Part 2 out of 6
the best of results. "Do many civilians come over to be
vaccinated?" asked Craig of Major Carroll, the surgeon in charge.
"Not many, for very few have heard of it," he replied.
"I suppose you keep a record of them."
"Only their names--we can't follow them up outside the army, to
see how it works. Still, when they come to us as you and Mr.
Jameson have done we are perfectly willing to vaccinate them. The
Army Medical Corps takes the position that if it is good for the
army it is good for civil life, and as long as only a few
civilians apply we are perfectly willing to do it for a fee
covering the cost."
"And would you let me see the list?"
"Certainly. You may look it over in a moment."
Kennedy glanced hurriedly through the short list of names, pulled
out his notebook, made an entry, and handed the list back. "Thank
Bisbee Hall was a splendid place set in the heart of a great park
whose area was measured by square miles rather than by acres. But
Craig did not propose to stay there, for he arranged for
accommodations in a near-by town, where we were to take our meals
also. It was late when we arrived, and we spent a restless night,
for the inoculation "took." It wasn't any worse than a light
attack of the grippe, and in the morning we were both all right
again, after the passing of what is called the "negative phase."
I, for one, felt much safer.
The town was very much excited over the epidemic at the hall, and
if I had been wondering why Craig wanted me along my wonder was
soon set at rest. He had me scouring the town and country looking
up every case or rumour of typhoid for miles around. I made the
local weekly paper my headquarters, and the editor was very
obliging. He let me read all his news letters from his local
correspondent at every crossroads. I waded through accounts of
new calves and colts, new fences and barns, who "Sundayed" with
his brother, etc., and soon had a list of all the cases in that
part of the country. It was not a long one, but it was scattered.
After I had traced them out, following Kennedy's instructions,
they showed nothing, except that they were unrelated to the
epidemic at the hall.
Meanwhile, Kennedy was very busy there. He had a microscope and
slides and test-tubes and chemicals for testing things, and I
don't know what all, for there was not time to initiate me into
all the mysteries. He tested the water from the various driven
wells and in the water-tank, and the milk from the cows;--he
tried to find out what food had come in from outside, though
there was practically none, for the hall was self-supporting.
There was no stone he left unturned.
When I rejoined him that night he was clearly perplexed. I don't
think my report decreased his perplexity, either.
"There is only one thing left as far as I have been able to
discover after one day's work," he said, after we had gone over
our activities for the day. "Jim Bisbee never drank the water
from his own wells. He always drank a bottled water shipped down
from a camp of his in New York State, where he had a remarkable
mountain spring. I tested a number of the full bottles at the
hall, but they were perfectly pure. There wasn't a trace of the
bacillus typhosus in any of them. Then it occurred to me that,
after all, that was not the thing to do. I should test the empty
ones. But there weren't any empty ones. They told me they had all
been taken down to the freight station yesterday to be shipped
back to the camp. I hope they haven't gone yet. Let's drive
around and see if they are there."
The freight-master was just leaving, but when he learned we were
from the hall he consented to let us examine the bottles. They
were corked and in wooden cases, which protected them perfectly.
By the light of the station lamps and the aid of a pocket-lens,
Kennedy examined them on the outside and satisfied himself that
after being replaced in the wooden cases the bottles themselves
had not been handled.
"Will you let me borrow some of these bottles to-night" he asked
the agent. "I'll give you my word that they will be returned
safely to-morrow. If necessary, I'll get an order for them."
The station-agent reluctantly yielded; especially as a small
green banknote figured in the transaction. Craig and I tenderly
lifted the big bottles in their cases into our trap and drove
back to our rooms in the hotel. It quite excited the hangers-on
to see us drive up with a lot of empty five-gallon bottles and
carry them up-stairs, but I had long ago given up having any fear
of public opinion in carrying out anything Craig wanted.
In our room we worked far into the night. Craig carefully swabbed
out the bottom and sides of each bottle by inserting a little
piece of cotton on the end of a long wire. Then he squeezed the
water out of the cotton swab on small glass slides coated with
agar-agar, or Japanese seaweed, a medium in which germ-cultures
multiply rapidly. He put the slides away in a little oven with an
alcohol-lamp which he had brought along, leaving them to remain
overnight at blood heat.
I had noticed all this time that he was very particular not to
touch any of the bottles on the outside. As for me, I wouldn't
have touched them for the world. In fact, I was getting so I
hesitated to touch anything. I was almost afraid to breathe,
though I knew there was no harm in that. However, it was not
danger of infection in touching the bottles that made Craig so
careful. He had noted, in the dim light of the station lamps,
what seemed to be finger-marks on the bottles, and they had
interested him, in fact, had decided him on a further
investigation of the bottles.
"I am now going to bring out these very faint finger-prints on
the bottles," remarked Craig, proceeding with his examination in
the better light of our room. "Here is some powder known to
chemists as 'grey powder'--mercury and chalk. I sprinkle it over
the faint markings, so, and then I brush it off with a
camel's-hair brush lightly. That brings out the imprint much more
clearly, as you can see. For instance, if you place your dry
thumb on a piece of white paper you leave no visible impression.
If grey powder is sprinkled over the spot and then brushed off a
distinct impression is seen. If the impression of the fingers is
left on something soft, like wax, it is often best to use
printers' ink to bring out the ridges and patterns of the
finger-marks. And so on for various materials. Quite a science
has been built up around finger-prints.
"I wish I had that enlarging camera which I have in my
laboratory. However, my ordinary camera will do, for all I want
is to preserve a record of these marks, and I can enlarge the
photographs later. In the morning I will photograph these marks
and you can do the developing of the films. To-night we'll
improvise the bathroom as a dark-room and get everything ready so
that we can start in bright and early."
We were, indeed, up early. One never has difficulty in getting up
early in the country: it is so noisy, at least to a city-bred
man. City noise at five A.M. is sepulchral silence compared with
bucolic activity at that hour.
There were a dozen negatives which I set about developing after
Craig had used up all our films. Meanwhile, he busied himself
adjusting his microscope and test-tubes and getting the agar
slides ready for examination.
Shirt-sleeves rolled up, I was deeply immersed in my work when I
heard a shout in the next room, and the bath-room door flew open.
"Confound you, Kennedy, do you want to ruin these films!" I
He shut the door with a bang. "Hurrah, Walter!" he exclaimed. "I
think I have it, at last. I have just found some most promising
colonies of the bacilli on one of my slides."
I almost dropped the pan of acid I was holding, in my excitement.
"Well," I said, concealing my own surprise, "I've found out
something, too. Every one of these finger-prints so far is from
the same pair of hands."
We scarcely ate any breakfast, and were soon on our way up to the
hall. Craig had provided himself at the local stationer's with an
inking-pad, such as is used for rubber stamps. At the hall he
proceeded to get the impressions of the fingers and thumbs of all
It was quite a long and difficult piece of work to compare the
finger-prints we had taken with those photographed, in spite of
the fact that writers descant on the ease with which criminals
are traced by this system devised by the famous Galton. However,
we at last finished the job between us; or rather Craig finished
it, with an occasional remark from me. His dexterity amazed me;
it was more than mere book knowledge.
For a moment we sat regarding each other hopelessly. None of the
finger-prints taken at the hall tallied with the photographed
prints. Then Craig rang for the housekeeper, a faithful old soul
whom even the typhoid scare could not budge from her post.
"Are you sure I have seen all the servants who were at the hall
while Mr. Bisbee was here" asked Craig.
"Why, no, sir--you didn't ask that. You asked to see all who are
here now. There is only one who has left, the cook, Bridget
Fallon. She left a couple of days ago--said she was going back to
New York to get another job. Glad enough I was to get rid of her,
too, for she was drunk most of the time after the typhoid
"Well, Walter, I guess we shall have to go back to New York
again, then," exclaimed Kennedy. "Oh, I beg pardon, Mrs. Rawson,
for interrupting. Thank you ever so much. Where did Bridget come
"She came well recommended, sir. Here is the letter in my
writing-desk. She had been employed by the Caswell-Joneses at
Shelter Island before she came here."
"I may keep this letter" asked Craig, scanning it quickly.
"By the way, where were the bottles of spring water kept"
"In the kitchen."
"Did Bridget take charge of them"
"Did Mr. Bisbee have any guests during the last week that he was
"Only Mr. Denny one night."
"H'm!" exclaimed Craig. "Well, it will not be so hard for us to
unravel this matter, after all, when we get back to the city. We
must make that noon train, Walter. There is nothing more for us
to do here."
Emerging from the "Tube" at Ninth Street, Craig hustled me into a
taxicab, and in almost no time we were at police headquarters.
Fortunately, Inspector Barney O'Connor was in and in an amiable
mood, too, for Kennedy had been careful that the Central Office
received a large share of credit for the Kerr Parker case. Craig
sketched hastily the details of this new case. O'Connor's face
was a study. His honest blue Irish eyes fairly bulged in wonder,
and when Craig concluded with a request for help I think O'Connor
would have given him anything in the office, just to figure in
"First, I want one of your men to go to the surrogate's office
and get the original of the will. I shall return it within a
couple of hours--all I want to do is to make a photographic copy.
Then another man must find this lawyer, James Denny, and in some
way get his fingerprints--you must arrange that yourself. And
send another fellow up to the employment offices on Fourth Avenue
and have him locate this cook, Bridget Fallon. I want her
finger-prints, too. Perhaps she had better be detained, for I
don't want her to get away. Oh, and say, O'Connor, do you want to
finish this case up like the crack of a whip tonight?"
"I'm game, sir. What of it?"
"Let me see. It is now four o'clock. If you can get hold of all
these people in time I think I shall be ready for the final scene
to-night--say, at nine. You know how to arrange it. Have them all
present at my laboratory at nine, and I promise we shall have a
story that will get into the morning papers with leaded type on
the front page."
