The Poisoned Pen
Arthur B. Reeve

Part 6 out of 6

now caesium. Now it is a hitherto unknown element which I have
named after myself, presium, now a second unknown element, cottium
- ah! - there we have gold."

He drew forth the crucible, and there glowed in it a little bead or
globule of molten gold.

"I could have taken lead or mercury and by varying the process done
the same thing with the gold series as well as the gold group," he
said, regarding the globule with obvious pride. "And I can put this
gold back and bring it out copper or hydrogen, or better yet, can
advance it instead of cause it to decay, and can get a radioactive
element which I have named morganium - after my first name, Morgan
Prescott. Morganium is a radioactive element next in the series to
radium and much more active. Come closer and examine the gold."

Kennedy shook his head as if perfectly satisfied to accept the
result. As for me I knew not what to think. It was all so
plausible and there was the bead of gold, too, that I turned to
Craig for enlightenment. Was he convinced? His face was

But as I looked I could see that Kennedy had been holding concealed
in the palm of his hand a bit of what might be a mineral. From my
position I could see the bit of mineral glowing, but Prescott
could not.

"Might I ask," interrupted Kennedy, "what that curious greenish or
bluish light from the tube is composed of?"

Prescott eyed him keenly for an instant through his thick glasses.
Craig had shifted his gaze from the bit of mineral in his own hand,
but was not looking at the light. He seemed to be indifferently
contemplating Prescott's hand as it rested on the switch.

"That, sir," replied Prescott slowly, "is an emanation due to this
new force, protodyne, which I use. It is a manifestation of energy,
sir, that may run changes not only through the whole gamut of the
elements, but is capable of transforming the ether itself into
matter, matter into life, and life into mind. It is the outward
sign of the unity of nature, the - "

"The means by which you secure the curious telepagrams I have heard
of?" inquired Kennedy eagerly.

Prescott looked at him sharply, and for a moment I thought his face
seemed to change from a livid white to an apoplectic red, although
it may have been only the play of the weird light. When he spoke
it was with no show of even suppressed surprise.

"Yes," he answered calmly. "I see that you have heard something of
them. I had a curious case a few days ago. I had hoped to interest
a certain capitalist of high standing in this city. I had showed
him just what I have showed you, and I think he was impressed by it.
Then I thought to clinch the matter by a telepagram, but for some
reason or other I failed to consult the forces I control as to the
wisdom of doing so. Had I, I should have known better. But I went
ahead in self-confidence and enthusiasm. I told him of a long
banished daughter with whom, in his heart, he was really wishing to
become reconciled but was too proud to say the word. He resented it.
He started to stamp out of this room, but not before I had another
telepagram which told of - a misfortune that was soon to overtake
the old man himself. If he had given me a chance I might have saved
him, at least have flashed a telepagram to that daughter myself, but
he gave me no chance. He was gone.

"I do not know precisely what happened after that, but in some way
this man found his daughter, and to-day she is living with him. As
for my hopes of getting assistance from him, I lost them from the
moment when I made my initial mistake of telling him something
distasteful. The daughter hates me and I hate her. I have learned
that she never ceases advising the old man against all schemes for
investment except those bearing moderate interest and readily
realised on. Dr. Burnham - I see you know him - has been superseded
by another doctor, I believe. Well, well, I am through with that
incident. I must get assistance from other sources. The old man,
I think, would have tricked me out of the fruits of my discovery
anyhow. Perhaps I am fortunate. Who knows?"

A knock at the door cut him short. Prescott opened it, and a
messenger boy stood there. "Is Professor Kennedy here?" he inquired.

Craig motioned to the boy, signed for the message, and tore it open.
"It is from Dr. Burnham," he exclaimed, handing the message to me.

"Mr. Haswell is dead," I read. "Looks to me like asphyxiation by
gas or some other poison. Come immediately to his house. Burnham."

"You will pardon me," broke in Craig to Prescott, who was regarding
us without the slightest trace of emotion, "but Mr. Haswell, the
old man to whom I know you referred, is dead, and Dr. Burnham wishes
to see me immediately. It was only yesterday that I saw Mr. Haswell
and he seemed in pretty good health and spirits. Prescott, though
there was no love lost between you and the old man, I would esteem
it a great favour if you would accompany me to the house. You need
not take any responsibility unless you desire."

His words were courteous enough, but Craig spoke in a tone of quiet
authority which Prescott found it impossible to deny. Kennedy had
already started to telephone to his own laboratory, describing a
certain suitcase to one of his students and giving his directions.
It was only a moment later that we were panting up the sloping
street that led from the river front. In the excitement I scarcely
noticed where we were going until we hurried up the steps to the
Haswell house.

The aged caretaker met us at the door. She was in tears. Upstairs
in the front room where we had first met the old man we found Dr.
Burnham working frantically over him. It took only a minute to
learn what had happened. The faithful Jane had noticed an odour of
gas in the hall, had traced it to Mr. Haswell's room, had found him
unconscious, and instinctively, forgetting the new Dr. Scott, had
rushed forth for Dr. Burnham. Near the bed stood Grace Martin,
pale but anxiously watching the efforts of the doctor to resuscitate
the blue-faced man who was stretched cold and motionless on the bed.

Dr. Burnham paused in his efforts as we entered. "He is dead, all
right," he whispered, aside. "I have tried everything I know to
bring him back, but he is beyond help."

There was still a sickening odour of illuminating gas in the room,
although the windows were now all open.

Kennedy, with provoking calmness in the excitement, turned from and
ignored Dr. Burnham.

