The Lamp That Went Out

G.I. Colbron and A. Groner
Lamp That Went Out

A Joe Muller Detective Story
by Grace Isabel Colbron and Augusta Groner

The Case of The Lamp That Went Out
by Grace Isabel Colbron and Augusta Groner

Joseph Muller, Secret Service detective of the Imperial Austrian police,
is one of the great experts in his profession. In personality he differs
greatly from other famous detectives. He has neither the impressive
authority of Sherlock Holmes, nor the keen brilliancy of Monsieur
Lecoq. Muller is a small, slight, plain-looking man, of indefinite age,
and of much humbleness of mien. A naturally retiring, modest
disposition, and two external causes are the reasons for Muller's
humbleness of manner, which is his chief characteristic. One cause is
the fact that in early youth a miscarriage of justice gave him several
years in prison, an experience which cast a stigma on his name and
which made it impossible for him, for many years after, to obtain
honest employment. But the world is richer, and safer, by Muller's early
misfortune. For it was this experience which threw him back on his
own peculiar talents for a livelihood, and drove him into the police
force. Had he been able to enter any other profession, his genius might
have been stunted to a mere pastime, instead of being, as now, utilised
for the public good.

Then, the red tape and bureaucratic etiquette which attaches to every
governmental department, puts the secret service men of the Imperial
police on a par with the lower ranks of the subordinates. Muller's
official rank is scarcely much higher than that of a policeman, although
kings and councillors consult him and the Police Department realises to
the full what a treasure it has in him. But official red tape, and his early
misfortune ... prevent the giving of any higher official standing to even
such a genius. Born and bred to such conditions, Muller understands
them, and his natural modesty of disposition asks for no outward
honours, asks for nothing but an income sufficient for his simple needs,
and for aid and opportunity to occupy himself in the way he most
Joseph Muller's character is a strange mixture. The kindest-hearted man
in the world, he is a human bloodhound when once the lure of the trail
has caught him. He scarcely eats or sleeps when the chase is on, he
does not seem to know human weakness nor fatigue, in spite of his frail
body. Once put on a case his mind delves and delves until it finds a
clue, then something awakes within him, a spirit akin to that which
holds the bloodhound nose to trail, and he will accomplish the
apparently impossible, he will track down his victim when the entire
machinery of a great police department seems helpless to discover
anything. The high chiefs and commissioners grant a condescending
permission when Muller asks, "May I do this? ... or may I handle this
case this way?" both parties knowing all the while that it is a farce, and
that the department waits helpless until this humble little man saves its
honour by solving some problem before which its intricate machinery
has stood dazed and puzzled.
This call of the trail is something that is stronger than anything else in
Muller's mentality, and now and then it brings him into conflict with
the department, ... or with his own better nature. Sometimes his
unerring instinct discovers secrets in high places, secrets which the
Police Department is bidden to hush up and leave untouched. Muller is
then taken off the case, and left idle for a while if he persists in his
opinion as to the true facts. And at other times, Muller's own warm
heart gets him into trouble. He will track down his victim, driven by the

power in his soul which is stronger than all volition; but when he has
this victim in the net, he will sometimes discover him to be a much
finer, better man than the other individual, whose wrong at this
particular criminal's hand set in motion the machinery of justice.
Several times that has happened to Muller, and each time his heart got
the better of his professional instincts, of his practical common-sense,
too, perhaps, ... at least as far as his own advancement was concerned,
and he warned the victim, defeating his own work. This peculiarity of
Muller's character caused his undoing at last, his official undoing that is,
and compelled his retirement from the force. But his advice is often
sought unofficially by the Department, and to those who know,
Muller's hand can be seen in the unravelling of many a famous case.
The following stories are but a few of the many interesting cases that
have come within the experience of this
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