Part 3 out of 6
section. It soon fell and was prevented from smashing on the floor
by the string and the suction-cup. Kennedy put his hand in and
unlatched the window, and we stepped in.
All was silent. Apparently the house was deserted.
Cautiously Kennedy pressed the button of his pocket storage-battery
lamp and flashed it slowly about the room. It was a sort of library,
handsomely furnished. At last the beam of light rested on a huge
desk at the opposite end. It seemed to interest Kennedy, and we
tiptoed over to it. One after another he opened the drawers. One
was locked, and he saved that until the last.
Quietly as he could, he jimmied it open, muffling the jimmy in a
felt cloth that was on a table. Most people do not realise the
disruptive force that there is in a simple jimmy. I didn't until
I saw the solid drawer with its heavy lock yield with just the trace
of a noise. Kennedy waited an instant and listened. Nothing
Inside the drawer was a most nondescript collection of useless
articles. There were a number of pieces of fine sponge, some of
them very thin and cut in a flat oval shape, smelling of lysol
strongly; several bottles, a set of sharp little knives, some
paraffin, bandages, antiseptic gauze, cotton - in fact, it looked
like a first-aid kit. As soon as he saw it Kennedy seemed
astonished but not at a loss to account for it.
"I thought he left that sort of thing to the doctors, but I guess
he took a hand in it himself," he muttered, continuing to fumble
with the knives in the drawer. It was no time to ask questions, and
I did not. Kennedy rapidly stowed away the things in his pockets.
One bottle he opened and held to his nose. I could distinguish
immediately the volatile smell of ether. He closed it quickly, and
it, too, went into his pocket with the remark, "Somebody must have
known how to administer an anaesthetic - probably the Wollstone
A suppressed exclamation from Kennedy caused me to look. The drawer
had a false back. Safely tucked away in it reposed a tin box, one
of those so-called strong-boxes which are so handy in that they save
a burglar much time and trouble in hunting all over for the valuables
he has come after. Kennedy drew it forth and laid it on the desk.
It was locked.
Even that did not seem to satisfy Kennedy, who continued to
scrutinise the walls and corners of the room as if looking for a
safe or something of that sort.
"Let's look in the room across the hall," he whispered.
Suddenly a piercing scream of a woman rang out upstairs. "Help!
Help! There's some one in the house! Billy, help!"
I felt an arm grasp me tightly, and for a moment a chill ran over
me at being caught in the nefarious work of breaking and entering
a dwelling-house at night. But it was only Kennedy, who had already
tucked the precious little tin box under his arm.
With a leap he dragged me to the open window, cleared it, vaulted
over the porch, and we were running for the clump of woods that
adjoined the estate on one side. Lights flashed in all the windows
of the house at once. There must have been some sort of
electric-light system that could be lighted instantly as a
"burglar-expeller." Anyhow, we had made good our escape.
As we lost ourselves in the woods I gave a last glance back and saw
a lantern carried from the house to the garage. As the door was
unlocked I could see, in the moonlight, a huge dog leap out and lick
the hands and face of a man.
Quickly we now crashed through the frozen underbrush. Evidently
Kennedy was making for the station by a direct route across country
instead of the circuitous way by the road and town. Behind us we
could hear a deep baying.
"By the Lord, Walter," cried Kennedy, for once in his life
thoroughly alarmed, "it's a bloodhound, and our trail is fresh."
Closer it came. Press forward as we might, we could never expect
to beat that dog.
"Oh, for a stream," groaned Kennedy, "but they are all frozen - even
He stopped short, fumbled in his pocket, and drew out the bottle
"Raise your foot, Walter," he ordered.
I did so and he smeared first mine and then his with the ether.
Then we doubled on our trail once or twice and ran again.
"The dog will never be able to pick up the ether as our trail,"
panted Kennedy; "that is, if he is any good and trained not to go
off on wild-goose chases."
On we hurried from the woods to the now dark and silent town. It
was indeed fortunate that the dog had been thrown off our scent,
for the station was closed, and, indeed, if it had been open I am
sure the station agent would have felt more like locking the door
against two such tramps as we were, carrying a tin box and pursued
by a dog, than opening it for us. The best we could do was to
huddle into a corner until we succeeded in jumping a milk-train
that luckily slowed down as it passed Riverwood station.
Neither of us could wait to open the tin box in our apartment, and
instead of going uptown Kennedy decided it would be best to go to
a hotel near the station. Somehow we succeeded in getting a room
without exciting suspicion. Hardly had the bellboy's footsteps
ceased echoing in the corridor than Kennedy was at work wrenching
off the lid of the box with such leverage as the scanty furnishings
of the room afforded.
At last it yielded, and we looked in curiously, expecting to find
fabulous wealth in some form. A few hundred dollars and a rope of
pearls lay in it. It was a good "haul," but where was the vast
spoil the counterfeiters had accumulated? We had missed it. So
far we were completely baffled.
"Perhaps we had better snatch a couple of hours' sleep," was all
that Craig said, stifling his chagrin.
Over and over in my mind I was turning the problem of where they
had hidden the spoil. I dozed off, still thinking about it and
thinking that, even should they be captured, they might have stowed
away perhaps a million dollars to which they could go back after
their sentences were served.
It was still early for New York when Kennedy roused me by talking
over the telephone in the room. In fact, I doubt if he had slept
Burke was at the other end of the wire. His man had just reported
that something had happened during the night at Riverwood, but he
couldn't give a very clear account. Craig seemed to enjoy the
joke immensely as he told his story to Burke.
The last words I heard were: "All right. Send a man up here to the
station - one who knows all the descriptions of these people. I'm
sure they will have to come into town to-day, and they will have to
come by train, for their car is wrecked. Better watch at the uptown
After a hasty breakfast we met Burke's man and took our places at
the exit from the train platforms. Evidently Kennedy had figured
out that the counterfeiters would have to come into town for some
reason or other. The incoming passengers were passing us in a
steady stream, for a new station was then being built, and there
was only a temporary structure with one large exit.
"Here is where the 'portrait parle' ought to come in, if ever,"
commented Kennedy as he watched eagerly.
And yet neither man nor woman passed us who fitted the description.
Train after train emptied its human freight, yet the pale man with
the concave nose and the peculiar ear, accompanied perhaps by a
lady, did not pass us.
At last the incoming stream began to dwindle down. It was long past
the time when the counterfeiters should have arrived if they had
started on any reasonable train.
"Perhaps they have gone up to Montreal, instead," I ventured.
Kennedy shook his head. "No," he answered. "I have an idea that
I was mistaken about the money being kept at Riverwood. It would
have been too risky. I thought it out on the way back this morning.
They probably kept it in a safe deposit vault here. I had figured
that they would come down and get it and leave New York after last
night's events. We have failed - they have got by us. Neither
the 'portrait parle' nor the ordinary photography nor any other
system will suffice alone against the arch-criminal back of this,
I'm afraid. Walter, I am sore and disgusted. What I should have
done was to accept Burke's offer - surround the house with a posse
if necessary, last night, and catch the counterfeiters by sheer
force. I was too confident. I thought I could do it with
finesse, and I have failed. I'd give anything to know what safe
deposit vault they kept the fake money in."
I said nothing as we strolled away, leaving Burke's man still to
watch, hoping against hope. Kennedy walked disconsolately through
the station, and I followed. In a secluded part of the waiting-room
he sat down, his face drawn up in a scowl such as I had never seen.
Plainly he was disgusted with himself - with only himself. This
was no bungling of Burke or any one else. Again the counterfeiters
had escaped from the hand of the law.
As he moved his fingers restlessly in the pockets of his coat, he
absently pulled out the little pieces of sponge and the ether bottle.
He regarded them without much interest.
"I know what they were for," he said, diving back into his pocket
for the other things and bringing out the sharp little knives in
their case. I said nothing, for Kennedy was in a deep study. At
last he put the things back into his pocket. As he did so his hand
encountered something which he drew forth with a puzzled air. It
was the piece of paraffin.
"Now, what do you suppose that was for?" he asked, half to himself.
"I had forgotten that. What was the use of a piece of paraffin?
Phew, smell the antiseptic worked into it."
"I don't know," I replied, rather testily. "If you would tell me
what the other things were for I might enlighten you, but - "
"By George, Walter, what a chump I am!" cried Kennedy, leaping to
his feet, all energy again. "Why did I forget that lump of paraffin?
Why, of course - I think I can guess what they have been doing - of
course. Why, man alive, he walked right past us, and we never knew
it. Boy, boy," he shouted to a newsboy who passed, "what's the latest
sporting edition you have?"
Eagerly he almost tore a paper open and scanned the sporting pages.
"Racing at Lexington begins to-morrow," he read. "Yes, I'll bet
that's it. We don't have to know the safe deposit vault, after all.
It would be too late, anyhow. Quick, let us look up the train to
As we hurried over to the information booth, I gasped, in a whirl:
"Now, look here, Kennedy, what's all this lightning calculation?
What possible connection is there between a lump of paraffin and
one of the few places in the country where they still race horses?"
"None," he replied, not stopping an instant. "None. The paraffin
suggested to me the possible way in which our man managed to elude
us under our very eyes. That set my mind at work again. Like a
flash it occurred to me: Where would they be most likely to go next
to work off some of the bills? The banks are on, the
jewellery-houses are on, the gambling-joints are on. Why, to the
racetracks, of course. That's it. Counterfeiters all use the
bookmakers, only since racing has been killed in New York they have
had to resort to other means here. If New York has suddenly become
too hot, what more natural than to leave it? Here, let me see -
there's a train that gets there early to-morrow, the best train,
too. Say, is No. 144 made up yet?" he inquired at the desk.
"No. 144 will be ready in fifteen minutes. Track 8."
Kennedy thanked the man, turned abruptly, and started for the
still closed gate at Track 8.
"Beg pardon - why, hulloa - it's Burke," he exclaimed as we ran
plump into a man staring vacantly about.
It was not the gentleman farmer of the night before, nor yet the
supposed college graduate. This man was a Western rancher; his
broad-brimmed hat, long moustache, frock coat, and flowing tie
proclaimed it. Yet there was something indefinably familiar about
him, too. It was Burke in another disguise.
