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´╗┐Title: The Dream Doctor
Author: Reeve, Arthur B. (Arthur Benjamin), 1880-1936
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dream Doctor" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE CRAIG KENNEDY SERIES

THE DREAM DOCTOR


BY ARTHUR B. REEVE



FRONTISPIECE BY WILL FOSTER



Contents

CHAPTER

  I The Dream Doctor

  II The Soul Analysis

 III The Sybarite

  IV The Beauty Shop

  V The Phantom Circuit

  VI The Detectaphone

 VII The Green Curse

 VIII The Mummy Case

  IX The Elixir of Life

  X The Toxin of Death

  XI The Opium Joint

 XII The "Dope Trust"

 XIII The Kleptomaniac

 XIV The Crimeometer

  XV The Vampire

 XVI The Blood Test

 XVII The Bomb Maker

XVIII The "Coke" Fiend

 XIX The Submarine Mystery

  XX The Wireless Detector

 XXI The Ghouls

 XXII The X-Ray "Movies"

XXIII The Death House

 XXIV The Final Day



THE DREAM DOCTOR


I

THE DREAM DOCTOR


"Jameson, I want you to get the real story about that friend of yours,
Professor Kennedy," announced the managing editor of the Star, early
one afternoon when I had been summoned into the sanctum.

From a batch of letters that had accumulated in the litter on the top
of his desk, he selected one and glanced over it hurriedly.

"For instance," he went on reflectively, "here's a letter from a
Constant Reader who asks, 'Is this Professor Craig Kennedy really all
that you say he is, and, if so, how can I find out about his new
scientific detective method?'"

He paused and tipped back his chair.

"Now, I don't want to file these letters in the waste basket. When
people write letters to a newspaper, it means something. I might reply,
in this case, that he is as real as science, as real as the fight of
society against the criminal. But I want to do more than that."

The editor had risen, as if shaking himself momentarily loose from the
ordinary routine of the office.

"You get me?" he went on, enthusiastically, "In other words, your
assignment, Jameson, for the next month is to do nothing except follow
your friend Kennedy. Start in right now, on the first, and
cross-section out of his life just one month, an average month. Take
things just as they come, set them down just as they happen, and when
you get through give me an intimate picture of the man and his work."

He picked up the schedule for the day and I knew that the interview was
at an end. I was to "get" Kennedy.

Often I had written snatches of Craig's adventures, but never before
anything as ambitious as this assignment, for a whole month. At first
it staggered me. But the more I thought about it, the better I liked it.

I hastened uptown to the apartment on the Heights which Kennedy and I
had occupied for some time. I say we occupied it. We did so during
those hours when he was not at his laboratory at the Chemistry Building
on the University campus, or working on one of those cases which
fascinated him. Fortunately, he happened to be there as I burst in upon
him.

"Well?" he queried absently, looking up from a book, one of the latest
untranslated treatises on the new psychology from the pen of the
eminent scientist, Dr. Freud of Vienna, "what brings you uptown so
early?"

Briefly as I could, I explained to him what it was that I proposed to
do. He listened without comment and I rattled on, determined not to
allow him to negative it.

"And," I added, warming up to the subject, "I think I owe a debt of
gratitude to the managing editor. He has crystallised in my mind an
idea that has long been latent. Why, Craig," I went on, "that is
exactly what you want--to show people how they can never hope to beat
the modern scientific detective, to show that the crime-hunters have
gone ahead faster even than--"

The telephone tinkled insistently.

Without a word, Kennedy motioned to me to "listen in" on the extension
on my desk, which he had placed there as a precaution so that I could
corroborate any conversation that took place over our wire.

His action was quite enough to indicate to me that, at least, he had no
objection to the plan.

"This is Dr. Leslie--the coroner. Can you come to the Municipal
Hospital--right away?"

"Right away, Doctor," answered Craig, hanging up the receiver. "Walter,
you'll come, too?"

A quarter of an hour later we were in the courtyard of the city's
largest hospital. In the balmy sunshine the convalescing patients were
sitting on benches or slowly trying their strength, walking over the
grass, clad in faded hospital bathrobes.

We entered the office and quickly were conducted by an orderly to a
little laboratory in a distant wing.

"What's the matter?" asked Craig, as we hurried along.

"I don't know exactly," replied the man, "except that it seems that
Price Maitland, the broker, you know, was picked up on the street and
brought here dying. He died before the doctors could relieve him."

Dr. Leslie was waiting impatiently for us. "What do you make of that,
Professor Kennedy?"

The coroner spread out on the table before us a folded half-sheet of
typewriting and searched Craig's face eagerly to see what impression it
made on him.

"We found it stuffed in Maitland's outside coat pocket," he explained.

It was dateless and brief:

Dearest Madeline:

May God in his mercy forgive me for what I am about to do. I have just
seen Dr. Ross. He has told me the nature of your illness. I cannot bear
to think that I am the cause, so I am going simply to drop out of your
life. I cannot live with you, and I cannot live without you. Do not
blame me. Always think the best you can of me, even if you could not
give me all. Good-bye.

Your distracted husband,

PRICE.

At once the idea flashed over me that Maitland had found himself
suffering from some incurable disease and had taken the quickest means
of settling his dilemma.

Kennedy looked up suddenly from the note.

"Do you think it was a suicide?" asked the coroner.

"Suicide?" Craig repeated. "Suicides don't usually write on
typewriters. A hasty note scrawled on a sheet of paper in trembling pen
or pencil, that is what they usually leave. No, some one tried to
escape the handwriting experts this way."

"Exactly my idea," agreed Dr. Leslie, with evident satisfaction. "Now
listen. Maitland was conscious almost up to the last moment, and yet
the hospital doctors tell me they could not get a syllable of an
ante-mortem statement from him."

"You mean he refused to talk?" I asked.

"No," he replied; "it was more perplexing than that Even if the police
had not made the usual blunder of arresting him for intoxication
instead of sending him immediately to the hospital, it would have made
no difference. The doctors simply could not have saved him, apparently.
For the truth is, Professor Kennedy, we don't even know what was the
matter with him."

Dr. Leslie seemed much excited by the case, as well he might be.

"Maitland was found reeling and staggering on Broadway this morning,"
continued the coroner. "Perhaps the policeman was not really at fault
at first for arresting him, but before the wagon came Maitland was
speechless and absolutely unable to move a muscle."

Dr. Leslie paused as he recited the strange facts, then resumed: "His
eyes reacted, all right. He seemed to want to speak, to write, but
couldn't. A frothy saliva dribbled from his mouth, but he could not
frame a word. He was paralysed, and his breathing was peculiar. They
then hurried him to the hospital as soon as they could. But it was of
no use."

Kennedy was regarding the doctor keenly as he proceeded. Dr. Leslie
paused again to emphasise what he was about to say.

"Here is another strange thing. It may or may not be of importance, but
it is strange, nevertheless. Before Maitland died they sent for his
wife. He was still conscious when she reached the hospital, could
recognise her, seemed to want to speak, but could neither talk nor
move. It was pathetic. She was grief-stricken, of course. But she did
not faint. She is not of the fainting kind. It was what she said that
impressed everyone. 'I knew it--I knew it,' she cried. She had dropped
on her knees by the side of the bed. 'I felt it. Only the other night I
had the horrible dream. I saw him in a terrific struggle. I could not
see what it was--it seemed to be an invisible thing. I ran to him--then
the scene shifted. I saw a funeral procession, and in the casket I
could see through the wood--his face--oh, it was a warning! It has come
true. I feared it, even though I knew it was only a dream. Often I have
had the dream of that funeral procession and always I saw the same
face, his face. Oh, it is horrible--terrible!'"

It was evident that Dr. Leslie at least was impressed by the dream.

"What have you done since?" asked Craig.

"I have turned loose everyone I could find available," replied Dr.
Leslie, handing over a sheaf of reports.

Kennedy glanced keenly over them as they lay spread out on the table.
"I should like to see the body," he said, at length.

It was lying in the next room, awaiting Dr. Leslie's permission to be
removed.

"At first," explained the doctor, leading the way, "we thought it might
be a case of knock-out drops, chloral, you know--or perhaps chloral and
whiskey, a combination which might unite to make chloroform in the
blood. But no. We have tested for everything we can think of. In fact
there seems to be no trace of a drug present. It is inexplicable. If
Maitland really committed suicide, he must have taken SOMETHING--and as
far as we can find out there is no trace of anything. As far as we have
gone we have always been forced back to the original idea that it was a
natural death--perhaps due to shock of some kind, or organic weakness."

Kennedy had thoughtfully raised one of the lifeless hands and was
examining it.

"Not that," he corrected. "Even if the autopsy shows nothing, it
doesn't prove that it was a natural death. Look!"

On the back of the hand was a tiny, red, swollen mark. Dr. Leslie
regarded it with pursed-up lips as though not knowing whether it was
significant or not.

"The tissues seemed to be thickly infiltrated with a reddish serum and
the blood-vessels congested," he remarked slowly. "There was a frothy
mucus in the bronchial tubes. The blood was liquid, dark, and didn't
clot. The fact of the matter is that the autopsical research revealed
absolutely nothing but a general disorganisation of the
blood-corpuscles, a most peculiar thing, but one the significance of
which none of us here can fathom. If it was poison that he took or that
had been given to him, it was the most subtle, intangible, elusive,
that ever came to my knowledge. Why, there is absolutely no trace or
clue--"

"Nor any use in looking for one in that way," broke in Kennedy
decisively. "If we are to make any progress in this case, we must look
elsewhere than to an autopsy. There is no clue beyond what you have
found, if I am right. And I think I am right. It was the venom of the
cobra."

"Cobra venom?" repeated the coroner, glancing up at a row of technical
works.

"Yes. No, it's no use trying to look it up. There is no way of
verifying a case of cobra poisoning except by the symptoms. It is not
like any other poisoning in the world."

Dr. Leslie and I looked at each other, aghast at the thought of a
poison so subtle that it defied detection.

"You think he was bitten by a snake?" I blurted out, half incredulous.

"Oh, Walter, on Broadway? No, of course not. But cobra venom has a
medicinal value. It is sent here in small quantities for various
medicinal purposes. Then, too, it would be easy to use it. A scratch on
the hand in the passing crowd, a quick shoving of the letter into the
pocket of the victim--and the murderer would probably think to go
undetected."

We stood dismayed at the horror of such a scientific murder and the
meagreness of the materials to work on in tracing it out.

"That dream was indeed peculiar," ruminated Craig, before we had really
grasped the import of his quick revelation.

"You don't mean to say that you attach any importance to a dream?" I
asked hurriedly, trying to follow him.

Kennedy merely shrugged his shoulders, but I could see plainly enough
that he did.

"You haven't given this letter out to the press?" he asked.

"Not yet," answered Dr. Leslie.

"Then don't, until I say to do so. I shall need to keep it."

The cab in which we had come to the hospital was still waiting. "We
must see Mrs. Maitland first," said Kennedy, as we left the nonplused
coroner and his assistants.

The Maitlands lived, we soon found, in a large old-fashioned brownstone
house just off Fifth Avenue.

Kennedy's card with the message that it was very urgent brought us in
as far as the library, where we sat for a moment looking around at the
quiet refinement of a more than well-to-do home.

On a desk at one end of the long room was a typewriter. Kennedy rose.
There was not a sound of any one in either the hallway or the adjoining
rooms. A moment later he was bending quietly over the typewriter in the
corner, running off a series of characters on a sheet of paper. A sound
of a closing door upstairs, and he quickly jammed the paper into his
pocket, retraced his steps, and was sitting quietly opposite me again.

Mrs. Maitland was a tall, perfectly formed woman of baffling age, but
with the impression of both youth and maturity which was very
fascinating. She was calmer now, and although she seemed to be of
anything but a hysterical nature, it was quite evident that her
nervousness was due to much more than the shock of the recent tragic
event, great as that must have been. It may have been that I recalled
the words of the note, "Dr. Ross has told me the nature of your
illness," but I fancied that she had been suffering from some nervous
trouble.

"There is no use prolonging our introduction, Mrs. Maitland," began
Kennedy. "We have called because the authorities are not yet fully
convinced that Mr. Maitland committed suicide."

It was evident that she had seen the note, at least. "Not a suicide?"
she repeated, looking from one to the other of us.

"Mr. Masterson on the wire, ma'am," whispered a maid. "Do you wish to
speak to him? He begged to say that he did not wish to intrude, but he
felt that if there--"

"Yes, I will talk to him--in my room," she interrupted.

I thought that there was just a trace of well-concealed confusion, as
she excused herself.

We rose. Kennedy did not resume his seat immediately. Without a word or
look he completed his work at the typewriter by abstracting several
blank sheets of paper from the desk.

A few moments later Mrs. Maitland returned, calmer.

"In his note," resumed Kennedy, "he spoke of Dr. Ross and--"

"Oh," she cried, "can't you see Dr. Ross about it? Really I--I oughtn't
to be--questioned in this way--not now, so soon after what I've had to
go through."

It seemed that her nerves were getting unstrung again. Kennedy rose to
go.

"Later, come to see me," she pleaded. "But now--you must realise--it is
too much. I cannot talk--I cannot."

"Mr. Maitland had no enemies that you know of?" asked Kennedy,
determined to learn something now, at least.

"No, no. None that would--do that."

"You had had no quarrel?" he added.

"No--we never quarrelled. Oh, Price--why did you? How could you?"

Her feelings were apparently rapidly getting the better of her. Kennedy
bowed, and we withdrew silently. He had learned one thing. She believed
or wanted others to believe in the note.

At a public telephone, a few minutes later, Kennedy was running over
the names in the telephone book. "Let me see--here's an Arnold
Masterson," he considered. Then turning the pages he went on, "Now we
must find this Dr. Ross. There--Dr. Sheldon Ross--specialist in nerve
diseases--that must be the one. He lives only a few blocks further
uptown."

Handsome, well built, tall, dignified, in fact distinguished, Dr. Ross
proved to be a man whose very face and manner were magnetic, as should
be those of one who had chosen his branch of the profession.

"You have heard, I suppose, of the strange death of Price Maitland?"
began Kennedy when we were seated in the doctor's office.

"Yes, about an hour ago." It was evident that he was studying us.

"Mrs. Maitland, I believe, is a patient of yours?"

"Yes, Mrs. Maitland is one of my patients," he admitted
interrogatively. Then, as if considering that Kennedy's manner was not
to be mollified by anything short of a show of confidence, he added:
"She came to me several months ago. I have had her under treatment for
nervous trouble since then, without a marked improvement."

"And Mr. Maitland," asked Kennedy, "was he a patient, too?"

"Mr. Maitland," admitted the doctor with some reticence, "had called on
me this morning, but no, he was not a patient."

"Did you notice anything unusual?"

"He seemed to be much worried," Dr. Ross replied guardedly.

Kennedy took the suicide note from his pocket and handed it to him.

"I suppose you have heard of this?" asked Craig.

The doctor read it hastily, then looked up, as if measuring from
Kennedy's manner just how much he knew. "As nearly as I could make
out," he said slowly, his reticence to outward appearance gone,
"Maitland seemed to have something on his mind. He came inquiring as to
the real cause of his wife's nervousness. Before I had talked to him
long I gathered that he had a haunting fear that she did not love him
any more, if ever. I fancied that he even doubted her fidelity."

I wondered why the doctor was talking so freely, now, in contrast with
his former secretiveness.

"Do you think he was right?" shot out Kennedy quickly, eying Dr. Ross
keenly.

"No, emphatically, no; he was not right," replied the doctor, meeting
Craig's scrutiny without flinching. "Mrs. Maitland," he went on more
slowly as if carefully weighing every word, "belongs to a large and
growing class of women in whom, to speak frankly, sex seems to be
suppressed. She is a very handsome and attractive woman--you have seen
her? Yes? You must have noticed, though, that she is really frigid,
cold, intellectual."

The doctor was so sharp and positive about his first statement and so
careful in phrasing the second that I, at least, jumped to the
conclusion that Maitland might have been right, after all. I imagined
that Kennedy, too, had his suspicions of the doctor.

"Have you ever heard of or used cobra venom in any of your medical
work?" he asked casually.

Dr. Ross wheeled in his chair, surprised.

"Why, yes," he replied quickly. "You know that it is a test for blood
diseases, one of the most recently discovered and used parallel to the
old tests. It is known as the Weil cobra-venom test."

"Do you use it often?"

"N--no," he replied. "My practice ordinarily does not lie in that
direction. I used it not long ago, once, though. I have a patient under
my care, a well-known club-man. He came to me originally--"

"Arnold Masterson?" asked Craig.

"Yes--how did you know his name?"

"Guessed it," replied Craig laconically, as if he knew much more than
he cared to tell. "He was a friend of Mrs. Maitland's, was he not?"

"I should say not," replied Dr. Ross, without hesitation. He was quite
ready to talk without being urged. "Ordinarily," he explained
confidentially, "professional ethics seals my lips, but in this
instance, since you seem to know so much, I may as well tell more."

I hardly knew whether to take him at his face value or not. Still he
went on: "Mrs. Maitland is, as I have hinted at, what we specialists
would call a consciously frigid but unconsciously passionate woman. As
an intellectual woman she suppresses nature. But nature does and will
assert herself, we believe. Often you will find an intellectual woman
attracted unreasonably to a purely physical man--I mean, speaking
generally, not in particular cases. You have read Ellen Key, I presume?
Well, she expresses it well in some of the things she has written about
affinities. Now, don't misunderstand me," he cautioned. "I am speaking
generally, not of this individual case."

I was following Dr. Ross closely. When he talked so, he was a most
fascinating man.

"Mrs. Maitland," he resumed, "has been much troubled by her dreams, as
you have heard, doubtless. The other day she told me of another dream.
In it she seemed to be attacked by a bull, which suddenly changed into
a serpent. I may say that I had asked her to make a record of her
dreams, as well as other data, which I thought might be of use in the
study and treatment of her nervous troubles. I readily surmised that
not the dream, but something else, perhaps some recollection which it
recalled, worried her. By careful questioning I discovered that it
was--a broken engagement."

"Yes," prompted Kennedy.

"The bull-serpent, she admitted, had a half-human face--the face of
Arnold Masterson!"

Was Dr. Ross desperately shifting suspicion from himself? I asked.

"Very strange--very," ruminated Kennedy. "That reminds me again. I
wonder if you could let me have a sample of this cobra venom?"

"Surely. Excuse me; I'll get you some."

The doctor had scarcely shut the door when Kennedy began prowling
around quietly. In the waiting-room, which was now deserted, stood a
typewriter.

Quickly Craig ran over the keys of the machine until he had a sample of
every character. Then he reached into drawer of the desk and hastily
stuffed several blank sheets of paper into his pocket.

"Of course I need hardly caution you in handling this," remarked Dr.
Ross, as he returned. "You are as well acquainted as I am with the
danger attending its careless and unscientific uses."

"I am, and I thank you very much," said Kennedy.

We were standing in the waiting-room.

"You will keep me advised of any progress you make in the case?" the
doctor asked. "It complicates, as you can well imagine, my treatment of
Mrs. Maitland."

"I shall be glad to do so," replied Kennedy, as we departed.

An hour later found us in a handsomely appointed bachelor apartment in
a fashionable hotel overlooking the lower entrance to the Park.

"Mr. Masterson, I believe?" inquired Kennedy, as a slim, debonair,
youngish-old man entered the room in which we had been waiting.

"I am that same," he smiled. "To what am I indebted for this pleasure?"

We had been gazing at the various curios with which he had made the
room a veritable den of the connoisseur.

"You have evidently travelled considerably," remarked Kennedy, avoiding
the question for the time.

"Yes, I have been back in this country only a few weeks," Masterson
replied, awaiting the answer to the first question.

"I called," proceeded Kennedy, "in the hope that you, Mr. Masterson,
might be able to shed some light on the rather peculiar case of Mr.
Maitland, of whose death, I suppose, you have already heard."

"I?"

"You have known Mrs. Maitland a long time?" ignored Kennedy.

"We went to school together."

"And were engaged, were you not?"

Masterson looked at Kennedy in ill-concealed surprise.

"Yes. But how did you know that? It was a secret--only between us
two--I thought. She broke it off--not I."

"She broke off the engagement?" prompted Kennedy.

"Yes--a story about an escapade of mine and all that sort of thing, you
know--but, by Jove! I like your nerve, sir." Masterson frowned, then
added: "I prefer not to talk of that. There are some incidents in a
man's life, particularly where a woman is concerned, that are
forbidden."

"Oh, I beg pardon," hastened Kennedy, "but, by the way, you would have
no objection to making a statement regarding your trip abroad and your
recent return to this country--subsequent to--ah--the incident which we
will not refer to?"

"None whatever. I left New York in 1908, disgusted with everything in
general, and life here in particular--"

"Would you object to jotting it down so that I can get it straight?"
asked Kennedy. "Just a brief resume, you know."

"No. Have you a pen or a pencil?"

"I think you might as well dictate it; it will take only a minute to
run it off on the typewriter."

Masterson rang the bell. A young man appeared noiselessly.

"Wix," he said, "take this: 'I left New York in 1908, travelling on the
Continent, mostly in Paris, Vienna, and Rome. Latterly I have lived in
London, until six weeks ago, when I returned to New York.' Will that
serve?"

"Yes, perfectly," said Kennedy, as he folded up the sheet of paper
which the young secretary handed to him. "Thank you. I trust you won't
consider it an impertinence if I ask you whether you were aware that
Dr. Ross was Mrs. Maitland's physician?"

"Of course I knew it," Masterson replied frankly. "I have given him up
for that reason, although he does not know it yet. I most strenuously
object to being the subject of--what shall I call it?--his mental
vivisection."

"Do you think he oversteps his position in trying to learn of the
mental life of his patients?" queried Craig.

"I would rather say nothing further on that, either," replied
Masterson. "I was talking over the wire to Mrs. Maitland a few moments
ago, giving her my condolences and asking if there was anything I could
do for her immediately, just as I would have done in the old days--only
then, of course, I should have gone to her directly. The reason I did
not go, but telephoned, was because this Ross seems to have put some
ridiculous notions into her head about me. Now, look here; I don't want
to discuss this. I've told you more than I intended, anyway."

Masterson had risen. His suavity masked a final determination to say no
more.



II

The Soul Analysis


The day was far advanced after this series of very unsatisfactory
interviews. I looked at Kennedy blankly. We seemed to have uncovered so
little that was tangible that I was much surprised to find that
apparently he was well contented with what had happened in the case so
far.

"I shall be busy for a few hours in the laboratory, Walter," he
remarked, as we parted at the subway. "I think, if you have nothing
better to do, that you might employ the time in looking up some of the
gossip about Mrs. Maitland and Masterson, to say nothing of Dr. Ross,"
he emphasised. "Drop in after dinner."

There was not much that I could find. Of Mrs. Maitland there was
practically nothing that I already did not know from having seen her
name in the papers. She was a leader in a certain set which was
devoting its activities to various social and moral propaganda.
Masterson's early escapades were notorious even in the younger smart
set in which he had moved, but his years abroad had mellowed the
recollection of them. He had not distinguished himself in any way since
his return to set gossip afloat, nor had any tales of his doings abroad
filtered through to New York clubland. Dr. Ross, I found to my
surprise, was rather better known than I had supposed, both as a
specialist and as a man about town. He seemed to have risen rapidly in
his profession as physician to the ills of society's nerves.

I was amazed after dinner to find Kennedy doing nothing at all.

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Have you struck a snag?"

"No," he replied slowly, "I was only waiting. I told them to be here
between half-past eight and nine."

"Who?" I queried.

"Dr. Leslie," he answered. "He has the authority to compel the
attendance of Mrs. Maitland, Dr. Ross, and Masterson."

The quickness with which he had worked out a case which was, to me, one
of the most inexplicable he had had for a long time, left me standing
speechless.

One by one they dropped in during the next half-hour, and, as usual, it
fell to me to receive them and smooth over the rough edges which always
obtruded at these little enforced parties in the laboratory.

Dr. Leslie and Dr. Ross were the first to arrive. They had not come
together, but had met at the door. I fancied I saw a touch of
professional jealousy in their manner, at least on the part of Dr.
Ross. Masterson came, as usual ignoring the seriousness of the matter
and accusing us all of conspiring to keep him from the first night of a
light opera which was opening. Mrs. Maitland followed, the unaccustomed
pallor of her face heightened by the plain black dress. I felt most
uncomfortable, as indeed I think the rest did. She merely inclined her
head to Masterson, seemed almost to avoid the eye of Dr. Ross, glared
at Dr. Leslie, and absolutely ignored me.

Craig had been standing aloof at his laboratory table, beyond a nod of
recognition paying little attention to anything. He seemed to be in no
hurry to begin.

"Great as science is," he commenced, at length, "it is yet far removed
from perfection. There are, for instance, substances so mysterious,
subtle, and dangerous as to set the most delicate tests and powerful
lenses at naught, while they carry death most horrible in their train."

He could scarcely have chosen his opening words with more effect.

"Chief among them," he proceeded, "are those from nature's own
laboratory. There are some sixty species of serpents, for example, with
deadly venom. Among these, as you doubtless have all heard, none has
brought greater terror to mankind than the cobra-di-capello, the Naja
tripudians of India. It is unnecessary for me to describe the cobra or
to say anything about the countless thousands who have yielded up their
lives to it. I have here a small quantity of the venom"--he indicated
it in a glass beaker. "It was obtained in New York, and I have tested
it on guinea-pigs. It has lost none of its potency."

I fancied that there was a feeling of relief when Kennedy by his
actions indicated that he was not going to repeat the test.

"This venom," he continued, "dries in the air into a substance like
small scales, soluble in water but not in alcohol. It has only a
slightly acrid taste and odour, and, strange to say, is inoffensive on
the tongue or mucous surfaces, even in considerable quantities. All we
know about it is that in an open wound it is deadly swift in action."

It was difficult to sit unmoved at the thought that before us, in only
a few grains of the stuff, was enough to kill us all if it were
introduced into a scratch of our skin.

"Until recently chemistry was powerless to solve the enigma, the
microscope to detect its presence, or pathology to explain the reason
for its deadly effect. And even now, about all we know is that
autopsical research reveals absolutely nothing but the general
disorganisation of the blood corpuscles. In fact, such poisoning is
best known by the peculiar symptoms--the vertigo, weak legs, and
falling jaw. The victim is unable to speak or swallow, but is fully
sensible. He has nausea, paralysis, an accelerated pulse at first
followed rapidly by a weakening, with breath slow and laboured. The
pupils are contracted, but react to the last, and he dies in
convulsions like asphyxia. It is both a blood and a nerve poison."

As Kennedy proceeded, Mrs. Maitland never took her large eyes from his
face.

Kennedy now drew from a large envelope in which he protected it, the
typewritten note which had been found on Maitland. He said nothing
about the "suicide" as he quietly began a new line of accumulating
evidence.

"There is an increasing use of the typewriting machine for the
production of spurious papers," he began, rattling the note
significantly. "It is partly due to the great increase in the use of
the typewriter generally, but more than all is it due to the erroneous
idea that fraudulent typewriting cannot be detected. The fact is that
the typewriter is perhaps a worse means of concealing identity than is
disguised handwriting. It does not afford the effective protection to
the criminal that is supposed. On the contrary, the typewriting of a
fraudulent document may be the direct means by which it can be traced
to its source. First we have to determine what kind of machine a
certain piece of writing was done with, then what particular machine."

He paused and indicated a number of little instruments on the table.

"For example," he resumed, "the Lovibond tintometer tells me its story
of the colour of the ink used in the ribbon of the machine that wrote
this note as well as several standard specimens which I have been able
to obtain from three machines on which it might have been written.

"That leads me to speak of the quality of the paper in this half-sheet
that was found on Mr. Maitland. Sometimes such a half-sheet may be
mated with the other half from which it was torn as accurately as if
the act were performed before your eyes. There was no such good fortune
in this case, but by measurements made by the vernier micrometer
caliper I have found the precise thickness of several samples of paper
as compared to that of the suicide note. I need hardly add that in
thickness and quality, as well as in the tint of the ribbon, the note
points to person as the author."

No one moved.

"And there are other proofs--unescapable," Kennedy hurried on. "For
instance, I have counted the number of threads to the inch in the
ribbon, as shown by the letters of this note. That also corresponds to
the number in one of the three ribbons."

Kennedy laid down a glass plate peculiarly ruled in little squares.

"This," he explained, "is an alignment test plate, through which can be
studied accurately the spacing and alignment of typewritten characters.
There are in this pica type ten to the inch horizontally and six to the
inch vertically. That is usual. Perhaps you are not acquainted with the
fact that typewritten characters are in line both ways, horizontally
and vertically. There are nine possible positions for each character
which may be assumed with reference to one of these little standard
squares of the test plate. You cannot fail to appreciate what an
immense impossibility there is that one machine should duplicate the
variations out of the true which the microscope detects for several
characters on another.

"Not only that, but the faces of many letters inevitably become broken,
worn, battered, as well as out of alignment, or slightly shifted in
their position on the type bar. The type faces are not flat, but a
little concave to conform to the roller. There are thousands of
possible divergences, scars, and deformities in each machine.

"Such being the case," he concluded, "typewriting has an individuality
like that of the Bertillon system, finger-prints, or the portrait
parle."

He paused, then added quickly: "What machine was it in this case? I
have samples here from that of Dr. Boss, from a machine used by Mr.
Masterson's secretary, and from a machine which was accessible to both
Mr. and Mrs. Maitland."

Kennedy stopped, but he was not yet prepared to relieve the suspense of
two of those whom his investigation would absolve.

"Just one other point," he resumed mercilessly, "a point which a few
years ago would have been inexplicable--if not positively misleading
and productive of actual mistake. I refer to the dreams of Mrs.
Maitland."

I had been expecting it, yet the words startled me. What must they have
done to her? But she kept admirable control of herself.

"Dreams used to be treated very seriously by the ancients, but until
recently modern scientists, rejecting the ideas of the dark ages, have
scouted dreams. To-day, however, we study them scientifically, for we
believe that whatever is, has a reason. Dr. Ross, I think, is
acquainted with the new and remarkable theories of Dr. Sigmund Freud,
of Vienna?"

Dr. Ross nodded. "I dissent vigorously from some of Freud's
conclusions," he hastened.

"Let me state them first," resumed Craig. "Dreams, says Freud, are very
important. They give us the most reliable information concerning the
individual. But that is only possible"--Kennedy emphasised the
point--"if the patient is in entire rapport with the doctor.

"Now, the dream is not an absurd and senseless jumble, but a perfect
mechanism and has a definite meaning in penetrating the mind. It is as
though we had two streams of thought, one of which we allow to flow
freely, the other of which we are constantly repressing, pushing back
into the subconscious, or unconscious. This matter of the evolution of
our individual mental life is too long a story to bore you with at such
a critical moment.

"But the resistances, the psychic censors of our ideas, are always
active, except in sleep. Then the repressed material comes to the
surface. But the resistances never entirely lose their power, and the
dream shows the material distorted. Seldom does one recognise his own
repressed thoughts or unattained wishes. The dream really is the
guardian of sleep to satisfy the activity of the unconscious and
repressed mental processes that would otherwise disturb sleep by
keeping the censor busy. In the case of a nightmare the watchman or
censor is aroused, finds himself overpowered, so to speak, and calls on
consciousness for help.

"There are three kinds of dreams--those which represent an unrepressed
wish as fulfilled, those that represent the realisation of a repressed
wish in an entirely concealed form, and those that represent the
realisation of a repressed wish in a form insufficiently or only
partially concealed.

"Dreams are not of the future, but of the past, except as they show
striving for unfulfilled wishes. Whatever may be denied in reality we
nevertheless can realise in another way--in our dreams. And probably
more of our daily life, conduct, moods, beliefs than we think, could be
traced to preceding dreams."

Dr. Ross was listening attentively, as Craig turned to him. "This is
perhaps the part of Freud's theory from which you dissent most
strongly. Freud says that as soon as you enter the intimate life of a
patient you begin to find sex in some form. In fact, the best
indication of abnormality would be its absence. Sex is one of the
strongest of human impulses, yet the one subjected to the greatest
repression. For that reason it is the weakest point in our cultural
development. In a normal life, he says, there are no neuroses. Let me
proceed now with what the Freudists call the psychanalysis, the soul
analysis, of Mrs. Maitland."

It was startling in the extreme to consider the possibilities to which
this new science might lead, as he proceeded to illustrate it.

"Mrs. Maitland," he continued, "your dream of fear was a dream of what
we call the fulfilment of a suppressed wish. Moreover, fear always
denotes a sexual idea underlying the dream. In fact, morbid anxiety
means surely unsatisfied love. The old Greeks knew it. The gods of fear
were born of the goddess of love. Consciously you feared the death of
your husband because unconsciously you wished it."

It was startling, dramatic, cruel, perhaps, merciless--this dissecting
of the soul of the handsome woman before us; but it had come to a point
where it was necessary to get at the truth.

Mrs. Maitland, hitherto pale, was now flushed and indignant. Yet the
very manner of her indignation showed the truth of the new psychology
of dreams, for, as I learned afterward, people often become indignant
when the Freudists strike what is called the "main complex."

"There are other motives just as important," protested Dr. Boss. "Here
in America the money motive, ambition--"

"Let me finish," interposed Kennedy. "I want to consider the other
dream also. Fear is equivalent to a wish in this sort of dream. It
also, as I have said, denotes sex. In dreams animals are usually
symbols. Now, in this second dream we find both the bull and the
serpent, from time immemorial, symbols of the continuing of the
life-force. Dreams are always based on experiences or thoughts of the
day preceding the dreams. You, Mrs. Maitland, dreamed of a man's face
on these beasts. There was every chance of having him suggested to you.
You think you hate him. Consciously you reject him; unconsciously you
accept him. Any of the new psychologists who knows the intimate
connection between love and hate, would understand how that is
possible. Love does not extinguish hate; or hate, love. They repress
each other. The opposite sentiment may very easily grow."

The situation was growing more tense as he proceeded. Was not Kennedy
actually taxing her with loving another?

"The dreamer," he proceeded remorselessly, "is always the principal
actor in a dream, or the dream centres about the dreamer most
intimately. Dreams are personal. We never dream about matters that
really concern others, but ourselves.

"Years ago," he continued, "you suffered what the new psychologists
call a 'psychic trauma'--a soul-wound. You were engaged, but your
censored consciousness rejected the manner of life of your fiance. In
pique you married Price Maitland. But you never lost your real,
subconscious love for another."

He stopped, then added in a low tone that was almost inaudible, yet
which did not call for an answer, "Could you--be honest with yourself,
for you need say not a word aloud--could you always be sure of yourself
in the face of any situation?"

She looked startled. Her ordinarily inscrutable face betrayed
everything, though it was averted from the rest of us and could be seen
only by Kennedy. She knew the truth that she strove to repress; she was
afraid of herself.

"It is dangerous," she murmured, "to be with a person who pays
attention to such little things. If every one were like you, I would no
longer breathe a syllable of my dreams."

She was sobbing now.

What was back of it all? I had heard of the so-called resolution
dreams. I had heard of dreams that kill, of unconscious murder, of the
terrible acts of the subconscious somnambulist of which the actor has
no recollection in the waking state until put under hypnotism. Was it
that which Kennedy was driving at disclosing?

Dr. Ross moved nearer to Mrs. Maitland as if to reassure her. Craig was
studying attentively the effect of his revelation both on her and on
the other faces before him.

Mrs. Maitland, her shoulders bent with the outpouring of the
long-suppressed emotion of the evening and of the tragic day, called
for sympathy which, I could see, Craig would readily give when he had
reached the climax he had planned.

"Kennedy," exclaimed Masterson, pushing aside Dr. Ross, as he bounded
to the side of Mrs. Maitland, unable to restrain himself longer,
"Kennedy, you are a faker--nothing but a damned dream doctor--in
scientific disguise."

"Perhaps," replied Craig, with a quiet curl of the lip. "But the
threads of the typewriter ribbon, the alignment of the letters, the
paper, all the 'fingerprints' of that type-written note of suicide were
those of the machine belonging to the man who caused the soul-wound,
who knew Madeline Maitland's inmost heart better than herself--because
he had heard of Freud undoubtedly, when he was in Vienna--who knew that
he held her real love still, who posed as a patient of Dr. Ross to
learn her secrets as well as to secure the subtle poison of the cobra.
That man, perhaps, merely brushed against Price Maitland in the crowd,
enough to scratch his hand with the needle, shove the false note into
his pocket--anything to win the woman who he knew loved him, and whom
he could win. Masterson, you are that man!"

The next half hour was crowded kaleidoscopically with events--the call
by Dr. Leslie for the police, the departure of the Coroner with
Masterson in custody, and the efforts of Dr. Ross to calm his now
almost hysterical patient, Mrs. Maitland.

Then a calm seemed to settle down over the old laboratory which had so
often been the scene of such events, tense with human interest. I could
scarcely conceal my amazement, as I watched Kennedy quietly restoring
to their places the pieces of apparatus he had used.

"What's the matter?" he asked, catching my eye as he paused with the
tintometer in his hand.

"Why," I exclaimed, "that's a fine way to start a month! Here's just
one day gone and you've caught your man. Are you going to keep that up?
If you are--I'll quit and skip to February. I'll choose the shortest
month, if that's the pace!"

"Any month you please," he smiled grimly, as he reluctantly placed the
tintometer in its cabinet.

There was no use. I knew that any other month would have been just the
same.

"Well," I replied weakly, "all I can hope is that every day won't be as
strenuous as this has been. I hope, at least, you will give me time to
make some notes before you start off again."

"Can't say," he answered, still busy returning paraphernalia to its
accustomed place. "I have no control over the cases as they come to
me--except that I fan turn down those that don't interest me."

"Then," I sighed wearily, "turn down the next one. I must have rest.
I'm going home to sleep."

"Very well," he said, making no move to follow me.

I shook my head doubtfully. It was impossible to force a card on
Kennedy. Instead of showing any disposition to switch off the
laboratory lights, he appeared to be regarding a row of half-filled
test-tubes with the abstraction of a man who has been interrupted in
the midst of an absorbing occupation.

"Good night," I said at length.

"Good night," he echoed mechanically.

I know that he slept that night--at least his bed had been slept in
when I awoke in the morning. But he was gone. But then, it was not
unusual for him, when the fever for work was on him, to consider even
five or fewer hours a night's rest. It made no difference when I argued
with him. The fact that he thrived on it himself and could justify it
by pointing to other scientists was refutation enough.

Slowly I dressed, breakfasted, and began transcribing what I could from
the hastily jotted down notes of the day before. I knew that the work,
whatever it was, in which he was now engaged must be in the nature of
research, dear to his heart. Otherwise, he would have left word for me.

No word came from him, however, all day, and I had not only caught up
in my notes, but, my appetite whetted by our first case, had become
hungry for more. In fact I had begun to get a little worried at the
continued silence. A hand on the knob of the door or a ring of the
telephone would hare been a welcome relief. I was gradually becoming
aware of the fact that I liked the excitement of the life as much as
Kennedy did.

I knew it when the sudden sharp tinkle of the telephone set my heart
throbbing almost as quickly as the little bell hammer buzzed.

"Jameson, for Heaven's sake find Kennedy immediately and bring him over
here to the Novella Beauty Parlour. We've got the worst case I've been
up against in a long time. Dr. Leslie, the coroner, is here, and says
we must not make a move until Kennedy arrives."

I doubt whether in all our long acquaintance I had ever heard First
Deputy O'Connor more wildly excited and apparently more helpless than
he seemed over the telephone that night.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Never mind, never mind. Find Kennedy," he called back almost
brusquely. "It's Miss Blanche Blaisdell, the actress--she's been found
dead here. The thing is an absolute mystery. Now get him, GET HIM."

It was still early in the evening, and Kennedy had not come in, nor had
he sent any word to our apartment. O'Connor had already tried the
laboratory. As for myself, I had not the slightest idea where Craig
was. I knew the case must be urgent if both the deputy and the coroner
were waiting for him. Still, after half an hour's vigorous telephoning,
I was unable to find a trace of Kennedy in any of his usual haunts.

In desperation I left a message for him with the hall-boy in case he
called up, jumped into a cab, and rode over to the laboratory, hoping
that some of the care-takers might still be about and might know
something of his whereabouts. The janitor was able to enlighten me to
the extent of telling me that a big limousine had called for Kennedy an
hour or so before, and that he had left in great haste.

I had given it up as hopeless and had driven back to the apartment to
wait for him, when the hall-boy made a rush at me just as I was paying
my fare.

"Mr. Kennedy on the wire, sir," he cried as he half dragged me into the
hall.

"Walter," almost shouted Kennedy, "I'm over at the Washington Heights
Hospital with Dr. Barron--you remember Barron, in our class at college?
He has a very peculiar case of a poor girl whom he found wandering on
the street and brought here. Most unusual thing. He came over to the
laboratory after me in his car. Yes, I have the message that you left
with the hall-boy. Come up here and pick me up, and we'll ride right
down to the Novella. Goodbye."

I had not stopped to ask questions and prolong the conversation,
knowing as I did the fuming impatience of O'Connor. It was relief
enough to know that Kennedy was located at last.

He was in the psychopathic ward with Barron, as I hurried in. The girl
whom he had mentioned over the telephone was then quietly sleeping
under the influence of an opiate, and they were discussing the case
outside in the hall.

"What do you think of it yourself?" Barron was asking, nodding to me to
join them. Then he added for my enlightenment: "I found this girl
wandering bareheaded in the street. To tell the truth, I thought at
first that she was intoxicated, but a good look showed me better than
that. So I hustled the poor thing into my car and brought her here. All
the way she kept crying over and over: 'Look, don't you see it? She's
afire! Her lips shine--they shine, they shine.' I think the girl is
demented and has had some hallucination."

"Too vivid for a hallucination," remarked Kennedy decisively. "It was
too real to her. Even the opiate couldn't remove the picture, whatever
it was, from her mind until you had given her almost enough to kill
her, normally. No, that wasn't any hallucination. Now, Walter, I'm
ready."



III

THE SYBARITE


We found the Novella Beauty Parlour on the top floor of an
office-building just off Fifth Avenue on a side street not far from
Forty-second Street. A special elevator, elaborately fitted up, wafted
us up with express speed. As the door opened we saw a vista of
dull-green lattices, little gateways hung with roses, windows of
diamond-paned glass get in white wood, rooms with little white
enamelled manicure-tables and chairs, amber lights glowing with soft
incandescence in deep bowers of fireproof tissue flowers. There was a
delightful warmth about the place, and the seductive scents and
delicate odours betokened the haunt of the twentieth-century Sybarite.

Both O'Connor and Leslie, strangely out of place in the enervating
luxury of the now deserted beauty-parlour, were still waiting for
Kennedy with a grim determination.

"A most peculiar thing," whispered O'Connor, dashing forward the moment
the elevator door opened. "We can't seem to find a single cause for her
death. The people up here say it was a suicide, but I never accept the
theory of suicide unless there are undoubted proofs. So far there have
been none in this case. There was no reason for it."

Seated in one of the large easy-chairs of the reception-room, in a
corner with two of O'Connor's men standing watchfully near, was a man
who was the embodiment of all that was nervous. He was alternately
wringing his hands and rumpling his hair. Beside him was a
middle-sized, middle-aged lady in a most amazing state of preservation,
who evidently presided over the cosmetic mysteries beyond the male ken.
She was so perfectly groomed that she looked as though her clothes were
a mould into which she had literally been poured.

"Professor and Madame Millefleur--otherwise Miller,"--whispered
O'Connor, noting Kennedy's questioning gaze and taking his arm to hurry
him down a long, softly carpeted corridor, flanked on either side by
little doors. "They run the shop. They say one of the girls just opened
the door and found her dead."

Near the end, one of the doors stood open, and before it Dr. Leslie,
who had preceded us, paused. He motioned to us to look in. It was a
little dressing-room, containing a single white-enamelled bed, a
dresser, and a mirror. But it was not the scant though elegant
furniture that caused us to start back.

There under the dull half-light of the corridor lay a woman, most
superbly formed. She was dark, and the thick masses of her hair, ready
for the hairdresser, fell in a tangle over her beautifully chiselled
features and full, rounded shoulders and neck. A scarlet bathrobe,
loosened at the throat, actually accentuated rather than covered the
voluptuous lines of her figure, down to the slender ankle which had
been the beginning of her fortune as a danseuse.

Except for the marble pallor of her face it was difficult to believe
that she was not sleeping. And yet there she was, the famous Blanche
Blaisdell, dead--dead in the little dressing-room of the Novella Beauty
Parlour, surrounded as in life by mystery and luxury.

We stood for several moments speechless, stupefied. At last O'Connor
silently drew a letter from his pocket. It was written on the latest
and most delicate of scented stationery.

"It was lying sealed on the dresser when we arrived," explained
O'Connor, holding it so that we could not see the address. "I thought
at first she had really committed suicide and that this was a note of
explanation. But it is not. Listen. It is just a line or two. It reads:
'Am feeling better now, though that was a great party last night.
Thanks for the newspaper puff which I have just read. It was very kind
of you to get them to print it. Meet me at the same place and same time
to-night. Your Blanche.' The note was not stamped, and was never sent.
Perhaps she rang for a messenger. At any rate, she must have been dead
before she could send it. But it was addressed to--Burke Collins."

"Burke Collins!" exclaimed Kennedy and I together in amazement.

He was one of the leading corporation lawyers in the country, director
in a score of the largest companies, officer in half a dozen charities
and social organisations, patron of art and opera. It seemed
impossible, and I at least did not hesitate to say so. For answer
O'Connor simply laid the letter and envelope down on the dresser.

It seemed to take some time to convince Kennedy. There it was in black
and white, however, in Blanche Blaisdell's own vertical hand. Try to
figure it out as I could, there seemed to be only one conclusion, and
that was to accept it. What it was that interested him I did not know,
but finally he bent down and sniffed, not at the scented letter, but at
the covering on the dresser. When he raised his head I saw that he had
not been looking at the letter at all, but at a spot on the cover near
it.

"Sn-ff, sn-ff," he sniffed, thoughtfully closing his eyes as if
considering something. "Yes--oil of turpentine."

Suddenly he opened his eyes, and the blank look of abstraction that had
masked his face was broken through by a gleam of comprehension that I
knew flashed the truth to him intuitively.

"Turn out that light in the corridor," he ordered quickly.

Dr. Leslie found and turned the switch. There we were alone, in the now
weird little dressing-room, alone with that horribly lovely thing lying
there cold and motionless on the little white bed.

Kennedy moved forward in the darkness. Gently, almost as if she were
still the living, pulsing, sentient Blanche Blaisdell who had entranced
thousands, he opened her mouth.

A cry from O'Connor, who was standing in front of me, followed. "What's
that, those little spots on her tongue and throat? They glow. It is the
corpse light!"

Surely enough, there were little luminous spots in her mouth. I had
heard somewhere that there is a phosphorescence appearing during decay
of organic substances which once gave rise to the ancient superstition
of "corpse lights" and the will-o'-the-wisp. It was really due, I knew,
to living bacteria. But there surely had been no time for such
micro-organisms to develop, even in the almost tropic heat of the
Novella. Could she have been poisoned by these phosphorescent bacilli?
What was it--a strange new mouth-malady that had attacked this
notorious adventuress and woman of luxury?

Leslie had flashed up the light again before Craig spoke. We were all
watching him keenly.

"Phosphorus, phosphoric acid, or phosphoric salve," Craig said slowly,
looking eagerly about the room as if in search of something that would
explain it. He caught sight of the envelope still lying on the dresser.
He picked it up, toyed with it, looked at the top where O'Connor had
slit it, then deliberately tore the flap off the back where it had been
glued in sealing the letter.

"Put the light out again," he asked.

Where the thin line of gum was on the back of the flap, in the darkness
there glowed the same sort of brightness that we had seen in a speck
here and there on Blanche Blaisdell's lips and in her mouth. The truth
flashed over me. Some one had placed the stuff, whatever it was, on the
flap of the envelope, knowing that she must touch her lips to it to
seal it She had done so, and the deadly poison had entered her mouth.

As the light went up again Kennedy added: "Oil of turpentine removes
traces of phosphorus, phosphoric acid, or phosphoric salve, which are
insoluble in anything else except ether and absolute alcohol. Some one
who knew that tried to eradicate them, but did not wholly succeed.
O'Connor, see if you can find either phosphorus, the oil, or the salve
anywhere in the shop."

Then as O'Connor and Leslie hurriedly disappeared he added to me:
"Another of those strange coincidences, Walter. You remember the girl
at the hospital? 'Look, don't you see it? She's afire. Her lips
shine--they shine, they shine!'"

Kennedy was still looking carefully over the room. In a little wicker
basket was a newspaper which was open at the page of theatrical news,
and as I glanced quickly at it I saw a most laudatory paragraph about
her.

Beneath the paper were some torn scraps. Kennedy picked them up and
pieced them together. "Dearest Blanche," they read. "I hope you're
feeling better after that dinner last night. Can you meet me to-night?
Write me immediately. Collie."

He placed the scraps carefully in his wallet. There was nothing more to
be done here apparently. As we passed down the corridor we could hear a
man apparently raving in good English and bad French. It proved to be
Millefleur--or Miller--and his raving was as overdone as that of a
third-rate actor. Madame was trying to calm him.

"Henri, Henri, don't go on so," she was saying.

"A suicide--in the Novella. It will be in all the papers. We shall be
ruined. Oh--oh!"

"Here, can that sob stuff," broke in one of O'Connor's officers. "You
can tell it all when the chief takes you to headquarters, see?"

Certainly the man made no very favourable impression by his actions.
There seemed to be much that was forced about them, that was more
incriminating than a stolid silence would have been.

Between them Monsieur and Madame made out, however, to repeat to
Kennedy their version of what had happened. It seemed that a note
addressed to Miss Blaisdell had been left by some one on the desk in
the reception-room. No one knew who left it, but one of the girls had
picked it up and delivered it to her in her dressing-room. A moment
later she rang her bell and called for one of the girls named Agnes,
who was to dress her hair. Agnes was busy, and the actress asked her to
get paper, a pen, and ink. At least it seemed that way, for Agnes got
them for her. A few minutes later her bell rang again, and Agnes went
down, apparently to tell her that she was now ready to dress her hair.

The next thing any one knew was a piercing shriek from the girl. She
ran down the corridor, still shrieking, out into the reception-room and
rushed into the elevator, which happened to be up at the time. That was
the last they had seen of her. The other girls saw Miss Blaisdell lying
dead, and a panic followed. The customers dressed quickly and fled,
almost in panic. All was confusion. By that time a policeman had
arrived, and soon after O'Connor and the coroner had come.

There was little use in cross-questioning the couple. They had
evidently had time to agree on the story; that is, supposing it were
not true. Only a scientific third degree could have shaken them, and
such a thing was impossible just at that time.

From the line of Kennedy's questions I could see that he believed that
there was a hiatus somewhere in their glib story, at least some point
where some one had tried to eradicate the marks of the poison.

"Here it is. We found it," interrupted O'Connor, holding up in his
excitement a bottle covered with black cloth to protect it from the
light. "It was in the back of a cabinet in the operating-room, and it
is marked 'Ether phosphore".' Another of oil of turpentine was on a
shelf in another cabinet. Both seem to have been used lately, judging
by the wetness of the bottoms of the glass stoppers."

"Ether phosphore, phosphorated ether," commented Kennedy, reading the
label to himself. "A remedy from the French Codex, composed, if I
remember rightly, of one part phosphorus and fifty parts sulphuric
ether. Phosphorus is often given as a remedy for loss of nerve power,
neuralgia, hysteria, and melancholia. In quantities from a fiftieth to
a tenth or so of a grain free phosphorus is a renovator of nerve tissue
and nerve force, a drug for intense and long-sustained anxiety of mind
and protracted emotional excitement--in short, for fast living."

He uncorked the bottle, and we tasted the stuff. It was unpleasant and
nauseous. "I don't see why it wasn't used in the form of pills. The
liquid form of a few drops on gum arabic is hopelessly antiquated."

The elevator door opened with a clang, and a well-built, athletic
looking man of middle age with an acquired youngish look about his
clothes and clean-shaven face stepped out. His face was pale, and his
hand shook with emotion that showed that something had unstrung his
usually cast-iron nerves. I recognised Burke Collins at once.

In spite of his nervousness he strode forward with the air of a man
accustomed to being obeyed, to having everything done for him merely
because he, Burke Collins, could afford to pay for it and it was his
right. He seemed to know whom he was seeking, for he immediately
singled out O'Connor.

"This is terrible, terrible," he whispered hoarsely. "No, no, no, I
don't want to see her. I can't, not yet. You know I thought the world
of that poor little girl. Only," and here the innate selfishness of the
man cropped out, "only I called to ask you that nothing of my
connection with her be given out. You understand? Spare nothing to get
at the truth. Employ the best men you have. Get outside help if
necessary. I'll pay for anything, anything. Perhaps I can use some
influence for you some day, too. But, you understand--the scandal, you
know. Not a word to the newspapers."

At another time I feel sure that O'Connor would have succumbed. Collins
was not without a great deal of political influence, and even a first
deputy may be "broke" by a man with influence. But now here was
Kennedy, and he wished to appear in the best light.

He looked at Craig. "Let me introduce Professor Kennedy," he said.
"I've already called him in."

"Very happy to have the pleasure of meeting you," said Collins,
grasping Kennedy's hand warmly. "I hope you will take me as your client
in this case. I'll pay handsomely. I've always had a great admiration
for your work, and I've heard a great deal about it."

Kennedy is, if anything, as impervious to blandishment as a stone, as
the Blarney Stone is itself, for instance. "On one condition," he
replied slowly, "and that is that I go ahead exactly as if I were
employed by the city itself to get at the truth."

Collins bit his lip. It was evident that he was not accustomed to being
met in this independent spirit. "Very well," he answered at last.
"O'Connor has called you in. Work for him and--well, you know, if you
need anything just draw on me for it. Only if you can, keep me out of
it. I'll tell everything I can to help you--but not to the newspapers."

He beckoned us outside. "Those people in there," he nodded his head
back in the direction of the Millefleurs, "do you suspect them? By
George, it does look badly for them, doesn't it, when you come to think
of it? Well, now, you see, I'm frank and confidential about my
relations with Blan--er--Miss Blaisdell. I was at a big dinner with her
last night with a party of friends. I suppose she came here to get
straightened out. I hadn't been able to get her on the wire to-day, but
at the theatre when I called up they told me what had happened, and I
came right over here. Now please remember, do everything, anything but
create a scandal. You realise what that would mean for me."

Kennedy said nothing. He simply laid down on the desk, piece by piece,
the torn letter which he had picked up from the basket, and beside it
he spread out the reply which Blanche had written.

"What?" gasped Collins as he read the torn letter. "I send that? Why,
man alive, you're crazy. Didn't I just tell you I hadn't heard from her
until I called up the theatre just now?"

