Part 2 out of 8
"He sent me a piece of a torn handkerchief with a deep blood-stain
on it," pursued Kennedy. "He said it clearly didn't belong to the
murdered man, that it indicated that the murderer had himself been
wounded in the tussle, but as yet it had proved utterly valueless as a
clue. Would I see what I could make of it?
"After his man had told me the story I had a feeling that the murder
was committed by either a Sicilian laborer on the links or a negro
waiter at the club. Well, to make a short story shorter, I decided to
test the blood-stain. Probably you didn't know it, but the Carnegie
Institution has just published a minute, careful, and dry study of the
blood of human beings and of animals. In fact, they have been able to
reclassify the whole animal kingdom on this basis, and have made some
most surprising additions to our knowledge of evolution. Now I don't
propose to bore you with the details of the tests, but one of the
things they showed was that the blood of a certain branch of the
human race gives a reaction much like the blood of a certain group of
monkeys, the chimpanzees, while the blood of another branch gives a
reaction like that of the gorilla. Of course there's lots more to it,
but this is all that need concern us now.
"I tried the tests. The blood on the handkerchief conformed strictly
to the latter test. Now the gorilla was, of course, out of the
question--this was no _Rue Morgue_ murder. Therefore it was the negro
"But," I interrupted, "the negro offered a perfect alibi at the start,
"No buts, Walter. Here's a telegram I received at dinner:
'Congratulations. Confronted Jackson your evidence as wired.
"Well, Craig, I take off my hat to you," I exclaimed. "Next you'll be
solving this Kerr Parker case for sure."
"I would take a hand in it if they'd let me," said he simply.
That night, without saying anything, I sauntered down to the imposing
new police building amid the squalor of Center Street. They were very
busy at headquarters, but having once had that assignment for the
_Star_, I had no trouble in getting in. Inspector Barney O'Connor of
the Central Office carefully shifted a cigar from corner to corner of
his mouth as I poured forth my suggestion to him.
"Well, Jameson," he said at length, "do you think this professor
fellow is the goods?"
I didn't mince matters in my opinion of Kennedy. I told him of the
Price case and showed him a copy of the telegram. That settled it.
"Can you bring him down here to-night?" he asked quickly.
I reached for the telephone, found Craig in his laboratory finally,
and in less than an hour he was in the office.
"This is a most baffling case, Professor Kennedy, this case of Kerr
Parker," said the inspector, launching at once into his subject. "Here
is a broker heavily interested in Mexican rubber. It looks like a good
thing--plantations right in the same territory as those of the Rubber
Trust. Now in addition to that he is branching out into coastwise
steamship lines; another man associated with him is heavily engaged in
a railway scheme for the United States down into Mexico. Altogether
the steamships and railroads are tapping rubber, oil, copper, and
I don't know what other regions. Here in New York they have been
pyramiding stocks, borrowing money from two trust companies which they
control. It's a lovely scheme--you've read about it, I suppose. Also
you've read that it comes into competition with a certain group of
capitalists whom we will call 'the System.'
"Well, this depression in the market comes along. At once rumors are
spread about the weakness of the trust companies; runs start on both
of them. The System--you know them--make a great show of supporting
the market. Yet the runs continue. God knows whether they will spread
or the trust companies stand up under it to-morrow after what happened
to-day. It was a good thing the market was closed when it happened.
"Kerr Parker was surrounded by a group of people who were in his
schemes with him. They are holding a council of war in the directors'
room. Suddenly Parker rises, staggers toward the window, falls, and is
dead before a doctor can get to him. Every effort is made to keep the
thing quiet. It is given out that he committed suicide. The papers
don't seem to accept the suicide theory, however. Neither do we. The
coroner, who is working with us, has kept his month shut so far, and
will say nothing till the inquest. For, Professor Kennedy, my first
man on the spot found that--Kerr--Parker--was--murdered.
"Now here comes the amazing part of the story. The doors to the
offices on both sides were open at the time. There were lots of people
in each office. There was the usual click of typewriters, and the buzz
of the ticker, and the hum of conversation. We have any number of
witnesses of the whole affair, but as far as any of them knows no shot
was fired, no smoke was seen, no noise was heard, nor was any weapon
found. Yet here on my desk is a thirty-two calibre bullet. The
coroner's physician probed it out of Parker's neck this afternoon and
turned it over to us."
Kennedy reached for the bullet, and turned it thoughtfully in his
fingers for a moment. One side of it had apparently struck a bone in
the neck of the murdered man, and was flattened. The other side was
still perfectly smooth. With his inevitable magnifying-glass he
scrutinized the bullet on every side. I watched his face anxiously,
and I could see that he was very intent and very excited.
"Extraordinary, most extraordinary," he said to himself as he turned
it over and over. "Where did you say this bullet struck?"
"In the fleshy part of the neck, quite a little back of and below his
ear and just above his collar. There wasn't much bleeding. I think it
must have struck the base of his brain."
"It didn't strike his collar or hair?"
"No," replied the inspector.
"Inspector, I think we shall be able to put our hand on the
murderer--I think we can get a conviction, sir, on the evidence that I
shall get from this bullet in my laboratory."
"That's pretty much like a story-book," drawled the inspector
incredulously, shaking his head.
"Perhaps," smiled Kennedy. "But there will still be plenty of work for
the police to do, too. I've only got a clue to the murderer. It
will tax the whole organization to follow it up, believe me. Now,
Inspector, can you spare the time to go down to Parker's office and
take me over the ground? No doubt we can develop something else
"Sure," answered O'Connor, and within five minutes we were hurrying
down town in one of the department automobiles.
We found the office under guard of one of the Central Office men,
while in the outside office Parker's confidential clerk and a few
assistants were still at work in a subdued and awed manner. Men were
working in many other Wall Street offices that night during the panic,
but in none was there more reason for it than here. Later I learned
that it was the quiet tenacity of this confidential clerk that saved
even as much of Parker's estate as was saved for his widow--little
enough it was, too. What he saved for the clients of the firm no one
will ever know. Somehow or other I liked John Downey, the clerk, from
the moment I was introduced to him. He seemed to me, at least, to be
the typical confidential clerk who would carry a secret worth millions
and keep it.
The officer in charge touched his hat to the inspector, and Downey
hastened to put himself at our service. It was plain that the murder
had completely mystified him, and that he was as anxious as we were to
get at the bottom of it.
"Mr. Downey," began Kennedy, "I understand you were present when this
sad event took place."
"Yes, sir, sitting right here at the directors' table," he replied,
taking a chair, "like this."
"Now can you recollect just how Mr. Parker acted when he was shot?
Could you--er--could you take his place and show us just how it
"Yes, sir," said Downey. "He was sitting here at the head of the
table. Mr. Bruce, who is the 'Co.' of the firm, had been sitting here
at his right; I was at the left. The inspector has a list of all the
others present. That door to the right was open, and Mrs. Parker and
some other ladies were in the room--"
"Mrs. Parker?" broke in Kennedy.
"Yes. Like a good many brokerage firms we have a ladies' room. Many
ladies are among our clients. We make a point of catering to them. At
that time I recollect the door was open--all the doors were open. It
was not a secret meeting. Mr. Bruce had just gone into the ladies'
department, I think to ask some of them to stand by the firm--he was
an artist at smoothing over the fears of customers, particularly
women. Just before he went in I had seen the ladies go in a group
toward the far end of the room--to look down at the line of depositors
on the street, which reached around the corner from one of the trust
companies, I thought. I was making a note of an order to send into the
outside office there on the left, and had just pushed this button
here under the table to call a boy to carry it. Mr. Parker had just
received a letter by special delivery, and seemed considerably puzzled
over it. No, I don't know what it was about. Of a sudden I saw him
start in his chair, rise up unsteadily, clap his hand on the back of
his head, stagger across the floor--like this--and fall here."
"Then what happened?"
"Why, I rushed to pick him up. Everything was confusion. I recall
someone behind me saying, 'Here, boy, take all these papers off the
table and carry them into my office before they get lost in the
excitement.' I think it was Bruce's voice. The next moment I heard
someone say, 'Stand back, Mrs. Parker has fainted.' But I didn't pay
much attention, for I was calling to someone not to get a doctor over
the telephone, but to go down to the fifth floor where one has an
office. I made Mr. Parker as comfortable as I could. There wasn't much
I could do. He seemed to want to say something to me, but he couldn't
talk. He was paralyzed, at least his throat was. But I did manage to
make out finally what sounded to me like, 'Tell her I don't believe
the scandal, I don't believe it.' But before he could say whom to tell
he had again become unconscious, and by the time the doctor arrived he
was dead. I guess you know everything else as well as I do."
"You didn't hear the shot fired from any particular direction?" asked
"Well, where do you think it came from?"
"That's what puzzles me, sir. The only thing I can figure out is that
it was fired from the outside office--perhaps by some customer who had
lost money and sought revenge. But no one out there heard it either,
any more than, they did in the directors' room or the ladies'
"About that message," asked Kennedy, ignoring what to me seemed to
be the most important feature of the case, the mystery of the silent
bullet. "Didn't you see it after all was over?"
"No, sir; in fact I had forgotten about it till this moment when you
asked me to reconstruct the circumstances exactly. No, sir, I don't
know a thing about it. I can't say it impressed itself on my mind at
the time, either."
"What did Mrs. Parker do when she came to?"
"Oh, she cried as I have never seen a woman cry before. He was dead by
that time, of course. Mr. Bruce and I saw her down in the elevator to
her car. In fact, the doctor, who had arrived, said that the sooner
she was taken home the better she would be. She was quite hysterical."
"Did she say anything that you remember?"
"Out with it, Downey," said the inspector. "What did she say as she
was going down in the elevator?"
"Tell us. I'll arrest you if you don't."
"Nothing about the murder, on my honor," protested Downey.
Kennedy leaned over suddenly and shot a remark at him, "Then it was
about the note."
Downey was surprised, but not quickly enough. Still he seemed to be
considering something, and in a moment he said:
"I don't know what it was about, but I feel it is my duty, after all,
to tell you. I heard her say, 'I wonder if he knew.'"
"What happened after you came back?"
"We entered the ladies' department. No one was there. A woman's
automobile-coat was thrown over a chair in a heap. Mr. Bruce picked it
up. 'It's Mrs. Parker's,' he said. He wrapped it up hastily, and rang
for a messenger."