"Have you summoned Dr. Scott?" he asked Mrs. Martin.

"No," she replied, surprised. "Should I have done so?"

"Yes. Send James immediately. Mr. Prescott, will you kindly be
seated for a few moments."

Taking off his coat, Kennedy advanced to the bed where the emaciated
figure lay, cold and motionless. Craig knelt down at Mr. Haswell's
head and took the inert arms, raising them up until they were
extended straight. Then he brought them down, folded upward at the
elbow at the side. Again and again he tried this Sylvester method of
inducing respiration, but with no more result than Dr. Burnham had
secured. He turned the body over on its face and tried the new
Schaefer method. There seemed to be not a spark of life left.

"Dr. Scott is out," reported the maid breathlessly, "but they are
trying to locate him from his office, and if they do they will send
him around immediately."

A ring at the doorbell caused us to think that he had been found,
but it proved to be the student to whom Kennedy had telephoned at
his own laboratory. He was carrying a heavy suitcase and a small

Kennedy opened the suitcase hastily and disclosed a little motor,
some long tubes of rubber fitting into a small rubber cap, forceps,
and other paraphernalia. The student quickly attached one tube to
the little tank, while Kennedy grasped the tongue of the dead man
with the forceps, pulled it up off the soft palate, and fitted the
rubber cap snugly over his mouth and nose.

"This is the Draeger pulmotor," he explained as he worked, "devised
to resuscitate persons who have died of electric shock, but actually
found to be of more value in cases of asphyxiation. Start the motor."

The pulmotor began to pump. One could see the dead man's chest rise
as it was inflated with oxygen forced by the accordion bellows from
the tank through one of the tubes into the lungs. Then it fell as
the oxygen and the poisonous gas were slowly sucked out through the
other tube. Again and again the process was repeated, about ten
times a minute.

Dr. Burnham looked on in undisguised amazement. He had long since
given up all hope. The man was dead, medically dead, as dead as
ever was any gas victim at this stage on whom all the usual methods
of resuscitation had been tried and had failed.

Still, minute after minute, Kennedy worked faithfully on, trying to
discover some spark of life and to fan it into flame. At last,
after what seemed to be a half-hour of unremitting effort, when the
oxygen had long since been exhausted and only fresh air was being
pumped into the lungs and out of them, there was a first faint
glimmer of life in the heart and a touch of colour in the cheeks.
Haswell was coming to. Another half-hour found him muttering and
rambling weakly.

"The letter - the letter," he moaned, rolling his glazed eyes about.
"Where is the letter? Send for Grace."

The moan was so audible that it was startling. It was like a voice
from the grave. What did it all mean? Mrs. Martin was at his side
in a moment.

"Father, father, - here I am - Grace. What do you want?"

The old man moved restlessly, feverishly, and pressed his trembling
hand to his forehead as if trying to collect his thoughts. He was
weak, but it was evident that he had been saved.

The pulmotor had been stopped. Craig threw the cap to his student
to be packed up, and as he did so he remarked quietly, "I could wish
that Dr. Scott had been found. There are some matters here that
might interest him."

He paused and looked slowly from the rescued man lying dazed on the
bed toward Mrs. Martin. It was quite apparent even to me that she
did not share the desire to see Dr. Scott, at least not just then.
She was flushed and trembling with emotion. Crossing the room
hurriedly she flung open the door into the hall.

"I am sure," she cried, controlling herself with difficulty and
catching at a straw, as it were, "that you gentlemen, even if you
have saved my father, are no friends of either his or mine. You
have merely come here in response to Dr. Burnham, and he came
because Jane lost her head in the excitement and forgot that Dr.
Scott is now our physician."

"But Dr. Scott could not have been found in time, madame,"
interposed Dr. Burnham with evident triumph.

She ignored the remark and continued to hold the door open.

"Now leave us," she implored, "you, Dr. Burnham, you, Mr. Prescott,
you, Professor Kennedy, and your friend Mr. Jameson, whoever you
may be."

She was now cold and calm. In the bewildering change of events we
had forgotten the wan figure on the bed still gasping for the breath
of life. I could not help wondering at the woman's apparent lack
of gratitude, and a thought flashed over my mind. Had the affair
come to a contest between various parties fighting by fair means or
foul for the old man's money - Scott and Mrs. Martin perhaps -=20
against Prescott and Dr. Burnham? No one moved. We seemed to be
waiting on Kennedy. Prescott and Mrs. Martin were now glaring at
each other implacably.

The old man moved restlessly on the bed, and over my shoulder I
could hear him gasp faintly, "Where's Grace? Send for Grace."

Mrs. Martin paid no attention, seemed not to hear, but stood facing
us imperiously as if waiting for us to obey her orders and leave
the house. Burnham moved toward the door, but Prescott stood his
ground with a peculiar air of defiance. Then he took my arm and
started rather precipitately, I thought, to leave.

"Come, come," said somebody behind us, "enough of the dramatics."

It was Kennedy, who had been bending down, listening to the
muttering of the old man.

"Look at those eyes of Mr. Haswell," he said. "What colour are they?"

We looked. They were blue.

"Down in the parlour," continued Kennedy leisurely, "you will find
a portrait of the long deceased Mrs. Haswell. If you will examine
that painting you will see that her eyes are also a peculiarly
limpid blue. o couple with blue eyes ever had a black-eyed child.
At least, if this is such a case, the Carnegie Institution
investigators would be glad to hear of it, for it is contrary to
all that they have discovered on the subject after years of study of
eugenics. Dark-eyed couples may have light-eyed children, but the
reverse, never. What do you say to that, madame?"