I could not make out whether he was lying or not when he said that he
had not sent the note. Kennedy picked up a pen. "Please write the same
thing as you read in the note on this sheet of the Novella paper. It
will be all right. You have plenty of witnesses to that."

It must have irked Collins even to have his word doubted, but Kennedy
was no respecter of persons. He took the pen and wrote.

"I'll keep your name out of it as much as possible," remarked Kennedy,
glancing intently at the writing and blotting it.

"Thank you," said Collins simply, for once in his life at a loss for
words. Once more he whispered to O'Connor, then he excused himself. The
man was so obviously sincere, I felt, as far as his selfish and sensual
limitations would permit, that I would not have blamed Kennedy for
giving him much more encouragement than he had given.

Kennedy was not through yet, and now turned quickly again to the
cosmetic arcadia which had been so rudely stirred by the tragedy.

"Who is this girl Agnes who discovered Miss Blaisdell?" he shot out at
the Millefleurs.

The beauty-doctor was now really painful in his excitement. Like his
establishment, even his feelings were artificial.

"Agnes?" he repeated. "Why, she was one of Madame's best hair-dressers.
See--my dear--show the gentlemen the book of engagements."

It was a large book full of girls' names, each an expert in curls,
puffs, "reinforcements," hygienic rolls, transformators, and the
numberless other things that made the fearful and wonderful
hair-dresses of the day. Agnes's dates were full, for a day ahead.

Kennedy ran his eye over the list of patrons. "Mrs. Burke Collins,
3:30," he read. "Was she a patron, too?"

"Oh, yes," answered Madame. "She used to come here three times a week.
It was not vanity. We all knew her, and we all liked her."

Instantly I could read between the lines, and I felt that I had been
too charitable to Burke Collins. Here was the wife slaving to secure
that beauty which would win back the man with whom she had worked and
toiled in the years before they came to New York and success. The
"other woman" came here, too, but for a very different reason.

Nothing but business seemed to impress Millefleur, however. "Oh, yes,"
he volunteered, "we have a fine class. Among my own patients I have
Hugh Dayton, the actor, you know, leading man in Blanche Blaisdell's
company. He is having his hair restored. Why, I gave him a treatment
this afternoon. If ever there is a crazy man, it is he. I believe he
would kill Mr. Collins for the way Blanche Blaisdell treats him. They
were engaged--but, oh, well," he gave a very good imitation of a French
shrug, "it is all over now. Neither of them will get her, and I--I am
ruined. Who will come to the Novella now?"

Adjoining Millefleur's own room was the writing room from which the
poisoned envelope had been taken to Miss Blaisdell. Over the little
secretary was the sign, "No woman need be plain who will visit the
Novella," evidently the motto of the place. The hair-dressing room was
next to the little writing-room. There were manicure rooms,
steam-rooms, massage-rooms, rooms of all descriptions, all bearing mute
testimony to the fundamental instinct, the feminine longing for
personal beauty.

Though it was late when Kennedy had finished his investigation, he
insisted on going directly to his laboratory. There he pulled out from
a corner a sort of little square table on which was fixed a powerful
light such as might be used for a stereopticon.

"This is a simple little machine," he explained, as be pasted together
the torn bits of the letter which he had fished out of the
scrap-basket, "which detectives use in studying forgeries. I don't know
that it has a name, although it might be called a 'rayograph.' You see,
all you have to do is to lay the thing you wish to study flat here, and
the system of mirrors and lenses reflects it and enlarges it on a
sheet."

He had lowered a rolled-up sheet of white at the opposite end of the
room, and there, in huge characters, stood forth plainly the writing of
the note.

"This letter," he resumed, studying the enlargement carefully, "is
likely to prove crucial. It's very queer. Collins says he didn't write
it, and if he did he surely is a wonder at disguising his hand. I doubt
if any one could disguise what the rayograph shows. Now, for instance,
this is very important. Do you see how those strokes of the long
letters are--well, wobbly? You'd never see that in the original, but
when it is enlarged you see how plainly visible the tremors of the hand
become? Try as you may, you can't conceal them. The fact is that the
writer of this note suffered from a form of heart disease. Now let us
look at the copy that Collins made at the Novella."

He placed the copy on the table of the rayograph. It was quite evident
that the two had been written by entirely different persons. "I thought
he was telling the truth," commented Craig, "by the surprised look on
his face the moment I mentioned the note to Miss Blaisdell. Now I know
he was. There is no such evidence of heart trouble in his writing as in
the other. Of course that's all aside from what a study of the
handwriting itself might disclose. They are not similar at all. But
there is an important clue there. Find the writer of that note who has
heart trouble, and we either have the murderer or some one close to the
murderer."

I remembered the tremulousness of the little beauty-doctor, his
third-rate artificial acting of fear for the reputation of the Novella,
and I must confess I agreed with O'Connor and Collins that it looked
black for him. At one time I had suspected Collins himself, but now I
could see perfectly why he had not concealed his anxiety to hush up his
connection with the case, while at the same time his instinct as a
lawyer, and I had almost added, lover, told him that justice must be
done. I saw at once how, accustomed as he was to weigh evidence, he had
immediately seen the justification for O'Connor's arrest of the
Millefleurs.

"More than that," added Kennedy, after examining the fibres of the
paper under a microscope, "all these notes are written on the same kind
of paper. That first torn note to Miss Blaisdell was written right in
the Novella and left so as to seem to have been sent in from outside."

It was early the following morning when Kennedy roused me with the
remark: "I think I'll go up to the hospital. Do you want to come along?
We'll stop for Barron on the way. There is a little experiment I want
to try on that girl up there."

When we arrived, the nurse in charge of the ward told us that her
patient had passed a fairly good night, but that now that the influence
of the drug had worn off she was again restless and still repeating the
words that she had said over and over before. Nor had she been able to
give any clearer account of herself. Apparently she had been alone in
the city, for although there was a news item about her in the morning
papers, so far no relative or friend had called to identify her.

Kennedy had placed himself directly before her, listening intently to
her ravings. Suddenly he managed to fix her eye, as if by a sort of
hypnotic influence.

"Agnes!" he called in a sharp tone.

The name seemed to arrest her fugitive attention. Before she could
escape from his mental grasp again he added: "Your date-book is full.
Aren't you going to the Novella this morning?"

The change in her was something wonderful to see. It was as though she
had come out of a trance. She sat up in bed and gazed about blankly.

"Yes, yes, I must go," she cried as if it were the most natural thing
in the world. Then she realised the strange surroundings and faces.
"Where is my hat--wh-where am I? What has happened?"

"You are all right," soothed Kennedy gently. "Now rest. Try to forget
everything for a little while, and you will be all right. You are among
friends."

As Kennedy led us out she fell back, now physically exhausted, on the
pillow.

"I told you, Barron," he whispered, "that there was more to this case
than you imagined. Unwittingly you brought me a very important
contribution to a case of which the papers are full this morning, the
case of the murdered actress, Blanche Blaisdell."



IV

THE BEAUTY SHOP


It was only after a few hours that Kennedy thought it wise to try to
question the poor girl at the hospital. Her story was simple enough in
itself, but it certainly complicated matters considerably without
throwing much light on the case. She had been busy because her day was
full, and she had yet to dress the hair of Miss Blaisdell for her play
that night. Several times she had been interrupted by impatient
messages from the actress in her little dressing-booth, and one of the
girls had already demolished the previous hair-dressing in order to
save time. Once Agnes had run down for a few seconds to reassure her
that she would be through in time.

She had found the actress reading a newspaper, and when Kennedy
questioned her she remembered seeing a note lying on the dresser.
"Agnes," Miss Blaisdell had said, "will you go into the writing-room
and bring me some paper, a pen, and ink? I don't want to go in there
this way. There's a dear good girl." Agnes had gone, though it was
decidedly no part of her duty as one of the highest paid employes of
the Novella. But they all envied the popular actress, and were ready to
do anything for her. The next thing she remembered was finishing the
coiffure she was working on and going to Miss Blaisdell. There lay the
beautiful actress. The light in the corridor had not been lighted yet,
and it was dark. Her lips and mouth seemed literally to shine. Agnes
called her, but she did not move; she touched her, but she was cold.
Then she screamed and fled. That was the last she remembered.

"The little writing-room," reasoned Kennedy as we left the poor little
hair-dresser quite exhausted by her narrative, "was next to the sanctum
of Millefleur, where they found that bottle of ether phosphore and the
oil of turpentine. Some one who knew of that note or perhaps wrote it
must have reasoned that an answer would be written immediately. That
person figured that the note would be the next thing written and that
the top envelope of the pile would be used. That person knew of the
deadly qualities of too much phosphorised ether, and painted the gummed
flap of the envelope with several grains of it. The reasoning held
good, for Agnes took the top envelope with its poisoned flap to Miss
Blaisdell. No, there was no chance about that. It was all clever, quick
reasoning."

"But," I objected, "how about the oil of turpentine?"

"Simply to remove the traces of the poison. I think you will see why
that was attempted before we get through."

Kennedy would say no more, but I was content because I could see that
he was now ready to put his theories, whatever they were, to the final
test. He spent the rest of the day working at the hospital with Dr.
Barron, adjusting a very delicate piece of apparatus down in a special
room, in the basement. I saw it, but I had no idea what it was or what
its use might be.

Close to the wall was a stereopticon which shot a beam of light through
a tube to which I heard them refer as a galvanometer, about three feet
distant. In front of this beam whirled a five-spindled wheel, governed
by a chronometer which erred only a second a day. Between the poles of
the galvanometer was stretched a slender thread of fused quartz plated
with silver, only one one-thousandth of a millimetre in diameter, so
tenuous that it could not be seen except in a bright light. It was a
thread so slender that it might have been spun by a microscopic spider.

Three feet farther away was a camera with a moving film of sensitised
material, the turning of which was regulated by a little flywheel. The
beam of light focused on the thread in the galvanometer passed to the
photographic film, intercepted only by the five spindles of the wheel,
which turned once a second, thus marking the picture off into exact
fifths of a second. The vibrations of the microscopic quartz thread
were enormously magnified on the sensitive film by a lens and resulted
in producing a long zig-zag, wavy line. The whole was shielded by a
wooden hood which permitted no light, except the slender ray, to strike
it. The film revolved slowly across the field, its speed regulated by
the flywheel, and all moved by an electric motor.

I was quite surprised, then, when Kennedy told me that the final tests
which he was arranging were not to be held at the hospital at all, but
in his laboratory, the scene of so many of his scientific triumphs over
the cleverest of criminals.

While he and Dr. Barren were still fussing with the machine he
despatched me on the rather ticklish errand of gathering together all
those who had been at the Novella at the time and might possibly prove
important in the case.

My first visit was to Hugh Dayton, whom I found in his bachelor
apartment on Madison Avenue, apparently waiting for me. One of
O'Connor's men had already warned him that any attempt to evade putting
in an appearance when he was wanted would be of no avail. He had been
shadowed from the moment that it was learned that he was a patient of
Millefleur's and had been at the Novella that fatal afternoon. He
seemed to realise that escape was impossible. Dayton was one of those
typical young fellows, tall, with sloping shoulders and a carefully
acquired English manner, whom one sees in scores on Fifth Avenue late
in the afternoon. His face, which on the stage was forceful and
attractive, was not prepossessing at close range. Indeed it showed too
evident marks of excesses, both physical and moral, and his hand was
none too steady. Still, he was an interesting personality, if not
engaging.

I was also charged with delivering a note to Burke Collins at his
office. The purport of it was, I knew, a request couched in language
that veiled a summons that Mrs. Collins was of great importance in
getting at the truth, and that if he needed an excuse himself for being
present it was suggested that he appear as protecting his wife's
interests as a lawyer. Kennedy had added that I might tell him orally
that he would pass over the scandal as lightly as possible and spare
the feelings of both as much as he could. I was rather relieved when
this mission was accomplished, for I had expected Collins to demur
violently.

Those who gathered that night, sitting expectantly in the little
armchairs which Kennedy's students used during his lectures, included
nearly every one who could cast any light on what had happened at the
Novella. Professor and Madame Millefleur were brought up from the house
of detention, to which both O'Connor and Dr. Leslie had insisted that
they be sent. Millefleur was still bewailing the fate of the Novella,
and Madame had begun to show evidences of lack of the constant
beautification which she was always preaching as of the utmost
importance to her patrons. Agnes was so far recovered as to be able to
be present, though I noticed that she avoided the Millefleurs and sat
as far from them as possible.

Burke Collins and Mrs. Collins arrived together. I had expected that
there would be an icy coolness if not positive enmity between them.
They were not exactly cordial, though somehow I seemed to feel that now
that the cause of estrangement was removed a tactful mutual friend
might have brought about a reconciliation. Hugh Dayton swaggered in,
his nervousness gone or at least controlled. I passed behind him once,
and the odour that smote my olfactory sense told me too plainly that he
had fortified himself with a stimulant on his way from the apartment to
the laboratory. Of course O'Connor and Dr. Leslie were there, though in
the background.

It was a silent gathering, and Kennedy did not attempt to relieve the
tension even by small talk as he wrapped the forearms of each of us
with cloths steeped in a solution of salt. Upon these cloths he placed
little plates of German silver to which were attached wires which led
back of a screen. At last he was ready to begin.

"The long history of science," he began as he emerged from behind the
screen, "is filled with instances of phenomena, noted at first only for
their beauty or mystery, which have been later proved to be of great
practical value to mankind. A new example is the striking phenomenon of
luminescence. Phosphorus, discovered centuries ago, was first merely a
curiosity. Now it is used for many practical things, and one of the
latest uses is as a medicine. It is a constituent of the body, and many
doctors believe that the lack of it causes, and that its presence will
cure, many ills. But it is a virulent and toxic drug, and no physician
except one who knows his business thoroughly should presume to handle
it. Whoever made a practice of using it at the Novella did not know his
business, or he would have used it in pills instead of in the nauseous
liquid. It is not with phosphorised ether as a medicine that we have to
deal in this case. It is with the stuff as a poison, a poison
administered by a demon."

Craig shot the word out so that it had its full effect on his little
audience. Then he paused, lowered his voice, and resumed on a new
subject.

"Up in the Washington Heights Hospital," he went on, "is an apparatus
which records the secrets of the human heart. That is no figure of
speech, but a cold scientific fact. This machine records every
variation of the pulsations of the heart with such exquisite accuracy
that it gives Dr. Barron, who is up there now, not merely a diagram of
the throbbing organ of each of you seated here in my laboratory a mile
away, but a sort of moving-picture of the emotions by which each heart
here is swayed. Not only can Dr. Barron diagnose disease, but he can
detect love, hate, fear, joy, anger, and remorse. This machine is known
as the Einthoven 'string galvanometer,' invented by that famous Dutch
physiologist of Leyden."

There was a perceptible movement in our little audience at the thought
that the little wires that ran back of the screen from the arms of each
were connected with this uncanny instrument so far away.

"It is all done by the electric current that the heart itself
generates," pursued Kennedy, hammering home the new and startling idea.
"That current is one of the feeblest known to science, for the dynamo
that generates it is no ponderous thing of copper wire and steel
castings. It is just the heart itself. The heart sends over the wire
its own telltale record to the machine which registers it. The thing
takes us all the way back to Galvani, who was the first to observe and
study animal electricity. The heart makes only one three-thousandth of
a volt of electricity at each beat. It would take over two hundred
thousand men to light one of these incandescent lamps, two million or
more to run a trolley-car. Yet just that slight little current is
enough to sway the gossamer strand of quartz fibre up there at what we
call the 'heart station.' So fine is this machine that the
pulse-tracings produced by the sphygmograph, which I have used in other
cases up to this time, are clumsy and inexact."

Again he paused as if to let the fear of discovery sink deep into the
minds of all of us.

"This current, as I have said, passes from each one of you in turn over
a wire and vibrates a fine quartz fibre up there in unison with each
heart here. It is one of the most delicate bits of mechanism ever made,
beside which the hairspring of a watch is coarse. Each of you in turn,
is being subjected to this test. More than that, the record up there
shows not only the beats of the heart but the successive waves of
emotion that vary the form of those beats. Every normal individual
gives what we call an 'electro-cardiogram,' which follows a certain
type. The photographic film on which this is being recorded is ruled so
that at the heart station Dr. Barron can read it. There are five waves
to each heart-beat, which he letters P, Q, R, S, and T, two below and
three above a base line on the film. They have all been found to
represent a contraction of a certain portion of the heart. Any change
of the height, width, or time of any one of those lines shows that
there is some defect or change in the contraction of that part of the
heart. Thus Dr. Barron, who has studied this thing carefully, can tell
infallibly not only disease but emotion."

It seemed as if no one dared look at his neighbour, as if all were
trying vainly to control the beating of their own hearts.

"Now," concluded Kennedy solemnly as if to force the last secret from
the wildly beating heart of some one in the room, "it is my belief that
the person who had access to the operating-room of the Novella was a
person whose nerves were run down, and in addition to any other
treatment that person was familiar with the ether phosphore. This
person knew Miss Blaisdell well, saw her there, knew she was there for
the purpose of frustrating that person's own dearest hopes. That person
wrote her the note, and knowing that she would ask for paper and an
envelope in order to answer it, poisoned the flap of the envelope.
Phosphorus is a remedy for hysteria, vexatious emotions, want of
sympathy, disappointed and concealed affections--but not in the
quantities that this person lavished on that flap. Whoever it was, not
life, but death, and a ghastly death, was uppermost in that person's
thoughts."

Agnes screamed. "I saw him take something and rub it on her lips, and
the brightness went away. I--I didn't mean to tell, but, God help me, I
must."

"Saw whom?" demanded Kennedy, fixing her eye as he had when he had
called her back from aphasia.

"Him--Millefleur--Miller," she sobbed, shrinking back as if the very
confession appalled her.

"Yes," added Kennedy coolly, "Miller did try to remove the traces of
the poison after he discovered it, in order to protect himself and the
reputation of the Novella."

The telephone bell tinkled. Craig seized the receiver.

"Yes, Barron, this is Kennedy. You received the impulses all right?
Good. And have you had time to study the records? Yes? What's that?
Number seven? All right. I'll see you very soon and go over the records
again with you. Good-bye."

"One word more," he continued, now facing us. "The normal heart traces
its throbs in regular rhythm. The diseased or overwrought heart throbs
in degrees of irregularity that vary according to the trouble that
affects it, both organic and emotional. The expert like Barron can tell
what each wave means, just as he can tell what the lines in a spectrum
mean. He can see the invisible, hear the inaudible, feel the
intangible, with mathematical precision. Barron has now read the
electro-cardiograms. Each is a picture of the beating of the heart that
made it, and each smallest variation has a meaning to him. Every
passion, every emotion, every disease, is recorded with inexorable
truth. The person with murder in his heart cannot hide it from the
string galvanometer, nor can that person who wrote the false note in
which the very lines of the letters betray a diseased heart hide that
disease. The doctor tells me that that person was number--"

Mrs. Collins had risen wildly and was standing before us with blazing
eyes. "Yes," she cried, pressing her hands on her breast as if it were
about to burst and tell the secret before her lips could frame the
words, "yes, I killed her, and I would follow her to the end of the
earth if I had not succeeded. She was there, the woman who had stolen
from me what was more than life itself. Yes, I wrote the note, I
poisoned the envelope. I killed her."

All the intense hatred that she had felt for that other woman in the
days that she had vainly striven to equal her in beauty and win back
her husband's love broke forth. She was wonderful, magnificent, in her
fury. She was passion personified; she was fate, retribution.

Collins looked at his wife, and even he felt the spell. It was not
crime that she had done; it was elemental justice.

For a moment she stood, silent, facing Kennedy. Then the colour slowly
faded from her cheeks. She reeled.

Collins caught her and imprinted a kiss, the kiss that for years she
had longed and striven for again. She looked rather than spoke
forgiveness as he held her and showered them on her.

"Before Heaven," I heard him whisper into her ear, "with all my power
as a lawyer I will free you from this."

Gently Dr. Leslie pushed him aside and felt her pulse as she dropped
limply into the only easy chair in the laboratory.

"O'Connor," he said at length, "all the evidence that we really have
hangs on an invisible thread of quartz a mile away. If Professor
Kennedy agrees, let us forget what has happened here to-night. I will
direct my jury to bring in a verdict of suicide. Collins, take good
care of her." He leaned over and whispered so she could not hear. "I
wouldn't promise her six weeks otherwise."

I could not help feeling deeply moved as the newly reunited Collinses
left the laboratory together. Even the bluff deputy, O'Connor, was
touched by it and under the circumstances did what seemed to him his
higher duty with a tact of which I had believed him scarcely capable.
Whatever the ethics of the case, he left it entirely to Dr. Leslie's
coroner's jury to determine.

Burke Collins was already making hasty preparations for the care of his
wife so that she might have the best medical attention to prolong her
life for the few weeks or months before nature exacted the penalty
which was denied the law.

"That's a marvellous piece of apparatus," I remarked, standing over the
connections with the string galvanometer, after all had gone. "Just
suppose the case had fallen into the hands of some of these
old-fashioned detectives--"

"I hate post-mortems--on my own cases," interrupted Kennedy brusquely.
"To-morrow will be time enough to clear up this mess. Meanwhile, let us
get this thing out of our minds."

He clapped his hat on his head decisively and deliberately walked out
of the laboratory, starting off at a brisk pace in the moonlight across
the campus to the avenue where now the only sound was the noisy rattle
of an occasional trolley car.

How long we walked I do not know. But I do know that for genuine
relaxation after a long period of keen mental stress, there is nothing
like physical exercise. We turned into our apartment, roused the sleepy
hall-boy, and rode up.

"I suppose people think I never rest," remarked Kennedy, carefully
avoiding any reference to the exciting events of the past two days.
"But I do. Like every one else, I have to. When I am working hard on a
case--well, I have my own violent reaction against it--more work of a
different kind. Others choose white lights, red wines and blue feelings
afterwards. But I find, when I reach that state, that the best
anti-toxin is something that will chase the last case from your brain
by getting you in trim for the next unexpected event."

He had sunk into an easy chair where he was running over in his mind
his own plans for the morrow.

"Just now I must recuperate by doing no work at all," he went on slowly
undressing. "That walk was just what I needed. When the fever of
dissipation comes on again, I'll call on you. You won't miss anything,
Walter."

Like the famous Finnegan, however, he was on again and gone again in
the morning. This time I had no misgivings, although I should have
liked to accompany him, for on the library table he had scrawled a
little note, "Studying East Side to-day. Will keep in touch with you.
Craig." My daily task of transcribing my notes was completed and I
thought I would run down to the Star to let the editor know how I was
getting along on my assignment.

I had scarcely entered the door when the office boy thrust a message
into my hand. It stopped me even before I had a chance to get as far as
my own desk. It was from Kennedy at the laboratory and bore a time
stamp that showed that it must have been received only a few minutes
before I came in.

"Meet me at the Grand Central," it read, "immediately."

Without going further into the office, I turned and dropped down in the
elevator to the subway. As quickly as an express could take me, I
hurried up to the new station.

"Where away?" I asked breathlessly, as Craig met me at the entrance
through which he had reasoned I would come. "The coast or Down East?"

"Woodrock," he replied quickly, taking my arm and dragging me down a
ramp to the train that was just leaving for that fashionable suburb.

"Well," I queried eagerly, as the train started. "Why all this secrecy?"

"I had a caller this afternoon," he began, running his eye over the
other passengers to see if we were observed. "She is going back on this
train. I am not to recognise her at the station, but you and I are to
walk to the end of the platform and enter a limousine bearing that
number."

He produced a card on the back of which was written a number in six
figures. Mechanically I glanced at the name as he handed the card to
me. Craig was watching intently the expression on my face as I read,
"Miss Yvonne Brixton."

"Since when were you admitted into society?" I gasped, still staring at
the name of the daughter of the millionaire banker, John Brixton.

"She came to tell me that her father is in a virtual state of siege, as
it were, up there in his own house," explained Kennedy in an undertone,
"so much so that, apparently, she is the only person he felt he dared
trust with a message to summon me. Practically everything he says or
does is spied on; he can't even telephone without what he says being
known."

"Siege?" I repeated incredulously. "Impossible. Why, only this morning
I was reading about his negotiations with a foreign syndicate of
bankers from southeastern Europe for a ten-million-dollar loan to
relieve the money stringency there. Surely there must be some mistake
in all this. In fact, as I recall it, one of the foreign bankers who is
trying to interest him is that Count Wachtmann who, everybody says, is
engaged to Miss Brixton, and is staying at the house at Woodrock.
Craig, are you sure nobody is hoaxing you?"

"Read that," he replied laconically, handing me a piece of thin
letter-paper such as is often used for foreign correspondence. "Such
letters have been coming to Mr. Brixton, I understand, every day."

The letter was in a cramped foreign scrawl:

     JOHN BRIXTON, Woodrock, New York.

     American dollars must not endanger the peace of Europe. Be
     warned in time. In the name of liberty and progress we have
     raised the standard of conflict without truce or quarter
     against reaction. If you and the American bankers associated
     with you take up these bonds you will never live to receive
     the first payment of interest.

                          THE RED BROTHERHOOD OF THE BALKANS.

I looked up inquiringly. "What is the Red Brotherhood?" I asked.

"As nearly as I can make out," replied Kennedy, "it seems to be a sort
of international secret society. I believe it preaches the gospel of
terror and violence in the cause of liberty and union of some of the
peoples of southeastern Europe. Anyhow, it keeps its secrets well. The
identity of the members is a mystery, as well as the source of its
funds, which, it is said, are immense."

"And they operate so secretly that Brixton can trust no one about him?"
I asked.

"I believe he is ill," explained Craig. "At any rate, he evidently
suspects almost every one about him except his daughter. As nearly as I
could gather, however, he does not suspect Wachtmann himself. Miss
Brixton seemed to think that there were some enemies of the Count at
work. Her father is a secretive man. Even to her, the only message he
would entrust was that he wanted to see me immediately."

At Woodrock we took our time in getting off the train. Miss Brixton, a
tall, dark-haired, athletic girl just out of college, had preceded us,
and as her own car shot out from the station platform we leisurely
walked down and entered another bearing the number she had given
Kennedy.

We seemed to be expected at the house. Hardly had we been admitted
through the door from the porte-cochere, than we were led through a
hall to a library at the side of the house. From the library we entered
another door, then down a flight of steps which must have brought us
below an open courtyard on the outside, under a rim of the terrace in
front of the house for a short distance to a point where we descended
three more steps.

At the head of these three steps was a great steel and iron door with
heavy bolts and a combination lock of a character ordinarily found only
on a safe in a banking institution.

The door was opened, and we descended the steps, going a little farther
in the same direction away from the side of the house. Then we turned
at a right angle facing toward the back of the house but well to one
side of it. It must have been, I figured out later, underneath the open
courtyard. A few steps farther brought us to a fair-sized, vaulted room.



V

THE PHANTOM CIRCUIT


Brixton had evidently been waiting impatiently for our arrival. "Mr.
Kennedy?" he inquired, adding quickly without waiting for an answer: "I
am glad to see you. I suppose you have noticed the precautions we are
taking against intruders? Yet it seems to be all of no avail. I can not
be alone even here. If a telephone message comes to me over my private
wire, if I talk with my own office in the city, it seems that it is
known. I don't know what to make of it. It is terrible. I don't know
what to expect next."

Brixton had been standing beside a huge mahogany desk as we entered. I
had seen him before at a distance as a somewhat pompous speaker at
banquets and the cynosure of the financial district. But there was
something different about his looks now. He seemed to have aged, to
have grown yellower. Even the whites of his eyes were yellow.

I thought at first that perhaps it might be the effect of the light in
the centre of the room, a huge affair set in the ceiling in a sort of
inverted hemisphere of glass, concealing and softening the rays of a
powerful incandescent bulb which it enclosed. It was not the light that
gave him the altered appearance, as I concluded from catching a casual
confirmatory glance of perplexity from Kennedy himself.

"My personal physician says I am suffering from jaundice," explained
Brixton. Rather than seeming to be offended at our notice of his
condition he seemed to take it as a good evidence of Kennedy's keenness
that he had at once hit on one of the things that were weighing on
Brixton's own mind. "I feel pretty badly, too. Curse it," he added
bitterly, "coming at a time when it is absolutely necessary that I
should have all my strength to carry through a negotiation that is only
a beginning, important not so much for myself as for the whole world.
It is one of the first times New York bankers have had a chance to
engage in big dealings in that part of the world. I suppose Yvonne has
shown you one of the letters I am receiving?"

He rustled a sheaf of them which he drew from a drawer of his desk, and
continued, not waiting for Kennedy even to nod:

"Here are a dozen or more of them. I get one or two every day, either
here or at my town house or at the office."

Kennedy had moved forward to see them.

"One moment more," Brixton interrupted, still holding them. "I shall
come back to the letters. That is not the worst. I've had threatening
letters before. Have you noticed this room?"

We had both seen and been impressed by it.

"Let me tell you more about it," he went on. "It was designed
especially to be, among other things, absolutely soundproof."

We gazed curiously about the strong room. It was beautifully decorated
and furnished. On the walls was a sort of heavy, velvety green
wall-paper. Exquisite hangings were draped about, and on the floor were
thick rugs. In all I noticed that the prevailing tint was green.

"I had experiments carried out," he explained languidly, "with the
object of discovering methods and means for rendering walls and
ceilings capable of effective resistance to sound transmission. One of
the methods devised involved the use under the ceiling or parallel to
the wall, as the case might be, of a network of wire stretched tightly
by means of pulleys in the adjacent walls and not touching at any point
the surface to be protected against sound. Upon the wire network is
plastered a composition formed of strong glue, plaster of Paris, and
granulated cork, so as to make a flat slab, between which and the wall
or ceiling is a cushion of confined air. The method is good in two
respects: the absence of contact between the protective and protected
surfaces and the colloid nature of the composition used. I have gone
into the thing at length because it will make all the more remarkable
what I am about to tell you."

Kennedy had been listening attentively. As Brixton proceeded I had
noticed Kennedy's nostrils dilating almost as if he were a hound and
had scented his quarry. I sniffed, too. Yes, there was a faint odour,
almost as if of garlic in the room. It was unmistakable. Craig was
looking about curiously, as if to discover a window by which the odour
might have entered. Brixton, with his eyes following keenly every move,
noticed him.

"More than that" he added quickly, "I have had the most perfect system
of modern ventilation installed in this room, absolutely independent
from that in the house."

Kennedy said nothing.

"A moment ago, Mr. Kennedy, I saw you and Mr. Jameson glancing up at
the ceiling. Sound-proof as this room is, or as I believe it to be,
I--I hear voices, voices from--not through, you understand, but
from--that very ceiling. I do not hear them now. It is only at certain
times when I am alone. They repeat the words in some of these
letters--'You must not take up those bonds. You must not endanger the
peace of the world. You will never live to get the interest.' Over and
over I have heard such sentences spoken in this very room. I have
rushed out and up the corridor. There has been no one there. I have
locked the steel door. Still I have heard the voices. And it is
absolutely impossible that a human being could get close enough to say
them without my knowing and finding out where he is."

Kennedy betrayed by not so much as the motion of a muscle even a shade
of a doubt of Brixton's incredible story. Whether because he believed
it or because he was diplomatic, Craig took the thing at its face
value. He moved a blotter so that he could stand on the top of
Brixton's desk in the centre of the room. Then he unfastened and took
down the glass hemisphere over the light.

"It is an Osram lamp of about a hundred candlepower, I should judge,"
he observed.

Apparently he had satisfied himself that there was nothing concealed in
the light itself. Laboriously, with such assistance as the memory of
Mr. Brixton could give, he began tracing out the course of both the
electric light and telephone wires that led down into the den.

Next came a close examination of the ceiling and side walls, the floor,
the hangings, the pictures, the rugs, everything. Kennedy was tapping
here and there all over the wall, as if to discover whether there was
any such hollow sound as a cavity might make. There was none.

A low exclamation from him attracted my attention, though it escaped
Brixton. His tapping had raised the dust from the velvety wall-paper
wherever he had tried it. Hastily, from a corner where it would not be
noticed, he pulled off a piece of the paper and stuffed it into his
pocket. Then followed a hasty examination of the intake of the
ventilating apparatus.

Apparently satisfied with his examination of things in the den, Craig
now prepared to trace out the course of the telephone and light wires
in the house. Brixton excused himself, asking us to join him in the
library up-stairs after Craig had completed his investigation.

Nothing was discovered by tracing the lines back, as best we could,
from the den. Kennedy therefore began at the other end, and having
found the points in the huge cellar of the house where the main trunk
and feed wires entered, he began a systematic search in that direction.

A separate line led, apparently, to the den, and where this line
feeding the Osram lamp passed near a dark storeroom in a corner Craig
examined more closely than ever. Seemingly his search was rewarded, for
he dived into the dark storeroom and commenced lighting matches
furiously to discover what was there.

"Look, Walter," he exclaimed, holding a match so that I could see what
he had unearthed. There, in a corner concealed by an old chest of
drawers, stood a battery of five storage-cells connected with an
instrument that looked very much like a telephone transmitter, a
rheostat, and a small transformer coil.

"I suppose this is a direct-current lighting circuit," he remarked,
thoughtfully regarding his find. "I think I know what this is, all
right. Any amateur could do it, with a little knowledge of electricity
and a source of direct current. The thing is easily constructed, the
materials are common, and a wonderfully complicated result can be
obtained. What's this?"

He had continued to poke about in the darkness as he was speaking. In
another corner he had discovered two ordinary telephone receivers.

"Connected up with something, too, by George!" he ejaculated.

Evidently some one had tapped the regular telephone wires running into
the house, had run extensions into the little storeroom, and was
prepared to overhear everything that was said either to or by those in
the house.

Further examination disclosed that there were two separate telephone
systems running into Brixton's house. One, with its many extensions,
was used by the household and by the housekeeper; the other was the
private wire which led, ultimately, down into Brixton's den. No sooner
had he discovered it than Kennedy became intensely interested. For the
moment he seemed entirely to forget the electric-light wires and became
absorbed in tracing out the course of the telephone trunk-line and its
extensions. Continued search rewarded him with the discovery that both
the household line and the private line were connected by hastily
improvised extensions with the two receivers he had discovered in the
out-of-the-way corner of a little dark storeroom.

"Don't disturb a thing," remarked Kennedy, cautiously picking up even
the burnt matches he had dropped in his hasty search. "We must devise
some means of catching the eavesdropper red handed. It has all the
marks of being an inside job."

We had completed our investigation of the basement without attracting
any attention, and Craig was careful to make it seem that in entering
the library we came from the den, not from the cellar. As we waited in
the big leather chairs Kennedy was sketching roughly on a sheet of
paper the plan of the house, drawing in the location of the various
wires.

The door opened. We had expected John Brixton. Instead, a tall, spare
foreigner with a close-cropped moustache entered. I knew at once that
it must be Count Wachtmann, although I had never seen him.

"Ah, I beg your pardon," he exclaimed in English which betrayed that he
had been under good teachers in London. "I thought Miss Brixton was
here."

"Count Wachtmann?" interrogated Kennedy, rising.

"The same," he replied easily, with a glance of inquiry at us.

"My friend and I are from the Star" said Kennedy.

"Ah! Gentlemen of the press?" He elevated his eyebrows the fraction of
an inch. It was so politely contemptuous that I could almost have
throttled him.

"We are waiting to see Mr. Brixton," explained Kennedy.

"What is the latest from the Near East?" Wachtmann asked, with the air
of a man expecting to hear what he could have told you yesterday if he
had chosen.

There was a movement of the portieres, and a woman entered. She stopped
a moment. I knew it was Miss Brixton. She had recognised Kennedy, but
her part was evidently to treat him as a total stranger.

"Who are these men, Conrad?" she asked, turning to Wachtmann.

"Gentlemen of the press, I believe, to see your father, Yvonne,"
replied the count.

It was evident that it had not been mere newspaper talk about this
latest rumored international engagement.

"How did you enjoy it?" he asked, noticing the title of a history which
she had come to replace in the library.

"Very well--all but the assassinations and the intrigues," she replied
with a little shudder.

He shot a quick, searching look at her face. "They are a violent
people--some of them," he commented quickly.

"You are going into town to-morrow?" I heard him ask Miss Brixton, as
they walked slowly down the wide hall to the conservatory a few moments
later.

"What do you think of him?" I whispered to Kennedy.

I suppose my native distrust of his kind showed through, for Craig
merely shrugged his shoulders. Before he could reply Mr. Brixton joined
us.

"There's another one--just came," he ejaculated, throwing a letter down
on the library table. It was only a few lines this time:

"The bonds will not be subject to a tax by the government, they say.
No--because if there is a war there won't be any government to tax
them!"

The note did not appear to interest Kennedy as much as what he had
discovered. "One thing is self-evident, Mr. Brixton," he remarked.
"Some one inside this house is spying, is in constant communication
with a person or persons outside. All the watchmen and Great Danes on
the estate are of no avail against the subtle, underground connection
that I believe exists. It is still early in the afternoon. I shall make
a hasty trip to New York and return after dinner. I should like to
watch with you in the den this evening."

"Very well," agreed Brixton. "I shall arrange to have you met at the
station and brought here as secretly as I can."

He sighed, as if admitting that he was no longer master of even his own
house.

Kennedy was silent during most of our return trip to New York. As for
myself, I was deeply mired in an attempt to fathom Wachtmann. He
baffled me. However, I felt that if there was indeed some subtle,
underground connection between some one inside and someone outside
Brixton's house, Craig would prepare an equally subtle method of
meeting it on his own account. Very little was said by either of us on
the journey up to the laboratory, or on the return to Woodrock. I
realised that there was very little excuse for a commuter not to be
well informed. I, at least, had plenty of time to exhaust the
newspapers I had bought.

Whether or not we returned without being observed, I did not know, but
at least we did find that the basement and dark storeroom were
deserted, as we cautiously made our way again it to the corner where
Craig had made his enigmatical discoveries of the afternoon.

While I held a pocket flashlight Craig was busy concealing another
instrument of his own in the little storeroom. It seemed to be a little
black disk about as big as a watch, with a number of perforated holes
in one face. Carelessly he tossed it into the top drawer of the chest
under some old rubbish, shut the drawer tight and ran a flexible wire
out of the back of the chest. It was a simple matter to lay the wire
through some bins next the storeroom and then around to the passageway
down to the subterranean den of Brixton. There Craig deposited a little
black box about the size of an ordinary kodak.

For an hour or so we sat with Brixton. Neither of us said anything, and
Brixton was uncommunicatively engaged in reading a railroad report.
Suddenly a sort of muttering, singing noise seemed to fill the room.

"There it is!" cried Brixton, clapping the book shut and looking
eagerly at Kennedy.

Gradually the sound increased in pitch. It seemed to come from the
ceiling, not from any particular part of the room, but merely from
somewhere overhead. There was no hallucination about it. We all heard.
As the vibrations increased it was evident that they were shaping
themselves into words.

Kennedy had grasped the black box the moment the sound began and was
holding two black rubber disks to his ears.

At last the sound from overhead became articulate It was weird,
uncanny. Suddenly a voice said distinctly: "Let American dollars
beware. They will not protect American daughters."

Craig had dropped the two ear-pieces and was gazing intently at the
Osram lamp in the ceiling. Was he, too, crazy?

"Here, Mr. Brixton, take these two receivers of the detectaphone," said
Kennedy. "Tell me whether you can recognise the voice."

"Why, it's familiar," he remarked slowly. "I can't place it, but I've
heard it before. Where is it? What is this thing, anyhow?"

"It is someone hidden in the storeroom in the basement," answered
Craig. "He is talking into a very sensitive telephone transmitter and--"

"But the voice--here?" interrupted Brixton impatiently.

Kennedy pointed to the incandescent lamp in the ceiling. "The
incandescent lamp," he said, "is not always the mute electrical
apparatus it is supposed to be. Under the right conditions it can be
made to speak exactly as the famous 'speaking-arc,' as it was called by
Professor Duddell, who investigated it. Both the arc-light and the
metal-filament lamp can be made to act as telephone receivers."

It seemed unbelievable, but Kennedy was positive. "In the case of the
speaking-arc or 'arcophone,' as it might be called," he continued, "the
fact that the electric arc is sensitive to such small variations in the
current over a wide range of frequency has suggested that a
direct-current arc might be used as a telephone receiver. All that is
necessary is to superimpose a microphone current on the main arc
current, and the arc reproduces sounds and speech distinctly, loud
enough to be heard several feet. Indeed, the arc could be used as a
transmitter, too, if a sensitive receiver replaced the transmitter at
the other end. The things needed are an arc-lamp, an impedance coil, or
small transformer-coil, a rheostat, and a source of energy. The
alternating current is not adapted to reproduce speech, but the
ordinary direct current is. Of course, the theory isn't half as simple
as the apparatus I have described."

He had unscrewed the Osram lamp. The talking ceased immediately.

"Two investigators named Ort and Ridger have used a lamp like this as a
receiver," he continued. "They found that words spoken were reproduced
in the lamp. The telephonic current variations superposed on the
current passing through the lamp produce corresponding variations of
heat in the filament, which are radiated to the glass of the bulb,
causing it to expand and contract proportionately, and thus
transmitting vibrations to the exterior air. Of course, in sixteen-and
thirty-two-candle-power lamps the glass is too thick, and the heat
variations are too feeble."

Who was it whose voice Brixton had recognised as familiar over
Kennedy's hastily installed detectaphone? Certainly he must have been a
scientist of no mean attainment. That did not surprise me, for I
realised that from that part of Europe where this mystical Red
Brotherhood operated some of the most famous scientists of the world
had sprung.

A hasty excursion into the basement netted us nothing. The place was
deserted.

We could only wait. With parting instructions to Brixton in the use of
the detectaphone we said good night, were met by a watchman and
escorted as far as the lodge safely.

Only one remark did Kennedy make as we settled ourselves for the long
ride in the accommodation train to the city. "That warning means that
we have two people to protect--both Brixton and his daughter."

Speculate as I might, I could find no answer to the mystery, nor to the
question, which was also unsolved, as to the queer malady of Brixton
himself, which his physician diagnosed as jaundice.



VI

THE DETECTAPHONE


Far after midnight though it had been when we had at last turned in at
our apartment, Kennedy was up even earlier than usual in the morning. I
found him engrossed in work at the laboratory.

"Just in time to see whether I'm right in my guess about the illness of
Brixton," he remarked, scarcely looking up at me.

He had taken a flask with a rubber stopper. Through one hole in it was
fitted a long funnel; through another ran a glass tube, connecting with
a large U-shaped drying-tube filled with calcium chloride, which in
turn connected with a long open tube with an up-turned end.

Into the flask Craig dropped some pure granulated zinc coated with
platinum. Then he covered it with dilute sulphuric acid through the
funnel tube. "That forms hydrogen gas," he explained, "which passes
through the drying-tube and the ignition-tube. Wait a moment until all
the air is expelled from the tubes."

He lighted a match and touched it to the open upturned end. The
hydrogen, now escaping freely, was ignited with a pale-blue flame.

Next, he took the little piece of wall-paper I had seen him tear off in
the den, scraped off some powder from it, dissolved it, and poured it
into the funnel-tube.

Almost immediately the pale, bluish flame turned to bluish white, and
white fumes were formed. In the ignition-tube a sort of metallic
deposit appeared. Quickly he made one test after another. I sniffed.
There was an unmistakable smell of garlic in the air.

"Arseniureted hydrogen," commented Craig. "This is the Marsh test for
arsenic. That wall-paper in Brixton's den has been loaded down with
arsenic, probably Paris green or Schweinfurth green, which is
aceto-arsenite of copper. Every minute he is there he is breathing
arseniureted hydrogen. Some one has contrived to introduce free
hydrogen into the intake of his ventilator. That acts on the arsenic
compounds in the wall-paper and hangings and sets free the gas. I
thought I knew the smell the moment I got a whiff of it. Besides, I
could tell by the jaundiced look of his face that he was being
poisoned. His liver was out of order, and arsenic seems to accumulate
in the liver."

"Slowly poisoned by minute quantities of gas," I repeated in amazement.
"Some one in that Red Brotherhood is a diabolical genius. Think of
it--poisoned wall-paper!"

It was still early in the forenoon when Kennedy excused himself, and
leaving me to my own devices disappeared on one of his excursions into
the underworld of the foreign settlements on the East Side. About the
middle of the afternoon he reappeared. As far as I could learn all that
he had found out was that the famous, or rather infamous, Professor
Michael Kumanova, one of the leaders of the Red Brotherhood, was known
to be somewhere in this country.

We lost no time in returning again to Woodrock late that afternoon.
Craig hastened to warn Brixton of his peril from the contaminated
atmosphere of the den, and at once a servant was set to work with a
vacuum cleaner.

Carefully Craig reconnoitred the basement where the eavesdropping
storeroom was situated. Finding it deserted, he quickly set to work
connecting the two wires of the general household telephone with what
looked very much like a seamless iron tube, perhaps six inches long and
three inches in diameter. Then he connected the tube also with the
private wire of Brixton in a similar manner.

"This is a special repeating-coil of high efficiency," he explained in
answer to my inquiry. "It is absolutely balanced as to resistance,
number of turns, and everything. I shall run this third line from the
coil into Brixton's den, and then, if you like, you can accompany me on
a little excursion down to the village where I am going to install
another similar coil between the two lines at the local telephone
central station opposite the railroad."

Brixton met us about eight o'clock that night in his now renovated den.
Apparently, even the little change from uncertainty to certainty so far
had had a tonic effect on him. I had, however, almost given up the
illusion that it was possible for us to be even in the den without
being watched by an unseen eye. It seemed to me that to one who could
conceive of talking through an incandescent lamp seeing, even through
steel and masonry, was not impossible.

Kennedy had brought with him a rectangular box of oak, in one of the
large faces of which were two square boles. As he replaced the black
camera-like box of the detectaphone with this oak box he remarked:
"This is an intercommunicating telephone arrangement of the
detectaphone. You see, it is more sensitive than anything of the sort
ever made before. The arrangement of these little square holes is such
as to make them act as horns or magnifiers of a double receiver. We can
all hear at once what is going on by using this machine."

We had not been waiting long before a peculiar noise seemed to issue
from the detectaphone. It was as though a door had been opened and shut
hastily. Some one had evidently entered the storeroom. A voice called
up the railroad station and asked for Michael Kronski, Count
Wachtmann's chauffeur.

"It is the voice I heard last night," exclaimed Brixton. "By the Lord
Harry, do you know, it is Janeff the engineer who has charge of the
steam heating, the electric bells, and everything of the sort around
the place. My own engineer--I'll land the fellow in jail before I'll--"

Kennedy raised his hand. "Let us hear what he has to say," remonstrated
Craig calmly. "I suppose you have wondered why I didn't just go down
there last night and grab the fellow. Well, you see now. It is my
invariable rule to get the man highest up. This fellow is only one
tool. Arrest him, and as likely as not we should allow the big criminal
to escape."

"Hello, Kronski!" came over the detectaphone. "This is Janeff. How are
things going?"

Wachtmann's chauffeur must have answered that everything was all right.

"You knew that they had discovered the poisoned wall-paper?" asked
Janeff.

A long parley followed. Finally, Janeff repeated what apparently had
been his instructions. "Now, let me see," he said. "You want me to stay
here until the last minute so that I can overhear whether any alarm is
given for her? All right. You're sure it is the nine-o'clock train she
is due on? Very well. I shall meet you at the ferry across the Hudson.
I'll start from here as soon as I hear the train come in. We'll get the
girl this time. That will bring Brixton to terms sure. You're right.
Even if we fail this time, we'll succeed later. Don't fail me. I'll be
at the ferry as soon as I can get past the guards and join you. There
isn't a chance of an alarm from the house. I'll cut all the wires the
last thing before I leave. Good-bye."

All at once it dawned on me what they were planning--the kidnapping of
Brixton's only daughter, to hold her, perhaps, as a hostage until he
did the bidding of the gang. Wachtmann's chauffeur was doing it and
using Wachtmann's car, too. Was Wachtmann a party to it?

What was to be done? I looked at my watch. It was already only a couple
of minutes of nine, when the train would be due.

"If we could seize that fellow in the closet and start for the station
immediately we might save Yvonne," cried Brixton, starting for the door.

"And if they escape you make them more eager than ever to strike a blow
at you and yours," put in Craig coolly. "No, let us get this thing
straight. I didn't think it was as serious as this, but I'm prepared to
meet any emergency."

"But, man," shouted Brixton, "you don't suppose anything in the world
counts beside her, do you?"

"Exactly the point," urged Craig. "Save her and capture them--both at
once."

"How can you?" fumed Brixton. "If you attempt to telephone from here,
that fellow Janeff will overhear and give a warning."

Regardless of whether Janeff was listening or not, Kennedy was eagerly
telephoning to the Woodrock central down in the village. He was using
the transmitter and receiver that were connected with the iron tube
which he had connected to the two regular house lines.

"Have the ferry held at any cost," he was ordering. "Don't let the next
boat go out until Mr. Brixton gets there, under any circumstances. Now
put that to them straight, central. You know Mr. Brixton has just a
little bit of influence around here, and somebody's head will drop if
they let that boat go out before he gets there."

"Humph!" ejaculated Brixton. "Much good that will do. Why, I suppose
our friend Janeff down in the storeroom knows it all now. Come on,
let's grab him."

Nevertheless there was no sound from the detectaphone which would
indicate that he had overheard and was spreading the alarm. He was
there yet, for we could hear him clear his throat once or twice.

"No," replied Kennedy calmly, "he knows nothing about it. I didn't use
any ordinary means to prepare against the experts who have brought this
situation about. That message you heard me send went out over what we
call the 'phantom circuit.'"

"The phantom circuit?" repeated Brixton, chafing at the delay.

"Yes, it seems fantastic at first, I suppose," pursued Kennedy calmly;
"but, after all, it is in accordance with the laws of electricity. It's
no use fretting and fuming, Mr. Brixton. If Janeff can wait, we'll have
to do so, too. Suppose we should start and this Kronski should change
his plans at the last minute? How would we find it out? By telepathy?
Believe me, sir, it is better to wait here a minute and trust to the
phantom circuit than to mere chance."

"But suppose he should cut the line," I put in.

Kennedy smiled. "I have provided for that, Walter, in the way I
installed the thing. I took good care that we could not be cut off that
way. We can hear everything ourselves, but we cannot be overheard. He
knows nothing. You see, I took advantage of the fact that additional
telephones or so-called phantom lines can be superposed on existing
physical lines. It is possible to obtain a third circuit from two
similar metallic circuits by using for each side of this third circuit
the two wires of each of the other circuits in multiple. All three
circuits are independent, too.

"The third telephone current enters the wires of the first circuit, as
it were, and returns along the wires of the second circuit. There are
several ways of doing it. One is to use retardation or choke-coils
bridged across the two metallic circuits at both ends, with taps taken
from the middle points of each. But the more desirable method is the
one you saw me install this afternoon. I introduced repeating-coils
into the circuits at both ends. Technically, the third circuit is then
taken off from the mid-points of the secondaries or line windings of
these repeating coils.

"The current on a long-distance line is alternating in character, and
it passes readily through a repeating-coil. The only effect it has on
the transmission is slightly reducing the volume. The current passes
into the repeating-coil, then divides and passes through the two line
wires. At the other end the halves balance, so to speak. Thus, currents
passing over a phantom circuit don't set up currents in the terminal
apparatus of the side circuits. Consequently, a conversation carried on
over the phantom circuit will not be heard in either side circuit, nor
does a conversation on one side circuit affect the phantom. We could
all talk at once without interfering with each other."

"At any other time I should be more than interested," remarked Brixton
grimly, curbing his impatience to be doing something.

"I appreciate that, sir," rejoined Kennedy. "Ah, here it is. I have the
central down in the village. Yes? They will hold the boat for us? Good.
Thank you. The nine-o'clock train is five minutes late? Yes--what?
Count Wachtmann's car is there? Oh, yes, the train is just pulling in.
I see. Miss Brixton has entered his car alone. What's that? His
chauffeur has started the car without waiting for the Count, who is
coming down the platform?"

Instantly Kennedy was on his feet. He was dashing up the corridor and
the stairs from the den and down into the basement to the little
storeroom.

We burst into the place. It was empty. Janeff had cut the wires and
fled. There was not a moment to lose. Craig hastily made sure that he
had not discovered or injured the phantom circuit.

"Call the fastest car you have in your garage, Mr. Brixton," ordered
Kennedy. "Hello, hello, central! Get the lodge at the Brixton estate.
Tell them if they see the engineer Janeff going out to stop him. Alarm
the watchman and have the dogs ready. Catch him at any cost, dead, or
alive."

A moment later Brixton's car raced around, and we piled in and were off
like a whirlwind. Already we could see lights moving about and hear the
baying of dogs. Personally, I wouldn't have given much for Janeff's
chances of escape.

As we turned the bend in the road just before we reached the ferry, we
almost ran into two cars standing before the ferry house. It looked as
though one had run squarely in front of the other and blocked it off.
In the slip the ferry boat was still steaming and waiting.

Beside the wrecked car a man was lying on the ground groaning, while
another man was quieting a girl whom he was leading to the waiting-room
of the ferry.

Brixton, weak though he was from his illness, leaped out of our car
almost before we stopped and caught the girl in his arms.

"Father!" she exclaimed, clinging to him.

"What's this?" he demanded sternly, eying the man. It was Wachtmann
himself.

"Conrad saved me from that chauffeur of his," explained Miss Brixton.
"I met him on the train, and we were going to ride up to the house
together. But before Conrad could get into the car this fellow, who had
the engine running, started it. Conrad jumped into another car that was
waiting at the station. He overlook us and dodged in front so as to cut
the chauffeur off from the ferry."

"Curse that villain of a chauffeur," muttered Wachtmann, looking down
at the wounded man.

"Do you know who he is?" asked Craig with a searching glance at
Wachtmann's face.

"I ought to. His name is Kronski, and a blacker devil an employment
bureau never furnished."

"Kronski? No," corrected Kennedy. "It is Professor Kumanova, whom you
perhaps have heard of as a leader of the Red Brotherhood, one of the
cleverest scientific criminals who ever lived. I think you'll have no
more trouble negotiating your loan or your love affair, Count," added
Craig, turning on his heel.

He was in no mood to receive the congratulations of the supercilious
Wachtmann. As far as Craig was concerned, the case was finished,
although I fancied from a flicker of his eye as he made some passing
reference to the outcome that when he came to send in a bill to Brixton
for his services he would not forget the high eyebrowed Count.

I followed in silence as Craig climbed into the Brixton car and
explained to the banker that it was imperative that he should get back
to the city immediately. Nothing would do but that the car must take us
all the way back, while Brixton summoned another from the house for
himself.

The ride was accomplished swiftly in record time. Kennedy said little.
Apparently the exhilaration of the on-rush of cool air was quite in
keeping with his mood, though for my part, I should have preferred
something a little more relaxing of the nervous tension.

