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The Black Camel, Episode No. 2

Charlie Chan

The Black Camel, Episode No. 2

Dec 09 1932



CHARLIE CHAN, Chinese Detective


TARNEVERRO, Fortune Teller

JULIE O'NEILL, Shelah Fane's Secretary 

JIMMY BRADSHAW, Sec Honolulu Tourist Bureau

DETECTIVE SPENCER, of the Honolulu Police 

JESSOP, English Butler to Shelah Fane 



December 9th, 1932. 



ANNOUNCER: The FIVE STAR THEATRE presents Charlie Chan. 


ANNOUNCER: Under the patronage of the Standard Oil Companies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana, and the Colonial Beacon Oil Company, marketers of Esso and of that famous new hydrofined motor oil, Essolube, the FIVE STAR THEATRE presents a series of stellar radio attractions every week. 

Friday night is mystery story night. And our program this evening presents Episode II in Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan story "The Black Camel". We are fortunate indeed to have Walter Connolly, well-known Broadway actor, in the role of Charlie Chan, that delightful, philosophical, but none the less clever, Chinese detective. 

Those of you who did not hear last week's episode, or who will want to refresh their memories as to the events that took place in Shelah Fane's home in Honolulu one week ago tonight, will learn the whole story in the next few minutes. For our scene opens in the Police Station in Honolulu where Charlie Chan is reporting to his Chief.


CHIEF  What's all the excitement about, Charlie? Was that young Bradshaw of the tourist agency that rushed in and out o'here? 

CHAN  Yes, Chief. Jimmy came to report murder to me personally. 

CHIEF  Murder? Who's been murdered, Charlie? 

CHAN  A woman whose death, will bring tears to millions. A woman whose death will give you and me outstanding headache of illustrious careers in detection of evildoers. 

CHIEF  What's her name, Charlie? Come to the point! 

CHAN  The movie actress who just landed in Honolulu this morning - Shelah Fane! 

CHIEF  What! Where was she murdered? 

CHAN  You know spacious house she hired at Waikiki? 

CHIEF  Yep. 

CHAN  At back of house stretches wide lawn bordered by trees. At end of lawn nestles pavilion summer house. Shelah Fane just found stabbed to death in summer house by Jimmy Bradshaw and girl called Julie O'Neill. 

CHIEF  Who's Julie O'Neill? 

CHAN  Secretary of Shelah Fane. Jimmy is thoughtful boy, so he has locked door of summer house and brought me key. 

CHIEF  Who else was seen up around the house and grounds? Did Bradshaw say? 

CHAN  Shelah Fane was giving dinner party. Eight guests had already arrived or were in process of arrival. One of them was Tarneverro. Do you remember Tarneverro, the fortune-teller you wished me to investigate this morning ... for practicing black art with crystal ball?

CHIEF  Yep. 

CHAN  Reason he is here in Honolulu is because Shelah Fane cabled to Hollywood for him to meet her here. 

CHIEF  I wouldn't be surprised if he was the fellow who did the job. 

CHAN  My mind remains open. But Tarneverro fills it always more full. This morning in his room in Grand Hotel expression of most peculiar nature moved across his face when I mentioned Hollywood's most mysterious murder ... the killing of Denny Mayo three years ago. 

CHIEF  What's the murder of Denny Mayo in Hollywood three years ago got to do with the murder of Shelah Fane in Honolulu tonight? 

CHAN  That is for me, rapidly increasing perplexity. Tarneverro knows much, very much. (SIGH) It is time that I should visit scene of tragedy. A thousand mile journey begins with one step ... and I take it now in the direction of my hat. 

CHIEF  You'd better keep your eye on Tarneverro, or you may find yourself in the same funeral as Shelah Fane. 

CHAN  Thank you, Chief, for thoughtful consideration. I go now to Waikiki mansion where Shelah Fane lived for one day. But before I enter great mansion I will cross lawn to summer house. 

CHIEF  Better take somebody with you, Charlie. Take Spencer. He's quick with a gun. He's the best detective of the lot. 

CHAN  I will take somebody, yes, Chief. But not Spencer. The man I take into the summer house with me to be present when I first view body of Shelah Fane will be Tarneverro! 


* * * * * *


TARNEVERRO  (CAUTIOUSLY) Inspector Chan, are you there? 