"Pretty good work, Kennedy," nodded Burke, shifting his tobacco
from one side of his jaws to the other. "Now, tell me how your man
escaped you this morning, when you can recognise me instantly in
"You haven't altered your features," explained Kennedy simply.
"Our pale-faced, snub-nosed, peculiar-eared friend has. What do
you think of the possibility of his going to the Lexington track,
now that he finds it too dangerous to remain in New York?"
Burke looked at Kennedy rather sharply. "Say, do you add telepathy
to your other accomplishments?
"No," laughed Craig, "but I'm glad to see that two of us working
independently have arrived at the same conclusion. Come, let us
saunter over to Track 8 - I guess the train is made up."
The gate was just opened, and the crowd filed through. No one who
seemed to satisfy either Burke or Kennedy appeared. The train
announcer made his last call. Just then a taxicab pulled up at
the street-end of the platform, not far from Track 8. A man jumped
out and assisted a heavily veiled lady, paid the driver, picked up
the grips, and turned toward us.
We waited expectantly. As he turned I saw a dark-skinned,
hook-nosed man, and I exclaimed disgustedly to Burke: "Well, if
they are going to Lexington they can't make this train. Those are
the last people who have a chance."
Kennedy, however, continued to regard the couple steadily. The
man saw that he was being watched and faced us defiantly, "Such
impertinence!" Then to his wife, "Come, my dear, we'll just make it."
"I'm afraid I'll have to trouble you to show us what's in that grip,"
said Kennedy, calmly laying his hand on the man's arm.
"Well, now, did you ever hear of such blasted impudence? Get out of
my way, sir, this instant, or I'll have you arrested."
"Come, come, Kennedy," interrupted Burke. "Surely you are getting
in wrong here. This can't be the man."
Craig shook his head decidedly. "You can make the arrest or not,
Burke, as you choose. If not, I am through. If so - I'll take all
Reluctantly Burke yielded. The man protested; the woman cried; a
The train-gate shut with a bang. As it did so the man's demeanour
changed instantly. " There," he shouted angrily, "'you have made
us miss our train. I'll have you in jail for this. Come on now to
the nearest magistrate's court. I'll have my rights as an American
citizen. You have carried your little joke too far. Knight is my
name - John Knight, of Omaha, pork-packer. Come on now. I'll see
that somebody suffers for this if I have to stay in New York a year.
It's an outrage - an outrage."
Burke was now apparently alarmed - more at the possibility of the
humorous publicity that would follow such a mistake by the secret
service than at anything else. However, Kennedy did not weaken,
and on general principles I stuck to Kennedy.
"Now," said the man surlily while he placed "Mrs. Knight" in as
easy a chair as he could find in the judge's chambers, "what is the
occasion of all this row? Tell the judge what a bad man from
Bloody Gulch I am."
O'Connor had arrived, having broken all speed laws and perhaps some
records on the way up from headquarters. Kennedy laid the Scotland
Yard finger-prints on the table. Beside them he placed those taken
by O'Connor and Burke in New York.
"Here," he began, "we have the finger-prints of a man who was one
of the most noted counterfeiters in Great Britain. Beside them are
those of a man who succeeded in passing counterfeits of several
kinds recently in New York. Some weeks later this third set of
prints was taken from a man who was believed to be the same person."
The magistrate was examining the three sets of prints. As he came
to the third, he raised his head as if about to make a remark, when
Kennedy quickly interrupted.
"One moment, sir. You were about to say that finger-prints never
change, never show such variations as these. That is true. There
are fingerprints of people taken fifty years ago that are exactly
the same as their finger-prints of to-day. They don't change - they
are permanent. The fingerprints of mummies can be deciphered even
after thousands of years. But," he added slowly, "you can change
The idea was so startling that I could scarcely realise what he
meant at first. I had read of the wonderful work of the surgeons
of the Rockefeller Institute in transplanting tissues and even whole
organs, in grafting skin and in keeping muscles artificially alive
for days under proper conditions. Could it be that a man had
deliberately amputated his fingers and grafted on new ones? Was the
stake sufficient for such a game? Surely there must be some scars
left after such grafting. I picked up the various sets of prints.
It was true that the third set was not very clear, but there
certainly were no scars there.
"Though there is no natural changeability of finger-prints," pursued
Kennedy, "such changes can be induced, as Dr. Paul Prager of Vienna
has shown, by acids and other reagents, by grafting and by injuries.
Now, is there any method by which lost finger-tips can be restored?
I know of one case where the end of a finger was taken off and only
one-sixteenth inch of the nail was left. The doctor incised the
edges of the granulating surface and then led the granulations on
by what is known in the medical profession as the 'sponge graft.'
He grew a new finger-tip.
"The sponge graft consists in using portions of a fine Turkish
surgical sponge, such I have here. I found these pieces in a desk
at Riverwood. The patient is anaesthetised. An incision is made
from side to side in the stump of the finger and flaps of skin are
sliced off and turned up for the new end of the finger to develop
in - a sort of shell of living skin. Inside this, the sponge is
placed, not a large piece, but a very thin piece sliced off and
cut to the shape of the finger-stump. It is perfectly sterilised
in water and washed in green soap after all the stony particles
are removed by hydrochloric acid. Then the finger is bound up
and kept moist with normal salt solution.
"The result is that the end of the finger, instead of healing over,
grows into the fine meshes of the pieces of sponge, by capillary
attraction. Of course even this would heal in a few days, but the
doctor does not let it heal. In three days he pulls the sponge off
gently. The end of the finger has grown up just a fraction of an
inch. Then a new thin layer of sponge is added. Day after day this
process is repeated, each time the finger growing a little more. A
new nail develops if any of the matrix is left, and I suppose a
clever surgeon by grafting up pieces of epidermis could produce on
such a stump very passable finger-prints."
No one of us said anything, but Kennedy seemed to realise the
thought in our minds and proceeded to elaborate the method.
"It is known as the 'education sponge method,' and was first
described by Dr. D. J. Hamilton, of Edinburgh, in 1881. It has
frequently been used in America since then. The sponge really acts
in a mechanical manner to support the new finger-tissue that is
developed. The meshes are filled in by growing tissue, and as it
grows the tissue absorbs part of the sponge, which is itself an
animal tissue and acts like catgut. Part of it is also thrown
off. In fact, the sponge imitates what happens naturally in the
porous network of a regular blood-clot. It educates the tissue to
grow, stimulates it - new blood-vessels and nerves as well as flesh.
"In another case I know of, almost the whole of the first joint of
a finger was crushed off, and the doctor was asked to amputate the
stump of bone that protruded. Instead, he decided to educate the
tissue to grow out to cover it and appear like a normal finger. In
these cases the doctors succeeded admirably in giving the patients
entire new fingertips, without scars, and, except for the initial
injury and operation, with comparatively little inconvenience except
that absolute rest of the hands was required..
"That is what happened, gentlemen," concluded Kennedy. "That is
why Mr. Forbes, alias Williams, made a trip to Philadelphia to be
treated-for crushed finger-tips, not for the kick of an automobile
engine. He may have paid the doctors in counterfeits. In reality
this man was playing a game in which there was indeed a heavy stake
at issue. He was a counterfeiter sought by two governments with
the net closing about him. What are the tips of a few fingers
compared with life, liberty, wealth, and a beautiful woman? The
first two sets of prints are different from the third because they
are made by different finger-tips-on the same man. The very core
of the prints was changed. But the finger-print system is
vindicated by the very ingenuity of the man who so cleverly has
contrivred to beat it."
"Very interesting - to one who is interested," remarked the stranger,
"but what has that to do with detaining my wife and myself, making
us miss our train, and insulting us?"
"Just this," replied Craig. "If you will kindly oblige us by laying
your fingers on this inking-pad and then lightly on this sheet of
paper, I think I can show you an answer."
Knight demurred, and his wife grew hysterical at the idea, but there
was nothing to do but comply. Kennedy glanced at the fourth set of
prints, then at the third set taken a week ago, and smiled. No one
said a word. Knight or Williams, which was it? He nonchalantly lit
"So you say I am this Williams, the counterfeiter?" he asked
"I do," reiterated Kennedy. "You are also Forbes."
"I don't suppose Scotland Yard has neglected to furnish you with
photographs and a description of this Forbes?"
Burke reluctantly pulled out a Bertillon card from his pocket and
laid it on the table. It bore the front face and profile of the
famous counterfeiter, as well as his measurements.
The man picked it up as if indeed it was a curious thing. His
coolness nearly convinced me. Surely he should have hesitated in
actually demanding this last piece of evidence. I had heard,
however, that the Bertillon system of measurements often depended
on the personal equation of the measurer as well as on the measured.
Was he relying on that, or on his difference in features?
I looked over Kennedy's shoulder at the card on the table. There
was the concave nose of the "portrait parle" " of Forbes, as it had
first been described to us. Without looking further I involuntarily
glanced at the man, although I had no need to do so. I knew that
his nose was the exact opposite of that of Forbes.
"Ingenious at argument as you are, he remarked quietly, "you will
hardly deny that Knight, of Omaha, is the exact opposite of Forbes,
of London. My nose is almost Jewish - my complexion is dark as an
Arab's. Still, I suppose I am the sallow, snub-nosed Forbes
described here, inasmuch as I have stolen Forbes's fingers and
lost them again by a most preposterous method."
"The colour of the face is easily altered," said Kennedy. "A little
picric acid will do that. The ingenious rogue Sarcey in Paris
eluded the police very successfully until Dr. Charcot exposed him
and showed how he changed the arch of his eyebrows and the wrinkles
of his face. Much is possible to-day that would make Frankenstein
and Dr. Moreau look clumsy and antiquated."
A sharp feminine voice interrupted. It was the woman, who had kept
silent up to this time. "But I have read in one of the papers this
morning that a Mr. Williams was found dead in an automobile accident
up the Hudson yesterday. I remember reading it, because I am afraid
of accidents myself."
All eyes were now fixed on Kennedy. "That body," he answered quickly,
"was a body purchased by you at a medical school, brought in your
car to Riverwood, dressed in Williams's clothes with a watch that
would show he was Forbes, placed on the track in front of the auto,
while you two watched the Buffalo express run it down, and screamed.
It was a clever scheme that you concocted, but these facts do not
He laid the measurements of the corpse obtained by Burke and those
from the London police card side by side. Only in the roughest way
did they approximate each other.