"Now, Walter," he added, as we hurried down to the taxicab again,
"I want you to drop off at the Department of Health with this
card to the commissioner. I believe you know Dr. Leslie. Well,
ask him if he knows anything about this Bridget Fallon. I will go
on up-town to the laboratory and get my apparatus ready. You
needn't come up till nine, old fellow, for I shall be busy till
then, but be sure when you come that you bring the record of this
Fallon woman if you have to beg, borrow, or steal it."
I didn't understand it, but I took the card and obeyed
implicitly. It is needless to say that I was keyed up to the
greatest pitch of excitement during my interview with the health
commissioner, when I finally got in to see him. I hadn't talked
to him long before a great light struck me, and I began to see
what Craig was driving at. The commissioner saw it first.
"If you don't mind, Mr. Jameson." he said, after I had told him
as much of my story as I could, "will you call up Professor
Kennedy and tell him I'd like very much to be present to-night
"Certainly I will," I replied, glad to get my errand done in
first-class fashion in that way.
Things must have been running smoothly, for while I was sitting
in our apartment after dinner, impatiently waiting for half-past
eight, when the commissioner had promised to call for me and go
up to the laboratory, the telephone rang. It was Craig.
"Walter, might I ask a favour of you?" he said. "When the
commissioner comes ask him to stop at the Louis Quinze and bring
Miss Bisbee up, too. Tell her it is important. No more now.
Things are going ahead fine."
Promptly at nine we were assembled, a curious crowd. The health
commissioner and the inspector, being members of the same
political party, greeted each other by their first names. Miss
Bisbee was nervous, Bridget was abusive, Denny was sullen. As for
Kennedy, he was, as usual, as cool as a lump of ice. And I--well,
I just sat on my feelings to keep myself quiet.
At one end of the room Craig had placed a large white sheet such
as he used in his stereopticon lectures, while at the top of the
tier of seats that made a sort of little amphitheatre out of his
lecture-room his stereopticon sputtered.
"Moving pictures to-night, eh?" said Inspector O'Connor.
"Not exactly," said Craig, "though--yes, they will be moving in
another sense. Now, if we are all ready, I'll switch off the
The calcium sputtered some more, and a square of light was thrown
on the sheet.
Kennedy snapped a little announcer such as lecturers use. "Let me
invite your attention to these enlargements of finger-prints," he
began, as a huge thumb appeared on the screen. "Here we have a
series of finger-prints which I will show one after another
slowly. They are all of the fingers of the same person, and they
were found on some empty bottles of spring water used at Bisbee
Hall during the two weeks previous to the departure of Mr. Bisbee
for New York.
"Here are, in succession, the finger-prints of the various
servants employed about the house--and of a guest," added Craig,
with a slight change of tone. "They differ markedly from the
fingerprints on the glass," he continued, as one after another
appeared, "all except this last one. That is identical. It is,
Inspector, what we call a composite type of finger-print--in this
case a combination of what is called the 'loop' and 'whorl'
No sound broke the stillness save the sputtering of the oxygen on
the calcium of the stereopticon.
"The owner of the fingers from which these prints were made is in
this room. It was from typhoid germs on these fingers that the
fever was introduced into the drinking water at Bisbee Hall."
Kennedy paused to emphasise the statement, then continued. "I am
now going to ask Dr. Leslie to give us a little talk on a recent
discovery in the field of typhoid fever--you understand,
Commissioner, what I mean, I believe?"
"Perfectly. Shall I mention names?"
"No, not yet."
"Well," began Dr. Leslie, clearing his throat, "within the past
year or two we have made a most weird and startling discovery in
typhoid fever. We have found what we now call 'typhoid
carriers'--persons who do not have the disease themselves,
perhaps never have had it, but who are literally living
test-tubes of the typhoid bacillus. It is positively uncanny.
Everywhere they go they scatter the disease. Down at the
department we have the records of a number of such instances, and
our men in the research laboratories have come to the conclusion
that, far from being of rare occurrence, these cases are
comparatively common. I have in mind one particular case of a
servant girl, who, during the past five or six years, has been
employed in several families.
"In every family typhoid fever has later broken out. Experts have
traced out at least thirty, cases and several deaths due to this
one person. In another case we found an epidemic up in Harlem to
be due to a typhoid carrier on a remote farm in Connecticut. This
carrier, innocently enough, it is true, contaminated the
milk-supply coming from that farm. The result was over fifty
cases of typhoid here in this city.
"However, to return to the case of the servant I have mentioned.
Last spring we had her under surveillance, but as there was no
law by which we could restrain her permanently she is still at
large. I think one of the Sunday papers at the time had an
account of her --they called her 'Typhoid Bridget,' and in red
ink she was drawn across the page in gruesome fashion, frying the
skulls of her victims in a frying-pan over a roaring fire. That
particular typhoid carrier, I understand--"
"Excuse me, Commissioner, if I interrupt, but I think we have
carried this part of the programme far enough to be absolutely
convincing," said Craig. "Thank you very much for the clear way
in which you have put it."
Craig snapped the announcer, and a letter appeared on the screen.
He said nothing, but let us read it through.
To whom it may concern:
This is to certify that Bridget Fallon has been employed in my
family at Shelter Island for the past season and that I have
found her a reliable servant and an excellent cook.
A. ST. JOHN CASWELL-JONES.
"Before God, Mr. Kennedy, I'm innocent," screeched Bridget.
"Don't have me arrested. I'm innocent. I'm innocent."
Craig gently, but firmly, forced her back into her chair.
Again the announcer snapped. This time the last page of Mr.
Bisbee's will appeared on the sheet, ending with his signature
and the witnesses.
"I'm now going to show these two specimens of handwriting very
greatly enlarged," he said, as the stereopticon plates were
"An author of many scientific works, Dr. Lindsay Johnson, of
London, has recently elaborated a new theory with regard to
individuality in handwriting. He maintains that in certain
diseases a person's pulse beats are individual, and that no one
suffering from any such disease can control, even for a brief
space of time, the frequency or peculiar irregularities of his
heart's action, as shown by a chart recording his pulsation. Such
a chart is obtained for medical purposes by means of a
sphygmograph, an instrument fitted to the patient's forearm and
supplied with a needle, which can be so arranged as to record
automatically on a prepared sheet of paper the peculiar force and
frequency of the pulsation. Or the pulsation may be simply
observed in the rise and fall of a liquid in a tube. Dr. Johnson
holds the opinion that a pen in the hand of a writer serves, in a
modified degree, the same end as the needle in the first-named
form of the sphygmograph and that in such a person's handwriting
one can see by projecting the letters, greatly magnified, on a
screen, the scarcely perceptible turns and quivers made in the
lines by the spontaneous action of that person's peculiar
"To prove this, the doctor carried out an experiment at Charing
Cross Hospital. At his request a number of patients suffering
from heart and kidney diseases wrote the Lord's Prayer in their
ordinary handwriting. The different manuscripts were then taken
and examined microscopically. By throwing them, highly magnified,
on a screen, the jerks or involuntary motions due to the
patient's peculiar pulsations were distinctly visible. The
handwriting of persons in normal health, says Dr. Johnson, does
not always show their pulse beats. What one can say, however, is
that when a document, purporting to be written by a certain
person, contains traces of pulse beats and the normal handwriting
of that person does not show them, then clearly that document is
"Now, in these two specimens of handwriting which we have
enlarged it is plain that the writers of both of them suffered
from a certain peculiar disease of the heart. Moreover, I am
prepared to show that the pulse beats exhibited in the case of
certain pen-strokes in one of these documents are exhibited in
similar strokes in the other. Furthermore, I have ascertained
from his family physician, whose affidavit I have here, that Mr.
Bisbee did not suffer from this or any other form of heart
disease. Mr. Caswell-Jones, in addition to wiring me that he
refused to write Bridget Fallon a recommendation after the
typhoid broke out in his country house, also says he does not
suffer from heart disease in any form. From the tremulous
character of the letters and figures in both these documents,
which when magnified is the more easily detected, I therefore
conclude that both are forgeries, and I am ready to go farther
and say that they are forgeries from the same hand.
"It usually takes a couple of weeks after infection for typhoid
to develop, a time sufficient in itself to remove suspicion from
acts which might otherwise be scrutinised very carefully if
happening immediately before the disease developed. I may add,
also, that it is well known that stout people do very poorly when
they contract typhoid, especially if they are old. Mr. Bisbee was
both stout and old. To contract typhoid was for him a virtual
death-warrant. Knowing all these facts, a certain person
purposely sought out a crafty means of introducing typhoid fever
into Mr. Bisbee's family. That person, furthermore, was
inoculated against typhoid three times during the month before
the disease was devilishly and surreptitiously introduced into
Bisbee Hall, in order to protect himself or herself should it
become necessary for that person to visit Bisbee Hall. That
person, I believe, is the one who suffered from an aneurism of
the heart, the writer, or rather the forger, of the two documents
I have shown, by one of which he or she was to profit greatly by
the death of Mr. Bisbee and the founding of an alleged school in
a distant part of the country--a subterfuge, if you recall, used
in at least one famous case for which the convicted perpetrator
is now under a life sentence in Sing Sing.
"I will ask Dr. Leslie to take this stethoscope and examine the
hearts of everyone in the room and tell me whether there is
anyone here suffering from an aneurism."