"We've been at it five days, now," I remarked wearily as I dropped into
an easy chair in our own quarters. "Are you going to keep up this
debauch?"

Kennedy laughed.

"No," he said with a twinkle of scientific mischief, "no, I'm going to
sleep it off."

"Thank heaven!" I muttered.

"Because," he went on seriously, "that case interrupted a long series
of tests I am making on the sensitiveness of selenium to light, and I
want to finish them up soon. There's no telling when I shall be called
on to use the information."

I swallowed hard. He really meant it. He was laying out more work for
himself.

Next morning I fully expected to find that he had gone. Instead he was
preparing for what he called a quiet day in the laboratory.

"Now for some REAL work," he smiled. "Sometimes, Walter, I feel that I
ought to give up this outside activity and devote myself entirely to
research. It is so much more important."

I could only stare at him and reflect on how often men wanted to do
something other than the very thing that nature had evidently intended
them to do, and on how fortunate it was that we were not always free
agents.

He set out for the laboratory and I determined that as long as he would
not stop working, neither would I. I tried to write. Somehow I was not
in the mood. I wrote AT my story, but succeeded only in making it more
unintelligible. I was in no fit condition for it.

It was late in the afternoon. I had made up my mind to use force, if
necessary, to separate Kennedy from his study of selenium. My idea was
that anything from the Metropolitan to the "movies" would do him good,
and I had almost carried my point when a big, severely plain black
foreign limousine pulled up with a rush at the laboratory door. A large
man in a huge fur coat jumped out and the next moment strode into the
room. He needed no introduction, for we recognised at once J. Perry
Spencer, one of the foremost of American financiers and a trustee of
the university.

With that characteristic directness which I have always thought
accounted in large measure for his success, he wasted scarcely a word
in coming straight to the object of his visit. "Professor Kennedy," he
began, chewing his cigar and gazing about with evident interest at the
apparatus Craig had collected in his warfare of science with crime, "I
have dropped in here as a matter of patriotism. I want you to preserve
to America those masterpieces of art and literature which I have
collected all over the world during many years. They are the objects of
one of the most curious pieces of vandalism of which I have ever heard.
Professor Kennedy," he concluded earnestly, "could I ask you to call on
Dr. Hugo Lith, the curator of my private museum, as soon as you can
possibly find it convenient?"

"Most assuredly, Mr. Spencer," replied Craig, with a whimsical side
glance at me that told without words that this was better relaxation to
him than either the Metropolitan or the "movies." "I shall be glad to
see Dr. Lith at any time--right now, if it is convenient to him."

The millionaire connoisseur consulted his watch. "Lith will be at the
museum until six, at least. Yes, we can catch him there. I have a
dinner engagement at seven myself. I can give you half an hour of the
time before then. If you're ready, just jump into the car, both of you."

The museum to which he referred was a handsome white marble building,
in Renaissance, fronting on a side street just off Fifth Avenue and in
the rear of the famous Spencer house, itself one of the show places of
that wonderful thoroughfare. Spencer had built the museum at great cost
simply to house those treasures which were too dear to him to entrust
to a public institution. It was in the shape of a rectangle and planned
with special care as to the lighting.

Dr. Lith, a rather stout, mild-eyed German savant, plunged directly
into the middle of things as soon as we had been introduced. "It is a
most remarkable affair, gentlemen," he began, placing for us chairs
that must have been hundreds of years old. "At first it was only those
objects in the museum, that were green that were touched, like the
collection of famous and historic French emeralds. But soon we found it
was other things, too, that were missing--old Roman coins of gold, a
collection of watches, and I know not what else until we have gone over
the--"

"Where is Miss White?" interrupted Spencer, who had been listening
somewhat impatiently.

"In the library, sir. Shall I call her?"

"No, I will go myself. I want her to tell her experience to Professor
Kennedy exactly as she told it to me. Explain while I am gone how
impossible it would be for a visitor to do one, to say nothing of all,
of the acts of vandalism we have discovered."



VII

THE GREEN CURSE


The American Medici disappeared into his main library, where Miss White
was making a minute examination to determine what damage had been done
in the realm over which she presided.

"Apparently every book with a green binding has been mutilated in some
way," resumed Dr. Lith, "but that was only the beginning. Others have
suffered, too, and some are even gone. It is impossible that any
visitor could have done it. Only a few personal friends of Mr. Spencer
are ever admitted here, and they are never alone. No, it is weird,
mysterious."

Just then Spencer returned with Miss White. She was an extremely
attractive girl, slight of figure, but with an air about her that all
the imported gowns in New York could not have conferred. They were
engaged in animated conversation, so much in contrast with the bored
air with which Spencer had listened to Dr. Lith that even I noticed
that the connoisseur was completely obliterated in the man, whose love
of beauty was by no means confined to the inanimate. I wondered if it
was merely his interest in her story that impelled Spencer. The more I
watched the girl the more I was convinced that she knew that she was
interesting to the millionaire.

"For example," Dr. Lith was saying, "the famous collection of emeralds
which has disappeared has always been what you Americans call
'hoodooed.' They hare always brought ill luck, and, like many things of
the sort to which superstition attaches, they have been 'banked,' so to
speak, by their successive owners in museums."

"Are they salable; that is, could any one dispose of the emeralds or
the other curios with reasonable safety and at a good price?"

"Oh, yes, yes," hastened Dr. Lith, "not as collections, but separately.
The emeralds alone cost fifty thousand dollars. I believe Mr. Spencer
bought them for Mrs. Spencer some years before she died. She did not
care to wear them, however, and had them placed here."

I thought I noticed a shade of annoyance cross the face of the magnate.
"Never mind that," he interrupted. "Let me introduce Miss White. I
think you will find her story one of the most uncanny you have ever
heard."

He had placed a chair for her and, still addressing us but looking at
her, went on: "It seems that the morning the vandalism was first
discovered she and Dr. Lith at once began a thorough search of the
building to ascertain the extent of the depredations. The search lasted
all day, and well into the night. I believe it was midnight before you
finished?"

"It was almost twelve," began the girl, in a musical voice that was too
Parisian to harmonize with her plain Anglo-Saxon name, "when Dr. Lith
was down here in his office checking off the objects in the catalogue
which were either injured or missing. I had been working in the
library. The noise of something like a shade flapping in the wind
attracted my attention. I listened. It seemed to come from the
art-gallery, a large room up-stairs where some of the greatest
masterpieces in this country are hung. I hurried up there.

"Just as I reached the door a strange feeling seemed to come over me
that I was not alone in that room. I fumbled for the electric light
switch, but in my nervousness could not find it. There was just enough
light in the room to make out objects indistinctly. I thought I heard a
low, moaning sound from an old Flemish copper ewer near me. I had heard
that it was supposed to groan at night."

She paused and shuddered at her recollection, and looked about as if
grateful for the flood of electric light that now illuminated
everything. Spencer reached over and touched her arm to encourage her
to go on. She did not seem to resent the touch.

"Opposite me, in the middle of the open floor," she resumed, her eyes
dilated and her breath coming and going rapidly, "stood the mummy-case
of Ka, an Egyptian priestess of Thebes, I think. The case was empty,
but on the lid was painted a picture of the priestess! Such wonderful
eyes! They seem to pierce right through your very soul. Often in the
daytime I have stolen off to look at them. But at night--remember the
hour of night, too--oh, it was awful, terrible. The lid of the
mummy-case moved, yes, really moved, and seemed to float to one side. I
could see it. And back of that carved and painted face with the
piercing eyes was another face, a real face, real eyes, and they looked
out at me with such hatred from the place that I knew was empty--"

She had risen and was facing us with wild terror written on her face as
if in appeal for protection against something she was powerless to
name. Spencer, who had not taken his hand off her arm, gently pressed
her back into the easy chair and finished the story.

"She screamed and fainted. Dr. Lith heard it and rushed up-stairs.
There she lay on the floor. The lid of the sarcophagus had really been
moved. He saw it. Not a thing else had been disturbed. He carried her
down here and revived her, told her to rest for a day or two, but--"

"I cannot, I cannot," she cried. "It is the fascination of the thing.
It brings me back here. I dream of it. I thought I saw those eyes the
other night. They haunt me. I fear them, and yet I would not avoid
them, if it killed me to look. I must meet and defy the power. What is
it? Is it a curse four thousand years old that has fallen on me?"

I had heard stories of mummies that rose from their sleep of centuries
to tell the fate of some one when it was hanging in the balance, of
mummies that groaned and gurgled and fought for breath, frantically
beating with their swathed hands in the witching hours of the night.
And I knew that the lure of these mummies was so strong for some people
that they were drawn irresistibly to look upon and confer with them.
Was this a case for the oculists, the spiritualists, the Egyptologists,
or for a detective?

"I should like to examine the art gallery, in fact, go over the whole
museum," put in Kennedy in his most matter-of-fact tone.

Spencer, with a glance at his watch, excused himself, nodding to Dr.
Lith to show us about, and with a good night to Miss White which was
noticeable for its sympathy with her fears, said, "I shall be at the
house for another half-hour at least, in case anything really important
develops."

A few minutes later Miss White left for the night, with apparent
reluctance, and yet, I thought, with just a little shudder as she
looked back up the staircase that led to the art-gallery.

Dr. Lith led us into a large vaulted marble hall and up a broad flight
of steps, past beautiful carvings and frescoes that I should have liked
to stop and admire.

The art-gallery was a long room in the interior and at the top of the
building, windowless but lighted by a huge double skylight each half of
which must have been some eight or ten feet across. The light falling
through this skylight passed through plate glass of marvellous
transparency. One looked up at the sky as if through the air itself.

Kennedy ignored the gallery's profusion of priceless art for the time
and went directly to the mummy-case of the priestess Ka.

"It has a weird history," remarked Dr. Lith. "No less than seven
deaths, as well as many accidents, have been attributed to the malign
influence of that greenish yellow coffin. You know the ancient
Egyptians used to chant as they buried their sacred dead: 'Woe to him
who injures the tomb. The dead shall point out the evildoer to the
Devourer of the Underworld. Soul and body shall be destroyed.'"

It was indeed an awesome thing. It represented a woman in the robes of
an Egyptian priestess, a woman of medium height, with an inscrutable
face. The slanting Egyptian eyes did, as Miss White had said, almost
literally stare through you. I am sure that any one possessing a nature
at all affected by such things might after a few minutes gazing at them
in self-hypnotism really convince himself that the eyes moved and were
real. Even as I turned and looked the other way I felt that those
penetrating eyes were still looking at me, never asleep, always keen
and searching.

There was no awe about Kennedy. He carefully pushed aside the lid and
peered inside. I almost expected to see some one in there. A moment
later he pulled out his magnifying-glass and carefully examined the
interior. At last he was apparently satisfied with his search. He had
narrowed his attention down to a few marks on the stone, partly in the
thin layer of dust that had collected on the bottom.

"This was a very modern and material reincarnation," he remarked, as he
rose. "If I am not mistaken, the apparition wore shoes, shoes with
nails in the heels, and nails that are not like those in American
shoes. I shall have to compare the marks I have found with marks I have
copied from shoe-nails in the wonderful collection of M. Bertillon.
Offhand, I should say that the shoes were of French make."

The library having been gone over next without anything attracting
Kennedy's attention particularly, he asked about the basement or
cellar. Dr. Lith lighted the way, and we descended.

Down there were innumerable huge packing-cases which had just arrived
from abroad, full of the latest consignment of art treasures which
Spencer had purchased. Apparently Dr. Lith and Miss White had been so
engrossed in discovering what damage had been done to the art treasures
above that they had not had time to examine the new ones in the
basement.

Kennedy's first move was to make a thorough search of all the little
grated windows and a door which led out into a sort of little areaway
for the removal of ashes and refuse. The door showed no evidence of
having been tampered with, nor did any of the windows at first sight. A
low exclamation from Kennedy brought us to his side. He had opened one
of the windows and thrust his hand out against the grating, which had
fallen on the outside pavement with a clang. The bars had been
completely and laboriously sawed through, and the whole thing had been
wedged back into place so that nothing would be detected at a cursory
glance. He was regarding the lock on the window. Apparently it was all
right; actually it had been sprung so that it was useless.

"Most persons," he remarked, "don't know enough about jimmies. Against
them an ordinary door-lock or window-catch is no protection. With a
jimmy eighteen inches long even an anaemic burglar can exert a pressure
sufficient to lift two tons. Not one window in a thousand can stand
that strain. The only use of locks is to keep out sneak-thieves and
compel the modern scientific educated burglar to make a noise. But
making a noise isn't enough here, at night. This place with all its
fabulous treasures must be guarded constantly, now, every hour, as if
the front door were wide open."

The bars replaced and the window apparently locked as before, Craig
devoted his efforts to examining the packing cases in the basement. As
yet apparently nothing down there had been disturbed. But while
rummaging about, from an angle formed behind one of the cases he drew
forth a cane, to all appearances an ordinary Malacca walking-stick. He
balanced it in his hand a moment, then shook his head.

"Too heavy for a Malacca," he ruminated. Then an idea seemed to occur
to him. He gave the handle a twist. Sure enough, it came off, and as it
did so a bright little light flashed up.

"Well, what do you think of that?" he exclaimed. "For a scientific
dark-lantern that is the neatest thing I have ever seen. An electric
light cane, with a little incandescent lamp and a battery hidden in it.
This grows interesting. We must at last have found the cache of a real
gentleman burglar such as Bertillon says exists only in books. I wonder
if he has anything else hidden back here."

He reached down and pulled out a peculiar little instrument--a single
blue steel cylinder. He fitted a hard rubber cap snugly into the palm
of his hand, and with the first and middle fingers encircled the
cylinder over a steel ring near the other end.

A loud report followed, and a vase, just unpacked, at the opposite end
of the basement was shattered as if by an explosion.

"Phew!" exclaimed Kennedy. "I didn't mean to do that. I knew the thing
was loaded, but I had no idea the hair-spring ring at the end was so
delicate as to shoot it off at a touch. It's one of those aristocratic
little Apache pistols that one can carry in his vest pocket and hide in
his hand. Say, but that stung! And back here is a little box of
cartridges, too."

We looked at each other in amazement at the chance find. Apparently the
vandal had planned a series of visits.

"Now, let me see," resumed Kennedy. "I suppose our very human but none
the less mysterious intruder expected to use these again. Well, let him
try. I'll put them back here for the present. I want to watch in the
art-gallery to-night."

I could not help wondering whether, after all, it might not be an
inside job and the fixing of the window merely a blind. Or was the
vandal fascinated by the subtle influence of mysticism that so often
seems to emanate from objects that have come down from the remote ages
of the world? I could not help asking myself whether the story that
Miss White had told was absolutely true. Had there been anything more
than superstition in the girl's evident fright? She had seen something,
I felt sure, for it was certain she was very much disturbed. But what
was it she had really seen? So far all that Kennedy had found had
proved that the reincarnation of the priestess Ka had been very
material. Perhaps the "reincarnation" had got in in the daytime and had
spent the hours until night in the mummy-case. It might well have been
chosen as the safest and least suspicious hiding-place.

Kennedy evidently had some ideas and plans, for no sooner had he
completed arrangements with Dr. Lith so that we could get into the
museum that night to watch, than he excused himself. Scarcely around
the corner on the next business street he hurried into a telephone
booth.

"I called up First Deputy O'Connor," he explained as he left the booth
a quarter of an hour later. "You know it is the duty of two of
O'Connor's men to visit all the pawn-shops of the city at least once a
week, looking over recent pledges and comparing them with descriptions
of stolen articles. I gave him a list from that catalogue of Dr. Lith's
and I think that if any of the emeralds, for instance, have been pawned
his men will be on the alert and will find it out."

We had a leisurely dinner at a near-by hotel, during most of which time
Kennedy gazed vacantly at his food. Only once did he mention the case,
and that was almost as if he were thinking aloud.

"Nowadays," he remarked, "criminals are exceptionally well informed.
They used to steal only money and jewels; to-day it is famous pictures
and antiques also. They know something about the value of antique
bronze and marble. In fact, the spread of a taste for art has taught
the enterprising burglar that such things are worth money, and he, in
turn, has educated up the receivers of stolen goods to pay a reasonable
percentage of the value of his artistic plunder. The success of the
European art thief is enlightening the American thief. That's why I
think we'll find some of this stuff in the hands of the professional
fences."

It was still early in the evening when we returned to the museum and
let ourselves in with the key that Dr. Lith had loaned Kennedy. He had
been anxious to join us in the watch, but Craig had diplomatically
declined, a circumstance that puzzled me and set me thinking that
perhaps he suspected the curator himself.

We posted ourselves in an angle where we could not possibly be seen
even if the full force of the electrolier were switched on. Hour after
hour we waited. But nothing happened. There were strange and weird
noises in plenty, not calculated to reassure one, but Craig was always
ready with an explanation.

It was in the forenoon of the day after our long and unfruitful vigil
in the art-gallery that Dr. Lith himself appeared at our apartment in a
great state of perturbation.

"Miss White has disappeared," he gasped, in answer to Craig's hurried
question. "When I opened the museum, she was not there as she is
usually. Instead, I found this note."

He laid the following hastily written message on the table:

     Do not try to follow me. It is the green curse that has
     pursued me from Paris. I cannot escape it, but I may prevent
     it from affecting others.

                                    LUCILLE WHITE.

That was all. We looked at each other at a loss to understand the
enigmatic wording--"the green curse."

"I rather expected something of the sort," observed Kennedy. "By the
way, the shoenails were French, as I surmised. They show the marks of
French heels. It was Miss White herself who hid in the mummy-case."

"Impossible," exclaimed Dr. Lith incredulously. As for myself, I had
learned that it was of no use being incredulous with Kennedy.

A moment later the door opened, and one of O'Connor's men came in
bursting with news. Some of the emeralds had been discovered in a Third
Avenue pawn-shop. O'Connor, mindful of the historic fate of the Mexican
Madonna and the stolen statue of the Egyptian goddess Neith, had
instituted a thorough search with the result that at least part of the
pilfered jewels had been located. There was only one clue to the thief,
but it looked promising. The pawnbroker described him as "a crazy
Frenchman of an artist," tall, with a pointed black beard. In pawning
the jewels he had given the name of Edouard Delaverde, and the city
detectives were making a canvass of the better known studios in hope of
tracing him.

Kennedy, Dr. Lith and myself walked around to the boarding-house where
Miss White lived. There was nothing about it, from the landlady to the
gossip, to distinguish it from scores of other places of the better
sort. We had no trouble in finding out that Miss White had not returned
home at all the night before. The landlady seemed to look on her as a
woman of mystery, and confided to us that it was an open secret that
she was not an American at all, but a French girl whose name, she
believed, was really Lucille Leblanc--which, after all, was White.
Kennedy made no comment, but I wavered between the conclusions that she
had been the victim of foul play and that she might be the criminal
herself, or at least a member of a band of criminals.

No trace of her could be found through the usual agencies for locating
missing persons. It was the middle of the afternoon, however, when word
came to us that one of the city detectives had apparently located the
studio of Delaverde. It was coupled with the interesting information
that the day before a woman roughly answering the description of Miss
White had been seen there. Delaverde himself was gone.

The building to which the detective took us was down-town in a
residence section which had remained as a sort of little eddy to one
side of the current of business that had swept everything before it
up-town. It was an old building and large, and was entirely given over
to studios of artists.

Into one of the cheapest of the suites we were directed. It was almost
bare of furniture and in a peculiarly shiftless state of disorder. A
half-finished picture stood in the centre of the room, and several
completed ones were leaning against the wall. They were of the wildest
character imaginable. Even the conceptions of the futurists looked tame
in comparison.

Kennedy at once began rummaging and exploring. In a corner of a
cupboard near the door he disclosed a row of dark-colored bottles. One
was filled halfway with an emerald-green liquid.

He held it up to the light and read the label, "Absinthe."

"Ah," he exclaimed with evident interest, looking first at the bottle
and then at the wild, formless pictures. "Our crazy Frenchman was an
absintheur. I thought the pictures were rather the product of a
disordered mind than of genius."

He replaced the bottle, adding: "It is only recently that our own
government placed a ban on the importation of that stuff as a result of
the decision of the Department of Agriculture that it was dangerous to
health and conflicted with the pure food law. In France they call it
the 'scourge,' the 'plague,' the 'enemy,' the 'queen of poisons.'
Compared with other alcoholic beverages it has the greatest toxicity of
all. There are laws against the stuff in France, Switzerland, and
Belgium. It isn't the alcohol alone, although there is from fifty to
eighty per cent. in it, that makes it so deadly. It is the absinthe,
the oil of wormwood, whose bitterness has passed into a proverb. The
active principle absinthin is a narcotic poison. The stuff creates a
habit most insidious and difficult to break, a longing more exacting
than hunger. It is almost as fatal as cocaine in its blasting effects
on mind and body.

"Wormwood," he pursued, still rummaging about, "has a special affinity
for the brain-cells and the nervous system in general. It produces a
special affliction of the mind, which might be called absinthism. Loss
of will follows its use, brutishness, softening of the brain. It gives
rise to the wildest hallucinations. Perhaps that was why our absintheur
chose first to destroy or steal all things green, as if there were some
merit in the colour, when he might have made away with so many more
valuable things. Absintheurs have been known to perform some of the
most intricate manoeuvres, requiring great skill and the use of
delicate tools. They are given to disappearing, and have no memory of
their actions afterward."

On an ink-spattered desk lay some books, including Lombroso's
"Degenerate Man" and "Criminal Woman." Kennedy glanced at them, then at
a crumpled manuscript that was stuck into a pigeonhole. It was written
in a trembling, cramped, foreign hand, evidently part of a book, or an
article.

"Oh, the wickedness of wealth!" it began. "While millions of the poor
toilers slave and starve and shiver, the slave-drivers of to-day, like
the slave-drivers of ancient Egypt, spend the money wrung from the
blood of the people in useless and worthless toys of art while the
people have no bread, in old books while the people have no homes, in
jewels while the people have no clothes. Thousands are spent on dead
artists, but a dollar is grudged to a living genius. Down with such
art! I dedicate my life to righting the wrongs of the proletariat. Vive
l'anarchism!"

The thing was becoming more serious. But by far the most serious
discovery in the now deserted studio was a number of large glass tubes
in a corner, some broken, others not yet used and standing in rows as
if waiting to be filled. A bottle labelled "Sulphuric Acid" stood at
one end of a shelf, while at the other was a huge jar full of black
grains, next a bottle of chlorate of potash. Kennedy took a few of the
black grains and placed them on a metal ash-tray. He lighted a match.
There was a puff and a little cloud of smoke.

"Ah," he exclaimed, "black gunpowder. Our absintheur was a bomb-maker,
an expert perhaps. Let me see. I imagine he was making an explosive
bomb, ingeniously contrived of five glass tubes. The centre one, I
venture, contained sulphuric acid and chlorate of potash separated by a
close-packed wad of cotton wool. Then the two tubes on each side
probably contained the powder, and perhaps the outside tubes were
filled with spirits of turpentine. When it is placed in position, it is
so arranged that the acid in the center tube is uppermost and will thus
gradually soak through the cotton wool and cause great heat and an
explosion by contact with the potash. That would ignite the powder in
the next tubes, and that would scatter the blazing turpentine, causing
a terrific explosion and a widespread fire. With an imperative idea of
vengeance, such as that manuscript discloses, either for his own wrongs
as an artist or for the fancied wrongs of the people, what may this
absintheur not be planning now? He has disappeared, but perhaps he may
be more dangerous if found than if lost."



VIII

THE MUMMY CASE


The horrible thought occurred to me that perhaps he was not alone. I
had seen Spencer's infatuation with his attractive librarian. The
janitor of the studio-building was positive that a woman answering her
description had been a visitor at the studio. Would she be used to get
at the millionaire and his treasures? Was she herself part of the plot
to victimise, perhaps kill, him? The woman had been much of an enigma
to me at first. She was more so now. It was barely possible that she,
too, was an absintheur, who had shaken off the curse for a time only to
relapse into it again.

If there were any thoughts like these passing through Kennedy's mind he
did not show it, at least not in the shape of hesitating in the course
he had evidently mapped out to follow. He said little, but hurried off
from the studio in a cab up-town again to the laboratory. A few minutes
later we were speeding down to the museum.

There was not much time for Craig to work if he hoped to be ready for
anything that might happen that night. He began by winding coil after
coil of copper wire about the storeroom in the basement of the museum.
It was not a very difficult matter to conceal it, so crowded was the
room, or to lead the ends out through a window at the opposite side
from that where the window had been broken open.

Up-stairs in the art-gallery he next installed several boxes such as
those which I had seen him experimenting with during his tests of
selenium on the afternoon when Mr. Spencer had first called on us. They
were camera-like boxes, about ten inches long, three inches or so wide,
and four inches deep.

One end was open, or at least looked as though the end had been shoved
several inches into the interior of the box. I looked into one of the
boxes and saw a slit in the wall that had been shoved in. Kennedy was
busy adjusting the apparatus, and paused only to remark that the boxes
contained two sensitive selenium surfaces balanced against two carbon
resistances. There was also in the box a clockwork mechanism which
Craig wound up and set ticking ever so softly. Then he moved a rod that
seemed to cover the slit, until the apparatus was adjusted to his
satisfaction, a delicate operation, judging by the care he took.
Several of these boxes were installed, and by that time it was quite
late.

Wires from the apparatus in the art-gallery also led outside, and these
as well as the wires from the coils down in the basement he led across
the bit of garden back of the Spencer house and up to a room on the top
floor. In the upper room he attached the wires from the storeroom to
what looked like a piece of crystal and a telephone receiver. Those
from the art-gallery terminated in something very much like the
apparatus which a wireless operator wears over his head.

Among other things which Craig had brought down from the laboratory was
a package which he had not yet unwrapped. He placed it near the window,
still wrapped. It was quite large, and must have weighed fifteen or
twenty pounds. That done, he produced a tape-measure and began, as if
he were a surveyor, to measure various distances and apparently to
calculate the angles and distances from the window-sill of the Spencer
house to the skylight, which was the exact centre of the museum. The
straight distance, if I recall correctly, was in the neighborhood of
four hundred feet.

These preparations completed, there was nothing left to do but to wait
for something to happen. Spencer had declined to get alarmed about our
fears for his own safety, and only with difficulty had we been able to
dissuade him from moving heaven and earth to find Miss White, a
proceeding which must certainly have disarranged Kennedy's carefully
laid plans. So interested was he that he postponed one of the most
important business conferences of the year, growing out of the
anti-trust suits, in order to be present with Dr. Lith and ourselves in
the little upper back room.

It was quite late when Kennedy completed his hasty arrangements, yet as
the night advanced we grew more and more impatient for something to
happen. Craig was apparently even more anxious than he had been the
night before, when we watched in the art-gallery itself. Spencer was
nervously smoking, lighting one cigar furiously from another until the
air was almost blue.

Scarcely a word was spoken as hour after hour Craig sat with the
receiver to his ear, connected with the coils down in the storeroom.
"You might call this an electric detective," he had explained to
Spencer. "For example, if you suspected that anything out of the way
was going on in a room anywhere this would report much to you even if
you were miles away. It is the discovery of a student of Thorne Baker,
the English electrical expert. He was experimenting with high-frequency
electric currents, investigating the nature of the discharges used for
electrifying certain things. Quite by accident he found that when the
room on which he was experimenting was occupied by some person his
measuring-instruments indicated that fact. He tested the degree of
variation by passing the current first through the room and then
through a sensitive crystal to a delicate telephone receiver. There was
a distinct change in the buzzing sound heard through the telephone when
the room was occupied or unoccupied. What I have done is to wind single
loops of plain wire on each side of that room down there, as well as to
wind around the room a few turns of concealed copper wire. These
collectors are fitted to a crystal of carborundum and a telephone
receiver."

We had each tried the thing and could hear a distinct buzzing in the
receiver.

"The presence of a man or woman in that room would be evident to a
person listening miles away," he went on. "A high-frequency current is
constantly passing through that storeroom. That is what causes that
normal buzzing."

It was verging on midnight when Kennedy suddenly cried: "Here, Walter,
take this receiver. You remember how the buzzing sounded. Listen. Tell
me if you, too, can detect the change."

I clapped the receiver quickly to my ear. Indeed I could tell the
difference. In place of the load buzzing there was only a mild sound.
It was slower and lower.

"That means," he said excitedly, "that some one has entered that
pitch-dark storeroom by the broken window. Let me take the receiver
back again. Ah, the buzzing is coming back. He is leaving the room. I
suppose he has found the electric light cane and the pistol where he
left them. Now, Walter, since you have become accustomed to this thing
take it and tell me what you hear."

Craig had already seized the other apparatus connected with the
art-gallery and had the wireless receiver over his head. He was
listening with rapt attention, talking while he waited.

"This is an apparatus," he was saying, "that was devised by Dr.
Fournier d'Albe, lecturer on physics at Birmingham University, to aid
the blind. It is known as the optophone. What I am literally doing now
is to HEAR light. The optophone translates light into sound by means of
that wonderful little element, selenium, which in darkness is a poor
conductor of electricity, but in light is a good conductor. This
property is used in the optophone in transmitting an electric current
which is interrupted by a special clockwork interrupter. It makes light
and darkness audible in the telephone. This thing over my head is like
a wireless telephone receiver, capable of detecting a current of even a
quarter of a microampere."

We were all waiting expectantly for Craig to speak. Evidently the
intruder was now mounting the stairs to the art-gallery.

"Actually I can hear the light of the stars shining in through that
wonderful plate glass skylight of yours, Mr. Spencer," he went on. "A
few moments ago when the moon shone through I could hear it, like the
rumble of a passing cart. I knew it was the moon both because I could
see that it must be shining in and because I recognised the sound. The
sun would thunder like a passing express-train if it were daytime now.
I can distinguish a shadow passing between the optophone and the light.
A hand moved across in front of it would give a purring sound, and a
glimpse out of a window in daylight would sound like a cinematograph
reeling off a film.

"Ah, there he is." Craig was listening with intense excitement now.
"Our intruder has entered the art-gallery. He is flashing his electric
light cane about at various objects, reconnoitring. No doubt if I were
expert enough and had had time to study it, I could tell you by the
sound just what he is looking at."

"Craig," I interrupted, this time very excited myself, "the buzzing
from the high-frequency current is getting lower and lower."

"By George, then, there is another of them," he replied. "I'm not
surprised. Keep a sharp watch. Tell me the moment the buzzing increases
again."

Spencer could scarcely control his impatience. It had been a long time
since he had been a mere spectator, and he did not seem to relish being
held in check by anybody.

"Now that you are sure the vandal is there," he cut in, his cigar out
in his excitement, "can't we make a dash over there and get him before
he has a chance to do any more damage? He might be destroying thousands
of dollars' worth of stuff while we are waiting here."

"And he could destroy the whole collection, building and all, including
ourselves into the bargain, if he heard so much as a whisper from us,"
added Kennedy firmly.

"That second person has left the storeroom, Craig," I put in. "The
buzzing has returned again full force."

Kennedy tore the wireless receiver from his ear. "Here, Walter, never
mind about that electric detective any more, then. Take the optophone.
Describe minutely to me just exactly what you hear."

He had taken from his pocket a small metal ball. I seized the receiver
from him and fitted it to my ear. It took me several instants to
accustom my ears to the new sounds, but they were plain enough, and I
shouted my impressions of their variations. Kennedy was busy at the
window over the heavy package, from which he had torn the wrapping. His
back was toward us, and we could not see what he was doing.

A terrific din sounded in my ears, almost splitting my ear-drums. It
was as though I had been suddenly hurled into a magnified cave of the
winds and a cataract mightier than Niagara was thundering at me. It was
so painful that I cried out in surprise and involuntarily dropped the
receiver to the floor.

"It was the switching on of the full glare of the electric lights in
the art-gallery," Craig shouted. "The other person must have got up to
the room quicker than I expected. Here goes."

A loud explosion took place, apparently on the very window-sill of our
room. Almost at the same instant there was a crash of glass from the
museum.

We sprang to the window, I expecting to see Kennedy injured, Spencer
expecting to see his costly museum a mass of smoking ruins. Instead we
saw nothing of the sort. On the window-ledge was a peculiar little
instrument that looked like a miniature field-gun with an elaborate
system of springs and levers to break the recoil.

Craig had turned from it so suddenly that he actually ran full tilt
into us. "Come on," he cried breathlessly, bolting from the room, and
seizing Dr. Lith by the arm as he did so. "Dr. Lith, the keys to the
museum, quick! We must get there before the fumes clear away."

He was taking the stairs two at a time, dragging the dignified curator
with him.

In fewer seconds than I can tell it we were in the museum and mounting
the broad staircase to the art-gallery. An overpowering gas seemed to
permeate everything.

"Stand back a moment," cautioned Kennedy as we neared the door. "I have
just shot in here one of those asphyxiating bombs which the Paris
police invented to war against the Apaches and the motor-car bandits.
Open all the windows back here and let the air clear. Walter, breathe
as little of it as you can--but--come here--do you see?--over there,
near the other door--a figure lying on the floor? Make a dash in after
me and carry it out. There is just one thing more. If I am not back in
a minute come in and try to get me."

He had already preceded me into the stifling fumes. With a last long
breath of fresh air I plunged in after him, scarcely knowing what would
happen to me. I saw the figure on the floor, seized it, and backed out
of the room as fast as I could.

Dizzy and giddy from the fumes I had been forced to inhale, I managed
to drag the form to the nearest window. It was Lucille White.

An instant later I felt myself unceremoniously pushed aside. Spencer
had forgotten all about the millions of dollars' worth of curios, all
about the suspicions that had been entertained against her, and had
taken the half-conscious burden from me.

"This is the second time I have found you here, Edouard," she was
muttering in her half-delirium, still struggling. "The first time--that
night I hid in the mummy-case, you fled when I called for help. I have
followed you every moment since last night to prevent this. Edouard,
don't, DON'T! Remember I was--I am your wife. Listen to me. Oh, it is
the absinthe that has spoiled your art and made it worthless, not the
critics. It is not Mr. Spencer who has enticed me away, but you who
drove me away, first from Paris, and now from New York. He has been
only--No! No!--" she was shrieking now, her eyes wide open as she
realised it was Spencer himself she saw leaning over her. With a great
effort she seemed to rouse herself. "Don't stay. Run--run. Leave me. He
has a bomb that may go off at any moment. Oh--oh--it is the curse of
absinthe that pursues me. Will you not go? Vite! Vite!"

She had almost fainted and was lapsing into French, laughing and crying
alternately, telling him to go, yet clinging to him.

Spencer paid no attention to what she had said of the bomb. But I did.
The minute was up, and Kennedy was in there yet. I turned to rush in
again to warn him at any peril.

Just then a half-conscious form staggered against me. It was Craig
himself. He was holding the infernal machine of the five glass tubes
that might at any instant blow us into eternity.

Overcome himself, he stumbled. The sinking sensation in my heart I can
never describe. It was just a second that I waited for the terrific
explosion that was to end it all for us, one long interminable second.

But it did not come.

Limp as I was with the shock, I dropped down beside him and bent over.

"A glass of water, Walter," he murmured, "and fan me a bit. I didn't
dare trust myself to carry the thing complete, so I emptied the acid
into the sarcophagus. I guess I must have stayed in there too long. But
we are safe. See if you can drag out Delaverde. He is in there by the
mummy-case."

Spencer was still holding Lucille, although she was much better in the
fresh air of the hall. "I understand," he was muttering. "You have been
following this fiend of a husband of yours to protect the museum and
myself from him. Lucille, Lucille--look at me. You are mine, not his,
whether he is dead or alive. I will free you from him, from the curse
of the absinthe that has pursued you."

The fumes had cleared a great deal by this time. In the centre of the
art-gallery we found a man, a tall, black-bearded Frenchman, crazy
indeed from the curse of the green absinthe that had ruined him. He was
scarcely breathing from a deadly wound in his chest. The hair-spring
ring of the Apache pistol had exploded the cartridge as he fell.

Spencer did not even look at him, as he carried his own burden down to
the little office of Dr. Lith.

"When a rich man marries a girl who has been earning her own living,
the newspapers always distort it," he whispered aside to me a few
minutes later. "Jameson, you're a newspaperman--I depend on you to get
the facts straight this time."

Outside, Kennedy grasped my arm.

"You'll do that, Walter?" he asked persuasively. "Spencer is a client
that one doesn't get every day. Just drop into the Star office and give
them the straight story, I'll promise you I'll not take another case
until you are free again to go on with me in it."

There was no denying him. As briefly as I could I rehearsed the main
facts to the managing editor late that night. I was too tired to write
it at length, yet I could not help a feeling of satisfaction as he
exclaimed, "Great stuff, Jameson,--great."

"I know," I replied, "but this six-cylindered existence for a week
wears you out."

"My dear boy," he persisted, "if I had turned some one else loose on
that story, he'd have been dead. Go to it--it's fine."

It was a bit of blarney, I knew. But somehow or other I liked it. It
was just what I needed to encourage me, and I hurried uptown promising
myself a sound sleep at any rate.

"Very good," remarked Kennedy the next morning, poking his head in at
my door and holding up a copy of the Star into which a very accurate
brief account of the affair had been dropped at the last moment. "I'm
going over to the laboratory. See you there as soon as you can get
over."

"Craig," I remarked an hour or so later as I sauntered in on him, hard
at work, "I don't see how you stand this feverish activity."

"Stand it?" he repeated, holding up a beaker to the light to watch a
reaction. "It's my very life. Stand it? Why, man, if you want me to
pass away--stop it. As long as it lasts, I shall be all right. Let it
quit and I'll--I'll go back to research work," he laughed.

Evidently he had been waiting for me, for as he talked, he laid aside
the materials with which he had been working and was preparing to go
out.

"Then, too," he went on, "I like to be with people like Spencer and
Brixton. For example, while I was waiting here for you, there came a
call from Emery Pitts."

"Emery Pitts?" I echoed. "What does he want?"

"The best way to find out is--to find out," he answered simply. "It's
getting late and I promised to be there directly. I think we'd better
take a taxi."

A few minutes later we were ushered into a large Fifth Avenue mansion
and were listening to a story which interested even Kennedy.

"Not even a blood spot has been disturbed in the kitchen. Nothing has
been altered since the discovery of the murdered chef, except that his
body has been moved into the next room."

Emery Pitts, one of the "thousand millionaires of steel," overwrought
as he was by a murder in his own household, sank back in his
easy-chair, exhausted.

Pitts was not an old man; indeed, in years he was in the prime of life.
Yet by his looks he might almost have been double his age, the more so
in contrast with Minna Pitts, his young and very pretty wife, who stood
near him in the quaint breakfast-room and solicitously moved a pillow
back of his head.

Kennedy and I looked on in amazement. We knew that he had recently
retired from active business, giving as a reason his failing health.
But neither of us had thought, when the hasty summons came early that
morning to visit him immediately at his house, that his condition was
as serious as it now appeared.

"In the kitchen?" repeated Kennedy, evidently not prepared for any
trouble in that part of the house.

Pitts, who had closed his eyes, now reopened them slowly and I noticed
how contracted were the pupils.

"Yes," he answered somewhat wearily, "my private kitchen which I have
had fitted up. You know, I am on a diet, have been ever since I offered
the one hundred thousand dollars for the sure restoration of youth. I
shall have you taken out there presently."

He lapsed again into a half dreamy state, his head bowed on one hand
resting on the arm of his chair. The morning's mail still lay on the
table, some letters open, as they had been when the discovery had been
announced. Mrs. Pitts was apparently much excited and unnerved by the
gruesome discovery in the house.

"You have no idea who the murderer might be?" asked Kennedy, addressing
Pitts, but glancing keenly at his wife.

"No," replied Pitts, "if I had I should have called the regular police.
I wanted you to take it up before they spoiled any of the clues. In the
first place we do not think it could have been done by any of the other
servants. At least, Minna says that there was no quarrel."

"How could any one have got in from the outside?" asked Craig.

"There is a back way, a servants' entrance, but it is usually locked.
Of course some one might have obtained a key to it."

Mrs. Pitts had remained silent throughout the dialogue. I could not
help thinking that she suspected something, perhaps was concealing
something. Yet each of them seemed equally anxious to have the marauder
apprehended, whoever he might be.

"My dear," he said to her at length, "will you call some one and have
them taken to the kitchen?"



IX

THE ELIXIR OF LIFE


As Minna Pitts led us through the large mansion preparatory to turning
us over to a servant she explained hastily that Mr. Pitts had long been
ill and was now taking a new treatment under Dr. Thompson Lord. No one
having answered her bell in the present state of excitement of the
house, she stopped short at the pivoted door of the kitchen, with a
little shudder at the tragedy, and stood only long enough to relate to
us the story as she had heard it from the valet, Edward.

Mr. Pitts, it seemed, had wanted an early breakfast and had sent Edward
to order it. The valet had found the kitchen a veritable
slaughter-house, with, the negro chef, Sam, lying dead on the floor.
Sam had been dead, apparently, since the night before.

As she hurried away, Kennedy pushed open the door. It was a marvellous
place, that antiseptic or rather aseptic kitchen, with its white tiling
and enamel, its huge ice-box, and cooking-utensils for every purpose,
all of the most expensive and modern make.

There were marks everywhere of a struggle, and by the side of the chef,
whose body now lay in the next room awaiting the coroner, lay a long
carving-knife with which he had evidently defended himself. On its
blade and haft were huge coagulated spots of blood. The body of Sam
bore marks of his having been clutched violently by the throat, and in
his head was a single, deep wound that penetrated the skull in a most
peculiar manner. It did not seem possible that a blow from a knife
could have done it. It was a most unusual wound and not at all the sort
that could have been made by a bullet.

As Kennedy examined it, he remarked, shaking his head in confirmation
of his own opinion, "That must have been done by a Behr bulletless gun."

"A bulletless gun?" I repeated.

"Yes, a sort of pistol with a spring-operated device that projects a
sharp blade with great force. No bullet and no powder are used in it.
But when it is placed directly over a vital point of the skull so that
the aim is unerring, a trigger lets a long knife shoot out with
tremendous force, and death is instantaneous."

Near the door, leading to the courtyard that opened on the side street,
were some spots of blood. They were so far from the place where the
valet had discovered the body of the chef that there could be no doubt
that they were blood from the murderer himself. Kennedy's reasoning in
the matter seemed irresistible.

He looked under the table near the door, covered with a large light
cloth. Beneath the table and behind the cloth he found another blood
spot.

"How did that land there?" he mused aloud. "The table-cloth is
bloodless."

Craig appeared to think a moment. Then he unlocked and opened the door.
A current of air was created and blew the cloth aside.

"Clearly," he exclaimed, "that drop of blood was wafted under the table
as the door was opened. The chances are all that it came from a cut on
perhaps the hand or face of the murderer himself."

It seemed to be entirely reasonable, for the bloodstains about the room
were such as to indicate that he had been badly cut by the
carving-knife.

"Whoever attacked the chef must have been deeply wounded," I remarked,
picking up the bloody knife and looking about at the stains,
comparatively few of which could have come from the one deep fatal
wound in the head of the victim.

Kennedy was still engrossed in a study of the stains, evidently
considering that their size, shape, and location might throw some light
on what had occurred. "Walter," he said finally, "while I'm busy here,
I wish you would find that valet, Edward. I want to talk to him."

I found him at last, a clean-cut young fellow of much above average
intelligence.

"There are some things I have not yet got clearly, Edward," began
Kennedy. "Now where was the body, exactly, when you opened the door?"

Edward pointed out the exact spot, near the side of the kitchen toward
the door leading out to the breakfast room and opposite the ice-box.

"And the door to the side street?" asked Kennedy, to all appearances
very favorably impressed by the young man.

"It was locked, sir," he answered positively.

Kennedy was quite apparently considering the honesty and faithfulness
of the servant. At last he leaned over and asked quickly, "Can I trust
you?"

The frank, "Yes," of the young fellow was convincing enough.

"What I want," pursued Kennedy, "is to have some one inside this house
who can tell me as much as he can see of the visitors, the messengers
that come here this morning. It will be an act of loyalty to your
employer, so that you need have no fear about that."

Edward bowed, and left us. While I had been seeking him, Kennedy had
telephoned hastily to his laboratory and had found one of his students
there. He had ordered him to bring down an apparatus which he
described, and some other material.

While we waited Kennedy sent word to Pitts that he wanted to see him
alone for a few minutes.

The instrument appeared to be a rubber bulb and cuff with a rubber bag
attached to the inside. From it ran a tube which ended in another
graduated glass tube with a thin line of mercury in it like a
thermometer.

Craig adjusted the thing over the brachial artery of Pitts, just above
the elbow.

"It may be a little uncomfortable, Mr. Pitts," he apologised, "but it
will be for only a few minutes."

Pressure through the rubber bulb shut off the artery so that Kennedy
could no longer feel the pulse at the wrist. As he worked, I began to
see what he was after. The reading on the graded scale of the height of
the column of mercury indicated, I knew, blood pressure. This time, as
he worked, I noted also the flabby skin of Pitts as well as the small
and sluggish pupils of his eyes.

He completed his test in silence and excused himself, although as we
went back to the kitchen I was burning with curiosity.

"What was it?" I asked. "What did you discover?"

"That," he replied, "was a sphygmomanometer, something like the
sphygmograph which we used once in another case. Normal blood pressure
is 125 millimetres. Mr. Pitts shows a high pressure, very high. The
large life insurance companies are now using this instrument. They
would tell you that a high pressure like that indicates apoplexy. Mr.
Pitts, young as he really is, is actually old. For, you know, the
saying is that a man is as old as his arteries. Pitts has hardening of
the arteries, arteriosclerosis--perhaps other heart and kidney
troubles, in short pre-senility."

Craig paused: then added sententiously as if to himself: "You have
heard the latest theories about old age, that it is due to microbic
poisons secreted in the intestines and penetrating the intestinal
walls? Well, in premature senility the symptoms are the same as in
senility, only mental acuteness is not so impaired."

We had now reached the kitchen again. The student had also brought down
to Kennedy a number of sterilised microscope slides and test-tubes, and
from here and there in the masses of blood spots Kennedy was taking and
preserving samples. He also took samples of the various foods, which he
preserved in the sterilised tubes.

While he was at work Edward joined us cautiously.

"Has anything happened?" asked Craig.

"A message came by a boy for Mrs. Pitts," whispered the valet.

"What did she do with it?"

"Tore it up."

"And the pieces?"

"She must have hidden them somewhere."

"See if you can get them."

Edward nodded and left us.

"Yes," I remarked after he had gone, "it does seem as if the thing to
do was to get on the trail of a person bearing wounds of some kind. I
notice, for one thing, Craig, that Edward shows no such marks, nor does
any one else in the house as far as I can see. If it were an 'inside
job' I fancy Edward at least could clear himself. The point is to find
the person with a bandaged hand or plastered face."

Kennedy assented, but his mind was on another subject. "Before we go we
must see Mrs. Pitts alone, if we can," he said simply.

In answer to his inquiry through one of the servants she sent down word
that she would see us immediately in her sitting-room. The events of
the morning had quite naturally upset her, and she was, if anything,
even paler than when we saw her before.

"Mrs. Pitts," began Kennedy, "I suppose you are aware of the physical
condition of your husband?"

It seemed a little abrupt to me at first, but he intended it to be.
"Why," she asked with real alarm, "is he so very badly?"

"Pretty badly," remarked Kennedy mercilessly, observing the effect of
his words. "So badly, I fear, that it would not require much more
excitement like to-day's to bring on an attack of apoplexy. I should
advise you to take especial care of him, Mrs. Pitts."

Following his eyes, I tried to determine whether the agitation of the
woman before us was genuine or not. It certainly looked so. But then, I
knew that she had been an actress before her marriage. Was she acting a
part now?

"What do you mean?" she asked tremulously.

"Mrs. Pitts," replied Kennedy quickly, observing still the play of
emotion on her delicate features, "some one, I believe, either
regularly in or employed in this house or who had a ready means of
access to it must have entered that kitchen last night. For what
purpose, I can leave you to judge. But Sam surprised the intruder there
and was killed for his faithfulness."

Her startled look told plainly that though she might have suspected
something of the sort she did not think that any one else suspected,
much less actually perhaps knew it.

"I can't imagine who it could be, unless it might be one of the
servants," she murmured hastily; adding, "and there is none of them
that I have any right to suspect."

She had in a measure regained her composure, and Kennedy felt that it
was no use to pursue the conversation further, perhaps expose his hand
before he was ready to play it.

"That woman is concealing something," remarked Kennedy to me as we left
the house a few minutes later.

"She at least bears no marks of violence herself of any kind," I
commented.

"No," agreed Craig, "no, you are right so far." He added: "I shall be
very busy in the laboratory this afternoon, and probably longer.
However, drop in at dinner time, and in the meantime, don't say a word
to any one, but just use your position on the Star to keep in touch
with anything the police authorities may be doing."

It was not a difficult commission, since they did nothing but issue a
statement, the net import of which was to let the public know that they
were very active, although they had nothing to report.

Kennedy was still busy when I rejoined him, a little late purposely,
since I knew that he would be over his head in work.

"What's this--a zoo?" I asked, looking about me as I entered the
sanctum that evening.

There were dogs and guinea pigs, rats and mice, a menagerie that would
have delighted a small boy. It did not look like the same old
laboratory for the investigation of criminal science, though I saw on a
second glance that it was the same, that there was the usual
hurly-burly of microscopes, test-tubes, and all the paraphernalia that
were so mystifying at first but in the end under his skilful hand made
the most complicated cases seem stupidly simple.

Craig smiled at my surprise. "I'm making a little study of intestinal
poisons," he commented, "poisons produced by microbes which we keep
under more or less control in healthy life. In death they are the
little fellows that extend all over the body and putrefy it. We nourish
within ourselves microbes which secrete very virulent poisons, and when
those poisons are too much for us--well, we grow old. At least that is
the theory of Metchnikoff, who says that old age is an infectious
chronic, disease. Somehow," he added thoughtfully, "that beautiful
white kitchen in the Pitts home had really become a factory for
intestinal poisons."

There was an air of suppressed excitement in his manner which told me
that Kennedy was on the trail of something unusual.

"Mouth murder," he cried at length, "that was what was being done in
that wonderful kitchen. Do you know, the scientific slaying of human
beings has far exceeded organised efforts at detection? Of course you
expect me to say that; you think I look at such things through coloured
glasses. But it is a fact, nevertheless.

"It is a very simple matter for the police to apprehend the common
murderer whose weapon is a knife or a gun, but it is a different thing
when they investigate the death of a person who has been the victim of
the modern murderer who slays, let us say, with some kind of deadly
bacilli. Authorities say, and I agree with them, that hundreds of
murders are committed in this country every year and are not detected
because the detectives are not scientists, while the slayers have used
the knowledge of the scientists both to commit and to cover up the
crimes. I tell you, Walter, a murder science bureau not only would
clear up nearly every poison mystery, but also it would inspire such a
wholesome fear among would-be murderers that they would abandon many
attempts to take life."

He was as excited over the case as I had ever seen him. Indeed it was
one that evidently taxed his utmost powers.

"What have you found?" I asked, startled.

"You remember my use of the sphygmomanometer?" he asked. "In the first
place that put me on what seems to be a clear trail. The most dreaded
of all the ills of the cardiac and vascular systems nowadays seems to
be arterio-sclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. It is possible for
a man of forty-odd, like Mr. Pitts, to have arteries in a condition
which would not be encountered normally in persons under seventy years
of age.

"The hard or hardening artery means increased blood pressure, with a
consequent increased strain on the heart. This may lead, has led in
this case, to a long train of distressing symptoms, and, of course, to
ultimate death. Heart disease, according to statistics, is carrying off
a greater percentage of persons than formerly. This fact cannot be
denied, and it is attributed largely to worry, the abnormal rush of the
life of to-day, and sometimes to faulty methods of eating and bad
nutrition. On the surface, these natural causes might seem to be at
work with Mr. Pitts. But, Walter, I do not believe it, I do not believe
it. There is more than that, here. Come, I can do nothing more
to-night, until I learn more from these animals and the cultures which
I have in these tubes. Let us take a turn or two, then dine, and
perhaps we may get some word at our apartment from Edward."

It was late that night when a gentle tap at the door proved that
Kennedy's hope had not been unfounded. I opened it and let in Edward,
the valet, who produced the fragments of a note, torn and crumpled.

"There is nothing new, sir," he explained, "except that Mrs. Pitts
seems more nervous than ever, and Mr. Pitts, I think, is feeling a
little brighter."

Kennedy said nothing, but was hard at work with puckered brows at
piecing together the note which Edward had obtained after hunting
through the house. It had been thrown into a fireplace in Mrs. Pitts's
own room, and only by chance had part of it been unconsumed. The body
of the note was gone altogether, but the first part and the last part
remained.

Apparently it had been written the very morning on which the murder was
discovered.

It read simply, "I have succeeded in having Thornton declared ..." Then
there was a break. The last words were legible, and were,"... confined
in a suitable institution where he can cause no future harm."

There was no signature, as if the sender had perfectly understood that
the receiver would understand.

"Not difficult to supply some of the context, at any rate," mused
Kennedy. "Whoever Thornton may be, some one has succeeded in having him
declared 'insane,' I should supply. If he is in an institution near New
York, we must be able to locate him. Edward, this is a very important
clue. There is nothing else."

Kennedy employed the remainder of the night in obtaining a list of all
the institutions, both public and private, within a considerable radius
of the city where the insane might be detained.

The next morning, after an hour or so spent in the laboratory
apparently in confirming some control tests which Kennedy had laid out
to make sure that he was not going wrong in the line of inquiry he was
pursuing, we started off in a series of flying visits to the various
sanitaria about the city in search of an inmate named Thornton.

I will not attempt to describe the many curious sights and experiences
we saw and had. I could readily believe that any one who spent even as
little time as we did might almost think that the very world was going
rapidly insane. There were literally thousands of names in the lists
which we examined patiently, going through them all, since Kennedy was
not at all sure that Thornton might not be a first name, and we had no
time to waste on taking any chances.

It was not until long after dusk that, weary with the search and
dust-covered from our hasty scouring of the country in an automobile
which Kennedy had hired after exhausting the city institutions, we came
to a small private asylum up in Westchester. I had almost been willing
to give it up for the day, to start afresh on the morrow, but Kennedy
seemed to feel that the case was too urgent to lose even twelve hours
over.

It was a peculiar place, isolated, out-of-the-way, and guarded by a
high brick wall that enclosed a pretty good sized garden.

A ring at the bell brought a sharp-eyed maid to the door.

"Have you--er--any one here named Thornton--er--?" Kennedy paused in
such a way that if it were the last name he might come to a full stop,
and if it were a first name he could go on.

"There is a Mr. Thornton who came yesterday," she snapped ungraciously,
"but you can not see him, It's against the rules."