"Your honour, I appeal to your sense of justice," cried our prisoner
impatiently. "Hasn't this farce been allowed to go far enough? Is
there any reason why this fake detective should make fools out of
us all and keep my wife longer in this court? I'm not disposed to
let the matter drop. I wish to enter a charge against him of false
arrest and malicious prosecution. I shall turn the whole thing over
to my attorney this afternoon. The deuce with the races - I'll
The man had by this time raised himself to a high pitch of
apparently righteous wrath. He advanced menacingly toward Kennedy,
who stood with his shoulders thrown back, and his hands deep in
his pockets, and a half amused look on his face.
"As for you, Mr. Detective," added the man, "for eleven cents I'd
lick you to within an inch of your life. 'Portrait parle,' indeed!
It's a fine scientific system that has to deny its own main
principles in order to vindicate itself. Bah! Take that, you
Harriet Wollstone threw her arms about him, but he broke away. His
fist shot out straight. Kennedy was too quick for him, however. I
had seen Craig do it dozens of times with the best boxers in the
"gym." He simply jerked his head to one side, and the blow passed
just a fraction of an inch from his jaw, but passed it as cleanly
as if it had been a yard away.
The man lost his balance, and as he fell forward and caught himself,
Kennedy calmly and deliberately slapped him on the nose.
It was an intensely serious instant, yet I actually laughed. The
man's nose was quite out of joint, even from such a slight blow. It
was twisted over on his face in the most ludicrous position imaginable.
"The next time you try that, Forbes," remarked Kennedy, as he pulled
the piece of paraffin from his pocket and laid it on the table with
the other exhibits, "don't forget that a concave nose built out to
hook-nose convexity by injections of paraffin, such as the
beauty-doctors everywhere advertise, is a poor thing for a White
Both Burke and O'Connor had seized Forbes, but Kennedy had turned
his attention to the larger of Forbes's grips, which the Wollstone
woman vociferously claimed as her own. Quickly he wrenched it
As he turned it up on the table my eyes fairly bulged at the sight.
Forbes' suit-case might have been that of a travelling salesman
for the Kimberley, the Klondike, and the Bureau of Engraving, all
in one. Craig dumped the wealth out on the table - stacks of
genuine bills, gold coins of two realms, diamonds, pearls,
everything portable and tangible all heaped up and topped off with
piles of counterfeits awaiting the magic touch of this Midas to
turn them into real gold.
"Forbes, you have failed in your get-away," said Craig triumphantly.
"Gentlemen, you have here a master counterfeiter, surely - a master
counterfeiter of features and fingers as well as of currency."
"Interesting story, this fight between the Five-Borough and the
Inter-River Transit," I remarked to Kennedy as I sketched out the
draft of an expose of high finance for the Sunday Star.
"Then that will interest you, also," said he, throwing a letter down
on my desk. He had just come in and was looking over his mail.
The letterhead bore the name of the Five-Borough Company. It was
from Jack Orton, one of our intimates at college, who was in charge
of the construction of a new tunnel under the river. It was brief,
as Jack's letters always were. "I have a case here at the tunnel
that I am sure will appeal to you, my own case, too," it read. "You
can go as far as you like with it, but get to the bottom of the
thing, no matter whom it hits. There is some deviltry afoot, and
apparently no one is safe. Don't say a word to anybody about it,
but drop over to see me as soon as you possibly can."
"Yes," I agreed, "that does interest me. When are you going over?"
"Now," replied Kennedy, who had not taken off his hat. "Can you
As we sped across the city in a taxicab, Craig remarked: "I wonder
what is the trouble? Did you see in the society news this morning
the announcement of Jack's engagement to Vivian Taylor, the daughter
of the president of the Five-Borough?"
I had seen it, but could not connect it with the trouble, whatever
it was, at the tunnel, though I did try to connect the tunnel
mystery with my expose.
We pulled up at the construction works, and a strapping Irishman met
us. "Is this Professor Kennedy?" he asked of Craig.
"It is. Where is Mr. Orton's office?"
"I'm afraid, sir, it will be a long time before Mr. Orton is in his
office again, sir. The doctor have just took him out of the medical
lock, an' he said if you was to come before they took him to the
'orspital I was to bring you right up to the lock."
"Good heavens, man, what has happened?" exclaimed Kennedy. "Take
us up to him quick."
Without waiting to answer, the Irishman led the way up and across
a rough board platform until at last we came to what looked like a
huge steel cylinder, lying horizontally, in which was a floor with
a cot and some strange paraphernalia. On the cot lay Jack Orton,
drawn and contorted, so changed that even his own mother would
scarcely have recognised him. A doctor was bending over him,
massaging the joints of his legs and his side.
"Thank you, Doctor, I feel a little better," he groaned. "No, I
don't want to go back into the lock again, not unless the pain gets
His eyes were closed, but hearing us he opened them and nodded.
"Yes, Craig," he murmured with difficulty, "this is Jack Orton.
What do you think of me? I'm a pretty sight. How are you? And
how are you, Walter? Not too vigorous with the hand-shakes, fellows.
Sorry you couldn't get over before this happened."
"What's the matter?" we asked, glancing blankly from Orton to the
Orton forced a half smile. "Just a touch of the 'bends' from
working in compressed air," he explained.
We looked at him, but could say nothing. I, at least, was thinking
of his engagement.
"Yes," he added bitterly, "I know what you are thinking about,
fellows. Look at me! Do you think such a wreck as I am now has
any right to be engaged to the dearest girl in the world?"
"Mr. Orton," interposed the doctor, "I think you'll feel better if
you'll keep quiet. You can see your friends in the hospital
to-night, but for a few hours I think you had better rest.
Gentlemen, if you will be so good as to postpone your conversation
with Mr. Orton until later it would be much better."
"Then I'll see you to-night," said Orton to us feebly. Turning to
a tall, spare, wiry chap, of just the build for tunnel work, where
fat is fatal, he added: "This is Mr. Capps, my first assistant. He
will show you the way down to the street again."
"Confound it!" exclaimed Craig, after we had left Capps. "What do
you think of this? Even before we can get to him something has
happened. The plot thickens before we are well into it. I think
I'll not take a cab, or a car either. How are you for a walk until
we can see Orton again?"
I could see that Craig was very much affected by the sudden accident
that had happened to our friend, so I fell into his mood, and we
walked block after block scarcely exchanging a word. His only
remark, I recall, was, "Walter, I can't think it was an accident,
coming so close after that letter." As for me, I scarcely knew what
At last our walk brought us around to the private hospital where
Orton was. As we were about to enter, a very handsome girl was
leaving. Evidently she had been visiting some one of whom she
thought a great deal. Her long fur coat was flying carelessly,
unfastened in the cold night air; her features were pale, and her
eyes had the fixed look of one who saw nothing but grief.
"It's terrible, Miss Taylor," I heard the man with her say
soothingly, "and you must know that I sympathise with you a great
Looking up quickly, I caught sight of Capps and bowed. He returned
our bows and handed her gently into an automobile that was waiting.
"He might at least have introduced us," muttered Kennedy, as we
went on into the hospital.
Orton was lying in bed, white and worn, propped up by pillows which
the nurse kept arranging and rearranging to ease his pain. The
Irishman whom we had seen at the tunnel was standing deferentially
near the foot of the bed.
"Quite a number of visitors, nurse, for a new patient," said Orton,
as he welcomed us. "First Capps and Paddy from the tunnel, then
Vivian" - he was fingering some beautiful roses in a vase on a table
near him - "and now, you fellows. I sent her home with Capps. She
oughtn't to be out alone at this hour, and Capps is a good fellow.
She's known him a long time. No, Paddy, put down your hat. I want
you to stay. Paddy, by the way, fellows, is my right-hand man in
managing the 'sandhogs' as we call the tunnel-workers. He has been
a sand-hog on every tunnel job about the city since the first
successful tunnel was completed. His real name is Flanagan, but we
all know him best as Paddy."
Paddy nodded. "If I ever get over this and back to the tunnel,"
Orton went on, "Paddy will stick to me, and we will show Taylor,
my prospective father-in-law and the president of the railroad
company from which I took this contract, that I am not to blame
for all the troubles we are having on the tunnel. Heaven knows
that - "
"Oh, Mr. Orton, you ain't so bad," put in Paddy without the faintest
touch of undue familiarity. "Look what I was when ye come to see
me when I had the bends, sir."
"You old rascal," returned Orton, brightening up. "Craig, do you
know how I found him? Crawling over the floor to the sink to pour
the doctor's medicine down."
"Think I'd take that medicine," explained Paddy, hastily. "Not much.
Don't I know that the only cure for the bends is bein' put back in
the 'air' in the medical lock, same as they did with you, and bein'
brought out slowly? That's the cure, that, an' grit, an' patience,
an' time. Mark me wurds, gintlemen, he'll finish that tunnel an'
beggin' yer pardon, Mr. Orton, marry that gurl, too. Didn't I see
her with tears in her eyes right in this room when he wasn't lookin',
and a smile when he was? Sure, ye'll be all right," continued Paddy,
slapping his side and thigh. "We all get the bends more or less
- all us sand-hogs. I was that doubled up meself that I felt like
a big jack-knife. Had it in the arm, the side, and the leg all at
once, that time he was just speakin' of. He'll be all right in a
couple more weeks, sure, an' down in the air again, too, with the
rest of his men. It's somethin' else he has on his moind."
"Then the case has nothing to do with your trouble, nothing to do
with the bends?" asked Kennedy, keenly showing his anxiety to help
our old friend.
"Well, it may and it may not," replied Orton thoughtfully. "I begin
to think it has. We have had a great many cases of the bends among
the men, and lots of the poor fellows have died, too. You know, of
course, how the newspapers are roasting us. We are being called
inhuman; they are going to investigate us; perhaps indict me. Oh,
it's an awful mess; and now some one is trying to make Taylor believe
it is my fault.
"Of course," he continued, "we are working under a high air-pressure
just now, some days as high as forty pounds. You see, we have
struck the very worst part of the job, a stretch of quicksand in the
river-bed, and if we can get through this we'll strike pebbles and
rock pretty soon, and then we'll be all right again."
He paused. Paddy quietly put in: "Beggin' yer pardon again, Mr.