The calcium light ceased to sputter. One person after another was
examined by the health commissioner. Was it merely my
imagination, or did I really hear a heart beating with wild leaps
as if it would burst the bonds of its prison and make its escape
if possible? Perhaps it was only the engine of the commissioner's
machine out on the campus driveway. I don't know. At any rate, he
went silently from one to the other, betraying not even by his
actions what he discovered with the stethoscope. The suspense was
terrible. I felt Miss Bisbee's hand involuntarily grasp my arm
convulsively. Without disturbing the silence, I reached a glass
of water standing near me on Craig's lecture-table and handed it
The commissioner was bending over the lawyer, trying to adjust
the stethoscope better to his ears. The lawyer's head was resting
heavily on his hand, and he was heaped up in an awkward position
in the cramped lecture-room seat. It seemed an age as Dr. Leslie
tried to adjust the stethoscope. Even Craig felt the excitement.
While the commissioner hesitated, Kennedy reached over and
impatiently switched on the electric light in full force.
As the light flooded the room, blinding us for the instant, the
large form of Dr. Leslie stood between us and the lawyer.
"What does the stethoscope tell you, Doctor?" asked Craig,
leaning forward expectantly. He was as unprepared for the answer
as any of us.
"It tells me that a higher court than those of New York has
passed judgment on this astounding criminal. The aneurism has
I felt a soft weight fall on my shoulder. The Morning Star did
not have the story, after all. I missed the greatest "scoop" of
my life seeing Eveline Bisbee safely to her home after she had
recovered from the shock of Denny's exposure and punishment.
IV. The Deadly Tube
"For Heaven's sake, Gregory, what is the matter?" asked Craig
Kennedy as a tall, nervous man stalked into our apartment one
evening. "Jameson, shake hands with Dr. Gregory. What's the
matter, Doctor? Surely your X-ray work hasn't knocked you out
The doctor shook hands with me mechanically. His hand was icy.
"The blow has fallen," he exclaimed, as he sank limply into a
chair and tossed an evening paper over to Kennedy.
In red ink on the first page, in the little square headed "Latest
News," Kennedy read the caption, "Society Woman Crippled for Life
by X-Ray Treatment."
"A terrible tragedy was revealed in the suit begun today,"
continued the article, "by Mrs. Huntington Close against Dr.
James Gregory, an X-ray specialist with offices at Madison
Avenue, to recover damages for injuries which Mrs. Close alleges
she received while under his care. Several months ago she began a
course of X-ray treatment to remove a birthmark on her neck. In
her complaint Mrs. Close alleges that Dr. Gregory has carelessly
caused X-ray dermatitis, a skin disease of cancerous nature, and
that she has also been rendered a nervous wreck through the
effects of the rays. Simultaneously with filing the suit she left
home and entered a private hospital. Mrs. Close is one of the
most popular hostesses in the smart set, and her loss will be
"What am I to do, Kennedy" asked the doctor imploringly. "You
remember I told you the other day about this case--that there was
something queer about it, that after a few treatments I was
afraid to carry on any more and refused to do so? She really has
dermatitis and nervous prostration, exactly as she alleges in her
complaint. But, before Heaven, Kennedy, I can't see how she could
possibly have been so affected by the few treatments I gave her.
And to-night, just as I was leaving the office, I received a
telephone call from her husband's attorney, Lawrence, very kindly
informing me that the case would be pushed to the limit. I tell
you, it looks black for me."
"What can they do?"
"Do? Do you suppose any jury is going to take enough expert
testimony to outweigh the tragedy of a beautiful woman? Do? Why,
they can ruin me, even if I get a verdict of acquittal. They can
leave me with a reputation for carelessness that no mere court
decision can ever overcome."
"Gregory, you can rely on me," said Kennedy. "Anything I can do
to help you I will gladly do. Jameson and I were on the point of
going out to dinner. Join us, and after that we will go down to
your office and talk things over."
"You are really too kind," murmured the doctor. The air of relief
that was written on his face was pathetically eloquent.
"Now not a word about the case till we have had dinner,"
commanded Craig. "I see very plainly that you have been worrying
about the blow for a long time. Well, it has fallen. The neat
thing to do is to look over the situation and see where we
Dinner over, we rode down-town in the subway, and Gregory ushered
us into an office-building on Madison Avenue, where he had a very
handsome suite of several rooms. We sat own in his waiting-room
to discuss the affair.
"It is indeed a very tragic case," began Kennedy, "almost more
tragic than if the victim had been killed outright. Mrs.
Huntington Close is--or rather I suppose I should say was--one of
the famous beauties of the city. From what the paper says, her
beauty has been hopelessly ruined by this dermatitis, which, I
understand, Doctor, is practically incurable."
Dr. Gregory nodded, and I could not help following his eyes as he
looked at his own rough and scarred hands.
"Also," continued Craig, with his eyes half closed and his
finger-tips together, as if, he were taking a mental inventory of
the facts in the case, "her nerves are so shattered that she will
be years in recovering, if she ever recovers."
"Yes," said the doctor simply. "I myself, for instance, am
subject to the most unexpected attacks of neuritis. But, of
course, I am under the influence of the rays fifty or sixty times
a day, while she had only a few treatments at intervals of many
"Now, on the other hand," resumed Craig, "I know you, Gregory,
very well. Only the other day, before any of this came out, you
told me the whole story with your fears as to the outcome. I know
that that lawyer of Close's has been keeping this thing hanging
over your head for a long time. And I also know that you are one
of the most careful X-ray operators in the city. If this suit
goes against you, one of the most brilliant men of science in
America will be ruined. Now, having said this much, let me ask
you to describe just exactly what treatments you gave Mrs.
The doctor led us into his X-ray room adjoining. A number of
X-ray tubes were neatly put away in a great glass case, and at
one end of the room was an operating-table with an X-ray
apparatus suspended over it. A glance at the room showed that
Kennedy's praise was not exaggerated.
"How many treatments did you give Mrs. Close?" asked Kennedy.
"Not over a dozen, I should say;" replied Gregory. "I have a
record of them and the dates, which I will give you presently.
Certainly they were not numerous enough or frequent enough to
have caused a dermatitis such as she has. Besides, look here. I
have an apparatus which, for safety to the patient, has few
equals in the country. This big lead-glass bowl, which is placed
over my X-ray tube when in use, cuts off the rays at every point
except exactly where they are needed."
He switched on the electric current, and the apparatus began to
sputter. The pungent odour of ozone from the electric discharge
filled the room. Through the lead-glass bowl I could see the
X-ray tube inside suffused with its peculiar, yellowish-green
light, divided into two hemispheres of different shades. That, I
knew, was the cathode ray, not the X-ray, for the X-ray itself,
which streams outside the tube, is invisible to the human eye.
The doctor placed in our hands a couple of fluoroscopes, an
apparatus by which X-rays can be detected. It consists simply of
a closed box with an opening to which the eyes are placed. The
opposite end of the box is a piece of board coated with a salt
such as platino-barium cyanide. When the X-ray strikes this salt
it makes it glow, or fluoresce, and objects held between the
X-ray tube and the fluoroscope cast shadows according to the
density of the parts which the X-rays penetrate.
With the lead-glass bowl removed, the X-ray tube sent forth its
wonderful invisible radiation and made the back of the
fluoroscope glow with light. I could see the bones of my fingers
as I held them up between the X-ray tube and the fluoroscope. But
with the lead-glass bowl in position over the tube, the
fluoroscope was simply a black box into which I looked and saw
nothing. So very little of the radiation escaped from the bowl
that it was negligible--except at one point where there was an
opening in the bottom of the bowl to allow the rays to pass
freely through exactly on the spot on the patient where they were
to be used.
"The dermatitis, they say, has appeared all over her body,
particularly on her head and shoulders," added Dr. Gregory. "Now
I have shown you my apparatus to impress on you how really
impossible it would have been for her to contract it from her
treatments here. I've made thousands of exposures with never an
X-ray burn before --except to myself. As for myself, I'm as
careful as I can be, but you can see I am under the rays very
often, while the patient is only under them once in a while."
To illustrate his care he pointed out to us a cabinet directly
back of the operating-table, lined with thick sheets of lead.
From this cabinet he conducted most of his treatments as far as
possible. A little peep-hole enabled him to see the patient and
the X-ray apparatus, while an arrangement of mirrors and a
fluorescent screen enabled him to see exactly what the X-rays
were disclosing, without his leaving the lead-lined cabinet.
"I can think of no more perfect protection for either patient or
operator," said Kennedy admiringly. "By the way, did Mrs. Close
"No, the first time Mr. Close came with her. After that, she came
with her French maid."
The next day we paid a visit to Mrs. Close herself at the private
hospital. Kennedy had been casting about in his mind for an
excuse to see her, and I had suggested that we go as reporters
from the Star. Fortunately after sending up my card on which I
had written Craig's name we were at length allowed to go up to
We found the patient reclining in an easy chair, swathed in
bandages, a wreck of her former self. I felt the tragedy keenly.
All that social position and beauty had meant to her had been
"You will pardon my presumption," began Craig, "but, Mrs. Close,
I assure you that I am actuated by the best of motives. We
represent the New York Star--"
"Isn't it terrible enough that I should suffer so," she
interrupted, "but must the newspapers hound me, too?"
"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Close," said Craig, "but you must be
aware that the news of your suit of Dr. Gregory has now become
public property. I couldn't stop the Star, much less the other
papers, from talking about it. But I can and will do this, Mrs.
Close. I will see that justice is done to you and all others
concerned. Believe me, I am not here as a yellow journalist to
make newspaper copy out of your misfortune. I am here to get at
the truth sympathetically. Incidentally, I may be able to render
you a service, too."
"You can render me no service except to expedite the suit against
that careless doctor--I hate him."
"Perhaps," said Craig. "But suppose someone else should be proved
to have been really responsible? Would you still want to press
the suit and let the guilty person escape"
She bit her lip. "What is it you want of me?" she asked.
"I merely want permission to visit your rooms at your home and to
talk with your maid. I do not mean to spy on you, far from it;
but consider, Mrs. Close, if I should be able to get at the
bottom of this thing, find out the real cause of your misfortune,
perhaps show that you are the victim of a cruel wrong rather than
of carelessness, would you not be willing to let me go ahead? I
am frank to tell you that I suspect there is more to this affair
than you yourself have any idea of."