"You lie," screamed the woman, rushing frantically past us. "I am
his daughter. No interlopers shall separate us. Father!"

The old man moved feebly away from her.

"Send for Dr. Scott again," she demanded. "See if he cannot be
found. He must be found. You are all enemies, villains."

She addressed Kennedy, but included the whole room in her

"Not all," broke in Kennedy remorselessly. "Yes, madame, send for
Dr. Scott. Why is he not here?"

Prescott, with one hand on my arm and the other on Dr. Burnham's,
was moving toward the door.

"One moment, Prescott," interrupted Kennedy, detaining him with a
look. "There was something I was about to say when Dr. Burnham's
urgent message prevented it. I did not take the trouble even to
find out how you obtained that little globule of molten gold from
the crucible of alleged copper. There are so many tricks by which
the gold could have been 'salted' and brought forth at the right
moment that it was hardly worth while. Besides, I had satisfied
myself that my first suspicions were correct. See that?"

He held out the little piece of mineral I had already seen in his
hand in the alchemist's laboratory.

"That is a piece of willemite. It has the property of glowing
or fluorescing under a certain kind of rays which are themselves
invisible to the human eye. Prescott, your story of the
transmutation of elements is very clever, but not more clever
than your real story. Let us piece it together. I had already
heard from Dr. Burnham how Mr. Haswell was induced by his desire
for gain to visit you and how you had most mysteriously predicted
his blindness. Now, there is no such thing as telepathy, at least
in this case. How then was I to explain it? What could cause
such a catastrophe naturally? Why, only those rays invisible to
the human eye, but which make this piece of willemite glow - the
ultra-violet rays."

Kennedy was speaking rapidly and was careful not to pause long
enough to give Prescott an opportunity to interrupt him.

"These ultra-violet rays," he continued, "are always present in an
electric arc light though not to a great degree unless the carbons
have metal cores. They extend for two octaves above the violet of
the spectrum and are too short to affect the eye as light, although
they affect photographic plates. They are the friend of man when
he uses them in moderation as Finsen did in the famous blue light
treatment. But they tolerate no familiarity. To let them -=20
particularly the shorter of the rays - enter the eye is to invite
trouble. There is no warning sense of discomfort, but from six to
eighteen hours after exposure to them the victim experiences
violent pains in the eyes and headache. Sight may be seriously
impaired, and it may take years to recover. Often prolonged exposure
results in blindness, though a moderate exposure acts like a tonic.
The rays may be compared in this double effect to drugs, such as
strychnine. Too much of them may be destructive even to life itself."

Prescott had now paused and was regarding Kennedy contemptuously.
Kennedy paid no attention, but continued: "Perhaps these mysterious
rays may shed some light on our minds, however. Now, for one thing,
ultra-violet light passes readily through quartz, but is cut off by
ordinary glass, especially if it is coated with chromium. Old Mr.
Haswell did not wear glasses. Therefore he was subject to the rays
- the more so as he is a blond, and I think it has been demonstrated
by investigators that blonds are more affected by them than are

"You have, as a part of your machine, a peculiarly shaped quartz
mercury vapour lamp, and the mercury vapour lamp of a design such
as that I saw has been invented for the especial purpose of
producing ultra-violet rays in large quantity. There are also in
your machine induction coils for the purpose of making an impressive
noise, and a small electric furnace to heat the salted gold. I
don't know what other ingenious fakes you have added. The visible
bluish light from the tube is designed, I suppose, to hoodwink the
credulous, but the dangerous thing about it is the invisible ray
that accompanies that light. Mr. Haswell sat under those invisible
rays, Prescott, never knowing how deadly they might be to him, an
old man.

"You knew that they would not take effect for hours, and hence you
ventured the prediction that he would be stricken at about midnight.
Even if it was partial or temporary, still you would be safe in
your prophecy. You succeeded better than you hoped in that part of
your scheme. You had already prepared the way by means of a letter
sent to Mr. Haswell through Dr. Burnham. But Mr. Haswell's credulity
and fear worked the wrong way. Instead of appealing to you he hated
you. In his predicament he thought only of his banished daughter
and turned instinctively to her for help. That made necessary a
quick change of plans."

Prescott, far from losing his nerve, turned on us bitterly. "I knew
you two were spies the moment I saw you," he shouted. "It seemed as
if in some way I knew you for what you were, as if I knew you had
seen Mr. Haswell before you came to me. You, too, would have robbed
an inventor as I am sure he would. But have a care, both of you.
You may be punished also by blindness for your duplicity. Who knows?"

A shudder passed over me at the horrible thought contained in his
mocking laugh. Were we doomed to blindness, too? I looked at the
sightless man on the bed in alarm.

"I knew that you would know us," retorted Kennedy calmly. "Therefore
we came provided with spectacles of Euphos glass, precisely like
those you wear. No, Prescott, we are safe, though perhaps we may
have some burns like those red blotches on Mr. Haswell, light burns."

Prescott had fallen back a step and Mrs. Martin was making an effort
to appear stately and end the interview.

"No," continued Craig, suddenly wheeling, and startling us by the
abruptness of his next exposure, "it is you and your wife here - Mrs.
Prescott, not Mrs. Martin - who must have a care. Stop glaring at
each other. It is no use playing at enemies longer and trying to
get rid of us. You overdo it. The game is up."

Prescott made a rush at Kennedy, who seized him by the wrist and
held him tightly in a grasp of steel that caused the veins on the
back of his hands to stand out like whipcords.