Orton, but we had entirely too many cases of the bends even when we
were wurkin' at low pressure, in the rock, before we sthruck this
sand. There's somethin' wrong, sir, or ye wouldn't be here yerself
like this. The bends don't sthrike the ingineers, them as don't do
the hard work, sir, and is careful, as ye know - not often."
"It's this way, Craig," resumed Orton. "When I took this contract
for the Five-Borough Transit Company, they agreed to pay me liberally
for it, with a big bonus if I finished ahead of time, and a big
penalty if I exceeded the time. You may or may not know it, but
there is some doubt about the validity of their franchise after a
certain date, provided the tunnel is not ready for operation. Well,
to make a long story short, you know there are rival companies that
would like to see the work fail and the franchise revert to the
city, or at least get tied up in the courts. I took it with the
understanding that it was every man for himself and the devil take
"Have you yourself seen any evidences of rival influences hindering
the work?" asked Kennedy.
Orton carefully weighed his reply. "To begin with," he answered at
length, "while I was pushing the construction end, the Five-Borough
was working with the state legislature to get a bill extending the
time-limit of the franchise another year. Of course, if it had gone
through it would have been fine for us. But some unseen influence
blocked the company at every turn. It was subtle; it never came
into the open. They played on public opinion as only demagogues of
high finance can, very plausibly of course, but from the most
selfish and ulterior motives. The bill was defeated."
I nodded. I knew all about that part of it, for it was in the
article which I had been writing for the Star.
"But I had not counted on the extra year, anyhow," continued Orton,
"so I wasn't disappointed. My plans were laid for the shorter time
from the start. I built an island in the river so that we could
work from each shore to it, as well as from the island to each shore,
really from four points at once. And then, when everything was going
ahead fine, and we were actually doubling the speed in this way,
these confounded accidents" - he was leaning excitedly forward - "
and lawsuits and delays and deaths began to happen."
Orton sank back as a paroxysm of the bends seized him, following
"I should like very much to go down into the tunnel," said Kennedy
"No sooner said than done," replied Orton, almost cheerfully, at
seeing Kennedy so interested. "We can arrange that easily. Paddy
will be glad to do the honours of the place in my absence."
"Indade I will do that same, sor," responded the faithful Paddy,
"an' it's a shmall return for all ye've done for me."
"Very well, then," agreed Kennedy. "To-morrow morning we shall be
on hand. Jack, depend on us. We will do our level best to get you
out of this scrape."
"I knew you would, Craig," he replied. "I've read of some of your
and Walter's exploits. You're a pair of bricks, you are. Good-bye,
fellows," and his hands mechanically sought the vase of flowers
which reminded him of their giver.
At home we sat for a long time in silence. "By George, Craig," I
exclaimed at length, my mind reverting through the whirl of events
to the glimpse of pain I had caught on the delicate face of the girl
having the hospital, "Vivian Taylor is a beauty, though, isn't she?"
"And Capps thinks so, too," he returned, sinking again into his
shell of silence. Then he suddenly rose and put on his hat and
coat. I could see the old restless fever for work which came into
his eyes whenever he had a case which interested him more than usual.
I knew there would be no rest for Kennedy until he had finished it.
Moreover, I knew it was useless for me to remonstrate with him, so
I kept silent.
Don't wait up for me," he said. "I don't know when I'll be back.
I'm going to the laboratory and the university library. Be ready
early in the morning to help me delve into this tunnel mystery."
I awoke to find Kennedy dozing in a chair, partly dressed, but just
as fresh as I was after my sleep. I think he had been dreaming out
his course of action. At any rate, breakfast was a mere incident
in his scheme, and we were over at the tunnel works when the night
shift were going off.
Kennedy carried with him a moderate-sized box of the contents of
which he seemed very careful. Paddy was waiting for us, and after
a hasty whispered conversation, Craig stowed the box away behind
the switchboard of the telephone central, after attaching it to
the various wires. Paddy stood guard while this was going on so
that no one would know about it, not even the telephone girl, whom
he sent off on an errand.
Our first inspection was of that part of the works which was above
ground. Paddy, who conducted us, introduced us first to the
engineer in charge of this part of the work, a man named Shelton,
who had knocked about the world a great deal, but had acquired a
taciturnity that was Sphinxlike. If it had not been for Paddy, I
fear we should have seen very little, for Shelton was not only
secretive, but his explanations were such that even the editor
of a technical journal would have had to blue pencil them
considerably. However, we gained a pretty good idea of the tunnel
works above ground - at least Kennedy did. He seemed very much
interested in how the air was conveyed below ground, the tank for
storing compressed air for emergencies, and other features. It
quite won Paddy, although Shelton seemed to resent his interest
even more than he despised my ignorance.
Next Paddy conducted us to the dressing-rooms. There we put on
old clothes and oilskins, and the tunnel doctor examined us and
extracted a written statement that we went down at our own risk and
released the company from all liability - much to the disgust of
"We're ready now, Mr. Capps," called Paddy, opening an office door
on the way out.
"Very well, Flanagan," answered Capps, barely nodding to us. We
heard him telephone some one, but could not catch the message, and
in a minute he joined us. By this time I had formed the opinion,
which I have since found to be correct, that tunnel men are not as
a rule loquacious.
It was a new kind of thrill to me to go under the "air," as the men
called it. With an instinctive last look at the skyline of New
York and the waves playing in the glad sunlight, we entered a rude
construction elevator and dropped from the surface to the bottom of
a deep shaft. It was like going down into a mine. There was the
air-lock, studded with bolts, and looking just like a huge boiler,
The heavy iron door swung shut with a bang as Paddy and Capps,
followed by Kennedy and myself, crept into the air-lock. Paddy
turned on a valve, and compressed air from the tunnel began to rush
in with a hiss as of escaping steam. Pound after pound to the
square inch the pressure slowly rose until I felt sure the drums
of my ears would burst. Then the hissing noise began to dwindle
down to a wheeze, and then it stopped all of a sudden. That meant
that the air-pressure in the lock was the same as that in the
tunnel. Paddy pushed open the door in the other end of the lock
from that by which we had entered.
Along the bottom of the completed tube we followed Paddy and Capps.
On we trudged, fanned by the moist breath of the tunnel. Every
few feet an incandescent light gleamed in the misty darkness.
After perhaps a hundred paces we had to duck down under a
semicircular partition covering the upper half of the tube.
"What is that?" I shouted at Paddy, the nasal ring of my own voice
"Emergency curtain," he shouted back.
Words were economised. Later, I learned that should the tunnel
start to flood, the other half of the emergency curtain could be
dropped so as to cut off the inrushing water.
Men passed, pushing little cars full of "muck" or sand taken out
from before the "shield" - which is the head by which this mechanical
mole advances under the river-bed. These men and others who do the
shovelling are the "muckers."
Pipes laid along the side of the tunnel conducted compressed air
and fresh water, while electric light and telephone wires were
strung all about. These and the tools and other things strewn
along the tunnel obstructed the narrow passage to such an extent
that we had to be careful in picking our way.
At last we reached the shield, and on hands and knees we crawled
out into one of its compartments. Here we experienced for the
first time the weird realisation that only the "air" stood between
us and destruction from the tons and tons of sand and water overhead.
At some points in the sand we could feel the air escaping, which
appeared at the surface of the river overhead in bubbles, indicating
to those passing in the river boats just how far each tunnel heading
below had proceeded. When the loss of air became too great, I
learned, scows would dump hundreds of tons of clay overhead to make
an artificial river bed for the shield to stick its nose safely
through, for if the river bed became too thin overhead the "air"
would blow a hole in it.
Capps, it seemed to me, was unusually anxious to have the visit
over. At any rate, while Kennedy and Paddy were still crawling
about the shield, he stood aside, now and then giving the men an
order and apparently forgetful of us.
My own curiosity was quickly satisfied, and I sat down on a pile of
the segments out of which the successive rings of the tunnel were
made. As I sat there waiting for Kennedy, I absently reached into
my pocket and pulled out a cigarette and lighted it. It burned
amazingly fast, as if it were made of tinder, the reason being the
excess of oxygen in the compressed air. I was looking at it in
astonishment, when suddenly I felt a blow on my hand. It was Capps.
"You chump!" he shouted as he ground the cigarette under his boot.
"Don't you know it is dangerous to smoke in compressed air?"
"Why, no," I replied, smothering my anger at his manner. "No one
said anything about it."
"Well, it is dangerous, and Orton's a fool to let greenhorns come
"And to whom may it be dangerous?" I heard a voice inquire over
my shoulder. It was Kennedy. "To Mr. Jameson or the rest of us?"
"Well," answered Capps, "I supposed everybody knew it was reckless,
and that he would hurt himself more by one smoke in the air than by
a hundred up above. That's all."
He turned on Kennedy sullenly, and started to walk back up the
tunnel. But I could not help thinking that his manner was anything
but solicitude for my own health. I could just barely catch his
words over the tunnel telephone some feet away. I thought he said
that everything was going along all right and that he was about to
start back again. Then he disappeared in the mist of the tube
without even nodding a farewell.
Kennedy and I remained standing, not far from the outlet of the pipe
by which the compressed air was being supplied in the tunnel from
the compressors above, in order to keep the pressure up to the
constant level necessary. I saw Kennedy give a hurried glance about,
as if to note whether any one were looking at us. No one was. With
a quick motion he reached down. In his hand was a stout little
glass flask with a tight-fitting metal top. For a second he held
it near the outlet of the pipe; then he snapped the top shut and
slipped it back into his pocket as quickly as he had produced it.
Slowly we commenced to retrace our steps to the air-lock, our
curiosity satisfied by this glimpse of one of the most remarkable
developments of modern engineering.
"Where's Paddy?" asked Kennedy, stopping suddenly. "We've forgotten
"Back there at the shield, I suppose," said I. "Let's whistle and
attract his attention.
I pursed up my lips, but if I had been whistling for a million
dollars I couldn't have done it.
Craig laughed. "Walter, you are indeed learning many strange things.
You can't whistle in compressed air.
I was too chagrined to answer. First it was Capps; now it was my
own friend Kennedy chaffing me for my ignorance. I was glad to see
Paddy's huge form looming in the semi-darkness. He had seen that
we were gone and hurried after us.