CHAN  Yes, here in the shadows by the summer house, Tarneverro. 

TARNEVERRO  I cannot see so well as you in the dark. You Chinese have the eyes of cats and owls at night.

CHAN  Here I am .. at the foot of the pavilion steps. 

TARNEVERRO  The noisy young man from the Tourist Bureau told me you wished to see me out here .. But if you had not sent for me I should have come in any case. 

CHAN  Tarneverro, I want you and me to go alone into summer house to inspect together body of Shelah Fane. But before we go in, make answer to one question: Did you know Shelah Fane was going to be killed tonight when you told me at Grand Hotel you would send me message to arrest a murderer? 

TARNEVERRO  Of course, I did not know that Shelah Fane was going to be murdered! But now that she is dead, I know why she was killed. 

CHAN  You make amazing statement. 

TARNEVERRO  I wish to help you, Inspector Chan. And so I tell you that Shelah Fane was killed because she was about to reveal a secret ... a secret that she kept locked up in her troubled spirit. 

CHAN  What secret? 

TARNEVERRO  The secret that has baffled the Hollywood police for three years ... the secret of who killed Denny Mayo! She was in Mayo's house paying a harmless call the night of the murder. The door bell rang and she foolishly hid in another room. Shelah Fane saw Denny Mayo killed!

CHAN  How do you know so much, Tarneverro? 

TARNEVERRO  She confessed it to me this morning. And, what is more, she told me that Denny Mayo's murderer is at this moment in Honolulu. 

CHAN  (EAGERLY) Ah! Did she tell you the name? 

TARNEVERRO  She did not. She stopped short at that point. BUT SHE PROMISED TO REVEAL THE NAME TO ME TONIGHT! 

CHAN  And now, apparently, it is too late. The killer of Denny Mayo has silenced Shelah Fane forever. 

TARNEVERRO  Count on one thing, Inspector Chan. I will be at your side all during the investigation. 

CHAN  Not too close behind me, Tarneverro, on the step because the door opens outward. 




CHAN  The black camel has knelt at plenty famous gate tonight! 

TARNEVERRO  This is a terrible thing. Poor Shelah, I can scarcely realize it. 

CHAN  A moment. I will close the door.


CHAN (CONT'D) And I will lock the two of us in here against interruption or dangerous surprise. 

TARNEVERRO  Poor Shelah. She was stabbed to death. 

CHAN (DROPPING TO ONE KNEE) Yes ... through the heart. But the dagger is gone. 

TARNEVERRO  (QUICKENING) Look, Inspector. Here is some very important evidence. There was a struggle that smashed this wrist watch.

CHAN  Quite true. The crystal was broken and working of time-piece immediately ceased to function. 

TARNEVERRO  Yes. Look, look at the hands! They stopped at two minutes past eight. That's when Shelah Fane was murdered. 

CHAN  (MEDITATIVELY) True. Two minutes past eight would seem to mark exact moment of tragedy. Do not touch watch. I will inform Coroner also not to touch watch. It is mighty evidence. 

TARNEVERRO  Poor Shelah. The room shows she fought hard for her life. 

CHAN  (LOOKING ABOUT ROOM) Y-e-s ... strange things mark the lady's fight for life ... Mm ... next important clue is bouquet of flowers. Further evidence of struggle. 

TARNEVERRO  Those are orchids scattered on the floor. 

CHAN  Mm ... shoulder strap of dress is torn ... indicates flowers were pinned to strap ... but no pin is here now. Do not move your feet, Tarneverro, while I make search of floor for pin. 

TARNEVERRO  I'll help you, Inspector ... N-no ... there doesn't seem to be a pin anywhere on the floor.

CHAN  Enough search for now ... Pin which fastened flowers is strangely missing. The flowers interest me, Tarneverro. They are so ferociously trampled and broken. 

TARNEVERRO  You are right. 

CHAN  Come, let us return to the house where ... among many things ... the secretary and the maid of Shelah Fane should be able to tell me who sent flowers great movie actress wore tonight here to summer house.

* * * * * *

M U S I C 

* * * * * *


JULIE  Oh, Jimmy, this is terrible, terrible! Oh, who could have done it? 

JIMMY  Believe me, Julie, that's what Charlie Chan is going to find out before he gets through with the case. 