"No, you are mistaken, Mr. Kennedy. I know the cause of it. It
was my love of beauty. I couldn't resist the temptation to get
rid of even a slight defect. If I had left well enough alone I
should not be here now. A friend recommended Dr. Gregory to my
husband, who took me there. My husband wishes me to remain at
home, but I tell him I feel more comfortable here in the
hospital. I shall never go to that house again--the memory of the
torture of sleepless nights in my room there when I felt my good
looks going, going"--she shuddered--"is such that I can never
forget it. He says I would be better off there, but no, I cannot
go. Still," she continued wearily, "there can be no harm in your
talking to my maid."
Kennedy noted attentively what she was saying. "I thank you, Mrs.
Close," he replied. "I am sure you will not regret your
permission. Would you be so kind as to give me a note to her?"
She rang, dictated a short note to a nurse, signed it, and
languidly dismissed us.
I don't know that I ever felt as depressed as I did after that
interview with one who had entered a living death to ambition,
for while Craig had done all the talking I had absorbed nothing
but depression. I vowed that if Gregory or anybody else was
responsible I would do my share toward bringing on him
The Closes lived in a splendid big house in the Murray Hill
section. The presentation of the note quickly brought Mrs.
Close's maid down to us. She had not gone to the hospital because
Mrs. Close had considered the services of the trained nurses
Yes, the maid had noticed how her mistress had been failing, had
noticed it long ago, in fact almost at the time when she had
begun the X-ray treatment. She had seemed to improve once when
she went away for a few days, but that was at the start, and
directly after her return she grew worse again, until she was no
"Did Dr. Gregory, the X-ray specialist, ever attend Mrs. Close at
her home, in her room?" asked Craig.
"Yes, once, twice, he call, but he do no good," she said with her
"Did Mrs. Close have other callers?"
"But, m'sieur, everyone in society has many. What does m'sieur
"Frequent callers--a Mr. Lawrence, for instance?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Lawrence frequently."
"When Mr. Close was at home?"
"Yes, on business and on business, too, when he was not at home.
He is the attorney, m'sieur."
"How did Mrs. Close receive him?"
"He is the attorney, m'sieur," Marie repeated persistently.
"And he, did he always call on business?"
"Oh, yes, always on business, but well, madame, she was a very
beautiful woman. Perhaps he like beautiful women--eh bien? That
was before the Doctor Gregory treated madame. After the doctor
treated madame M'sieur Lawrence do not call so often. That's
"Are you thoroughly devoted to Mrs. Close? Would you do a favour
for her?" asked Craig point-blank.
"Sir, I would give my life, almost, for madame. She was always so
good to me."
"I don't ask you to give your life for her, Marie," said Craig,
"but you can do her a great service, a very great service."
"I will do it."
"To-night," said Craig, "I want you to sleep in Mrs. Close's
room. You can do so, for I know that Mr. Close is living at the
St. Francis Club until his wife returns from the sanitarium.
Tomorrow morning come to my laboratory"--Craig handed her his
card--"and I will tell you what to do next. By the way, don't say
anything to anyone in the house about it, and keep a sharp watch
on the actions of any of the servants who may go into Mrs.
"Well," said Craig, "there is nothing more to be done
immediately." We had once more regained the street and were
walking up-town. We walked in silence for several blocks.
"Yes," mused Craig, "there is something you can do, after all,
Walter. I would like you to look up Gregory and Close and
Lawrence. I already know something about them. But you can find
out a good deal with your newspaper connections. I would like to
have every bit of scandal that has ever been connected with them,
or with Mrs. Close, or," he added significantly, "with any other
woman. It isn't necessary to say that not a breath of it must be
I found a good deal of gossip, but very little of it, indeed,
seemed to me at the time to be of importance. Dropping in at the
St. Francis Club, where I had some friends, I casually mentioned
the troubles of the Huntington Closes. I was surprised to learn
that Close spent little of his time at the Club, none at home,
and only dropped into the hospital to make formal inquiries as to
his wife's condition. It then occurred to me to drop into the
office of Society Squibs, whose editor I had long known. The
editor told me, with that nameless look of the cynical
scandalmonger, that if I wanted to learn anything about
Huntington Close I had best watch Mrs. Frances Tulkington, a very
wealthy Western divorcee about whom the smart set were much
excited, particularly those whose wealth made it difficult to
stand the pace of society as it was going at present.
"And before the tragedy," said the editor with another nameless
look, as if he were imparting a most valuable piece of gossip,
"it was the talk of the town, the attention that Close's lawyer
was paying to Mrs. Close. But to her credit let me say that she
never gave us a chance to hint at anything, and--well, you know
us; we don't need much to make snappy society news."
The editor then waged even more confidential, for if I am
anything at all, I am a good listener, and I have found that
often by sitting tight and listening I can get more than if I
were a too-eager questioner.
"It really was a shame,--the way that man Lawrence played his
game," he went on. "I understand that it was he who introduced
Close to Mrs. T. They were both his clients. Lawrence had fought
her case in the courts when she sued old Tulkington for divorce,
and a handsome settlement he got for her, too. They say his fee
ran up into the hundred thousands--contingent, you know. I don't
know what his game was"--here he lowered his voice to a whisper
"but they say Close owes him a good deal of money. You can figure
it out for yourself as you like. Now, I've told you all I know.
Come in again, Jameson, when you want some more scandal, and
remember me to the boys down on the Star."
The following day the maid visited Kennedy at his laboratory
while I was reporting to him on the result of my investigations.
She looked worn and haggard. She had spent a sleepless night and
begged that Kennedy would not ask her to repeat the experiment.
"I can promise you, Marie," he said, "that you will rest better
to-night. But you must spend one more night in Mrs. Close's room.
By the way, can you arrange for me to go through the room this
morning when you go back?"
Marie said she could, and an hour or so later Craig and I quietly
slipped into the Close residence under her guidance. He was
carrying something that looked like a miniature barrel, and I had
another package which he had given me, both carefully wrapped up.
The butler eyed us suspiciously, but Marie spoke a few words to
him and I think showed him Mrs. Close's note. Anyhow he said
Within the room that the unfortunate woman had occupied Kennedy
took the coverings off the packages. It was nothing but a
portable electric vacuum cleaner, which he quickly attached and
set running. Up and down the floor, around and under the bed he
pushed the cleaner. He used the various attachments to clean the
curtains, the walls, and even the furniture. Particularly did he
pay attention to the base board on the wall back of the bed. Then
he carefully removed the dust from the cleaner and sealed it up
in a leaden box.
He was about to detach and pack up the cleaner when another idea
seemed to occur to him. "Might as well make a thorough job of it,
Walter," he said, adjusting the apparatus again. "I've cleaned
everything but the mattress and the brass bars behind the
mattress on the bed. Now I'll tackle them. I think we ought to go
into the suction-cleaning business--more money in it than in
being a detective, I'll bet."
The cleaner was run over and under the mattress and along every
crack and cranny of the brass bed. This done and this dust also
carefully stowed away, we departed, very much to the
mystification of Marie and, I could not help feeling, of other
eyes that peered in through keyholes or cracks in doors.
"At any rate," said Kennedy exultingly, "I think we have stolen a
march on them. I don't believe they were prepared for this, not
at least at this stage in the game. Don't ask me any questions,
Walter. Then you will have no secrets to keep if anyone should
try to pry them loose. Only remember that this man Lawrence is a
The next day Marie came, looking even more careworn than before.
"What's the matter, mademoiselle?" asked Craig. "Didn't you pass
a better night?"
"Oh, mon Dieu, I rest well, yes. But this morning, while I am at
breakfast, Mr. Close send for me. He say that I am discharged.
Some servant tell of your visit and he Verry angr-ry. And now
what is to become of me--will madame his wife give a
"Walter, we have been discovered," exclaimed Craig with
considerable vexation. Then he remembered the poor girl who had
been an involuntary sacrifice to our investigation. Turning to
her he said: "Marie, I know several very good families, and I am
sure you will not suffer for what you have done by being faithful
to your mistress. Only be patient a few days. Go live with some
of your folks. I will see that you are placed again."
The girl was profuse in her thanks as she dried her tears and
"I hadn't anticipated having my hand forced so soon," said Craig
after she had gone, leaving her address. "However, we are on the
right track. What was it that you were going to tell me when
Marie came in?"
"Something that may be very important, Craig," I said, "though I
don't understand it myself. Pressure is being brought to bear on
the Star to keep this thing out of the papers, or at least to
"I'm not surprised," commented Craig. "What do you mean by
pressure being brought?"
"Why, Close's lawyer, Lawrence, called up the editor this morning
--I don't suppose that you know, but he has some connection with
the interests which control the Star--and said that the activity
of one of the reporters from the Star, Jameson by name, was very
distasteful to Mr. Close and that this reporter was employing a
man named Kennedy to assist him.
"I don't understand it, Craig;" I confessed, "but here one day
they give the news to the papers, and two days later they almost
threaten us with suit if we don't stop publishing it."
"It is perplexing," said Craig, with the air of one who was not a
bit perplexed, but rather enlightened.
He pulled down the district telegraph messenger lever three
times, and we sat in silence for a while.
"However," he resumed, "I shall be ready for them tonight."
I said nothing. Several minutes elapsed. Then the messenger
rapped on the door.
"I want these two notes delivered right away," said Craig to the
boy; "here's a quarter for you. Now mind you don't get interested
in a detective story and forget the notes. If you are back here
quickly with the receipts I'll give you another quarter. Now
Then, after the boy had gone, he said casually to me: "Two notes
to Close and Gregory, asking them to be present with their
attorneys to-night. Close will bring Lawrence, and Gregory will
bring a young lawyer named Asche, a very clever fellow. The notes
are so worded that they can hardly refuse the invitation."