"Won't ye stay down an' see some more, gintlemen?" he asked. "Or
have ye had enough of the air? It seems very smelly to me this
mornin' - I don't blame ye. I guess them as doesn't have to stay
here is satisfied with a few minutes of it."
"No, thanks, I guess we needn't stay down any longer," replied
Craig. "I think I have seen all that is necessary - at least for
the present. Capps has gone out ahead of us. I think you can
take us out now, Paddy. I would much rather have you do it than
to go with anybody else."
Coming out, I found, was really more dangerous than going in, for
it is while coming out of the that men are liable to get the bends.
Roughly, half a minute should be consumed in coming out from each
pound of pressure, though for such high pressures as we had been
under, considerably more time was required in order to do it safely.
We spent about half an hour in the air-lock, I should judge.
Paddy let the air out of the lock by turning on a valve leading to
the outside, normal atmosphere. Thus he let the air out rapidly at
first until we had got down to half the pressure of the tunnel. The
second half he did slowly, and it was indeed tedious, but it was
safe. There was at=20first a hissing sound when he opened the valve,
and it grew colder in the lock, since air absorbs heat from
surrounding objects when it expands. We were glad to draw sweaters
on over our heads. It also grew as misty as a London fog as the
water-vapour in the air was condensed.
At last the hiss of escaping air ceased. The door to the modern
dungeon of science grated open. We walked out of the lock to the
elevator shaft and were hoisted up to God's air again. We gazed
out across the river with its waves dancing in the sunlight. There,
out in the middle, was a wreath of bubbles on the water. That
marked the end of the tunnel, over the shield. Down beneath those
bubbles the sand-hogs were rooting. But what was the mystery that
the tunnel held in its dark, dank bosom? Had Kennedy a clue?
"I think we had better wait around a bit," remarked Kennedy, as we
sipped our hot coffee in the dressing-room and warmed ourselves
from the chill of coming out of the lock. "In case anything should
happen to us and we should get the bends this is the place for us,
near the medical lock, as it is called - that big steel cylinder over
there, where we found Orton. The best cure for the bends is to go
back under the air-recompression they call it. The renewed pressure
causes the gas in the blood to contract again, and thus it is
eliminated - sometimes. At any rate, it is the best-known cure and
considerably reduces the pain in the worst cases. When you have a
bad case like Orton's it means that the damage is done; the gas has
ruptured some veins. Paddy was right. Only time will cure that."
Nothing happened to us, however, and in a couple of hours we dropped
in on Orton at the hospital where he was slowly convalescing.
"What do you think of the case?" he asked anxiously.
"Nothing as yet," replied Craig, "but I have set certain things in
motion which will give us a pretty good line on what is taking place
in a day or so."
Orton's face fell, but he said nothing. He bit his lip nervously
and looked out of the sun-parlour at the roofs of New York around
"What has happened since last night to increase your anxiety,
Jack?" asked Craig sympathetically. Orton wheeled his chair about
slowly, faced us, and drew a letter from his pocket. Laying it
flat on the table he covered the lower part with the envelope.
"Read that," he said.
"Dear Jack," it began. I saw at once that it was from Miss Taylor.
"Just a line," she wrote, "to let you know that I am thinking about
you always and hoping that you are better than when I saw you this
evening. Papa had the chairman of the board of directors of the
Five-Borough here late to-night, and they were in the library for
over an hour. For your sake, Jack, I played the eavesdropper, but
they talked so low that I could hear nothing, though I know they
were talking about you and the tunnel. When they came out, I had
no time to escape, so I slipped behind a portiere. I heard father
say: 'Yes, I guess you are right, Morris. The thing has gone on
long enough. If there is one more big accident we shall have to
compromise with the Inter-River and carry on the work jointly. We
have given Orton his chance, and if they demand that this other
fellow shall be put in, I suppose we shall have to concede it.'
Mr. Morris seemed pleased that father agreed with him and said so.
Oh, Jack, can't you do something to show them they are wrong, and
do it quickly? I never miss an opportunity of telling papa it is
not your fault that all these delays take place."
The rest of the letter was covered by the envelope, and Orton would
not have shown it for worlds.
"Orton," said Kennedy, after a few moments' reflection, "I will
take a chance for your sake - a long chance, but I think a good one.
If you can pull yourself together by this afternoon, be over at
your office at four. Be sure to have Shelton and Capps there, and
you can tell Mr. Taylor that you have something very important to
set before him. Now, I must hurry if I am to fulfil my part of the
contract. Good-bye, Jack. Keep a stiff upper lip, old man. I'll
have something that will surprise you this afternoon."
Outside, as he hurried uptown, Craig was silent, but I could see
his features working nervously, and as we parted he merely said:
"Of course, you'll be there, Walter. I'll put the finishing touches
on your story of high finance."
Slowly enough the few hours passed before I found myself again in
Orton's office. He was there already, despite the orders of his
physician, who was disgusted at this excursion from the hospital.
Kennedy was there, too, grim and silent. We sat watching the two
indicators beside Orton's desk, which showed the air pressure in
the two tubes. The needles were vibrating ever so little and
tracing a red-ink line on the ruled paper that unwound from the
drum. From the moment the tunnels were started, here was preserved
a faithful record of every slightest variation of air pressure.
"Telephone down into the tube and have Capps come up," said Craig
at length, glancing at Orton's desk clock. "Taylor will be here
pretty soon, and I want Capps to be out of the tunnel by the time
he comes. Then get Shelton, too."
In response to Orton's summons Capps and Shelton came into the
office, just as a large town car pulled up outside the tunnel works.
A tall, distinguished-looking man stepped out and turned again
toward the door of the car.
"There's Taylor," I remarked, for I had seen him often at
investigations before the Public Service Commission.
"And Vivian, too," exclaimed Orton excitedly. "Say, fellows, clear
off these desks. Quick, before she gets up here. In the closet
with these blueprints, Walter. There, that's a little better. If I
had known she was coming I would at least have had the place swept
out. Puff! look at the dust on this desk of mine. Well, there's
no help for it. There they are at the door now. Why, Vivian, what
"Jack!" she exclaimed, almost ignoring the rest of us and quickly
crossing to his chair to lay a restraining hand on his shoulder as
he vainly tried to stand up to welcome her.
"Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" he asked eagerly. "I
would have had the place fixed up a bit."
I prefer it this way," she said, looking curiously around at the
samples of tunnel paraphernalia and the charts and diagrams on the
"Yes, Orton," said President Taylor, "she would come - dropped in
at the office and when I tried to excuse myself for a business
appointment, demanded which way I was going. When I said I was
coming here, she insisted on coming, too."
Orton smiled. He knew that she had taken this simple and direct
means of being there, but he said nothing, and merely introduced
us to the president and Miss Taylor.
An awkward silence followed. Orton cleared his throat. "I think
you all know why we are here," he began. "We have been and are
having altogether too many accidents in the tunnel, too many cases
of the bends, too many deaths, too many delays to the work. Well
- er - I - er - Mr. Kennedy has something to say about them, I
No sound was heard save the vibration of the air-compressors and an
occasional shout of a workman at the shaft leading down to the
"There is no need for me to say anything about caisson disease to
you, gentlemen, or to you, Miss Taylor," began Kennedy. "I think
you all know how it is caused and a good deal about it already.
But, to be perfectly clear, I will say that there are live things
that must, above all others, be looked after in tunnel work: the
air pressure, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, the length
of the shifts which the men work, the state of health of the men
as near as physical examination can determine it, and the rapidity
with which the men come out of the air, so as to prevent
carelessness which may cause the bends.
"I find," he continued, "that the air pressure is not too high for
safety. Proper examinations for carbon dioxide are made, and the
amount in the air is not excessive. The shifts are not even as long
as those prescribed by the law. The medical inspection is quite
adequate and as for the time taken in coming out through the locks
the rules are stringent."
A look of relief crossed the face of Orton at this commendation of
his work, followed by a puzzled expression that plainly indicated
that he would like to know what was the matter, if all the crucial
things were all right.
"But," resumed Kennedy, "the bends are still hitting the men, and
there is no telling when a fire or a blow-out may occur in any of
the eight headings that are now being pushed under the river. Quite
often the work has been delayed and the tunnel partly or wholly
flooded. Now, you know the theory of the bends. It is that air
- mostly the nitrogen in the air - is absorbed by the blood under
the pressure. In coming out of the 'air' if the nitrogen is not
all eliminated, it stays in the blood and, as the pressure is
reduced, it expands. It is just as if you take a bottle of charged
water and pull the cork suddenly. The gas rises in big bubbles.
Cork it again and the gas bubbles cease to rise and finally
disappear. If you make a pin-hole in the cork the gas will escape
slowly, without a bubble. You must decompress the human body slowly,
by stages, to let the super-saturated blood give up its nitrogen to
the lungs, which can eliminate it. Otherwise these bubbles catch
in the veins, and the result is severe pains, paralysis, and even
death. Gentlemen, I see that I am just wasting time telling you
this, for you know it all well. But consider."
Kennedy placed an empty corked flask on the table. The others
regarded it curiously, but I recalled having seen it in the tunnel.
"In this bottle," explained Kennedy, "I collected some of the air
from the tunnel when I was down there this morning. I have since
analysed it. The quantity of carbon dioxide is approximately what
it should be - not high enough of itself to cause trouble. But,"
he spoke slowly to emphasise his words, " I found something else in
that air beside carbon dioxide."
"Nitrogen?" broke in Orton quickly, leaning forward.
"Of course; it is a constituent of air. But that is not what I mean."
"Then, for Heaven's sake, what did you find?" asked Orton.
"I found in this air," replied Kennedy, "a very peculiar mixture - an
"An explosive mixture?" echoed Orton.
"Yes, Jack, the blow-outs that you have had at the end of the tunnel
were not blow-outs at all, properly speaking. They were explosions."
We sat aghast at this revelation.
"And, furthermore," added Kennedy, "I should, if I were you, call
back all the men from the tunnel until the cause for the presence
of this explosive mixture is discovered and remedied."
Orton reached mechanically for the telephone to give the order, but
Taylor laid his hand on his arm. "One moment, Orton," he said.
"Let's hear Professor Kennedy out. He may be mistaken, and there
is no use frightening the men, until we are certain.