"Where did he send it?"
"To Mrs. Parker, I suppose. I didn't hear the address."
We next went over the whole suite of offices, conducted by Mr. Downey.
I noted how carefully Kennedy looked into the directors' room through
the open door from the ladies' department. He stood at such an angle
that had he been the assassin he could scarcely have been seen except
by those sitting immediately next Mr. Parker at the directors' table.
The street windows were directly in front of him, and back of him was
the chair on which the motor-coat had been found.
In Parker's own office we spent some time, as well as in Bruce's.
Kennedy made a search for the note, but finding nothing in either
office, turned out the contents of Bruce's scrap-basket. There didn't
seem to be anything in it to interest him, however, even after he had
pieced several torn bits of scraps together with much difficulty, and
he was about to turn the papers back again, when he noticed something
sticking to the side of the basket. It looked like a mass of wet
paper, and that was precisely what it was.
"That's queer," said Kennedy, picking it loose. Then he wrapped it up
carefully and put it in his pocket. "Inspector, can you lend me one
of your men for a couple of days?" he asked, as we were preparing
to leave. "I shall want to send him out of town to-night, and shall
probably need his services when he gets back."
"Very well. Riley will be just the fellow. We'll go back to
headquarters, and I'll put him under your orders."
It was not until late in the following day that I saw Kennedy again.
It had been a busy day on the _Star_. We had gone to work that morning
expecting to see the financial heavens fall. But just about five
minutes to ten, before the Stock Exchange opened, the news came in
over the wire from our financial man on Broad Street: "The System has
forced James Bruce, partner of Kerr Parker, the dead banker, to sell
his railroad, steamship, and rubber holdings to it. On this condition
it promises unlimited support to the market."
"Forced!" muttered the managing editor, as he waited on the office
'phone to get the, composing-room, so as to hurry up the few lines in
red ink on the first page and beat our rivals on the streets with the
first extras. "Why, he's been working to bring that about for the past
two weeks. What that System doesn't control isn't worth having--it
edits the news before our men get it, and as for grist for the divorce
courts, and tragedies, well--Hello, Jenkins, yes, a special extra.
Change the big heads--copy is on the way up--rush it."
"So you think this Parker case is a mess?" I asked.
"I know it. That's a pretty swift bunch of females that have been
speculating at Kerr Parker & Co.'s. I understand there's one
Titian-haired young lady--who, by the way, has at least one husband
who hasn't yet been divorced--who is a sort of ringleader, though she
rarely goes personally to her brokers' office. She's one of those
uptown plungers, and the story is that she has a whole string of
scalps of alleged Sunday-school superintendents at her belt. She
can make Bruce do pretty nearly anything, they say. He's the latest
conquest. I got the story on pretty good authority, but until I
verified the names, dates and places, of course I wouldn't dare print
a line of it. The story goes that her husband is a hanger-on of the
System, and that she's been working in their interest, too. That was
why he was so complacent over the whole affair. They put her up to
capturing Bruce, and after she had acquired an influence over him they
worked it so that she made him make love to Mrs. Parker. It's a long
story, but that isn't all of it. The point was, you see, that by
this devious route they hoped to worm out of Mrs. Parker some inside
information about Parker's rubber schemes, which he hadn't divulged
even to his partners in business. It was a deep and carefully planned
plot, and some of the conspirators were pretty deeply in the mire,
I guess. I wish I'd had all the facts about who this red-haired
Machiavelli was--what a piece of muckraking it would have made! Oh,
here comes the rest of the news story over the wire. By Jove, it is
said on good authority that Bruce will be taken in as one of the board
of directors. What do you think of that?"
So that was how the wind lay--Bruce making love to Mrs. Parker and she
presumably betraying her husband's secrets. I thought I saw it all:
the note from somebody exposing the scheme, Parker's incredulity,
Bruce sitting by him and catching sight of the note, his hurrying out
into the ladies' department, and then the shot. But who fired it?
After all, I had only picked up another clue.
Kennedy was not at the apartment at dinner, and an inquiry at the
laboratory was fruitless also. So I sat down to fidget for a while.
Pretty soon the buzzer on the door sounded, and I opened it to find a
messenger-boy with a large brown paper parcel.
"Is Mr. Bruce here?" he asked.
"Why, no, he doesn't--" then I checked myself and added: "He will be
here presently. You can leave the bundle."
"Well, this is the parcel he telephoned for. His valet told me to
tell him that they had a hard time to find it but he guesses it's all
right. The charges are forty cents. Sign here."
I signed the book, feeling like a thief, and the boy departed. What it
all meant I could not guess.
Just then I heard a key in the lock, and Kennedy came in.
"Is your name Bruce?" I asked.
"Why?" he replied eagerly. "Has anything come?"
I pointed to the package. Kennedy made a dive for it and unwrapped it.
It was a woman's pongee automobile-coat. He held it up to the light.
The pocket on the right-hand side was scorched and burned, and a hole
was torn clean through it. I gasped when the full significance of it
dawned on me.
"How did you get it?" I exclaimed at last in surprise.
"That's where organization comes in," said Kennedy. "The police at
my request went over every messenger call from Parker's office that
afternoon, and traced every one of them up. At last they found one
that led to Bruce's apartment. None of them led to Mrs. Parker's home.
The rest were all business calls and satisfactorily accounted for. I
reasoned that this was the one that involved the disappearance of the
automobile-coat. It was a chance worth taking, so I got Downey to call
up Bruce's valet. The valet of course recognized Downey's voice and
suspected nothing. Downey assumed to know all about the coat in the
package received yesterday. He asked to have it sent up here. I see
the scheme worked."
"But, Kennedy, do you think she--" I stopped, speechless, looking at
the scorched coat.
"Nothing to say--yet," he replied laconically. "But if you could tell
me anything about that note Parker received I'd thank you."
I related what our managing editor had said that morning. Kennedy only
raised his eyebrows a fraction of an inch.
"I had guessed something of that sort," he said merely. "I'm glad to
find it confirmed even by hearsay evidence. This red-haired young lady
interests me. Not a very definite description, but better than nothing
at all. I wonder who she is. Ah, well, what do you say to a stroll
down the White Way before I go to my laboratory? I'd like a breath of
air to relax my mind."
We had got no further than the first theatre when Kennedy slapped me
on the back. "By George, Jameson, she's an actress, of course."
"Who is? What's the matter with you, Kennedy? Are you crazy?"
"The red-haired person--she must be an actress. Don't you remember the
auburn-haired leading lady in the Follies'--the girl who sings that
song about 'Mary, Mary, quite contrary'? Her stage name, you know, is
Phoebe La Neige. Well, if it's she who is concerned in this case
I don't think she'll be playing to-night. Let's inquire at the
She wasn't playing, but just what it had to do with anything in
particular I couldn't see, and I said as much.
"Why, Walter, you'd never do as a detective. You lack intuition.
Sometimes I think I haven't quite enough of it, either. Why didn't
I think of that sooner? Don't you know she is the wife of Adolphus
Hesse, the most inveterate gambler in stocks in the System? Why, I had
only to put two and two together and the whole thing flashed on me
in an instant. Isn't it a good hypothesis that she is the red haired
woman in the case, the tool of the System in which her husband is so
heavily involved? I'll have to add her to my list of suspects."
"Why, you don't think she did the shooting?" I asked, half hoping, I
must admit, for an assenting nod from him.
"Well," he answered dryly, "one shouldn't let any preconceived
hypothesis stand between him and the truth. I've made a guess at the
whole thing already. It may or it may not be right. Anyhow she will
fit into it. And if it's not right, I've got to be prepared to make a
new guess, that's all."
When we reached the laboratory on our return, the inspector's man
Riley was there, waiting impatiently for Kennedy.
"What luck?" asked Kennedy.
"I've got a list of purchasers of that kind of revolver," he said. "We
have been to every sporting-goods and arms-store in the city which
bought them from the factory, and I could lay my hands on pretty
nearly every one of the weapons in twenty-four hours--provided, of
course, they haven't been secreted or destroyed."
"Pretty nearly all isn't good enough," said Kennedy. "It will have to
be all, unless--"
"_That_ name is in the list," whispered Riley hoarsely.
"Oh, then it's all right," answered Kennedy, brightening up. "Riley, I
will say that you're a wonder at using the organization in ferreting
out such things. There's just one more thing I want you to do. I want
a sample of the notepaper in the private desks of every one of these
people." He handed the policeman a list of his "suspects," as he
called them. It included nearly every one mentioned in the case.
Riley studied it dubiously and scratched his chin thoughtfully.
"That's a hard one, Mr. Kennedy, sir. You see, it means getting into
so many different houses and apartments. Now you don't want to do it
by means of a warrant, do you, sir? Of course not. Well, then, how can
we get in?"
"You're a pretty good-looking chap yourself, Riley," said Kennedy. "I
should think you could jolly a housemaid, if necessary. Anyhow, you
can get the fellow on the beat to do it--if he isn't already to
be found in the kitchen. Why, I see a dozen ways of getting the
"Oh, it's me that's the lady-killer, sir," grinned Riley. "I'm a
regular Blarney stone when I'm out on a job of that sort. Sure, I'll
have some of them for you in the morning.'
"Bring me what you get, the first thing in the morning, even if
you've landed only a few samples," said Kennedy, as Riley departed,
straightening his tie and brushing his hat on his sleeve.
"And now, Walter, you too must excuse me to-night," said Craig "I've
got a lot to do, and sha'n't be up to our apartment till very late--or
early. But I feel sure I've got a strangle-hold on this mystery. If I
get those papers from Riley in good time to-morrow I shall invite you
and several others to a grand demonstration here to-morrow night.
Don't forget. Keep the whole evening free. It will be a big story."
Kennedy's laboratory was brightly lighted when I arrived early the
next evening. One by one his "guests" dropped in. It was evident that
they had little liking for the visit, but the coroner had sent out the
"invitations," and they had nothing to do but accept. Each one was
politely welcomed by the professor and assigned a seat, much as he
would have done with a group of students. The inspector and the
coroner sat back a little. Mrs. Parker, Mr. Downey, Mr. Bruce,
myself, and Miss La Neige sat in that order in the very narrow and
uncomfortable little armchairs used by the students during lectures.