"Yes--yesterday," repeated Kennedy eagerly, ignoring her tartness.
"Could I--" he slipped a crumpled treasury note into her hand--"could I
speak to Mr. Thornton's nurse?"

The note seemed to render the acidity of the girl slightly alkaline.
She opened the door a little further, and we found ourselves in a
plainly furnished reception room, alone.

We might have been in the reception-room of a prosperous country
gentleman, so quiet was it. There was none of the raving, as far as I
could make out, that I should have expected even in a twentieth century
Bedlam, no material for a Poe story of Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather.

At length the hall door opened, and a man entered, not a prepossessing
man, it is true, with his large and powerful hands and arms and
slightly bowed, almost bulldog legs. Yet he was not of that aggressive
kind which would make a show of physical strength without good and
sufficient cause.

"You have charge of Mr. Thornton?" inquired Kennedy.

"Yes," was the curt response.

"I trust he is all right here?"

"He wouldn't be here if he was all right," was the quick reply. "And
who might you be?"

"I knew him in the old days," replied Craig evasively. "My friend here
does not know him, but I was in this part of Westchester visiting and
having heard he was here thought I would drop in, just for old time's
sake. That is all."

"How did you know he was here?" asked the man suspiciously.

"I heard indirectly from a friend of mine, Mrs. Pitts."

"Oh."

The man seemed to accept the explanation at its face value.

"Is he very--very badly?" asked Craig with well-feigned interest.

"Well," replied the man, a little mollified by a good cigar which I
produced, "don't you go a-telling her, but if he says the name Minna
once a day it is a thousand times. Them drug-dopes has some strange
delusions."

"Strange delusions?" queried Craig. "Why, what do you mean?"

"Say," ejaculated the man. "I don't know you, You come here saying
you're friends of Mr. Thornton's. How do I know what you are?"

"Well," ventured Kennedy, "suppose I should also tell you I am a friend
of the man who committed him."

"Of Dr. Thompson Lord?"

"Exactly. My friend here knows Dr. Lord very well, don't you, Walter?"

Thus appealed to I hastened to add, "Indeed I do." Then, improving the
opening, I hastened: "Is this Mr. Thornton violent? I think this is one
of the most quiet institutions I ever saw for so small a place."

The man shook his head.

"Because," I added, "I thought some drug fiends were violent and had to
be restrained by force, often."

"You won't find a mark or a scratch on him, sir," replied the man.
"That ain't our system."

"Not a mark or scratch on him," repeated Kennedy thoughtfully. "I
wonder if he'd recognise me?"

"Can't say," concluded the man. "What's more, can't try. It's against
the rules. Only your knowing so many he knows has got you this far.
You'll have to call on a regular day or by appointment to see him,
gentlemen."

There was an air of finality about the last statement that made Kennedy
rise and move toward the door with a hearty "Thank you, for your
kindness," and a wish to be remembered to "poor old Thornton."

As we climbed into the car he poked me in the ribs. "Just as good for
the present as if we had seen him," he exclaimed. "Drug-fiend, friend
of Mrs. Pitts, committed by Dr. Lord, no wounds."

Then he lapsed into silence as we sped back to the city.

"The Pitts house," ordered Kennedy as we bowled along, after noting by
his watch that it was after nine. Then to me he added, "We must see
Mrs. Pitts once more, and alone."

We waited some time after Kennedy sent up word that he would like to
see Mrs. Pitts. At last she appeared. I thought she avoided Kennedy's
eye, and I am sure that her intuition told her that he had some
revelation to make, against which she was steeling herself.

Craig greeted her as reassuringly as he could, but as she sat nervously
before us, I could see that she was in reality pale, worn, and anxious.

"We have had a rather hard day," began Kennedy after the usual polite
inquiries about her own and her husband's health had been, I thought, a
little prolonged by him.

"Indeed?" she asked. "Have you come any closer to the truth?"

Kennedy met her eyes, and she turned away.

"Yes, Mr. Jameson and I have put in the better part of the day in going
from one institution for the insane to another."

He paused. The startled look on her face told as plainly as words that
his remark had struck home.

Without giving her a chance to reply, or to think of a verbal means of
escape, Craig hurried on with an account of what we had done, saying
nothing about the original letter which had started us on the search
for Thornton, but leaving it to be inferred by her that he knew much
more than he cared to tell.

"In short, Mrs. Pitts," he concluded firmly, "I do not need to tell you
that I already know much about the matter which you are concealing."

The piling up of fact on fact, mystifying as it was to me who had as
yet no inkling of what it was tending toward, proved too much for the
woman who knew the truth, yet did not know how much Kennedy knew of it.
Minna Pitts was pacing the floor wildly, all the assumed manner of the
actress gone from her, yet with the native grace and feeling of the
born actress playing unrestrained in her actions.

"You know only part of my story," she cried, fixing him with her now
tearless eyes. "It is only a question of time when you will worm it all
out by your uncanny, occult methods. Mr. Kennedy, I cast myself on you."



X

THE TOXIN OF DEATH


The note of appeal in her tone was powerful, but I could not so readily
shake off my first suspicions of the woman. Whether or not she
convinced Kennedy, he did not show.

"I was only a young girl when I met Mr. Thornton," she raced on. "I was
not yet eighteen when we were married. Too late, I found out the curse
of his life--and of mine. He was a drug fiend. From the very first life
with him was insupportable. I stood it as long as I could, but when he
beat me because he had no money to buy drugs, I left him. I gave myself
up to my career on the stage. Later I heard that he was dead--a
suicide. I worked, day and night, slaved, and rose in the
profession--until, at last, I met Mr. Pitts."

She paused, and it was evident that it was with a struggle that she
could talk so.

"Three months after I was married to him, Thornton suddenly reappeared,
from the dead it seemed to me. He did not want me back. No, indeed. All
he wanted was money. I gave him money, my own money, for I made a
great deal in my stage days. But his demands increased. To silence him
I have paid him thousands. He squandered them faster than ever. And
finally, when it became unbearable, I appealed to a friend. That friend
has now succeeded in placing this man quietly in a sanitarium for the
insane."

"And the murder of the chef?" shot out Kennedy.

She looked from one to the other of us in alarm. "Before God, I know no
more of that than does Mr. Pitts."

Was she telling the truth? Would she stop at anything to avoid the
scandal and disgrace of the charge of bigamy? Was there not something
still that she was concealing? She took refuge in the last
resort--tears.

Encouraging as it was to have made such progress, it did not seem to me
that we were much nearer, after all, to the solution of the mystery.
Kennedy, as usual, had nothing to say until he was absolutely sure of
his ground. He spent the greater part of the next day hard at work over
the minute investigations of his laboratory, leaving me to arrange the
details of a meeting he planned for that night.

There were present Mr. and Mrs. Pitts, the former in charge of Dr.
Lord. The valet, Edward, was also there, and in a neighbouring room was
Thornton in charge of two nurses from the sanitarium. Thornton was a
sad wreck of a man now, whatever he might have been when his blackmail
furnished him with an unlimited supply of his favourite drugs.

"Let us go back to the very start of the case," began Kennedy when we
had all assembled, "the murder of the chef, Sam."

It seemed that the mere sound of his voice electrified his little
audience. I fancied a shudder passed over the slight form of Mrs.
Pitts, as she must have realised that this was the point where Kennedy
had left off, in his questioning her the night before.

"There is," he went on slowly, "a blood test so delicate that one might
almost say that he could identify a criminal by his very
blood-crystals--the fingerprints, so to speak, of his blood. It was by
means of these 'hemoglobin clues,' if I may call them so, that I was
able to get on the right trail. For the fact is that a man's blood is
not like that of any other living creature. Blood of different men, of
men and women differ. I believe that in time we shall be able to refine
this test to tell the exact individual, too.

"What is this principle? It is that the hemoglobin or red
colouring-matter of the blood forms crystals. That has long been known,
but working on this fact Dr. Reichert and Professor Brown of the
University of Pennsylvania have made some wonderful discoveries.

"We could distinguish human from animal blood before, it is true. But
the discovery of these two scientists takes us much further. By means
of blood-crystals we can distinguish the blood of man from that of the
animals and in addition that of white men from that of negroes and
other races. It is often the only way of differentiating between
various kinds of blood.

"The variations in crystals in the blood are in part of form and in
part of molecular structure, the latter being discovered only by means
of the polarising microscope. A blood-crystal is only one
two-thousand-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of an inch in length and one
nine-thousandth of an inch in breadth. And yet minute as these crystals
are, this discovery is of immense medico-legal importance. Crime may
now be traced by blood-crystals."

He displayed on his table a number of enlarged micro-photographs. Some
were labelled, "Characteristic crystals of white man's blood"; others
"Crystallisation of negro blood"; still others, "Blood-crystals of the
cat."

"I have here," he resumed, after we had all examined the photographs
and had seen that there was indeed a vast amount of difference, "three
characteristic kinds of crystals, all of which I found in the various
spots in the kitchen of Mr. Pitts. There were three kinds of blood, by
the infallible Reichert test."

I had been prepared for his discovery of two kinds, but three
heightened the mystery still more.

"There was only a very little of the blood which was that of the poor,
faithful, unfortunate Sam, the negro chef," Kennedy went on. "A little
more, found far from his body, is that of a white person. But most of
it is not human blood at all. It was the blood of a cat."

The revelation was startling. Before any of us could ask, he hastened
to explain.

"It was placed there by some one who wished to exaggerate the struggle
in order to divert suspicion. That person had indeed been wounded
slightly, but wished it to appear that the wounds were very serious.
The fact of the matter is that the carving-knife is spotted deeply with
blood, but it is not human blood. It is the blood of a cat. A few years
ago even a scientific detective would have concluded that a fierce
hand-to-hand struggle had been waged and that the murderer was,
perhaps, fatally wounded. Now, another conclusion stands, proved
infallibly by this Reichert test. The murderer was wounded, but not
badly. That person even went out of the room and returned later,
probably with a can of animal blood, sprinkled it about to give the
appearance of a struggle, perhaps thought of preparing in this way a
plea of self-defence. If that latter was the case, this Reichert test
completely destroys it, clever though it was." No one spoke, but the
same thought was openly in all our minds. Who was this wounded criminal?

I asked myself the usual query of the lawyers and the detectives--Who
would benefit most by the death of Pitts? There was but one answer,
apparently, to that. It was Minna Pitts. Yet it was difficult for me to
believe that a woman of her ordinary gentleness could be here to-night,
faced even by so great exposure, yet be so solicitous for him as she
had been and then at the same time be plotting against him. I gave it
up, determining to let Kennedy unravel it in his own way.

Craig evidently had the same thought in his mind, however, for he
continued: "Was it a woman who killed the chef? No, for the third
specimen of blood, that of the white person, was the blood of a man;
not of a woman."

Pitts had been following closely, his unnatural eyes now gleaming. "You
said he was wounded, you remember," he interrupted, as if casting about
in his mind to recall some one who bore a recent wound. "Perhaps it was
not a bad wound, but it was a wound nevertheless, and some one must
have seen it, must know about it. It is not three days."

Kennedy shook his head. It was a point that had bothered him a great
deal.

"As to the wounds," he added in a measured tone "although this occurred
scarcely three days ago, there is no person even remotely suspected of
the crime who can be said to bear on his hands or face others than old
scars of wounds."

He paused. Then he shot out in quick staccato, "Did you ever hear of
Dr. Carrel's most recent discovery of accelerating the healing of
wounds so that those which under ordinary circumstances might take ten
days to heal might be healed in twenty-four hours?"

Rapidly, now, he sketched the theory. "If the factors that bring about
the multiplication of cells and the growth of tissues were discovered,
Dr. Carrel said to himself, it would perhaps become possible to hasten
artificially the process of repair of the body. Aseptic wounds could
probably be made to cicatrise more rapidly. If the rate of reparation
of tissue were hastened only ten times, a skin wound would heal in less
than twenty-four hours and a fracture of the leg in four or five days.

"For five years Dr. Carrel has been studying the subject, applying
various extracts to wounded tissues. All of them increased the growth
of connective tissue, but the degree of acceleration varied greatly. In
some cases it was as high, as forty times the normal. Dr. Carrel's
dream of ten times the normal was exceeded by himself."

Astounded as we were by this revelation, Kennedy did not seem to
consider it as important as one that he was now hastening to show us.
He took a few cubic centimetres of some culture which he had been
preparing, placed it in a tube, and poured in eight or ten drops of
sulphuric acid. He shook it.

"I have here a culture from some of the food that I found was being or
had been prepared for Mr. Pitts. It was in the icebox."

Then he took another tube. "This," he remarked, "is a
one-to-one-thousand solution of sodium nitrite."

He held it up carefully and poured three or four cubic centimetres of
it into the first tube so that it ran carefully down the side in a
manner such as to form a sharp line of contact between the heavier
culture with the acid and the lighter nitrite solution.

"You see," he said, "the reaction is very clear cut if you do it this
way. The ordinary method in the laboratory and the text-books is crude
and uncertain."

"What is it?" asked Pitts eagerly, leaning forward with unwonted
strength and noting the pink colour that appeared at the junction of
the two liquids, contrasting sharply with the portions above and below.

"The ring or contact test for indol," Kennedy replied, with evident
satisfaction. "When the acid and the nitrites are mixed the colour
reaction is unsatisfactory. The natural yellow tint masks that pink
tint, or sometimes causes it to disappear, if the tube is shaken. But
this is simple, clear, delicate--unescapable. There was indol in that
food of yours, Mr. Pitts."

"Indol?" repeated Pitts.

"Is," explained Kennedy, "a chemical compound--one of the toxins
secreted by intestinal bacteria and responsible for many of the
symptoms of senility. It used to be thought that large doses of indol
might be consumed with little or no effect on normal man, but now we
know that headache, insomnia, confusion, irritability, decreased
activity of the cells, and intoxication are possible from it.
Comparatively small doses over a long time produce changes in organs
that lead to serious results.

"It is," went on Kennedy, as the full horror of the thing sank into our
minds, "the indol-and phenol-producing bacteria which are the
undesirable citizens of the body, while the lactic-acid producing germs
check the production of indol and phenol. In my tests here to-day, I
injected four one-hundredths of a grain of indol into a guinea-pig. The
animal had sclerosis or hardening of the aorta. The liver, kidneys, and
supra-renals were affected, and there was a hardening of the brain. In
short, there were all the symptoms of old age."

We sat aghast. Indol! What black magic was this? Who put it in the food?

"It is present," continued Craig, "in much larger quantities than all
the Metchnikoff germs could neutralise. What the chef was ordered to
put into the food to benefit you, Mr. Pitts, was rendered valueless,
and a deadly poison was added by what another--"

Minna Pitts had been clutching for support at the arms of her chair as
Kennedy proceeded. She now threw herself at the feet of Emery Pitts.

"Forgive me," she sobbed. "I can stand it no longer. I had tried to
keep this thing about Thornton from you. I have tried to make you happy
and well--oh--tried so hard, so faithfully. Yet that old skeleton of my
past which I thought was buried would not stay buried. I have bought
Thornton off again and again, with money--my money--only to find him
threatening again. But about this other thing, this poison, I am as
innocent, and I believe Thornton is as--"

Craig laid a gentle hand on her lips. She rose wildly and faced him in
passionate appeal.

"Who--who is this Thornton?" demanded Emery Pitts.

Quickly, delicately, sparing her as much as he could, Craig hurried
over our experiences.

"He is in the next room," Craig went on, then facing Pitts added: "With
you alive, Emery Pitts, this blackmail of your wife might have gone on,
although there was always the danger that you might hear of it--and do
as I see you have already done--forgive, and plan to right the
unfortunate mistake. But with you dead, this Thornton, or rather some
one using him, might take away from Minna Pitts her whole interest in
your estate, at a word. The law, or your heirs at law, would never
forgive as you would."

Pitts, long poisoned by the subtle microbic poison, stared at Kennedy
as if dazed.

"Who was caught in your kitchen, Mr. Pitts, and, to escape detection,
killed your faithful chef and covered his own traces so cleverly?"
rapped out Kennedy. "Who would have known the new process of healing
wounds? Who knew about the fatal properties of indol? Who was willing
to forego a one-hundred-thousand-dollar prize in order to gain a
fortune of many hundreds of thousands?"

Kennedy paused, then finished with irresistibly dramatic logic;

"Who else but the man who held the secret of Minna Pitts's past and
power over her future so long as he could keep alive the unfortunate
Thornton--the up-to-date doctor who substituted an elixir of death at
night for the elixir of life prescribed for you by him in the
daytime--Dr. Lord."

Kennedy had moved quietly toward the door. It was unnecessary. Dr. Lord
was cornered and knew it. He made no fight. In fact, instantly his keen
mind was busy outlining his battle in court, relying on the conflicting
testimony of hired experts.

"Minna," murmured Pitts, falling back, exhausted by the excitement, on
his pillows, "Minna--forgive? What is there to forgive? The only thing
to do is to correct. I shall be well--soon now--my dear. Then all will
be straightened out."

"Walter," whispered Kennedy to me, "while we are waiting, you can
arrange to have Thornton cared for at Dr. Hodge's Sanitarium."

He handed me a card with the directions where to take the unfortunate
man. When at last I had Thornton placed where no one else could do any
harm through him, I hastened back to the laboratory.

Craig was still there, waiting alone.

"That Dr. Lord will be a tough customer," he remarked. "Of course
you're not interested in what happens in a case after we have caught
the criminal. But that often is really only the beginning of the fight.
We've got him safely lodged in the Tombs now, however."

"I wish there was some elixir for fatigue," I remarked, as we closed
the laboratory that night.

"There is," he replied. "A homeopathic remedy--more fatigue."

We started on our usual brisk roundabout walk to the apartment. But
instead of going to bed, Kennedy drew a book from the bookcase.

"I shall read myself to sleep to-night," he explained, settling deeply
in his chair.

As for me, I went directly to my room, planning that to-morrow I would
take several hours off and catch up in my notes.

That morning Kennedy was summoned downtown and had to interrupt more
important duties in order to appear before Dr. Leslie in the coroner's
inquest over the death of the chef. Dr. Lord was held for the Grand
Jury, but it was not until nearly noon that Craig returned.

We were just about to go out to luncheon, when the door buzzer sounded.

"A note for Mr. Kennedy," announced a man in a police uniform, with a
blue anchor edged with white on his coat sleeve.

Craig tore open the envelope quickly with his forefinger. Headed
"Harbour Police, Station No. 3, Staten Island," was an urgent message
from our old friend Deputy Commissioner O'Connor.

"I have taken personal charge of a case here that is sufficiently out
of the ordinary to interest you," I read when Kennedy tossed the note
over to me and nodded to the man from the harbour squad to wait for us.
"The Curtis family wish to retain a private detective to work in
conjunction with the police in investigating the death of Bertha
Curtis, whose body was found this morning in the waters of Kill van
Kull."

Kennedy and I lost no time in starting downtown with the policeman who
had brought the note.

The Curtises, as we knew, were among the prominent families of
Manhattan and I recalled having heard that at one time Bertha Curtis
had been an actress, in spite of the means and social position of her
family, from whom she had become estranged as a result.

At the station of the harbour police, O'Connor and another man, who was
in a state of extreme excitement, greeted us almost before we had
landed.

"There have been some queer doings about here," exclaimed the deputy as
he grasped Kennedy's hand, "but first of all let me introduce Mr.
Walker Curtis."

In a lower tone as we walked up the dock O'Connor continued, "He is the
brother of the girl whose body the men in the launch at the station
found in the Kill this morning. They thought at first that the girl had
committed suicide, making it doubly sure by jumping into the water, but
he will not believe it and,--well, if you'll just come over with us to
the local undertaking establishment, I'd like to have you take a look
at the body and see if your opinion coincides with mine.

"Ordinarily," pursued O'Connor, "there isn't much romance in harbour
police work nowadays, but in this case some other elements seem to be
present which are not usually associated with violent deaths in the
waters of the bay, and I have, as you will see, thought it necessary to
take personal charge of the investigation.

"Now, to shorten the story as much as possible, Kennedy, you know of
course that the legislature at the last session enacted laws
prohibiting the sale of such drugs as opium, morphine, cocaine, chloral
and others, under much heavier penalties than before. The Health
authorities not long ago reported to us that dope was being sold almost
openly, without orders from physicians, at several scores of places and
we have begun a crusade for the enforcement of the law. Of course you
know how prohibition works in many places and how the law is beaten.
The dope fiends seem to be doing the same thing with this law.

"Of course nowadays everybody talks about a 'system' controlling
everything, so I suppose people would say that there is a 'dope trust.'
At any rate we have run up against at least a number of places that
seem to be banded together in some way, from the lowest down in
Chinatown to one very swell joint uptown around what the newspapers are
calling 'Crime Square.' It is not that this place is pandering to
criminals or the women of the Tenderloin that interests us so much as
that its patrons are men and women of fashionable society whose jangled
nerves seem to demand a strong narcotic.

"This particular place seems to be a headquarters for obtaining them,
especially opium and its derivatives.

"One of the frequenters of the place was this unfortunate girl, Bertha
Curtis. I have watched her go in and out myself, wild-eyed, nervous,
mentally and physically wrecked for life. Perhaps twenty-five or thirty
persons visit the place each day. It is run by a man known as 'Big
Jack' Clendenin who was once an actor and, I believe, met and
fascinated Miss Curtis during her brief career on the stage. He has an
attendant there, a Jap, named Nichi Moto, who is a perfect enigma. I
can't understand him on any reasonable theory. A long time ago we
raided the place and packed up a lot of opium, pipes, material and
other stuff. We found Clendenin there, this girl, several others, and
the Jap. I never understood just how it was but somehow Clendenin got
off with a nominal fine and a few days later opened up again. We were
watching the place, getting ready to raid it again and present such
evidence that Clendenin couldn't possibly beat it, when all of a sudden
along came this--this tragedy."

We had at last arrived at the private establishment which was doing
duty as a morgue. The bedraggled form that had been bandied about by
the tides all night lay covered up in the cold damp basement. Bertha
Curtis had been a girl of striking beauty once. For a long time I gazed
at the swollen features before I realised what it was that fascinated
and puzzled me about her. Kennedy, however, after a casual glance had
arrived at at least a part of her story.

"That girl," he whispered to me so that her brother could not hear,
"has led a pretty fast life. Look at those nails, yellow and dark. It
isn't a weak face, either. I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing,
the Oriental glamour and all that, fascinated her as much as the drug."

So far the case with its heartrending tragedy had all the earmarks of
suicide.



XI

THE OPIUM JOINT


O'Connor drew back the sheet which covered her and in the calf of the
leg disclosed an ugly bullet hole. Ugly as it was, however, it was
anything but dangerous and seemed to indicate nothing as to the real
cause of her death. He drew from his pocket a slightly misshapen bullet
which had been probed from the wound and handed it to Kennedy, who
examined both the wound and the bullet carefully. It seemed to be an
ordinary bullet except that in the pointed end were three or four
little round, very shallow wells or depressions only the minutest
fraction of an inch deep.

"Very extraordinary," he remarked slowly. "No, I don't think this was a
case of suicide. Nor was it a murder for money, else the jewels would
have been taken."

O'Connor looked approvingly at me. "Exactly what I said," he exclaimed.
"She was dead before her body was thrown into the water."

"No, I don't agree with you there," corrected Craig, continuing his
examination of the body. "And yet it is not a case of drowning exactly,
either."

"Strangled?" suggested O'Connor.

"By some jiu jitsu trick?" I put in, mindful of the queer-acting Jap at
Clendenin's.

Kennedy shook his head.

"Perhaps the shock of the bullet wound rendered her unconscious and in
that state she was thrown in," ventured Walker Curtis, apparently much
relieved that Kennedy coincided with O'Connor in disagreeing with the
harbour police as to the suicide theory.

Kennedy shrugged his shoulders and looked at the bullet again. "It is
very extraordinary," was all he replied. "I think you said a few
moments ago, O'Connor, that there had been some queer doings about
here. What did you mean?"

"Well, as I said, the work of the harbour squad isn't ordinarily very
remarkable. Harbour pirates aren't murderous as a rule any more. For
the most part they are plain sneak thieves or bogus junk dealers who
work with dishonest pier watchmen and crooked canal boat captains and
lighter hands.

"But in this instance," continued the deputy, his face knitting at the
thought that he had to confess another mystery to which he had no
solution, "it is something quite different. You know that all along the
shore on this side of the island are old, dilapidated and, some of
them, deserted houses. For several days the residents of the
neighbourhood have been complaining of strange occurrences about one
place in particular which was the home of a wealthy family in a past
generation. It is about a mile from here, facing the road along the
shore, and has in front of it and across the road the remains of an old
dock sticking out a few feet into the water at high tide.

"Now, as nearly as any one can get the story, there seems to have been
a mysterious, phantom boat, very swift, without lights, and with an
engine carefully muffled down which has been coming up to the old dock
for the past few nights when the tide was high enough. A light has been
seen moving on the dock, then suddenly extinguished, only to reappear
again. Who carried it and why, no one knows. Any one who has tried to
approach the place has had a scare thrown into him which he will not
easily forget. For instance, one man crept up and though he did not
think he was seen he was suddenly shot at from behind a tree. He felt
the bullet pierce his arm, started to run, stumbled, and next morning
woke up in the exact spot on which he had fallen, none the worse for
his experience except that he had a slight wound that will prevent his
using his right arm for some time for heavy work.

"After each visit of the phantom boat there is heard, according to the
story of the few neighbours who have observed it, the tramp of feet up
the overgrown stone walk from the dock and some have said that they
heard an automobile as silent and ghostly as the boat. We have been all
through the weird old house, but have found nothing there, except
enough loose boards and shutters to account for almost any noise or
combination of noises. However, no one has said there was anything
there except the tramp of feet going back and forth on the old
pavements outside. Two or three times shots have been heard, and on the
dock where most of the alleged mysterious doings have taken place we
have found one very new exploded shell of a cartridge."

Craig took the shell which O'Connor drew from another pocket and trying
to fit the bullet and the cartridge together remarked "both from a .44,
probably one of those old-fashioned, long-barrelled makes."

"There," concluded O'Connor ruefully, "you know all we know of the
thing so far."

"I may keep these for the present?" inquired Kennedy, preparing to
pocket the shell and the bullet, and from his very manner I could see
that as a matter of fact he already knew a great deal more about the
case than the police. "Take us down to this old house and dock, if you
please."

Over and over, Craig paced up and down the dilapidated dock, his keen
eyes fastened to the ground, seeking some clue, anything that would
point to the marauders. Real persons they certainly were, and not any
ghostly crew of the bygone days of harbour pirates, for there was every
evidence of some one who had gone up and down the walk recently, not
once but many times.

Suddenly Kennedy stumbled over what looked like a sardine tin can,
except that it had no label or trace of one. It was lying in the thick
long matted grass by the side of the walk as if it had tumbled there
and had been left unnoticed.

Yet there was nothing so very remarkable about it in itself. Tin cans
were lying all about, those marks of decadent civilisation. But to
Craig it had instantly presented an idea. It was a new can. The others
were rusted.

He had pried off the lid and inside was a blackish, viscous mass.

"Smoking opium," Craig said at last.

We retraced our steps pondering on the significance of the discovery.

O'Connor had had men out endeavouring all day to get a clue to the
motor car that had been mentioned in some of the accounts given by the
natives. So far the best he had been able to find was a report of a
large red touring car which crossed from New York on a late ferry. In
it were a man and a girl as well as a chauffeur who wore goggles and a
cap pulled down over his head so that he was practically
unrecognisable. The girl might have been Miss Curtis and, as for the
man, it might have been Clendenin. No one had bothered much with them;
no one had taken their number; no one had paid any attention where they
went after the ferry landed. In fact, there would have been no
significance to the report if it had not been learned that early in the
morning on the first ferry from the lower end of the island to New
Jersey a large red touring car answering about the same description had
crossed, with a single man and driver but no woman.

"I should like to watch here with you to-night, O'Connor," said Craig
as we parted. "Meet us here. In the meantime I shall call on Jameson
with his well-known newspaper connections in the white light district,"
here he gave me a half facetious wink, "to see what he can do toward
getting me admitted to this gilded palace of dope up there on
Forty-fourth Street."

After no little trouble Kennedy and I discovered our "hop joint" and
were admitted by Nichi Moto, of whom we had heard. Kennedy gave me a
final injunction to watch, but to be very careful not to seem to watch.

Nichi Moto with an eye to business and not to our absorbing more than
enough to whet our descriptive powers quickly conducted us into a large
room where, on single bamboo couches or bunks, rather tastefully made,
perhaps half a dozen habitues lay stretched at full length smoking
their pipes in peace, or preparing them in great expectation from the
implements on the trays before them.

Kennedy relieved me of the responsibility of cooking the opium by doing
it for both of us and, incidentally, dropping a hint not to inhale it
and to breathe as little of it as possible. Even then it made me feel
badly, though he must have contrived in some way to get even less of
the stuff than I. A couple of pipes, and Kennedy beckoned to Nichi.

"Where is Mr. Clendenin?" he asked familiarly. "I haven't seen him yet."

The Japanese smiled his engaging smile. "Not know," was all he said,
and yet I knew the fellow at least knew better English, if not more
facts.

Kennedy had about started on our faking a third "pipe" when a new,
unexpected arrival beckoned excitedly to Nichi. I could not catch all
that was said but two words that I did catch were "the boss" and "hop
toy," the latter the word for opium. No sooner had the man disappeared
without joining the smokers than Nichi seemed to grow very restless and
anxious. Evidently he had received orders to do something. He seemed
anxious to close the place and get away. I thought that some one might
have given a tip that the place was to be raided, but Kennedy, who had
been closer, had overheard more than I had and among other things he
had caught the word, "meet him at the same place."

It was not long before we were all politely hustled out.

"At least we know this," commented Kennedy, as I congratulated myself
on our fortunate escape, "Clendenin was not there, and there is
something doing to-night, for he has sent for Nichi."

We dropped into our apartment to freshen up a bit against the long
vigil that we knew was coming that night. To our surprise Walker Curtis
had left a message that he wished to see Kennedy immediately and alone,
and although I was not present I give the substance of what he said. It
seemed that he had not wished to tell O'Connor for fear that it would
get into the papers and cause an even greater scandal, but it had come
to his knowledge a few days before the tragedy that his sister was
determined to marry a very wealthy Chinese merchant, an importer of
tea, named Chin Jung. Whether or not this had any bearing on the case
he did not know. He thought it had, because for a long time, both when
she was on the stage and later, Clendenin had had a great influence
over her and had watched with a jealous eye the advances of every one
else. Curtis was especially bitter against Clendenin.

As Kennedy related the conversation to me on our way over to Staten
Island I tried to piece the thing together, but like one of the famous
Chinese puzzles, it would not come out. I had to admit the possibility
that it was Clendenin who might have quarrelled over her attachment to
Chin Jung, even though I have never yet been able to understand what
the fascination is that some Orientals have over certain American girls.

All that night we watched patiently from a vantage point of an old shed
near both the house and the decayed pier. It was weird in the extreme,
especially as we had no idea what might happen if we had success and
saw something. But there was no reward for our patience. Absolutely
nothing happened. It was as though they knew, whoever they were, that
we were there. During the hours that passed O'Connor whiled away the
time in a subdued whisper now and then in telling us of his experiences
in Chinatown which he was now engaged in trying to clean up. From
Chinatown, its dens, its gamblers and its tongs we drifted to the
legitimate business interests there, and I, at least, was surprised to
find that there were some of the merchants for whom even O'Connor had a
great deal of respect. Kennedy evidently did not wish to violate in any
way the confidence of Walker Curtis, and mention of the name of Chin
Jung, but by a judicious question as to who the best men were in the
Celestial settlement he did get a list of half a dozen or so from
O'Connor. Chin Jung was well up in the list. However, the night wore
away and still nothing happened.

It was in the middle of the morning when we were taking a snatch of
sleep in our own rooms uptown that the telephone began to ring
insistently. Kennedy, who was resting, I verily believe, merely out of
consideration for my own human frailties, was at the receiver in an
instant. It proved to be O'Connor. He had just gone back to his office
at headquarters and there he had found a report of another murder.

"Who is it?" asked Kennedy, "and why do you connect it with this case?"

O'Connor's answer must have been a poser, judging from the look of
surprise on Craig's face. "The Jap--Nichi Moto?" he repeated. "And it
is the same sort of non-fatal wound, the same evidence of asphyxia, the
same circumstances, even down to the red car reported by residents in
the neighbourhood."

Nothing further happened that day except this thickening of the plot by
the murder of the peculiar-acting Nichi. We saw his body and it was as
O'Connor said.

"That fellow wasn't on the level toward Clendenin," Craig mused after
we had viewed the second murder in the case. "The question is, who and
what was he working for?"

There was as yet no hint of answer, and our only plan was to watch
again that night. This time O'Connor, not knowing where the lightning
would strike next, took Craig's suggestion and we determined to spend
the time cruising about in the fastest of the police motor boats, while
the force of watchers along the entire shore front of the city was
quietly augmented and ordered to be extra vigilant.

O'Connor at the last moment had to withdraw and let us go alone, for
the worst, and not the unexpected, happened in his effort to clean up
Chinatown. The war between the old rivals, the Hep Sing Tong and the On
Leong Tong, those ancient societies of troublemakers in the little
district, had broken out afresh during the day and three Orientals had
been killed already.

It is not a particularly pleasant occupation cruising aimlessly up and
down the harbour in a fifty-foot police boat, staunch and fast as she
may be.

Every hour we called at a police post to report and to keep in touch
with anything that might interest us. It came at about two o'clock in
the morning and of all places, near the Battery itself. From the front
of a ferry boat that ran far down on the Brooklyn side, what looked
like two flashlights gleamed out over the water once, then twice.

"Headlights of an automobile," remarked Craig, scarcely taking more
notice of it, for they might have simply been turned up and down twice
by a late returning traveller to test them. We were ourselves near the
Brooklyn shore. Imagine our surprise to see an answering light from a
small boat in the river which was otherwise lightless. We promptly put
out our own lights and with every cylinder working made for the spot
where the light had flashed up on the river. There was something there
all right and we went for it.

On we raced after the strange craft, the phantom that had scared Staten
Island. For a mile or so we seemed to be gaining, but one of our
cylinders began to miss--the boat turned sharply around a bend in the
shore. We had to give it up as well as trying to overtake the ferry
boat going in the opposite direction.

Kennedy's equanimity in our apparent defeat surprised me. "Oh, it's
nothing, Walter," he said. "They slipped away to-night, but I have
found the clue. To-morrow as soon as the Customs House is open you will
understand. It all centres about opium."

At least a large part of the secret was cleared, too, as a result of
Kennedy's visit to the Customs House. After years of fighting with the
opium ring on the Pacific coast, the ring had tried to "put one over"
on the revenue officers and smuggle the drug in through New York.

It did not take long to find the right man among the revenue officers
to talk with. Nor was Kennedy surprised to learn that Nichi Moto had
been in fact a Japanese detective, a sort of stool pigeon in
Clendenin's establishment working to keep the government in touch with
the latest scheme.

The finding of the can of opium on the scene of the murder of Bertha
Curtis, and the chase after the lightless motor boat had at last placed
Kennedy on the right track. With one of the revenue officers we made a
quick trip to Brooklyn and spent the morning inspecting the ships from
South American ports docked in the neighbourhood where the phantom boat
had disappeared.

From ship to ship we journeyed until at last we came to one on which,
down in the chain locker, we found a false floor with a locker under
that. There was a compartment six feet square and in it lay, neatly
packed, fourteen large hermetically sealed cylinders, each full of the
little oblong tins such as Kennedy had picked up the other day--forty
thousand dollars' worth of the stuff at one haul, to say nothing of the
thousands that had already been landed at one place or another.

It had been a good day's work, but as yet it had not caught the slayer
or cleared up the mystery of Bertha Curtis. Some one or something had
had a power over the girl to lure her on. Was it Clendenin? The place
in Forty-fourth Street, on inquiry, proved to be really closed as tight
as a drum. Where was he?

All the deaths had been mysterious, were still mysterious. Bertha
Curtis had carried her secret with her to the grave to which she had
been borne, willingly it seemed, in the red car with the unknown
companion and the goggled chauffeur. I found myself still asking what
possible connection she could have with smuggling opium.

Kennedy, however, was indulging in no such speculations. It was enough
for him that the scene had suddenly shifted and in a most unexpected
manner. I found him voraciously reading practically everything that was
being printed in the papers about the revival of the tong war.

"They say much about the war, but little about the cause," was his dry
comment. "I wish I could make up my mind whether it is due to the
closing of the joints by O'Connor, or the belief that one tong is
informing on the other about opium smuggling."

Kennedy passed over all the picturesque features in the newspapers, and
from it all picked out the one point that was most important for the
case which he was working to clear up. One tong used revolvers of a
certain make; the other of a different make. The bullet which had
killed Bertha Curtis and later Nichi Moto was from a pistol like that
of the Hep Sings.

The difference in the makes of guns seemed at once to suggest something
to Kennedy and instead of mixing actively in the war of the highbinders
he retired to his unfailing laboratory, leaving me to pass the time
gathering such information as I could. Once I dropped in on him but
found him unsociably surrounded by microscopes and a very sensitive
arrangement for taking microphotographs. Some of his negatives were
nearly a foot in diameter, and might have been, for all I knew,
pictures of the surface of the moon.

While I was there O'Connor came in. Craig questioned him about the war
of the tongs.

"Why," O'Connor cried, almost bubbling over with satisfaction, "this
afternoon I was waited on by Chin Jung, you remember?--one of the
leading merchants down there. Of course you know that Chinatown doesn't
believe in hurting business and it seems that he and some of the others
like him are afraid that if the tong war is not hushed up pretty soon
it will cost a lot--in money. They are going to have an anniversary of
the founding of the Chinese republic soon and of the Chinese New Year
and they are afraid that if the war doesn't stop they'll be ruined."

"Which tong does he belong to?" asked Kennedy, still scrutinising a
photograph through his lens.

"Neither," replied O'Connor. "With his aid and that of a Judge of one
of our courts who knows the Chinaman like a book we have had a
conference this afternoon between the two tongs and the truce is
restored again for two weeks."

"Very good," answered Kennedy, "but it doesn't catch the murderer of
Bertha Curtis and the Jap. Where is Clendenin, do you suppose?"

"I don't know, but it at least leaves me free to carry on that case.
What are all these pictures?"

"Well," began Kennedy, taking his glass from his eye and wiping it
carefully, "a Paris crime specialist has formulated a system for
identifying revolver bullets which is very like that of Dr. Bertillon
for identifying human beings."

He picked up a handful of the greatly enlarged photographs. "These are
photographs of bullets which he has sent me. The barrel of every gun
leaves marks on the bullet that are always the same for the same barrel
but never identical for two different barrels. In these big negatives
every detail appears very distinctly and it can be decided with
absolute certainty whether a given bullet was fired from a given
revolver. Now, using this same method, I have made similar greatly
enlarged photographs of the two bullets that have figured so far in
this case. The bullet that killed Miss Curtis shows the same marks as
that which killed Nichi."

He picked up another bunch of prints. "Now," he continued, "taking up
the firing pin of a rifle or the hammer of a revolver, you may not know
it but they are different in every case. Even among the same makes they
are different, and can be detected.

"The cartridge in either a gun or revolver is struck at a point which
is never in the exact centre or edge, as the case may be, but is always
the same for the same weapon. Now the end of the hammer when examined
with the microscope bears certain irregularities of marking different
from those of every other gun and the shell fired in it is impressed
with the particular markings of that hammer, just as paper is by type.
On making microphotographs of firing pins or hammers, with special
reference to the rounded ends and also photographs of the corresponding
rounded depressions in the primers fired by them it is forced on any
one that cartridges fired by each individual rifle or pistol can
positively be identified.

"You will see on the edge of the photographs I have made a rough sketch
calling attention to the 'L'-shaped mark which is the chief
characteristic of this hammer, although there are other detailed
markings which show well under the microscope but not well in a
photograph. You will notice that the characters on the firing hammer
are reversed on the cartridge in the same way that a metal type and the
character printed by it are reversed as regards one another. Again,
depressions on the end of the hammer become raised characters on the
cartridge, and raised characters on the hammer become depressions on
the cartridge.

"Look at some of these old photographs and you will see that they
differ from this. They lack the 'L' mark. Some have circles, others a
very different series of pits and elevations, a set of characters when
examined and measured under the microscope utterly different from those
in every other case. Each is unique, in its pits, lines, circles and
irregularities. The laws of chance are as much against two of them
having the same markings as they are against the thumb prints of two
human subjects being identical. The firing-pin theory, which was used
in a famous case in Maine, is just as infallible as the finger-print
theory. In this case when we find the owner of the gun making an 'L'
mark we shall have the murderer."

Something, I could see, was working on O'Connor's mind. "That's all
right," he interjected, "but you know in neither case was the victim
shot to death. They were asphyxiated."

"I was coming to that," rejoined Craig. "You recall the peculiar
marking on the nose of those bullets? They were what is known as
narcotic bullets, an invention of a Pittsburg scientist. They have the
property of lulling their victims to almost instant slumber. A slight
scratch from these sleep-producing bullets is all that is necessary, as
it was in the case of the man who spied on the queer doings on Staten
Island. The drug, usually morphia, is carried in tiny wells on the cap
of the bullet, is absorbed by the system and acts almost instantly."

The door burst open and Walker Curtis strode in excitedly. He seemed
surprised to see us all there, hesitated, then motioned to Kennedy that
he wished to see him. For a few moments they talked and finally I
caught the remark from Kennedy, "But, Mr. Curtis, I must do it. It is
the only way."

Curtis gave a resigned nod and Kennedy turned to us. "Gentlemen," he
said, "Mr. Curtis in going over the effects of his sister has found a
note from Clendenin which mentions another opium joint down in
Chinatown. He wished me to investigate privately, but I have told him
it would be impossible."

At the mention of a den in the district he was cleaning up O'Connor had
pricked up his ears. "Where is it?" he demanded.

Curtis mentioned a number on Dover Street.

"The Amoy restaurant," ejaculated O'Connor, seizing the telephone. A
moment later he was arranging with the captain at the Elizabeth Street
station for the warrants for an instant raid.



XII

THE "DOPE TRUST"


As we hurried into Chinatown from Chatham Square we could see that the
district was celebrating its holidays with long ropes of firecrackers,
and was feasting to reed discords from the pipes of its most famous
musicians, and was gay with the hanging out of many sunflags, red with
an eighteen-rayed white sun in the blue union. Both the new tong truce
and the anniversary were more than cause for rejoicing.

Hurried though it was, the raid on the Hep Sing joint had been
carefully prepared by O'Connor. The house we were after was one of the
oldest of the rookeries, with a gaudy restaurant on the second floor, a
curio shop on the street level, while in the basement all that was
visible was a view of a huge and orderly pile of tea chests. A moment
before the windows of the dwellings above the restaurant had been full
of people. All had faded away even before the axes began to swing on
the basement door which had the appearance of a storeroom for the shop
above.

The flimsy outside door went down quickly. But it was only a blind.
Another door greeted the raiders. The axes swung noisily and the
crowbars tore at the fortified, iron-clad, "ice box" door inside. After
breaking it down they had to claw their way through another just like
it. The thick doors and tea chests piled up showed why no sounds of
gambling and other practices ever were heard outside.

Pushing aside a curtain we were in the main room. The scene was one of
confusion showing the hasty departure of the occupants.

Kennedy did not stop here. Within was still another room, for smokers,
anything but like the fashionable place we had seen uptown. It was low,
common, disgusting. The odour everywhere was offensive; everywhere was
filth that should naturally breed disease. It was an inferno reeking
with unwholesome sweat and still obscured with dense fumes of smoke.

Three tiers of bunks of hardwood were built along the walls. There was
no glamour here; all was sordid. Several Chinamen in various stages of
dazed indolence were jabbering in incoherent oblivion, a state I
suppose of "Oriental calm."

There, in a bunk, lay Clendenin. His slow and uncertain breathing told
of his being under the influence of the drug, and he lay on his back
beside a "layout" with a half-cooked pill still in the bowl of his pipe.

The question was to wake him up. Craig began slapping him with a wet
towel, directing us how to keep him roused. We walked him about, up and
down, dazed, less than half sensible, dreaming, muttering, raving.

A hasty exclamation from O'Connor followed as he drew from the scant
cushions of the bunk a long-barreled pistol, a .44 such as the tong
leaders used, the same make as had shot Bertha Curtis and Nichi. Craig
seized it and stuck it into his pocket.

All the gamblers had fled, all except those too drugged to escape.
Where they had gone was indicated by a door leading up to the kitchen
of the restaurant. Craig did not stop but leaped upstairs and then down
again into a little back court by means of a fire-escape. Through a
sort of short alley we groped our way, or rather through an intricate
maze of alleys and a labyrinth of blind recesses. We were apparently
back of a store on Pell Street.

It was the work of only a moment to go through another door and into
another room, filled with smoky, dirty, unpleasant, fetid air. This
room, too, seemed to be piled with tea chests. Craig opened one. There
lay piles and piles of opium tins, a veritable fortune in the drug.

Mysterious pots and pans, strainers, wooden vessels, and testing
instruments were about. The odour of opium in the manufacture was
unmistakable, for smoking opium is different from the medicinal drug.
There it appeared the supplies of thousands of smokers all over the
country were stored and prepared. In a corner a mass of the finished
product lay weltering in a basin like treacle. In another corner was
the apparatus for remaking yen-shee or once-smoked opium. This I felt
was at last the home of the "dope trust," as O'Connor had once called
it, the secret realm of a real opium king, the American end of the rich
Shanghai syndicate.

A door opened and there stood a Chinaman, stoical, secretive,
indifferent, with all the Oriental cunning and cruelty hall-marked on
his face. Yet there was a fascination and air of Eastern culture about
him in spite of that strange and typical Oriental depth of intrigue and
cunning that shone through, great characteristics of the East.

No one said a word as Kennedy continued to ransack the place. At last
under a rubbish heap he found a revolver wrapped up loosely in an old
sweater. Quickly, under the bright light, Craig drew Clendenin's
pistol, fitted a cartridge into it and fired at the wall. Again into
the second gun he fitted another and a second shot rang out.

Out of his pocket came next the small magnifying glass and two
unmounted microphotographs. He bent down over the exploded shells.

"There it is," cried Craig scarcely able to restrain himself with the
keenness of his chase, "there it is--the mark like an 'L.' This
cartridge bears the one mark, distinct, not possible to have been made
by any other pistol in the world. None of the Hep Sings, all with the
same make of weapons, none of the gunmen in their employ, could
duplicate that mark."

"Some bullets," reported a policeman who had been rummaging further in
the rubbish.

"Be careful, man," cautioned Craig. "They are doped. Lay them down.
Yes, this is the same gun that fired the shot at Bertha Curtis and
Nichi Moto--fired narcotic bullets in order to stop any one who
interfered with the opium smuggling, without killing the victim."

"What's the matter?" asked O'Connor, arriving breathless from the
gambling room after hearing the shots. The Chinaman stood, still
silent, impassive. At sight of him O'Connor gasped out, "Chin Jung!"

"Real tong leader," added Craig, "and the murderer of the white girl to
whom he was engaged. This is the goggled chauffeur of the red car that
met the smuggling boat, and in which Bertha Curtis rode, unsuspecting,
to her death."

"And Clendenin?" asked Walker Curtis, not comprehending.

"A tool--poor wretch. So keen had the hunt for him become that he had
to hide in the only safe place, with the coolies of his employer. He
must have been in such abject terror that he has almost smoked himself
to death."

"But why should the Chinaman shoot my sister?" asked Walker Curtis
amazed at the turn of events.

"Your sister," replied Craig, almost reverently, "wrecked though she
was by the drug, was at last conscience stricken when she saw the vast
plot to debauch thousands of others. It was from her that the Japanese
detective in the revenue service got his information--and both of them
have paid the price. But they have smashed the new opium ring--we have
captured the ring-leaders of the gang."

Out of the maze of streets, on Chatham Square again, we lost no time in
mounting to the safety of the elevated station before some murderous
tong member might seek revenge on us.

The celebration in Chinatown was stilled. It was as though the nerves
of the place had been paralysed by our sudden, sharp blow.

A downtown train took me to the office to write a "beat," for the Star
always made a special feature of the picturesque in Chinatown news.
Kennedy went uptown.

Except for a few moments in the morning, I did not see Kennedy again
until the following afternoon, for the tong war proved to be such an
interesting feature that I had to help lay out and direct the
assignments covering its various details.

I managed to get away again as soon as possible, however, for I knew
that it would not be long before some one else in trouble would
commandeer Kennedy to untangle a mystery, and I wanted to be on the
spot when it started.

Sure enough, it turned out that I was right. Seated with him in our
living room, when I came in from my hasty journey uptown in the subway,
was a man, tall, thick-set, with a crop of closely curling dark hair, a
sharp, pointed nose, ferret eyes, and a reddish moustache, curled at
the ends. I had no difficulty in deciding what he was, if not who he
was. He was the typical detective who, for the very reason that he
looked the part, destroyed much of his own usefulness.

"We have lost so much lately at Trimble's," he was saying, "that it is
long past the stage of being merely interesting. It is downright
serious--for me, at least. I've got to make good or lose my job. And
I'm up against one of the cleverest shoplifters that ever entered a
department-store, apparently. Only Heaven knows how much she has got
away with in various departments so far, but when it comes to lifting
valuable things like pieces of jewelry which run into the thousands,
that is too much."

At the mention of the name of the big Trimble store I had recognised at
once what the man was, and it did not need Kennedy's rapid-fire
introduction of Michael Donnelly to tell me that he was a department
store detective.

"Have you no clue, no suspicions?" inquired Kennedy.

"Well, yes, suspicions," measured Donnelly slowly. "For instance, one
day not long ago a beautifully dressed and refined-looking woman called
at the jewellery department and asked to see a diamond necklace which
we had just imported from Paris. She seemed to admire it very much,
studied it, tried it on, but finally went away without making up her
mind. A couple of days later she returned and asked to see it again.
This time there happened to be another woman beside her who was looking
at some pendants. The two fell to talking about the necklace, according
to the best recollection of the clerk, and the second woman began to
examine it critically. Again the prospective buyer went away. But this
time after she had gone, and when he was putting the things back into
the safe, the clerk examined the necklace, thinking that perhaps a flaw
had been discovered in it which had decided the woman against it. It
was a replica in paste; probably substituted by one of these clever and
smartly dressed women for the real necklace."

Before Craig had a chance to put another question, the buzzer on our
door sounded, and I admitted a dapper, soft-spoken man of middle size,
who might have been a travelling salesman or a bookkeeper. He pulled a
card from his case and stood facing us, evidently in doubt how to
proceed.

"Professor Kennedy?" he asked at length, balancing the pasteboard
between his fingers.

"Yes," answered Craig. "What can I do for you?"

"I am from Shorham, the Fifth Avenue jeweller, you know," he began
brusquely, as he handed the card to Kennedy. "I thought I'd drop in to
consult you about a peculiar thing that happened at the store recently,
but if you are engaged, I can wait. You see, we had on exhibition a
very handsome pearl dogcollar, and a few days ago two women came to--"

"Say," interrupted Kennedy, glancing from the card to the face of
Joseph Bentley, and then at Donnelly. "What is this--a gathering of the
clans? There seems to be an epidemic of shoplifting. How much were you
stung for?"

"About twenty thousand altogether," replied Bentley with rueful
frankness. "Why? Has some one else been victimised, too?"



XIII

THE KLEPTOMANIAC


Quickly Kennedy outlined, with Donnelly's permission, the story we had
just heard. The two store detectives saw the humour of the situation,
as well as the seriousness of it, and fell to comparing notes.

"The professional as well as the amateur shop-lifter has always
presented to me an interesting phase of criminality," remarked Kennedy
tentatively, during a lull in their mutual commiseration. "With
thousands of dollars' worth of goods lying unprotected on the counters,
it is really no wonder that some are tempted to reach out and take what
they want."

"Yes," explained Donnelly, "the shop-lifter is the department-store's
greatest unsolved problem. Why, sir, she gets more plunder in a year
than the burglar. She's costing the stores over two million dollars.
And she is at her busiest just now with the season's shopping in full
swing. It's the price the stores have to pay for displaying their
goods, but we have to do it, and we are at the mercy of the thieves. I
don't mean by that the occasional shoplifter who, when she gets caught,
confesses, cries, pleads, and begs to return the stolen article. They
often get off. It is the regulars who get the two million, those known
to the police, whose pictures are, many of them, in the Rogues'
Gallery, whose careers and haunts are known to every probation officer.
They are getting away with loot that means for them a sumptuous living."

"Of course we are not up against the same sort of swindlers that you
are," put in Bentley, "but let me tell you that when the big jewelers
do get up against anything of the sort they are up against it hard."

"Have you any idea who it could be?" asked Kennedy, who had been
following the discussion keenly.

"Well, some idea," spoke up Donnelly. "From what Bentley says I
wouldn't be surprised to find that it was the same person in both
cases. Of course you know how rushed all the stores are just now. It is
much easier for these light-fingered individuals to operate during the
rush than at any other time. In the summer, for instance, there is
almost no shop-lifting at all. I thought that perhaps we could discover
this particular shoplifter by ordinary means, that perhaps some of the
clerks in the jewellery department might be able to identify her. We
found one who said that he thought he might recognise one of the women
if he saw her again. Perhaps you did not know that we have our own
little rogues' gallery in most of the big department-stores. But there
didn't happen to be anything there that he recognised. So I took him
down to Police Headquarters. Through plate after plate of pictures
among the shoplifters in the regular Rogues' Gallery the clerk went. At
last he came to one picture that caused him to stop. 'That is one of
the women I saw in the store that day,' he said. 'I'm sure of it.'"

Donnelly produced a copy of the Bertillon picture.

"What?" exclaimed Bentley, as he glanced at it and then at the name and
history on the back. "Annie Grayson? Why, she is known as the queen of
shoplifters. She has operated from Christie's in London to the little
curio-shops of San Francisco. She has worked under a dozen aliases and
has the art of alibi down to perfection. Oh, I've heard of her many
times before. I wonder if she really is the person we're looking for.
They say that Annie Grayson has forgotten more about shoplifting than
the others will ever know."

"Yes," continued Donnelly, "and here's the queer part of it. The clerk
was ready to swear that he had seen the woman in the store at some time
or other, but whether she had been near the counter where the necklace
was displayed was another matter. He wasn't so sure about that."

"Then how did she get it?" I asked, much interested.

"I don't say that she did get it," cautioned Donnelly. "I don't know
anything about it. That is why I am here consulting Professor Kennedy."

"Then who did get it, do you think?" I demanded.