"Shelton," asked Kennedy, "what sort of flash oil is used to
lubricate the machinery?"
"It is three-hundred-and-sixty-degree Fahrenheit flash test," he
"And are the pipes leading air down into the tunnel perfectly
"Yes, straight - no joints, no pockets where oil, moisture, and
gases can collect."
"Straight as lines, Kennedy," he said with a sort of contemptuous
They were facing each other coldly, sizing each other up. Like a
skilful lawyer, Kennedy dropped that point for a moment, to take
up a new line of attack.
"Capps," he demanded, turning suddenly, "why do you always call up
on the telephone and let some one know when you are going down in
the tunnel and when you are coming out?"
"I don't," replied Capps, quickly recovering his composure.
"Walter," said Craig to me quietly, "go out in the outer office.
Behind the telephone switchboard you will find a small box which
you saw me carry in there this morning and connect with the
switchboard. Detach the wires, as you saw me attach them, and
bring it here."
No one moved, as I placed the box on a drafting-table before them.
Craig opened it. Inside he disclosed a large disc of thin steel,
like those used by some mechanical music-boxes, only without any
perforations. He connected the wires from the box to a sort of
megaphone. Then he started the disc revolving.
Out of the little megaphone horn, sticking up like a miniature
talking-machine, came a voice: Number please. Four four three o,
Yorkville. Busy, I'll call you. Try them again, Central. Hello,
hello, Central - "
Kennedy stopped the machine. "It must be further along on the
disc," he remarked. "This, by the way, is an instrument known as
the telegraphone, invented by a Dane named Poulsen. It records
conversations over a telephone on this plain metal disc by means
of localised, minute electric charges."
Having adjusted the needle to another place on the disc he tried
again. "We have here a record of the entire day's conversations
over the telephone, preserved on this disc. I could wipe out the
whole thing by pulling a magnet across it, but, needless to say,
I wouldn't do that - yet. Listen."
This time it was Capps speaking. "Give me Mr. Shelton. Oh, Shelton,
I'm going down in the south tube with those men Orton has sent nosing
around here. I'll let you know when I start up again. Meanwhile
- you know - don't let anything happen while I am there. Good-bye."
Capps sat looking defiantly at Kennedy, as he stopped the
"Now," continued Kennedy suavely, "what could happen? I'll answer
my own question by telling what actually did happen. Oil that was
smoky at a lower point than its flash was being used in the
machinery - not really three-hundred-and-sixty-degree oil. The
water-jacket had been tampered with, too. More than that, there is
a joint in the pipe leading down into the tunnel, where explosive
gases can collect. It is a well-known fact in the use of compressed
air that such a condition is the best possible way to secure an
"It would all seem so natural, even if discovered," explained Kennedy
rapidly. "The smoking oil - smoking just as an automobile often does
- is passed into the compressed-air pipe. Condensed oil, moisture,
and gases collect in the joint, and perhaps they line the whole
distance of the pipe. A spark from the low-grade oil-and they are
ignited. What takes place is the same thing that occurs in the
cylinder of an automobile where the air is compressed with gasoline
vapour. Only here we have compressed air charged with vapour of oil.
The flame proceeds down the pipe - exploding through the pipe, if it
happens to be not strong enough. This pipe, however, is strong.
Therefore, the flame in this case shoots out at the open end of the
pipe, down near the shield, and if the air in the tunnel happens
also to be surcharged with oil-vapour, an explosion takes place in
the tunnel - the river bottom is blown out - then God help the
"That's how your accidents took place, Orton," concluded Kennedy in
triumph, "and that impure air - not impure from carbon dioxide, but
from this oil-vapour mixture - increased the liability of the men
for the bends. Capps knew about it. He was careful while he was
there to see that the air was made as pure as possible under the
circumstances. He was so careful that he wouldn't even let Mr.
Jameson smoke in the tunnel. But as soon as he went to the surface,
the same deadly mixture was pumped down again - I caught some of
it in this flask, and - "
"My God, Paddy's down there now," cried Orton, suddenly seizing his
telephone. "Operator, give me the south tube - quick - what - they
Out in the river above the end of the heading, where a short time
before there had been only a few bubbles on the surface of the water,
I could see what looked like a huge geyser of water spouting up. I
pulled Craig over to me and pointed.
A blow-out," cried Kennedy, as he rushed to the door, only to be met
by a group of blanched-faced workers who had come breathless to the
office to deliver the news.
Craig acted quickly. "Hold these men," he ordered, pointing to
Capps and Shelton, "until we come back. Orton, while we are gone,
go over the entire day's record on the telegraphone. I suspect
you and Miss Taylor will find something there that will interest
He sprang down the ladder to the tunnel air-lock, not waiting for
the elevator. In front of the closed door of the lock, an excited
group of men was gathered. One of them was peering through the
dim, thick, glass porthole in the door.
"There he is, standin' by the door with a club, an' the men's
crowdin' so fast that they're all wedged so's none can get in at
all. He's beatin' 'em back with the stick. Now, he's got the
door clear and has dragged one poor fellow in. It's Jimmy Rourke,
him with the eight childer. Now he's dragged in a Polack. Now he's
fightin' back a big Jamaica nigger who's tryin' to shove ahead of a
"It's Paddy," cried Craig. "If he can bring them all out safely
without the loss of a life he'll save the day yet for Orton. And
he'll do it, too, Walter."
Instantly I reconstructed in my mind the scene in the tunnel - the
explosion of the oil-vapour, the mad race up the tube, perhaps the
failure of the emergency curtain to work, the frantic efforts of the
men, in panic, all to crowd through the narrow little door at once;
the rapidly rising water - and above all the heroic Paddy, cool to
the last, standing at the door and single-handed beating the men
back with a club, so that they could go through one at a time.
Only when the water had reached the level of the door of the lock,
did Paddy bang it shut as he dragged the last man in. Then followed
an interminable wait for the air in the lock to be exhausted. When,
at last, the door at our end of the lock swung open, the men with
a cheer seized Paddy and, in spite of his struggles, hoisted him on
to their shoulders, and carried him off, still struggling, in
triumph up the construction elevator to the open air above.
The scene in Orton's office was dramatic as the men entered with
Paddy. Vivian Taylor was standing defiantly, with burning eyes,
facing Capps, who stared sullenly at the floor before him. Shelton
was plainly abashed.
"Kennedy," cried Orton, vainly trying to rise, "listen. Have you
still that place on the telegraphone record, Vivian?"
Miss Taylor started the telegraphone, while we all crowded around
leaning forward eagerly.
"Hello. Inter-River? Is this the president's office? Oh, hello.
This is Capps talking. How are you? Oh, you've heard about Orton,
have you? Not so bad, eh? Well, I'm arranging with my man Shelton
here for the final act this afternoon. After that you can compromise
with the Five-Borough on your own terms. I think I have argued
Taylor and Morris into the right frame of mind for it, if we have
one more big accident. What's that? How is my love affair? Well,
Orton's in the way yet, but you know why I went into this deal.
When you put me into his place after the compromise, I think I will
pull strong with her. Saw her last night. She feels pretty bad
about Orton, but she'll get over it. Besides, the pater will never
let her marry a man who's down and out. By the way, you've got to
do something handsome for Shelton. All right. I'll see you
to-night and tell you some more. Watch the papers in the meantime
for the grand finale. Good-bye."
An angry growl rose from one or two of the more quick-witted men.
Kennedy reached over and pulled me with him quickly through the
"Hurry, Walter," he whispered hoarsely, "hustle Shelton and Capps
out quick before the rest of the men wake up to what it's all about,
or we shall have a lynching instead of an arrest."
As we shoved and pushed them out, I saw the rough and grimy
sand-hogs in the rear move quickly aside, and off came their muddy,
frayed hats. A dainty figure flitted among them toward Orton. It
was Vivian Taylor.
"Papa," she cried, grasping Jack by both hands and turning to Taylor,
who followed her closely, "Papa, I told you not to be too hasty
THE WHITE SLAVE
Kennedy and I had just tossed a coin to decide whether it should be
a comic opera or a good walk in the mellow spring night air and the
opera had won, but we had scarcely begun to argue the vital point
as to where to go, when the door buzzer sounded - a sure sign that
some box-office had lost four dollars.
It was a much agitated middle-aged couple who entered as Craig threw
open the door. Of our two visitors, the woman attracted my attention
first, for on her pale face the lines of sorrow were almost visibly
deepening. Her nervous manner interested me greatly, though I took
pains to conceal the fact that I noticed it. It was quickly
accounted for, however, by the card which the man presented, bearing
the name "Mr. George Gilbert" and a short scribble from First Deputy
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert desire to consult you with regard to the
mysterious disappearance of their daughter, Georgette. I am sure
I need say nothing further to interest you than that the M.P.
Squad is completely baffled.
"H-m," remarked Kennedy; "not strange for the Missing Persons Squad
to be baffled - at least, at this case."
"Then you know of our daughter's strange - er - departure?" asked Mr.
Gilbert, eagerly scanning Kennedy's face and using a euphemism that
would fall less harshly on his wife's ears than the truth.
"Indeed, yes," nodded Craig with marked sympathy: "that is, I have
read most of what the papers have said. Let me introduce my friend,
Mr. Jameson. You recall we were discussing the Georgette Gilbert
case this morning, Walter?"
I did, and perhaps before I proceed further with the story I should
quote at least the important parts of the article in the morning
Star which had occasioned the discussion. The article had been
headed, "When Personalities Are Lost," and with the Gilbert case as
a text many instances had been cited which had later been solved by
the return of the memory of the sufferer. In part the article had
Mysterious disappearances, such as that of Georgette Gilbert,
have alarmed the public and baffled the police before this,
disappearances that in their suddenness, apparent lack of
purpose, and inexplicability, have had much in common with
the case of Miss Gilbert.
Leaving out of account the class of disappearances such as
embezzlers, blackmailers, and other criminals, there is still
a large number of recorded cases where the subjects have
dropped out of sight without apparent cause or reason and
have left behind them untarnished reputations. Of these a
small percentage are found to have met with violence;
others have been victims of a suicidal mania ; and sooner or
later a clue has come to light, for the dead are often easier
to find than the living, Of the remaining small proportion
there are on record a number of carefully authenticated cases
where the subjects have been the victims of a sudden and
complete loss of memory.