Meanwhile I carried out an assignment for the Star, and
telephoned my story in so as to be sure of being with Craig at
the crucial moment. For I was thoroughly curious about his next
move in the game. I found him still in his laboratory attaching
two coils of thin wire to the connections on the outside of a
queer-looking little black box.
"What's that" I asked, eyeing the sinister looking little box
suspiciously. "An infernal machine? You're not going to blow the
culprit into eternity, I hope."
"Never mind what it is, Walter. You'll find that out in due time.
It may or it may not be an infernal machine of a different sort
than any you have probably ever heard of. The less you know now
the less likely you are to give anything away by a look or an
act. Come now, make yourself useful as well as ornamental. Take
these wires and lay them in the cracks of the floor, and be
careful not to let them show. A little dust over them will
conceal them beautifully."
Craig now placed the black box back of one of the chairs well
down toward the floor, where it could hardly have been perceived
unless one were suspecting something of the sort. While he was
doing so I ran the wires across the floor, and around the edge of
the room to the door.
"There," he said, taking the wires from me. "Now I'll complete
the job by carrying them into the next room. And while I'm doing
it, go over the wires again and make sure they are absolutely
That night six men gathered in Kennedy's laboratory. In my utter
ignorance of what was about to happen I was perfectly calm, and
so were all the rest, except Gregory. He was easily the most
nervous of us all, though his lawyer Asche tried repeatedly to
"Mr. Close," began Kennedy, "if you and Mr. Lawrence will sit
over here on this side of the room while Dr. Gregory and Mr.
Asche sit on the opposite side with Mr. Jameson in the middle, I
think both of you opposing parties will be better suited. For I
apprehend that at various stages in what I am about to say both
you, Mr. Close, and you, Dr. Gregory, will want to consult your
attorneys. That, of course, would be embarrassing, if not
impossible, should you be sitting near each other. Now, if we are
ready, I shall begin."
Kennedy placed a small leaden casket on the table of his lecture
hall. "In this casket," he commenced solemnly, "there is a
certain substance which I have recovered from the dust swept up
by a vacuum cleaner in the room of Mrs. Close."
One could feel the very air of the room surcharged with
excitement. Craig drew on a pair of gloves and carefully opened
the casket. With his thumb and forefinger he lifted out a glass
tube and held it gingerly at arm's length. My eyes were riveted
on it, for the bottom of the tube glowed with a dazzling point of
Both Gregory and his attorney and Close and Lawrence whispered to
each other when the tube was displayed, as indeed they did
throughout the whole exhibition of Kennedy's evidence.
"No infernal machine was ever more subtle," said Craig, "than the
tube which I hold in my hand. The imagination of the most
sensational writer of fiction might well be thrilled with the
mysteries of this fatal tube and its power to work fearful deeds.
A larger quantity of this substance in the tube would produce on
me, as I now hold it, incurable burns, just as it did on its
discoverer before his death. A smaller amount, of course, would
not act so quickly. The amount in this tube, if distributed
about, would produce the burns inevitably, providing I remained
near enough for a long-enough time."
Craig paused a moment to emphasise his remarks.
"Here in my hand, gentlemen, I hold the price of a woman's
He stopped again for several moments, then resumed.
"And now, having shown it to you, for my own safety I will place
it back in its leaden casket."
Drawing off his gloves, he proceeded.
"I have found out by a cablegram to-day that seven weeks ago an
order for one hundred milligrams of radium bromide at thirty-five
dollars a milligram from a certain person in America was filled
by a corporation dealing in this substance."
Kennedy said this with measured words, and I felt a thrill run
through me as he developed his case.
"At that same time, Mrs. Close began a series of treatments with
an X-ray specialist in New York," pursued Kennedy. "Now, it is
not generally known outside scientific circles, but the fact is
that in their physiological effects the X-ray and radium are
quite one and the same. Radium possesses this advantage, however,
that no elaborate apparatus is necessary for its use. And, in
addition, the emanation from radium is steady and constant,
whereas the X-ray at best varies slightly with changing
conditions of the current and vacuum in the X-ray tube. Still,
the effects on the body are much the same.
"A few days before this order was placed I recall the following
despatch which appeared in the New York papers. I will read it.
"'Liege, Belgium, Oct. -, 1910. What is believed to be the first
criminal case in which radium figures as a death-dealing agent is
engaging public attention at this university town. A wealthy old
bachelor, Pailin by name, was found dead in his flat. A stroke of
apoplexy was at first believed to have caused his death, but a
close examination revealed a curious discolouration of his skin.
A specialist called in to view the body gave as his opinion that
the old man had been exposed for a long time to the emanations of
X-ray or radium. The police theory is that M. Pailin was done to
death by a systematic application of either X-rays or radium by a
student in the university who roomed next to him. The student has
"Now here, I believe, was the suggestion which this American
criminal followed, for I cut it out of the paper rather expecting
sooner or later that some clever person would act on it. I have
thoroughly examined the room of Mrs. Close. She herself told me
she never wanted to return to it, that her memory of sleepless
nights in it was too vivid. That served to fix the impression
that I had already formed from reading this clipping. Either the
X-ray or radium had caused her dermatitis and nervousness. Which
was it? I wished to be sure that I would make no mistake. Of
course I knew it was useless to look for an X-ray machine in or
near Mrs. Close's room. Such a thing could never have been
concealed. The alternative? Radium! Ah! that was different. I
determined on an experiment. Mrs. Close's maid was prevailed on
to sleep in her mistress's room. Of course radiations of brief
duration would do her no permanent harm, although they would
produce their effect, nevertheless. In one night the maid became
extremely nervous. If she had stayed under them several nights no
doubt the beginning of a dermatitis would have affected her, if
not more serious trouble. A systematic application, covering
weeks and months, might in the end even have led to death.
"The next day I managed, as I have said, to go over the room
thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner--a new one of my own which I had
bought myself. But tests of the dust which I got from the floors,
curtains, and furniture showed nothing at all. As a last thought
I had, however, cleaned the mattress of the bed and the cracks
and crevices in the brass bars. Tests of that dust showed it to
be extremely radioactive. I had the dust dissolved, by a chemist
who understands that sort of thing, recrystallised, and the
radium salts were extracted from the refuse. Thus I found that I
had recovered all but a very few milligrams of the radium that
had been originally purchased in London. Here it is in this
deadly tube in the leaden casket.
"It is needless to add that the night after I had cleaned out
this deadly element the maid slept the sleep of the just--and
would have been all right when next I saw her but for the
interference of the unjust on whom I had stolen a march."
Craig paused while the lawyers whispered again to their clients.
Then he continued: "Now three persons in this room had an
opportunity to secrete the contents of this deadly tube in the
crevices of the metal work of Mrs. Close's bed. One of these
persons must have placed an order through a confidential agent in
London to purchase the radium from the English Radium
Corporation. One of these persons had a compelling motive,
something to gain by using this deadly element. The radium in
this tube in the casket was secreted, as I have said, in the
metal work of Mrs. Close's bed, not in large enough quantities to
be immediately fatal, but mixed with dust so as to produce the
result more slowly but no less surely, and thus avoid suspicion.
At the same time Mrs. Close was persuaded--I will not say by
whom--through her natural pride, to take a course of X-ray
treatment for a slight defect. That would further serve to divert
suspicion. The fact is that a more horrible plot could hardly
have been planned or executed. This person sought to ruin her
beauty to gain a most selfish and despicable end."
Again Craig paused to let his words sink into our minds.
"Now I wish to state that anything you gentlemen may say will be
used against you. That is why I have asked you to bring your
attorneys. You may consult with them, of course, while I am
getting ready my next disclosure."
As Kennedy had developed his points in the case I had been more
and more amazed. But I had not failed to notice how keenly
Lawrence was following him.
With half a sneer on his astute face, Lawrence drawled: "I cannot
see that you have accomplished anything by this rather
extraordinary summoning of us to your laboratory. The evidence is
just as black against Dr. Gregory as before. You may think you're
clever, Kennedy, but on the very statement of facts as you have
brought them out there is plenty of circumstantial evidence
against Gregory--more than there was before. As for anyone else
in the room, I can't see that you have anything on us--unless
perhaps this new evidence you speak of may implicate Asche, or
Jameson," he added, including me in a wave of his hand, as if he
were already addressing a jury. "It's my opinion that twelve of
our peers would be quite as likely to bring in a verdict of
guilty against them as against anyone else even remotely
connected with this case, except Gregory. No, you'll have to do
better than this in your next case, if you expect to maintain
that so-called reputation of yours for being a professor of
As for Close, taking his cue from his attorney, he scornfully
added: "I came to find out some new evidence against the wretch
who wrecked the beauty of my wife. All I've got is a tiresome
lecture on X-rays and radium. I suppose what you say is true.
Well, it only bears out what I thought before. Gregory treated my
wife at home, after he saw the damage his office treatments had
done. I guess he was capable of making a complete job out of
it--covering up his carelessness by getting rid of the woman who
was such a damning piece of evidence against his professional
Never a shade passed Craig's face as he listened to this tirade.
"Excuse me a moment," was all he said, opening the door to leave
the room. "I have just one more fact to disclose. I will be back
Kennedy was gone several minutes, during which Close and Lawrence
fell to whispering behind their, hands, with the assurance of
those who believed that this was only Kennedy's method of
admitting a defeat. Gregory and Asche exchanged a few words
similarly, and it was plain that Asche was endeavouring to put a
better interpretation on something than Gregory himself dared
As Kennedy re-entered, Close was buttoning up his coat
preparatory to leaving, and Lawrence was lighting a fresh cigar.