JULIE  (ALARMED) Jimmy ... perhaps something has happened to your friend Chan out there in the dark alone with Tarneverro. 

JIMMY  Huh, don't worry about that fake voodoo man putting anything over on Charlie Chan. 

JULIE  I don't trust Tarneverro, and I never did. He pretends he's your friend when he isn't. I knew he'd bring harm to Shelah. 

JIMMY  (WIDELY) You know there's more than Tarneverro around this place tonight that I haven't got much use for. Of course, they're all customers of mine ... and I wouldn't want to say it out loud to anyone but you ... but, between you and me, I'm not so hot for that fellow, Allan Jaynes, who came along with Shelah on the boat from Tahiti. 

JULIE  He was madly in love with Shelah, Jimmy, and to tell you the truth, I never saw her so crazy about anybody before. Look ... coming in across the verandah ... it's Tarneverro. 

JIMMY  And, if you notice, he didn't leave Charlie Chan out in the dark, either! Hello, Charlie! 

CHAN  (FADING IN) My heart's deepest sympathy, Miss O'Neill. Before questioning the guests, I wish helpful information from you. Miss Fane was wearing tonight pretty nice bouquet of orchids on shoulder?

JULIE  Yes, Shelah wore orchids. 

CHAN  Fastened with pin, no doubt. 

JULIE  Of course, I pinned them on for her myself. 

CHAN  You remember the pin, then? 

JULIE  Perfectly. It was a rather delicate affair set with diamonds. About two inches long, I should say. Perhaps Anna can tell you more about it. Anna is her maid. 

CHAN  I will question Anna later. Are you in position to know who sent those orchids? 

JULIE  There was no name, but Miss Fane recognized the writing on the card. She said they came from her ex-husband, Robert Fyfe. 

JIMMY  Shelah Fane had a husband here in Honolulu! What's he doing here? 

JULIE  He's an actor. He's a leading man at the Royal Theatre. 

CHAN  A discarded husband ... Ah yes, one would have expected at least one of those. 

JIMMY  Say! There's an angle to the case! "Long lost husband and brand new sweetheart in Honolulu on night of Shelah Fane's murder." 

TARNEVERRO  And very jealous sweetheart, I might add. 

CHAN  A moment, Tarneverro. Miss O'Neill, was Miss Fane's spirit in great turmoil this afternoon? 

JULIE  I didn't see her this afternoon ... but there's Jessop. I know he saw her upstairs. (RAISING VOICE) Oh, Jessop. 

JESSOP  (FADING IN) Did you call, Miss Julie? 

CHAN  Come nearer please. Your position in the household is that of butler, I believe.

JESSOP  It is. Yes ... ah ... sir. 

CHAN  You understand who it is that I am? 

JESSOP  I fancy you represent the local constabulary. 

CHAN  If it will help you to endure society of person like me, Jessop, I offer statement that my humble efforts on one occasion met with complete approval of a gentleman from Scotland Yard. 

JESSOP  Really, Sir. The memory must be most gratifying to you. 

CHAN  (TERSELY) I'm going to have a long talk with you later, Jessop. Sufficient for now to tell me was there anything unusual about Miss Fane this afternoon? 

JESSOP  She was unusually sad and troubled, sir, especially after she returned from her visit to Mr. Tarneverro ... and I saw her weeping this afternoon over a photograph. 

TARNEVERRO  Emotional actresses do that sort of thing. 

JESSOP  Begging your pardon, Mr. Tarneverro, in Miss Fane's case I never saw her do such a thing before. I came upon her suddenly in the library. She was looking at a photograph and crying most bitterly. 

CHAN  A photograph of whom? 

JESSOP  That I couldn't say, sir, except it was of some gentlemen .. She held it so I could not obtain a view of the face.

CHAN  Was it a large photograph? 

JESSOP  Rather large, sir, yes. And mounted on a peculiar mat that was nile green in color. 

CHAN  That will be all, Jessop ... for now. 

SPENCER  (RAISING VOICE AT DOOR) Hey, Inspector? Inspector Chan. 

CHAN  (RAISING VOICE) Yes, Spencer. 

SPENCER  The Chief wants you on the telephone. 

CHAN  Excuse me for some precious moments. 