This dislocation of memory is a variety of aphasia known
as amnesia, and when the memory is recurrently lost and
restored it is an "alternating personality." The psychical
researchers and psychologists have reported many cases of
alternating personality. Studious efforts are being made
to understand and to explain the strange type of mental
phenomena exhibited in these cases, but no one has as yet
given a final, clear, and comprehensive explanation of them.
Such cases are by no means always connected with disappearances,
but the variety known as the ambulatory type, where the
patient suddenly loses all knowledge of his own identity
and of his past and takes himself off, leaving no trace or
clue, is the variety which the present case calls to popular
Then followed a list of a dozen or so interesting cases of persons
who had vanished completely and had, some several days and some
even years later, suddenly "awakened" to their first personality,
returned, and taken up the thread of that personality where it had
To Kennedy's inquiry I was about to reply that I recalled the
conversation distinctly, when Mr. Gilbert shot an inquiring glance
from beneath his bushy eyebrows, quickly shifting from my face to
Kennedy's, and asked, "And what was your conclusion - what do you
think of the case? Is it aphasia or amnesia, or whatever the
doctors call it, and do you think she is wandering about somewhere
unable to recover her real personality?"
"I should like to have all the facts at first hand before venturing
an opinion," Craig replied with precisely that shade of hesitancy
that might reassure the anxious father and mother, without raising
a false hope.
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert exchanged glances, the purport of which was
that she desired him to tell the story.
"It was day before yesterday," began Mr. Gilbert, gently touching
his wife's trembling hand that sought his arm as he began rehearsing
the tragedy that had cast its shadow across their lives, "Thursday,
that Georgette - er - since we have heard of Georgette." His voice
faltered a bit, but he proceeded: "As you know, she was last seen
walking on Fifth Avenue. The police have traced her since she left
home that morning. It is known that she went first to the public
library, then that she stopped at a department store on the avenue,
where she made a small purchase which she had charged to our family
account, and finally that she went to a large book-store. Then
- that is the last."
Mrs. Gilbert sighed, and buried her face in a lace handkerchief as
her shoulders shook convulsively.
"Yes, I have read that," repeated Kennedy gently, though with
manifest eagerness to get down to facts that might prove more
illuminating. "I think I need hardly impress upon you the advantage
of complete frankness, the fact that anything you may tell me is of
a much more confidential nature than if it were told to the police.
Er-r, had Miss Gilbert any - love affair, any trouble of such a
nature that it might have preyed on her mind?"
Kennedy's tactful manner seemed to reassure both the father and the
mother, who exchanged another glance.
"Although we have said no to the reporters," Mrs. Gilbert replied
bravely in answer to the nod of approval from her husband, and much
as if she herself were making a confession for them both, "I fear
that Georgette had had a love affair. No doubt you have heard hints
of Dudley Lawton's name in connection with the case? I can't imagine
how they could have leaked out, for I should have said that that old
affair had long since been forgotten even by the society gossips.
The fact is that shortly after Georgette 'came out,' Dudley Lawton,
who is quite on the road to becoming one of the rather notorious
members of the younger set, began to pay her marked attentions. He
is a fascinating, romantic sort of fellow, one that, I imagine,
possesses much attraction for a girl who has been brought up as
simply as Georgette was, and who has absorbed a surreptitious diet
of modern literature such as we now know Georgette did. I suppose
you have seen portraits of Georgette in the newspapers and know
what a dreamy and artistic nature her face indicates?"
Kennedy nodded. It is, of course, one of the cardinal tenets of
journalism that all women are beautiful, but even the coarse
screen of the ordinary newspaper half-tone had not been able to
conceal the rather exceptional beauty of Miss Georgette Gilbert.
If it had, all the shortcomings of the newspaper photographic art
would have been quickly glossed over by the almost ardent
descriptions by those ladies of the press who come along about the
second day after an event of this kind with signed articles
analysing the character and motives, the life and gowns of the
latest actors in the front-page stories.
"Naturally both my husband and myself opposed his attentions from
the first. It was a hard struggle, for Georgette, of course,
assumed the much-injured air of some of the heroines of her
favourite novels. But I, at least, believed that we had won and
that Georgette finally was brought to respect and, I hoped,
understand our wishes in the matter. I believe so yet. Mr. Gilbert
in a roundabout way came to an understanding with old Mr. Dudley
Lawton, who possesses a great influence over his son, and - well,
Dudley Lawton seemed to have passed out of Georgette's life. I
believed so then, at least, and I see no reason for not believing
so yet. I feel that you ought to know this, but really I don't
think it is right to say that Georgette had a love affair. I should
rather say that she had had a love affair, but that it had been
forgotten, perhaps a year ago."
Mrs. Gilbert paused again, and it was evident that though she was
concealing nothing she was measuring her words carefully in order
not to give a false impression.
"What does Dudley Lawton say about the newspapers bringing his name
into the case?" asked Kennedy, addressing Mr. Gilbert.
"Nothing," replied he. "He denies that he has even spoken to her
for nearly a year. Apparently he has no interest in the case. And
yet I cannot quite believe that Lawton is as uninterested as he
seems. I know that he has often spoken about her to members of the
Cosmos Club where he lives, and that he reads practically everything
that the newspapers print about the case."
"But you have no reason to think that there has ever been any secret
communication between them? Miss Georgette left no letters or
anything that would indicate that her former infatuation survived?"
"None whatever," repeated Mr. Gilbert emphatically. "We have gone
over her personal effects very carefully, and I can't say they
furnish a clue. In fact, there were very few letters. She rarely
kept a letter. Whether it was merely from habit or for some purpose,
I can't say."
"Besides her liking for Dudley Lawton and her rather romantic nature,
there are no other things in her life that would cause a desire for
freedom?" asked Kennedy, much as a doctor might test the nerves of
a patient. "She had no hobbies?"
"Beyond the reading of some books which her mother and I did not
altogether approve of, I should say no - no hobbies."
"So far, I suppose, it is true that neither you nor the police have
received even a hint as to where she went after leaving the
"Not a hint. She dropped out as completely as if the earth had
"Mrs. Gilbert," said Kennedy, as our visitors rose to go, "you may
rest assured that if it is humanly possible to find your daughter I
shall leave no stone unturned until I have probed to the bottom of
this mystery. I have seldom had a case that hung on more slender
threads, yet if I can weave other threads to support it I feel that
we shall soon find that the mystery is not so baffling as the
Missing Persons Squad has found it so far."
Scarcely had the Gilberts left when Kennedy put on his hat,
remarking: "We'll at least get our walk, if not the show. Let's
stroll around to the Cosmos Club. Perhaps we may catch Lawton in."
Luckily we chanced to find him there in the reading-room. Lawton
was, as Mrs. Gilbert had said, a type that is common enough in New
York and is very fascinating to many girls. In fact, he was one
of those fellows whose sins are readily forgiven because they are
always interesting. Not a few men secretly admire though publicly
execrate the Lawton type.
I say we chanced to find him in. That was about all we found. Our
interview was most unsatisfactory. For my part, I could not
determine whether he was merely anxious to avoid any notoriety in
connection with the case or whether he was concealing something that
might compromise himself.
"Really, gentlemen," he drawled, puffing languidly on a cigarette
and turning slowly toward the window to watch the passing throng
under the lights of the avenue, "really I don't see how I can be
of any assistance. You see, except for a mere passing acquaintance
Miss Gilbert and I had drifted entirely apart - entirely apart
- owing to circumstances over which I, at least, had no control."
"I thought perhaps you might have heard from her or about her,
through some mutual friend," remarked Kennedy, carefully concealing
under his nonchalance what I knew was working in his mind - a belief
that, after all, the old attachment had not been so dead as the
Gilberts had fancied.
"No, not a breath, either before this sad occurrence or, of course,
after. Believe me, if I could add one fact that would simplify the
search for Georgette - ah, Miss Gilbert - ah - I would do so in a
moment," replied Lawton quickly, as if desirous of getting rid of
us as soon as possible. Then perhaps as if regretting the
brusqueness with which he had tried to end the interview, he added,
"Don't misunderstand me. The moment you have discovered anything
that points to her whereabouts, let me know immediately. You can
count on me - provided you don't get me into the papers. Good-night,
gentlemen. I wish you the best of success."
"Do you think he could have kept up the acquaintance secretly?" I
asked Craig as we walked up the avenue after this baffling interview.
"Could he have cast her off when he found that in spite of her
parents' protests she was still in his power?"
"It's impossible to say what a man of Dudley Lawton's type could do,"
mused Kennedy, "for the simple reason that he himself doesn't know
until he has to do it. Until we have more facts, anything is both
possible and probable."
There was nothing more that could be done that night, though after
our walk we sat up for an hour or two discussing probabilities. It
did not take me long to reach the end of my imagination and give up
the case, but Kennedy continued to revolve the matter in his mind,
looking at it from every angle and calling upon all the vast store
of information that he had treasured up in that marvellous brain of
his, ready to be called on almost as if his mind were card-indexed.
Murders, suicides, robberies, and burglaries are, after all, pretty
easily explained," he remarked, after a long period of silence on
my part, "but the sudden disappearance of people out of the crowded
city into nowhere is something that is much harder to explain. And
it isn't so difficult to disappear as some people imagine, either.
You remember the case of the celebrated Arctic explorer whose picture
had been published scores of times in every illustrated paper. He
had no trouble in disappearing and then reappearing later, when he
"Yet experience has taught me that there is always a reason for
disappearances. It is our next duty to discover that reason.
Still, it won't do to say that disappearances are not mysterious.
Disappearances except for money troubles are all mysterious. The
first thing in such a case is to discover whether the person has
any hobbies or habits or fads. That is what I tried to find out
from the Gilberts. I can't tell yet whether I succeeded."
Kennedy took a pencil and hastily jotted down something on a piece
of paper which he tossed over to me. It read:
1.Love, family trouble.
2.A romantic disposition.
3.Temporary insanity, self-destruction.
"Those are the reasons why people disappear, eliminating criminals
and those who have financial difficulties. Dream on that and see
if you can work out the answer in your subliminal consciousness.
Needless to say, I was no further advanced in the morning than at
midnight, but Kennedy seemed to have evolved at least a tentative
programme. It started with a visit to the public library, where he
carefully went over the ground already gone over by the police.
