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 Two other incidents in connection with my newspaper work at this time threw a clear light on social crimes and conditions which cannot always be discussed or explained. One of these related to an old man of about sixty-five years of age who was in the coffee and spice business in one of those old streets which bordered on the waterfront. One afternoon in mid-August, when there was little to do in the way of reporting and I was hanging about the office waiting for something to turn up, Wandell received a telephone message and handed me a slip of paper. “You go down to this address and see what you can find out. There’s been a fight or something. A crowd has been beating up an old man and the police have arrested him—to save him, I suppose.”  
I took a car and soon reached the scene, a decayed and tumbledown region of small family now turned into of even a poorer character. St. Louis had what so large a center as New York has not: or rear passage-ways to all houses by which trade parcels, waste and the like are delivered or removed. And facing these were old barns, sheds, and tumbledown warrens of houses and flats occupied by poor whites or blacks, or both. In an old decayed and vacant brick barn in one of these alleys there had been only a few hours before a furious scene, although when I arrived it was all over, everything was still and peaceful. All that I could learn was that several hours before an old man had been found in this barn with a little girl of eight or nine years. The child’s parents or friends were informed and a chase ensued. The criminal had been surrounded by a group of citizens who threatened to kill him. Then the police arrived and escorted him to the station at North Seventh, where supposedly he was locked up.
On my arrival at the station, however, nothing was known of this case. My noble King knew nothing and when I looked on the “blotter,” which supposedly contained a public record of all arrests and charges made, and which it was my privilege as well as that of every other newspaper man to look over, there was no evidence of any such having been committed or of any such prisoner having been brought here.
“What became of that attempted assault in K Street?” I inquired of King, who was reading a newspaper. “I was just over there and they told me the man had been brought here.”
He looked up at me wearily, seemingly not interested. “What case? It must be down if it came in here. What case are ye taalkin’ about? Maybe it didn’t come here.”
I looked at him , struck all at once by an air of . He was not as friendly as usual.
“That’s funny,” I said. “I’ve just come from there and they told me he was here. It would be on the blotter, wouldn’t it? Were you here an hour or two ago?”
For the first time since I had been coming here he grew a bit . “Sure. If it’s not on there it’s not on there, and that’s all I know. If you want to know more than that you’ll have to see the captain.”
At thought of the police attempting to a thing like this in the face of my direct knowledge I grew and bold myself.
“Where’s the captain?” I asked.
“He’s out now. He’ll be back at four, I think.”
I sat down and waited, then to call up the office for further instructions. Wandell was in. He advised me to call up Edmonstone at the Four Courts and see if it was recorded, which I did, but nothing was known. When I returned I found the captain in. He was a taciturn man and had small use for reporters at any time.
“Yes, yes, yes,” he kept as I asked him about the case. “Well, I’ll tell you,” he said after a long pause, seeing that I was to know, “he’s not here now. I let him go. No one saw him commit the crime. He’s an old man with a big business in Second Street, never arrested before, and he has a wife and grown sons and daughters. Of course he oughtn’t to be doin’ anything of that kind—still, he claims that he wasn’t. Anyhow, no good can come of writin’ it up in the pap............
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