"This is a deep-laid plot," he went on calmly, still holding
Prescott, while I backed up against the door and cut off his wife;
"but it is not so difficult to see it after all. Your part was to
destroy the eyesight of the old man, to make it necessary for him
to call on his daughter. Your wife's part was to play the role of
Mrs. Martin, whom he had not seen for years and could not see now.
She was to persuade him, with her filial affection, to make her the
beneficiary of his will, to see that his money was kept readily
convertible into cash.

"Then, when the old man was at last out of the way, you two could
decamp with what you could realise before the real daughter, cut
off somewhere across the continent, could hear of the death of her
father. It was an excellent scheme. But Haswell's plain, material
newspaper advertisement was not so effective for your purposes,
Prescott, as the more artistic 'telepagram,' as you call it.
Although you two got in first in answering the advertisement, it
finally reached the right person after all. You didn't get away
quickly enough.

"You were not expecting that the real daughter would see it and
turn up so soon. But she has. She lives in California. Mr.
Haswell in his delirium has just told of receiving a telegram which
I suppose you, Mrs. Prescott, read, destroyed, and acted upon. It
hurried your plans, but you were equal to the emergency. Besides,
possession is nine points in the law. You tried the gas, making it
look like a suicide. Jane, in her excitement, spoiled that, and
Dr. Burnham, knowing where I was, as it happened, was able to
summon me immediately. Circumstances have been against you from
the first, Prescott."

Craig was slowly twisting up the hand of the inventor, which he
still held. With his other hand he pulled a paper from his pocket.
It was the old envelope on which he had written upon the occasion
of our first visit to Mr. Haswell when we had been so unceremoniously
interrupted by the visit of Dr. Scott.

"I sat here yesterday by this bed," continued Craig, motioning
toward the chair he had occupied, as I remembered. "Mr. Haswell was
telling Dr. Scott something in an undertone. I could not hear it.
But the old man grasped the doctor by the wrist to pull him closer
to whisper to him. The doctor's hand was toward me and I noticed
the peculiar markings of the veins.

"You perhaps are not acquainted with the fact, but the markings of
the veins in the back of the hand are peculiar to each individual
- as infallible, indestructible, and ineffaceable as finger prints or
the shape of the ear. It is a system invented and developed by
Professor Tamassia of the University of Padua, Italy. A superficial
observer would say that all vein patterns were essentially similar,
and many have said so, but Tamassia has found each to be
characteristic and all subject to almost incredible diversities.
There are six general classes in this case before us, two large
veins crossed by a few secondary veins forming a V with its base
near the wrist.

"Already my suspicions had been aroused. I sketched the arrangement
of the veins standing out on that hand. I noted the same thing just
now on the hand that manipulated the fake apparatus in the
laboratory. Despite the difference in make-up Scott and Prescott
are the same.

"The invisible rays of the ultra-violet light may have blinded Mr.
Haswell, even to the recognition of his own daughter, but you can
rest assured, Prescott, that the very cleverness of your scheme will
penetrate the eyes of the blindfolded goddess of justice. Burnham,
if you will have the kindness to summon the police, I will take all
the responsibility for the arrest of these people."



"What a relief it will be when this election is over and the
newspapers print news again," I growled as I turned the first page
of the Star with a mere glance at the headlines.

"Yes," observed Kennedy, who was puzzling over a note which he had
received in the morning mail. "This is the bitterest campaign in
years. Now, do you suppose that they are after me in a professional
way or are they trying to round me up as an independent voter?"

The letter which had called forth this remark was headed, "The
Travis Campaign Committee of the Reform League," and, as Kennedy
evidently intended me to pass an opinion on it, I picked it up.
It was only a few lines, requesting him to call during the morning,
if convenient, on Wesley Travis, the candidate for governor and
the treasurer of his campaign committee, Dean Bennett. It had
evidently been written in great haste in longhand the night before.

"Professional," I hazarded. "There must be some scandal in the
campaign for which they require your services."

"I suppose so," agreed Craig. "Well, if it is business instead of
politics it has at least this merit it is current business. I
suppose you have no objection to going with me?"

Thus it came about that not very much later in the morning we found
ourselves at the campaign headquarters, in the presence of two
nervous and high-keyed gentlemen in frock coats and silk hats. It
would have taken no great astuteness, even without seeing the
surroundings, to deduce instantly that they were engaged in the
annual struggle of seeking the votes of their fellow-citizens for
something or other, and were nearly worn out by the arduous nature
of that process.

Their headquarters were in a tower of a skyscraper, whence poured
forth a torrent of appeal to the moral sense of the electorate,
both in printed and oral form. Yet there was a different tone to
the place from that which I had ordinarily associated with political
headquarters in previous campaigns. There was an absence of the
old-fashioned politicians and of the air of intrigue laden with
tobacco. Rather, there was an air of earnestness and efficiency
which was decidedly prepossessing. Maps of the state were hanging
on the walls, some stuck full of various coloured pins denoting
the condition of the canvass. A map of the city in colours, divided
into all sorts of districts, told how fared the battle in the
stronghold of the boss, Billy McLoughlin. Huge systems of card
indexes, loose leaf devices, labour-saving appliances for getting
out a vast mass of campaign "literature" in a hurry, in short a
perfect system, such as a great, well-managed business might have
been proud of, were in evidence everywhere.

Wesley Travis was a comparatively young man a lawyer who had early
made a mark in politics and had been astute enough to shake off
the thraldom of the bosses before the popular uprising against them.
Now he was the candidate of the Reform League for governor and a
good stiff campaign he was putting up.

