on all cylinders - had had his purchases delivered to T. Offord, at an address on Fourteenth Street.
At the Fourteenth Street address, an apartment house, I found Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Offord's names in the vestibule for Apartment 202.
I had just found the apartment number when the front door opened and a stout, middle-aged woman in a gingham house-dress came out. She looked at me a bit curiously, so I asked:
"Do you know where I can find the superintendent?"
"I'm the superintendent," she said.
I handed her a card and stepped indoors with her.
"I'm from the bonding department of the North American Casualty Company" - a repetition of the lie that was printed on the card I had given her - "and a bond for Mr. Offord has been applied for. Is he all right so far as you know?" With the slightly apologetic air of one going through with a necessary but not too important formality.
"A bond? That's funny! He is going away tomorrow."
"Well, I can't say what the bond is for," I said lightly. "We investigators just get the names and addresses. It may be for his present employer, or perhaps the man he is going to work for has applied for it. Or some firms have us look up prospective employees before they hire them, just to be safe."
"Mr. Offord, so far as I know, is a very nice young man," she said, "but he has been here only a week."
"Not staying long, then?"
"No. They came here from Denver, intending to stay, but the low altitude doesn't agree with Mrs. Offord, so they are going back."
"Are you sure they came from Denver?"
"Well," she said, "they told me they did."
"How many of them are there?"
"Only the two of them; they're young people."
"Well, how do they impress you?" I asked, trying to get over the impression that I thought her a woman of shrewd judgment.
"They seem to be a very nice young couple. You'd hardly know they were in their apartment most of the time, they're so quiet. I'm sorry they can't stay."
"Do they go out much?"
"I really don't know. They have their keys, and unless I should happen to pass them going in or out I'd never see them."
"Then, as a matter of fact, you couldn't say whether they stayed away all night some nights or not. Could you?"
She eyed me doubtfully - I was stepping way over my pretext now, but I didn't think it mattered - and shook her head.
"No, I couldn't say."
"They have many visitors?"
"I don't know. Mr. Offord is not - "
She broke off as a man came in quietly from the street, brushed past me, and started to mount the steps to the second floor.
"Oh, dear!" she whispered. "I hope he didn't hear me talking about him. That's Mr. Offord."
A slender man in brown, with a light brown hat - Leighton perhaps.
I hadn't seen anything of him except his back, nor he anything except mine. I watched him as he climbed the stairs. If he had heard the woman mention his name he would use the turn at the head of the stairs to sneak a look at me.
I kept my face stolid, but I knew him.
He was "Penny" Quayle, a con man who had been active in the East four or five years before.
His face was as expressionless as mine. But he knew me.
A door on the second floor shut. I left the woman and started for the stairs.
"I think I'll go up and talk to him," I told her.
Coming silently to the door of Apartment 202, I listened. Not a sound. This was no time for hesitation. I pressed the bell-button.
As close together as the tapping of three keys under the fingers of an expert typist, but a thousand times more vicious, came three pistol shots. And waist-high in the door of Apartment 202 were three bullet holes.
The three bullets would have been in my fat carcass if I hadn't learned years ago to stand to one side of strange doors when making uninvited calls.
Inside the apartment sounded a man's voice, sharp, commanding.
"Cut it, kid! For God's sake, not that!"
A woman's voice, shrill, bitter, spiteful, screaming blasphemies.
Two more bullets came through the door.
"Stop! No! No!" The man's voice had a note of fear in it now.
The woman's voice, cursing hotly. A scuffle. A shot that didn't hit the door.
I hurled my foot against the door, near the knob, and the lock broke away.
On the floor of the room, a man - Quayle - and a woman were tussling. He was bending over her, holding her wrists, trying to keep her down. A smoking pistol was in one of her hands. I got to it in a jump and tore it loose.
"That's enough!" I called to them when I was planted. "Get up and receive company."
Quayle released his antagonist's wrists, whereupon she struck at his eyes with curved, sharp-nailed fingers, tearing his cheek open. He scrambled away from her on hands and knees, and both of them got to their feet.
He sat down on a chair immediately, panting and wiping his bleeding cheek with a handkerchief.
She stood, hands on hips, in the center of the room, glaring at me.
"I suppose," she spat, "you think you've raised hell!"
I laughed - I could afford to.
"If your father is in his right mind," I told her, "he'll do it with a razor strop when he gets you home again. A fine joke you picked out to play on him!"
"If you'd been tied to him as long as I have, and had been bullied and held down as much, I guess you'd do most anything to get enough money so that you could go away and live your own life."
I didn't say anything to that. Remembering some of the business methods Harvey Gatewood had used - particularly some of his war contracts that the Department of Justice was still investigating - I suppose the worst that could be said about Audrey was that she was her father's own daughter.
"How'd you rap to it?" Quayle asked me, politely.
"Several ways," I said. "First, one of Audrey's friends saw her on Market Street between 8:15 and 8:45 the night she disappeared; and your letter to Gatewood was postmarked 9 p.m. Pretty fast work. You should have waited a while before mailing it. I suppose she dropped it in the post office on her way over here?"
"Then second," I went on, "there was that phone call of hers. She knew it took anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes to get her father on the wire at the office. If she had gotten to a phone while imprisoned, time would have been so valuable that she'd have told her story to the first person she got hold of - the switchboard operator, most likely. So that made it look as if, besides wanting to throw out that Twin Peaks line, she wanted to stir the old man out of his bullheadedness.
"When she failed to show up after the money was paid, I figured it was a sure bet that she had kidnaped herself. I knew that if she came back home after faking this thing, we'd find it out before we'd talked to her very long - and I figured she knew that too, and would stay away.
"The rest was easy - I got some good breaks. We knew a man was working with her after we found the woman's clothes you left behind, and I took a chance on there being no one else in it. Then I figured she'd need clothes - she couldn't have taken any from home without tipping her mitt - and there was an even chance that she hadn't laid in a stock beforehand. She's got too many girl friends of the sort that do a lot of shopping to make it safe for her to have risked showing herself in stores. Maybe, then, the man would buy what she needed. And it turned out that he did, and that he was too lazy to carry away his purchases, or perhaps there was too many of them, and so he had them sent out. That's the story."
Quayle nodded again.
"I was damned careless," he said, and then, jerking a contemptuous thumb toward the girl. "But what can you expect? She's had a skinful of hop ever since we started. Took all my time and attention keeping her from running wild and gumming the works. Just now was a sample - I told her you were coming up and she goes crazy and tries to add your corpse to the wreckage!"
The Gatewood reunion took place in the office of the captain of inspectors, on the second floor of the Oakland City Hall, and it was a merry little party.
For over an hour it was a toss-up whether Harvey Gatewood would die of apoplexy, strangle his daughter, or send her off to the state reformatory until she was of age. But Audrey licked him. Besides being a chip off the old block, she was young enough to be careless of consequences, while her father, for all his bullheadedness, had had some caution hammered into him.
The card she beat him with was a threat of spilling everything she knew about him to the newspapers, and at least one of the San Francisco papers had been trying to get his scalp for years.
I don't know what she had on him, and I don't think he was any too sure himself; but, with his war contracts still being investigated by the Department of Justice, he couldn't afford to take a chance. There was no doubt at all that she would have done as she threatened.
And so, together, they left for home, sweating hate for each other from every pore.
We took Quayle upstairs and put him in a cell, but he was too experienced to let that worry him. He knew that if the girl was to be spared, he himself couldn't very easily be convicted of anything.
I was glad it was over. It had been a tough caper.
End of Gatewood Caper by Dashiell Hammett