Finding nothing, he concluded that Miss Gilbert had not found what
she wanted at the library and had continued the quest, even as he
was continuing the quest of herself.
His next step was to visit the department-store. The purchase had
been an inconsequential affair of half a dozen handkerchiefs, to be
sent home. This certainly did not look like a premeditated
disappearance; but Craig was proceeding on the assumption that this
purchase indicated nothing except that there had been a sale of
handkerchiefs which had caught her eye. Having stopped at the
library first and a book-shop afterward, he assumed that she had
also visited the book-department of the store. But here again
nobody seemed to recall her or that she had asked for anything in
Our last hope was the book-shop. We paused for a moment to look at
the display in the window, but only for a moment, for Craig quickly
pulled me along inside. In the window was a display of books
bearing the sign:
BOOKS ON NEW THOUGHT, OCCULTISM,
Instead of attempting to go over the ground already traversed by the
police, who had interrogated the numerous clerks without discovering
which one, if any, had waited on Miss Gilbert, Kennedy asked at once
to see the record of sales of the morning on which she had
disappeared. Running his eye quickly down the record, he picked out
a work on clairvoyance and asked to see the young woman who had made
the sale. The clerk was, however, unable to recall to whom she had
sold the book, though she finally admitted that she thought it might
have been a young woman who had some difficulty in making up her
mind just which one of the numerous volumes she wanted. She could
not say whether the picture Kennedy showed her of Miss Gilbert was
that of her customer, nor was she sure that the customer was not
escorted by some one. Altogether it was nearly as hazy as our
interview with Lawton.
"Still," remarked Kennedy cheerfully, "it may furnish a clue, after
all. The clerk at least was not positive that it was not Miss
Gilbert to whom she sold the book. Since we are down in this
neighbourhood, let us drop in and see Mr. Gilbert again. Perhaps
something may have happened since last night."
Mr. Gilbert was in the dry-goods business in a loft building in the
new dry-goods section on Fourth Avenue. One could almost feel that
a tragedy had invaded even his place of business. As we entered,
we could see groups of clerks, evidently discussing the case. It
was no wonder, I felt, for the head of the firm was almost frantic,
and beside the loss of his only daughter the loss of his business
would count as nothing, at least until the keen edge of his grief
was worn off.
"Mr. Gilbert is out," replied his secretary, in answer to our
inquiry. "Haven't you heard? They have just discovered the body
of his daughter in a lonely spot in the Croton Aqueduct. The
report came in from the police just a few minutes ago. It is
thought that she was murdered in the city and carried there in an
The news came with a stinging shock. I felt that, after all, we
were too late. In another hour the extras would be out, and the
news would be spread broadcast. The affair would be in the hands
of the amateur detectives, and there was no telling how many
promising clues might be lost.
"Dead!" exclaimed Kennedy, as he jammed his hat on his head and
bolted for the door. "Hurry, Walter. We must get there before
the coroner makes his examination."
I don't know how we managed to do it, but by dint of subway,
elevated, and taxicab we arrived on the scene of the tragedy not
very long after the coroner. Mr. Gilbert was there, silent, and
looking as if he had aged many years since the night before; his
hand shook and he could merely nod recognition to us.
Already the body had been carried to a rough shanty in the
neighbourhood, and the coroner was questioning those who had made
the discovery, a party of Italian labourers on the water improvement
near by. They were a vicious looking crew, but they could tell
nothing beyond the fact that one of them had discovered the body
in a thicket where it could not possibly have lain longer than
overnight. There was no reason, as yet, to suspect any of them,
and indeed, as a much travelled automobile road ran within a few
feet of the thicket, there was every reason to believe that the
murder, if murder it was, had been committed elsewhere and that
the perpetrator had taken this means of getting rid of his
Drawn and contorted were the features of the poor girl, as if she
had died in great physical agony or after a terrific struggle.
Indeed, marks of violence on her delicate throat and neck showed
only too plainly that she had been choked.
As Kennedy bent over the form of the once lovely Georgette, he
noted the clenched hands. Then he looked at them more closely.
I was standing a little behind him, for though Craig and I had been
through many thrilling adventures, the death of a human being,
especially of a girl like Miss Gilbert, filled me with horror and
revulsion. I could see, however, that he had noted something
unusual. He pulled out a little pocket magnifying glass and made
an even more minute examination of the hands. At last he rose and
faced us, almost as if in triumph. I could not see what he had
discovered - at least it did not seem to be anything tangible, like
Quickly he opened the pocketbook which she had carried. It seemed
to be empty, and he was about to shut it when something white,
sticking in one corner, caught his eye. Craig pulled out a clipping
from a newspaper, and we crowded about him to look at it. It was a
large clipping from the section of one of the metropolitan journals
which carries a host of such advertisements as "spirit medium,"
"psychic palmist," "yogi mediator," "magnetic influences," "crystal
gazer," "astrologer," "trance medium," and the like. At once I
thought of the sallow, somewhat mystic countenance of Dudley, and
the idea flashed, half-formed, in my mind that somehow this clue,
together with the purchase of the book on clairvoyance, might prove
the final link necessary.
But the first problem in Kennedy's mind was to keep in touch with
what the authorities were doing. That kept us busy for several
hours, during which Craig was in close consultation with the
coroner's physician. The physician was of the opinion that Miss
Gilbert had been drugged as well as strangled, and for many hours,
down in his laboratory, his chemists were engaged in trying to
discover from tests of her blood whether the theory was true. One
after another the ordinary poisons were eliminated, until it began
to look hopeless.
So far Kennedy had been only an interested spectator, but as the
different tests failed, he had become more and more keenly alive.
At last it seemed as if he could wait no longer.
"Might I try one or two reactions with that sample?" he asked of
the physician who handed him the test tube in silence.
For a moment or two Craig thoughtfully regarded it, while with one
hand he fingered the bottles of ether, alcohol, distilled water,
and the many reagents standing before him. He picked up one and
poured a little liquid into the test tube. Then, removing the
precipitate that was formed, he tried to dissolve it in water. Not
succeeding, he tried the ether and then the alcohol. Both were
"What is it?" we asked as he held the tube up critically to the light.
"I can't be sure yet," he answered slowly. "I thought at first that
it was some alkaloid. I'll have to make further tests before I can
be positive just what it is. If I may retain this sample I think
that with other clues that I have discovered I may be able to tell
you something definite soon."
The coroner's physician willingly assented, and Craig quickly
dispatched the tube, carefully sealed, to his laboratory.
"That part of our investigation will keep," he remarked as we left
the coroner's office. "To-night I think we had better resume the
search which was so unexpectedly interrupted this morning. I
suppose you have concluded, Walter, that we can be reasonably sure
that the trail leads back through the fortune-tellers and
soothsayers of New York, - which one, it would be difficult to say.
The obvious thing, therefore, is to consult them all. I think you
will enjoy that part of it, with your newspaperman's liking for the
The fact was that it did appeal to me, though at the moment I was
endeavouring to formulate a theory in which Dudley Lawton and an
accomplice would account for the facts.
It was early in the evening as we started out on our tour of the
clairvoyants of New York. The first whom Kennedy selected from the
advertisements in the clipping described himself as "Hata, the
Veiled Prophet, born with a double veil, educated in occult mysteries
and Hindu philosophy in Egypt and India." Like all of them his
advertisement dwelt much on love and money:
The great questions of life are quickly solved, failure turned to
success, sorrow to joy, the separated are brought together, foes
made friends. Truths are laid bare to his mysterious mind. He
gives you power to attract and control those whom you may desire,
tells you of living or dead, your secret troubles, the cause and
remedy. Advice on all affairs of life, love, courtship, marriage,
business, speculations, investments. Overcomes rivals, enemies,
and all evil influences. Will tell you how to attract, control,
and change the thought, intentions, actions, or character of any
one you desire.
Hata was a modest adept who professed to be able to explain the
whole ten stages of Yoga. He had established himself on a street
near Times Square, just off Broadway, and there we found several
automobiles and taxicabs standing at the curb, a mute testimony to
the wealth of at least some of his clientele.
A solemn-faced coloured man ushered us into a front parlour and
asked if we had come to see the professor. Kennedy answered that
"Will you please write your names and addresses on the outside
sheet of this pad, then tear it off and keep it?" asked the
attendant. "We ask all visitors to do that simply as a guarantee
of good faith. Then if you will write under it what you wish to
find out from the professor I think it will help you concentrate.
But don't write while I am in the room, and don't let me see the
"A pretty cheap trick," exclaimed Craig when the attendant had gone.
"That's how he tells the gullible their names before they tell him.
I've a good notion to tear off two sheets. The second is chemically
prepared, with paraffin, I think. By dusting it over with powdered
charcoal you can bring out what was written on the first sheet over
it. Oh, well, let's let him get something across, anyway. Here
goes, our names and addresses, and underneath I'll write, 'What has
become of Georgette Gilbert?'"
Perhaps five minutes later the negro took the pad, the top sheet
having been torn off and placed in Kennedy's pocket. He also took
a small fee of two dollars. A few minutes later we were ushered
into the awful presence of the "Veiled Prophet," a tall, ferret-eyed
man in a robe that looked suspiciously like a brocaded dressing-gown
much too large for him.
Sure enough, he addressed us solemnly by name and proceeded directly
to tell us why we had come.
"Let us look into the crystal of the past, present, and future and
read what it has to reveal," he added solemnly, darkening the room,
which was already only dimly lighted. Then Hata, the crystal-gazer,
solemnly seated himself in a chair. Before him, in his hands,
reposing on a bag of satin, lay a huge oval piece of glass. He
threw forward his head and riveted his eyes on the milky depths of
the crystal. In a moment he began to talk, first ramblingly, then
"I see a man, a dark man," he began. "He is talking earnestly to a
young girl. She is trying to avoid him. Ah - he seizes her by both
arms. They struggle. He has his hand at her throat. He is choking
I was thinking of the newspaper descriptions of Lawton, which the
fakir had undoubtedly read, but Kennedy was leaning forward over the
crystal-gazer, not watching the crystal at all, nor with his eyes
on the clairvoyant's face.
"Her tongue is protruding from her mouth, her eyes are bulging - "