At last Kennedy was ready to begin. He took his position behind the
long, flat-topped table which he used for his demonstrations before
his classes. "I realize, ladies and gentlemen," he began formally,
"that I am about to do a very unusual thing; but, as you all know, the
police and the coroner have been completely baffled by this terrible
mystery and have requested me to attempt to clear up at least certain
points in it. I will begin what I have to say by remarking that the
tracing out of a crime like this differs in nothing, except as regards
the subject-matter, from the search for a scientific truth. The
forcing of man's secrets is like the forcing of nature's secrets. Both
are pieces of detective work. The methods employed in the detection
of crime are, or rather should be, like the methods employed in the
process of discovering scientific truth. In a crime of this sort, two
kinds of evidence need to be secured. Circumstantial evidence must
first be marshalled, and then a motive must be found. I have been
gathering facts. But to omit motives and rest contented with mere
facts would be inconclusive. It would never convince anybody or
convict anybody. In other words, circumstantial evidence must
first lead to a suspect, and then this suspect must prove equal
to accounting for the facts. It is my hope that each of you may
contribute something that will he of service in arriving at the truth
of this unfortunate incident."
The tension was not relieved even when Kennedy stopped speaking and
began to fuss with a little upright target which he set up at one end
of his table. We seemed to be seated over a powder-magazine which
threatened to explode at any moment. I, at least, felt the tension so
greatly that it was only after he had started speaking again that
I noticed that the target was composed of a thick layer of some
Holding a thirty-two-calibre pistol in his right hand and aiming it at
the target, Kennedy picked up a large piece of coarse homespun from
the table and held it loosely over the muzzle of the gun. Then he
fired. The bullet tore through the cloth, sped through the air, and
buried itself in the target. With a knife he pried it out.
"I doubt if even the inspector himself could have told us that when an
ordinary leaden bullet is shot through a woven fabric the weave of the
fabric is in the majority of cases impressed on the bullet, sometimes
clearly, sometimes faintly."
Here Kennedy took up a piece of fine batiste and fired another bullet
"Every leaden bullet, as I have said, which has struck such a fabric
bears an impression of the threads which is recognizable even when the
bullet has penetrated deeply into the body. It is only obliterated
partially or entirely when the bullet has been flattened by striking a
bone or other hard object. Even then, as in this case, if only a part
of the bullet is flattened the remainder may still show the marks of
the fabric. A heavy warp, say of cotton velvet, or as I have here,
homespun, will be imprinted well on the bullet, but even a fine
batiste, containing one hundred threads to the inch, will show marks.
Even layers of goods such as a coat, shirt, and undershirt may each,
leave their marks, but that does not concern us in this case. Now I
have here a piece of pongee silk, cut from a woman's automobile-coat.
I discharge the bullet through it--so. I compare the bullet now with
the others and with the one probed from the neck of Mr. Parker. I find
that the marks on that fatal bullet correspond precisely with those on
the bullet fired through the pongee coat."
Startling as was this revelation, Kennedy paused only an instant
before the next.
"Now I have another demonstration. A certain note figures in this
case. Mr. Parker was reading it, or perhaps re-reading it, at the time
he was shot. I have not been able to obtain that note--at least not in
a form such as I could use in discovering what were its contents. But
in a certain wastebasket I found a mass of wet and pulp-like paper. It
had been cut up, macerated, perhaps chewed; perhaps it had been also
soaked with water. There was a wash-basin with running water in this
room. The ink had run, and of course was illegible. The thing was so
unusual that I at once assumed that this was the remains of the
note in question. Under ordinary circumstances it would be utterly
valueless as a clue to anything. But to-day science is not ready to
let anything pass as valueless.
"I found on microscopic examination that it was an uncommon linen bond
paper, and I have taken a large number of microphotographs of the
fibres in it. They are all similar. I have here also about a hundred
microphotographs of the fibres in other kinds of paper, many of them
bonds. These I have accumulated from time to time in my study of the
subject. None of them, as you see, shows fibres resembling this one in
question, so we may conclude that it is of uncommon quality. Through
an agent of the police I have secured samples of the notepaper of
every one who could be concerned, as far as I could see, with this
case. Here are the photographs of the fibres of these various
notepapers, and among them all is just one that corresponds to the
fibres in the wet mass of paper I discovered in the scrap-basket. Now
lest anyone should question the accuracy of this method I might cite a
case where a man had been arrested in Germany charged with stealing a
government bond. He was not searched till later. There was no evidence
save that after the arrest a large number of spitballs were found
around the courtyard under his cell window. This method of comparing
the fibres with those of the regular government paper was used, and by
it the man was convicted of stealing the bond. I think it is almost
unnecessary to add that in the present case we know precisely who--"
At this point the tension was so great that it snapped. Miss La Neige,
who was sitting beside me, had been leaning forward involuntarily.
Almost as if the words were wrung from her she whispered hoarsely:
"They put me up to doing it; I didn't want to. But the affair had gone
too far. I couldn't see him lost before my very eyes. I didn't want
her to get him. The quickest way out was to tell the whole story to
Mr. Parker and stop it. It was the only way I could think to stop this
thing between another man's wife and the man I loved better than my
own husband. God knows, Professor Kennedy, that was all--"
"Calm yourself, madame," interrupted Kennedy soothingly. "Calm
yourself. What's done is done. The truth must come out. Be calm. Now,"
he continued, after the first storm of remorse had spent itself and we
were all outwardly composed again, "we have said nothing whatever of
the most mysterious feature of the case, the firing of the shot. The
murderer could have thrust the weapon into the pocket or the folds of
this coat"--here he drew forth the automobile coat and held it aloft,
displaying the bullet hole--"and he or she (I will not say which)
could have discharged the pistol unseen. By removing and secreting
the weapon afterward one very important piece of evidence would be
suppressed. This person could have used such a cartridge as I have
here, made with smokeless powder, and the coat would have concealed
the flash of the shot very effectively. There would have been no
smoke. But neither this coat nor even a heavy blanket would have
deadened the report of the shot.
"What are we to think of that? Only one thing. I have often wondered
why the thing wasn't done before. In fact I have been waiting for
it to occur. There is an invention that makes it almost possible to
strike a man down with impunity in broad daylight in any place where
there is sufficient noise to cover up a click, a slight 'Pouf!' and
the whir of the bullet in the air.
"I refer to this little device of a Hartford inventor. I place it
over the muzzle of the thirty-two-calibre revolver I have so far been
using--so. Now, Mr. Jameson, if you will sit at that typewriter over
there and write--anything so long as you keep the keys clicking. The
inspector will start that imitation stock-ticker in the corner. Now we
are ready. I cover the pistol with a cloth. I defy anyone in this room
to tell me the exact moment when I discharged the pistol. I could have
shot any of you, and an outsider not in the secret would never have
thought that I was the culprit. To a certain extent I have reproduced
the conditions under which this shooting occurred.
"At once on being sure of this feature of the case I despatched a man
to Hartford to see this inventor. The man obtained from him a complete
list of all the dealers in New York to whom such devices had been
sold. The man also traced every sale of those dealers. He did not
actually obtain the weapon, but if he is working on schedule-time
according to agreement he is at this moment armed with a
search-warrant and is ransacking every possible place where the person
suspected of this crime could have concealed his weapon. For, one of
the persons intimately connected with this case purchased not long ago
a silencer for a thirty-two-calibre revolver, and I presume that that
person carried the gun and the silencer at the time of the murder of
Kennedy concluded in triumph, his voice high pitched, his eyes
flashing. Yet to all outward appearance not a heart-beat
was quickened. Someone in that room had an amazing store of
self-possession. The fear flitted across my mind that even at the last
Kennedy was baffled.
"I had anticipated some such anti-climax," he continued after a
moment. "I am prepared for it."
He touched a bell, and the door to the next room opened. One of
Kennedy's graduate students stepped in.
"You have the records, Whiting?" he asked.
"I may say," said Kennedy, "that each of your chairs is wired under
the arm in such a way as to betray on an appropriate indicator in the
next room every sudden and undue emotion. Though it may be concealed
from the eye, even of one like me who stand facing you, such emotion
is nevertheless expressed by physical pressure on the arms of
the chair. It is a test that is used frequently with students to
demonstrate various points of psychology. You needn't raise your arms
from the chair, ladies and gentlemen. The tests are _all over_ now.
What did they show, Whiting?"
The student read what he had been noting in the next room. At the
production of the coat during the demonstration of the markings of the
bullet, Mrs. Parker had betrayed great emotion, Mr. Bruce had done
likewise, and nothing more than ordinary emotion had been noted for
the rest of us. Miss La Neige's automatic record during the tracing
out of the sending of the note to Parker had been especially
unfavorable to hear; Mr. Bruce showed almost as much excitement; Mrs.
Parker very little and Downey very little. It was all set forth in
curves drawn by self-recording pens on regular ruled paper. The
student had merely noted what took place in the lecture-room as
corresponding to these curves.
"At the mention of the noiseless gun," said Kennedy, bending over the
record, while the student pointed it out to him and we leaned forward
to catch his words, "I find that the curves of Miss La Neige, Mrs.
Parker, and Mr. Downey are only so far from normal as would be
natural. All of them were witnessing a thing for the first time with
only curiosity and no fear. The curve made by Mr. Bruce shows great
I heard a metallic click at my side and turned hastily. It was
Inspector Barney O'Connor, who had stepped out of the shadow with a
pair of hand-cuffs.
"James Bruce, you are under arrest," he said.
There flashed on my mind, and I think on the minds of some of the
others a picture of another electrically wired chair.
THE DEADLY TUBE
BY ARTHUR B. REEVE
"For Heaven's sake, Gregory, what is the matter?" asked Craig Kennedy
as a tall, nervous man stalked into our apartment one evening.
"Jameson, shake hands with Dr. Gregory. What's the matter, Doctor?
Surely your X-ray work hasn't knocked you out like this?"
The doctor shook hands with me mechanically. His hand was icy. "The
blow has fallen," he exclaimed, as he sank limply into a chair and
tossed an evening paper over to Kennedy.