In his hand Kennedy held a notebook. "My stenographer writes a
very legible shorthand; at least I find it so--from long
practice, I suppose. As I glance over her notes I find many facts
which will interest you later--at the trial. But--ah, here at the
end--let me read:
"'Well, he's very clever, but he has nothing against me, has he?'
"'No, not unless he can produce the agent who bought the radium
"'But he can't do that. No one could ever have recognised you on
your flying trip to London disguised as a diamond merchant who
had just learned that he could make his faulty diamonds good by
applications of radium and who wanted a good stock of the stuff.'
"'Still, we'll have to drop the suit against Gregory after all,
in spite of what I said. That part is hopelessly spoiled.'
"'Yes, I suppose so. Oh, well, I'm free now. She can hardly help
but consent to a divorce now, and a quiet settlement. She brought
it on herself--we tried every other way to do it, but she--she
was too good to fall into it. She forced us to it.'
"'Yes, you'll get a good divorce now. But can't we shut up this
man Kennedy? Even if he can't prove anything against us, the mere
rumour of such a thing coming to the ears of Mrs. Tulkington
would be unpleasant.'
"'Go as far as you like, Lawrence. You know what the marriage
will mean to me. It will settle my debts to you and all the
"'I'll see what I can do, Close. He'll be back in a moment.'"
Close's face was livid. "It's a pack of lies!" he shouted,
advancing toward Kennedy, "a pack of lies! You are a fakir and a
blackmailer. I'll have you in jail for this, by God--and you too,
"One moment, please," said Kennedy calmly. "Mr. Lawrence, will
you be so kind as to reach behind your chair? What do you find?"
Lawrence lifted up the plain black box and with it he pulled up
the wires which I had so carefully concealed in the cracks of the
"That," said Kennedy, "is a little instrument called the
microphone. Its chief merit lies in the fact that it will magnify
a sound sixteen hundred times, and carry it to any given point
where you wish to place the receiver. Originally this device was
invented for the aid of the deaf, but I see no reason why it
should not be used to aid the law. One needn't eavesdrop at the
keyhole with this little instrument about. Inside that box there
is nothing but a series of plugs from which wires, much finer
than a thread, are stretched taut. Yet a fly walking near it will
make a noise as loud as a draft-horse. If the microphone is
placed in any part of the room, especially if near the persons
talking--even if they are talking in a whisper--a whisper such as
occurred several times during the evening and particularly while
I was in the next room getting the notes made by my
stenographer--a whisper, I say, is like shouting your guilt from
"You two men, Close and Lawrence, may consider yourselves under
arrest for conspiracy and whatever other indictments will lie
against such creatures as you. The police will be here in a
moment. No, Close, violence won't do now. The doors are
locked--and see, we are four to two."
V. The Seismograph Adventure
"Dr. James Hanson, Coroner's Physician, Criminal Courts
Building," read Craig Kennedy, as he held a visitor's card in his
hand. Then to the visitor he added, "Take a chair, Doctor."
The physician thanked him and sat down. "Professor Kennedy," he
began, "I have been referred to you by Inspector O'Connor of the
Detective Bureau. It may seem an impertinence for a city official
to call on you for assistance, but--well, you see, I'm completely
floored. I think, too, that the case will interest you. It's the
If Dr. Hanson had suddenly turned on the current of an induction
coil and I had been holding the handles I don't think the thrill
I received could have been any more sudden. The Vandam case was
the sensation of the moment, a triple puzzle, as both Kennedy and
myself had agreed. Was it suicide, murder, or sudden death? Every
theory, so far, had proved unsatisfactory.
"I have read only what the newspapers have published," replied
Craig to the doctor's look of inquiry. "You see, my friend
Jameson here is on the staff of the Star, and we are in the habit
of discussing these cases."
"Very glad to meet you, Mr. Jameson," exclaimed Dr. Hanson at the
implied introduction. "The relations between my office and your
paper have always been very satisfactory, I can assure you."
"Thank you, Doctor. Depend on me to keep them so," I replied,
shaking his proffered hand.
"Now, as to the case," continued the doctor slowly. "Here is a
beautiful woman in the prime of life, the wife of a very wealthy
retired banker considerably older than herself--perhaps nearly
seventy--of very fine family. Of course you have read it all, but
let me sketch it so you will look at it from my point of view.
This woman, apparently in good health, with every luxury money
can buy, is certain within a very few years, from her dower
rights, to be numbered among the richest women in America. Yet
she is discovered in the middle of the night by her maid, seated
at the table in the library of her home, unconscious. She never
regains consciousness, but dies the following morning.
"The coroner is called in, and, as his physician, I must advise
him. The family physician has pronounced it due to natural
causes, the uremic coma of latent kidney trouble. Some of the
newspapers, I think the Star among them, have hinted at suicide.
And then there are others, who have flatly asserted it was
The coroner's physician paused to see if we were following him.
Needless to say Kennedy was ahead of him.
"Have you any facts in your possession which have not been given
to the public yet?" asked Craig.
"I'm coming to that in a moment," replied Dr. Hanson. "Let me
sketch the case first. Henry Vandam had become--well, very
eccentric in his old age, we will say. Among his eccentricities
none seems to have impressed the newspapers more than his
devotion to a medium and her manager, Mrs. May Popper and Mr.
Howard Farrington. Now, of course, the case does not go into the
truth or falsity of spiritualism, you understand. You have your
opinion, and I have mine. What this aspect of the case involves
is merely the character of the medium and her manager. You know,
of course, that Henry Vandam is completely under their control."
He paused again, to emphasise the point.
"You asked me if I was in possession of any facts which have not
been given to the press. Yes, I am. And just there lies the
trouble. They are so very conflicting as to be almost worse than
useless, as far as I can see. We found near the unfortunate woman
a small pill-box with three capsules still in it. It was labelled
'One before retiring' and bore the name of a certain druggist and
the initials 'Dr. C. W. H.' Now, I am convinced that the initials
are merely a blind and do not give any clue. The druggist says
that a maid from the Vandam house brought in the prescription,
which of course he filled. It is a harmless enough
prescription--contains, among other things, four and a half
grains of quinine and one-sixth of a grain of morphine. Six
capsules were prepared altogether.
"Now, of course my first thought was that she might have taken
several capsules at once and that it was a case of accidental
morphine poisoning, or it might even be suicide. But it cannot be
either, to my mind, for only three of the six capsules are gone.
No doubt, also, you are acquainted with the fact that the one
invariable symptom of morphine poisoning is the contraction of
the pupils of the eyes to a pin-point--often so that they are
unrecognisable. Moreover, the pupils are symmetrically
contracted, and this symptom is the one invariably present in
coma from morphine poisoning and distinguishes it from all other
forms of death.
"On the other hand, in the coma of kidney disease one pupil is
dilated and the other contracted--they are unsymmetrical. But in
this case both the pupils are normal, or only a very little
dilated, and they are symmetrical. So far we have been able to
find no other poison than the slight traces of morphine remaining
in the stomach after so many hours. I think you are enough of a
chemist to know that no doctor would dare go on the stand and
swear to death from morphine poisoning in the face of such
evidence against him. The veriest tyro of an expert toxicologist
could too easily confute him."
Kennedy nodded. "Have you the pill-box and the prescription?"
"I have," replied Dr. Hanson, placing them on the table.
Kennedy scrutinised them sharply. "I shall need these," he said.
"Of course you understand I will take very good care of them. Is
there anything else of importance"
"Really, I don't know," said the physician dubiously. "It's
rather out of my province, but perhaps you would think it
important. It's mighty uncanny anyhow. Henry Vandam, as you
doubtless know, was much more deeply interested in the work of
this medium than was his wife. Perhaps Mrs. Vandam was a bit
jealous--I don't know. But she, too, had an interest in
spiritualism, though he was much more deeply influenced by Mrs.
Popper than she.
"Here's the strange part of it. The old man believes so
thoroughly in rappings and materialisations that he constantly
keeps a notebook in his pocket in which he records all the
materialisations he thinks he sees and the rappings he hears,
along with the time and place. Now it so happened that on the
night Mrs. Vandam was taken ill, he had retired--I believe in
another part of the house, where he has a regular seance-room.
According to his story, he was awakened from a profound sleep by
a series of rappings. As was his custom, he noted the time at
which they occurred. Something made him uneasy, and he said to
his 'control'--at least this is his story:
"'John, is it about Mary?'
"Three raps answered 'yes,' the usual code.
"'What is the matter? Is she ill?"
"The three answering raps were so vigorous that he sprang out of
bed and called for his wife's maid. The maid replied that Mrs.
Vandam had not gone to bed yet, but that there was a light in the
library and she would go to her mistress immediately. The next
moment the house was awakened by the screams of the maid calling
for help, that Mrs. Vandam was dying.
"That was three nights ago. On each of the two succeeding nights
Henry Vandam says he has been awakened at precisely the same hour
by a rapping, and on each night his 'control' has given him a
message from his dead wife. As a man of science, I attribute the
whole thing to an overwrought imagination. The original rappings
may have been a mere coincidence with the fact of the condition
of Mrs. Vandam. However, I give this to you for what it is
Craig said nothing, but, as was his habit, shaded his eyes with
the tips of his fingers, resting his elbows on the arms of his
chair: "I suppose," he said, "you can give me the necessary
authority to enter the Vandam house and look at the scene of
"Certainly," assented the physician, "but you will find it a
queer place. There are spirit paintings and spirit photographs in
every room, and Vandam's own part of the house--well, it's
creepy, that's all I can say."
"And also I suppose you have performed an autopsy on the body and
will allow me to drop into your laboratory to-morrow morning and
satisfy myself on this morphine point?"