His campaign manager, Dean Bennett, was a business man whose
financial interests were opposed to those usually understood to be
behind Billy McLoughlin, of the regular party to which both Travis
and Bennett might naturally have been supposed to belong in the
old days. Indeed the Reform League owed its existence to a fortunate
conjunction of both moral and economic conditions demanding progress.

"Things have been going our way up to the present," began Travis
confidentially, when we were seated democratically with our campaign
cigars lighted. "Of course we haven't such a big 'barrel' as our
opponents, for we are not frying the fat out of the corporations.
But the people have supported us nobly, and I think the opposition
of the vested interests has been a great help. We seem to be
winning, and I say 'seem' only because one can never be certain how
anything is going in this political game nowadays.

"You recall, Mr. Kennedy, reading in the papers that my country
house out on Long Island was robbed the other day? Some of the
reporters made much of it. To tell the truth, I think they had
become so satiated with sensations that they were sure that the
thing was put up by some muckrakers and that there would be an
expose of some kind. For the thief, whoever he was, seems to have
taken nothing from my library but a sort of scrap-book or album of
photographs. It was a peculiar robbery, but as I had nothing to
conceal it didn't worry me. Well, I had all but forgotten it when
a fellow came into Bennett's office here yesterday and demanded
- tell us what it was, Bennett. You saw him."

Bennett cleared his throat. "You see, it was this way. He gave
his name as Harris Hanford and described himself as a photographer.
I think he has done work for Billy McLoughlin. At any rate, his
offer was to sell us several photographs, and his story about them
was very circumstantial. He hinted that they had been evidently
among those stolen from Mr. Travis and that in a roundabout way
they had come into the possession of a friend of his without his
knowing who the thief was. He said that he had not made the
photographs himself, but had an idea by whom they were made, that
the original plates had been destroyed, but that the person who
made them was ready to swear that the pictures were taken after
the nominating convention this fall which had named Travis. At any
rate the photographs were out and the price for them was $25,000."

"What are they that he should set such a price on them?" asked
Kennedy, keenly looking from Bennett quickly to Travis.

Travis met his look without flinching. "They are supposed to be
photographs of myself," he replied slowly. "One purports to
represent me in a group on McLoughlin's porch at his farm on the
south shore of the island, about twenty miles from my place. As
Hanford described it, I am standing between McLoughlin and J.
Cadwalader Brown, the trust promoter who is backing McLoughlin to
save his investments. Brown's hand is on my shoulder and we are
talking familiarly. Another is a picture of Brown, McLoughlin,
and myself riding in Brown's car, and in it Brown and I are
evidently on the best of terms. Oh, there are several of them, all
in the same vein. Now," he added, and his voice rose with emotion
as if he were addressing a cart-tail meeting which must be convinced
that there was nothing criminal in riding in a motor-car, "I don't
hesitate to admit that a year or so ago I was not on terms of
intimacy with these men, but at least acquainted with them. At
various times, even as late as last spring, I was present at
conferences over the presidential outlook in this state, and once
I think I did ride back to the city with them. But I know that
there were no pictures taken, and even if there had been I would
not care if they told the truth about them. I have frankly admitted
in=20my speeches that I knew these men, that my knowledge of them and
breaking from them is my chief qualification for waging an effective
war on them if I am elected. They hate me cordially. You know that.
What I do care about is the sworn allegation that now accompanies
these - these fakes. They were not, could not have been taken after
the independent convention that nominated me. If the photographs
were true I would be a fine traitor. But I haven't even seen
McLoughlin or Brown since last spring. The whole thing is a - "

"Lie from start to finish," put in Bennett emphatically. "Yes,
Travis, we all know that. I'd quit right now if I didn't believe
in you. But let us face the facts. Here is this story, sworn to
as Hanford says and apparently acquiesced in by Billy McLoughlin
and Cad. Brown. What do they care anyhow as long as it is against
you? And there, too, are the pictures themselves - at least they
will be in print or suppressed, according as we act. Now, you know
that nothing could hurt the reform ticket worse than to have an
issue like this raised at this time. We were supposed at least to
be on the level, with nothing to explain away. There may be just
enough people to believe that there is some basis for this suspicion
to turn the tide against us. If it were earlier in the campaign
I'd say accept the issue, fight it out to a finish, and in the turn
of events we should really have the best campaign material. But it
is too late now to expose such a knavish trick of theirs on the
Friday before election. Frankly, I believe discretion is the better
part of valour in this case and without abating a jot of my faith
in you, Travis, well, I'd pay first and expose the fraud afterward,
after the election, at leisure."

"No, I won't," persisted Travis, shutting his square jaw doggedly.
"I won't be held up."

The door had opened and a young lady in a very stunning street
dress, with a huge hat and a tantalising veil, stood in it for a
moment, hesitated, and then was about to shut it with an apology for
intruding on a conference.

"I'll fight it if it takes my last dollar," declared Travis, "but I
won't be blackmailed out of a cent. Good-morning, Miss Ashton. I'll
be free in a moment. I'll see you in your office directly."

The girl, with a portfolio of papers in her hand, smiled, and Travis
quickly crossed the room and held the door deferentially open as he
whispered a word or two. When she had disappeared he returned and
remarked, "I suppose you have heard of Miss Margaret Ashton, the
suffragette leader, Mr. Kennedy? She is the head of our press
bureau." Then a heightened look of determination set his fine face
in hard lines, and he brought his fist down on the desk. "No, not
a cent," he thundered.