In red ink on the first page, in the little square headed "Latest
News," Kennedy read the caption, "Society Woman Crippled for Life by
"A terrible tragedy was revealed in the suit begun to-day," continued
the article, "by Mrs. Huntington Close against Dr. James Gregory, an
X-ray specialist with offices at--Madison Avenue, to recover damages
for injuries which Mrs. Close alleges she received while under his
care. Several months ago she began a course of X-ray treatment to
remove a birthmark on her neck. In her complaint Mrs. Close alleges
that Dr. Gregory has carelessly caused X-ray dermatitis, a skin
disease of cancerous nature, and that she has also been rendered a
nervous wreck through the effects of the rays. Simultaneously with
filing the suit she left home and entered a private hospital. Mrs.
Close is one of the Most popular hostesses in the smart set, and her
loss will be keenly felt."
"What am I to do, Kennedy?" asked the doctor imploringly. "You
remember I told you the other day about this case--that there was
something queer about it, that after a few treatments I was afraid to
carry on any more and refused to do so? She really has dermatitis and
nervous prostration, exactly as she alleges in her complaint. But,
before Heaven, Kennedy, I can't see how she could possibly have been
so affected by the few treatments I gave her. And to-night just as I
was leaving the office, I received a telephone call from her husband's
attorney, Lawrence, very kindly informing me that the case would be
pushed to the limit. I tell you, it looks black for me."
"What can they do?"
"Do? Do you suppose any jury is going to take enough expert testimony
to outweigh the tragedy of a beautiful woman? Do? Why, they can ruin
me, even if I get a verdict of acquittal. They can leave me with a
reputation for carelessness that no mere court decision can ever
"Gregory, you can rely on me," said Kennedy. "Anything I can do to
help you I will gladly do. Jameson and I were on the point of going
out to dinner. Join us, and after that we will go down to your office
and talk things over."
"You are really too kind," murmured the doctor. The air of relief that
was written on his face was pathetically eloquent.
"Now not a word about the case till we have had dinner," commanded
Craig. "I see very plainly that you have been worrying about the blow
for a long time. Well, it has fallen. The next thing to do is to look
over the situation and see where we stand."
Dinner over, we rode down-town in the subway, and Gregory ushered
us into an office-building on Madison Avenue, where he had a very
handsome suite of several rooms. We sat down in his waiting-room to
discuss the affair.
"It is indeed a very tragic case," began Kennedy, "almost more tragic
than if the victim had been killed outright. Mrs. Huntington Close is
or rather I suppose I should say was--one of the famous beauties of
the city. From what the paper says, her beauty has been hopelessly
ruined by this dermatitis, which, I understand, Doctor, is practically
Dr. Gregory nodded, and I could not help following his eyes as he
looked at his own rough and scarred hands.
"Also," continued Craig, with, his eyes half closed and his
finger-tips together, as if he were taking a mental inventory of the
facts in the case, "her nerves are so shattered that she will be years
in recovering, if she ever recovers."
"Yes," said the doctor simply. "I myself, for instance, am subject to
the most unexpected attacks of neuritis. But, of course, I am under
the influence of the rays fifty or sixty times a day, while she had
only a few treatments at intervals of many days."
"Now, on the other hand," resumed Craig, "I know you, Gregory, very
well. Only the other day, before any of this came out, you told me the
whole story with your fears as to the outcome. I know that the lawyer
of Close's has been keeping this thing hanging over your head for a
long time. And I also know that you are one of the most careful X-ray
operators in the city. If this suit goes against you, one of the most
brilliant men of science in America will be ruined. Now, having said
this much, let me ask you to describe just exactly what treatments you
gave Mrs. Close."
The doctor led us into his X-ray room adjoining. A number of X-ray
tubes were neatly put away in a great glass case, and at one end of
the room was an operating-table with an X-ray apparatus suspended
over it. A glance at the room showed that Kennedy's praise was not
"How many treatments did you give Mrs. Close?" asked Kennedy.
"Not over a dozen, I should say," replied Gregory. "I have a record of
them and the dates, which I will give you presently. Certainly
they were not numerous enough or frequent enough to have caused a
dermatitis such as she has. Besides, look here. I have an apparatus
which, for safety to the patient, has few equals in the country. This
big lead-glass bowl, which is placed over my X-ray tube when in
use, cuts off the rays at every point except exactly where they are
He switched on the electric current, and the apparatus began to
sputter. The pungent odor of ozone from the electric discharge filled
the room. Through the lead-glass bowl I could see the X-ray tube
inside suffused with its Peculiar, yellowish-green light, divided into
two hemispheres of different shades. That, I knew, was the cathode
ray, not the X-ray, for the X-ray itself, which streams outside the
tube, is invisible to the human eye. The doctor placed in our hands a
couple of fluoroscopes, an apparatus by which X-rays can be detected.
It consists simply of a closed box with an opening to which the eyes
are placed. The opposite end of the box is a piece of board coated
with a salt such as platino-barium cyanide. When the X-ray strikes
this salt it makes it glow, or fluoresce, and objects held between the
X-ray tube and the fluoroscope cast shadows according to the density
of the parts which the X-rays penetrate.
With the lead-glass bowl removed, the X-ray tube sent forth its
wonderful invisible radiation and made the back of the fluoroscope
glow with light. I could see the bones of my fingers as I held them up
between the X-ray tube and the fluoroscope. But with the lead-glass
bowl in position over the tube, the fluoroscope was simply a black box
into which I looked and saw nothing. So very little of the radiation
escaped from the bowl that it was negligible--except at one point
where there was an opening in the bottom of the bowl to allow the rays
to pass freely through exactly on the spot on the patient where they
were to be used.
"The dermatitis, they say, has appeared all over her body,
particularly on her head and shoulders," added Dr. Gregory. "Now I
have shown you my apparatus to impress on you how really impossible it
would have been for her to contract it from her treatments here. I've
made thousands of exposures with never an X-ray burn before--except to
myself. As for myself, I'm as careful as I can be, but you can see I
am under the rays very often, while the patient is only under them
once in a while."
To illustrate his care he pointed out to us a cabinet directly back
of the operating-table, lined with thick sheets of lead. From this
cabinet he conducted most of his treatments as far as possible.
A little peep-hole enabled him to see the patient and the X-ray
apparatus, while an arrangement of mirrors and a fluorescent screen
enabled him to see exactly what the X-rays were disclosing, without
his leaving the lead-lined cabinet.
"I can think of no more perfect protection for either patient or
operator," said Kennedy admiringly. "By the way, did Mrs. Close come
"No, the first time Mr. Close came with her. After that, she came with
her Trench maid."
The next day we paid a visit to Mrs. Close herself at the private
hospital. Kennedy had been casting about in his mind for an excuse to
see her, and I had suggested that we go as reporters from the _Star_.
Fortunately after sending up my card on which I had written Craig's
name we were at length allowed to go up to her room.
We found the patient-reclining in an easy chair, swathed in bandages,
a wreck of her former self. I felt the tragedy keenly. All that social
position and beauty had meant to her had been suddenly blasted.
"You will pardon my presumption," began Craig, "but, Mrs. Close, I
assure you that I am actuated by the best of motives. We represent the
New York _Star_--"
"Isn't it terrible enough that I should suffer so," she interrupted,
"but must the newspapers hound me, too?"
"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Close," said Craig, "but you must be aware
that the news of your suit of Dr. Gregory has now become public
property. I couldn't stop the _Star_, much less the other papers, from
talking about it. But I can and will do this, Mrs. Close. I will see
that justice is done to you and all others concerned. Believe me, I
am not here as a yellow journalist to make newspaper copy out of
your misfortune. I am here to get at the truth sympathetically.
Incidentally, I may be able to render you a service, too."
"You can render me no service except to expedite the suit against that
careless doctor--I hate him."
"Perhaps," said Craig. "But suppose someone else should be proved to
have been really responsible? Would you still want to press the suit
and let the guilty person escape?"
She bit her lip. "What is it you want of me?" she asked. I merely want
permission to visit your rooms at your home and to talk with your
maid. I do not mean to spy on you, far from it; but consider, Mrs.
Close, if I should be able to get at the bottom of this thing, find
out the real cause of your misfortune, perhaps show that you are the
victim of a cruel wrong rather than of carelessness, would you not
be willing to let me go ahead? I am frank to tell you that I suspect
there is more to this affair than you yourself have any idea of."
"No, you are mistaken, Mr. Kennedy. I know the cause of it. It was my
love of beauty. I couldn't resist the temptation to get rid of even a
slight defect. If I had left well enough alone I should not be here
now. A friend recommended Dr. Gregory to my husband, who took me
there. My husband wishes me to remain at home, but I tell him I feel
more comfortable here in the hospital. I shall never go to that house
again--the memory of the torture of sleepless nights in my room there
when I felt my good looks going, going"--she shuddered--"is such that
I can never forget it. He says I would be better off there, but no,
I cannot go. Still," she continued wearily, "there can be no harm in
your talking to my maid."
Kennedy noted attentively what she was saying. "I thank you, Mrs.
Close," he replied. "I am sure you will not regret your permission.
Would you be so kind as to give me a note to her?"
She rang, dictated a short note to a nurse, signed it, and languidly
I don't know that I ever felt as depressed as I did after that
interview with one who had entered a living death to ambition, for
while Craig had done all the talking I had absorbed nothing but
depression. I vowed that if Gregory or anybody else was responsible I
would do my share toward bringing on him retribution.
The Closes lived in a splendid big house in the Murray Hill section.
The presentation of the note quickly brought Mrs. Close's maid down to
us. She had not gone to the hospital because Mrs. Close had considered
the services of the trained nurses quite sufficient.
Yes, the maid had noticed how her mistress had been failing, had
noticed it long ago, in fact almost at the time when she had begun the
X-ray treatment. She had seemed to improve once when she went away for
a few days, but that was at the start, and directly after her return
she grew worse again, until she was no longer herself.
"Did Dr. Gregory, the X-ray specialist, ever attend Mrs. Close at her
home, in her room?" asked Craig.
"Yes, once, twice, he call, but he do no good," she said with her
"Did Mrs. Close have other callers?"
"But, m'sieur, everyone in society has many. What does m'sieur mean?"
"Frequent callers--a Mr. Lawrence, for instance?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Lawrence frequently."
"When Mr. Close was at home?"
"Yes, on business and on business, too, when he was not at home. He is
the attorney, m'sieur."
"How did Mrs. Close receive him?"
"He is the attorney, m'sieur," Marie repeated persistently.
"And he, did he always call on business?"