TARNEVERRO  Perhaps I'd better go back to learn what I can from the dinner guests (FADE) who look so disgruntled. 

JIMMY  Don't let us hold you up, Tarneverro ... 

JULIE  I wonder if jealousy between Shelah's ex-husband and Alan Jaynes could have had anything to do with this awful tragedy? 

JIMMY  Gee, I don't know, Julie. I'm beginning to understand, though, since I met you, what a fellow could do if he got really jealous. 

JULIE  (EXCITED) Look, Jimmy, look! Tarneverro said he was going over to those people ... but he ... he isn't ... (SLOWLY) Look ... he's sneaking out the door and up the stairs ... 

* * * * * *

MUSIC .....

* * * * * *




JULIE  Why ... why, Tarneverro, what are you doing in here? 

TARNEVERRO  (COMMANDINGLY) Come in, and close the door, Julie. 


JULIE  What are you doing in here, Tarneverro? This is Shelah's room ... 

TARNEVERRO  I am giving my services to Inspector Chan. 

JULIE  Then why didn't you walk upstairs openly? Why did you wait until Inspector Chan's back was turned when he went out into the hall to telephone? 

TARNEVERRO  You're young, Julie. There are so many, many things you cannot understand. 

JULIE  I understand that Shelah Fane was good to me and ... 

TARNEVERRO  Shelah's gone now and all life must change for you. You must find new ties for your happiness ... Jimmy Bradshaw downstairs is a handsome young man. Perhaps you should encourage him ... perhaps I can assist you. 

JULIE  I don't want your assistance ... I want you to get out of Shelah's room and go downstairs... You and that crystal ball of yours wrecked the life of Shelah Fane ... You've had a hand in her death, I know you have! 

TARNEVERRO  Such accusations are dangerous. 

JULIE  What's that you've got in your hand? Why ... it's torn bits of cardboard ... and they're green ... Tarneverro, you've ... 

TARNEVERRO  Never mind ... Perhaps I am up here to do something that Shelah would want done. Perhaps I've destroyed something that she would want destroyed? Perhaps you can guess what I've torn up?

JULIE  It's the photograph ... 

TARNEVERRO  (ACCUSINGLY) Why did you come up here yourself? 

JULIE  I had a right to come up here. I am ... I mean I was ... Miss Fane's secretary.

TARNEVERRO  Ssh ... somebody's coming ... Look out! 

JULIE  What are you going to do?

TARNEVERRO  Look out. Let me get by to that flower pot. 

JULIE  Your ears must be sharp. I don't hear anybody. 




SPENCER  (HARDBOILED) Oh-h-h ... so it's in here you are, Mr. Tarneverro? 

TARNEVERRO  And what's so strange about that, Detective Spencer? 

SPENCER  I'm not saying there's anything strange about it, Mr. Tarneverro. Inspector Chan seemed to be surprised, that's all, when he came back from the telephone and didn't find you down there with the rest of them. 

TARNEVERRO  I'm working with Inspector Chan on the case. 

SPENCER  Yeah? Well, the detective work's downstairs in the living room and he wants you right down ... Maybe you'd better go along with him, Miss O'Neill. 

* * * * * *

MUSIC ..... 

* * * * * *


SPENCER  Say, Inspector, there's something I ought a tell you right now.

CHAN  Best to step away from ears of people .. Good ... Now, tell me, Spencer, when you went upstairs where did you find Tarneverro?

SPENCER  In Shelah Fane's room ... The door was closed and that secretary of hers, that young Julie O'Neill kid, was in there, too. 

CHAN  Indeed? 

SPENCER  Yeah, they were talking pretty fast and heavy before I opened the door. Must have been something they didn't want anybody to hear the way they shut up as soon as I came in. Those two are in cahoots, all right. 

CHAN  And what of the photograph mounted on the Nile green mat? Did you find it? 

SPENCER  (DISGUST) Sure, I found it ... what's left of it. I found some of it torn into tiny bits under a flower pot. 

CHAN  Have you picked up all the bits? 

SPENCER  All I could find of 'em, Inspector. But you'll never make anything out of 'em ... Look at that bird Tarneverro over there watching every move we make! 

CHAN  Go, and extend my request that Tarneverro come here. 

PAUSE ..... 