Bennett shrugged his shoulders hopelessly and looked at Kennedy in
mock resignation as if to say, "What can you do with such a fellow?"
Travis was excitedly pacing the floor and waving his arms as if he
were addressing a meeting in the enemy's country. "Hanford comes
at us in this way," he continued, growing more excited as he paced
up and down. "He says plainly that the pictures will of course be
accepted as among those stolen from me, and in that, I suppose, he
is right. The public will swallow it. When Bennett told him I
would prosecute he laughed and said, 'Go ahead. I didn't steal the
pictures. That would be a great joke for Travis to seek redress
from the courts he is criticising. I guess he'd want to recall the
decision if it went against him hey?' Hanford says that a hundred
copies have been made of each of the photographs and that this
person, whom we do not know, has them ready to drop into the mail to
the one hundred leading papers of the state in time for them to
appear in the Monday editions just before Election Day. He says no
amount of denying on our part can destroy the effect - or at least
he went further and said 'shake their validity.'

"But I repeat. They are false. For all I know, it is a plot of
McLoughlin's, the last fight of a boss for his life, driven into a
corner. And it is meaner than if he had attempted to forge a letter.
Pictures appeal to the eye and mind much more than letters. That's
what makes the thing so dangerous. Billy McLoughlin knows how to
make the best use of such a roorback on the eve of an election, and
even if I not only deny but prove that they are a fake, I'm afraid
the harm will be done. I can't reach all the voters in time. Ten
see such a charge to one who sees the denial."

"Just so," persisted Bennett coolly. "You admit that we are
practically helpless. That's what I have been saying all along.
Get control of the prints first, Travis, for God's sake. Then raise
any kind of a howl you want - before election or after. As I say,
if we had a week or two it might be all right to fight. But we can
make no move without making fools of ourselves until they are
published Monday as the last big thing of the campaign. The rest
of Monday and the Tuesday morning papers do not give us time to
reply. Even if they were published to-day we should hardly have
time to expose the plot, hammer it in, and make the issue an asset
instead of a liability. No, you must admit it yourself. There
isn't time. We must carry out the work we have so carefully planned
to cap the campaign, and if we are diverted by this it means a
let-up in our final efforts, and that is as good as McLoughlin wants
anyhow. Now, Kennedy, don't you agree with me? Squelch the pictures
now at any cost, then follow the thing up and, if we can, prosecute
after election?"

Kennedy and I, who had been so far little more than interested
spectators, had not presumed to interrupt. Finally Craig asked,
"You have copies of the pictures?"

"No," replied Bennett. "This Hanford is a brazen fellow, but he was
too astute to leave them. I saw them for an instant. They look bad.
And the affidavits with them look worse."

"H'm," considered Kennedy, turning the crisis over in his mind.
"We've had alleged stolen and forged letters before, but alleged
stolen and forged photographs are new. I'm not surprised that you
are alarmed, Bennett, nor that you want to fight, Travis."

"Then you will take up the case?" urged the latter eagerly,
forgetting both his campaign manager and his campaign manners, and
leaning forward almost like a prisoner in the dock to catch the
words of the foreman of the jury. "You will trace down the forger
of those pictures before it is too late?"

"I haven't said I'll do that yet," answered Craig measuredly. "I
haven't even said I'd take up the case. Politics is a new game to
me, Mr. Travis. If I go into this thing I want to go into it and
stay in it - well, you know how you lawyers put it, with clean hands.
On one condition I'll take the matter up, and on only one."

"Name it," cried Travis anxiously.

"Of course, having been retained by you," continued Craig with
provoking slowness, "it is not reasonable to suppose that if I find
- how shall I put it - bluntly, yes? - if I find that the story of
Hanford has some - er - foundation, it is not reasonable to suppose
that I should desert you and go over to the other side. Neither is
it to be supposed that I will continue and carry such a thing
through for you regardless of truth. What I ask is to have a free
hand, to be able to drop the case the moment I cannot proceed
further in justice to myself, drop it, and keep my mouth shut. You
understand? These are my conditions and no less."

"And you think you can make good?" questioned Bennett rather
sceptically. "You are willing to risk it? You don't think it would
be better to wait until after the election is won?"

"You have heard my conditions," reiterated Craig.

"Done," broke in Travis. "I'm going to fight it out, Bennett. If
we get in wrong by dickering with them at the start it may be worse
for us in the end. Paying amounts to confession."

Bennett shook his head dubiously. "I'm afraid this will suit
McLoughlin's purpose just as well. Photographs are like statistics.
They don't lie unless the people who make them do. But it's hard
to tell what a liar can accomplish with either in an election."

"Say' Dean, you're not going to desert me?" reproached Travis.
"You're not offended at my kicking over the traces, are you?"

Bennett rose, placed a hand on Travis's shoulder, and grasped his
other. "Wesley," he said earnestly, "I wouldn't desert you even if
the pictures were true."

"I knew it," responded Travis heartily. "Then let Mr. Kennedy have
one day to see what he can do. Then if we make no progress we'll
take your advice, Dean. We'll pay, I suppose, and ask Mr. Kennedy
to continue the case after next Tuesday."

"With the proviso," put in Craig.

"With the proviso, Kennedy," repeated Travis. "Your hand on that.
Say, I think I've shaken hands with half the male population of
this state since I was nominated, but this means more to me than
any of them. Call on us, either Bennett or myself, the moment you
need aid. Spare no reasonable expense, and - and get the goods, no
matter whom it hits higher up, even if it is Cadwalader Brown
himself. Good-bye and a thousand thanks oh, by the way, wait. Let
me take you around and introduce you to Miss Ashton. She may be
able to help you."

