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The Secret Toll   By:

The Secret Toll by Paul And Mabel Thorne

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THE SECRET TOLL By PAUL AND MABEL THORNE

Authors of "The Sheridan Road Mystery"

NEW YORK DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 1922

COPYRIGHT, 1922 BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.

THE PLIMPTON PRESS, NORWOOD, MASS PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I THE TOLL IS EXACTED CHAPTER II "FRIENDS OF THE POOR" CHAPTER III ENGINEERING CRIMINOLOGY CHAPTER IV THE CAR IN THE FOG CHAPTER V THE HAUNTED TREE CHAPTER VI THE FLAMING HAND CHAPTER VII SPIRIT CLUES CHAPTER VIII THE GIRL ON THE HORSE CHAPTER IX LUCY CHAPTER X CROSSED THEORIES CHAPTER XI TELEPHONE CALLS CHAPTER XII SATURDAY CHAPTER XIII A PUZZLING WARNING CHAPTER XIV THE INTRUDERS CHAPTER XV THE MASK OF DEATH CHAPTER XVI THE FATAL DANCE CHAPTER XVII AT THE DOORSTEP CHAPTER XVIII TRIANGULATION CHAPTER XIX FACE TO FACE CHAPTER XX THE INVISIBLE DETECTIVE

THE SECRET TOLL

CHAPTER I THE TOLL IS EXACTED

"I'm damned if I give up a cent! I'll die first!"

"You very likely will. Others have. To refuse these people is the first step toward suicide."

"But are the police so impotent that a gang like this one can operate unmolested right under their very noses?"

"The police are efficient in ordinary cases. These people, however, operate mysteriously. So far, the police have been helpless."

The two men who thus discussed a criminal clique which was extorting money from prominent and wealthy citizens were seated in an exclusive Michigan Avenue club. From their deeply upholstered leather chairs they looked out across the busy street, with its hundreds of automobiles and strolling pedestrians, to the green lawns and leafing trees of Grant Park, awakened into renewed life by the soft breezes and warm sunshine of early June.

To the first speaker, Robert Forrester, lately returned from army service in Europe, and familiar with the privations, struggles and horrors of the great war, it seemed ridiculous that a band of criminals could endanger life in the heart of this bustling, crowded, well policed city. Yet the threat was in his hand, and his older and presumably wiser companion assured him that they could make good the threat.

Robert Forrester was a young man of thirty tall, dark and broad shouldered; his face deeply tanned by long army service. As a member of an old and wealthy family, of which he was the sole male survivor and head, Forrester might have followed the path selected by many of his boyhood chums and spent his life in the pursuit of pleasure or more or less indifferent occupations. He had chosen, however, to become a civil engineer; was graduated with honors, and had taken active part in the completion of several big railroad projects before the great war.

When the United States entered the war he at once enlisted and went to France as an army engineer. He had been home now for several months and was planning to resume work in his profession at the first opportunity. The financial and business condition of the country did not favor large construction work at this time, so he was still lingering in Chicago, spending much of his time at the club, where he could keep in close touch with some of the far sighted and influential men who planned and made possible the big undertakings which would give him the opportunity he sought.

His companion and confidant of the moment, Frederick Prentice, was past middle age. The possessor of large, inherited wealth, he was totally unlike the younger and more energetic man. He had never entered business, and the only times he ever condescended to visit a business office were occasioned by infrequent plunges into speculation through a broker friend, or the necessity of calling on his lawyer... Continue reading book >>




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