CHAN (CONT'D.) ... Ah ... Miss O'Neill?

JULIE  Yes, Inspector Chan? 

CHAN  I understand you were just now up in room of Miss Shelah Fane. 

JULIE Yes, I was up there. 

TARNEVERRO (FADING IN) You wish to see me, Inspector?

CHAN  Yes, Tarneverro. You were just now up in room of Miss Fane, I am told.

TARNEVERRO  I was. I went up to look for that photograph that Jessop was telling you about. I thought you might like to have it. 

CHAN Did you find it?

TARNEVERRO  No. I saw nothing of it. 

CHAN  And you, Miss O'Neill. Did you see anything of photograph? 

TARNEVERRO (HURRIEDLY) I was there, Inspector, all the time Miss O'Neill was in the room, and I'm sure she did not. 

CHAN  I am asking you, Miss O'Neill. Did you see anything of photograph over which Miss Fane wept this afternoon? 

PAUSE ... 

JULIE  No, Inspector Chan. I didn't see anything of it. 

CHAN  That will be sufficient ... for now. 

VOICE #l  (FADING IN ANGRILY) See here, Inspector Chan, I'm a power on this Island and I tell you we've been detained here as long as we're going to be. 


VOICE #2  I didn't have anything to do with this affair and I'm not going to stay any longer. 

CHAN  Quiet ... Quiet, please ... everybody! 


CHAN (CONT'D.) With great regret I must give out information that you are wrong. You are all going to remain to be questioned. 

JESSOP  (FADING IN) Pardon the intrusion, gentlemen. 

CHAN  What is it, Jessop? 

JESSOP  This letter, sir... with all the excitement, I quite forgot it. Miss Fane requested me to give it to Mr. Tarneverro the moment he arrived. 

TARNEVERRO (SUDDEN FORCE) Give it to me, Jessop!

CHAN  (STILL SHARPER COMMAND) One moment, Tarneverro. Give me that letter, Jessop! 

TARNEVERRO  But the letter is addressed to me, isn't it, Jessop? 

JESSOP  It is, sir. Miss Fane, herself, wrote it to you. 

TARNEVERRO  (EAGER FORCE) You hear what he says, Inspector? Give it to me, it's mine. 

CHAN  So sorry, my dear Tarneverro, but the police are in charge here now. 

TARNEVERRO  (ANGRILY) Even you, Inspector Chan, should respect the wishes of the dead! Shelah Fane promised to reveal to me this evening the name of the person who killed Denny Mayo. 


TARNEVERRO (Cont'd.) ... And this letter will name the killer. Give it to me! We know the person who killed Denny Mayo is in Honolulu. He is probably in this room ... He killed Shelah Fane tonight! I will read the letter and tell you who he is. You can make the arrest. 

CHAN  I remind you again, Tarneverro, that the police are in charge. 

TARNEVERRO  (YIELDING WITH GRACE) As you wish, Inspector Chan. I tried only to help. 

CHAN  Thank you, Tarneverro. But permit that I read this most important document myself. Ah, yes ... the lights? I find the lighting of this room most unsuitable for reading. Where it the switch?

JULIE  It's over there. The reason that Shelah had only one floor lamp on was for her entrance. She wanted it that way. 

CHAN  Very well, let it remain so. Pardon, please, everybody, while I step over under the lamp. 


CHAN (CONT'D.) ... Do not crowd too close, please. 


JULIE  Oh, if only what's in that letter will ... 


VOICE #1  Put on the lights ... 

VOICE #2  Put on the lights, will you ... 



JIMMY  Somebody's hurt ... Somebody's knocked out ... Where are you, Julie ... Are you all right? 


* * * * * 

MUSIC .....

* * * * * 


HUSH ... 

JIMMY  (BREATHING HEAVILY) I'd have got the lights on before if I hadn't stumbled over something on the floor. 

VOICE #1  What the blazes happened, anyway? 

JIMMY  What's the matter, Charlie. Are you hurt? Let me help you get on your feet ... 

CHAN  (BREATHING HARD ... GATHERING WITS) Thank... thank you, Jim-my ... Roof seems to have descended on head of Inspector Chan ... (LOOKING ABOUT) What is state of other heads ... Ah ... yes ... all appear in undamaged condition ... 

JULIE  However did the lights happen to go out?