The office of Bennett and Travis was in the centre of the suite.
On one side were the cashier and clerical force as well as the
speakers' bureau, where spellbinders of all degrees were getting=20
instruction, tours were being laid out, and reports received from
meetings already held.

On the other side was the press bureau with a large and active force
in charge of Miss Ashton, who was supporting Travis because he had
most emphatically declared for "Votes for Women" and had insisted
that his party put this plank in its platform. Miss Ashton was a
clever girl, a graduate of a famous woman's college, and had had
several years of newspaper experience before she became a leader in
the suffrage cause. I recalled having read and heard a great deal
about her, though I had never met her. The Ashtons were well known
in New York society, and it was a sore trial to some of her
conservative friends that she should reject what they considered
the proper "sphere" for women. Among those friends, I understood,
was Cadwalader Brown himself.

Travis had scarcely more than introduced us, yet already I scented
a romance behind the ordinarily prosaic conduct of a campaign press
bureau. It is far from my intention to minimise the work or the
ability of the head of the press bureau, but it struck me, both then
and later, that the candidate had an extraordinary interest in the
newspaper campaign, much more than in the speakers' bureau, and I am
sure that it was not solely accounted for by the fact that publicity
is playing a more and more important part in political campaigning.

Nevertheless such innovations as her card index system by election
districts all over the state, showing the attitude of the various
newspaper editors, of local political leaders, and changes of
sentiment, were very full and valuable. Kennedy, who had a regular
pigeon-hole mind for facts, was visibly impressed by this huge
mechanical memory built up by Miss Ashton. Though he said nothing
to me I knew he had also observed the state of affairs between the
reform candidate and the suffrage leader.

It was at a moment when Travis had been called back to his office
that Kennedy, who had been eyeing Miss Ashton with marked approval,
leaned over and said in a low voice, "Miss Ashton, I think I can
trust you. Do you want to do a great favour for Mr. Travis?"

She did not betray even by a fleeting look on her face what the
true state of her feelings was, although I fancied that the
readiness of her assent had perhaps more meaning than she would
have placed in a simple "Yes" otherwise.

"I suppose you know that an attempt is being made to blackmail Mr.
Travis?" added Kennedy quickly.

"I know something about it," she replied in a tone which left it
for granted that Travis had told her before even we were called
in. I felt that not unlikely Travis's set determination to fight
might be traceable to her advice or at least to her opinion of him.

"I suppose in a large force like this it is not impossible that
your political enemies may have a spy or two," observed Kennedy,
glancing about at the score or more clerks busily engaged in getting
out "literature."

"I have sometimes thought that myself," she agreed. "But of course
I don't know. Still, I have to be pretty careful. Some one is
always over here by my desk or looking over here. There isn't
much secrecy in a big room like this. I never leave important stuff
lying about where any of them could see it.

"Yes," mused Kennedy. "What time does the office close?"

"We shall finish to-night about nine, I think. To-morrow it may be

"Well, then, if I should call here to-night at, say, half-past nine,
could you be here? I need hardly say that your doing so may be of
inestimable value to - to the campaign."

"I shall be here," she promised, giving her hand with a peculiar
straight arm shake and looking him frankly in the face with those
eyes which even the old guard in the legislature admitted were

Kennedy was not quite ready to leave yet, but sought out Travis and
obtained permission to glance over the financial end of the campaign.
There were few large contributors to Travis's fund, but a host of
small sums ranging from ten and twenty-five dollars down to dimes
and nickels. Truly it showed the depth of the popular uprising.
Kennedy also glanced hastily over the items of expense - rent,
salaries, stenographer and office force, advertising, printing and
stationery, postage, telephone, telegraph, automobile and travelling
expenses, and miscellaneous matters.

As Kennedy expressed it afterwards, as against the small driblets
of money coming in, large sums were going out for expenses in lumps.
Campaigning in these days costs money even when done honestly. The
miscellaneous account showed some large indefinite items, and after
a hasty calculation Kennedy made out that if all the obligations had
to be met immediately the committee would be in the hole for several
thousand dollars.

"In short," I argued as we were leaving, "this will either break
Travis privately or put his fund in hopeless shape. Or does it
mean that he foresees defeat and is taking this way to recoup himself
under cover of being held up?"

Kennedy said nothing in response to my suspicions, though I could
see that in his mind he was leaving no possible clue unnoted.

It was only a few blocks to the studio of Harris Hanford, whom
Kennedy was now bent on seeing. We found him in an old building on
one of the side streets in the thirties which business had captured.
His was a little place on the top floor, up three flights of stairs,
and I noticed as we climbed up that the room next to his was vacant.

Our interview with Hanford was short and unsatisfactory. He either
was or at least posed as representing a third party in the affair,
and absolutely refused to permit us to have even a glance at the

"My dealings," he asserted airily, "must all be with Mr. Bennett,
or with Mr. Travis, direct, not with emissaries. I don't make any
secret about it. The prints are not here. They are safe and ready
to be produced at the right time, either to be handed over for the
money or to be published in the newspapers. We have found out all
about them; we are satisfied, although the negatives have been
destroyed. As for their having been stolen from Travis, you can put
two and two together. They are out and copies have been made of
them, good copies. If Mr. Travis wishes to repudiate them, let him
start proceedings. I told Bennett all about that. To-morrow is the
last day, and I must have Bennett's answer then, without any
interlopers coming into it. If it is yes, well and good; if not,
then they know what to expect. Good-bye."