"Oh, yes, always on business, but--well, madame, she was a very
beautiful woman. Perhaps he like beautiful women--_eh bien?_ That was
before the Doctor Gregory treated madame. After the doctor treated
madame M'sieur Lawrence do not call so often. That's all."
"Are you thoroughly devoted to Mrs. Close? Would you do a favor for
her?" asked Craig pointblank.
"Sir, I would give my life, almost, for madame. She was always so good
"I don't ask you to give your life for her, Marie," said Craig, "but
you can do her a great service, a very great service."
"I will do it."
"To-night," said Craig. "I want you to sleep in Mrs. Close's room. You
can do so, for I know that Mr. Close is living at the St. Francis Club
until his wife returns from the sanitarium. To-morrow morning come to
my laboratory"--Craig handed her his card--"and I will tell you what
to do next. By the way, don't say anything to anyone in the house
about it, and keep a sharp watch on the actions of any of the servants
who may go into Mrs. Close's room."
"Well," said Craig, "there is nothing more to be done immediately." We
had once more regained the street and were walking up-town. We walked
in silence for several blocks.
"Yes," mused Craig, "there is something you can do, after all, Walter.
I would like you to look up Gregory and Close and Lawrence. I already
know something about them. But you can find out a good deal with your
newspaper connections. I would like to have every bit of scandal that
has ever been connected with them, or with Mrs. Close, or," he added
significantly, "with any other woman. It isn't necessary to say that
not a breath of it must be published--yet."
I found a good deal of gossip, but very little of it, indeed, seemed
to me at the time to be of importance. Dropping in at the St. Francis
Club, where I had some friends, I casually mentioned the troubles
of the Huntington Closes. I was surprised to learn that Close spent
little of his time at the Club, none at home, and only dropped into
the hospital to make formal inquiries as to his wife's condition. It
then occurred to me to drop into the office of _Society Squibs_, whose
editor I had long known. The editor told me, with that nameless look
of the cynical scandalmonger, that if I wanted to learn anything about
Huntington Close I had best watch Mrs. Frances Tulkington, a very
wealthy Western divorcee about whom the smart set were much excited,
particularly those whose wealth made it difficult to stand the pace of
society as it was going at present.
"And before the tragedy," said the editor with another nameless look,
as if he were imparting a most valuable piece of gossip, "it was the
talk of the town, the attention that Close's lawyer was paying to Mrs.
Close. But to her credit let me say that she never gave us a chance to
hint at anything, and--well, you know us; we don't need much to make
snappy society news."
The editor then waxed even more confidential, for if I am anything
at all, I am a good listener, and I have found that often by sitting
tight and listening I can get more than if I were a too-eager
"It really was a shame the way that man Lawrence played his game," he
went on. "I understand that it was he who introduced Close to Mrs. T.
They were both his clients. Lawrence had fought her case in the courts
when she sued old Tulkington for divorce, and a handsome settlement
he got for her, too. They say his fee ran up into the hundred
thousands--contingent, you know. I don't know what his game was"--here
he lowered his voice to a whisper--"but they say Close owes him a good
deal of money. You can figure it out for yourself as you like. Now,
I've told you all I know. Come in again, Jameson, when you want some
more scandal, and remember me to the boys down on the _Star_."
The following day the maid visited Kennedy at his laboratory while I
was reporting to him on the result of my investigations.
She looked worn and haggard. She had spent a sleepless night and
begged that Kennedy would not ask her to repeat the experiment.
"I can promise you, Marie," he said, "that you will rest better
to-night. But you must spend one more night in Mrs. Close's room. By
the way, can you arrange for me to go through the room this morning
when you go back?"
Marie said she could, and an hour or so later Craig and I quietly
slipped into the Close residence under her guidance. He was carrying
something that looked like a miniature barrel, and I had another
package which he had given me, both carefully wrapped up. The butler
eyed us suspiciously, but Marie spoke a few words to him and I think
showed him Mrs. Close's note. Anyhow he said nothing.
Within the room that the unfortunate woman had occupied Kennedy took
the coverings off the packages. It was nothing but a portable electric
vacuum cleaner, which he quickly attached and set running. Up and down
the floor, around and under the bed he pushed the cleaner. He used the
various attachments to clean the curtains, the walls, and even the
furniture. Particularly did he pay attention to the base board on the
wall back of the bed. Then he carefully removed the dust from the
cleaner and sealed it up in a leaden box.
He was about to detach and pack up the cleaner when another idea
seemed to occur to him. "Might as well make a thorough job of it,
Walter," he said, adjusting the apparatus again. "I've cleaned
everything but the mattress and the brass bars behind the mattress
on the bed. Now I'll tackle them. I think we ought to go into the
suction-cleaning business--more money in it than in being a detective,
The cleaner was run over and under the mattress and along every crack
and cranny of the brass bed. This done and this dust also carefully
stowed away, we departed, very much to the mystification of Marie
and, I could not help feeling, of other eyes that peered in through
keyholes or cracks in doors.
"At any rate," said Kennedy exultingly, "I think we have stolen a
march on them. I don't believe they were prepared for this, not at
least at this stage in the game. Don't ask me any questions, Walter.
Then you will have no secrets to keep if anyone should try to pry them
loose. Only remember that this man Lawrence is a shrewd character."
The next day Marie came, looking even more careworn than before.
"What's the matter, mademoiselle?" asked Craig. "Didn't you pass a
"Oh, mon Dieu, I rest well, yes. But this morning while I am at
breakfast, Mr. Close send for me. He say that I am discharged. Some
servant tell of your visit and he ver-ry angr-ry. And now what is to
become of me--will madame his wife give a recommendation now?"
"Walter, we have been discovered," exclaimed Craig with considerable
vexation. Then he remembered the poor girl who had been an involuntary
sacrifice to our investigation. Turning to her he said: "Marie, I know
several very good families, and I am sure you will not suffer for what
you have done by being faithful to your mistress. Only be patient a
few days. Go live with some of your folks. I will see that you are
The girl was profuse in her thanks as she dried her tears and
"I hadn't anticipated having my hand forced so soon," said Craig after
she had gone, leaving her address. "However, we are on the right
track. What was it that you were going to tell me when Marie came in?"
"Something that may be very important, Craig," I said, "though I don't
understand it myself. Pressure is being brought to bear on the _Star_
to keep this thing out of the papers, or at least to minimize it."
"I'm not surprised," commented Craig. "What do you mean by pressure
"Why, Close's lawyer, Lawrence, called up the editor this morning--I
don't suppose that you know, but he has some connection with the
interests which control the _Star_--and said that the activity of
one of the reporters from the _Star_, Jameson by name, was very
distasteful to Mr. Close and that this reporter was employing a man
named Kennedy to assist him.
"I don't understand it, Craig," I confessed, "but here one day they
give the news to the papers, and two days later they almost threaten
us with suit if we don't stop publishing it."
"It is perplexing," said Craig, with the air of one who was not a bit
perplexed, but rather enlightened.
He pulled down the district telegraph messenger lever three times, and
we sat in silence for a while.
"However," he resumed, "I shall be ready for them to-night."
I said nothing. Several minutes elapsed. Then the messenger rapped on
"I want these two notes delivered right away," said Craig to the boy;
"here's a quarter for you. Now mind you don't get interested in a
detective story and forget the notes. If you are back here quickly
with the receipts I'll give you another quarter. Now scurry along."
Then, after the boy had gone, he said casually to me: "Two notes to
Close and Gregory, asking them to be present with their attorneys
to-night. Close will bring Lawrence, and Gregory will bring a young
lawyer named Asche, a very clever fellow. The notes are so worded that
they can hardly refuse the invitation."
Meanwhile I carried out an assignment for the _Star_, and telephoned
my story in so as to be sure of being with Craig at the crucial
moment. For I was thoroughly curious about his next move in the game.
I found him still in his laboratory attaching two coils of thin wire
to the connections on the outside of a queer-looking little black box.
"What's that?" I asked, eyeing the sinister-looking little box
suspiciously. "An infernal machine? You're not going to blow the
culprit into eternity, I hope."
"Never mind what it is, Walter. You'll find that out in due time. It
may or it may not be an infernal machine--of a different sort than any
you have probably ever heard of. The less you know now the less likely
you are to give anything away by a look or an act. Come now, make
yourself useful as well as ornamental. Take these wires and lay them
in the cracks of the floor, and be careful not to let them show. A
little dust over them will conceal them beautifully."
Craig now placed the black box back of one of the chairs well down
toward the floor, where it could hardly have been perceived unless one
were suspecting something of the sort. While he was doing so I ran the
wires across the floor, and around the edge of the room to the door.
"There," he said, taking the wires from me. "Now I'll complete the job
by carrying them into the next room. And while I'm doing it, go over
the wires again and make sure they are absolutely concealed."
That night six men gathered in Kennedy's laboratory. In my utter
ignorance of what was about to happen I was perfectly calm, and so
were all the rest, except Gregory. He was easily the most nervous of
us all, though his lawyer Asche tried repeatedly to reassure him.
"Mr. Close," began Kennedy, "if you and Mr. Lawrence will sit over
here on this side of the room while Dr. Gregory and Mr. Asche sit on
the opposite side with Mr. Jameson in the middle, I think both of
you opposing parties will be better suited. For I apprehend that at
various stages in what I am about to say both you, Mr. Close, and you
Dr. Gregory, will want to consult your attorneys. That, of course,
would be embarrassing, if not impossible, should you be sitting near
each other. Now, if we are ready, I shall begin."
Kennedy placed a small leaden casket on the table of his lecture hall.
"In this casket," he commenced solemnly, "there is a certain substance
which I have recovered from the dust swept up by a vacuum cleaner in
the room of Mrs. Close."
One could feel the very air of the room surcharged with excitement.
Craig drew on a pair of gloves and carefully opened the casket. With
his thumb and forefinger he lifted out a glass tube and held it
gingerly at arm's length. My eyes were riveted on it, for the bottom
of the tube glowed with a dazzling point of light.
Both Gregory and his attorney and Close and Lawrence whispered to each
other when the tube was displayed, as indeed they did throughout the
whole exhibition of Kennedy's evidence.
"No infernal machine was ever more subtle," said Craig, "than the
tube which I hold in my hand. The imagination of the most sensational
writer of fiction might well be thrilled with the mysteries of this
fatal tube and its power to work fearful deed. A larger quantity of
this substance in the tube would produce on me, as I now hold it,
incurable burns, just as it did on its discoverer before his death.