CHAN  (BITE IN WORDS) The lights did not happen to go out. Somebody stepped on cord of floor lamp and kicked quickly with foot. 

JIMMY  Yes, and the lamp got smashed in the scrimmage, so we'll have to get along with the bracket lights for the rest of the evening ... Somebody sure knocked you down, Charlie. Your face is bleeding. 

CHAN  (INCREASING FORCE) Yes. Blow came from someone wearing heavy ring! 

JIMMY  I'll say it did. Nobody's knuckle ever made that cut. 

TARNEVERRO  It might be well to take note of who wears rings, Inspector. 

CHAN  I have already made observation that only you and Jimmy Bradshaw do not wear rings, Tarneverro. 

JIMMY  Where's the letter, Charlie, that you went over there to read before the lamp was kicked out? Say, what do you know ... there is only a bit of the envelope left in your hand. 

CHAN  Yes, yes ... to be sure ... tiny fragment of envelope still remains in my hand ... Vital portion of letter seems to have traveled elsewhere. 

TARNEVERRO  (ACCUSINGLY) So, the police are in charge now, are they? Well, the police have made a miserable bungle of a letter that was addressed to me ... 

CHAN  (SHARPLY) You are eminently correct in your sneer, Tarneverro. Never before in my life has such a happening aroused itself in my path. But I give you my word ... the person who struck that blow will pay ... I am in no mood that turns the other cheek tonight! 

TARNEVERRO  Then why do you delay, Inspector Chan? Why do you not search each person in the room until you find the letter? Look ... I'll hold up my hands ... You may start with me. 

CHAN  I am not quite such fool as to search you or anyone else, Tarneverro. 

TARNEVERRO  But why not? 

CHAN  Person who favored me with vigorous blow is not likely to hold incriminating letter in guilty possession. Besides, the matter is of small importance. 

TARNEVERRO  (CHALLENGINGLY) Of small importance, Inspector? 

CHAN  Yes. We waste no time in fruitless search for letter now. My wish is to remain alone in this room to think. All of you will proceed into the dining room and leave me alone here until I summon you back. 

VOICE #2  (IRATE) I've had enough of this house. I don't propose to be detained any longer. 

CHAN  (SHARPLY) I command that you proceed into next room. 



CHAN  I said I wanted to be alone, Tarneverro. Why have you not gone into the dining room with the others? 

TARNEVERRO  Because I wish to help you, Inspector Chan. To judge by what just took place, you are in grave danger. You need my help ... and I remain by your side to give it. 

CHAN  Slight foreign substance seems to be under this rug, Tarneverro. 

TARNEVERRO  (APPREHENSIVE FLASH) Something under the rug? 

CHAN  Yes ... the soles of my shoes are thin as slippers, and my feet are as sensitive as my fingers. That is why they now feel something under this rug.

[page missing]

CHAN (Cont'd)  will. Pretend that I never said it ... I shall refuse poor Alan tonight ... it will break my heart ... but I'll do it. I am going on alone ... perhaps in the end I may even find a little happiness. I want it so much. 

Yours ever, 


TARNEVERRO  (BREATHING RELIEF) So ... so, the name isn't in the letter after all! 

CHAN  Did you really expect it would be, Tarneverro? 

TARNEVERRO  Poor Shelah! She didn't have the courage to go through with it. The murderer of Denny Mayo was safe ... She kept his secret --- He killed her for nothing!

* * * * * *

MUSIC .....

* * * * * *


HICKS: So ends Episode II of the "Black Camel". Be sure to join us next Friday at this same time when Charlie Chan will have made further progress in unraveling this mysterious murder.

These FIVE STAR THEATRE programs are presented under the patronage of the Standard Oil Companies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and the Colonial Beacon Oil Company. These associated companies maintain Esso service stations and dealers everywhere from Maine to Texas where you can obtain Esso, more powerful than any gasoline; Atlas Tires; Tri-Rad Anti-Freeze; a full line of motoring accessories, and Essolube, the famous new hydrofined motor oil.

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Be sure to listen to next Monday night's FIVE STAR THEATRE program when you will hear the further adventures of those two great comedians, Groucho and Chico Marx, in their three act comedy -- "Beagle, Shyster and Beagle, Attorneys at Law". 


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