"Certainly," replied the coroner's physician, "at any time you
"At ten sharp, then, to-morrow I shall be there," said Craig. "It
is now eight-thirty. Do you think I can see Vandam to-night? What
time do these rappings occur?"
"Why, yes, you surely will be able to see him to-night. He hasn't
stirred from the house since his wife died. He told me he
momentarily expected messages from her direct when she had got
strong enough in her new world. I believe they had some kind of a
compact to that effect. The rappings come at twelve-thirty."
"Ah, then I shall have plenty of time to run over to my
laboratory before seeing Mr. Vandam and get some apparatus I have
in mind. No, Doctor, you needn't bother to go with me. Just give
me a card of introduction. I'll see you tomorrow at ten.
Good-night--oh, by the way, don't give out any of the facts you
have told me."
"Jameson," said Craig, when we were walking rapidly over toward
the university, "this promises to be an uncommonly difficult
"As I view it now," I said, "I have suspicions of everybody
concerned in it. Even the view of the Star, that it is a case of
suicide due to overwrought nerves, may explain it."
"It might even be a natural death," Craig added. "And that would
make it a greater mystery than ever--a case for psychical
research. One thing that I am going to do to-night will tell me
At the laboratory he unlocked a glass case and took out a little
instrument which looked like two horizontal pendulums suspended
by fine wires. There was a large magnet near each pendulum, and
the end of each pendulum bore a needle which touched a circular
drum driven by clock-work. Craig fussed with and adjusted the
apparatus, while I said nothing, for I had long ago learned that
in applying a new apparatus to doing old things Craig was as dumb
as an oyster, until his work was crowned with success.
We had no trouble in getting in to see Mr. Vandam in his
seance-room. His face was familiar to me, for I had seen him in
public a number of times, but it looked strangely altered. He was
nervous, and showed his age very perceptibly.
It was as the coroner's physician had said. The house was
littered with reminders of the cult, books, papers, curious daubs
of paintings handsomely framed, and photographs; hazy
overexposures, I should have called them, but Mr. Vandam took
great pride in them, and Kennedy quite won him over by his
admiration for them.
They talked about the rappings, and the old man explained where
and when they occurred. They proceeded from a little cabinet or
closet at one end of the room. It was evident that he was a
thorough believer in them and in the messages they conveyed.
Craig carefully noted everything about the room and then fell to
admiring the spirit photographs, if such they might be called.
"The best of all I do not display, they are too precious," said
the old man. "Would you like to see them?"
Craig assented eagerly, and Vandam left us for a moment to get
them. In an instant Craig had entered the cabinet, and in a dark
corner on the floor he deposited the mechanism he had brought
from the laboratory. Then he resumed his seat, shutting the box
in which he had brought the mechanism, so that it would not
appear that he had left anything about the room.
Artfully he led the conversation along lines that interested the
old man until he seemed to forget the hour. Not so, Craig. He
knew it was nearing half-past twelve. The more they talked the
more uncanny did this house and room of spirits seem to me. In
fact, I was rapidly reaching the point where I could have sworn
that once or twice something incorporeal brushed by me. I know
now that it was purely imagination, but it shows what tricks the
imagination can play on us.
Rap! rap! rap! rap! rap!
Five times came a curiously hollow noise from the cabinet. If it
had been possible I should certainly have fled, it was so sudden
and unexpected. The hall clock downstairs struck the half-hour in
those chimes written by Handel for St. Paul's.
Craig leaned over to me and whispered hoarsely, "Keep perfectly
still--don't move a hand or foot."
The old man seemed utterly to have forgotten us. "Is that you,
John?" he asked expectantly.
Rap! rap! rap! came the reply.
"Is Mary strong enough to speak to me tonight?"
"Is she happy?"
"What makes her unhappy? What does she want? Will you spell it
Rap! rap! rap!
Then, after a pause, the rapping started slowly, and distinctly
to spell out words. It was so weird and uncanny that I scarcely
breathed. Letter after letter the message came, nineteen raps for
"s," eight for "h," five for "e," according to the place in the
alphabet, numerically, of the required letter. At last it was
"She thinks you are not well. She asks you to have that
prescription filled again."
"Tell her I will do it to-morrow morning. Is there anything
Rap! rap! came back faintly:
"John, John, don't go yet," pleaded the old man earnestly. It was
easy to see how thoroughly he believed in "John," as perhaps well
he might after the warning of his wife's death three nights
before. "Won't you answer one other question?"
Fainter, almost imperceptibly, came a rap! rap!
For several minutes the old man sat absorbed in thought,
trance-like. Then, gradually, he seemed to realise that we were
in the room with him. With difficulty he took up the thread of
the conversation where the rappings had broken it.
"We were talking about the photographs," he said slowly. "I hope
soon to get one of my wife as she is now that she is
transfigured. John has promised me one soon."
He was gathering up his treasures preparatory to putting them
back in their places of safekeeping. The moment he was out of the
room Craig darted into the cabinet and replaced his mechanism in
the box. Then he began softly to tap the walls. At last he found
the side that gave a noise similar to that which we had heard,
and he seemed pleased to have found it, for he hastily sketched
on an old envelope a plan of that part of the house, noting on it
the location of the side of the cabinet.
Kennedy almost dragged me back to our apartment, he was in such a
hurry to examine the apparatus at his leisure. He turned on all
the lights, took the thing out of its case, and stripped off the
two sheets of ruled paper wound around the two revolving drums.
He laid them flat on the table and studied them for some minutes
with evidently growing satisfaction.
At last he turned to me and said, "Walter, here is a ghost caught
in the act."
I looked dubiously at the irregular up-and-down scrawl on the
paper, while he rang up the Homicide Bureau of the Central Office
and left word for O'Connor to call him up the first thing in the
Still eyeing with satisfaction the record traced on the sheets of
paper, he lighted a cigarette in a matter-of-fact way and added:
"It proves to be a very much flesh-and-blood ghost, this 'John.'
It walked up to the wall back of that cabinet, rapped, listened
to old Vandam, rapped some more, got the answer it wanted, and
walked deliberately away. The cabinet, as you may have noticed,
is in a corner of the room with one side along the hallway. The
ghost must have been in the hall."
"But who was it?"
"Not so fast, Walter," laughed Craig. "Isn't it enough for one
night that we have found out that much?"
Fortunately I was tired, or I certainly should have dreamed of
rappings and of "John" that night. I was awakened early by
Kennedy talking with someone over the telephone. It was Inspector
Of course I heard only one side of the conversation, but as near
as I could gather Kennedy was asking the inspector to obtain
several samples of ink for him. I had not heard the first part of
the conversation, and was considerably surprised when Kennedy
hung up the receiver and said:
"Vandam had the prescription filled again early this morning, and
it will soon be in the hands of O'Connor. I hope I haven't
spoiled things by acting too soon, but I don't want to run the
risk of a double tragedy."
"Well," I said, "it is incomprehensible to me. First I suspected
suicide. Then I suspected murder. Now I almost suspect a murder
and a suicide. The fact is, I don't know just what I suspect. I'm
like Dr. Hanson--floored. I wonder if Vandam would voluntarily
take all the capsules at once in order to be with his wife?"
"One of them alone would be quite sufficient if the 'ghost'
should take a notion, as I think it will, to walk in the
daytime," replied Craig enigmatically. "I don't want to run any
chances, as I have said. I may be wrong in my theory of the case,
Walter, so let us not discuss this phase of it until I have gone
a step farther and am sure of my ground. O'Connor's man will get
the capsules before Vandam has a chance to take the first one,
anyhow. The 'ghost' had a purpose in that message, for O'Connor
tells me that Vandam's lawyer visited him yesterday and in all
probability a new will is being made, perhaps has already been
We breakfasted in silence and later rode down to the office of
Dr. Hanson, who greeted us enthusiastically.
"I've solved it at last," he cried, "and it's easy."
Kennedy looked gravely over the analysis which Dr. Hanson shoved
into his hand, and seemed very much interested in the probable
quantity of morphine that must have been taken to yield such an
analysis. The physician had a text-book open on his desk.
"Our old ideas of the infallible test of morphine poisoning are
all exploded," he said, excitedly beginning to read a passage he
had marked in the book.
"'I have thought that inequality of the pupils, that is to say,
where they are not symmetrically contracted, is proof that a case
is not one of narcotism, or morphine poisoning. But Professor
Taylor has recorded a case of morphine poisoning in which the
unsymmetrical contraction occurred.'
"There, now, until I happened to run across that in one of the
authorities I had supposed the symmetrical contraction of the
pupils of the eyes to be the distinguishing symptom of morphine
poisoning Professor Kennedy, in my opinion we can, after all,
make out our case as one of morphine poisoning."
"Is that case in the book all you base your opinion on?" asked
Craig with excessive politeness.
"Yes, sir," replied the doctor reluctantly.
"Well," said Kennedy quietly, "if you will investigate that case
quoted from Professor Taylor, you will find that it has been
proved that the patient had one glass eye"
"Then my contention collapses and she was not poisoned?"
"No, I do not say that. All I say is that expert testimony would
refute us as far as we have gone. But if you will let me make a
few tests of my own I can readily clear up that end of the case,
I now feel sure. Let me take these samples to my laboratory."
I was surprised when we ran into Inspector O'Connor waiting for
us in the corridor of the Criminal Courts Building as we left the
office of the coroner's physician. He rushed up to Kennedy and
shoved into his hand a pill-box in which six capsules rattled.
Kennedy narrowly inspected the box, opened it, and looked
thoughtfully at the six white capsules lying so innocently
"One of these capsules would have been worth hundreds of
thousands of dollars to 'John,'" said Craig contemplatively, as
he shut the box and deposited it carefully in his inside vest
pocket. "I don't believe I even said good morning to you,
O'Connor," he continued. "I hope I haven't kept you waiting here
long. Have you obtained the samples of ink?"