A smaller amount, of course, would not act so quickly. The amount in
this tube, if distributed about, would produce the burns inevitably,
providing I remained near enough for a long-enough time."
Craig paused a moment to emphasize his remarks.
"Here in my hand, gentlemen, I hold the price of a woman's beauty."
He stopped again for several moments, then resumed.
"And now, having shown it to you, for my own safety I will place it
back in its leaden casket."
Drawing off his gloves, he proceeded.
"I have found out by a cablegram to-day that seven weeks ago an order
for one hundred milligrams of radium bromide at thirty-five dollars a
milligram from a certain person in America was filled by a corporation
dealing in this substance."
Kennedy said this with measured words, and I felt a thrill run through
me as he developed his case.
"At that same time, Mrs. Close began a series of treatments with an
X-ray specialist in New York," pursued Kennedy. "Now, it is not
generally known outside scientific circles, but the fact is that in
their physiological effects the X-ray and radium are quite one and
the same. Radium possesses this advantage, however, that no elaborate
apparatus is necessary for its use. And, in addition, the emanation
from radium is steady and constant, whereas the X-ray at best varies
slightly with changing conditions of the current and vacuum in the
X-ray tube. Still, the effects on the body are much the same.
"A few days before this order was placed I recall the following
despatch which appeared in the New York papers. I will read it:
* * * * *
"'Liege, Belgium, Oct.--, 1910. What is believed to be the first
criminal case in which radium figures as a death-dealing agent is
engaging public attention at this university town. A wealthy old
bachelor, Pailin by name, was found dead in his flat. A stroke of
apoplexy was at first believed to have caused his death, but a close
examination revealed a curious discoloration of his skin. A specialist
called in to view the body gave as his opinion that the old man had
been exposed for a long time to the emanations of X-ray or radium.
The police theory is that M. Pailin was done to death by a systematic
application of either X-ray or radium by a student in the university
who roomed next to him. The student has disappeared.'
* * * * *
"Now here, I believe, was the suggestion which this American criminal
followed, for I cut it out of the paper rather expecting sooner or
later that some clever person would act on it. I have thoroughly
examined the room of Mrs. Close. She herself told me she never wanted
to return to it, that her memory of sleepless nights in it was too
vivid. That served to fix the impression that I had already formed
from reading this clipping. Either the X-ray or radium had caused her
dermatitis and nervousness. Which was it? I wished to be sure that I
would make no mistake. Of course I knew it was useless to look for an
X-ray machine in or near Mrs. Close's room. Such a thing could never
have been concealed. The alternative? Radium! Ah! that was different.
I determined on an experiment. Mrs. Close's maid was prevailed on to
sleep in her mistress's room. Of course radiations of brief duration
would do her no permanent harm, although they would produce their
effect, nevertheless. In one night the maid became extremely nervous.
If she had stayed under them several nights no doubt the beginning of
a dermatitis would have affected her, if not more serious trouble. A
systematic application, covering weeks and months, might in the end
even have led to death.
"The next day I managed, as I have said, to go over the room
thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner--a new one of my own which I had
bought myself. But tests of the dust which I got from the floors,
curtains, and furniture showed nothing at all. As a last thought I
had, however, cleaned the mattress of the bed and the cracks and
crevices in the brass bars. Teats of that dust showed it to be
extremely radioactive. I had the dust dissolved, by a chemist who
understands that sort of thing, recrystallized, and the radium salts
were extracted from the refuse. Thus I found that I had recovered
all but a very few milligrams of the radium that had been originally
purchased in London. Here it is in this deadly tube in the leaden
"It is needless to add that the night after I had cleaned out this
deadly element the maid slept the sleep of the just--and would have
been all right when next I saw her but for the interference of the
unjust on whom I had stolen a march."
Craig paused while the lawyers whispered again to their clients. Then
he continued: "Now three persons in this room had an opportunity to
secrete the contents of this deadly tube in the crevices of the metal
work of Mrs. Close's bed. One of these persons must have placed an
order through a confidential agent in London to purchase the radium
from the English Radium Corporation. One of these persons had a
compelling motive, something to gain by using this deadly element.
"The radium in this tube in the casket was secreted, as I have said,
in the metal work of Mrs. Close's bed, not in large enough quantities
to be immediately fatal, but mixed with dust so as to produce the
result more slowly but no less surely, and thus avoid suspicion.
At the same time Mrs. Close was persuaded--I will not say by
whom--through her natural pride, to take a course of X-ray treatment
for a slight defect. That would further serve to divert suspicion. The
fact is that a more horrible plot could hardly have been planned or
executed. This person sought to ruin her beauty to gain a most selfish
and despicable end."
Again Craig paused to let his words sink into our minds.
"Now I wish to state that anything you gentlemen may say will be used
against you. That is why I have asked you to bring your attorneys. You
may consult with them, of course, while I am getting ready my next
As Kennedy had developed his points in the case I had been more and
more amazed. But I had not failed to notice how keenly Lawrence was
With half a sneer on his astute face, Lawrence drawled: "I cannot
see that you have accomplished anything by this rather extraordinary
summoning of us to your laboratory. The evidence is just as black
against Dr. Gregory as before. You may think you're clever, Kennedy,
but on the very statement of facts as you have brought them out there
is plenty of circumstantial evidence against Gregory--more than there
was before. As for anyone else in the room, I can't see that you have
anything on us--unless perhaps this new evidence you speak of may
implicate Asche, or Jameson," he added, including me in a wave of his
hand, as if he were already addressing a jury. "It's my opinion that
twelve of our peers would be quite as likely to bring in a verdict of
guilty against them as against anyone else even remotely connected
with this case, except Gregory. No, you'll have to do better than this
in your next case, if you expect to maintain that so-called reputation
of yours for being a professor of criminal science."
As for Close, taking his cue from his attorney, he scornfully added:
"I came to find out some new evidence against the wretch who wrecked
the beauty of my wife. All I've got is a tiresome lecture on X-rays
and radium. I suppose what you say is true. Well, it only bears out
what I thought before. Gregory treated my wife at home, after he saw
the damage his office treatments had done. I guess he was capable of
making a complete job of it--covering up his carelessness by getting
rid of the woman who was such a damning piece of evidence against his
Never a shade passed Craig's face as he listened to this tirade.
"Excuse me a moment," was all he said, opening the door to leave
the room. "I have just one more fact to disclose. I will be back
Kennedy was gone several minutes, during which Close and Lawrence fell
to whispering behind their hands, with the assurance of those who
believed that this was only Kennedy's method of admitting a defeat.
Gregory and Asche exchanged a few words similarly, and it was plain
that Asche was endeavoring to put a better interpretation on something
than Gregory himself dared hope.
As Kennedy re-entered, Close was buttoning up his coat preparatory to
leaving, and Lawrence was lighting a fresh cigar.
In his hand Kennedy held a notebook. "My stenographer writes a very
legible shorthand; at least I find it so--from long practice, I
suppose. As I glance over her notes I find many facts which will
interest you later--at the trial. But--ah, here at the end--let me
"'Well, he's very clever, but he has nothing against me, has he?'
"'No, not unless he can produce the agent who bought the radium for
"'But he can't do that. No one could ever have recognized you on your
flying trip to London disguised as a diamond merchant who had just
learned that he could make his faulty diamonds good by applications of
radium and who wanted a good stock of the stuff.'
"'Still, we'll have to drop the suit against Gregory after all, in
spite of what I said. That part is hopelessly spoiled.'
"'Yes, I suppose so. Oh, well, I'm free now. She can hardly help but
consent to a divorce now, and a quiet settlement. She brought it on
herself--we tried every other way to do it, but she--she was too good
to fall into it. She forced us to it.'
"'Yes, you'll get a good divorce now. But can't we shut up this man
Kennedy? Even if he can't prove anything against us, the mere rumor
of such a thing coming to the ears of Mrs. Tulkington would be
Go as far as you like, Lawrence. You know what the marriage will mean
to me. It will settle my debts to you and all the rest.'
"'I'll see what I can do, Close. He'll be back in a moment.'"
Close's face was livid. "It's a pack of lies!" he shouted, advancing
toward Kennedy, "a pack of lies! You are a fakir and a blackmailer.
I'll have you in jail for this, by God--and you too, Gregory."
"One moment, please," said Kennedy calmly. "Mr. Lawrence, will you be
so kind as to reach behind your chair? What do you find?"
Lawrence lifted up the plain black box and with it he pulled up the
wires which I had so carefully concealed in the cracks of the floor.
"That," said Kennedy, "is a little instrument called the microphone.
Its chief merit lies in the fact that it will magnify a sound sixteen
hundred times, and carry it to any given point where you wish to place
the receiver. Originally this device was invented for the aid of the
deaf, but I see no reason why it should not be used to aid the law.
One needn't eavesdrop at the key-hole with this little instrument
about. Inside that box there is nothing but a series of plugs from
which wires, much finer than a thread, are stretched taut. Yet a fly
walking near it will make a noise as loud as a draft-horse. If the
microphone is placed in any part of the room, especially if near the
persons talking--even if they are talking in a whisper--a whisper such
as occurred several times during the evening and particularly while
I was in the next room getting the notes made by my stenographer--a
whisper, I say, is like shouting your guilt from the house-tops.
"You two men, Close and Lawrence, may consider yourselves under arrest
for conspiracy and whatever other indictments will lie against such
creatures as you. The police will be here in a moment. No, Close,
violence won't do now. The doors are locked--and see, we are four to
THE BLACK HAND
BY ARTHUR B. REEVE
Kennedy and I had been dining rather late one evening at Luigi's, a
little Italian restaurant on the lower West Side. We had known the
place well in our student days, and had made a point of visiting it
once a month since, in order to keep in practice in the fine art of
gracefully handling long shreds of spaghetti. Therefore we did not
think it strange when the proprietor himself stopped a moment at our
table to greet us. Glancing furtively around at the other diners,
mostly Italians, he suddenly leaned over and whispered to Kennedy:
"I have heard of your wonderful detective work, Professor. Could you
give a little advice in the case of a friend of mine?"
"Surely, Luigi. What is the case?" asked Craig, leaning back in his
Luigi glanced around again apprehensively and lowered his voice. "Not
so loud, sir. When you pay your check, go out, walk around Washington
Square, and come in at the private entrance. I'll be waiting in the
hall. My friend is dining privately upstairs."