"We have a great deal of very conflicting testimony from the various
clerks," Donnelly continued. "Among those who are known to have visited
the department and to have seen the necklace is another woman, of an
entirely different character, well known in the city." He glanced
sharply at us, as if to impress us with what he was about to say, then
he leaned over and almost whispered the name. "As nearly as I can
gather out of the mass of evidence, Mrs. William Willoughby, the wife
of the broker down in Wall Street, was the last person who was seen
looking at the diamonds."

The mere breath of such a suspicion would have been enough, without his
stage-whisper method of imparting the information. I felt that it was
no wonder that, having even a suspicion of this sort, he should be in
doubt how to go ahead and should wish Kennedy's advice. Ella
Willoughby, besides being the wife of one of the best known operators
in high-class stocks and bonds, was well known in the society columns
of the newspapers. She lived in Glenclair, where she was a leader of
the smarter set at both the church and the country club. The group who
preserved this neat balance between higher things and the world, the
flesh and the devil, I knew to be a very exclusive group, which, under
the calm suburban surface, led a sufficiently rapid life. Mrs.
Willoughby, in addition to being a leader, was a very striking woman
and a beautiful dresser, who set a fast pace for the semi-millionaires
who composed the group.

Here indeed was a puzzle at the very start of the case. It was in all
probability Mrs. Willoughby who had looked at the jewels in both cases.
On the other hand, it was Annie Grayson who had been seen on at least
one occasion, yet apparently had had nothing whatever to do with the
missing jewels, at least not so far as any tangible evidence yet
showed. More than that, Donnelly vouchsafed the information that he had
gone further and that some of the men work-ing under him had
endeavoured to follow the movements of the two women and had found what
looked to be a curious crossing of trails. Both of them, he had found,
had been in the habit of visiting, while shopping, the same little
tea-room on Thirty-third Street, though no one had ever seen them
together there, and the coincidence might be accounted for by the fact
that many Glenclair ladies on shopping expeditions made this tea-room a
sort of rendezvous. By inquiring about among his own fraternity
Donnelly had found that other stores also had reported losses recently,
mostly of diamonds and pearls, both black and white.

Kennedy had been pondering the situation for some time, scarcely
uttering a word. Both detectives were now growing restless, waiting for
him to say something. As for me, I knew that if anything were said or
done it would be in Kennedy's own good time. I had learned to have
implicit faith and confidence in him, for I doubt if Craig could have
been placed in a situation where he would not know just what to do
after he had looked over the ground.

At length he leisurely reached across the table for the suburban
telephone book, turned the pages quickly, snapped it shut, and observed
wearily and, as it seemed, irrelevantly: "The same old trouble again
about accurate testimony. I doubt whether if I should suddenly pull a
revolver and shoot Jameson, either of you two men could give a strictly
accurate account of just what happened."

No one said anything, as he raised his hands from his habitual thinking
posture with finger-tips together, placed both hands back of his head,
and leaned back facing us squarely.

"The first step," he said slowly, "must be to arrange a 'plant.' As
nearly as I can make out the shoplifters or shoplifter, whichever it
may prove to be, have no hint that any one is watching them yet. Now,
Donnelly, it is still very early. I want you to telephone around to the
newspapers, and either in the Trimble advertisements or in the news
columns have it announced that your jewellery department has on
exhibition a new and special importation of South African stones among
which is one--let me see, let's call it the 'Kimberley Queen.' That
will sound attractive. In the meantime find the largest and most
perfect paste jewel in town and have it fixed up for exhibition and
labelled the Kimberley Queen. Give it a history if you can; anything to
attract attention. I'll see you in the morning. Good-night, and thank
you for coming to me with this case."

It was quite late, but Kennedy, now thoroughly interested in following
the chase, had no intention of waiting until the morrow before taking
action on his own account. In fact he was just beginning the evening's
work by sending Donnelly off to arrange the "plant." No less interested
in the case than himself, I needed no second invitation, and in a few
minutes we were headed from our rooms toward the laboratory, where
Kennedy had apparatus to meet almost any conceivable emergency. From a
shelf in the corner he took down an oblong oak box, perhaps eighteen
inches in length, in the front of which was set a circular metal disk
with a sort of pointer and dial. He lifted the lid of the box, and
inside I could see two shiny caps which in turn he lifted, disclosing
what looked like two good-sized spools of wire. Apparently satisfied
with his scrutiny, he snapped the lid shut and wrapped up the box
carefully, consigning it to my care, while he hunted some copper wire.

From long experience with Kennedy I knew better than to ask what he had
in mind to do. It was enough to know that he had already, in those few
minutes of apparent dreaming while Donnelly and Bentley were fidgeting
for words, mapped out a complete course of action.

We bent our steps toward the under-river tube, which carried a few late
travellers to the railroad terminal where Kennedy purchased tickets for
Glenclair. I noticed that the conductor on the suburban train eyed us
rather suspiciously as though the mere fact that we were not travelling
with commutation tickets at such an hour constituted an offence.
Although I did not yet know the precise nature of our adventure, I
remembered with some misgiving that I had read of police dogs in
Glenclair which were uncomfortably familiar with strangers carrying
bundles. However, we got along all right, perhaps because the dogs knew
that in a town of commuters every one was privileged to carry a bundle.

"If the Willoughbys had been on a party line," remarked Craig as we
strode up Woodridge Avenue trying to look as if it was familiar to us,
"we might have arranged this thing by stratagem. As it is, we shall
have to resort to another method, and perhaps better, since we shall
have to take no one into our confidence."

The avenue was indeed a fine thoroughfare, lined on both sides with
large and often imposing mansions, surrounded with trees and shrubbery,
which served somewhat to screen them. We came at last to the Willoughby
house, a sizable colonial residence set up on a hill. It was dark,
except for one dim light in an upper story. In the shadow of the hedge,
Craig silently vaulted the low fence and slipped up the terraces, as
noiselessly as an Indian, scarcely crackling a twig or rustling a dead
leaf on the ground. He paused as he came to a wing on the right of the
house.

I had followed more laboriously, carrying the box and noting that he
was not looking so much at the house as at the sky, apparently. It did
not take long to fathom what he was after. It was not a star-gazing
expedition; he was following the telephone wire that ran in from the
street to the corner of the house near which we were now standing. A
moment's inspection showed him where the wire was led down, on the
outside and entered through the top of a window.

Quickly he worked, though in a rather awkward position, attaching two
wires carefully to the telephone wires. Next he relieved me of the oak
box with its strange contents, and placed it under the porch where it
was completely hidden by some lattice-work which extended down to the
ground on this side. Then he attached the new wires from the telephone
to it and hid the connecting wires as best he could behind the swaying
runners of a vine. At last, when he had finished to his satisfaction,
we retraced our steps, to find that our only chance of getting out of
town that night was by trolley that landed us, after many changes, in
our apartment in New York, thoroughly convinced of the disadvantages of
suburban detective work.

Nevertheless the next day found us out sleuthing about Glenclair, this
time in a more pleasant role. We had a newspaper friend or two out
there who was willing to introduce us about without asking too many
questions. Kennedy, of course, insisted on beginning at the very
headquarters of gossip, the country club.

We spent several enjoyable hours about the town, picking up a good deal
of miscellaneous and useless information. It was, however, as Kennedy
had suspected. Annie Grayson had taken up her residence in an artistic
little house on one of the best side streets of the town. But her name
was no longer Annie Grayson. She was Mrs. Maud Emery, a dashing young
widow of some means, living in a very quiet but altogether comfortable
style, cutting quite a figure in the exclusive suburban community, a
leading member of the church circle, an officer of the Civic League,
prominent in the women's club, and popular with those to whom the
established order of things was so perfect that the only new bulwark of
their rights was an anti-suffrage society. In fact, every one was
talking of the valuable social acquisition in the person of this
attractive young woman who entertained lavishly and was bracing up an
otherwise drooping season. No one knew much about her, but then, that
was not necessary. It was enough to accept one whose opinions and
actions were not subversive of the social order in any way.

The Willoughbys, of course, were among the most prominent people in the
town. William Willoughby was head of the firm of Willoughby & Walton,
and it was the general opinion that Mrs. Willoughby was the head of the
firm of Ella & William Willoughby. The Willoughbys were good mixers,
and were spoken well of even by the set who occupied the social stratum
just one degree below that in which they themselves moved. In fact,
when Mrs. Willoughby had been severely injured in an automobile
accident during the previous summer Glenclair had shown real solicitude
for her and had forgotten a good deal of its artificiality in genuine
human interest.

Kennedy was impatiently waiting for an opportunity to recover the box
which he had left under the Willoughby porch. Several times we walked
past the house, but it was not until nightfall that he considered it
wise to make the recovery. Again we slipped silently up the terraces.
It was the work of only a moment to cut the wires, and in triumph Craig
bore off the precious oak box and its batteries.

He said little on our journey back to the city, but the moment we had
reached the laboratory he set the box on a table with an attachment
which seemed to be controlled by pedals operated by the feet.

"Walter," he explained, holding what looked like an earpiece in his
hand, "this is another of those new little instruments that scientific
detectives to-day are using. A poet might write a clever little verse
en-titled, 'The telegraphone'll get you, if you don't watch out.' This
is the latest improved telegraphone, a little electromagnetic wizard in
a box, which we detectives are now using to take down and 'can'
telephone conversations and other records. It is based on an entirely
new principle in every way different from the phonograph. It was
discovered by an inventor several years ago, while experimenting in
telephony.

"There are no disks or cylinders of wax, as in the phonograph, but two
large spools of extremely fine steel wire. The record is not made
mechanically on a cylinder, but electromagnetically on this wire. Small
portions of magnetism are imparted to fractions of the steel wire as it
passes between two carbon electric magnets. Each impression represents
a sound wave. There is no apparent difference in the wire, no surface
abrasion or other change, yet each particle of steel undergoes an
electromagnetic transformation by which the sound is indelibly
imprinted on it until it is wiped out by the erasing magnet. There are
no cylinders to be shaved; all that is needed to use the wire again is
to pass a magnet over it, automatically erasing any previous record
that you do not wish to preserve. You can dictate into it, or, with
this plug in, you can record a telephone conversation on it. Even rust
or other deterioration of the steel wire by time will not affect this
electromagnetic registry of sound. It can be read as long as steel will
last. It is as effective for long distances as for short, and there is
wire enough on one of these spools for thirty minutes of uninterrupted
record."

Craig continued to tinker tantalisingly with the machine.

"The principle on which it is based," he added, "is that a mass of
tempered steel may be impressed with and will retain magnetic fluxes
varying in density and in sign in adjacent portions of its mass. There
are no indentations on the wire or the steel disk. Instead there is a
deposit of magnetic impulse on the wire, which is made by connecting up
an ordinary telephone transmitter with the electromagnets and talking
through the coil. The disturbance set up in the coils by the vibration
of the diaphragm of the transmitter causes a deposit of magnetic
impulse on the wire, the coils being connected with dry batteries. When
the wire is again run past these coils, with a receiver such as I have
here in circuit with the coils, a light vibration is set up in the
receiver diaphragm which reproduces the sound of speech."

He turned a switch and placed an ear-piece over his head, giving me
another connected with it. We listened eagerly. There were no foreign
noises in the machine, no grating or thumping sounds, as he controlled
the running off of the steel wire by means of a foot-pedal.

We were listening to everything that had been said over the Willoughby
telephone during the day. Several local calls to tradesmen came first,
and these we passed over quickly. Finally we heard the following
conversation:

"Hello. Is that you, Ella? Yes, this is Maud. Good-morning. How do you
feel to-day?"

"Good-morning, Maud. I don't feel very well. I have a splitting
headache."

"Oh, that's too bad, dear. What are you doing for it?"

"Nothing--yet. If it doesn't get better I shall have Mr. Willoughby
call up Dr. Guthrie."

"Oh, I hope it gets better soon. You poor creature, don't you think a
little trip into town might make you feel better? Had you thought of
going to-day?"

"Why, no. I hadn't thought of going in. Are you going?"

"Did you see the Trimble ad. in the morning paper?"

"No, I didn't see the papers this morning. My head felt too bad."

"Well, just glance at it. It will interest you. They have the Kimberley
Queen, the great new South African diamond on exhibition there."

"They have? I never heard of it before, but isn't that interesting. I
certainly would like to see it. Have you ever seen it?"

"No, but I have made up my mind not to miss a sight of it. They say it
is wonderful. You'd better come along. I may have something interesting
to tell you, too."

"Well, I believe I will go. Thank you, Maud, for suggesting it. Perhaps
the little change will make me feel better. What train are you going to
take? The ten-two? All right, I'll try to meet you at the station.
Good-bye, Maud."

"Good-bye, Ella."

Craig stopped the machine, ran it back again and repeated the record.
"So," he commented at the conclusion of the repetition, "the 'plant'
has taken root. Annie Grayson has bitten at the bait."

A few other local calls and a long-distance call from Mr. Willoughby
cut short by his not finding his wife at home followed. Then there
seemed to have been nothing more until after dinner. It was a call by
Mr. Willoughby himself that now interested us.

"Hello! hello! Is that you, Dr. Guthrie? Well, Doctor, this is Mr.
Willoughby talking. I'd like to make an appointment for my wife
to-morrow."

"Why, what's the trouble, Mr. Willoughby? Nothing serious, I hope."

"Oh, no, I guess not. But then I want to be sure, and I guess you can
fix her up all right. She complains of not being able to sleep and has
been having pretty bad headaches now and then."

"Is that so? Well, that's too bad. These women and their
headaches--even as a doctor they puzzle me. They often go away as
suddenly as they come. However, it will do no harm to see me."

"And then she complains of noises in her ears, seems to hear things,
though as far as I can make out, there is nothing--at least nothing
that I hear."

"Um-m, hallucinations in hearing, I suppose. Any dizziness?"

"Why, yes, a little once in a while."

"How is she now?"

"Well, she's been into town this afternoon and is pretty tired, but she
says she feels a little better for the excitement of the trip."

"Well, let me see. I've got to come down Woodridge Avenue to see a
patient in a few minutes anyhow. Suppose I just drop off at your place?"

"That will be fine. You don't think it is anything serious, do you,
Doctor?"

"Oh, no. Probably it's her nerves. Perhaps a little rest would do her
good. We'll see."

The telegraphone stopped, and that seemed to be the last conversation
recorded. So far we had learned nothing very startling, I thought, and
was just a little disappointed. Kennedy seemed well satisfied, however.

Our own telephone rang, and it proved to be Donnelly on the wire. He
had been trying to get Kennedy all day, in order to report that at
various times his men at Trimble's had observed Mrs. Willoughby and
later Annie Grayson looking with much interest at the Kimberley Queen,
and other jewels in the exhibit. There was nothing more to report.

"Keep it on view another day or two," ordered Kennedy. "Advertise it,
but in a quiet way. We don't want too many people interested. I'll see
you in the morning at the store--early."

"I think I'll just run back to Glenclair again to-night," remarked
Kennedy as he hung up the receiver. "You needn't bother about coming,
Walter. I want to see Dr. Guthrie a moment. You remember him? We met
him to-day at the country club, a kindly looking, middle-aged fellow?"

I would willingly have gone back with him, but I felt that I could be
of no particular use. While he was gone I pondered a good deal over the
situation. Twice, at least, previously some one had pilfered jewellery
from stores, leaving in its place worthless imitations. Twice the
evidence had been so conflicting that no one could judge of its value.
What reason, I asked myself, was there to suppose that it would be
different now? No shoplifter in her senses was likely to lift the great
Kimberley Queen gem with the eagle eyes of clerks and detectives on
her, even if she did not discover that it was only a paste jewel. And
if Craig gave the woman, whoever she was, a good opportunity to get
away with it, it would be a case of the same conflicting evidence; or
worse, no evidence.

Yet the more I thought of it, the more apparent to me was it that
Kennedy must have thought the whole thing out before. So far all that
had been evident was that he was merely preparing a "plant." Still, I
meant to caution him when he returned that one could not believe his
eyes, certainly not his ears, as to what might happen, unless he was
unusually skilful or lucky. It would not do to rely on anything so
fallible as the human eye or ear, and I meant to impress it on him.
What, after all, had been the net result of our activities so far? We
had found next to nothing. Indeed, it was all a greater mystery than
ever.

It was very late when Craig returned, but I gathered from the still
fresh look on his face that he had been successful in whatever it was
he had had in mind when he made the trip.

"I saw Dr. Guthrie," he reported laconically, as we prepared to turn
in. "He says that he isn't quite sure but that Mrs. Willoughby may have
a touch of vertigo. At any rate, he has consented to let me come out
to-morrow with him and visit her as a specialist in nervous diseases
from New York. I had to tell him just enough about the case to get him
interested, but that will do no harm. I think I'll set this alarm an
hour ahead. I want to get up early to-morrow, and if I shouldn't be
here when you wake, you'll find me at Trimble's."



XIV

THE CRIMEOMETER


The alarm wakened me all right, but to my surprise Kennedy had already
gone, ahead of it. I dressed hurriedly, bolted an early breakfast, and
made my way to Trimble's. He was not there, and I had about concluded
to try the laboratory, when I saw him pulling up in a cab from which he
took several packages. Donnelly had joined us by this time, and
together we rode up in the elevator to the jewelry department. I had
never seen a department-store when it was empty, but I think I should
like to shop in one under those conditions. It seemed incredible to get
into the elevator and go directly to the floor you wanted.

The jewelry department was in the front of the building on one of the
upper floors, with wide windows through which the bright morning light
streamed attractively on the glittering wares that the clerks were
taking out of the safes and disposing to their best advantage. The
store had not opened yet, and we could work unhampered.

From his packages, Kennedy took three black boxes. They seemed to have
an opening in front, while at one side was a little crank, which, as
nearly as I could make out, was operated by clockwork released by an
electric contact. His first problem seemed to be to dispose the boxes
to the best advantage at various angles about the counter where the
Kimberley Queen was on exhibition. With so much bric-a-brac and other
large articles about, it did not appear to be very difficult to conceal
the boxes, which were perhaps four inches square on the ends and eight
inches deep. From the boxes with the clockwork attachment at the side
he led wires, centring at a point at the interior end of the aisle
where we could see but would hardly be observed by any one standing at
the jewelry counter.

Customers had now begun to arrive, and we took a position in the
background, prepared for a long wait. Now and then Donnelly casually
sauntered past us. He and Craig had disposed the store detectives in a
certain way so as to make their presence less obvious, while the clerks
had received instructions how to act under the circumstance that a
suspicious person was observed.

Once when Donnelly came up he was quite excited. He had just received a
message from Bentley that some of the stolen property, the pearls,
probably, from the dog collar that had been taken from Shorham's, had
been offered for sale by a "fence" known to the police as a former
confederate of Annie Grayson.

"You see, that is one great trouble with them all," he remarked, with
his eye roving about the store in search of anything irregular. "A
shoplifter rarely becomes a habitual criminal until after she passes
the age of twenty-five. If they pass that age without quitting, there
is little hope of their getting right again, as you see. For by that
time they have long since begun to consort with thieves of the other
sex."

The hours dragged heavily, though it was a splendid chance to observe
at leisure the psychology of the shopper who looked at much and bought
little, the uncomfortableness of the men who had been dragged to the
department store slaughter to say "Yes" and foot the bills, a
kaleidoscopic throng which might have been interesting if we had not
been so intent on only one matter.

Kennedy grasped my elbow in vise-like fingers. Involuntarily I looked
down at the counter where the Kimberley Queen reposed in all the
trappings of genuineness. Mrs. Willoughby had arrived again.

We were too far off to observe distinctly just what was taking place,
but evidently Mrs. Willoughby was looking at the gem. A moment later
another woman sauntered casually up to the counter. Even at a distance
I recognised Annie Grayson. As nearly as I could make out they seemed
to exchange remarks. The clerk answered a question or two, then began
to search for something apparently to show them. Every one about them
was busy, and, obedient to instructions from Donnelly, the store
detectives were in the background.

Kennedy was leaning forward watching as intently as the distance would
permit. He reached over and pressed the button near him.

After a minute or two the second woman left, followed shortly by Mrs.
Willoughby herself. We hurried over to the counter, and Kennedy seized
the box containing the Kimberley Queen. He examined it carefully. A
flaw in the paste jewel caught his eye.

"There has been a substitution here," he cried. "See! The paste jewel
which we used was flawless; this has a little carbon spot here on the
side."

"One of my men has been detailed to follow each of them," whispered
Donnelly. "Shall I order them to bring Mrs. Willoughby and Annie
Grayson to the superintendent's office and have them searched?"

"No," Craig almost shouted. "That would spoil everything. Don't make a
move until I get at the real truth of this affair."

The case was becoming more than ever a puzzle to me, but there was
nothing left for me to do but to wait until Kennedy was ready to
accompany Dr. Guthrie to the Willoughby house. Several times he tried
to reach the doctor by telephone, but it was not until the middle of
the afternoon that he succeeded.

"I shall be quite busy the rest of the afternoon, Walter," remarked
Craig, after he had made his appointment with Dr. Guthrie. "If you will
meet me out at the Willoughbys' at about eight o'clock, I shall be much
obliged to you."

I promised, and tried to devote myself to catching up with my notes,
which were always sadly behind when Kennedy had an important case. I
did not succeed in accomplishing much, however.

Dr. Guthrie himself met me at the door of the beautiful house on
Woodridge Avenue and with a hearty handshake ushered me into the large
room in the right wing outside of which we had placed the telegraphone
two nights before. It was the library.

We found Kennedy arranging an instrument in the music-room which
adjoined the library. From what little knowledge I have of electricity
I should have said it was, in part at least, a galvanometer, one of
those instruments which register the intensity of minute electric
currents. As nearly as I could make out, in this case the galvanometer
was so arranged that its action swung to one side or the other a little
concave mirror hung from a framework which rested on the table.
Directly in front of it was an electric light, and the reflection of
the light was caught in the mirror and focused by its concavity upon a
point to one side of the light. Back of it was a long strip of ground
glass and an arrow point, attached to which was a pen which touched a
roll of paper.

On the large table in the library itself Kennedy had placed in the
centre a transverse board partition, high enough so that two people
seated could see each other's faces and converse over it, but could not
see each other's hands. On one side of the partition were two metal
domes which were fixed to a board set on the table. On the other side,
in addition to space on which he could write, Kennedy had arranged what
looked like one of these new miniature moving-picture apparatuses
operated by electricity. Indeed, I felt that it must be that, for
directly in front of it, hanging on the wall, in plain view of any one
seated on the side of the table containing the metal domes, was a large
white sheet.

The time for the experiment, whatever its nature might be, had at last
arrived, and Dr. Guthrie introduced Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby to us as
specialists whom he had persuaded with great difficulty to come down
from New York. Mr. Willoughby he requested to remain outside until
after the tests. She seemed perfectly calm as she greeted us, and
looked with curiosity at the paraphernalia which Kennedy had installed
in her library. Kennedy, who was putting some finishing touches on it,
was talking in a low voice to reassure her.

"If you will sit here, please, Mrs. Willoughby, and place your hands on
these two brass domes--there, that's it. This is just a little
arrangement to test your nervous condition. Dr. Guthrie, who
understands it, will take his position outside in the music-room at
that other table. Walter, just switch off that light, please.

"Mrs. Willoughby, I may say that in testing, say, the memory, we
psychologists have recently developed two tests, the event test, where
something is made to happen before a person's eyes and later he is
asked to describe it, and the picture test, where a picture is shown
for a certain length of time, after which the patient is also asked to
describe what was in the picture. I have endeavoured to combine these
two ideas by using the moving-picture machine which you see here. I am
going to show three reels of films."

As nearly as I could make out Kennedy had turned on the light in the
lantern on his side of the table. As he worked over the machine, which
for the present served to distract Mrs. Willoughby's attention from
herself, he was asking her a series of questions. From my position I
could see that by the light of the machine he was recording both the
questions and the answers, as well as the time registered to the fifth
of a second by a stop-watch. Mrs. Willoughby could not see what he was
doing under the pretence of working over his little moving-picture
machine.

He had at last finished the questioning. Suddenly, without any warning,
a picture began to play on the sheet. I must say that I was startled
myself. It represented the jewelry counter at Trimble's, and in it I
could see Mrs. Willoughby herself in animated conversation with one of
the clerks. I looked intently, dividing my attention between the
picture and the woman. But so far as I could see there was nothing in
this first film that incriminated either of them.

Kennedy started on the second without stopping. It was practically the
same as the first, only taken from a different angle.

He had scarcely run it half through when Dr. Guthrie opened the door.

"I think Mrs. Willoughby must have taken her hands off the metal
domes," he remarked; "I can get no record out here."

I had turned when he opened the door, and now I caught a glimpse of
Mrs. Willoughby standing, her hands pressed tightly to her head as if
it were bursting, and swaying as if she would faint. I do not know what
the film was showing at this point, for Kennedy with a quick movement
shut it off and sprang to her side.

"There, that will do, Mrs. Willoughby. I see that you are not well," he
soothed. "Doctor, a little something to quiet her nerves. I think we
can complete our work merely by comparing notes. Call Mr. Willoughby,
Walter. There, sir, if you will take charge of your wife and perhaps
take her for a turn or two in the fresh air, I think we can tell you in
a few moments whether her condition is in any way serious or not."

Mrs. Willoughby was on the verge of hysterics as her husband supported
her out of the room. The door had scarcely shut before Kennedy threw
open a window and seemed to beckon into the darkness. As if from
nowhere, Donnelly and Bentley sprang no and were admitted.

Dr. Guthrie had now returned from the music-room, bearing a sheet of
paper on which was traced a long irregular curve at various points on
which marginal notes had been written hastily.

Kennedy leaped directly into the middle of things with his
characteristic ardour. "You recall," he began, "that no one seemed to
know just who took the jewels in both the cases you first reported?
'Seeing is believing,' is an old saying, but in the face of such
reports as you detectives gathered it is in a fair way to lose its
force. And you were not at fault, either, for modern psychology is
proving by experiments that people do not see even a fraction of the
things they confidently believe they see.

"For example, a friend of mine, a professor in a Western university,
has carried on experiments with scores of people and has not found one
who could give a completely accurate description of what he had seen,
even in the direct testimony; while under the influence of questions,
particularly if they were at all leading, witnesses all showed
extensive inaccuracies in one or more particulars, and that even though
they are in a more advantageous position for giving reports than were
your clerks who were not prepared. Indeed, it is often a wonder to me
that witnesses of ordinary events who are called upon in court to
relate what they saw after a considerable lapse of time are as accurate
as they are, considering the questioning they often go through from
interested parties, neighbours and friends, and the constant and often
biased rehearsing of the event. The court asks the witness to tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. How can he? In fact,
I am often surprised that there is such a resemblance between the
testimony and the actual facts of the case!

"But I have here a little witness that never lies, and, mindful of the
fallibility of ordinary witnesses, I called it in. It is a new,
compact, little motion camera which has just been perfected to do
automatically what the big moving-picture making cameras do."

He touched one of the little black boxes such as we had seen him
install in the jewelry department at Trimble's.

"Each of these holds one hundred and sixty feet of film," he resumed,
"enough to last three minutes, taking, say, sixteen pictures to the
foot and running about one foot a second. You know that less than ten
or eleven pictures a second affect the retina as separate, broken
pictures. The use of this compact little motion camera was suggested to
me by an ingenious but cumbersome invention recently offered to the
police in Paris--the installation on the clock-towers in various
streets of cinematograph apparatus directed by wireless. The motion
camera as a detective has now proved its value. I have here three films
taken at Trimble's, from different angles, and they clearly show
exactly what actually occurred while Mrs. Willoughby and Annie Grayson
were looking at the Kimberley Queen."

He paused as if analysing the steps in his own mind. "The telegraphone
gave me the first hint of the truth," he said. "The motion camera
brought me a step nearer, but without this third instrument, while I
should have been successful, I would not have got at the whole truth."

He was fingering the apparatus on the library table connected with that
in the music-room. "This is the psychometer for testing mental
aberrations," he explained. "The scientists who are using it to-day are
working, not with a view to aiding criminal jurisprudence, but with the
hope of making such discoveries that the mental health of the race may
be bettered. Still, I believe that in the study of mental diseases
these men are furnishing the knowledge upon which future criminologists
will build to make the detection of crime an absolute certainty. Some
day there will be no jury, no detectives, no witnesses, no attorneys.
The state will merely submit all suspects to tests of scientific
instruments like these, and as these instruments can not make mistakes
or tell lies their evidence will be conclusive of guilt or innocence.

"Already the psychometer is an actual working fact. No living man can
conceal his emotions from the uncanny instrument. He may bring the most
gigantic of will-powers into play to conceal his inner feelings and the
psychometer will record the very work which he makes this will-power do.

"The machine is based upon the fact that experiments have proved that
the human body's resistance to an electrical current is increased with
the increase of the emotions. Dr. Jung, of Zurich, thought that it
would be a very simple matter to record these varying emotions, and the
psychometer is the result--simple and crude to-day compared with what
we have a right to expect in the future.

"A galvanometer is so arranged that its action swings a mirror from
side to side, reflecting a light. This light falls on a ground-glass
scale marked off into centimetres, and the arrow is made to follow the
beam of light. A pen pressing down on a metal drum carrying a long roll
of paper revolved by machinery records the variations. Dr. Guthrie, who
had charge of the recording, simply sat in front of the ground glass
and with the arrow point followed the reflection of the light as it
moved along the scale, in this way making a record on the paper on the
drum, which I see he is now holding in his hand.

"Mrs. Willoughby, the subject, and myself, the examiner, sat here,
facing each other over this table. Through those metal domes on which
she was to keep her hands she received an electric current so weak that
it could not be felt even by the most sensitive nerves. Now with every
increase in her emotion, either while I was putting questions to her or
showing her the pictures, whether she showed it outwardly or not, she
increased her body's resistance to the current that was being passed in
through her hands. The increase was felt by the galvanometer connected
by wires in the music-room, the mirror swung, the light travelled on
the scale, the arrow was moved by Dr. Guthrie, and her varying emotions
were recorded indelibly upon the revolving sheet of paper, recorded in
such a way as to show their intensity and reveal to the trained
scientist much of the mental condition of the subject."

Kennedy and Dr. Guthrie now conversed in low tones. Once in a while I
could catch a scrap of the conversation--"not an epileptic," "no
abnormal conformation of the head," "certain mental defects," "often
the result of sickness or accident."

"Every time that woman appeared there was a most peculiar disturbance,"
remarked Dr. Guthrie as Kennedy took the roll of paper from him and
studied it carefully.

At length the light seemed to break through his face.

"Among the various kinds of insanity," he said, slowly measuring his
words, "there is one that manifests itself as an irresistible impulse
to steal. Such terms as neuropath and kleptomaniac are often regarded
as rather elegant names for contemptible excuses invented by medical
men to cover up stealing. People are prone to say cynically, 'Poor
man's sins; rich man's diseases.' Yet kleptomania does exist, and it is
easy to make it seem like crime when it is really persistent,
incorrigible, and irrational stealing. Often it is so great as to be
incurable. Cases have been recorded of clergymen who were kleptomaniacs
and in one instance a dying victim stole the snuffbox of his confessor.

"It is the pleasure and excitement of stealing, not the desire for the
object stolen, which distinguishes the kleptomaniac from the ordinary
thief. Usually the kleptomaniac is a woman, with an insane desire to
steal for the mere sake of stealing. The morbid craving for excitement
which is at the bottom of so many motiveless and useless crimes, again
and again has driven apparently sensible men and women to ruin and even
to suicide. It is a form of emotional insanity, not loss of control of
the will, but perversion of the will. Some are models in their lucid
intervals, but when the mania is on them they cannot resist. The very
act of taking constitutes the pleasure, not possession. One must take
into consideration many things, for such diseases as kleptomania belong
exclusively to civilisation; they are the product of an age of
sensationalism. Naturally enough, woman, with her delicately balanced
nervous organisation, is the first and chief offender."

Kennedy had seated himself at the table and was writing hastily. When
he had finished, he held the papers in his hand to dry.

He handed one sheet each to Bentley and Donnelly. We crowded about.
Kennedy had simply written out two bills for the necklace and the
collar of pearls.

"Send them in to Mr. Willoughby," he added. "I think he will be glad to
pay them to hush up the scandal."

We looked at each other in amazement at the revelation.

"But what about Annie Grayson?" persisted Donnelly.

"I have taken care of her," responded Kennedy laconically. "She is
already under arrest. Would you like to see why?"

A moment later we had all piled into Dr. Guthrie's car, standing at the
door.

At the cosy little Grayson villa we found two large eyed detectives and
a very angry woman waiting impatiently. Heaped up on a table in the
living room was a store of loot that readily accounted for the ocular
peculiarity of the detectives.

The jumble on the table contained a most magnificent collection of
diamonds, sapphires, ropes of pearls, emeralds, statuettes, and bronze
and ivory antiques, books in rare bindings, and other baubles which
wealth alone can command. It dazzled our eyes as we made a mental
inventory of the heap. Yet it was a most miscellaneous collection.
Beside a pearl collar with a diamond clasp were a pair of plain leather
slippers and a pair of silk stockings. Things of value and things of no
value were mixed as if by a lunatic. A beautiful neck ornament of
carved coral lay near a half-dozen common linen handkerchiefs. A strip
of silk hid a valuable collection of antique jewellery. Besides
diamonds and precious stones by the score were gold and silver
ornaments, silks, satins, laces, draperies, articles of virtu, plumes,
even cutlery and bric-a-brac. All this must have been the result of
countless excursions to the stores of New York and innumerable clever
thefts.

We could only look at each other in amazement and wonder at the
defiance written on the face of Annie Grayson.

"In all this strange tangle of events," remarked Kennedy, surveying the
pile with obvious satisfaction, "I find that the precise instruments of
science have told me one more thing. Some one else discovered Mrs.
Willoughby's weakness, led her on, suggested opportunities to her, used
her again and again, profited by her malady, probably to the extent of
thousands of dollars. My telegraphone record hinted at that. In some
way Annie Grayson secured the confidence of Mrs. Willoughby. The one
took for the sake of taking; the other received for the sake of money.
Mrs. Willoughby was easily persuaded by her new friend to leave here
what she had stolen. Besides, having taken it, she had no further
interest in it.

"The rule of law is that every one is responsible who knows the nature
and consequences of his act. We have absolute proof that you, Annie
Grayson, although you did not actually commit any of the thefts
yourself, led Mrs. Willoughby on and profited by her. Dr. Guthrie will
take care of the case of Mrs. Willoughby. But the law must deal with
you for playing on the insanity of a kleptomaniac--the cleverest scheme
yet of the queen of shoplifters."

As Kennedy turned nonchalantly from the detectives who had seized Annie
Grayson, he drew a little red folder from his pocket.

"You see, Walter," he smiled, "how soon one gets into a habit? I'm
almost a regular commuter, now. You know, they are always bringing out
these little red folders just when things grow interesting."

I glanced over his shoulder. He was studying the local timetable.

"We can get the last train from Glenclair if we hurry," he announced,
stuffing the folder back into his pocket. "They will take her to Newark
by trolley, I suppose. Come on."

We made our hasty adieux and escaped as best we could the shower of
congratulations.

"Now for a rest," he said, settling back into the plush covered seat
for the long ride into town, his hat down over his eyes and his legs
hunched up against the back of the next seat. Across in the tube and
uptown in a nighthawk cab we went and at last we were home for a good
sleep.

"This promises to be an off-day," Craig remarked, the next morning over
the breakfast table. "Meet me in the forenoon and we'll take a long,
swinging walk. I feel the need of physical exercise."

"A mark of returning sanity!" I exclaimed.

I had become so used to being called out on the unexpected, now, that I
almost felt that some one might stop us on our tramp. Nothing of the
sort happened, however, until our return.

Then a middle-aged man and a young girl, heavily veiled, were waiting
for Kennedy, as we turned in from the brisk finish in the cutting river
wind along the Drive.

"Winslow is my name, sir," the man began, rising nervously as we
entered the room, "and this is my only daughter, Ruth."

Kennedy bowed and we waited for the man to proceed. He drew his hand
over his forehead which was moist with perspiration in spite of the
season. Ruth Winslow was an attractive young woman, I could see at a
glance, although her face was almost completely hidden by the thick
veil.

"Perhaps, Ruth, I had better--ah--see these gentlemen alone?" suggested
her father gently.

"No, father," she answered in a tone of forced bravery, "I think not. I
can stand it. I must stand it. Perhaps I can help you in telling about
the--the case."

Mr. Winslow cleared his throat.

"We are from Goodyear, a little mill-town," he proceeded slowly, "and
as you doubtless can see we have just arrived after travelling all day."

"Goodyear," repeated Kennedy slowly as the man paused. "The chief
industry, of course, is rubber, I suppose."

"Yes," assented Mr. Winslow, "the town centres about rubber. Our
factories are not the largest but are very large, nevertheless, and are
all that keep the town going. It is on rubber, also, I fear, that the
tragedy which I am about to relate hangs. I suppose the New York papers
have had nothing to say of the strange death of Bradley Cushing, a
young chemist in Goodyear who was formerly employed by the mills but
had lately set up a little laboratory of his own?"

Kennedy turned to me. "Nothing unless the late editions of the evening
papers have it," I replied.

"Perhaps it is just as well," continued Mr. Winslow. "They wouldn't
have it straight. In fact, no one has it straight yet. That is why we
have come to you. You see, to my way of thinking Bradley Cushing was on
the road to changing the name of the town from Goodyear to Cushing. He
was not the inventor of synthetic rubber about which you hear nowadays,
but he had improved the process so much that there is no doubt that
synthetic rubber would soon have been on the market cheaper and better
than the best natural rubber from Para.

"Goodyear is not a large place, but it is famous for its rubber and
uses a great deal of raw material. We have sent out some of the best
men in the business, seeking new sources in South America, in Mexico,
in Ceylon, Malaysia and the Congo. What our people do not know about
rubber is hardly worth knowing, from the crude gum to the thousands of
forms of finished products. Goodyear is a wealthy little town, too, for
its size. Naturally all its investments are in rubber, not only in our
own mills but in companies all over the world. Last year several of our
leading citizens became interested in a new concession in the Congo
granted to a group of American capitalists, among whom was Lewis
Borland, who is easily the local magnate of our town. When this group
organised an expedition to explore the region preparatory to taking up
the concession, several of the best known people in Goodyear
accompanied the party and later subscribed for large blocks of stock.

"I say all this so that you will understand at the start just what part
rubber plays in the life of our little community. You can readily see
that such being the case, whatever advantage the world at large might
gain from cheap synthetic rubber would scarcely benefit those whose
money and labour had been expended on the assumption that rubber would
be scarce and dear. Naturally, then, Bradley Cushing was not precisely
popular with a certain set in Goodyear. As for myself, I am frank to
admit that I might have shared the opinion of many others regarding
him, for I have a small investment in this Congo enterprise myself. But
the fact is that Cushing, when he came to our town fresh from his
college fellowship in industrial chemistry, met my daughter."

Without taking his eyes off Kennedy, he reached over and patted the
gloved hand that clutched the arm of the chair alongside his own. "They
were engaged and often they used to talk over what they would do when
Bradley's invention of a new way to polymerise isoprene, as the process
is called, had solved the rubber question and had made him rich. I
firmly believe that their dreams were not day dreams, either. The thing
was done. I have seen his products and I know something about rubber.
There were no impurities in his rubber."

Mr. Winslow paused. Ruth was sobbing quietly.

"This morning," he resumed hastily, "Bradley Cushing was found dead in
his laboratory under the most peculiar circumstances. I do not know
whether his secret died with him or whether some one has stolen it.
From the indications I concluded that he had been murdered."

Such was the case as Kennedy and I heard it then.

Ruth looked up at him with tearful eyes wistful with pain, "Would Mr.
Kennedy work on it?" There was only one answer.



XV

THE VAMPIRE


As we sped out to the little mill-town on the last train, after Kennedy
had insisted on taking us all to a quiet little restaurant, he placed
us so that Miss Winslow was furthest from him and her father nearest. I
could hear now and then scraps of their conversation as he resumed his
questioning, and knew that Mr. Winslow was proving to be a good
observer.

"Cushing used to hire a young fellow of some scientific experience,
named Strong," said Mr. Winslow as he endeavoured to piece the facts
together as logically as it was possible to do. "Strong used to open
his laboratory for him in the morning, clean up the dirty apparatus,
and often assist him in some of his experiments. This morning when
Strong approached the laboratory at the usual time he was surprised to
see that though it was broad daylight there was a light burning. He was
alarmed and before going in looked through the window. The sight that
he saw froze him. There lay Cushing on a workbench and beside him and
around him pools of coagulating blood. The door was not locked, as we
found afterward, but the young man did not stop to enter. He ran to me
and, fortunately, I met him at our door. I went back.

"We opened the unlocked door. The first thing, as I recall it, that
greeted me was an unmistakable odour of oranges. It was a very
penetrating and very peculiar odour. I didn't understand it, for there
seemed to be something else in it besides the orange smell. However, I
soon found out what it was, or at least Strong did. I don't know
whether you know anything about it, but it seems that when you melt
real rubber in the effort to reduce it to carbon and hydrogen, you get
a liquid substance which is known as isoprene. Well, isoprene,
according to Strong, gives out an odour something like ether. Cushing,
or some one else, had apparently been heating isoprene. As soon as
Strong mentioned the smell of ether I recognised that that was what
made the smell of oranges so peculiar.

"However, that's not the point. There lay Cushing on his back on the
workbench, just as Strong had said. I bent over him, and in his arm,
which was bare, I saw a little gash made by some sharp instrument and
laying bare an artery, I think, which was cut. Long spurts of blood
covered the floor for some distance around and from the veins in his
arm, which had also been severed, a long stream of blood led to a
hollow in the cement floor where it had collected. I believe that he
bled to death."

"And the motive for such a terrible crime?" queried Craig.

Mr. Winslow shook his head helplessly. "I suppose there are plenty of
motives," he answered slowly, "as many motives as there are big
investments in rubber-producing ventures in Goodyear."

"But have you any idea who would go so far to protect his investments
as to kill?" persisted Kennedy.

Mr. Winslow made no reply. "Who," asked Kennedy, "was chiefly
interested in the rubber works where Cushing was formerly employed?"

"The president of the company is the Mr. Borland whom I mentioned,"
replied Mr. Winslow. "He is a man of about forty, I should say, and is
reputed to own a majority of the--"

"Oh, father," interrupted Miss Winslow, who had caught the drift of the
conversation in spite of the pains that had been taken to keep it away
from her, "Mr. Borland would never dream of such a thing. It is wrong
even to think of it."

"I didn't say that he would, my dear," corrected Mr. Winslow gently.
"Professor Kennedy asked me who was chiefly interested in the rubber
works and Mr. Borland owns a majority of the stock." He leaned over and
whispered to Kennedy, "Borland is a visitor at our home, and between
you and me, he thinks a great deal of Ruth."

I looked quickly at Kennedy, but he was absorbed in looking out of the
car window at the landscape which he did not and could not see.

"You said there were others who had an interest in outside companies,"
cross-questioned Kennedy. "I take it that you mean companies dealing in
crude rubber, the raw material, people with investments in plantations
and concessions, perhaps. Who are they? Who were the men who went on
that expedition to the Congo with Borland which you mentioned?"

"Of course, there was Borland himself," answered Winslow. "Then there
was a young chemist named Lathrop, a very clever and ambitious fellow
who succeeded Cushing when he resigned from the works, and Dr. Harris,
who was persuaded to go because of his friendship for Borland. After
they took up the concession I believe all of them put money into it,
though how much I can't say."

I was curious to ask whether there were any other visitors at the
Winslow house who might be rivals for Ruth's affections, but there was
no opportunity.

Nothing more was said until we arrived at Goodyear.

We found the body of Cushing lying in a modest little mortuary chapel
of an undertaking establishment on the main street. Kennedy at once
began his investigation by discovering what seemed to have escaped
others. About the throat were light discolourations that showed that
the young inventor had been choked by a man with a powerful grasp,
although the fact that the marks had escaped observation led quite
obviously to the conclusion that he had not met his death in that way,
and that the marks probably played only a minor part in the tragedy.

Kennedy passed over the doubtful evidence of strangulation for the more
profitable examination of the little gash in the wrist.

"The radial artery has been cut," he mused.

A low exclamation from him brought us all bending over him as he
stooped and examined the cold form. He was holding in the palm of his
hand a little piece of something that shone like silver. It was in the
form of a minute hollow cylinder with two grooves on it, a cylinder so
tiny that it would scarcely have slipped over the point of a pencil.

"Where did you find it?" I asked eagerly.

He pointed to the wound. "Sticking in the severed end of a piece of
vein," he replied, half to himself, "cuffed over the end of the radial
artery which had been severed, and done so neatly as to be practically
hidden. It was done so cleverly that the inner linings of the vein and
artery, the endothelium as it is called, were in complete contact with
each other."

As I looked at the little silver thing and at Kennedy's face, which
betrayed nothing, I felt that here indeed was a mystery. What new
scientific engine of death was that little hollow cylinder?

"Next I should like to visit the laboratory," he remarked simply.

Fortunately, the laboratory had been shut and nothing had been
disturbed except by the undertaker and his men who had carried the body
away. Strong had left word that he had gone to Boston, where, in a safe
deposit box, was a sealed envelope in which Cushing kept a copy of the
combination of his safe, which had died with him. There was, therefore,
no hope of seeing the assistant until the morning.

Kennedy found plenty to occupy his time in his minute investigation of
the laboratory. There, for instance, was the pool of blood leading back
by a thin dark stream to the workbench and its terrible figure, which I
could almost picture to myself lying there through the silent hours of
the night before, with its life blood slowly oozing away, unconscious,
powerless to save itself. There were spurts of arterial blood on the
floor and on the nearby laboratory furniture, and beside the workbench
another smaller and isolated pool of blood.

On a table in a corner by the window stood a microscope which Cushing
evidently used, and near it a box of fresh sterilised slides. Kennedy,
who had been casting his eye carefully about taking in the whole
laboratory, seemed delighted to find the slides. He opened the box and
gingerly took out some of the little oblong pieces of glass, on each of
which he dropped a couple of minute drops of blood from the arterial
spurts and the venous pools on the floor.

Near the workbench were circular marks, much as if some jars had been
set down there. We were watching him, almost in awe at the matter of
fact manner in which, he was proceeding in what to us was nothing but a
hopeless enigma, when I saw him stoop and pick up a few little broken
pieces of glass. There seemed to be blood spots on the glass, as on
other things, but particularly interesting to him.

A moment later I saw that he was holding in his hand what were
apparently the remains of a little broken vial which he had fitted
together from the pieces. Evidently it had been used and dropped in
haste.

"A vial for a local anesthetic," he remarked. "This is the sort of
thing that might be injected into an arm or leg and deaden the pain of
a cut, but that is all. It wouldn't affect the consciousness or prevent
any one from resisting a murderer to the last. I doubt if that had
anything directly to do with his death, or perhaps even that this is
Cushing's blood on it."

Unlike Winslow I had seen Kennedy in action so many times that I knew
it was useless to speculate. But I was fascinated, for the deeper we
got into the case, the more unusual and inexplicable it seemed. I gave
that end of it up, but the fact that Strong had gone to secure the
combination of the safe suggested to me to examine that article. There
was certainly no evidence of robbery or even of an attempt at robbery
there.

"Was any doctor called?" asked Kennedy.

"Yes," he replied. "Though I knew it was of no use I called in Dr.
Howe, who lives up the street from the laboratory. I should have called
Dr. Harris, who used to be my own physician, but since his return from
Africa with the Borland expedition, he has not been in very good health
and has practically given up his practice. Dr. Howe is the best
practising physician in town, I think."

"We shall call on him to-morrow," said Craig, snapping his watch, which
already marked far after midnight. Dr. Howe proved, the next day, to be
an athletic-looking man, and I could not help noticing and admiring his
powerful frame and his hearty handshake, as he greeted us when we
dropped into his office with a card from Winslow.

The doctor's theory was that Cushing had committed suicide.

"But why should a young man who had invented a new method of
polymerising isoprene, who was going to become wealthy, and was engaged
to a beautiful young girl, commit suicide?"

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. It was evident that he, too,
belonged to the "natural rubber set" which dominated Goodyear.

"I haven't looked into the case very deeply, but I'm not so sure that
he had the secret, are you?"

Kennedy smiled. "That is what I'd like to know. I suppose that an
expert like Mr. Borland could tell me, perhaps?"

"I should think so."

"Where is his office?" asked Craig. "Could you point it out to me from
the window?"

Kennedy was standing by one of the windows of the doctor's office, and
as he spoke he turned and drew a little field glass from his pocket.
"Which end of the rubber works is it?"

Dr. Howe tried to direct him but Kennedy appeared unwarrantably obtuse,
requiring the doctor to raise the window, and it was some moments
before he got his glasses on the right spot.

Kennedy and I thanked the doctor for his courtesy and left the office.

We went at once to the office of Dr. Harris, to whom Winslow had also
given us cards. We found him an anaemic man, half asleep. Kennedy
tentatively suggested the murder of Cushing.

"Well, if you ask me my opinion," snapped out the doctor, "although I
wasn't called into the case, from what I hear, I'd say that he was
murdered."

"Some seem to think it was suicide," prompted Kennedy.

"People who have brilliant prospects and are engaged to pretty girls
don't usually die of their own accord," rasped Harris.

"So you think he really did have the secret of artificial rubber?"
asked Craig.

"Not artificial rubber. Synthetic rubber. It was the real thing, I
believe."

"Did Mr. Borland and his new chemist Lathrop believe it, too?"

"I can't say. But I should surely advise you to see them." The doctor's
face was twitching nervously.

"Where is Borland's office?" repeated Kennedy, again taking from his
pocket the field glass and adjusting it carefully by the window.

"Over there," directed Harris, indicating the corner of the works to
which we had already been directed.

Kennedy had stepped closer to the window before him and I stood beside
him looking out also.

"The cut was a very peculiar one," remarked Kennedy, still adjusting
the glasses. "An artery and a vein had been placed together so that the
endothelium, or inner lining of each, was in contact with the other,
giving a continuous serous surface. Which window did you say was
Borland's? I wish you'd step to the other window and raise it, so that
I can be sure. I don't want to go wandering all over the works looking
for him."

"Yes," the doctor said as he went, leaving him standing beside the
window from which he had been directing us, "yes, you surely should see
Mr. Borland. And don't forget that young chemist of his, Lathrop,
either, If I can be of any more help to you, come back again."

It was a long walk through the village and factory yards to the office
of Lewis Borland, but we were amply repaid by finding him in and ready
to see us. Borland was a typical Yankee, tall, thin, evidently
predisposed to indigestion, a man of tremendous mental and nervous
energy and with a hidden wiry strength.

"Mr. Borland," introduced Kennedy, changing his tactics and adopting a
new role, "I've come down to you as an authority on rubber to ask you
what your opinion is regarding the invention of a townsman of yours
named Cushing."

"Cushing?" repeated Borland in some surprise. "Why--"

"Yes," interrupted Kennedy, "I understand all about it. I had heard of
his invention in New York and would have put some money into it if I
could have been convinced. I was to see him to-day, but of course, as
you were going to say, his death prevents it. Still, I should like to
know what you think about it."

"Well," Borland added, jerking out his words nervously, as seemed to be
his habit, "Cushing was a bright young fellow. He used to work for me
until he began to know too much about the rubber business."

"Do you know anything about his scheme?" insinuated Kennedy.

"Very little, except that it was not patented yet, I believe, though he
told every one that the patent was applied for and he expected to get a
basic patent in some way without any interference."

"Well," drawled Kennedy, affecting as nearly as possible the air of a
promoter, "if I could get his assistant, or some one who had authority
to be present, would you, as a practical rubber man, go over to his
laboratory with me? I'd join you in making an offer to his estate for
the rights to the process, if it seemed any good."

"You're a cool one," ejaculated Borland, with a peculiar avaricious
twinkle in the corners of his eyes. "His body is scarcely cold and yet
you come around proposing to buy out his invention and--and, of all
persons, you come to me."

"To you?" inquired Kennedy blandly.

"Yes, to me. Don't you know that synthetic rubber would ruin the
business system that I have built up here?"

Still Craig persisted and argued.

"Young man," said Borland rising at length as if an idea had struck
him, "I like your nerve. Yes, I will go. I'll show you that I don't
fear any competition from rubber made out of fusel oil or any other old
kind of oil." He rang a bell and a boy answered. "Call Lathrop," he
ordered.

The young chemist, Lathrop, proved to be a bright and active man of the
new school, though a good deal of a rubber stamp. Whenever it was
compatible with science and art, he readily assented to every
proposition that his employer laid down.

Kennedy had already telephoned to the Winslows and Miss Winslow had
answered that Strong had returned from Boston. After a little
parleying, the second visit to the laboratory was arranged and Miss
Winslow was allowed to be present with her father, after Kennedy had
been assured by Strong that the gruesome relics of the tragedy would be
cleared away.

It was in the forenoon that we arrived with Borland and Lathrop. I
could not help noticing the cordial manner with which Borland greeted
Miss Winslow. There was something obtrusive even in his sympathy.
Strong, whom we met now for the first time, seemed rather suspicious of
the presence of Borland and his chemist, but made an effort to talk
freely without telling too much.

"Of course you know," commenced Strong after proper urging, "that it
has long been the desire of chemists to synthesise rubber by a method
that will make possible its cheap production on a large scale. In a
general way I know what Mr. Cushing had done, but there are parts of
the process which are covered in the patents applied for, of which I am
not at liberty to speak yet."

"Where are the papers in the case, the documents showing the
application for the patent, for instance?" asked Kennedy.

"In the safe, sir," replied Strong.

Strong set to work on the combination which he had obtained from the
safe deposit vault. I could see that Borland and Miss Winslow were
talking in a low tone.

"Are you sure that it is a fact?" I overheard him ask, though I had no
idea what they were talking about.

"As sure as I am that the Borland Rubber Works are a fact," she replied.

Craig also seemed to have overheard, for he turned quickly. Borland had
taken out his penknife and was moistening the blade carefully preparing
to cut into a piece Of the synthetic rubber. In spite of his expressed
scepticism, I could see that he was eager to learn what the product was
really like.

Strong, meanwhile, had opened the safe and was going over the papers. A
low exclamation from him brought us around the little pile of
documents. He was holding a will in which nearly everything belonging
to Cushing was left to Miss Winslow.

Not a word was said, although I noticed that Kennedy moved quickly to
her side, fearing that the shock of the discovery might have a bad
effect on her, but she took it with remarkable calmness. It was
apparent that Cushing had taken the step of his own accord and had said
nothing to her about it.

"What does anything amount to?" she said tremulously at last. "The
dream is dead without him in it."

"Come," urged Kennedy gently. "This is enough for to-day."

An hour later we were speeding back to New York. Kennedy had no
apparatus to work with out at Goodyear and could not improvise it.
Winslow agreed to keep us in touch with any new developments during the
few hours that Craig felt it was necessary to leave the scene of action.

