Image provided by: Morrow County Museum; Heppner, OR
About Heppner gazette-times. (Heppner, Or.) 1925-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 16, 1928)
HEPPNER GAZETTE TIMES, HEPPNER, OREGON, THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 1928
. . CAST
of Principal Character
Amazing Mystery Story
John Drane . The Human Sphinx
Amy ... The Girl
Robert Carter Her Sweetheart
William Dart The Undertaker
Simon Judd Friend of Drane
Dr. Blesslngton, The Family Doctor
Dick Brennan A Detective
Servants in the Drane Household
The day was splendid, as brilliant
as a day on Long Island can be
and that is brilliant Indeed. The
great square house with its mansard
roof and many wings and additions
and the great pillars of the veranda
that gave it a certain nobility was
glistening white, for it had just
been painted. The painters, as a
matter of fact, were still at work
on the rear of the house. They
were worKing over lime uus Satur
day afternoon,' hurrying to finish
the lob. John Drane had com
plained of the paint odor, saying It
gave him a headache. .
The Drane place, although it had
been given no particular name, was
as good a any In Westcote. Real
estate dealers roughly estimated It
to be worth a hundred thousand
dollars and pointed to it as an ex
ample of how prices In Westcote
had improved; Drane had paid fif
teen thousand for it in 1892 and had
spent some twenty thousand in Im
proving tho place, having the ipil
lared veranda built on and so on,
so that the whole cost to him had
been only thirty-five thousand. This
was mentioned as a sample of the
good fortune John Drane had in all
his Investments. No one knew just
what he was worth but he was re
ported to be worth at least a mil
lion dollars, possibly a great many
On this Saturday afternoon he
sat on his veranda just as he had
seated himself on his return from
his office in the city. He sat In one
of the wicker chairs, a wicker stand
beside him, and on this he had
placed his hat and cane, and he
leaned back in his chair with his
eyes closed in the attitude of a
very tired man. One of the hands
that grasped the arm of his chair
twitched lightly; it was the slender
aristocratic hand of a man of sev
enty. Presently Nobert, the col
ored houseman, came through the
door carrying a tray on which were
a glass of milk, a plate of crackers,
a napkin and several dainty sand
wiches. He moved the wicker
stand a little closer to John Drane's
chair, removed the hat and cane,
and placed the tray on the stand.
John Drane opened his eyes.
"All right, Nobert," he Bald.
"I'll jus' put this hat an' cane In
the hall, Mist' Drane," the negro
said. "I thought how maybe you
might like them sandwiches "
"Perhaps! Perhaps!" Drane said.
"An' Miss Amy say I should ask
you Is you goln' use the car any
more this aft'noon. She says If you
ain't maybe she go rldin' awhiles."
Drane dipped a cracker In milk
and ate a little without apparent
"I don't feel well, Nobert," he
said. "I certainly don't feel well.
Take this stuff away, will you? I
can't eat it. I'm not going to use
the car; you may tell Amy she can
have it There's nobody come?"
"Only Mist' Carter," the negro
said. "Him and Miss Amy is play
in' tennis out back in the tennis
"Couple o' young folks!"
" Yes. When you go out there,
Norbert, tell young Carter I want
to see him.' No hurry tonight or
tomorrow will do; whenever he has
time. And tell Mrs. Vincent to see
that the yellow guest room is ready
for a guest I'm expecting a man
to stay a few days."
"Yes, sir," Norbert said, and he
took up the tray and went. He
coughed as he reached the door,
coughed so hard that he had to
pause with the tray resting on a
ledge. It was the distressing cough
of a man Buffering from tubercu
losis. "You want to be careful of that
cold of yours," John Drana said, as
if the cough had annoyed him.
"Yes, I'm beln' careful of It,"
Norbert said and added, as he
opened the door; "Miss Vincent
she's jus' fairly; she ain't no more
than fairly. No, sir."
. John Drane's fingers tapped the
arm of his chair nervously. He
frowned as his eyes rested on the
long tree-studded lawn that ran
down to the road. This nervousness
was unusual with him, ordinarily
he was so calm and cold and un
moved by even the most exciting
events that In the district surround
ing Wall Street he was Vailed the
Human Sphinx silent, stern, un
fathomable. To the town of Westcote, John
Drane was not a Bphlnx. In West
cote he had made his home some
twenty-five years earlier, a bachelor
of forty-five who preferred a home
in the country. His purchase of the
old house and his considerable er-y
pendltures for repairs had been a
seven day topic and then he had
been accepted as a silent man, pos
sibly suffering from a chronlo indi
gestion that made him a little
cranky, but not such a bad sort at
that. He took no part in the town
affairs that called for mass meet
ings and service on committees but
he gave with fair liberality when he
approved a cause; he received those
who came to him on such affairs
and listened to thorn, silently but
with keen attention. - Sometimes,
without a word, he wrote a check;
sometimes he merely said, "I am
He took no part in social affairs.
