Infomotions, Inc.The Dream Doctor / Reeve, Arthur B. (Arthur Benjamin), 1880-1936



Author: Reeve, Arthur B. (Arthur Benjamin), 1880-1936
Title: The Dream Doctor
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): kennedy; craig; annie grayson
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Title: The Dream Doctor

Author: Arthur B. Reeve

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE DREAM DOCTOR ***




Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



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 or ganisations, 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 miscroscopic 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.

Colling 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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