Back again in New York, Craig took a cab directly for his laboratory,
leaving me marooned with instructions not to bother him for several
hours. I employed the time in a little sleuthing on my own account,
endeavouring to look up the records of those involved in the case. I
did not discover much, except an interview that had been given at the
time of the return of his expedition by Borland to the Star, in which
he gave a graphic description of the dangers from disease that they had
encountered.

I mention it because, though it did not impress me much when I read it,
it at once leaped into my mind when the interminable hours were over
and I rejoined Kennedy. He was bending over a new microscope.

"This is a rubber age, Walter," he began, "and the stories of men who
have been interested in rubber often sound like fiction."

He slipped a slide under the microscope, looked at it and then motioned
to me to do the same. "Here is a very peculiar culture which I have
found in some of that blood," he commented. "The germs are much larger
than bacteria and they can be seen with a comparatively low power
microscope swiftly darting between the blood cells, brushing them
aside, but not penetrating them as some parasites, like that of
malaria, do. Besides, spectroscope tests show the presence of a rather
well-known chemical in that blood."

"A poisoning, then?" I ventured. "Perhaps he suffered from the disease
that many rubber workers get from the bisulphide of carbon. He must
have done a good deal of vulcanising of his own rubber, you know."

"No," smiled Craig enigmatically, "it wasn't that. It was an arsenic
derivative. Here's another thing. You remember the field glass I used?"

He had picked it up from the table and was pointing at a little hole in
the side, that had escaped my notice before. "This is what you might
call a right-angled camera. I point the glass out of the window and
while you think I am looking through it I am really focusing it on you
and taking your picture standing there beside me and out of my apparent
line of vision. It would deceive the most wary."

Just then a long-distance call from Winslow told us that Borland had
been to call on Miss Ruth and, in as kindly a way as could be, had
offered her half a million dollars for her rights in the new patent. At
once it flashed over me that he was trying to get control of and
suppress the invention in the interests of his own company, a thing
that has been done hundreds of times. Or could it all have been part of
a conspiracy? And if it was his conspiracy, would he succeed in
tempting his friend, Miss Winslow, to fall in with this glittering
offer?

Kennedy evidently thought, also, that the time for action had come, for
without a word he set to work packing his apparatus and we were again
headed for Goodyear.



XVI

THE BLOOD TEST


We arrived late at night, or rather in the morning, but in spite of the
late hour Kennedy was up early urging me to help him carry the stuff
over to Cushing's laboratory. By the middle of the morning he was ready
and had me scouring about town collecting his audience, which consisted
of the Winslows, Borland and Lathrop, Dr. Howe, Dr. Harris, Strong and
myself. The laboratory was darkened and Kennedy took his place beside
an electric moving picture apparatus.

The first picture was different from anything any of us had ever seen
on a screen before. It seemed to be a mass of little dancing globules.
"This," explained Kennedy, "is what you would call an educational
moving picture, I suppose. It shows normal blood corpuscles as they are
in motion in the blood of a healthy man. Those little round cells are
the red corpuscles and the larger irregular cells are the white
corpuscles."

He stopped the film. The next picture was a sort of enlarged and
elongated house fly, apparently, of sombre grey color, with a narrow
body, thick proboscis and wings that overlapped like the blades of a
pair of shears. "This," he went on, "is a picture of the now well known
tse-tse fly found over a large area of Africa. It has a bite something
like a horse-fly and is a perfect blood-sucker. Vast territories of
thickly populated, fertile country near the shores of lakes and rivers
are now depopulated as a result of the death-dealing bite of these
flies, more deadly than the blood-sucking, vampirish ghosts with which,
in the middle ages, people supposed night air to be inhabited. For this
fly carries with it germs which it leaves in the blood of its victims,
which I shall show next."

A new film started.

"Here is a picture of some blood so infected. Notice that worm-like
sheath of undulating membrane terminating in a slender whip-like
process by which it moves about. That thing wriggling about like a
minute electric eel, always in motion, is known as the trypanosome.

"Isn't this a marvellous picture? To see the micro-organism move,
evolve and revolve in the midst of normal cells, uncoil and undulate in
the fluids which they inhabit, to see them play hide and seek with the
blood corpuscles and clumps of fibrin, turn, twist, and rotate as if in
a cage, to see these deadly little trypanosomes moving back and forth
in every direction displaying their delicate undulating membranes and
shoving aside the blood cells that are in their way while by their side
the leucocytes, or white corpuscles, lazily extend or retract their
pseudopods of protoplasm. To see all this as it is shown before us here
is to realise that we are in the presence of an unknown world, a world
infinitesimally small, but as real and as complex as that about us.
With the cinematograph and the ultra-microscope we can see what no
other forms of photography can reproduce.

"I have secured these pictures so that I can better mass up the
evidence against a certain person in this room. For in the blood of one
of you is now going on the fight which you have here seen portrayed by
the picture machine. Notice how the blood corpuscles in this infected
blood have lost their smooth, glossy appearance, become granular and
incapable of nourishing the tissues. The trypanosomes are fighting with
the normal blood cells. Here we have the lowest group of animal life,
the protozoa, at work killing the highest, man."

Kennedy needed nothing more than the breathless stillness to convince
him of the effectiveness of his method of presenting his case.

"Now," he resumed, "let us leave this blood-sucking, vampirish tse-tse
fly for the moment. I have another revelation to make."

He laid down on the table under the lights, which now flashed up again,
the little hollow silver cylinder.

"This little instrument," Kennedy explained, "which I have here is
known as a canula, a little canal, for leading off blood from the veins
of one person to another--in other words, blood transfusion. Modern
doctors are proving themselves quite successful in its use.

"Of course, like everything, it has its own peculiar dangers. But the
one point I wish to make is this: In the selection of a donor for
transfusion, people fall into definite groups. Tests of blood must be
made first to see whether it 'agglutinates,' and in this respect there
are four classes of persons. In our case this matter had to be
neglected. For, gentlemen, there were two kinds of blood on that
laboratory floor, and they do not agglutinate. This, in short, was what
actually happened. An attempt was made to transfuse Cushing's blood as
donor to another person as recipient. A man suffering from the disease
caught from the bite of the tse-tse fly--the deadly sleeping sickness
so well known in Africa--has deliberately tried a form of robbery which
I believe to be without parallel. He has stolen the blood of another!

"He stole it in a desperate attempt to stay an incurable disease. This
man had used an arsenic compound called atoxyl, till his blood was
filled with it and its effects on the trypanosomes nil. There was but
one wild experiment more to try--the stolen blood of another."

Craig paused to let the horror of the crime sink into our minds.

"Some one in the party which went to look over the concession in the
Congo contracted the sleeping sickness from the bites of those
blood-sucking flies. That person has now reached the stage of insanity,
and his blood is full of the germs and overloaded with atoxyl.

"Everything had been tried and had failed. He was doomed. He saw his
fortune menaced by the discovery of the way to make synthetic rubber.
Life and money were at stake. One night, nerved up by a fit of insane
fury, with a power far beyond what one would expect in his ordinary
weakened condition, he saw a light in Cushing's laboratory. He stole in
stealthily. He seized the inventor with his momentarily superhuman
strength and choked him. As they struggled he must have shoved a sponge
soaked with ether and orange essence under his nose. Cushing went under.

"Resistance overcome by the anesthetic, he dragged the now insensible
form to the work bench. Frantically he must have worked. He made an
incision and exposed the radial artery, the pulse. Then he must have
administered a local anesthetic to himself in his arm or leg. He
secured a vein and pushed the cut end over this little canula. Then he
fitted the artery of Cushing over that and the blood that was, perhaps,
to save his life began flowing into his depleted veins.

"Who was this madman? I have watched the actions of those whom I
suspected when they did not know they were being watched. I did it by
using this neat little device which looks like a field glass, but is
really a camera that takes pictures of things at right angles to the
direction in which the glass seems to be pointed. One person, I found,
had a wound on his leg, the wrapping of which he adjusted nervously
when he thought no one was looking. He had difficulty in limping even a
short distance to open a window."

Kennedy uncorked a bottle and the subtle odor of oranges mingled with
ether stole through the room.

"Some one here will recognize that odour immediately. It is the new
orange-essence vapour anesthetic, a mixture of essence of orange with
ether and chloroform. The odour hidden by the orange which lingered in
the laboratory, Mr. Winslow and Mr. Strong, was not isoprene, but
really ether.

"I am letting some of the odour escape here because in this very
laboratory it was that the thing took place, and it is one of the
well-known principles of psychology that odours are powerfully
suggestive. In this case the odour now must suggest the terrible scene
of the other night to some one before me. More than that, I have to
tell that person that the blood transfusion did not and could not save
him. His illness is due to a condition that is incurable and cannot be
altered by transfusion of new blood. That person is just as doomed
to-day as he was before he committed--"

A figure was groping blindly about. The arsenic compounds with which
his blood was surcharged had brought on one of the attacks of blindness
to which users of the drug are subject. In his insane frenzy he was
evidently reaching desperately for Kennedy himself. As he groped he
limped painfully from the soreness of his wound.

"Dr. Harris," accused Kennedy, avoiding the mad rush at himself, and
speaking in a tone that thrilled us, "you are the man who sucked the
blood of Cushing into your own veins and left him to die. But the state
will never be able to exact from you the penalty of your crime. Nature
will do that too soon for justice. Gentlemen, this is the murderer of
Bradley Cushing, a maniac, a modern scientific vampire."

I regarded the broken, doomed man with mingled pity and loathing,
rather than with the usual feelings one has toward a criminal.

"Come," said Craig. "The local authorities can take care of this case
now."

He paused just long enough for a word of comfort to the poor,
broken-hearted girl. Both Winslow answered with a mute look of
gratitude and despair. In fact, in the confusion we were only too glad
to escape any more such mournful congratulations.

"Well," Craig remarked, as we walked quickly down the street, "if we
have to wait here for a train, I prefer to wait in the railroad
station. I have done my part. Now my only interest is to get away
before they either offer me a banquet or lynch me."

Actually, I think he would have preferred the novelty of dealing with a
lynching party, if he had had to choose between the two.

We caught a train soon, however, and fortunately it had a diner
attached. Kennedy whiled away the time between courses by reading the
graft exposures in the city.

As we rolled into the station late in the afternoon, he tossed aside
the paper with an air of relief.

"Now for a quiet evening in the laboratory," he exclaimed, almost
gleefully.

By what stretch of imagination he could call that recreation, I could
not see. But as for quietness, I needed it, too. I had fallen wofully
behind in my record of the startling events through which he was
conducting me. Consequently, until late that night I pecked away at my
typewriter trying to get order out of the chaos of my hastily scribbled
notes. Under ordinary circumstances, I remembered, the morrow would
have been my day of rest on the Star. I had gone far enough with
Kennedy to realise that on this assignment there was no such thing as
rest.

"District Attorney Carton wants to see me immediately at the Criminal
Courts Building, Walter," announced Kennedy, early the following
morning.

Clothed, and as much in my right mind as possible after the arduous
literary labours of the night before, I needed no urging, for Carton
was an old friend of all the newspaper men. I joined Craig quickly in a
hasty ride down-town in the rush hour.

On the table before the square-jawed, close-cropped, fighting
prosecutor, whom I knew already after many a long and hard-fought
campaign both before and after election, lay a little package which had
evidently come to him in the morning's mail by parcel-post.

"What do you suppose is in that, Kennedy?" he asked, tapping it
gingerly. "I haven't opened it yet, but I think it's a bomb. Wait--I'll
have a pail of water sent in here so that you can open it, if you will.
You understand such things."

"No--no," hastened Kennedy, "that's exactly the wrong thing to do. Some
of these modern chemical bombs are set off in precisely that way. No.
Let me dissect the thing carefully. I think you may be right. It does
look as if it might be an infernal machine. You see the evident
disguise of the roughly written address?"

Carton nodded, for it was that that had excited his suspicion in the
first place. Meanwhile, Kennedy, without further ceremony, began
carefully to remove the wrapper of brown Manila paper, preserving
everything as he did so. Carton and I instinctively backed away.
Inside, Craig had disclosed an oblong wooden box.

"I realise that opening a bomb is dangerous business," he pursued
slowly, engrossed in his work and almost oblivious to us, "but I think
I can take a chance safely with this fellow. The dangerous part is what
might be called drawing the fangs. No bombs are exactly safe toys to
have around until they are wholly destroyed, and before you can say you
have destroyed one, it is rather a ticklish business to take out the
dangerous element."

He had removed the cover in the deftest manner without friction, and
seemingly without disturbing the contents in the least. I do not
pretend to know how he did it; but the proof was that we could see him
still working from our end of the room.

On the inside of the cover was roughly drawn a skull and cross-bones,
showing that the miscreant who sent the thing had at least a sort of
grim humour. For, where the teeth should have been in the skull were
innumerable match-heads. Kennedy picked them out with as much
sang-froid as if he were not playing jackstraws with life and death.

Then he removed the explosive itself and the various murderous slugs
and bits of metal embedded in it, carefully separating each as if to be
labelled "Exhibit A," "B," and so on for a class in bomb dissection.
Finally, he studied the sides and bottom of the box.

"Evidence of chlorate-of-potash mixture," Kennedy muttered to himself,
still examining the bomb. "The inside was a veritable arsenal--a very
unusual and clever construction."

"My heavens!" breathed Carton. "I would rather go through a campaign
again."



XVII

THE BOMB MAKER


We stared at each other in blank awe, at the various parts, so innocent
looking in the heaps on the table, now safely separated, but together a
combination ticket to perdition.

"Who do you suppose could have sent it?" I blurted out when I found my
voice, then, suddenly recollecting the political and legal fight that
Carton was engaged in at the time, I added, "The white slavers?"

"Not a doubt," he returned laconically. "And," he exclaimed, bringing
down both hands vigorously in characteristic emphasis on the arms of
his office chair, "I've got to win this fight against the vice trust,
as I call it, or the whole work of the district attorney's office in
clearing up the city will be discredited--to say nothing of the risk
the present incumbent runs at having such grateful friends about the
city send marks of their affection and esteem like this."

I knew something already of the situation, and Carton continued
thoughtfully: "All the powers of vice are fighting a last-ditch battle
against me now. I think I am on the trail of the man or men higher up
in this commercialised-vice business--and it is a business, big
business, too. You know, I suppose, that they seem to have a string of
hotels in the city, of the worst character. There is nothing that they
will stop at to protect themselves. Why, they are using gangs of thugs
to terrorise any one who informs on them. The gunmen, of course, hate a
snitch worse than poison. There have been bomb outrages, too--nearly a
bomb a day lately--against some of those who look shaky and seem to be
likely to do business with my office. But I'm getting closer all the
time."

"How do you mean?" asked Kennedy.

"Well, one of the best witnesses, if I can break him down by pressure
and promises, ought to be a man named Haddon, who is running a place in
the Fifties, known as the Mayfair. Haddon knows all these people. I can
get him in half an hour if you think it worth while--not here, but
somewhere uptown, say at the Prince Henry."

Kennedy nodded. We had heard of Haddon before, a notorious character in
the white-light district. A moment later Carton had telephoned to the
Mayfair and had found Haddon.

"How did you get him so that he is even considering turning state's
evidence?" asked Craig.

"Well," answered Carton slowly, "I suppose it was partly through a
cabaret singer and dancer, Loraine Keith, at the Mayfair. You know you
never get the truth about things in the underworld except in pieces. As
much as any one, I think we have been able to use her to weave a web
about him. Besides, she seems to think that Haddon has treated her
shamefully. According to her story, he seems to have been lavishing
everything on her, but lately, for some reason, has deserted her.
Still, even in her jealousy she does not accuse any other woman of
winning him away."

"Perhaps it is the opposite--another man winning her," suggested Craig
dryly.

"It's a peculiar situation," shrugged Carton. "There is another man. As
nearly as I can make out there is a fellow named Brodie who does a
dance with her. But he seems to annoy her, yet at the same time
exercises a sort of fascination over her."

"Then she is dancing at the Mayfair yet?" hastily asked Craig.

"Yes. I told her to stay, not to excite suspicion."

"And Haddon knows?"

"Oh, no. But she has told us enough about him already so that we can
worry him, apparently, just as what he can tell us would worry the
others interested in the hotels. To tell the truth, I think she is a
drug fiend. Why, my men tell me that they have seen her take just a
sniff of something and change instantly--become a willing tool."

"That's the way it happens," commented Kennedy.

"Now, I'll go up there and meet Haddon," resumed Carton. "After I have
been with him long enough to get into his confidence, suppose you two
just happen along."

Half an hour later Kennedy and I sauntered into the Prince Henry, where
Carton had made the appointment in order to avoid suspicion that might
arise if he were seen with Haddon at the Mayfair.

The two men were waiting for us--Haddon, by contrast with Carton, a
weak-faced, nervous man, with bulgy eyes.

"Mr. Haddon," introduced Carton, "let me present a couple of reporters
from the Star--off duty, so that we can talk freely before them, I can
assure you. Good fellows, too, Haddon."

The hotel and cabaret keeper smiled a sickly smile and greeted us with
a covert, questioning glance.

"This attack on Mr. Carton has unnerved me," he shivered. "If any one
dares to do that to him, what will they do to me?"

"Don't get cold feet, Haddon," urged Carton. "You'll be all right. I'll
swing it for you."

Haddon made no reply. At length he remarked: "You'll excuse me for a
moment. I must telephone to my hotel."

He entered a booth in the shadow of the back of the cafe, where there
was a slot-machine pay-station. "I think Haddon has his suspicions,"
remarked Carton, "although he is too prudent to say anything yet."

A moment later he returned. Something seemed to have happened. He
looked less nervous. His face was brighter and his eyes clearer. What
was it, I wondered? Could it be that he was playing a game with Carton
and had given him a double cross? I was quite surprised at his next
remark.

"Carton," he said confidently, "I'll stick."

"Good," exclaimed the district attorney, as they fell into a
conversation in low tones.

"By the way," drawled Kennedy, "I must telephone to the office in case
they need me."

He had risen and entered the same booth.

Haddon and Carton were still talking earnestly. It was evident that,
for some reason, Haddon had lost his former halting manner. Perhaps, I
reasoned, the bomb episode had, after all, thrown a scare into him, and
he felt that he needed protection against his own associates, who were
quick to discover such dealings as Carton had forced him into. I rose
and lounged back to the booth and Kennedy.

"Whom did he call?" I whispered, when Craig emerged perspiring from the
booth, for I knew that that was his purpose.

Craig glanced at Haddon, who now seemed absorbed in talking to Carton.
"No one," he answered quickly. "Central told me there had not been a
call from this pay-station for half an hour."

"No one?" I echoed almost incredulously. "Then what did he do?
Something happened, all right."

Kennedy was evidently engrossed in his own thoughts, for he said
nothing.

"Haddon says he wants to do some scouting about," announced Carton,
when we rejoined them. "There are several people whom he says he might
suspect. I've arranged to meet him this afternoon to get the first part
of this story about the inside working of the vice trust, and he will
let me know if anything develops then. You will be at your office?"

"Yes, one or the other of us," returned Craig, in a tone which Haddon
could not hear.

In the meantime we took occasion to make some inquiries of our own
about Haddon and Loraine Keith. They were evidently well known in the
select circle in which they travelled. Haddon had many curious
characteristics, chief of which to interest Kennedy was his speed
mania. Time and again he had been arrested for exceeding the speed
limit in taxicabs and in a car of his own, often in the past with
Loraine Keith, but lately alone.

It was toward the close of the afternoon that Carton called up
hurriedly. As Kennedy hung up the receiver, I read on his face that
something had gone wrong.

"Haddon has disappeared," he announced, "mysteriously and suddenly,
without leaving so much as a clue. It seems that he found in his office
a package exactly like that which was sent to Carton earlier in the
day. He didn't wait to say anything about it, but left. Carton is
bringing it over here."

Perhaps a quarter of an hour later, Carton himself deposited the
package on the laboratory table with an air of relief. We looked
eagerly. It was addressed to Haddon at the Mayfair in the same
disguised handwriting and was done up in precisely the same fashion.

"Lots of bombs are just scare bombs," observed Craig. "But you never
can tell."

Again Kennedy had started to dissect.

"Ah," he went on, "this is the real thing, though, only a little
different from the other. A dry battery gives a spark when the lid is
slipped back. See, the explosive is in a steel pipe. Sliding the lid
off is supposed to explode it. Why, there is enough explosive in this
to have silenced a dozen Haddons."

"Do you think he could have been kidnapped or murdered?" I asked. "What
is this, anyhow--gang-war?"

"Or perhaps bribed?" suggested Carton.

"I can't say," ruminated Kennedy. "But I can say this: that there is at
large in this city a man of great mechanical skill and practical
knowledge of electricity and explosives. He is trying to make sure of
hiding something from exposure. We must find him."

"And especially Haddon," Carton added quickly. "He is the missing link.
His testimony is absolutely essential to the case I am building up."

"I think I shall want to observe Loraine Keith without being observed,"
planned Kennedy, with a hasty glance at his watch. "I think I'll drop
around at this Mayfair I have heard so much about. Will you come?"

"I'd better not," refused Carton. "You know they all know me, and
everything quits wherever I go. I'll see you soon."

As we drove in a cab over to the Mayfair, Kennedy said nothing. I
wondered how and where Haddon had disappeared. Had the powers of evil
in the city learned that he was weakening and hurried him out of the
way at the last moment? Just what had Loraine Keith to do with it? Was
she in any way responsible? I felt that there were, indeed, no bounds
to what a jealous woman might dare.

Beside the ornate grilled doorway of the carriage entrance of the
Mayfair stood a gilt-and-black easel with the words, "Tango Tea at
Four." Although it was considerably after that time, there was a line
of taxi-cabs before the place and, inside, a brave array of
late-afternoon and early-evening revellers. The public dancing had
ceased, and a cabaret had taken its place.

We entered and sat down at one of the more inconspicuous of the little
round tables. On a stage, at one side, a girl was singing one of the
latest syncopated airs.

"We'll just stick around a while, Walter," whispered Craig. "Perhaps
this Loraine Keith will come in."

Behind us, protected both by the music and the rustle of people coming
and going, a couple talked in low tones. Now and then a word floated
over to me in a language which was English, sure enough, but not of a
kind that I could understand.

"Dropped by a flatty," I caught once, then something about a
"mouthpiece," and the "bulls," and "making a plant."

"A dip--pickpocket--and his girl, or gun-moll, as they call them,"
translated Kennedy. "One of their number has evidently been picked up
by a detective and he looks to them for a good lawyer, or mouth-piece."

Besides these two there were innumerable other interesting glimpses
into the life of this meeting-place for the half-and underworlds. A
motion in the audience attracted me, as if some favourite performer
were about to appear, and I heard the "gun-moll" whisper, "Loraine
Keith."

There she was, a petite, dark-haired, snappy-eyed girl, chic, well
groomed, and gowned so daringly that every woman in the audience envied
and every man craned his neck to see her better. Loraine wore a
tight-fitting black dress, slashed to the knee. In fact, everything was
calculated to set her off at best advantage, and on the stage, at
least, there was something recherche about her. Yet, there was also
something gross about her, too.

Accompanying her was a nervous-looking fellow whose washed-out face was
particularly unattractive. It seemed as if the bone in his nose was
going, due to the shrinkage of the blood-vessels. Once, just before the
dance began, I saw him rub something on the back of his hand, raise it
to his nose, and sniff. Then he took a sip of a liqueur.

The dance began, wild from the first step, and as it developed, Kennedy
leaned over and whispered, "The danse des Apaches."

It was acrobatic. The man expressed brutish passion and jealousy; the
woman, affection and fear. It seemed to tell a story--the struggle of
love, the love of the woman against the brutal instincts of the thug,
her lover. She was terrified as well as fascinated by him in his mad
temper and tremendous superhuman strength. I wondered if the dance
portrayed the fact.

The music was a popular air with many rapid changes, but through all
there was a constant rhythm which accorded well with the abandon of the
swaying dance. Indeed, I could think of nothing so much as of Bill
Sykes and Nancy as I watched these two.

It was the fight of two frenzied young animals. He would approach
stealthily, seize her, and whirl her about, lifting her to his
shoulder. She was agile, docile, and fearful. He untied a scarf and
passed it about her; she leaned against it, and they whirled giddily
about. Suddenly, it seemed that he became jealous. She would run; he
follow and catch her. She would try to pacify him; he would become more
enraged. The dance became faster and more furious. His violent efforts
seemed to be to throw her to the floor, and her streaming hair now made
it seem more like a fight than a dance. The audience hung breathless.
It ended with her dropping exhausted, a proper finale to this lowest
and most brutal dance.

Panting, flushed, with an unnatural light in their eyes, they descended
to the audience and, scorning the roar of applause to repeat the
performance, sat at a little table.

I saw a couple of girls come over toward the man.

"Give us a deck, Coke," said one, in a harsh voice.

He nodded. A silver quarter gleamed momentarily from hand to hand, and
he passed to one girl stealthily a small white-paper packet. Others
came to him, both men and women. It seemed to be an established thing.

"Who is that?" asked Kennedy, in a low tone, of the pickpocket back of
us.

"Coke Brodie," was the laconic reply.

"A cocaine fiend?"

"Yes, and a lobbygow for the grapevine system of selling the dope under
this new law."

"Where does he get the supply to sell?" asked Kennedy, casually.

The pickpocket shrugged his shoulders.

"No one knows, I suppose," Kennedy commented to me. "But he gets it in
spite of the added restrictions and peddles it in little packets,
adulterated, and at a fabulous price for such cheap stuff. The habit is
spreading like wildfire. It is a fertile means of recruiting the
inmates in the vice-trust hotels. A veritable epidemic it is, too.
Cocaine is one of the most harmful of all habit-forming drugs. It used
to be a habit of the underworld, but now it is creeping up, and
gradually and surely reaching the higher strata of society. One thing
that causes its spread is the ease with which it can be taken. It
requires no smoking-dens, no syringe, no paraphernalia--only the drug
itself."

Another singer had taken the place of the dancers. Kennedy leaned over
and whispered to the dip.

"Say, do you and your gun-moll want to pick up a piece of change to get
that mouthpiece I heard you talking about?"

The pickpocket looked at Craig suspiciously.

"Oh, don't worry; I'm all right," laughed Craig. "You see that fellow,
Coke Brodie? I want to get something on him. If you will frame that
sucker to get away with a whole front, there's a fifty in it."

The dip looked, rather than spoke, his amazement. Apparently Kennedy
satisfied his suspicions.

"I'm on," he said quickly. "When he goes, I'll follow him. You keep
behind us, and we'll deliver the goods."

"What's it all about?" I whispered.

"Why," he answered, "I want to get Brodie, only I don't want to figure
in the thing so that he will know me or suspect anything but a plain
hold-up. They will get him; take everything he has. There must be
something on that man that will help us."

Several performers had done their turns, and the supply of the drug
seemed to have been exhausted. Brodie rose and, with a nod to Loraine,
went out, unsteadily, now that the effect of the cocaine had worn off.
One wondered how this shuffling person could ever have carried through
the wild dance. It was not Brodie who danced. It was the drug.

The dip slipped out after him, followed by the woman. We rose and
followed also. Across the city Brodie slouched his way, with an evident
purpose, it seemed, of replenishing his supply and continuing his round
of peddling the stuff.

He stopped under the brow of a thickly populated tenement row on the
upper East Side, as though this was his destination. There he stood at
the gate that led down to a cellar, looking up and down as if wondering
whether he was observed. We had slunk into a doorway.

A woman coming down the street, swinging a chatelaine, walked close to
him, spoke, and for a moment they talked.

"It's the gun-moll," remarked Kennedy. "She's getting Brodie off his
guard. This must be the root of that grapevine system, as they call it."

Suddenly from the shadow of the next house a stealthy figure sprang out
on Brodie. It was our dip, a dip no longer but a regular stick-up man,
with a gun jammed into the face of his victim and a broad hand over his
mouth. Skilfully the woman went through Brodie's pockets, her nimble
fingers missing not a thing.

"Now--beat it," we heard the dip whisper hoarsely, "and if you raise a
holler, we'll get you right, next time."

Brodie fled as fast as his weakened nerves would permit his shaky limbs
to move. As he disappeared, the dip sent something dark hurtling over
the roof of the house across the street and hurried toward us.

"What was that?" I asked.

"I think it was the pistol on the end of a stout cord. That is a
favourite trick of the gunmen after a job. It destroys at least a part
of the evidence. You can't throw a gun very far alone, you know. But
with it at the end of a string you can lift it up over the roof of a
tenement. If Brodie squeals to a copper and these people are caught,
they can't hold them under the pistol law, anyhow."

The dip had caught sight of us, with his ferret eyes in the doorway.
Quickly Kennedy passed over the money in return for the motley array of
objects taken from Brodie. The dip and his gun-moll disappeared into
the darkness as quickly as they had emerged.

There was a curious assortment--the paraphernalia of a drug fiend, old
letters, a key, and several other useless articles. The pickpocket had
retained the money from the sale of the dope as his own particular
honorarium.

"Brodie has led us up to the source of his supply," remarked Kennedy,
thoughtfully regarding the stuff. "And the dip has given us the key to
it. Are you game to go in?"

A glance up and down the street showed it still deserted. We wormed our
way in the shadow to the cellar before which Brodie had stood. The
outside door was open. We entered, and Craig stealthily struck a match,
shading it in his hands.

At one end we were confronted by a little door of mystery, barred with
iron and held by an innocent enough looking padlock. It was this lock,
evidently, to which the key fitted, opening the way into the
subterranean vault of brick and stone.

Kennedy opened it and pushed back the door. There was a little square
compartment, dark as pitch and delightfully cool and damp. He lighted a
match, then hastily blew it out and switched on an electric bulb which
it disclosed.

"Can't afford risks like that here," he exclaimed, carefully disposing
of the match, as our eyes became accustomed to the light.

On every side were pieces of gas-pipe, boxes, and paper, and on shelves
were jars of various materials. There was a work-table littered with
tools, pieces of wire, boxes, and scraps of metal.

"My word!" exclaimed Kennedy, as he surveyed the curious scene before
us, "this is a regular bomb factory--one of the most amazing exhibits
that the history of crime has ever produced."



XVIII

THE "COKE" FIEND


I followed him in awe as he made a hasty inventory of what we had
discovered. There were as many as a dozen finished and partly finished
infernal machines of various sizes and kinds, some of tremendous
destructive capacity. Kennedy did not even attempt to study them. All
about were high explosives, chemicals, dynamite. There was gunpowder of
all varieties, antimony, blasting-powder, mercury cyanide, chloral
hydrate, chlorate of potash, samples of various kinds of shot, some of
the outlawed soft-nosed dumdum bullets, cartridges, shells, pieces of
metal purposely left with jagged edges, platinum, aluminum, iron,
steel--a conglomerate mass of stuff that would have gladdened an
anarchist.

Kennedy was examining a little quartz-lined electric furnace, which was
evidently used for heating soldering irons and other tools. Everything
had been done, it seemed, to prevent explosions. There were no open
lights and practically no chance for heat to be communicated far among
the explosives. Indeed, everything had been arranged to protect the
operator himself in his diabolical work.

Kennedy had switched on the electric furnace, and from the various
pieces of metal on the table selected several. These he was placing
together in a peculiar manner, and to them he attached some copper wire
which lay in a corner in a roll.

Under the work-table, beneath the furnace, one could feel the warmth of
the thing slightly. Quickly he took the curious affair, which he had
hastily shaped, and fastened it under the table at that point, then led
the wires out through a little barred window to an air-shaft, the only
means of ventilation of the place except the door.

While he was working I had been gingerly inspecting the rest of the
den. In a corner, just beside the door, I had found a set of shelves
and a cabinet. On both were innumerable packets done up in white paper.
I opened one and found it contained several pinches of a white,
crystalline substance.

"Little portions of cocaine," commented Kennedy, when I showed him what
I had found. "In the slang of the fiends, 'decks.'"

On the top of the cabinet he discovered a little enamelled box, much
like a snuff-box, in which were also some of the white flakes. Quickly
he emptied them out and replaced them with others from jars which had
not been made up into packets.

"Why, there must be hundreds of ounces of the stuff here, to say
nothing of the various things they adulterate it with," remarked
Kennedy. "No wonder they are so careful when it is a felony even to
have it in your possession in such quantities. See how careful they are
about the adulteration, too. You could never tell except from the
effect whether it was the pure or only a few-per-cent.-pure article."

Kennedy took a last look at the den, to make sure that nothing had been
disturbed that would arouse suspicion.

"We may as well go," he remarked. "To-morrow, I want to be free to make
the connection outside with that wire in the shaft."

Imagine our surprise, the next morning, when a tap at our door revealed
Loraine Keith herself.

"Is this Professor Kennedy?" she asked, gazing at us with a half-wild
expression which she was making a tremendous effort to control.
"Because if it is, I have something to tell him that may interest Mr.
Carton."

We looked at her curiously. Without her make-up she was pallid and
yellow in spots, her hands trembling, cold, and sweaty, her eyes sunken
and glistening, with pupils dilated, her breathing short and hurried,
restless, irresolute, and careless of her personal appearance.

"Perhaps you wonder how I heard of you and why I have come to you," she
went on. "It is because I have a confession to make. I saw Mr. Haddon
just before he was--kidnapped."

She seemed to hesitate over the word.

"How did you know I was interested?" asked Kennedy keenly.

"I heard him mention your name with Mr. Carton's."

"Then he knew that I was more than a reporter for the Star," remarked
Kennedy. "Kidnapped, you say? How?"

She shot a glance half of suspicion, half of frankness, at us.

"That's what I must confess. Whoever did it must have used me as a
tool. Mr. Haddon and I used to be good friends--I would be yet."

There was evident feeling in her tone which she did not have to assume.
"All I remember yesterday was that, after lunch, I was in the office of
the Mayfair when he came in. On his desk was a package. I don't know
what has become of it. But he gave one look at it, seemed to turn pale,
then caught sight of me. 'Loraine,' he whispered, 'we used to be good
friends. Forgive me for turning you down. But you don't understand. Get
me away from here--come with me--call a cab.'

"Well, I got into the cab with him. We had a chauffeur whom we used to
have in the old days. We drove furiously, avoiding the traffic men. He
told the driver to take us to my apartment--and--and that is the last I
remember, except a scuffle in which I was dragged from the cab on one
side and he on the other."

She had opened her handbag and taken from it a little snuff-box, like
that which we had seen in the den.

"I--I can't go on," she apologised, "without this stuff."

"So you are a cocaine fiend, also?" remarked Kennedy.

"Yes, I can't help it. There is an indescribable excitement to do
something great, to make a mark, that goes with it. It's soon gone, but
while it lasts I can sing and dance, do anything until every part of my
body begins crying for it again. I was full of the stuff when this
happened yesterday; had taken too much, I guess."

The change in her after she had snuffed some of the crystals was
magical. From a quivering wretch she had become now a self-confident
neurasthenic.

"You know where that stuff will land you, I presume?" questioned
Kennedy.

"I don't care," she laughed hollowly. "Yes, I know what you are going
to tell me. Soon I'll be hunting for the cocaine bug, as they call it,
imagining that in my skin, under the flesh, are worms crawling, perhaps
see them, see the little animals running around and biting me. Oh, you
don't know. There are two souls to the cocainist. One is tortured by
the suffering which the stuff brings; the other laughs at the fears and
pains. But it brings such thoughts! It stimulates my mind, makes it
work without, against my will, gives me such visions--oh, I can not go
on. They would kill me if they knew I had come to you. Why have I? Has
not Haddon cast me off? What is he to me, now?"

It was evident that she was growing hysterical. I wondered whether,
after all, the story of the kidnapping of Haddon might not be a figment
of her brain, simply an hallucination due to the drug.

"They?" inquired Kennedy, observing her narrowly. "Who?"

"I can't tell. I don't know. Why did I come? Why did I come?"

She was reaching again for the snuff-box, but Kennedy restrained her.

"Miss Keith," he remarked, "you are concealing something from me. There
is some one," he paused a moment, "whom you are shielding."

"No, no," she cried. "He was taken. Brodie had nothing to do with it,
nothing. That is what you mean. I know. This stuff increases my
sensitiveness. Yet I hate Coke Brodie--oh--let me go. I am all
unstrung. Let me see a doctor. To-night, when I am better, I will tell
all."

Loraine Keith had torn herself from him, had instantly taken a pinch of
the fatal crystals, with that same ominous change from fear to
self-confidence. What had been her purpose in coming at all? It had
seemed at first to implicate Brodie, but she had been quick to shield
him when she saw that danger. I wondered what the fascination might be
which the wretch exercised over her.

"To-night--I will see you to-night," she cried, and a moment later she
was gone, as unexpectedly as she had come.

I looked at Kennedy blankly.

"What was the purpose of that outburst?" I asked.

"I can't say," he replied. "It was all so incoherent that, from what I
know of drug fiends, I am sure she had a deep-laid purpose in it all.
It does not change my plans."

Two hours later we had paid a deposit on an empty flat in the
tenement-house in which the bomb-maker had his headquarters, and had
received a key to the apartment from the janitor. After considerable
difficulty, owing to the narrowness of the air-shaft, Kennedy managed
to pick up the loose ends of the wire which had been led out of the
little window at the base of the shaft, and had attached it to a couple
of curious arrangements which he had brought with him. One looked like
a large taximeter from a motor cab; the other was a diminutive
gas-metre, in looks at least. Attached to them were several bells and
lights.

He had scarcely completed installing the thing, whatever it was, when a
gentle tap at the door startled me. Kennedy nodded, and I opened it. It
was Carton.

"I have had my men watching the Mayfair," he announced. "There seems to
be a general feeling of alarm there, now. They can't even find Loraine
Keith. Brodie, apparently, has not shown up in his usual haunts since
the episode of last night."

"I wonder if the long arm of this vice trust could have reached out and
gathered them in, too?" I asked.

"Quite likely," replied Carton, absorbed in watching Kennedy. "What's
this?"

A little bell had tinkled sharply, and a light had flashed up on the
attachments to the apparatus.

"Nothing. I was just testing it to see if it works. It does, although
the end which I installed down below was necessarily only a makeshift.
It is not this red light with the shrill bell that we are interested
in. It is the green light and the low-toned bell. This is a thermopile."

"And what is a thermopile?"' queried Carton.

"For the sake of one who has forgotten his physics," smiled Kennedy, "I
may say this is only another illustration of how all science ultimately
finds practical application. You probably have forgotten that when two
half-rings of dissimilar metals are joined together and one is suddenly
heated or chilled, there is produced at the opposite connecting point a
feeble current which will flow until the junctures are both at the same
temperature. You might call this a thermo-electric thermometer, or a
telethermometer, or a microthermometer, or any of a dozen names."

"Yes," I agreed mechanically, only vaguely guessing at what he had in
mind.

"The accurate measurement of temperature is still a problem of
considerable difficulty," he resumed, adjusting the thermometer. "A
heated mass can impart vibratory motion to the ether which fills space,
and the wave-motions of ether are able to reproduce in other bodies
motions similar to those by which they are caused. At this end of the
line I merely measure the electromotive force developed by the
difference in temperature of two similar thermo-electric junctions,
opposed. We call those junctions in a thermopile 'couples,' and by
getting the recording instruments sensitive enough, we can measure one
one-thousandth of a degree.

"Becquerel was the first, I believe, to use this property. But the
machine which you see here was one recently invented for registering
the temperature of sea water so as to detect the approach of an
iceberg. I saw no reason why it should not be used to measure heat as
well as cold.

"You see, down there I placed the couples of the thermopile beneath the
electric furnace on the table. Here I have the mechanism, operated by
the feeble current from the thermopile, opening and closing switches,
and actuating bells and lights. Then, too, I have the recording
instrument. The thing is fundamentally very simple and is based on
well-known phenomena. It is not uncertain and can be tested at any
time, just as I did then, when I showed a slight fall in temperature.
Of course it is not the slight changes I am after, not the gradual but
the sudden changes in temperature."

"I see," said Carton. "If there is a drop, the current goes one way and
we see the red light; a rise and it goes the other, and we see a green
light."

"Exactly," agreed Kennedy. "No one is going to approach that chamber
down-stairs as long as he thinks any one is watching, and we do not
know where they are watching. But the moment any sudden great change is
registered, such as turning on that electric furnace, we shall know it
here."

It must have been an hour that we sat there discussing the merits of
the case and speculating on the strange actions of Loraine Keith.

Suddenly the red light flashed out brilliantly.

"What's that?" asked Carton quickly.

"I can't tell, yet," remarked Kennedy. "Perhaps it is nothing at all.
Perhaps it is a draught of cold air from opening the door. We shall
have to wait and see."

We bent over the little machine, straining our eyes and ears to catch
the visual and audible signals which it gave.

Gradually the light faded, as the thermopile adjusted itself to the
change in temperature.

Suddenly, without warning, a low-toned bell rang before us and a
bright-green light flashed up.

"That can have only one meaning," cried Craig excitedly. "Some one is
down there in that inferno--perhaps the bomb-maker himself."

The bell continued to ring and the light to glow, showing that whoever
was there had actually started the electric furnace. What was he
preparing to do? I felt that, even though we knew there was some one
there, it did us little good. I, for one, had no relish for the job of
bearding such a lion in his den.

We looked at Kennedy, wondering what he would do next. From the package
in which he had brought the two registering machines he quietly took
another package, wrapped up, about eighteen inches long and apparently
very heavy. As he did so he kept his attention fixed on the
telethermometer. Was he going to wait until the bomb-maker had finished
what he had come to accomplish?

It was perhaps fifteen minutes after our first alarm that the signals
began to weaken.

"Does that mean that he has gone--escaped?" inquired Carton anxiously.

"No. It means that his furnace is going at full power and that he has
forgotten it. It is what I am waiting for. Come on."

Seizing the package as he hurried from the room, Kennedy dashed out on
the street and down the outside cellar stairs, followed by us.

He paused at the thick door and listened. Apparently there was not a
sound from the other side, except a whir of a motor and a roar which
might have been from the furnace. Softly he tried the door. It was
locked on the inside.

Was the bomb-maker there still? He must be. Suppose he heard us. Would
he hesitate a moment to send us all to perdition along with himself?

How were we to get past that door? Really, the deathlike stillness on
the other side was more mysterious than would have been the detonation
of some of the criminal's explosive.

Kennedy had evidently satisfied himself on one point. If we were to get
into that chamber we must do it ourselves, and we must do it quickly.

From the package which he carried he pulled out a stubby little
cylinder, perhaps eighteen inches long, very heavy, with a short stump
of a lever projecting from one side. Between the stonework of a chimney
and the barred door he laid it horizontally, jamming in some pieces of
wood to wedge it tighter.

Then he began to pump on the handle vigorously. The almost impregnable
door seemed slowly to bulge. Still there was no sign of life from
within. Had the bomb-maker left before we arrived?

"This is my scientific sledge-hammer," panted Kennedy, as he worked the
little lever backward and forward more quickly--"a hydraulic ram. There
is no swinging of axes or wielding of crowbars necessary in breaking
down an obstruction like this, nowadays. Such things are obsolete. This
little jimmy, if you want to call it that, has a power of ten tons.
That ought to be enough."

It seemed as if the door were slowly being crushed in before the
irresistible ten-ton punch of the hydraulic ram.

Kennedy stopped. Evidently he did not dare to crush the door in
altogether. Quickly he released the ram and placed it vertically. Under
the now-yawning door jamb he inserted a powerful claw of the ram and
again he began to work the handle.

A moment later the powerful door buckled, and Kennedy deftly swung it
outward so that it fell with a crash on the cellar floor.

As the noise reverberated, there came a sound of a muttered curse from
the cavern. Some one was there.

We pressed forward.

On the floor, in the weird glare of the little furnace, lay a man and a
woman, the light playing over their ghastly, set features.

Kennedy knelt over the man, who was nearest the door.

"Call a doctor, quick," he ordered, reaching over and feeling the pulse
of the woman, who had half fallen out of her chair. "They will, be all
right soon. They took what they thought was their usual adulterated
cocaine--see, here is the box in which it was. Instead, I filled the
box with the pure drug. They'll come around. Besides, Carton needs both
of them in his fight."

"Don't take any more," muttered the woman, half conscious. "There's
something wrong with it, Haddon."

I looked more closely at the face in the half-darkness.

It was Haddon himself.

"I knew he'd come back when the craving for the drug became intense
enough," remarked Kennedy.

Carton looked at Kennedy in amazement. Haddon was the last person in
the world whom he had evidently expected to discover here.

"How--what do you mean?"

"The episode of the telephone booth gave me the first hint. That is the
favourite stunt of the drug fiend--a few minutes alone, and he thinks
no one is the wiser about his habit. Then, too, there was the story
about his speed mania. That is a frequent failing of the cocainist. The
drug, too, was killing his interest in Loraine Keith--that is the last
stage.

"Yet under its influence, just as with his lobbygow and lieutenant,
Brodie, he found power and inspiration. With him it took the form of
bombs to protect himself in his graft."

"He can't--escape this time--Loraine. We'll leave it--at his house--you
know--Carton--"

We looked quickly at the work-table. On it was a gigantic bomb of
clockwork over which Haddon had been working. The cocaine which was to
have given him inspiration had, thanks to Kennedy, overcome him.

Beside Loraine Keith were a suit-case and a Gladstone. She had
evidently been stuffing the corners full of their favourite nepenthe,
for, as Kennedy reached down and turned over the closely packed woman's
finery and the few articles belonging to Haddon, innumerable packets
from the cabinet dropped out.

"Hulloa--what's this?" he exclaimed, as he came to a huge roll of bills
and a mass of silver and gold coin. "Trying to double-cross us all the
time. That was her clever game--to give him the hours he needed to
gather what money he could save and make a clean getaway. Even cocaine
doesn't destroy the interest of men and women in that," he concluded,
turning over to Carton the wealth which Haddon had amassed as one of
the meanest grafters of the city of graft.

Here was a case which I could not help letting the Star have
immediately. Notes or no notes, it was local news of the first order.
Besides, anything that concerned Carton was of the highest political
significance.

It kept me late at the office and I overslept. Consequently I did not
see much of Craig the next morning, especially as he told me he had
nothing special, having turned down a case of a robbery of a safe, on
the ground that the police were much better fitted to catch ordinary
yeggmen than he was. During the day, therefore, I helped in directing
the following up of the Haddon case for the Star.

Then, suddenly, a new front page story crowded this one of the main
headlines. With a sigh of relief, I glanced at the new thriller, found
it had something to do with the Navy Department, and that it came from
as far away as Washington. There was no reason now why others could not
carry on the graft story, and I left, not unwillingly. My special work
just now was keeping on the trail of Kennedy, and I was glad to go back
to the apartment and wait for him.

"I suppose you saw that despatch from Washington in this afternoon's
papers?" he queried, as he came in, tossing a late edition of the
Record down on my desk.

Across the front page extended a huge black scare-head: "NAVY'S MOST
VITAL SECRET STOLEN."

"Yes," I shrugged, "but you can't get me much excited by what the
rewrite men on the Record say."

"Why?" he asked, going directly into his own room.

"Well," I replied, glancing through the text of the story, "the actual
facts are practically the same as in the other papers. Take this, for
instance, 'On the night of the celebration of the anniversary of the
battle of Manila there were stolen from the Navy Department plans which
the Record learns exclusively represent the greatest naval secret in
the world.' So much for that paragraph--written in the office. Then it
goes on:

"The whole secret-service machinery of the Government has been put in
operation. No one has been able to extract from the authorities the
exact secret which was stolen, but it is believed to be an invention
which will revolutionise the structure and construction of the most
modern monster battleships. Such knowledge, it is said, in the hands of
experts might prove fatal in almost any fight in which our newer ships
met others of about equal fighting power, as with it marksmen might
direct a shot that would disable our ships.

"It is the opinion of the experts that the theft was executed by a
skilled draughtsman or other civilian employe. At any rate, the thief
knew what to take and its value. There is, at least, one nation, it is
asserted, which faces the problem of bringing its ships up to the
standard of our own to which the plans would be very valuable.

"The building had been thrown open to the public for the display of
fireworks on the Monument grounds before it. The plans are said to have
been on one of the draughting-tables, drawn upon linen to be made into
blue-prints. They are known to have been on the tables when the
draughting-room was locked for the night.

"The room is on the third floor of the Department and has a balcony
looking out on the Monument. Many officers and officials had their
families and friends on the balcony to witness the celebration, though
it is not known that any one was in the draughting-room itself. All
were admitted to the building on passes. The plans were tacked to a
draughting-board in the room, but when it was opened in the morning the
linen sheet was gone, and so were the thumb-tacks. The plans could
readily have been rolled into a small bundle and carried under a coat
or wrap.

"While the authorities are trying to minimise the actual loss, it is
believed that this position is only an attempt to allay the great
public concern."

I paused. "Now then," I added, picking up one of the other papers I had
brought up-town myself, "take the Express. It says that the plans were
important, but would have been made public in a few months, anyhow.
Here:

"The theft--or mislaying, as the Department hopes it will prove to
be--took place several days ago. Official confirmation of the report is
lacking, but from trustworthy unofficial sources it is learned that
only unimportant parts of plans are missing, presumably minor
structural details of battle-ship construction, and other things of a
really trivial character, such as copies of naval regulations, etc.

"The attempt to make a sensational connection between the loss and a
controversy which is now going on with a foreign government is greatly
to be deplored and is emphatically asserted to be utterly baseless. It
bears traces of the jingoism of those 'interests' which are urging
naval increases.

"There is usually very little about a battle-ship that is not known
before her keel is laid, or even before the signing of the contracts.
At any rate, when it is asserted that the plans represent the dernier
cri in some form of war preparation, it is well to remember that a
'last cry' is last only until there is a later. Naval secrets are few,
anyway, and as it takes some years to apply them, this loss cannot be
of superlative value to any one. Still, there is, of course, a market
for such information in spite of the progress toward disarmament, but
the rule in this case will be the rule as in a horse trade, 'Caveat
emptor.'"

"So there you are," I concluded. "You pay your penny for a paper, and
you take your choice."

"And the Star," inquired Kennedy, coming to the door and adding with an
aggravating grin, "the infallible?"

"The Star," I replied, unruffled, "hits the point squarely when it says
that whether the plans were of immediate importance or not, the real
point is that if they could be stolen, really important things could be
taken also. For instance, 'The thought of what the thief might have
stolen has caused much more alarm than the knowledge of what he has
succeeded in taking.' I think it is about time those people in
Washington stopped the leak if--"

The telephone rang insistently.

"I think that's for me," exclaimed Craig, bounding out of his room and
forgetting his quiz of me. "Hello--yes--is that you, Burke? At the
Grand Central--half an hour--all right. I'm bringing Jameson. Good-bye."

Kennedy jammed down the receiver on the hook.



XIX

THE SUBMARINE MYSTERY


"The Star was not far from right, Walter," he added, seriously. "If the
battleship plans could be stolen, other things could be--other things
were. You remember Burke of the secret service? I'm going up to Lookout
Hill on the Connecticut shore of the Sound with him to-night. The
rewrite men on the Record didn't have the facts, but they had accurate
imaginations. The most vital secret that any navy ever had, that would
have enabled us in a couple of years to whip the navies of the world
combined against us, has been stolen."

"And that is?" I asked.

"The practical working-out of the newest of sciences, the science of
telautomatics."

"Telautomatics?" I repeated.

"Yes. There is something weird, fascinating about the very idea. I sit
up here safely in this room, turning switches, pressing buttons,
depressing levers. Ten miles away a vehicle, a ship, an aeroplane, a
submarine obeys me. It may carry enough of the latest and most powerful
explosive that modern science can invent, enough, if exploded, to rival
the worst of earthquakes. Yet it obeys my will. It goes where I direct
it. It explodes where I want it. And it wipes off the face of the earth
anything which I want annihilated.

"That's telautomatics, and that is what has been stolen from our navy
and dimly sensed by you clever newspaper men, from whom even the secret
service can't quite hide everything. The publication of the rumour
alone that the government knows it has lost something has put the
secret service in a hole. What might have been done quietly and in a
few days has got to be done in the glare of the limelight and with the
blare of a brass band--and it has got to be done right away, too. Come
on, Walter. I've thrown together all we shall need for one night--and
it doesn't include any pajamas, either."

A few minutes later we met our friend Burke of the secret service at
the new terminal. He had wired Kennedy earlier in the day saying that
he would be in New York and would call him up.

"The plans, as I told you in my message," began Burke, when we had
seated ourselves in a compartment of the Pullman, "were those of
Captain Shirley, covering the wireless-controlled submarine. The old
captain is a thoroughbred, too. I've known him in Washington. Comes of
an old New England, family with plenty of money but more brains. For
years he has been working on this science of radio-telautomatics, has
all kinds of patents, which he has dedicated to the United States, too.
Of course the basic, pioneer patents are not his. His work has been in
the practical application of them. And, Kennedy, there are some secrets
about his latest work that he has not patented; he has given them
outright to the Navy Department, because they are too valuable even to
patent."

Burke, who liked a good detective tale himself, seemed pleased at
holding Kennedy spellbound.

"For instance," he went on, "he has on the bay up here a submarine
which can be made into a crewless dirigible. He calls it the Turtle, I
believe, because that was the name of the first American submarine
built by Dr. Bushnell during the Revolution, even before Fulton."

"You have theories of your own on the case?" asked Craig.

"Well, there are several possibilities. You know there are submarine
companies in this country, bitter rivals. They might like to have those
plans. Then, too, there are foreign governments."

He paused. Though he said nothing, I felt that there was no doubt what
he hinted at. At least one government occurred to me which would like
the plans above all others.

"Once some plans of a submarine were stolen, I recall," ruminated
Kennedy. "But that theft, I am satisfied, was committed in behalf of a
rival company."

"But, Kennedy," exclaimed Burke, "it was bad enough when the plans were
stolen. Now Captain Shirley wires me that some one must have tampered
with his model. It doesn't work right. He even believes that his own
life may be threatened. And there is scarcely a real clue," he added
dejectedly. "Of course we are watching all the employes who had access
to the draughting-room and tracing everybody who was in the building
that night. I have a complete list of them. There are three or four who
will bear watching. For instance, there is a young attache of one of
the embassies, named Nordheim."

"Nordheim!" I echoed, involuntarily. I had expected an Oriental name.

"Yes, a German. I have been looking up his record, and I find that once
he was connected in some way with the famous Titan Iron Works, at Kiel,
Germany. We began watching him day before yesterday, but suddenly he
disappeared. Then, there is a society woman in Washington, a Mrs.
Bayard Brainard, who was at the Department that night. We have been
trying to find her. To-day I got word that she was summering in the
cottage colony across the bay from Lookout Hill. At any rate, I had to
go up there to see the captain, and I thought I'd kill a whole flock of
birds with one stone. The chief thought, too, that if you'd take the
case with us you had best start on it up there. Next, you will no doubt
want to go back to Washington with me."