As time passed he did become in
terested in some of the financial
concerns he became a director of
one of the banks, and was a regular
attendant at its board meetings
but he was known mainly, until
automobiles made horses a nuisance
for hiafine horses. His coachman
always drove him to the trains and
met him on his return until the
time came when he bought an auto
mobile; after that his chauffeur al
ways drove him to his office just
around the corner from Wall Street
on Broadway. He was not so much
a peculiar man as a self sufficing
one. In the deals he made In Wall
Street he played a lone hand. He
never took part in syndicates, never
allied himself with groups. And
some of his deals were sensation
ally profitable. It was the amazing
effrontery of some of these deals
that had attracted attention to him
sufficiently to warrant his being
given a sobriquet of his own The
Human Sphinx. He would not talk
of his deals or of the market or of
anything. The moment he reached
the city he was, for all practical
It was not long before Westcote
knew he was an. extremely wealthy
man. Solicitors for a new hospital,
going to John Drane in the hope of
getting him to give some hundreds
of dollars or perhaps a thousand,
came away from the house with a
check for an even hundred thou
aantl. There had been no wasted
words. "Yes, I approve of it; I
will give you something," he had
said and, turning to the desk, he
had written the check. The solici
tor, glancing at it, had thought it
was for a thousand dollars and had
been profuse in his thanks; not un
til the check was turned in to the
treasurer was it discovered that it
was for the amazing hundred thou
sand. The check went through the
bank and was paid without ques
"Well, the bony old son-of-a-gun!"
the treasurer ' of the hospital ex
claimed. "He must have a heart in
his dried-up carcass after all, even
If he don't look it!"
At seventy John Drane was still
as bony as ever, but "dried-up" did
not describe him, nor had it ever.
He was thin almost to emaciation,
but it was a soft thinness; his skin
was not dried nor leathery, and his
face hod not so much wrinkled as
fallen Into jowls arid folds. His
cheeks were drawn down below his
cold grey eyes and when he re
moved his eye glasses the hollows
below the eyes were almost ghastly,
but even at seventy he was minute
ly careful of his body and dress, al
most dandified. He shaved twice a
day, once in the morning and once
at noon, for he had a complete
shaving outfit at his office. In a
small dressing-room there he also
changed his linen at noon; he could
not bear soiled linen. .
He was a tall man, or his thin
ness made him seem tall, and now
he arose from his chair as one of
the nondescript black taxicaba of
the town entered his driveway.
"Ah!" he exclaimed, and then
frowned, because a second taxicab
had followed the first
The two cabs, following the wide
sweep of the drive, one cab follow
ing close on the wheels of the other,
drew up before the veranda and
their doors opened simultaneously.
From the second the passenger was
quick to alight a email man all In
black, and he glanced tow,ard John
Drane. The millionaire, still frown
ing, raiscda finger and touched his
lips a gesture so brief that it was
hardly observable, but the man in
black caught it and nodded that he
understood. From the first cab the
passenger had considerable trouble
alighting. He was a huge man,
broad of shoulder and hip, and he
was trying to bring with him a huge
yellow onboard suitcase, In size pro
portioned to himself. He had the
awkwardness of a man not accus
tomed to the frequent use of cabs
and when he finally stood on the
gravel his face was red and perspir
ing and he wiped his forehead with
the back of his hand betore he dug
into his pocket for the cab fare.
"Black my cats!" he cried. "Come
mighty near never gettin' out of
your shebang, son. Half a dollar,
hey? 'Tain't bad; here's a dime for
He picked up his suitcase and
turned to the steps.
"Well, black my cats!" he cried.
"You durned old Johnnie Drane!
If you ain't jUBt as bony and skinny
as you was when we was kids!
Well, now, who'd have thought I'd
ever be shakln' hands with Skinny
Drane away down east here, on the
front porch of a regular blamed old
palace like this! How are you, any
how, you old rascal? Good, old
Skinny Drane! Well! Well! Well!''
"Simon, I'm glad to see you," John
Drane said, taking the fat man's
hand. "Leave your luggage there,
my man wiy take charge of It It's
good to Bee you again, Simon. I
never see anyone from Riverbank
none of them ever come east Yes,
it's good to see you."
He turned then to the smaller
man in black.
"Dart" he Bald to him, "I'd like
you to meet an old friend of mine,
a man I haven't seen for how long
is it, Simon? Twenty-live years?"
"Black my cats, no, John! Thirty-
five, anyway. I wasn t to home
when you was there twenty-five
years ago, the fat man said. I d
gone down to Kansas City to try to
find that boy of mine, but you
wouldn t remember that I guess.
"Simon Judd, from my old home
town of Riverbank, Iowa," John
Drane said, completing the intro
duction. "And my good friend Wil
liam Dart," he added. "You've heard
me speak of Riverbank, Dart"
"Quite frequently; quite frequent
ly," Dart Bald. "I'm very glad to
know you, Mr. Judd. Any friend of
Mr. Drane's, of course Yes, in
deed, I've heard Mr. Drane speak
of Riverbank! Yes, frequently."
They were intrerrupted by a
young girl who came hurriedly and
merrily around the house, half run
ning and carrying a tennis racquet
in her hqnd. She evidently had
expected to find Mr. Drane alone
and had been eager to say some
thing, but now she put if off, seeing
that Drane had visitors.
(Continued Next Week.)
A lady brought her little boy to
school on opening day and said to
"Little Bernie is so delicate. If
he is bad and sometimes he is
just whip the boy next to him; that
will frighten him and make him behave."
"Quick, Bob, a wild cat's just run
into the house with your wife!"
"Wall; he'll jes' have to get out
the best way he can."
Jim: "When she gave you a kiss
did you pay It back?"
Tom: "No, I wanted to keep it
so I ran away."
The Patient: "Doctor, I snore
so loudly 1 wake myself up!"
The Doctor: "That is easy to
overcome. Sleep In the next room."
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