We lingered a while over our chianti, then quietly paid the check and
True to his word, Luigi was waiting for us in the dark hall. With a
motion that indicated silence, he led us up the stairs to the second
floor, and quickly opened a door into what seemed to be a fair-sized
private dining-room. A man was pacing the floor nervously. On a table
was some food, untouched. As the door opened I thought he started
as if in fear, and I am sure his dark face blanched, if only for an
instant. Imagine our surprise at seeing Gennaro, the great tenor,
with whom merely to have a speaking acquaintance was to argue oneself
"Oh, it is you, Luigi," he exclaimed in perfect English, rich and
mellow. "And who are these gentlemen?"
Luigi merely replied, "Friends," in English also, and then dropped off
into a voluble, lowtoned explanation in Italian.
I could see, as we waited, that the same, idea had flashed over
Kennedy's mind as over my own. It was now three or four days since the
papers had reported the strange kidnapping of Gennaro's five-year-old
daughter Adelina, his only child, and the sending of a demand for
ten thousand dollars ransom, signed, as usual, with the mystic Black
Hand--a name to conjure with in blackmail and extortion.
As Signor Gennaro advanced toward us, after his short talk with Luigi,
almost before the introductions were over, Kennedy anticipated him
by saying: "I understand, Signor, before you ask me. I have read
all about it in the papers. You want someone to help you catch the
criminals who are holding your little girl."
"No, no!" exclaimed Gennaro excitedly. "Not that. I want to get my
daughter first. After that, catch them if you can--yes, I should like
to have someone do it. But read this first and tell me what you think
of it. How should I act to get my little Adelina back without
harming a hair of her head?" The famous singer drew from a capacious
pocketbook a dirty, crumpled letter, scrawled on cheap paper.
Kennedy translated it quickly. It read:
* * * * *
Honorable sir: Your daughter is in safe hands. But, by the saints, if
you give this letter to the police as you did the other, not only she
but your family also, someone near to you, will suffer. We will not
fail as we did Wednesday. If you want your daughter back, go yourself,
alone and without telling a soul, to Enrico Albano's Saturday night
at the twelfth hour. You must provide yourself with $10,000 in bills
hidden in Saturday's _Il Progresso Italiano_. In the back room you
will see a man sitting alone at a table. He will have a red flower
on his coat. You are to say, "A fine opera is 'I Pagliacci.'" If he
answers, "Not without Gennaro," lay the newspaper down on the table.
He will pick it up, leaving his own, the _Bolletino_. On the third
page you will find written the place where your daughter has been left
waiting for you. Go immediately and get her. But, by the God, if you
have so much as a shadow of the police near Enrico's your daughter
will be sent to you in a box that night. Do not fear to come. We
pledge our word to deal fairly if you deal fairly. This is a last
warning. Lest you shall forget we will show one other sign of our
LA MANO NERA.
* * * * *
The end of this ominous letter was gruesomely decorated with a skull
and cross-bones, a rough drawing of a dagger thrust through a bleeding
heart, a coffin, and, under all, a huge black hand. There was no doubt
about the type of letter that it was. It was such as have of late
years become increasingly common in all our large cities, baffling the
"You have not showed this to the police, I presume?" asked Kennedy.
"Are you going Saturday night?"
"I am afraid to go and afraid to stay away," was the reply, and the
voice of the fifty-thousand-dollars-a-season tenor was as human as
that of a five-dollar-a-week father, for at bottom all men, high or
low, are one.
"'We will not fail as we did Wednesday,'" reread Craig. "What does
Gennaro fumbled in his pocketbook again, and at last drew forth a
typewritten letter bearing the letter-head of the Leslie Laboratories,
"After I received the first threat," explained Gennaro, "my wife and
I went from our apartments at the hotel to her father's, the banker
Cesare, you know, who lives on Fifth Avenue. I gave the letter to
the Italian Squad of the police. The next morning my father-in-law's
butler noticed something peculiar about the milk. He barely touched
some of it to his tongue, and he has been violently ill ever since. I
at once sent the milk to the laboratory of my friend Doctor Leslie to
have it analyzed. This letter shows what the household escaped."
"My dear Gennaro," read Kennedy. "The milk submitted to us for
examination on the 10th inst. has been carefully analyzed, and I beg
to hand you herewith the result:
"Specific gravity 1.036 at 15 degrees Cent.
Water 84.60 per cent.
Casein 3.49 " "
Albumin 56 " "
Globulin 1.32 " "
Lactose 5.08 " "
Ash 72 " "
Fat 3.42 " "
Ricin 1.19 " "
"Ricin is a new and little-known poison derived from the shell of the
castor-oil bean. Professor Ehrlich states that one gram of the pure
poison will kill 1,500,000 guinea pigs. Ricin was lately isolated by
Professor Robert, of Rostock, but is seldom found except in an impure
state, though still very deadly. It surpasses strychnin, prussic
acid, and other commonly known drugs. I congratulate you and yours on
escaping and shall of course respect your wishes absolutely regarding
keeping secret this attempt on your life. Believe me,
"Very sincerely yours,
As Kennedy handed the letter back, he remarked significantly: "I can
see very readily why you don't care to have the police figure in your
case. It has got quite beyond ordinary police methods."
"And to-morrow, too, they are going to give another sign of their
power," groaned Gennaro, sinking into the chair before his untasted
"You say you have left your hotel?" inquired Kennedy.
"Yes. My wife insisted that we would be more safely guarded at the
residence of her father, the banker. But we are afraid even there
since the poison attempt. So I have come here secretly to Luigi, my
old friend Luigi, who is preparing food for us, and in a few minutes
one of Cesare's automobiles will be here, and I will take the food up
to her--sparing no expense or trouble. She is heart-broken. It will
kill her, Professor Kennedy, if anything happens to our little
"Ah sir, I am not poor myself. A month's salary at the opera-house,
that is what they ask of me. Gladly would I give it, ten thousand
dollars--all, if they asked it, of my contract with Herr
Schleppencour, the director. But the police--bah!--they are all for
catching the villains. What good will it do me if they catch them and
my little Adelina is returned to me dead? It is all very well for the
Anglo-Saxon to talk of justice and the law, but I am--what you call
it?--an emotional Latin. I want my little daughter--and at any cost.
Catch the villains afterward--yes. I will pay double then to catch
them so that they cannot blackmail me again. Only first I want my
"And your father-in-law?"
"My father-in-law, he has been among you long enough to be one of you.
He has fought them. He has put up a sign in his banking-house, 'No
money paid on threats.' But I say it is foolish. I do not know America
as well as he, but I know this: the police never succeed--the ransom
is paid without their knowledge, and they very often take the credit.
I say, pay first, then I will swear a righteous vendetta--I will bring
the dogs to justice with the money yet on them. Only show me how, show
"First of all," replied Kennedy, "I want you to answer one question,
truthfully, without reservation, as to a friend. I am your friend,
believe me. Is there any person, a relative or acquaintance of
yourself or your wife or your father-in-law, whom you even have reason
to suspect of being capable of extorting money from you in this way?
I needn't say that that is the experience of the district attorney's
office in the large majority of cases of this so-called Black Hand."
"No," replied the tenor without hesitation. "I know that, and I have
thought about it. No, I can think of no one. I know you Americans
often speak of the Black Hand as a myth coined originally by a
newspaper writer. Perhaps it has no organization. But, Professor
Kennedy, to me it is no myth. What if the real Black Hand is any gang
of criminals who choose to use that convenient name to extort money?
Is it the less real? My daughter is gone!"
"Exactly," agreed Kennedy. "It is not a theory that confronts you.
It is a hard, cold fact. I understand that perfectly. What is, the
address of this Albano's?"
Luigi mentioned a number on Mulberry Street, and Kennedy made a note
"It is a gambling saloon," explained Luigi. "Albano is a Neapolitan,
a Camorrista, one of my countrymen of whom I am thoroughly ashamed,
"Do you think this Albano had anything to do with the letter?"
Luigi shrugged his shoulders.
Just then a big limousine was heard outside. Luigi picked up a huge
hamper that was placed in a corner of the room and, followed closely
by Signer Gennaro, hurried down to it. As the tenor left us he grasped
our hands in each of his.
"I have an idea in my mind," said Craig simply. "I will try to think
it out in detail to-night. Where can I find you to-morrow?"
"Come to me at the opera-house in the afternoon, or if you want me
sooner at Mr. Cesare's residence. Good night, and a thousand thanks
to you, Professor Kennedy, and to you, also, Mr. Jameson. I trust you
absolutely because Luigi trusts you."
We sat in the little dining-room until we heard the door of the
limousine bang shut and the car shoot off with the rattle of the
"One more question, Luigi," said Craig as the door opened again. "I
have never been on that block in Mulberry Street where this Albano's
is. Do you happen to know any of the shopkeepers on it or near it?"
"I have a cousin who has a drug-store on the corner below Albano's, on
the same side of the street."
"Good! Do you think he would let me use his store for a few minutes
Saturday night--of course without any risk to himself?"
"I think I could arrange it."
"Very well. Then to-morrow, say at nine in the morning, I will stop
here, and we will all go over to see him. Good night, Luigi, and many
thanks for thinking of me in connection with this case. I've enjoyed
Signor Gennaro's singing often enough at the opera to want to render
him this service, and I'm only too glad to be able to be of service to
all honest Italians; that is, if I succeed in carrying out a plan I
have in mind."
A little before nine the following day Kennedy and I dropped into
Luigi's again. Kennedy was carrying a suitcase which he had taken over
from his laboratory to our rooms the night before. Luigi was waiting
for us, and without losing a minute we sallied forth.
By means of the tortuous twists of streets in old Greenwich village we
came out at last on Bleecker Street and began walking east amid the
hurly-burly of races of lower New York. We had not quite reached
Mulberry Street when our attention was attracted by a large crowd on
one of the busy corners, held back by a cordon of police who were
endeavoring to keep the people moving with that burly good nature
which the six-foot Irish policeman displays toward the five-foot
burden-bearers of southern and eastern Europe who throng New York.