Lookout Hill was the name of the famous old estate of the Shirleys, on
a point of land jutting out into Long Island Sound and with a
neighbouring point enclosing a large, deep, safe harbour. On the
highest ground of the estate, with a perfect view of both harbour and
sound, stood a large stone house, the home of Captain Shirley, of the
United States navy, retired.

Captain Shirley, a man of sixty-two or three, bronzed and wiry, met us
eagerly.

"So this is Professor Kennedy; I'm glad to meet you, sir," he welcomed,
clasping Craig's hand in both of his--a fine figure as he stood erect
in the light of the portecochere. "What's the news from Washington,
Burke? Any clues?"

"I can hardly tell," replied the secret service man, with assumed
cheerfulness. "By the way, you'll have to excuse me for a few minutes
while I run back into town on a little errand. Meanwhile, Captain, will
you explain to Professor Kennedy just how things are? Perhaps he'd
better begin by seeing the Turtle herself."

Burke had not waited longer than to take leave.

"The Turtle," repeated the captain, leading the way into the house.
"Well, I did call it that at first. But I prefer to call it the Z99.
You know the first submarines, abroad at least, were sometimes called
Al, A2, A3, and so on. They were of the diving, plunging type, that is,
they submerged on an inclined keel, nose down, like the Hollands. Then
came the B type, in which the hydroplane appeared; the C type, in which
it was more prominent, and a D type, where submergence is on a
perfectly even keel, somewhat like our Lakes. Well, this boat of mine
is a last word--the Z99. Call it the Turtle, if you like."

We were standing for a moment in a wide Colonial hall in which a fire
was crackling in a huge brick fireplace, taking the chill off the night
air.

"Let me give you a demonstration, first," added the captain. "Perhaps
Z99 will work--perhaps not."

There was an air of disappointment about the old veteran as he spoke,
uncertainly now, of what a short time ago he had known to be a
certainty and one of the greatest it had ever been given the inventive
mind of man to know.

A slip of a girl entered from the library, saw us, paused, and was
about to turn back. Silhouetted against the curtained door, there was
health, animation, gracefulness, in every line of her wavy chestnut
hair, her soft, sparkling brown eyes, her white dress and hat to match,
which contrasted with the healthy glow of tan on her full neck and
arms, and her dainty little white shoes, ready for anything from tennis
to tango.

"My daughter Gladys, Professor Kennedy and Mr. Jameson," introduced the
captain. "We are going to try the Z99 again, Gladys."

A moment later we four were walking to the edge of the cliff where
Captain Shirley had a sort of workshop and signal-station.

He lighted the gas, for Lookout Hill was only on the edge of the town
and boasted gas, electricity, and all modern improvements, as well as
the atmosphere of old New England.

"The Z99 is moored just below us at my private dock," began the
captain. "I have a shed down there where we usually keep her, but I
expected you, and she is waiting, thoroughly overhauled. I have
signalled to my men--fellows I can trust, too, who used to be with me
in the navy--to cast her off. There--now we are ready."

The captain turned a switch. Instantly a couple of hundred feet below
us, on the dark and rippling water, a light broke forth. Another
signal, and the light changed.

It was moving.

"The principle of the thing," said Captain Shirley, talking to us but
watching the moving light intently, "briefly, is that I use the
Hertzian waves to actuate relays on the Z99. That is, I send a child
with a message, the grown man, through the relay, so to speak, does the
work. So, you see, I can sit up here and send my little David out
anywhere to strike down a huge Goliath.

"I won't bore you, yet, with explanations of my radio-combinator, the
telecommutator, the aerial coherer relay, and the rest of the
technicalities of wireless control of dirigible, self-propelled
vessels. They are well known, beginning with pioneers like Wilson and
Gardner in England, Roberts in Australia, Wirth and Lirpa in Germany,
Gabet in France, and Tesla, Edison, Sims, and the younger Hammond in
our own country.

"The one thing, you may not know, that has kept us back while wireless
telegraphy has gone ahead so fast is that in wireless we have been able
to discard coherers and relays and use detectors and microphones in
their places. But in telautomatics we have to keep the coherer. That
has been the barrier. The coherer until recently has been spasmodic,
until we had Hammond's mercury steel-disc coherer and now my own. Why,"
he cried, "we are just on the threshold, now, of this great science
which Tesla has named telautomatics--the electric arm that we can
stretch out through space to do our work and fight our battles."

It was not difficult to feel the enthusiasm of the captain over an
invention of such momentous possibilities, especially as the Z99 was
well out in the harbour now and we could see her flashing her red and
green signal-lights back to us.

"You see," the captain resumed, "I have twelve numbers here on the keys
of this radio-combinator--forward, back, stop propeller motor, rudder
right, rudder left, stop steering motor, light signals front, light
signals rear, launch torpedoes, and so on. The idea is that of a
delayed contact. The machinery is always ready, but it delays a few
seconds until the right impulse is given, a purely mechanical problem.
I take advantage of the delay to have the message repeated by a signal
back to me. I can even change it, then. You can see for yourself that
it really takes no experience to run the thing when all is going right.
Gladys has done it frequently herself. All you have to do is to pay
attention, and press the right key for the necessary change. It is when
things go wrong that even an expert like myself--confound it--there's
something wrong!"

The Z99 had suddenly swerved. Captain Shirley's brow knitted. We
gathered around closer, Gladys next to her father and leaning anxiously
over the transmitting apparatus.

"I wanted to turn her to port yet she goes to starboard, and signals
starboard, too. There--now--she has stopped altogether. What do you
think of that?"

Gladys stroked the old seafarer's hand gently, as he sat silently at
the table, peering with contracted brows out into the now brilliantly
moonlit night.

Shirley looked up at his daughter, and the lines on his face relaxed as
though he would hide his disappointment from her eager eyes.

"Confound that light! What's the matter with it?" he exclaimed,
changing the subject, and glancing up at the gas-fixture.

Kennedy had already been intently looking at the Welsbach burner
overhead, which had been flickering incessantly. "That gas company!"
added the Captain, shaking his head in disgust, and showing annoyance
over a trivial thing to hide deep concern over a greater, as some men
do. "I shall use the electricity altogether after this contract with
the company expires. I suppose you literary men, Mr. Jameson, would
call that the light that failed."

There was a forced air about his attempt to be facetious that did not
conceal, but rather accentuated, the undercurrent of feelings in him.

"On the contrary," broke in Kennedy, "I shouldn't be surprised to find
that it is the light that succeeded."

"How do you mean?"

"I wouldn't have said anything about it if you hadn't noticed it
yourself. In fact, I may be wrong. It suggests something to me, but it
will need a good deal of work to verify it, and then it may not be of
any significance. Is that the way the Z99 has behaved always lately?"

"Yes, but I know that she hasn't broken down of herself," Captain
Shirley asserted. "It never did before, not since I perfected that new
coherer. And now it always does, perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes
after I start her out."

Shirley was watching the lights as they serpentined their way to us
across the nearly calm water of the bay, idly toying with the now
useless combinator.

"Wait here," he said, rising hurriedly. "I must send my motor-boat out
there to pick her up and tow her in."

He was gone down the flight of rustic steps on the face of the cliff
before we could reply.

"I wish father wouldn't take it to heart so," murmured Gladys.
"Sometimes I fear that success or failure of this boat means life or
death to him."

"That is exactly why we are here," reassured Kennedy, turning earnestly
to her, "to help him to settle this thing at once. This is a beautiful
spot," he added, as we stood on the edge of the cliff and looked far
out over the tossing waves of the sound.

"What is on that other point?" asked Kennedy, turning again toward the
harbour itself.

"There is a large cottage colony there," she replied. "Of course many
of the houses are still closed so early in the season, but it is a
beautiful place in the summer. The hotel over there is open now,
though."

"You must have a lively time when the season is at its height,"
ventured Kennedy. "Do you know a cottager there, a Mrs. Brainard?"

"Oh, yes, indeed. I have known her in Washington for some time."

"No doubt the cottagers envy you your isolation here," remarked
Kennedy, turning and surveying the beautifully kept grounds. "I should
think it would be pleasant, too, to have an old Washington friend here."

"It is. We often invite our friends over for lawn-parties and other
little entertainments. Mrs. Brainard has just arrived and has only had
time to return my first visit to her, but I expect we shall have some
good times this summer."

It was evident, at least, that Gladys was not concealing anything about
her friend, whether there was any suspicion or not of her.

We had gone into the house to await the return of Captain Shirley.
Burke had just returned, his face betraying that he was bursting with
news.

"She's here, all right," he remarked in an undertone to Kennedy, "in
the Stamford cottage--quite an outfit. French chauffeur, two Japanese
servants, maids, and all."

"The Stamford cottage?" repeated Gladys. "Why, that is where Mrs.
Brainard lives."

She gave a startled glance at Kennedy, as she suddenly seemed to
realise that both he and the secret-service man had spoken about her
friend.

"Yes," said Burke, noting on the instant the perfect innocence of her
concern. "What do you know about Mrs. Brainard? Who, where is, Mr.
Brainard?"

"Dead, I believe," Gladys hesitated. "Mrs. Brainard has been well known
in Washington circles for years. Indeed, I invited her with us the
night of the Manila display."

"And Mr. Nordheim?" broke in Burke.

"N-no," she hesitated. "He was there, but I don't know as whose guest."

"Did he seem very friendly with. Mrs. Brainard?" pursued the detective.

I thought I saw a shade of relief pass over her face as she answered,
"Yes." I could only interpret it that perhaps Nordheim had been
attentive to Gladys herself and that she had not welcomed his
attentions.

"I may as well tell you," she said, at length. "It is no secret in our
set, and I suppose you would find it out soon, anyhow. It is said that
he is engaged to Mrs. Brainard--that is all."

"Engaged?" repeated Burke. "Then that would account for his being at
the hotel here. At least, it would offer an excuse."

Gladys was not slow to note the stress that Burke laid on the last word.

"Oh, impossible," she began hurriedly, "impossible that he could have
known anything about this other matter. Why, she told me he was to sail
suddenly for Germany and came up here for a last visit before he went,
and to arrange to come back on his return. Oh, he could know
nothing--impossible."

"Why impossible?" persisted Burke. "They have submarines in Germany,
don't they? And rival companies, too."

"Who have rival companies?" inquired a familiar voice. It was Captain
Shirley, who had returned out of breath from his long climb up the
steps from the shore.

"The Germans. I was speaking of an attache named Nordheim."

"Who is Nordheim?" inquired the captain.

"You met him at the Naval building, that night, don't you remember?"
replied Gladys.

"Oh, yes, I believe I do--dimly. He was the man who seemed so devoted
to Mrs. Brainard."

"I think he is, too, father," she replied hastily. "He has been
suddenly called to Berlin and planned to spend the last few days here,
at the hotel, so as to be near her. She told me that he had been
ordered back to Washington again before he sailed and had had to cut
his visit short."

"When did you first notice the interference with the Turtle?" asked
Burke. "I received your message this morning."

"Yesterday morning was the first," replied the captain.

"He arrived the night before and did not leave until yesterday
afternoon," remarked Burke.

"And we arrived to-night," put in Craig quietly. "The interference is
going on yet."

"Then the Japs," I cut in, at last giving voice to the suspicion I had
of the clever little Orientals.

"They could not have stolen the plans," asserted Burke, shaking his
head. "No, Nordheim and Mrs. Brainard were the only ones who could have
got into the draughting room the night of the Manila celebration."

"Burke," said Kennedy, rising, "I wish you would take me into town.
There are a few messages I would like to send. You will excuse us,
Captain, for a few hours? Good evening, Miss Shirley." As he bowed I
heard Kennedy add to her: "Don't worry about your father. Everything
will come out all right soon."

Outside, in the car which Burke had hired, Craig added: "Not to town.
That was an excuse not to alarm Miss Shirley too much over her friend.
Take us over past the Stamford cottage, first."

The Stamford cottage was on the beach, between the shore front and the
road. It was not a new place but was built in the hideous style of some
thirty years ago with all sorts of little turned and knobby ornaments.
We paused down the road a bit, though not long enough to attract
attention. There were lights on every floor of the cottage, although
most of the neighbouring cottages were dark.

"Well protected by lightning-rods," remarked Kennedy, as he looked the
Stamford cottage over narrowly. "We might as well drive on. Keep an eye
on the hotel, Burke. It may be that Nordheim intends to return, after
all."

"Assuming that he has left," returned the secret-service man.

"But you said he had left," said Kennedy. "What do you mean?"

"I hardly know myself," wearily remarked Burke, on whom the strain of
the case, to which we were still fresh, had begun to tell. "I only know
that I called up Washington after I heard he had been at the hotel, and
no one at our headquarters knew that he had returned. They may have
fallen down, but they were to watch both his rooms and the embassy."

"H-m," mused Kennedy. "Why didn't you say that before?"

"Why, I assumed that he had gone back, until you told me there was
interference to-night, too. Now, until I can locate him definitely I'm
all at sea--that's all."

It was now getting late in the evening, but Kennedy had evidently no
intention of returning yet to Lookout Hill. We paused at the hotel,
which was in the centre of the cottage colony, and flanked by a hill
that ran back of the colony diagonally and from which a view of both
the hotel and the cottages could be obtained. Burke's inquiries
developed the fact that Nordheim had left very hurriedly and in some
agitation. "To tell you the truth," confided the clerk, with whom Burke
had ingratiated himself, "I thought he acted like a man who was
watched."

Late as it was, Kennedy insisted on motoring to the railroad station
and catching the last train to New York. As there seemed to be nothing
that I could do at Lookout Hill, I accompanied him on the long and
tedious ride, which brought us back to the city in the early hours of
the morning.

We stopped just long enough to run up to the laboratory and to secure a
couple of little instruments which looked very much like small
incandescent lamps in a box. Then, by the earliest train from New York,
we returned to Lookout Hill, with only such sleep as Kennedy had
predicted, snatched in the day coaches of the trains and during a brief
wait in the station.

A half-hour's freshening up with a dip in the biting cold water of the
bay, breakfast with Captain Shirley and Miss Gladys, and a return to
the excitement of the case, had to serve in place of rest. Burke
disappeared, after a hasty conference with Kennedy, presumably to watch
Mrs. Brainard, the hotel, and the Stamford cottage to see who went in
and out.

"I've had the Z99 brought out of its shed," remarked the captain, as we
rose from the breakfast-table. "There was nothing wrong as far as I
could discover last night or by a more careful inspection this morning.
I'd like to have you take a look at her now, in the daylight."

"I was about to suggest," remarked Kennedy, as we descended the steps
to the shore, "that perhaps, first, it might be well to take a short
run in her with the crew, just to make sure that there is nothing wrong
with the machinery."

"A good idea," agreed the captain.

We came to the submarine, lying alongside the dock and looking like a
huge cigar. The captain preceded us down the narrow hatchway, and I
followed Craig. The deck was cleared, the hatch closed, and the vessel
sealed.



XX

THE WIRELESS DETECTOR


Remembering Jules Verne's enticing picture of life on the palatial
Nautilus, I may as well admit that I was not prepared for a real
submarine. My first impression, as I entered the hold, was that of
discomfort and suffocation. I felt, too, that I was too close to too
much whirring machinery. I gazed about curiously. On all sides were
electrical devices and machines to operate the craft and the torpedoes.
I thought, also, that the water outside was uncomfortably close; one
could almost feel it. The Z99 was low roofed, damp, with an intricate
system of rods, controls, engines, tanks, stop-cocks, compasses,
gauges--more things than it seemed the human mind, to say nothing of
wireless, could possibly attend to at once.

"The policy of secrecy which governments keep in regard to submarines,"
remarked the captain, running his eye over everything at once, it
seemed, "has led them to be looked upon as something mysterious. But
whatever you may think of telautomatics, there is really no mystery
about an ordinary submarine."

I did not agree with our "Captain Nemo," as, the examination completed,
he threw in a switch. The motor started. The Z99 hummed and trembled.
The fumes of gasoline were almost suffocating at first, in spite of the
prompt ventilation to clear them off. There was no escape from the
smell. I had heard of "gasoline heart," but the odour only made me sick
and dizzy. Like most novices, I suppose, I was suffering excruciating
torture. Not so, Kennedy. He got used to it in no time; indeed, seemed
to enjoy the very discomfort.

I felt that there was only one thing necessary to add to it, and that
was the odour of cooking. Cooking, by the way, on a submarine is
uncertain and disagreeable. There was a little electric heater, I
found, which might possibly have heated enough water for one cup of
coffee at a time.

In fact, space was economised to the utmost. Only the necessaries of
life were there. Every inch that could be spared was given over to
machinery. It was everywhere, compact, efficient--everything for
running the boat under water, guiding it above and below, controlling
its submersion, compressing air, firing torpedoes, and a thousand other
things. It was wonderful as it was. But when one reflected that all
could be done automatically, or rather telautomatically, it was simply
astounding.

"You see," observed Captain Shirley, "when she is working automatically
neither the periscope nor the wireless-mast shows. The wireless
impulses are carried down to her from an inconspicuous float which
trails along the surface and carries a short aerial with a wire running
down, like a mast, forming practically invisible antennae."

As he was talking the boat was being "trimmed" by admitting water as
ballast into the proper tanks.

"The Z99," he went on, "is a submersible, not a diving, submarine. That
is to say, the rudder guides it and changes the angle of the boat. But
the hydroplanes pull it up and down, two pairs of them set fore and aft
of the centre of gravity. They lift or lower the boat bodily on an even
keel, not by plunging and diving. I will now set the hydroplanes at ten
degrees down and the horizontal rudder two degrees up, and the boat
will submerge to a depth of thirty feet and run constant at that depth."

He had shut off the gasoline motor and started the storage-battery
electric motor, which was used when running submerged. The great motors
gave out a strange, humming sound. The crew conversed in low,
constrained tones. There was a slightly perceptible jar, and the boat
seemed to quiver just a bit from stem to stern. In front of Shirley was
a gauge which showed the depth of submergence and a spirit-level which
showed any inclination.

"Submerged," he remarked, "is like running on the surface under
dense-fog conditions."

I did not agree with those who have said there is no difference running
submerged or on the surface. Under way on the surface was one thing.
But when we dived it was most unpleasant. I had been reassured at the
start when I heard that there were ten compressed-air tanks under a
pressure of two thousand pounds to the square inch. But only once
before had I breathed compressed air and that was when one of our cases
once took us down into the tunnels below the rivers of New York. It was
not a new sensation, but at fifty feet depth I felt a little tingling
all over my body, a pounding of the ear-drums, and just a trace of
nausea.

Kennedy smiled as I moved about. "Never mind, Walter," he said. "I know
how you feel on a first trip. One minute you are choking from lack of
oxygen, then in another part of the boat you are exhilarated by too
much of it. Still," he winked, "don't forget that it is regulated."

"Well," I returned, "all I can say is that if war is hell, a submarine
is war."

I had, however, been much interested in the things about me. Forward,
the torpedo-discharge tubes and other apparatus about the little doors
in the vessel's nose made it look somewhat like the shield used in
boring a tunnel under compressed air.

"Ordinary torpedo-boats use the regular automobile torpedo," remarked
Captain Shirley, coming ubiquitously up behind me. "I improve on that.
I can discharge the telautomobile torpedo, and guide it either from the
boat, as we are now, or from the land station where we were last night,
at will."

There was something more than pride in his manner. He was deadly in
earnest about his invention.

We had come over to the periscope, the "eye" of the submarine when she
is running just under the surface, but of no use that we were below.
"Yes," he remarked, in answer to my half-spoken question, "that is the
periscope. Usually there is one fixed to look ahead and another that is
movable, in order to take in what is on the sides and in the rear. I
have both of those. But, in addition, I have the universal periscope,
the eye that sees all around, three hundred and sixty degrees--a very
clever application of an annular prism with objectives, condenser, and
two eyepieces of low and high power."

A call from one of the crew took him into the stern to watch the
operation of something, leaving me to myself, for Kennedy was roaming
about on a still hunt for anything that might suggest itself. The
safety devices, probably more than any other single thing, interested
me, for I had read with peculiar fascination of the great disasters to
the Lutin, the Pluviose, the Farfardet, the A8, the Foca, the Kambala,
the Japanese No 6, the German U3, and others.

Below us I knew there was a keel that could be dropped, lightening the
boat considerably. Also, there was the submarine bell, immersed in a
tank of water, with telephone receivers attached by which one could
"listen in," for example, before rising, say, from sixty feet to twenty
feet, and thus "hear" the hulls of other ships. The bell was struck by
means of air pressure, and was the same as that used for submarine
signalling on ships. Water, being dense, is an excellent conductor of
sound. Even in the submarine itself, I could hear the muffled clang of
the gong.

Then there were buoys which could be released and would fly to the
surface, carrying within them a telephone, a light, and a whistle. I
knew also something of the explosion dangers on a submarine, both from
the fuel oil used when running on the surface, and from the storage
batteries used when running submerged. Once in a while a sailor would
take from a jar a piece of litmus paper and expose it, showing only a
slight discolouration due to carbon dioxide. That was the least of my
troubles. For a few moments, also, the white mice in a cage interested
me. White mice were carried because they dislike the odour of gasoline
and give warning of any leakage by loud squeals.

The fact was that there was so much of interest that, the first
discomfort over, I was, like Kennedy, beginning really to enjoy the
trip.

I was startled suddenly to hear the motors stop. There was no more of
that interminable buzzing. The Z99 responded promptly to the air
pressure that was forcing the water out of the tanks. The gauge showed
that we were gradually rising on an even keel. A man sprang up the
narrow hatchway and opened the cover through which we could see a
little patch of blue sky again. The gasoline motor was started, and we
ran leisurely back to the dock. The trip was over--safely. As we landed
I felt a sense of gladness to get away from that feeling of being cut
off from the world. It was not fear of death or of the water, as nearly
as I could analyse it, but merely that terrible sense of isolation from
man and nature as we know it.

A message from Burke was waiting for Kennedy at the wharf. He read it
quickly, then handed it to Captain Shirley and myself.

     Have just received a telegram from Washington. Great
     excitement at the embassy. Cipher telegram has been
     despatched to the Titan Iron Works. One of my men in
     Washington reports a queer experience. He had been following
     one of the members of the embassy staff, who saw he was being
     shadowed, turned suddenly on the man, and exclaimed, "Why are
     you hounding us still?" What do you make of it? No trace yet
     of Nordheim

                                               BURKE.

The lines in Craig's face deepened in thought as he folded the message
and remarked abstractedly, "She works all right when you are aboard."
Then he recalled himself. "Let us try her again without a crew."

Five minutes later we had ascended to the aerial conning-tower, and all
was in readiness to repeat the trial of the night before. Vicious and
sly the Z99 looked in the daytime as she slipped off, under the unseen
guidance of the wireless, with death hidden under her nose. Just as
during the first trial we had witnessed, she began by fulfilling the
highest expectations. Straight as an arrow she shot out of the
harbour's mouth, half submerged, with her periscope sticking up and
bearing the flag proudly flapping, leaving behind a wake of white foam.

She turned and re-entered the harbour, obeying Captain Shirley's every
whim, twisting in and out of the shipping much to the amazement of the
old salts, who had never become used to the weird sight. She cut a
figure eight, stopped, started again.

Suddenly I could see by the look on Captain Shirley's face that
something was wrong. Before either of us could speak, there was a spurt
of water out in the harbour, a cloud of spray, and the Z99 sank in a
mass of bubbles. She had heeled over and was resting on the mud and
ooze of the harbour bottom. The water had closed over her, and she was
gone.

Instantly all the terrible details of the sinking of the Lutin and
other submarines flashed over me. I fancied I could see on the Z99 the
overturned accumulators. I imagined the stifling fumes, the struggle
for breath in the suddenly darkened hull. Almost as if it had happened
half an hour ago, I saw it.

"Thank God for telautomatics," I murmured, as the thought swept over me
of what we had escaped. "No one was aboard her, at least."

Chlorine was escaping rapidly from the overturned storage batteries,
for a grave danger lurks in the presence of sea water, in a submarine,
in combination with any of the sulphuric acid. Salt water and sulphuric
acid produce chlorine gas, and a pint of it inside a good-sized
submarine would be sufficient to render unconscious the crew of a boat.
I began to realise the risks we had run, which my confidence in Captain
Shirley had minimised. I wondered whether hydrogen in dangerous
quantities might not be given off, and with the short-circuiting of the
batteries perhaps explode. Nothing more happened, however. All kinds of
theories suggested themselves. Perhaps in some way the gasoline motor
had been started while the boat was depressed, the "gas" had escaped,
combined with air, and a spark had caused an explosion. There were so
many possibilities that it staggered me. Captain Shirley sat stunned.

Yet here was the one great question, Whence had come the impulse that
had sent the famous Z99 to her fate?

"Could it have been through something internal?" I asked. "Could a
current from one of the batteries have influenced the receiving
apparatus?"

"No," replied the captain mechanically. "I have a secret method of
protecting my receiving instruments from such impulses within the hull."

Kennedy was sitting silently in the corner, oblivious to us up to this
point.

"But not to impulses from outside the hull," he broke in.

Unobserved, he had been bending over one of the little instruments
which had kept us up all night and bad cost a tedious trip to New York
and back.

"What's that?" I asked.

"This? This is a little instrument known as the audion, a wireless
electric-wave detector."

"Outside the hull?" repeated Shirley, still dazed.

"Yes," cried Kennedy excitedly. "I got my first clue from that
flickering Welsbach mantle last night. Of course it flickered from the
wireless we were using, but it kept on. You know in the gas-mantle
there is matter in a most mobile and tenuous state, very sensitive to
heat and sound vibrations.

"Now, the audion, as you see, consists of two platinum wings, parallel
to the plane of a bowed filament of an incandescent light in a vacuum.
It was invented by Dr. Lee DeForest to detect wireless. When the light
is turned on and the little tantalum filament glows, it is ready for
business.

"It can be used for all systems of wireless--singing spark, quenched
spark, arc sets, telephone sets; in fact, it will detect a wireless
wave from whatever source it is sent. It is so susceptible that a man
with one attached to an ordinary steel-rod umbrella on a rainy night
can pick up wireless messages that are being transmitted within some
hundreds of miles radius."

The audion buzzed.

"There--see? Our wireless is not working. But with the audion you can
see that some wireless is, and a fairly near and powerful source it is,
too."

Kennedy was absorbed in watching the audion.

Suddenly he turned and faced us. He had evidently reached a conclusion.
"Captain," he cried, "can you send a wireless message? Yes? Well, this
is to Burke. He is over there back of the hotel on the hill with some
of his men. He has one there who understands wireless, and to whom I
have given another audion. Quick, before this other wireless cuts in on
us again. I want others to get the message as well as Burke. Send this:
'Have your men watch the railroad station and every road to it.
Surround the Stamford cottage. There is some wireless interference from
that direction.'"

As Shirley, with a half-insane light in his eyes, flashed the message
mechanically through space, Craig rose and signalled to the house.
Under the portecochere I saw a waiting automobile, which an instant
later tore up the broken-stone path and whirled around almost on two
wheels near the edge of the cliff. Glowing with health and excitement,
Gladys Shirley was at the wheel herself. In spite of the tenseness of
the situation, I could not help stopping to admire the change in the
graceful, girlish figure of the night before, which was now all lithe
energy and alertness in her eager devotion to carrying out the minutest
detail of Kennedy's plan to aid her father.

"Excellent, Miss Shirley," exclaimed Kennedy, "but when I asked Burke
to have you keep a car in readiness, I had no idea you would drive it
yourself."

"I like it," she remonstrated, as he offered to take the wheel.
"Please--please--let me drive. I shall go crazy if I'm not doing
something. I saw the Z99 go down. What was it? Who--"

"Captain," called Craig. "Quick--into the car. We must hurry. To the
Stamford house, Miss Shirley. No one can get away from it before we
arrive. It is surrounded."

Everything was quiet, apparently, about the house as our wild ride
around the edge of the harbour ended under the deft guidance of Gladys
Shirley. Here and there, behind a hedge or tree, I could see a lurking
secret-service man. Burke joined us from behind a barn next door.

"Not a soul has gone in or out," he whispered. "There does not seem to
be a sign of life there."

Craig and Burke had by this time reached the broad veranda. They did
not wait to ring the bell, but carried the door down literally off its
hinges. We followed closely.

A scream from the drawing-room brought us to a halt. It was Mrs.
Brainard, tall, almost imperial in her loose morning gown, her dark
eyes snapping fire at the sudden intrusion. I could not tell whether
she had really noticed that the house was watched or was acting a part.

"What does this mean?" she demanded. "What--Gladys--you--"

"Florence--tell them--it isn't so--is it? You don't know a thing about
those plans of father's that were--stolen--that night."

"Where is Nordheim?" interjected Burke quickly, a little of his "third
degree" training getting the upper hand.

"Nordheim?"

"Yes--you know. Tell me. Is he here?"

"Here? Isn't it bad enough to hound him, without hounding me, too? Will
you merciless detectives drive us all from, place to place with your
brutal suspicions?"

"Merciless?" inquired Burke, smiling with sarcasm. "Who has been
hounding him?"

"You know very well what I mean," she repeated, drawing herself up to
her full height and patting Gladys's hand to reassure her. "Read that
message on the table."

Burke picked up a yellow telegram dated New York, two days before.

 It was as I feared when I left you. The secret service must
  have rummaged my baggage both here and at the hotel. They
  have taken some very valuable papers of mine.

"Secret service--rummage baggage?" repeated Burke, himself now in
perplexity. "That is news to me. We have rummaged no trunks or bags,
least of all Nordheim's. In fact, we have never been able to find them
at all."

"Upstairs, Burke--the servants' quarters," interrupted Craig
impatiently. "We are wasting time here."

Mrs. Brainard offered no protest. I began to think that the whole thing
was indeed a surprise to her, and that she had, in fact, been reading,
instead of making a studied effort to appear surprised at our intrusion.

Room after room was flung open without finding any one, until we
reached the attic, which had been finished off into several rooms. One
door was closed. Craig opened it cautiously. It was pitch dark in spite
of the broad daylight outside. We entered gingerly.

On the floor lay two dark piles of something. My foot touched one of
them. I drew back in horror at the feeling. It was the body of a man.

Kennedy struck a light, and as he bent over in its little circle of
radiance, he disclosed a ghastly scene.

"Hari-kiri!" he ejaculated. "They must have got my message to Burke and
have seen that the house was surrounded."

The two Japanese servants had committed suicide.

"Wh-what does it all mean?" gasped Mrs. Brainard, who had followed us
upstairs with Gladys.

Burke's lip curled slightly and he was about to speak.

"It means," hastened Kennedy, "that you have been double crossed, Mrs.
Brainard. Nordheim stole those plans of Captain Shirley's submarine for
his Titan Iron Works. Then the Japs stole them from his baggage at the
hotel. He thought the secret service had them. The Japs waited here
just long enough to try the plans against the Z99 herself--to destroy
Captain Shirley's work by his own method of destruction. It was clever,
clever. It would make his labours seem like a failure and would
discourage others from keeping up the experiments. They had planned to
steal a march on the world. Every time the Z99 was out they worked up
here with their improvised wireless until they found the wave-length
Shirley was using. It took fifteen or twenty minutes, but they managed,
finally, to interfere so that they sent the submarine to the bottom of
the harbour. Instead of being the criminal, Burke, Mrs. Brainard is the
victim, the victim both of Nordheim and of her servants."

Craig had thrown open a window and had dropped down on his knees before
a little stove by which the room was heated. He was poking eagerly in a
pile of charred paper and linen.

"Shirley," he cried, "your secret is safe, even though the duplicate
plans were stolen. There will be no more interference."

The Captain seized Craig by both hands and wrung them like the handle
of a pump.

"Oh, thank you--thank you--thank you," cried Gladys, running up and
almost dancing with joy at the change in her father. "I--I could
almost--kiss you!"

"I could let you," twinkled Craig, promptly, as she blushed deeply.
"Thank you, too, Mrs. Brainard," he added, turning to acknowledge her
congratulations also. "I am glad I have been able to be of service to
you."

"Won't you come back to the house for dinner?" urged the Captain.

Kennedy looked at me and smiled. "Walter," he said, "this is no place
for two old bachelors like us."

Then turning, he added, "Many thanks, sir,--but, seriously, last night
we slept principally in day coaches. Really I must turn the case over
to Burke now and get back to the city to-night early."

They insisted on accompanying us to the station, and there the
congratulations were done all over again.

"Why," exclaimed Kennedy, as we settled ourselves in the Pullman after
waving a final good-bye, "I shall be afraid to go back to that town
again. I--I almost did kiss her!"

Then his face settled into its usual stern lines, although softened, I
thought. I am sure that it was not the New England landscape, with its
quaint stone fences, that he looked at out of the window, but the
recollection of the bright dashing figure of Gladys Shirley.

It was seldom that a girl made so forcible an impression on Kennedy, I
know, for on our return he fairly dived into work, like the Z99
herself, and I did not see him all the next day until just before
dinner time. Then he came in and spent half an hour restoring his
acid-stained fingers to something like human semblance.

He said nothing about his research work of the day, and I was just
about to remark that a day had passed without its usual fresh alarum
and excursion, when a tap on the door buzzer was followed by the
entrance of our old friend Andrews, head of the Great Eastern Life
Insurance Company's own detective service.

"Kennedy," he began, "I have a startling case for you. Can you help me
out with it?"

As he sat down heavily, he pulled from his immense black wallet some
scraps of paper and newspaper cuttings.

"You recall, I suppose," he went on, unfolding the papers without
waiting for an answer, "the recent death of young Montague Phelps, at
Woodbine, just outside the city?"

Kennedy nodded. The death of Phelps, about ten days before, had
attracted nation-wide attention because of the heroic fight for life he
had made against what the doctors admitted had puzzled them--a new and
baffling manifestation of coma. They had laboured hard to keep him
awake, but had not succeeded, and after several days of lying in a
comatose state he had finally succumbed. It was one of those strange
but rather frequent cases of long sleeps reported in the newspapers,
although it was by no means one which might be classed as
record-breaking.

The interest in Phelps lay, a great deal, in the fact that the young
man had married the popular dancer, Anginette Petrovska, a few months
previously. His honeymoon trip around the world had suddenly been
interrupted, while the couple were crossing Siberia, by the news of the
failure of the Phelps banking-house in Wall Street and the practical
wiping-out of his fortune. He had returned, only to fall a victim to a
greater misfortune.

"A few days before his death," continued Andrews, measuring his words
carefully, "I, or rather the Great Eastern, which had been secretly
investigating the case, received this letter. What do you think of it?"

He spread out on the table a crumpled note in a palpably disguised
handwriting:

     TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

     You would do well to look Into the death of Montague Phelps,
     Jr. I accuse no one, assert nothing. But when a young man
     apparently in the best of health, drops off so mysteriously
     and even the physician in the case can give no very
     convincing information, that case warrants attention. I know
     what I know.

                                           AN OUTSIDER.



XXI

THE GHOULS


"H-M," mused Kennedy, weighing the contents of the note carefully, "one
of the family, I'll be bound--unless the whole thing is a hoax. By the
way, who else is there in the immediate family?"

"Only a brother, Dana Phelps, younger and somewhat inclined to
wildness, I believe. At least, his father did not trust him with a
large inheritance, but left most of his money in trust. But before we
go any further, read that."

Andrews pulled from the papers a newspaper cutting on which he had
drawn a circle about the following item. As we read, he eyed us sharply.

  PHELPS TOMB DESECRATED

  Last night, John Shaughnessy, a night watchman employed by
  the town of Woodbine, while on his rounds, was attracted by
  noises as of a violent struggle near the back road in the
  Woodbine Cemetery, on the outskirts of the town. He had varied
  his regular rounds because of the recent depredations of
  motor-car yeggmen who had timed him in pulling off several jobs
  lately. As he hurried toward the large mausoleum of the Phelps
  family, he saw two figures slink away in opposite directions in
  the darkness. One of them, he asserts positively, seemed to be a
  woman in black, the other a man whom he could not see clearly.
  They readily eluded pursuit in the shadows, and a moment later
  he heard the whir of a high-powered car, apparently bearing them
  away.

  At the tomb there was every evidence of a struggle. Things
  had been thrown about; the casket had been broken open, but
  the body of Montague Phelps, Jr., which had been interred there
  about ten days ago, was not touched or mutilated.

  It was a shocking and extraordinary violation. Shaughnessy
  believes that some personal jewels may have been buried with
  Phelps and that the thieves were after them, that they fought
  over the loot, and in the midst of the fight were scared away.

  The vault is of peculiar construction, a costly tomb in which
  repose the bodies of the late Montague Phelps, Sr., of his wife,
  and now of his eldest son. The raid had evidently been carefully
  planned to coincide with a time when Shaughnessy would
  ordinarily have been on the other side of the town. The entrance
  to the tomb had been barred, but during the commotion the ghouls
  were surprised and managed to escape without accomplishing
  their object and leaving no trace.

  Mrs. Phelps, when informed of the vandalism, was shocked,
  and has been in a very nervous state since the tomb was forced
  open. The local authorities seem extremely anxious that every
  precaution should be taken to prevent a repetition of the
  ghoulish visit to the tomb, but as yet the Phelps family has
  taken no steps.

"Are you aware of any scandal, any skeleton in the closet in the
family?" asked Craig, looking up.

"No--not yet," considered Andrews. "As soon as I heard of the
vandalism, I began to wonder what could have happened in the Phelps
tomb, as far as our company's interests were concerned. You see, that
was yesterday. To-day this letter came along," he added, laying down a
second very dirty and wrinkled note beside the first. It was quite
patently written by a different person from the first; its purport was
different, indeed quite the opposite of the other. "It was sent to Mrs.
Phelps," explained Andrews, "and she gave it out herself to the police."

    Do not show this to the police. Unless you leave $5000 in gold
    in the old stump in the swamp across from the cemetery, you
    will have reason to regret it. If you respect the memory of
    the dead, do this, and do it quietly.

                                       BLACK HAND.

"Well," I ejaculated, "that's cool. What threat would be used to back
this demand on the Phelpses?"

"Here's the situation," resumed Andrews, puffing violently on his
inevitable cigar and toying with the letters and clippings. "We have
already held up payment of the half-million dollars of insurance to the
widow as long as we can consistently do so. But we must pay soon,
scandal or not, unless we can get something more than mere conjecture."

"You are already holding it up?" queried Craig.

"Yes. You see, we investigate thoroughly every suspicious death. In
most cases, no body is found. This case is different in that respect.
There is a body, and it is the body of the insured, apparently. But a
death like this, involving the least mystery, receives careful
examination, especially if, as in this case, it has recently been
covered by heavy policies. My work has often served to reverse the
decision of doctors and coroners' juries.

"An insurance detective, as you can readily appreciate, Kennedy, soon
comes to recognise the characteristics in the crimes with which he
deals. For example, writing of the insurance plotted for rarely
precedes the conspiracy to defraud. That is, I know of few cases in
which a policy originally taken out in good faith has subsequently
become the means of a swindle.

"In outright-murder cases, the assassin induces the victim to take out
insurance in his favour. In suicide cases, the insured does so himself.
Just after his return home, young Phelps, who carried fifty thousand
dollars already, applied for and was granted one of the largest
policies we have ever written--half a million."

"Was it incontestible without the suicide clause?" asked Kennedy.

"Yes," replied Andrews, "and suicide is the first and easiest theory.
Why, you have no idea how common the crime of suicide for the sake of
the life insurance is becoming. Nowadays, we insurance men almost
believe that every one who contemplates ending his existence takes out
a policy so as to make his life, which is useless to him, a benefit, at
least, to some one--and a nightmare to the insurance detective."

"I know," I cut in, for I recalled having been rather interested in the
Phelps case at the time, "but I thought the doctors said finally that
death was due to heart failure."

"Doctor Forden who signed the papers said so," corrected Andrews.
"Heart failure--what does that mean? As well say breath failure, or
nerve failure. I'll tell you what kind of failure I think it was. It
was money failure. Hard times and poor investments struck Phelps before
he really knew how to handle his small fortune. It called him home
and--pouf!--he is off--to leave to his family a cool half-million by
his death. But did he do it himself or did some one else do it? That's
the question."

"What is your theory," inquired Kennedy absently, "assuming there is no
scandal hidden in the life of Phelps before or after he married the
Russian dancer?"

"I don't know, Kennedy," confessed Andrews. "I have had so many
theories and have changed them so rapidly that all I lay claim to
believing, outside of the bald facts that I have stated, is that there
must have been some poison. I rather sense it, feel that there is no
doubt of it, in fact. That is why I have come to you. I want you to
clear it up, one way or another. The company has no interest except in
getting at the truth."

"The body is really there?" asked Kennedy. "You saw it?"

"It was there no later than this afternoon, and in an almost perfect
state of preservation, too."

Kennedy seemed to be looking at and through Andrews as if he would
hypnotise the truth out of him. "Let me see," he said quickly. "It is
not very late now. Can we visit the mausoleum to-night?"

"Easily. My car is down-stairs. Woodbine is not far, and you'll find it
a very attractive suburb, aside from this mystery."

Andrews lost no time in getting us out to Woodbine, and on the fringe
of the little town, one of the wealthiest around the city, he deposited
us at the least likely place of all, the cemetery. A visit to a
cemetery is none too enjoyable even on a bright day. In the early night
it is positively uncanny. What was gruesome in the daylight became
doubly so under the shroud of darkness.

We made our way into the grounds through a gate, and I, at least, even
with all the enlightenment of modern science, could not restrain a
weird and creepy sensation.

"Here is the Phelps tomb," directed Andrews, pausing beside a marble
structure of Grecian lines and pulling out a duplicate key of a new
lock which had been placed on the heavy door of grated iron. As we
entered, it was with a shudder at the damp odour of decay. Kennedy had
brought his little electric bull's-eye, and, as he flashed it about, we
could see at a glance that the reports had not been exaggerated.
Everything showed marks of a struggle. Some of the ornaments had been
broken, and the coffin itself had been forced open.

"I have had things kept just as we found them," explained Andrews.

Kennedy peered into the broken coffin long and attentively. With a
little effort I, too, followed the course of the circle of light. The
body was, as Andrews had said, in an excellent, indeed a perfect, state
of preservation. There were, strange to say, no marks of decay.

"Strange, very strange," muttered Kennedy to himself.

"Could it have been some medical students, body-snatchers?" I asked
musingly. "Or was it simply a piece of vandalism? I wonder if there
could have been any jewels buried with him, as Shaughnessy said? That
would make the motive plain robbery."

"There were no jewels," said Andrews, his mind not on the first part of
my question, but watching Kennedy intently.

Craig had dropped on his knees on the damp, mildewed floor, and
bringing his bull's-eye close to the stones, was examining some spots
here and there.

"There could not have been any substitution?" I whispered, with, my
mind still on the broken coffin. "That would cover up the evidence of a
poisoning, you know."

"No," replied Andrews positively, "although bodies can be obtained
cheaply enough from a morgue, ostensibly for medical purposes. No, that
is Phelps, all right."

"Well, then," I persisted, "body-snatchers, medical students?"

"Not likely, for the same reason," he rejected.

We bent over closer to watch Kennedy. Apparently he had found a number
of round, flat spots with little spatters beside them. He was carefully
trying to scrape them up with as little of the surrounding mould as
possible.

Suddenly, without warning, there was a noise outside, as if a person
were moving through the underbrush. It was fearsome in its suddenness.
Was it human or wraith? Kennedy darted to the door in time to see a
shadow glide silently away, lost in the darkness of the fine old
willows. Some one had approached the mausoleum for a second time, not
knowing we were there, and had escaped. Down the road we could hear the
purr of an almost silent motor.

"Somebody is trying to get in to conceal something here," muttered
Kennedy, stifling his disappointment at not getting a closer view of
the intruder.

"Then it was not a suicide," I exclaimed. "It was a murder!"

Craig shook his head sententiously. Evidently he not prepared yet to
talk.

With another look at the body in the broken casket he remarked:
"To-morrow I want to call on Mrs. Phelps and Doctor Forden, and, if it
is possible to find him, Dana Phelps. Meanwhile, Andrews, if you and
Walter will stand guard here, there is an apparatus which I should like
to get from my laboratory and set up here before it is too late."

It was far past the witching hour of midnight, when graveyards
proverbially yawn, before Craig returned in the car. Nothing had
happened in the meantime except those usual eery noises that one may
hear in the country at night anywhere. Our visitor of the early evening
seemed to have been scared away for good.

Inside the mausoleum, Kennedy set up a peculiar machine which he
attached to the electric-light circuit in the street by a long wire
which he ran loosely over the ground. Part of the apparatus consisted
of an elongated box lined with lead, to which were several other
attachments, the nature of which I did not understand, and a
crank-handle.

"What's that?" asked Andrews curiously, as Craig set up a screen
between the apparatus and the body.

"This is a calcium-tungsten screen," remarked Kennedy, adjusting now
what I know to be a Crookes' tube on the other side of the body itself,
so that the order was: the tube, the body, the screen, and the oblong
box. Without a further word we continued to watch him.

At last, the apparatus adjusted apparently to his satisfaction, he
brought out a jar of thick white liquid and a bottle of powder.

"Buttermilk and a couple of ounces of bismuth sub-carbonate," he
remarked, as he mixed some in a glass, and with a pump forced it down
the throat of the body, now lying so that the abdomen was almost flat
against the screen.

He turned a switch and the peculiar bluish effulgence, which always
appears when a Crookes' tube is being used, burst forth, accompanied by
the droning of his induction-coil and the welcome smell of ozone
produced by the electrical discharge in the almost fetid air of the
tomb. Meanwhile, he was gradually turning the handle of the crank
attached to the oblong box. He seemed so engrossed in the delicateness
of the operation that we did not question him, in fact did not move.
For Andrews, at least, it was enough to know that he had succeeded in
enlisting Kennedy's services.

Well along toward morning it was before Kennedy had concluded his
tests, whatever they were, and had packed away his paraphernalia.

"I'm afraid it will take me two or three days to get at this evidence,
even now," he remarked, impatient at even the limitations science put
on his activity. We had started back for a quick run to the city and
rest. "But, anyhow, it will give us a chance to do some investigating
along other lines."

Early the next day, in spite of the late session of the night before,
Kennedy started me with him on a second visit to Woodbine. This time he
was armed with a letter of introduction from Andrews to Mrs. Phelps.

She proved to be a young woman of most extraordinary grace and beauty,
with a superb carriage such as only years of closest training under the
best dancers of the world could give. There was a peculiar velvety
softness about her flesh and skin, a witching stoop to her shoulders
that was decidedly continental, and in her deep, soulful eyes a
half-wistful look that was most alluring. In fact, she was as
attractive a widow as the best Fifth Avenue dealers in mourning goods
could have produced.

I knew that 'Ginette Phelps had been, both as dancer and wife, always
the centre of a group of actors, artists, and men of letters as well as
of the world and affairs. The Phelpses had lived well, although they
were not extremely wealthy, as fortunes go. When the blow fell, I could
well fancy that the loss of his money had been most serious to young
Montague, who had showered everything as lavishly as he was able upon
his captivating bride.

Mrs. Phelps did not seem to be overjoyed at receiving us, yet made no
open effort to refuse.

"How long ago did the coma first show itself?" asked Kennedy, after our
introductions were completed. "Was your husband a man of neurotic
tendency, as far as you could judge?"

"Oh, I couldn't say when it began," she answered, in a voice that was
soft and musical and under perfect control. "The doctor would know that
better. No, he was not neurotic, I think."

"Did you ever see Mr. Phelps take any drugs--not habitually, but just
before this sleep came on?"

Kennedy was seeking his information in a manner and tone that would
cause as little offence as possible "Oh, no," she hastened. "No,
never--absolutely."

"You called in Dr. Forden the last night?"

"Yes, he had been Montague's physician many years ago, you know."

"I see," remarked Kennedy, who was thrusting about aimlessly to get her
off her guard. "By the way, you know there is a great deal of gossip
about the almost perfect state of preservation of the body, Mrs.
Phelps. I see it was not embalmed."

She bit her lip and looked at Kennedy sharply.

"Why, why do you and Mr. Andrews worry me? Can't you see Doctor Forden?"

In her annoyance I fancied that there was a surprising lack of sorrow.
She seemed preoccupied. I could not escape the feeling that she was
putting some obstacle in our way, or that from the day of the discovery
of the vandalism, some one had been making an effort to keep the real
facts concealed. Was she shielding some one? It flashed over me that
perhaps, after all, she had submitted to the blackmail and had buried
the money at the appointed place. There seemed to be little use in
pursuing the inquiry, so we excused ourselves, much, I thought, to her
relief.

We found Doctor Forden, who lived on the same street as the Phelpses
several squares away, most fortunately at home. Forden was an extremely
interesting man, as is, indeed, the rule with physicians. I could not
but fancy, however, that his hearty assurance that he would be glad to
talk freely on the case was somewhat forced.

"You were sent for by Mrs. Phelps, that last night, I believe, while
Phelps was still alive?" asked Kennedy.

"Yes. During the day it had been impossible to arouse him, and that
night, when Mrs. Phelps and the nurse found him sinking even deeper
into the comatose state, I was summoned again. He was beyond hope then.
I did everything I could, but he died a few moments after I arrived."

"Did you try artificial respiration?" asked Kennedy.

"N-no," replied Forden. "I telephoned here for my respirator, but by
the time it arrived at the house it was too late. Nothing had been
omitted while he was still struggling with the spark of life. When that
went out what was the use?"

"You were his personal physician?"

"Yes."

"Had you ever noticed that he took any drug?"

Doctor Forden shot a quick glance at Kennedy. "Of course not. He was
not a drug fiend."

"I didn't mean that he was addicted to any drug. But had he taken
anything lately, either of his own volition or with the advice or
knowledge of any one else?"

"Of course not."

"There's another strange thing I wish to ask your opinion about,"
pursued Kennedy, not to be rebuffed. "I have seen his body. It is in an
excellent state of preservation, almost lifelike. And yet I understand,
or at least it seems, that it was not embalmed."

"You'll have to ask the undertaker about that," answered the doctor
brusquely.

It was evident that he was getting more and more constrained in his
answers. Kennedy did not seem to mind it, but to me it seemed that he
must be hiding something. Was there some secret which medical ethics
kept locked in his breast? Kennedy had risen and excused himself.

The interviews had not resulted in much, I felt, yet Kennedy did not
seem to care. Back in the city again, he buried himself in his
laboratory for the rest of the day, most of the time in his dark room,
where he was developing photographic plates or films, I did not know
which.

During the afternoon Andrews dropped in for a few moments to report
that he had nothing to add to what had already developed. He was not
much impressed by the interviews.

"There's just one thing I want to speak about, though," he said at
length, unburdening his mind. "That tomb and the swamp, too, ought to
be watched. Last night showed me that there seems to be a regular
nocturnal visitor and that we cannot depend on that town night watchman
to scare him off. Yet if we watch up there, he will be warned and will
lie low. How can we watch both places at once and yet remain hidden?"

Kennedy nodded approval of the suggestion. "I'll fix that," he replied,
anxious to return to his photographic labours. "Meet me, both of you,
on the road from the station at Woodbine, just as it is getting dusk."
Without another word he disappeared into the dark room.

We met him that night as he had requested. He had come up to Woodbine
in the baggage-car of the train with a powerful dog, for all the world
like a huge, grey wolf.

"Down, Schaef," he ordered, as the dog began to show an uncanny
interest in me. "Let me introduce my new dog-detective," he chuckled.
"She has a wonderful record as a police-dog."

We were making our way now through the thickening shadows of the town
to the outskirts. "She's a German sheep-dog, a Schaferhund," he
explained. "For my part, it is the English bloodhound in the open
country and the sheep-dog in the city and the suburbs."

Schaef seemed to have many of the characteristics of the wild,
prehistoric animal, among them the full, upright ears of the wild dog
which are such a great help to it. She was a fine, alert, upstanding
dog, hardy, fierce, and literally untiring, of a tawny light brown like
a lioness, about the same size and somewhat of the type of the
smooth-coated collie, broad of chest and with a full brush of tail.

Untamed though she seemed, she was perfectly under Kennedy's control,
and rendered him absolute and unreasoning obedience.

At the cemetery we established a strict watch about the Phelps
mausoleum and the swamp which lay across the road, not a difficult
thing to do as far as concealment went, owing to the foliage. Still,
for the same reason, it was hard to cover the whole ground. In the
shadow of a thicket we waited. Now and then we could hear Schaef
scouting about in the underbrush, crouching and hiding, watching and
guarding.

As the hours of waiting in the heavily laden night air wore on, I
wondered whether our vigil in this weird place would be rewarded. The
soughing of the night wind in the evergreens, mournful at best, was
doubly so now. Hour after hour we waited patiently.

At last there was a slight noise from the direction opposite the
mausoleum and toward the swamp next to the cemetery.

Kennedy reached out and drew us back into the shadow deeper. "Some one
is prowling about, approaching the mausoleum on that side, I think," he
whispered.

Instantly there recurred to me the thought I had had earlier in the day
that perhaps, after all, the five thousand dollars of hush money, for
whatever purpose it might be extorted, had been buried in the swamp by
Mrs. Phelps in her anxiety. Had that been what she was concealing?
Perhaps the blackmailer had come to reconnoitre, and, if the money was
there, to take it away.

Schaef, who had been near us, was sniffing eagerly. From our
hiding-place we could just see her. She had heard the sounds, too, even
before we had, and for an instant stood with every muscle tense.

Then, like an arrow, she darted into the underbrush. An instant later,
the sharp crack of a revolver rang out. Schaef kept right on, never
stopping a second, except, perhaps, for surprise.

"Crack!" almost in her face came a second spit of fire in the darkness,
and a bullet crashed through the leaves and buried itself in a tree
with a ping. The intruder's marksmanship was poor, but the dog paid no
attention to it.

"One of the few animals that show no fear of gunfire," muttered
Kennedy, in undisguised admiration.

"G-R-R-R," we heard from the police-dog.

"She has made a leap at the hand that holds the gun," cried Kennedy,
now rising and moving rapidly in the same direction. "She has been
taught that a man once badly bitten in the hand is nearly out of the
fight."

We followed, too. As we approached we were just in time to see Schaef
running in and out between the legs of a man who had heard us approach
and was hastily making tracks for the road. As he tripped, she lunged
for his back.

Kennedy blew shrilly on a police whistle. Reluctantly, Schaef let go.
One could see that with all her canine instinct she wanted to "get"
that man. Her jaws were open, as, with longing eyes, she stood over the
prostrate form in the grass. The whistle was a signal, and she had been
taught to obey unquestioningly.

"Don't move until we get to you, or you are a dead man," shouted
Kennedy, pulling an automatic as he ran. "Are you hurt?"

There was no answer, but as we approached, the man moved, ever so
little, through curiosity to see his pursuers.

Schaef shot forward. Again the whistle sounded and she dropped back. We
bent over to seize him as Kennedy secured the dog.

"She's a devil," ground out the prone figure on the grass.