"Yes, Professor. Here they are. As soon as you telephoned this
morning I sent my men out separately to get them. There's the ink
from the druggist, this is from the Vandam library, this is from
Farrington's room, and this is from Mrs. Popper's apartment."
"Thank you, Inspector. I don't know what I'd do without your
help," said Kennedy, eagerly taking four small vials from him.
"Science is all right, but organisation enables science to work
quickly. And quickness is the essence of this case."
During the afternoon Kennedy was very busy in his laboratory,
where I found him that night after my hurried dinner, from which
he was absent.
"What, is it after dinner-time?" he exclaimed, holding up a glass
beaker and watching the reaction of something he poured into it
from a test-tube.
"Craig, I believe that when you are absorbed in a case, you would
rather work than eat. Did you have any lunch after I left you?"
"I don't think so," he replied, regarding the beaker and not his
answer. "Now, Walter, old fellow, I don't want you to be offended
with me, but really I can work better if you don't constantly
remind me of such things as eating and sleeping. Say, do you want
to help me--really"
"Certainly. I am as interested in the case as you are, but I
can't make heads or tails of it," I replied.
"Then, I wish you would look up Mrs. Popper to-night and have a
private seance with her. What I want you to do particularly is to
get a good idea of the looks of the room in which she is
accustomed to work. I'm going to duplicate it here in my
laboratory as nearly as possible. Then I want you to arrange with
her for a private 'circle' here to-morrow night. Tell her it is
with a few professors at the university who are interested in
psychical research and that Mr. Vandam will be present. I'd
rather have her come willingly than to force her to come.
Incidentally watch that manager of hers, Farrington. By all means
he must accompany her."
That evening I dropped casually in on Mrs. Popper. She was a
woman of great brilliance and delicacy, both in her physical and
mental perceptions, of exceptional vivacity and cleverness. She
must have studied me more closely than I was aware of, for I
believe she relied on diverting my attention whenever she desired
to produce one of her really wonderful results. Needless to say,
I was completely mystified by her performance. She did spirit
writing that would have done credit to the immortal Slade, told
me a lot of things that were true, and many more that were
unverifiable or hopelessly vague. It was really worth much more
than the price, and I did not need to feign the interest
necessary to get her terms for a circle in the laboratory.
Of course I had to make the terms with Farrington. The first
glance aroused my suspicions of him. He was shifty-eyed, and his
face had a hard and mercenary look. In spite of, perhaps rather
because of, my repugnance we quickly came to an agreement, and as
I left the apartment I mentally resolved to keep my eye on him.
Craig came in late, having been engaged in his chemical analyses
all the evening. From his manner I inferred that they had been
satisfactory, and he seemed much gratified when I told him that I
had arranged successfully for the seance and that Farrington
would accompany the medium.
As we were talking over the case a messenger arrived with a note
from O'Connor. It was written with his usual brevity: "Have just
found from servants that Farrington and Mrs. P. have key to
Vandam house. Wish I had known it before. House shadowed. No one
has entered or left it to-night."
Craig looked at his watch. It was a quarter after one. "The ghost
won't walk to-night, Walter," he said as he entered his bedroom
for a much-needed rest. "I guess I was right after all in getting
the capsules as soon as possible. The ghost must have flitted
unobserved in there this morning directly after the maid brought
them back from the druggist."
Again, the next morning, he had me out of bed bright and early.
As we descended from the Sixth Avenue "L," he led me into a
peculiar little shop in the shadow of the "L" structure. He
entered as though he knew the place well; but, then, that air of
assurance was Kennedy's stock in trade and sat very well on him.
Few people, I suppose, have ever had a glimpse of this workshop
of magic and deception. This little shop of Marina's was the
headquarters of the magicians of the country. Levitation and
ghostly disappearing hands were on every side. The shelves in the
back of the shop were full of nickel, brass, wire, wood, and
papier-mache contrivances, new and strange to the eye of the
uninitiated. Yet it was all as systematic as a hardware shop.
"Is Signor Marina in?" asked Craig of a girl in the first room,
given up to picture post-cards. The room was as deceptive as the
trade, for it was only an anteroom to the storeroom I have
described above. This storeroom was also a factory, and half a
dozen artisans were hard at work in it.
Yes, the signor was in, the girl replied, leading us back into
the workshop. He proved to be a short man with a bland, open face
and frank eyes, the very antithesis of his trade.
"I have arranged for a circle with Mrs. May Popper," began
Kennedy, handing the man his card. "I suppose you know her?"
"Indeed yes," he answered. "I furnished her seance room."
"Well, I want to hire for to-night just the same sort of tables,
cabinets, carpets, everything that she has--only hire, you
understand, but I am willing to pay you well for them. It is the
best way to get a good sitting, I believe. Can you do it?"
The little man thought a moment, then replied: "Si, signor yes--
very nearly, near enough. I would do anything for Mrs. Popper.
She is a good customer. But her manager--"
"My friend here, Mr. Jameson, has had seances with her in her own
apartment," interposed Craig. "Perhaps he can help you to
recollect just what is necessary."
"I know very well, signor. I have the duplicate bill, the bill
which was paid by that Farrington with a check from the banker
Vandam. Leave it to me."
"Then you will get the stuff together this morning and have it up
to my place this afternoon"
"Yes, Professor, yes. It is a bargain. I would do anything for
Mrs. Popper--she is a fine woman."
Late that afternoon I rejoined Craig at his laboratory. Signor
Marina had already arrived with a truck and was disposing the
paraphernalia about the laboratory. He had first laid a thick
black rug. Mrs. Popper very much affected black carpets, and I
had noticed that Vandam's room was carpeted in black, too. I
suppose black conceals everything that one oughtn't to see at a
A cabinet with a black curtain, several chairs, a light deal
table, several banjos, horns, and other instruments were disposed
about the room. With a few suggestions from me we made a fair
duplication of the hangings on the walls. Kennedy was manifestly
anxious to finish, and at last it was done.
After Marina had gone, Kennedy stretched a curtain over the end
of the room farthest from the cabinet. Behind it he placed on a
shelf the apparatus composed of the pendulums and magnets. The
beakers and test-tubes were also on this shelf.
He had also arranged that the cabinet should be so situated that
it was next a hallway that ran past his laboratory.
"To-night, Jameson," he said, indicating a spot on the hall wall
just back of the cabinet, "I shall want you to bring my guests
out here and do a little spirit rapping--I'll tell you just what
to do when the time comes."
That night, when we gathered in the transformed laboratory, there
were Henry Vandam, Dr. Hanson, Inspector O'Connor, Kennedy, and
myself. At last the sound of wheels was heard, and Mrs. Popper
drove up in a hansom, accompanied by Farrington. They both
inspected the room narrowly and seemed satisfied. I had, as I
have said, taken a serious dislike to the man, and watched him
closely. I did not like his air of calm assurance.
The lights were switched off, all except one sixteen-candle-power
lamp in the farthest corner, shaded by a deep-red globe. It was
just light enough to see to read very, large print with
Mrs. Popper began immediately with the table. Kennedy and I sat
on her right and left respectively, in the circle, and held her
hands and feet. I confess to a real thrill when I felt the light
table rise first on two legs, then on one, and finally remain
suspended in the air, whence it dropped with a thud, as if
someone had suddenly withdrawn his support.
The medium sat with her back to the curtain of the cabinet, and
several times I could have sworn that a hand reached out and
passed close to my head. At least it seemed so. The curtain
bulged at times, and a breeze seemed to sweep out from the
After some time of this sort of work Craig led gradually up to a
request for a materialisation of the control of Vandam, but Mrs.
Popper refused. She said she did not feel strong enough, and
Farrington put in a hasty word that he, too, could feel that
"there was something working against them." But Kennedy was
importunate and at last she consented to see if "John" would do
some rapping, even if he could not materialise.
Kennedy asked to be permitted to put the questions.
"Are you the 'John' who appears to Mr. Vandam every night at
Rap! rap! rap! came the faint reply from the cabinet. Or rather
it seemed to me to come from the floor near the cabinet, and
perhaps to be a trifle muffled by the black carpet.
"Are you in communication with Mrs. Vandam?"
Rap! rap! rap!
"Can she be made to rap for us?"
"Will you ask her a question and spell out her answer?"
Rap! rap! rap!
Craig paused a moment to frame the question, then shot it out
point-blank: "Does Mrs. Vandam know now in the other world
whether anyone in this room substituted a morphine capsule for
one of those ordered by her three days before she died? Does she
know whether the same person has done the same thing with those
later ordered by Mr. Vandam?"
"John" seemed considerably perturbed at the mention of capsules.
It was a long time before any answer was forthcoming. Kennedy was
about to repeat the question when a faint sound was heard.
Suddenly came a wild scream. It was such a scream as I had never
heard before in my life. It came as though a dagger had been
thrust into the heart of Mrs. Popper. The lights flashed up as
Kennedy turned the switch.
A man was lying flat on the floor--it was Inspector O'Connor. He
had succeeded in slipping noiselessly, like a snake, below the
curtain into the cabinet. Craig had told him to look out for
wires or threads stretched from Mrs. Popper's clothing to the
bulging curtain of the cabinet. Imagine his surprise when he saw
that she had simply freed her foot from the shoe, which I was
carefully holding down, and with a backward movement of the leg
was reaching out into the cabinet behind her chair and was doing
the rapping with her toes.
Lying on the floor he had grasped her foot and caught her heel
with a firm hand. She had responded with a wild yell that showed
she knew she was trapped. Her secret was out.
Hysterically Mrs. Popper began to upbraid the inspector as he
rose to his feet, but Farrington quickly interposed.
"Something was working against us to-night, gentlemen. Yet you
demanded results. And when the spirits will not come, what is she
to do? She forgets herself in her trance; she produces, herself,