Apparently, we saw, as we edged up into the front of the crowd, here
was a building whose whole front had literally been torn off and
wrecked. The thick plate-glass of the windows was smashed to a mass
of greenish splinters on the sidewalk, while the windows of the upper
floors and for several houses down the block in either street were
likewise broken. Some thick iron bars which had formerly protected the
windows were now bent and twisted. A huge hole yawned in the floor
inside the doorway, and peering in we could see the desks and chairs a
tangled mass of kindling.
"What's the matter?" I inquired of an officer near me, displaying my
reporter's fire-line badge, more for its moral effect than in the hope
of getting any real information in these days of enforced silence
toward the press.
"Black Hand bomb," was the laconic reply.
"Whew!" I whistled. "Anyone hurt?"
"They don't usually kill anyone, do they?" asked the officer by way of
reply to test my acquaintance with such things.
"No," I admitted. "They destroy more property than lives. But did they
get anyone this time? This must have been a thoroughly over-loaded
bomb, I should judge by the looks of things."
"Came pretty close to it. The bank hadn't any more than opened when,
bang! went this gas-pipe-and-dynamite thing. Crowd collected before
the smoke had fairly cleared. Man who owns the bank was hurt, but not
badly. Now come, beat it down to headquarters if you want to find
out any more. You'll find it printed on the pink slip--the 'squeal
book'--by this time. 'Gainst the rules for me to talk," he added with
a good-natured grin, then to the crowd: "G'wan, now. You're blockin'
traffic. Keep movin'."
I turned to Craig and Luigi. Their eyes were riveted on the big gilt
sign, half broken, and all askew overhead. It read:
CIRO DI CESARE & CO. BANKERS
NEW YORK, GENOA, NAPLES, ROME, PALERMO
"This is the reminder so that Gennaro and his father-in-law will not
forget," I gasped.
"Yes," added Craig, pulling us away, "and Cesare himself is wounded,
too. Perhaps that was for putting up the notice refusing to pay.
Perhaps not. It's a queer case--they usually set the bombs off at
night when no one is around. There must be more back of this than
merely to scare Gennaro. It looks to me as if they were after Cesare,
too, first by poison, then by dynamite."
We shouldered our way out through the crowd and went on until we came
to Mulberry Street, pulsing with life. Down we went past the little
shops, dodging the children, and making way for women with huge
bundles of sweat-shop clothing accurately balanced on their heads or
hugged up under their capacious capes. Here was just one little colony
of the hundreds of thousands of Italians--a population larger than the
Italian population of Rome--of whose life the rest of New York knew
and cared nothing.
At last we came to Albano's little wine-shop, a dark, evil, malodorous
place on the street level of a five-story, alleged "new-law" tenement.
Without hesitation Kennedy entered, and we followed, acting the part
of a slumming party. There were a few customers at this early hour,
men out of employment and an inoffensive-looking lot, though of course
they eyed us sharply. Albano himself proved to be a greasy, low-browed
fellow who had a sort of cunning look. I could well imagine such
a fellow spreading terror in the hearts of simple folk by merely
pressing both temples with his thumbs and drawing his long bony
fore-finger under his throat--the so-called Black Hand sign that has
shut up many a witness in the middle of his testimony even in open
We pushed through to the low-ceilinged back room, which was empty, and
sat down at a table. Over a bottle of Albano's famous California "red
ink" we sat silently. Kennedy was making a mental note of the place.
In the middle of the ceiling was a single gas-burner with a big
reflector over it. In the back wall of the room was a horizontal
oblong window, barred, and with a sash that opened like a transom.
The tables were dirty and the chairs rickety. The walls were bare and
unfinished, with beams innocent of decoration. Altogether it was as
unprepossessing a place as I had ever seen.
Apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, Kennedy got up to go,
complimenting the proprietor on his wine. I could see that Kennedy had
made up his mind as to his course of action.
"How sordid crime really is," he remarked as we walked on down the
street. "Look at that place of Albano's. I defy even the police news
reporter on the _Star_ to find any glamour in that."
Our next stop was at the corner at the little store kept by the cousin
of Luigi, who conducted us back of the partition where prescriptions
were compounded, and found us chairs.
A hurried explanation from Luigi brought a cloud to the open face of
the druggist, as if he hesitated to lay himself and his little fortune
open to the blackmailers. Kennedy saw it and interrupted.
"All that I wish to do," he said, "is to put in a little instrument
here and use it to-night for a few minutes. Indeed, there will be no
risk to you, Vincenzo. Secrecy is what I desire, and no one will ever
know about it."
Vincenzo was at length convinced, and Craig opened his suit-case.
There was little in it except several coils of insulated wire, some
tools, a couple of packages wrapped up, and a couple of pairs of
overalls. In a moment Kennedy had donned overalls and was smearing
dirt and grease over his face and hands. Under his direction I did the
Taking the bag of tools, the wire, and one of the small packages, we
went out on the street and then up through the dark and ill-ventilated
hall of the tenement. Half-way up a woman stopped us suspiciously.
"Telephone company," said Craig curtly. "Here's permission from the
owner of the house to string wires across the roof."
He pulled an old letter out of his pocket, but as it was too dark to
read even if the woman had cared to do so, we went on up as he had
expected, unmolested. At last we came to the roof, where there were
some children at play a couple of houses down from us.
Kennedy began by dropping two strands of wire down to the ground in
the back yard behind Vincenzo's shop. Then he proceeded to lay two
wires along the edge of the roof.
We had worked only a little while when the children began to collect.
However, Kennedy kept right on until we reached the tenement next to
that in which Albano's shop was.
"Walter," he whispered, "just get the children away for a minute now."
"Look here, you kids," I yelled, "some of you will fall off if you get
so close to the edge of the roof. Keep back."
It had no effect. Apparently they looked not a bit frightened at the
dizzy mass of clothes-lines below us.
"Say, is there a candy-store on this block?" I asked in desperation.
"Yes, sir," came the chorus.
"Who'll go down and get me a bottle of ginger ale?" I asked.
A chorus of voices and glittering eyes was the answer. They all would.
I took a half-dollar from my pocket and gave it to the oldest.
"All right now, hustle along, and divide the change."
With the scamper of many feet they were gone, and we were alone.
Kennedy had now reached Albano's and as soon as the last head had
disappeared below the scuttle of the roof he dropped two long strands
down into the back yard, as he had done at Vincenzo's.
I started to go back, but he stopped me.
"Oh, that will never do," he said. "The kids will see that the wires
end here. I must carry them on several houses farther as a blind and
trust to luck that they don't see the wire leading down below."
We were several houses down, still putting up wires when the crowd
came shouting back, sticky with cheap trust-made candy and black with
East Side chocolate. We opened the ginger ale and forced ourselves
to drink it so as to excite no suspicion, then a few minutes later
descended the stairs of the tenement, coming out just above Albano's.
I was wondering how Kennedy was going to get into Albano's again
without exciting suspicion. He solved it neatly.
"Now, Walter, do you think you could stand another dip into that red
ink of Albano's?"
I said I might in the interests of science and justice--not otherwise.
"Well, your face is sufficiently dirty," he commented, "so that with
the overalls you don't look very much as you did the first time you
went in. I don't think they will recognize you. Do I look pretty
"You look like a coal-heaver out of a job," I said. "I can scarcely
restrain my admiration."
"All right. Then take this little glass bottle. Go into the back room
and order something cheap, in keeping with your looks. Then when you
are all alone break the bottle. It is full of gas drippings. Your nose
will dictate what to do next. Just tell the proprietor you saw the gas
company's wagon on the next block and come up here and tell me."
I entered. There was a sinister-looking man, with a sort of
unscrupulous intelligence, writing at a table. As he wrote and puffed
at his cigar, I noticed a scar on his face, a deep furrow running from
the lobe of his ear to his mouth. That, I knew, was a brand set upon
him by the Camorra. I sat and smoked and sipped slowly for several
minutes, cursing him inwardly more for his presence than for his
evident look of the "_mala vita_." At last he went out to ask the
bar-keeper for a stamp.
Quickly I tiptoed over to another corner of the room and ground the
little bottle under my heel. Then I resumed my seat. The odor that
pervaded the room was sickening.
The sinister-looking man with the scar came in again and sniffed. I
sniffed. Then the proprietor came in and sniffed.
"Say," I said in the toughest voice I could assume, "you got a leak.
Wait. I seen the gas company wagon on the next block when I came in.
I'll get the man."
I dashed out and hurried up the street to the place where Kennedy was
waiting impatiently. Rattling his tools, he followed me with apparent
As he entered the wine-shop he snorted, after the manner of gas-men,
"Where's de leak?"
"You find-a da leak," grunted Albano. "What-a you get-a pay for? You
want-a me do your work?"
"Well, half a dozen o' you wops get out o' here, that's all. D'youse
all wanter be blown ter pieces wid dem pipes and cigarettes? Clear
out," growled Kennedy.
They retreated precipitately, and Craig hastily opened his bag of
"Quick, Walter, shut the door and hold it," exclaimed Craig, working
rapidly. He unwrapped a little package and took out a round, flat,
disc-like thing of black vulcanized rubber. Jumping up on a table, he
fixed it to the top of the reflector over the gas-jet.
"Can you see that from the floor, Walter?" he asked under his breath.
"No," I replied, "not even when I know it is there."
Then he attached a couple of wires to it and let them across the
ceiling toward the window, concealing them carefully by sticking them
in the shadow of a beam. At the window he quickly attached the wires
to the two that were dangling down from the roof and shoved them
around out of sight.
"We'll have to trust that no one sees them," he said. "That's the best
I can do at such short notice. I never saw a room so bare as this,
anyway. There isn't another place I could put that thing without its
We gathered up the broken glass of the gas-drippings bottle, and I
opened the door.
"It's all right, now," said Craig, sauntering out before the bar.
"Only de next time you has anyt'ing de matter call de company up. I
ain't supposed to do dis wit'out orders, see?"
A moment later I followed, glad to get out of the oppressive
atmosphere, and joined him in the back of Vincenzo's drugstore, where
he was again at work. As there was no back window there, it was quite
a job to lead the wires around the outside from the back yard and
in at a side window. It was at last done, however, without exciting
suspicion, and Kennedy attached them to an oblong box of weathered oak
and a pair of specially constructed dry batteries.
"Now," said Craig, as we washed off the stains of work and stowed the
overalls back in the suit-case, "that is done to my satisfaction. I
can tell Gennaro to go ahead safely now and meet the Black-Handers."