"Dana Phelps!" exclaimed Andrews, as the man turned his face toward us.
"What are you doing, mixed up in this?"

Suddenly there was a movement in the rear, toward the mausoleum itself.
We turned, but it was too late. Two dark figures slunk through the
gloom, bearing something between them. Kennedy slipped the leash off
Schaef and she shot out like a unchained bolt of lightning.

There was the whir of a high-powered machine which must have sneaked up
with the muffler on during the excitement. They had taken a desperate
chance and had succeeded. They were gone!



XXII

THE X-RAY "MOVIES"


Still holding Dana Phelps between us, we hurried toward the tomb and
entered. While our attention had been diverted in the direction of the
swamp, the body of Montague Phelps had been stolen.

Dana Phelps was still deliberately brushing off his clothes. Had he
been in league with them, executing a flank movement to divert our
attention? Or had it all been pure chance?

"Well?" demanded Andrews.

"Well?" replied Dana.

Kennedy said nothing, and I felt that, with our capture, the mystery
seemed to have deepened rather than cleared.

As Andrews and Phelps faced each other, I noticed that the latter was
now and then endeavouring to cover his wrist, where the dog had torn
his coat sleeve.

"Are you hurt badly?" inquired Kennedy.

Dana said nothing, but backed away. Kennedy advanced, insisting on
looking at the wounds. As he looked he disclosed a semicircle of marks.

"Not a dog bite," he whispered, turning to me and fumbling in his
pocket. "Besides, those marks are a couple of days old. They have scabs
on them."

He had pulled out a pencil and a piece of paper, and, unknown to
Phelps, was writing in the darkness. I leaned over. Near the point, in
the tube through which the point for writing was, protruded a small
accumulator and tiny electric lamp which threw a little disc of light,
so small that it could be hidden by the hand, yet quite sufficient to
guide Craig in moving the point of his pencil for the proper formation
of whatever he was recording on the surface of the paper.

"An electric-light pencil," he remarked laconically, in an undertone.

"Who were the others?" demanded Andrews of Dana.

There was a pause as though he were debating whether or not to answer
at all. "I don't know," he said at length. "I wish I did."

"You don't know?" queried Andrews, with incredulity.

"No, I say I wish I did know. You and your dog interrupted me just as I
was about to find out, too."

We looked at each other in amazement. Andrews was frankly skeptical of
the coolness of the young man. Kennedy said nothing for some moments.

"I see you don't want to talk," he put in shortly.

"Nothing to talk about," grunted Dana, in disgust.

"Then why are you here?"

"Nothing but conjecture. No facts, only suspicions," said Dana, half to
himself.

"You expect us to believe that?" insinuated Andrews.

"I can't help what you believe. That is the fact."

"And you were not with them?"

"No."

"You'll be within call, if we let you go now, any time that we want
you?" interrupted Kennedy, much to the surprise of Andrews.

"I shall stay in Woodbine as long as there is any hope of clearing up
this case. If you want me, I suppose I shall have to stay anyhow, even
if there is a clue somewhere else."

"I'll take your word for it," offered Kennedy.

"I'll give it."

I must say that I rather liked the young chap, although I could make
nothing out of him.

As Dana Phelps disappeared down the road, Andrews turned to Kennedy.
"What did you do that for?" he asked, half critically.

"Because we can watch him, anyway," answered Craig, with a significant
glance at the now empty casket. "Have him shadowed, Andrews. It may
lead to something and it may not. But in any case don't let him get out
of reach."

"Here we are in a worse mystery than ever," grumbled Andrews. "We have
caught a prisoner, but the body is gone, and we can't even show that he
was an accomplice."

"What were you writing?" I asked Craig, endeavouring to change the
subject to one more promising.

"Just copying the peculiar shape of those marks on Phelps' arm. Perhaps
we can improve on the finger-print method of identification. Those were
the marks of human teeth."

He was glancing casually at his sketch as he displayed it to us. I
wondered whether he really expected to obtain proof of the identity of
at least one of the ghouls by the tooth-marks.

"It shows eight teeth, one of them decayed," he remarked. "By the way,
there's no use watching here any longer. I have some more work to do in
the laboratory which will keep me another day. To-morrow night I shall
be ready. Andrews, in the mean time I leave the shadowing of Dana to
you, and with the help of Jameson I want you to arrange to have all
those connected with the case at my laboratory to-morrow night without
fail."

Andrews and I had to do some clever scheming to bring pressure to bear
on the various persons interested to insure their attendance, now that
Craig was ready to act. Of course there was no difficulty in getting
Dana Phelps. Andrews's shadows reported nothing in his actions of the
following day that indicated anything. Mrs. Phelps came down to town by
train and Doctor Forden motored in. Andrews even took the precaution to
secure Shaughnessy and the trained nurse, Miss Tracy, who had been with
Montague Phelps during his illness but had not contributed anything
toward untangling the case. Andrews and myself completed the little
audience.

We found Kennedy heating a large mass of some composition such as
dentists use in taking impressions of the teeth.

"I shall be ready in a moment," he excused himself, still bending over
his Bunsen flame. "By the way, Mr. Phelps, if you will permit me."

He had detached a wad of the softened material. Phelps, taken by
surprise, allowed him to make an impression of his teeth, almost before
he realised what Kennedy was doing. The precedent set, so to speak,
Kennedy approached Doctor Forden. He demurred, but finally consented.
Mrs. Phelps followed, then the nurse, and even Shaughnessy.

With a quick glance at each impression, Kennedy laid them aside to
harden.

"I am ready to begin," he remarked at length, turning to a peculiar
looking instrument, something like three telescopes pointing at a
centre in which was a series of glass prisms.

"These five senses of ours are pretty dull detectives sometimes,"
Kennedy began. "But I find that when we are able to call in outside aid
we usually find that there are no more mysteries."

He placed something in a test-tube in line before one of the barrels of
the telescopes, near a brilliant electric light.

"What do you see, Walter?" he asked, indicating an eyepiece.

I looked. "A series of lines," I replied. "What is it?"

"That," he explained, "is a spectroscope, and those are the lines of
the absorption spectrum. Each of those lines, by its presence, denotes
a different substance. Now, on the pavement of the Phelps mausoleum I
found, you will recall, some roundish spots. I have made a very diluted
solution of them which is placed in this tube.

"The applicability of the spectroscope to the differentiation of
various substances is too well known to need explanation. Its value
lies in the exact nature of the evidence furnished. Even the very
dilute solution which I have been able to make of the material scraped
from these spots gives characteristic absorption bands between the D
and E lines, as they are called. Their wave-lengths are between 5774
and 5390. It is such a distinct absorption spectrum that it is possible
to determine with certainty that the fluid actually contains a certain
substance, even though the microscope might fail to give sure proof.
Blood--human blood--that was what those stains were."

He paused. "The spectra of the blood pigments," he added, "of the
extremely minute quantities of blood and the decomposition products of
hemoglobin in the blood are here infallibly shown, varying very
distinctly with the chemical changes which the pigments may undergo."

Whose blood was it? I asked myself. Was it of some one who had visited
the tomb, who was surprised there or surprised some one else there? I
was hardly ready for Kennedy's quick remark.

"There were two kinds of blood there. One was contained in the spots on
the floor all about the mausoleum. There are marks on the arm of Dana
Phelps which he probably might say were made by the teeth of my
police-dog, Schaef. They are human tooth-marks, however. He was bitten
by some one in a struggle. It was his blood on the floor of the
mausoleum. Whose were the teeth?"

Kennedy fingered the now set impressions, then resumed: "Before I
answer that question, what else does the spectroscope show? I found
some spots near the coffin, which has been broken open by a heavy
object. It had slipped and had injured the body of Montague Phelps.
From the injury some drops had oozed. My spectroscope tells me that
that, too, is blood. The blood and other muscular and nervous fluids of
the body had remained in an aqueous condition instead of becoming
pectous. That is a remarkable circumstance."

It flashed over me what Kennedy had been driving at in his inquiry
regarding embalming. If the poisons of the embalming fluid had not been
injected, he had now clear proof regarding anything his spectroscope
discovered.

"I had expected to find a poison, perhaps an alkaloid," he continued
slowly, as he outlined his discoveries by the use of one of the most
fascinating branches of modern science, spectroscopy. "In cases of
poisoning by these substances, the spectroscope often has obvious
advantages over chemical methods, for minute amounts will produce a
well-defined spectrum. The spectroscope 'spots' the substance, to use a
police idiom, the moment the case is turned over to it. There was no
poison there." He had raised his voice to emphasise the startling
revelation. "Instead, I found an extraordinary amount of the substance
and products of glycogen. The liver, where this substance is stored, is
literally surcharged in the body of Phelps."

He had started his moving-picture machine.

"Here I have one of the latest developments in the moving-picture art,"
he resumed, "an X-ray moving picture, a feat which was until recently
visionary, a science now in its infancy, bearing the formidable names
of biorontgenography, or kinematoradiography."

Kennedy was holding his little audience breathless as he proceeded. I
fancied I could see Anginette Phelps give a little shudder at the
prospect of looking into the very interior of a human body. But she was
pale with the fascination of it. Neither Forden nor the nurse looked to
the right or to the left. Dana Phelps was open-eyed with wonder.

"In one X-ray photograph, or even in several," continued Kennedy, "it
is difficult to discover slight motions. Not so in a moving picture.
For instance, here I have a picture which will show you a living body
in all its moving details."

On the screen before us was projected a huge shadowgraph of a chest and
abdomen. We could see the vertebrae of the spinal column, the ribs, and
the various organs.

"It is difficult to get a series of photographs directly from a
fluorescent screen," Kennedy went on. "I overcome the difficulty by
having lenses of sufficient rapidity to photograph even faint images on
that screen. It is better than the so-called serial method, by which a
number of separate X-ray pictures are taken and then pieced together
and rephotographed to make the film. I can focus the X-rays first on
the screen by means of a special quartz objective which I have devised.
Then I take the pictures.

"Here, you see, are the lungs in slow or rapid respiration. There is
the rhythmically beating heart, distinctly pulsating in perfect
outline. There is the liver, moving up and down with the diaphragm, the
intestines, and the stomach. You can see the bones moving with the
limbs, as well as the inner visceral life. All that is hidden to the
eye by the flesh is now made visible in striking manner."

Never have I seen an audience at the "movies" so thrilled as we were
now, as Kennedy swayed our interest at his will. I had been dividing my
attention between Kennedy and the extraordinary beauty of the famous
Russian dancer. I forgot Anginette Phelps entirely.

Kennedy placed another film in the holder.

"You are now looking into the body of Montague Phelps," he announced
suddenly.

We leaned forward eagerly. Mrs. Phelps gave a half-suppressed gasp.
What was the secret hidden in it?

There was the stomach, a curved sack something like a bagpipe or a
badly made boot, with a tiny canal at the toe connecting it with the
small intestine. There were the heart and lungs.

"I have rendered the stomach visible," resumed Kennedy, "made it
'metallic,' so to speak, by injecting a solution of bismuth in
buttermilk, the usual method, by which it becomes more impervious to
the X-rays and hence darker in the skiagraph. I took these pictures not
at the rate of fourteen or so a second, like the others, but at
intervals of a few seconds. I did that so that, when I run them off, I
get a sort of compressed moving picture. What you see in a short space
of time actually took much longer to occur. I could have either kind of
picture, but I prefer the latter.

"For, you will take notice that there is movement here--of the heart,
of the lungs, of the stomach--faint, imperceptible under ordinary
circumstances, but nevertheless, movement."

He was pointing at the lungs. "A single peristaltic contraction takes
place normally in a very few seconds. Here it takes minutes. And the
stomach. Notice what the bismuth mixture shows. There is a very slow
series of regular wave-contractions from the fundus to the pylorus.
Ordinarily one wave takes ten seconds to traverse it; here it is so
slow as almost to be unnoticed."

What was the implication of his startling, almost gruesome, discovery?
I saw it clearly, yet hung on his words, afraid to admit even to myself
the logical interpretation of what I saw.

"Reconstruct the case," continued Craig excitedly. "Mr. Phelps, always
a bon vivant and now so situated by marriage that he must be so, comes
back to America to find his personal fortune--gone.

"What was left? He did as many have done. He took out a new large
policy on his life. How was he to profit by it? Others have committed
suicide, have died to win. Cases are common now where men have ended
their lives under such circumstances by swallowing
bichloride-of-mercury tablets, a favourite method, it seems, lately.

"But Phelps did not want to die to win. Life was too sweet to him. He
had another scheme." Kennedy dropped his voice.

"One of the most fascinating problems in speculation as to the future
of the race under the influence of science is that of suspended
animation. The usual attitude is one of reserve or scepticism. There is
no necessity for it. Records exist of cases where vital functions have
been practically suspended, with no food and little air. Every day
science is getting closer to the control of metabolism. In the trance
the body functions are so slowed as to simulate death. You have heard
of the Indian fakirs who bury themselves alive and are dug up days
later? You have doubted it. But there is nothing improbable in it.

"Experiments have been made with toads which have been imprisoned in
porous rock where they could get the necessary air. They have lived for
months in a stupor. In impervious rock they have died. Frozen fish can
revive; bears and other animals hibernate. There are all gradations
from ordinary sleep to the torpor of death. Science can slow down
almost to a standstill the vital processes so that excretions disappear
and respiration and heart-beat are almost nil.

"What the Indian fakir does in a cataleptic condition may be
duplicated. It is not incredible that they may possess some vegetable
extract by which they perform their as yet unexplained feats of
prolonged living burial. For, if an animal free from disease is
subjected to the action of some chemical and physical agencies which
have the property of reducing to the extreme limit the motor forces and
nervous stimulus, the body of even a warm-blooded animal may be brought
down to a condition so closely resembling death that the most careful
examination may fail to detect any signs of life. The heart will
continue working regularly at low tension, supplying muscles and other
parts with sufficient blood to sustain molecular life, and the stomach
would naturally react to artificial stimulus. At any time before
decomposition of tissue has set in, the heart might be made to resume
its work and life come back.

"Phelps had travelled extensively. In Siberia he must undoubtedly have
heard of the Buriats, a tribe of natives who hibernate, almost like the
animals, during the winters, succumbing to a long sleep known as the
'leshka.' He must have heard of the experiments of Professor
Bakhmetieff, who studied the Buriats and found that they subsisted on
foods rich in glycogen, a substance in the liver which science has
discovered makes possible life during suspended animation. He must have
heard of 'anabiose,' as the famous Russian calls it, by which
consciousness can be totally removed and respiration and digestion
cease almost completely."

"But--the body--is gone!" some one interrupted. I turned. It was Dana
Phelps, now leaning forward in wide-eyed excitement.

"Yes," exclaimed Craig. "Time was passing rapidly. The insurance had
not been paid. He had expected to be revived and to disappear with
Anginette Phelps long before this. Should the confederates of Phelps
wait? They did not dare. To wait longer might be to sacrifice him, if
indeed they had not taken a long chance already. Besides, you yourself
had your suspicions and had written the insurance company hinting at
murder."

Dana nodded, involuntarily confessing.

"You were watching them, as well as the insurance investigator, Mr.
Andrews. It was an awful dilemma. What was to be done? He must be
resuscitated at any risk.

"Ah--an idea! Rifle the grave--that was the way to solve it. That would
still leave it possible to collect the insurance, too. The blackmail
letter about the five thousand dollars was only a blind, to lay on the
mythical Black Hand the blame for the desecration. Brought into light,
humidity, and warmth, the body would recover consciousness and the
life-functions resume their normal state after the anabiotic coma into
which Phelps had drugged himself.

"But the very first night the supposed ghouls were discovered. Dana
Phelps, already suspicious regarding the death of his brother,
wondering at the lack of sentiment which Mrs. Phelps showed, since she
felt that her husband was not really dead--Dana was there. His
suspicions were confirmed, he thought. Montague had been, in reality,
murdered, and his murderers were now making away with the evidence. He
fought with the ghouls, yet apparently, in the darkness, he did not
discover their identity. The struggle was bitter, but they were two to
one. Dana was bitten by one of them. Here are the marks of
teeth--teeth--of a woman."

Anginette Phelps was sobbing convulsively. She had risen and was facing
Doctor Forden with outstretched hands.

"Tell them!" she cried wildly.

Forden seemed to have maintained his composure only by a superhuman
effort.

"The--body is--at my office," he said, as we faced him with deathlike
stillness. "Phelps had told us to get him within ten days. We did get
him, finally. Gentlemen, you, who were seeking murderers, are, in
effect, murderers. You kept us away two days too long. It was too late.
We could not revive him. Phelps is really dead!"

"The deuce!" exclaimed Andrews, "the policy is incontestible!"

As he turned to us in disgust, his eyes fell on Anginette Phelps,
sobered down by the terrible tragedy and nearly a physical wreck from
real grief.

"Still," he added hastily, "we'll pay without a protest."

She did not even hear him. It seemed that the butterfly in her was
crushed, as Dr. Forden and Miss Tracy gently led her away.

They had all left, and the laboratory was again in its normal state of
silence, except for the occasional step of Kennedy as he stowed away
the apparatus he had used.

"I must say that I was one of the most surprised in the room at the
outcome of that case," I confessed at length. "I fully expected an
arrest."

He said nothing, but went on methodically restoring his apparatus to
its proper place.

"What a peculiar life you lead, Craig," I pursued reflectively. "One
day it is a case that ends with such a bright spot in our lives as the
recollection of the Shirleys; the next goes to the other extreme of
gruesomeness and one can hardly think about it without a shudder. And
then, through it all, you go with the high speed power of a racing
motor."

"That last case appealed to me, like many others," he ruminated, "just
because it was so unusual, so gruesome, as you call it."

He reached into the pocket of his coat, hung over the back of a chair.

"Now, here's another most unusual case, apparently. It begins, really,
at the other end, so to speak, with the conviction, begins at the very
place where we detectives send a man as the last act of our little
dramas."

"What?" I gasped, "another case before even this one is fairly cleaned
up? Craig--you are impossible. You get worse instead of better."

"Read it," he said, simply. Kennedy handed me a letter in the angular
hand affected by many women. It was dated at Sing Sing, or rather
Ossining. Craig seemed to appreciate the surprise which my face must
have betrayed at the curious combination of circumstances.

"Nearly always there is the wife or mother of a condemned man who lives
in the shadow of the prison," he remarked quietly, adding, "where she
can look down at the grim walls, hoping and fearing."

I said nothing, for the letter spoke for itself.

I have read of your success as a scientific detective and hope that you
will pardon me for writing to you, but it is a matter of life or death
for one who is dearer to me than all the world.

Perhaps you recall reading of the trial and conviction of my husband,
Sanford Godwin, at East Point. The case did not attract much attention
in New York papers, although he was defended by an able lawyer from the
city.

Since the trial, I have taken up my residence here in Ossining in order
to be near him. As I write I can see the cold, grey walls of the state
prison that holds all that is dear to me. Day after day, I have watched
and waited, hoped against hope. The courts are so slow, and lawyers are
so technical. There have been executions since I came here, too--and I
shudder at them. Will this appeal be denied, also?

My husband was accused of murdering by poison--hemlock, they
alleged--his adoptive parent, the retired merchant, Parker Godwin,
whose family name he took when he was a boy. After the death of the old
man, a later will was discovered in which my husband's inheritance was
reduced to a small annuity. The other heirs, the Elmores, asserted, and
the state made out its case on the assumption, that the new will
furnished a motive for killing old Mr. Godwin, and that only by
accident had it been discovered.

Sanford is innocent. He could not have done it. It is not in him to do
such a thing. I am only a woman, but about some things I know more than
all the lawyers and scientists, and I KNOW that he is innocent.

I cannot write all. My heart is too full. Cannot you come and advise
me? Even if you cannot take up the case to which I have devoted my
life, tell me what to do. I am enclosing a check for expenses, all I
can spare at present.

Sincerely yours,

NELLA GODWIN.

"Are you going?" I asked, watching Kennedy as he tapped the check
thoughtfully on the desk.

"I can hardly resist an appeal like that," he replied, absently
replacing the check in the envelope with the letter.



XXIII

THE DEATH HOUSE


In the early forenoon, we were on our way by train "up the river" to
Sing Sing, where, at the station, a line of old-fashioned cabs and
red-faced cabbies greeted us, for the town itself is hilly.

The house to which we had been directed was on the hill, and from its
windows one could look down on the barracks-like pile of stone with the
evil little black-barred slits of windows, below and perhaps a quarter
of a mile away.

There was no need to be told what it was. Its very atmosphere breathed
the word "prison." Even the ugly clutter of tall-chimneyed workshops
did not destroy it. Every stone, every grill, every glint of a sentry's
rifle spelt "prison."

Mrs. Godwin was a pale, slight little woman, in whose face shone an
indomitable spirit, unconquered even by the slow torture of her lonely
vigil. Except for such few hours that she had to engage in her simple
household duties, with now and then a short walk in the country, she
was always watching that bleak stone house of atonement.

Yet, though her spirit was unconquered, it needed no physician to tell
one that the dimming of the lights at the prison on the morning set for
the execution would fill two graves instead of one. For she had come to
know that this sudden dimming of the corridor lights, and then their
almost as sudden flaring-up, had a terrible meaning, well known to the
men inside. Hers was no less an agony than that of the men in the
curtained cells, since she had learned that when the lights grow dim at
dawn at Sing Sing, it means that the electric power has been borrowed
for just that little while to send a body straining against the straps
of the electric chair, snuffing out the life of a man.

To-day she had evidently been watching in both directions, watching
eagerly the carriages as they climbed the hill, as well as in the
direction of the prison.

"How can I ever thank you, Professor Kennedy," she greeted us at the
door, keeping back with difficulty the tears that showed how much it
meant to have any one interest himself in her husband's case.

There was that gentleness about Mrs. Godwin that comes only to those
who have suffered much.

"It has been a long fight," she began, as we talked in her modest
little sitting-room, into which the sun streamed brightly with no
thought of the cold shadows in the grim building below. "Oh, and such a
hard, heartbreaking fight! Often it seems as if we had exhausted every
means at our disposal, and yet we shall never give up. Why cannot we
make the world see our case as we see it? Everything seems to have
conspired against us--and yet I cannot, I will not believe that the law
and the science that have condemned him are the last words in law and
science."

"You said in your letter that the courts were so slow and the lawyers
so--"

"Yes, so cold, so technical. They do not seem to realise that a human
life is at stake. With them it is almost like a game in which we are
the pawns. And sometimes I fear, in spite of what the lawyers say, that
without some new evidence, it--it will go hard with him."

"You have not given up hope in the appeal?" asked Kennedy gently.

"It is merely on technicalities of the law," she replied with quiet
fortitude, "that is, as nearly as I can make out from the language of
the papers. Our lawyer is Salo Kahn, of the big firm of criminal
lawyers, Smith, Kahn."

"Conine," mused Kennedy, half to himself. I could not tell whether he
was thinking of what he repeated or of the little woman.

"Yes, the active principle of hemlock," she went on. "That was what the
experts discovered, they swore. In the pure state, I believe, it is
more poisonous than anything except the cyanides. And it was absolutely
scientific evidence. They repeated the tests in court. There was no
doubt of it. But, oh, he did not do it. Some one else did it. He did
not--he could not."

Kennedy said nothing for a few minutes, but from his tone when he did
speak it was evident that he was deeply touched.

"Since our marriage we lived with old Mr. Godwin in the historic Godwin
House at East Point," she resumed, as he renewed his questioning.
"Sanford--that was my husband's real last name until he came as a boy
to work for Mr. Godwin in the office of the factory and was adopted by
his employer--Sanford and I kept house for him.

"About a year ago he began to grow feeble and seldom went to the
factory, which Sanford managed for him. One night Mr. Godwin was taken
suddenly ill. I don't know how long he had been ill before we heard him
groaning, but he died almost before we could summon a doctor. There was
really nothing suspicious about it, but there had always been a great
deal of jealousy of my husband in the town and especially among the few
distant relatives of Mr. Godwin. What must have started as an idle,
gossipy rumour developed into a serious charge that my husband had
hastened his old guardian's death.

"The original will--THE will, I call it--had been placed in the safe of
the factory several years ago. But when the gossip in the town grew
bitter, one day when we were out, some private detectives entered the
house with a warrant--and they did actually find a will, another will
about which we knew nothing, dated later than the first and hidden with
some papers in the back of a closet, or sort of fire proof box, built
into the wall of the library. The second will was identical with the
first in language except that its terms were reversed and instead of
being the residuary legatee, Sanford was given a comparatively small
annuity, and the Elmores were made residuary legatees instead of
annuitants."

"And who are these Elmores?" asked Kennedy curiously.

"There are three, two grandnephews and a grandniece, Bradford, Lambert,
and their sister Miriam."

"And they live--"

"In East Point, also. Old Mr. Godwin was not very friendly with his
sister, whose grandchildren they were. They were the only other heirs
living, and although Sanford never had anything to do with it, I think
they always imagined that he tried to prejudice the old man against
them."

"I shall want to see the Elmores, or at least some one who represents
them, as well as the district attorney up there who conducted the case.
But now that I am here, I wonder if it is possible that I could bring
any influence to bear to see your husband?"

Mrs. Godwin sighed.

"Once a month," she replied, "I leave this window, walk to the prison,
where the warden is very kind to me, and then I can see Sanford. Of
course there are bars between us besides the regular screen. But I can
have an hour's talk, and in those talks he has described to me exactly
every detail of his life in the--the prison. We have even agreed on
certain hours when we think of each other. In those hours I know almost
what he is thinking." She paused to collect herself. "Perhaps there may
be some way if I plead with the warden. Perhaps--you may be considered
his counsel now--you may see him."

A half hour later we sat in the big registry room of the prison and
talked with the big-hearted, big-handed warden. Every argument that
Kennedy could summon was brought to bear. He even talked over long
distance with the lawyers in New York. At last the rules were relaxed
and Kennedy was admitted on some technicality as counsel. Counsel can
see the condemned as often as necessary.

We were conducted down a flight of steps and past huge steel-barred
doors, along corridors and through the regular prison until at last we
were in what the prison officials called the section for the condemned.
Every one else calls this secret heart of the grim place, the death
house.

It is made up of two rows of cells, some eighteen or twenty in all, a
little more modern in construction than the twelve hundred archaic
caverns that pass for cells in the main prison.

At each end of the corridor sat a guard, armed, with eyes never off the
rows of cells day or night.

In the wall, on one side, was a door--the little green door--the door
from the death house to the death chamber.

While Kennedy was talking to the prisoner, a guard volunteered to show
me the death chamber and the "chair." No other furniture was there in
the little brick house of one room except this awful chair, of yellow
oak with broad, leather straps. There it stood, the sole article in the
brightly varnished room of about twenty-five feet square with walls of
clean blue, this grim acolyte of modern scientific death. There were
the wet electrodes that are fastened to the legs through slits in the
trousers at the calves; above was the pipe-like fixture, like a
gruesome helmet of leather that fits over the head, carrying the other
electrode.

Back of the condemned was the switch which lets loose a lethal store of
energy, and back of that the prison morgue where the bodies are taken.
I looked about. In the wall to the left toward the death house was also
a door, on this side yellow. Somehow I could not get from my mind the
fascination of that door--the threshold of the grave.

Meanwhile Kennedy sat in the little cage and talked with the convicted
man across the three-foot distance between cell and screen. I did not
see him at that time, but Kennedy repeated afterward what passed, and
it so impressed me that I will set it down as if I had been present.

Sanford Godwin was a tall, ashen-faced man, in the prison pallor of
whose face was written the determination of despair, a man in whose
blue eyes was a queer, half-insane light of hope. One knew that if it
had not been for the little woman at the window at the top of the hill,
the hope would probably long ago have faded. But this man knew she was
always there, thinking, watching, eagerly planning in aid of any new
scheme in the long fight for freedom.

"The alkaloid was present, that is certain," he told Kennedy. "My wife
has told you that. It was scientifically proved. There is no use in
attacking that."

Later on he remarked: "Perhaps you think it strange that one in the
very shadow of the death chair"--the word stuck in his throat--"can
talk so impersonally of his own case. Sometimes I think it is not my
case, but some one else's. And then--that door."

He shuddered and turned away from it. On one side was life, such as it
was; on the other, instant death. No wonder he pleaded with Kennedy.

"Why, Walter," exclaimed Craig, as we walked back to the warden's
office to telephone to town for a car to take us up to East Point,
"whenever he looks out of that cage he sees it. He may close his
eyes--and still see it. When he exercises, he sees it. Thinking by day
and dreaming by night, it is always there. Think of the terrible hours
that man must pass, knowing of the little woman eating her heart out.
Is he really guilty? I must find out. If he is not, I never saw a
greater tragedy than this slow, remorseless approach of death, in that
daily, hourly shadow of the little green door."

East Point was a queer old town on the upper Hudson, with a varying
assortment of industries. Just outside, the old house of the Godwins
stood on a bluff overlooking the majestic river. Kennedy had wanted to
see it before any one suspected his mission, and a note from Mrs.
Godwin to a friend had been sufficient.

Carefully he went over the deserted and now half-wrecked house, for the
authorities had spared nothing in their search for poison, even going
over the garden and the lawns in the hope of finding some of the
poisonous shrub, hemlock, which it was contended had been used to put
an end to Mr. Godwin.

As yet nothing had been done to put the house in order again and, as we
walked about, we noticed a pile of old tins in the yard which had not
been removed.

Kennedy turned them over with his stick. Then he picked one up and
examined it attentively.

"H-m--a blown can," he remarked.

"Blown?" I repeated.

"Yes. When the contents of a tin begin to deteriorate they sometimes
give off gases which press out the ends of the tin. You can see how
these ends bulge."

Our next visit was to the district attorney, a young man, Gordon
Kilgore, who seemed not unwilling to discuss the case frankly.

"I want to make arrangements for disinterring the body," explained
Kennedy. "Would you fight such a move?"

"Not at all, not at all," he answered brusquely. "Simply make the
arrangements through Kahn. I shall interpose no objection. It is the
strongest, most impregnable part of the case, the discovery of the
poison. If you can break that down you will do more than any one else
has dared to hope. But it can't be done. The proof was too strong. Of
course it is none of my business, but I'd advise some other point of
attack."

I must confess to a feeling of disappointment when Kennedy announced
after leaving Kilgore that, for the present, there was nothing more to
be done at East Point until Kahn had made the arrangements for
reopening the grave.

We motored back to Ossining, and Kennedy tried to be reassuring to Mrs.
Godwin.

"By the way," he remarked, just before we left, "you used a good deal
of canned goods at the Godwin house, didn't you?"

"Yes, but not more than other people, I think," she said.

"Do you recall using any that were--well, perhaps not exactly spoiled,
but that had anything peculiar about them?"

"I remember once we thought we found some cans that seemed to have been
attacked by mice--at least they smelt so, though how mice could get
through a tin can we couldn't see."

"Mice?" queried Kennedy. "Had a mousey smell? That's interesting. Well,
Mrs. Godwin, keep up a good heart. Depend on me. What you have told me
to-day has made me more than interested in your case. I shall waste no
time in letting you know when anything encouraging develops."

Craig had never had much patience with red tape that barred the way to
the truth, yet there were times when law and legal procedure had to be
respected, no matter how much they hampered, and this was one of them.
The next day the order was obtained permitting the opening again of the
grave of old Mr. Godwin. The body was exhumed, and Kennedy set about
his examination of what secrets it might hide.

Meanwhile, it seemed to me that the suspense was terrible. Kennedy was
moving slowly, I thought. Not even the courts themselves could have
been more deliberate. Also, he was keeping much to himself.

Still, for another whole day, there was the slow, inevitable approach
of the thing that now, I, too, had come to dread--the handing down of
the final decision on the appeal.

Yet what could Craig do otherwise, I asked myself. I had become deeply
interested in the case by this time and spent the time reading all the
evidence, hundreds of pages of it. It was cold, hard, brutal,
scientific fact, and as I read I felt that hope faded for the
ashen-faced man and the pallid little woman. It seemed the last word in
science. Was there any way of escape?

Impatient as I was, I often wondered what must have been the suspense
of those to whom the case meant everything.

"How are the tests coming along?" I ventured one night, after Kahn had
arranged for the uncovering of the grave.

It was now two days since Kennedy had gone up to East Point to
superintend the exhumation and had returned to the city with the
materials which had caused him to keep later hours in the laboratory
than I had ever known even the indefatigable Craig to spend on a
stretch before.

He shook his head doubtfully.

"Walter," he admitted, "I'm afraid I have reached the limit on the line
of investigation I had planned at the start."

I looked at him in dismay. "What then?" I managed to gasp.

"I am going up to East Point again to-morrow to look over that house
and start a new line. You can go."

No urging was needed, and the following day saw us again on the ground.
The house, as I have said, had been almost torn to pieces in the search
for the will and the poison evidence. As before, we went to it
unannounced, and this time we had no difficulty in getting in. Kennedy,
who had brought with him a large package, made his way directly to a
sort of drawing-room next to the large library, in the closet of which
the will had been discovered.

He unwrapped the package and took from it a huge brace and bit, the bit
a long, thin, murderous looking affair such as might have come from a
burglar's kit. I regarded it much in that light.

"What's the lay?" I asked, as he tapped over the walls to ascertain of
just what they were composed.

Without a word he was now down on his knees, drilling a hole in the
plaster and lath. When he struck an obstruction he stopped, removed the
bit, inserted another, and began again.

"Are you going to put in a detectaphone?" I asked again.

He shook his head. "A detectaphone wouldn't be of any use here," he
replied. "No one is going to do any talking in that room."

Again the brace and bit were at work. At last the wall had been
penetrated, and he quickly removed every trace from the other side that
would have attracted attention to a little hole in an obscure corner of
the flowered wall-paper.

Next, he drew out what looked like a long putty-blower, perhaps a foot
long and three-eighths of an inch in diameter.

"What's that?" I asked, as he rose after carefully inserting it.

"Look through it," he replied simply, still at work on some other
apparatus he had brought.

I looked. In spite of the smallness of the opening at the other end, I
was amazed to find that I could see nearly the whole room on the other
side of the wall.

"It's a detectascope," he explained, "a tube with a fish-eye lens which
I had an expert optician make for me."

"A fish-eye lens?" I repeated.

"Yes. The focus may be altered in range so that any one in the room may
be seen and recognised and any action of his may be detected. The
original of this was devised by Gaillard Smith, the adapter of the
detectaphone. The instrument is something like the cytoscope, which the
doctors use to look into the human interior. Now, look through it
again. Do you see the closet?"

Again I looked. "Yes," I said, "but will one of us have to watch here
all the time?"

He had been working on a black box in the meantime, and now he began to
set it up, adjusting it to the hole in the wall which he enlarged on
our side.

"No, that is my own improvement on it. You remember once we used a
quick-shutter camera with an electric attachment, which moved the
shutter on the contact of a person with an object in the room? Well,
this camera has that quick shutter. But, in addition, I have adapted to
the detectascope an invention by Professor Robert Wood, of Johns
Hopkins. He has devised a fish-eye camera that 'sees' over a radius of
one hundred and eighty degrees--not only straight in front, but over
half a circle, every point in that room.

"You know the refracting power of a drop of water. Since it is a globe,
it refracts the light which reaches it from all directions. If it is
placed like the lens of a camera, as Dr. Wood tried it, so that
one-half of it catches the light, all the light caught will be
refracted through it. Fishes, too, have a wide range of vision. Some
have eyes that see over half a circle. So the lens gets its name.
Ordinary cameras, because of the flatness of their lenses, have a range
of only a few degrees, the widest in use, I believe, taking in only
ninety-six, or a little more than a quarter of a circle. So, you see,
my detectascope has a range almost twice as wide as that of any other."

Though I did not know what he expected to discover and knew that it was
useless to ask, the thing seemed very interesting. Craig did not pause,
however, to enlarge on the new machine, but gathered up his tools and
announced that our next step would be a visit to a lawyer whom the
Elmores had retained as their personal counsel to look after their
interests, now that the district attorney seemed to hare cleared up the
criminal end of the case.

Hollins was one of the prominent attorneys of East Point, and before
the election of Kilgore as prosecutor had been his partner. Unlike
Kilgore, we found him especially uncommunicative and inclined to resent
our presence in the case as intruders.

The interview did not seem to me to be productive of anything. In fact,
it seemed as if Craig were giving Hollins much more than he was getting.

"I shall be in town over night," remarked Craig. "In fact, I am
thinking of going over the library up at the Godwin house soon, very
carefully." He spoke casually. "There may be, you know, some
finger-prints on the walls around that closet which might prove
interesting."

A quick look from Hollins was the only answer. In fact, it was seldom
that he uttered more than a monosyllable as we talked over the various
aspects of the case.

A half-hour later, when he had left and had gone to the hotel, I asked
Kennedy suspiciously, "Why did you expose your hand to Hollins, Craig?"

He laughed. "Oh, Walter," he remonstrated, "don't you know that it is
nearly always useless to look for finger-prints, except under some
circumstances, even a few days afterward? This is months, not days. Why
on iron and steel they last with tolerable certainty only a short time,
and not much longer on silver, glass, or wood. But they are seldom
permanent unless they are made with ink or blood or something that
leaves a more or less indelible mark. That was a 'plant.'"

"But what do you expect to gain by it?"

"Well," he replied enigmatically, "no one is necessarily honest."

It was late in the afternoon when Kennedy again visited the Godwin
house and examined the camera. Without a word he pulled the
detectascope from the wall and carried the whole thing to the
developing-room of the local photographer.

There he set to work on the film and I watched him in silence. He
seemed very much excited as he watched the film develop, until at last
he held it up, dripping, to the red light.

"Some one has entered that room this afternoon and attempted to wipe
off the walls and woodwork of that closet, as I expected," he exclaimed.

"Who was it?" I asked, leaning over.

Kennedy said nothing, but pointed to a figure on the film. I bent
closer. It was the figure of a woman.

"Miriam!" I exclaimed in surprise.



XXIV

THE FINAL DAY


I looked aghast at him. If it had been either Bradford or Lambert, both
of whom we had come to know since Kennedy had interested himself in the
case, or even Hollins or Kilgore, I should not have been surprised. But
Miriam!

"How could she have any connection with the case?" I asked
incredulously.

Kennedy did not attempt to explain. "It is a fatal mistake, Walter, for
a detective to assume that he knows what anybody would do in any given
circumstances. The only safe course for him is to find out what the
persons in question did do. People are always doing the unexpected.
This is a case of it, as you see. I am merely trying to get back at
facts. Come; I think we might as well not stay over night, after all. I
should like to drop off on the way back to the city to see Mrs. Godwin."

As we rode up the hill I was surprised to see that there was no one at
the window, nor did any one seem to pay attention to our knocking at
the door.

Kennedy turned the knob quickly and strode in.

Seated in a chair, as white as a wraith from the grave, was Mrs.
Godwin, staring straight ahead, seeing nothing, hearing nothing.

"What's the matter?" demanded Kennedy, leaping to her side and grasping
her icy hand.

The stare on her face seemed to change slightly as she recognised him.

"Walter--some water--and a little brandy--if there is any. Tell
me--what has happened?"

From her lap a yellow telegram had fluttered to the floor, but before
he could pick it up, she gasped, "The appeal--it has been denied."
Kennedy picked up the paper. It was a message, unsigned, but not from
Kahn, as its wording and in fact the circumstances plainly showed.

"The execution is set for the week beginning the fifth," she continued,
in the same hollow, mechanical voice. "My God--that's next Monday!"

She had risen now and was pacing the room.

"No! I'm not going to faint. I wish I could. I wish I could cry. I wish
I could do something. Oh, those Elmores--they must have sent it. No one
would have been so cruel but they."

She stopped and gazed wildly out of the window at the prison. Neither
of us knew what to say for the moment.

"Many times from this window," she cried, "I have seen a man walk out
of that prison gate. I always watch to see what he does, though I know
it is no use. If he stands in the free air, stops short, and looks up
suddenly, taking a long look at every house--I hope. But he always
turns for a quick, backward look at the prison and goes half running
down the hill. They always stop in that fashion, when the steel door
opens outward. Yet I have always looked and hoped. But I can hope no
more--no more. The last chance is gone."

"No--not the last chance," exclaimed Craig, springing to her side lest
she should fall. Then he added gently, "You must come with me to East
Point--immediately."

"What--leave him here--alone--in the last days? No--no--no. Never. I
must see him. I wonder if they have told him yet."

It was evident that she had lost faith in Kennedy, in everybody, now.

"Mrs. Godwin," he urged. "Come--you must. It is a last chance."

Eagerly he was pouring out the story of the discovery of the afternoon
by the little detectascope.

"Miriam?" she repeated, dazed. "She--know anything--it can't be.
No--don't raise a false hope now."

"It is the last chance," he urged again. "Come. There is not an hour to
waste now."

There was no delay, no deliberation about Kennedy now. He had been
forced out into the open by the course of events, and he meant to take
advantage of every precious moment.

Down the hill our car sped to the town, with Mrs. Godwin still
protesting, but hardly realising what was going on. Regardless of
tolls, Kennedy called up his laboratory in New York and had two of his
most careful students pack up the stuff which he described minutely to
be carried to East Point immediately by train. Kahn, too, was at last
found and summoned to meet us there also.

Miles never seemed longer than they did to us as we tore over the
country from Ossining to East Point, a silent party, yet keyed up by an
excitement that none of us had ever felt before.

Impatiently we awaited the arrival of the men from Kennedy's
laboratory, while we made Mrs. Godwin as comfortable as possible in a
room at the hotel. In one of the parlours Kennedy was improvising a
laboratory as best he could. Meanwhile, Kahn had arrived, and together
we were seeking those whose connection with, or interest in, the case
made necessary their presence.

It was well along toward midnight before the hasty conference had been
gathered; besides Mrs. Godwin, Salo Kahn, and ourselves, the three
Elmores, Kilgore, and Hollins.

Strange though it was, the room seemed to me almost to have assumed the
familiar look of the laboratory in New York. There was the same clutter
of tubes and jars on the tables, but above all that same feeling of
suspense in the air which I had come to associate with the clearing up
of a case. There was something else in the air, too. It was a peculiar
mousey smell, disagreeable, and one which made it a relief to have
Kennedy begin in a low voice to tell why he had called us together so
hastily.

"I shall start," announced Kennedy, "at the point where the state left
off--with the proof that Mr. Godwin died of conine, or hemlock
poisoning. Conine, as every chemist knows, has a long and well-known
history. It was the first alkaloid to be synthesised. Here is a sample,
this colourless, oily fluid. No doubt you have noticed the mousey odour
in this room. As little as one part of conine to fifty thousand of
water gives off that odour--it is characteristic.

"I have proceeded with extraordinary caution in my investigation of
this case," he went on. "In fact, there would have been no value in it,
otherwise, for the experts for the people seem to have established the
presence of conine in the body with absolute certainty."

He paused and we waited expectantly.

"I have had the body exhumed and have repeated the tests. The alkaloid
which I discovered had given precisely the same results as in their
tests."

My heart sank. What was he doing--convicting the man over again?

"There is one other test which I tried," he continued, "but which I can
not take time to duplicate tonight. It was testified at the trial that
conine, the active principle of hemlock, is intensely poisonous. No
chemical antidote is known. A fifth of a grain has serious results; a
drop is fatal. An injection of a most minute quantity of real conine
will kill a mouse, for instance, almost instantly. But the conine which
I have isolated in the body is inert!"

It came like a bombshell to the prosecution, so bewildering was the
discovery.

"Inert?" cried Kilgore and Hollins almost together. "It can't be. You
are making sport of the best chemical experts that money could obtain.
Inert? Read the evidence--read the books."

"On the contrary," resumed Craig, ignoring the interruption, "all the
reactions obtained by the experts have been duplicated by me. But, in
addition, I tried this one test which they did not try. I repeat: the
conine isolated in the body is inert."

We were too perplexed to question him.

"Alkaloids," he continued quietly, "as you know, have names that end in
'in' or 'ine'--morphine, strychnine, and so on. Now there are two kinds
of alkaloids which are sometimes called vegetable and animal. Moreover,
there is a large class of which we are learning much which are called
the ptomaines--from ptoma, a corpse. Ptomaine poisoning, as every one
knows, results when we eat food that has begun to decay.

"Ptomaines are chemical compounds of an alkaloidal nature formed in
protein substances during putrefaction. They are purely chemical bodies
and differ from the toxins. There are also what are called leucomaines,
formed in living tissues, and when not given off by the body they
produce auto-intoxication.

"There are more than three score ptomaines, and half of them are
poisonous. In fact, illness due to eating infected foods is much more
common than is generally supposed. Often there is only one case in a
number of those eating the food, due merely to that person's inability
to throw off the poison. Such cases are difficult to distinguish. They
are usually supposed to be gastro-enteritis. Ptomaines, as their name
shows, are found in dead bodies. They are found in all dead matter
after a time, whether it is decayed food or a decaying corpse.

"No general reaction is known by which the ptomaines can be
distinguished from the vegetable alkaloids. But we know that animal
alkaloids always develop either as a result of decay of food or of the
decay of the body itself."

At one stroke Kennedy had reopened the closed case and had placed the
experts at sea.

"I find that there is an animal conine as well as the true conine," he
hammered out. "The truth of this matter is that the experts have
confounded vegetable conine with cadaveric conine. That raises an
interesting question. Assuming the presence of conine, where did it
come from?"

He paused and began a new line of attack. "As the use of canned goods
becomes more and more extensive, ptomaine poisoning is more frequent.
In canning, the cans are heated. They are composed of thin sheets of
iron coated with tin, the seams pressed and soldered with a thin line
of solder. They are filled with cooked food, sterilised, and closed.
The bacteria are usually all killed, but now and then, the apparatus
does not work, and they develop in the can. That results in a 'blown
can'--the ends bulge a little bit. On opening, a gas escapes, the food
has a bad odour and a bad taste. Sometimes people say that the tin and
lead poison them; in practically all cases the poisoning is of
bacterial, not metallic, origin. Mr. Godwin may have died of poisoning,
probably did. But it was ptomaine poisoning. The blown cans which I
have discovered would indicate that."

I was following him closely, yet though this seemed to explain a part
of the case, it was far from explaining all.

"Then followed," he hurried on, "the development of the usual ptomaines
in the body itself. These, I may say, had no relation to the cause of
death itself. The putrefactive germs began their attack. Whatever there
may have been in the body before, certainly they produced a cadaveric
ptomaine conine. For many animal tissues and fluids, especially if
somewhat decomposed, yield not infrequently compounds of an oily nature
with a mousey odour, fuming with hydrochloric acid and in short, acting
just like conine. There is ample evidence, I have found, that conine or
a substance possessing most, if not all, of its properties is at times
actually produced in animal tissues by decomposition. And the fact is,
I believe, that a number of cases have arisen, in which the poisonous
alkaloid was at first supposed to have been discovered which were
really mistakes."

The idea was startling in the extreme. Here was Kennedy, as it were,
overturning what had been considered the last word in science as it had
been laid down by the experts for the prosecution, opinions so
impregnable that courts and juries had not hesitated to condemn a man
to death.

"There have been cases," Craig went on solemnly, "and I believe this to
be one, where death has been pronounced to have been caused by wilful
administration of a vegetable alkaloid, which toxicologists would now
put down as ptomaine-poisoning cases. Innocent people have possibly
already suffered and may in the future. But medical experts--" he laid
especial stress on the word--"are much more alive to the danger of
mistake than formerly. This was a case where the danger was not
considered, either through carelessness, ignorance, or prejudice.

"Indeed, ptomaines are present probably to a greater or less extent in
every organ which is submitted to the toxicologist for examination. If
he is ignorant of the nature of these substances, he may easily mistake
them for vegetable alkaloids. He may report a given poison present when
it is not present. It is even yet a new line of inquiry which has only
recently been followed, and the information is still comparatively
small and inadequate.

"It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, for the chemist to state
absolutely that he has detected true conine. Before he can do it, the
symptoms and the post-mortem appearance must agree; analysis must be
made before, not after, decomposition sets in, and the amount of the
poison found must be sufficient to experiment with, not merely to react
to a few usual tests.

"What the experts asserted so positively, I would not dare to assert.
Was he killed by ordinary ptomaine poisoning, and had conine, or rather
its double, developed first in his food along with other ptomaines that
were not inert? Or did the cadaveric conine develop only in the body
after death? Chemistry alone can not decide the question so glibly as
the experts did. Further proof must be sought Other sciences must come
to our aid."

I was sitting next to Mrs. Godwin. As Kennedy's words rang out, her
hand, trembling with emotion, pressed my arm. I turned quickly to see
if she needed assistance. Her face was radiant. All the fees for big
cases in the world could never have compensated Kennedy for the mute,
unrestrained gratitude which the little woman shot at him.

Kennedy saw it, and in the quick shifting of his eyes to my face, I
read that he relied on me to take care of Mrs. Godwin while he plunged
again into the clearing up of the mystery.

"I have here the will--the second one," he snapped out, turning and
facing the others in the room.

Craig turned a switch in an apparatus which his students had brought
from New York. From a tube on the table came a peculiar bluish light.

"This," he explained, "is a source of ultraviolet rays. They are not
the bluish light which you see, but rays contained in it which you can
not see.

"Ultraviolet rays have recently been found very valuable in the
examination of questioned documents. By the use of a lens made of
quartz covered with a thin film of metallic silver, there has been
developed a practical means of making photographs by the invisible rays
of light above the spectrum--these ultraviolet rays. The quartz lens is
necessary, because these rays will not pass through ordinary glass,
while the silver film acts as a screen to cut off the ordinary light
rays and those below the spectrum. By this means, most white objects
are photographed black and even transparent objects like glass are
black.

"I obtained the copy of this will, but under the condition from the
surrogate that absolutely nothing must be done to it to change a fibre
of the paper or a line of a letter. It was a difficult condition. While
there are chemicals which are frequently resorted to for testing the
authenticity of disputed documents such as wills and deeds, their use
frequently injures or destroys the paper under test. So far as I could
determine, the document also defied the microscope.

"But ultraviolet photography does not affect the document tested in any
way, and it has lately been used practically in detecting forgeries. I
have photographed the last page of the will with its signatures, and
here it is. What the eye itself can not see, the invisible light
reveals."

He was holding the document and the copy, just an instant, as if
considering how to announce with best effect what he had discovered.

"In order to unravel this mystery," he resumed, looking up and facing
the Elmores, Kilgore, and Hollins squarely, "I decided to find out
whether any one had had access to that closet where the will was
hidden. It was long ago, and there seemed to be little that I could do.
I knew it was useless to look for fingerprints.

"So I used what we detectives now call the law of suggestion. I
questioned closely one who was in touch with all those who might have
had such access. I hinted broadly at seeking fingerprints which might
lead to the identity of one who had entered the house unknown to the
Godwins, and placed a document where private detectives would
subsequently find it under suspicious circumstances.

"Naturally, it would seem to one who was guilty of such an act, or knew
of it, that there might, after all, be finger-prints. I tried it. I
found out through this little tube, the detectascope, that one really
entered the room after that, and tried to wipe off any supposed
finger-prints that might still remain. That settled it. The second will
was a forgery, and the person who entered that room so stealthily this
afternoon knows that it is a forgery."

As Kennedy slapped down on the table the film from his camera, which
had been concealed, Mrs. Godwin turned her now large and unnaturally
bright eyes and met those of the other woman in the room.

"Oh--oh--heaven help us--me, I mean!" cried Miriam, unable to bear the
strain of the turn of events longer. "I knew there would be
retribution--I knew--I knew--"

Mrs. Godwin was on her feet in a moment.

"Once my intuition was not wrong though all science and law was against
me," she pleaded with Kennedy. There was a gentleness in her tone that
fell like a soft rain on the surging passions of those who had wronged
her so shamefully. "Professor Kennedy, Miriam could not have forged--"

Kennedy smiled. "Science was not against you, Mrs. Godwin. Ignorance
was against you. And your intuition does not go contrary to science
this time, either."

It was a splendid exhibition of fine feeling which Kennedy waited to
have impressed on the Elmores, as though burning it into their minds.

"Miriam Elmore knew that her brothers had forged a will and hidden it.
To expose them was to convict them of a crime. She kept their secret,
which was the secret of all three. She even tried to hide the
finger-prints which would have branded her brothers.

"For ptomaine poisoning had unexpectedly hastened the end of old Mr.
Godwin. Then gossip and the 'scientists' did the rest. It was
accidental, but Bradford and Lambert Elmore were willing to let events
take their course and declare genuine the forgery which they had made
so skilfully, even though it convicted an innocent man of murder and
killed his faithful wife. As soon as the courts can be set in motion to
correct an error of science by the truth of later science, Sing Sing
will lose one prisoner from the death house and gain two forgers in his
place."

Mrs. Godwin stood before us, radiant. But as Kennedy's last words sank
into her mind, her face clouded.

"Must--must it be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?" she
pleaded eagerly. "Must that grim prison take in others, even if my
husband goes free?"

Kennedy looked at her long and earnestly, as if to let the beauty of
her character, trained by its long suffering, impress itself on his
mind indelibly.

He shook his head slowly.

"I'm afraid there is no other way, Mrs. Godwin," he said gently taking
her arm and leaving the others to be dealt with by a constable whom he
had dozing in the hotel lobby.

"Kahn is going up to Albany to get the pardon--there can be no doubt
about it now," he added. "Mrs. Godwin, if you care to do so, you may
stay here at the hotel, or you may go down with us on the midnight
train as far as Ossining. I will wire ahead for a conveyance to meet
you at the station. Mr. Jameson and I must go on to New York."

"The nearer I am to Sanford now, the happier I shall be," she answered,
bravely keeping back the tears of happiness.

The ride down to New York, after our train left Ossining, was
accomplished in a day coach in which our fellow passengers slept in
every conceivable attitude of discomfort.

Yet late, or rather early, as it was, we found plenty of life still in
the great city that never sleeps. Tired, exhausted, I was at least glad
to feel that finally we were at home.

"Craig," I yawned, as I began to throw off my clothes, "I'm ready to
sleep a week."

There was no answer.

I looked up at him almost resentfully. He had picked up the mail that
lay under our letter slot and was going through it as eagerly as if the
clock registered P.M. instead of A.M.

"Let me see," I mumbled sleepily, checking over my notes, "how many
days have we been at it?"

I turned the pages slowly, after the manner in which my mind was
working.

"It was the twenty-sixth when you got that letter from Ossining," I
calculated, "and to-day makes the thirtieth. My heavens--is there still
another day of it? Is there no rest for the wicked?"

Kennedy looked up and laughed.

He was pointing at the calendar on the desk before him.

"There are only thirty days in the month," he remarked slowly.

"Thank the Lord," I exclaimed. "I'm all in!"

He tipped his desk-chair back and bit the amber of his meerchaum
contemplatively.

"But to-day is the first," he drawled, turning the leaf on the calendar
with just a flicker of a smile.

THE END





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