It was still early in the forenoon, and Kennedy's next move was to
go out on Long Island to examine the library at Travis's from which
the pictures were said to have been stolen. At the laboratory
Kennedy and I loaded ourselves with a large oblong black case
containing a camera and a tripod.

His examination of the looted library was minute, taking in the
window through which the thief had apparently entered, the cabinet
he had forced, and the situation in general. Finally Craig set
up his camera with most particular care and took several photographs
of the window, the cabinet, the doors, including the room from every
angle. Outside he snapped the two sides of the corner of the house
in which the library was situated. Partly by trolley and partly by
carriage we crossed the island to the south shore, and finally found
McLoughlin's farm, where we had no trouble in getting half a dozen
photographs of the porch and house. Altogether the proceedings
seemed tame to me, yet I knew from previous experience that Kennedy
had a deep laid purpose.

We parted in the city, to meet just before it was time to visit Miss
Ashton. Kennedy had evidently employed the interval in developing
his plates, for he now had ten or a dozen prints, all of exactly the
same size, mounted on stiff cardboard in a space with scales and
figures on all four sides. He saw me puzzling over them.

"Those are metric photographs such as Bertillon of Paris takes," he
explained. "By means of the scales and tables and other methods
that have been worked out we can determine from those pictures
distances and many other things almost as well as if we were on the
spot itself. Bertillon has cleared up many crimes with this help,
such as the mystery of the shooting in the Hotel Quai d'Orsay and
other cases. The metric photograph, I believe, will in time rank
with the portrait parle, finger prints, and the rest.

"For instance, in order to solve the riddle of a crime the
detective's first task is to study the scene topographically. Plans
and elevations of a room or house are made. The position of each
object is painstakingly noted. In addition, the all-seeing eye of
the camera is called into requisition. The plundered room is
photographed, as in this case. I might have done it by placing a
foot rule on a table and taking that in the picture, but a more
scientific and accurate method has been devised by Bertillon. His
camera lens is always used at a fixed height from the ground and
forms its image on the plate at an exact focus. The print made
from the negative is mounted on a card in a space of definite size,
along the edges of which a metric scale is printed. In the way he
has worked it out the distance between any two points in the picture
can be determined. With a topographical plan and a metric
photograph one can study a crime as a general studies the map of a
strange country. There were several peculiar things that I observed
to-day, and I have here an indelible record of the scene of the
crime. Preserved in this way it cannot be questioned.

"Now the photographs were in this cabinet. There are other cabinets,
but none of them has been disturbed. Therefore the thief must have
known just what he was after. The marks made in breaking the lock
were not those of a jimmy but of a screwdriver. No amazing command
of the resources of science is needed so far. All that is necessary
is a little scientific common sense, Walter.

"Now, how did the robber get in? All the windows and doors were
supposedly locked. It is alleged that a pane was cut from this
window at the side. It was, and the pieces were there to show it.
But take a glance at this outside photograph. To reach that window
even a tall man must have stood on a ladder or something. There
are no marks of a ladder or of any person in the soft soil under
the window. What is more, that window was cut from the inside. The
marks of the diamond which cut it plainly show that. Scientific
common sense again."

"Then it must have been some one in the house or at least some one
familiar with it?"I exclaimed.

Kennedy nodded. "One thing we have which the police greatly
neglect," he pursued, "a record. We have made some progress in
reconstructing the crime, as Bertillon calls it. If we only had
those Hanford pictures we should be all right."

We were now on our way to see Miss Ashton at headquarters, and as
we rode downtown I tried to reason out the case. Had it really
been a put-up job? Was Travis himself faking, and was the robbery
a "plant" by which he might forestall exposure of what had become
public property in the hands of another, no longer disposed to
conceal it? Or was it after all the last desperate blow of the

The whole thing began to assume a suspicious look in my mind.
Although Kennedy seemed to have made little real progress, I felt
that, far from aiding Travis, it made things darker. There was
nothing but his unsupported word that he had not visited the Boss
subsequent to the nominating convention. He admitted having done
so before the Reform League came into existence. Besides it
seemed tacitly understood that both the Boss and Cadwalader Brown
acquiesced in the sworn statement of the man who said he had made
the pictures. Added to that the mere existence of the actual
pictures themselves was a graphic clincher to the story. Personally,
if I had been in Kennedy's place I think I should have taken
advantage of the proviso in the compact with Travis to back out
gracefully. Kennedy, however, now started on the case, hung to it

Miss Ashton was waiting for us at the press bureau. Her desk was
at the middle of one end of the room in which, if she could keep
an eye on her office force, the office force also could keep an eye
on her.

Kennedy had apparently taken in the arrangement during our morning
visit, for he set to work immediately. The side of the room toward
the office of Travis and Bennett presented an expanse of blank wall.
With a mallet he quickly knocked a hole in the rough plaster, just
above the baseboard about the room. The hole did not penetrate
quite through to the other side. In it he placed a round disc of
vulcanised rubber, with insulated wires leading down back of the
baseboard, then out underneath it, and under the carpet. Some
plaster quickly closed up the cavity in the wall, and he left it to

Next he led the wires under the carpet to Miss Ashton's desk.
There they ended, under the carpet and a rug, eighteen or twenty
huge coils several feet in diameter disposed in such a way as to
attract no attention by a curious foot on the carpet which covered

"That is all, Miss Ashton," he said as we watched for his next
move. "I shall want to see you early to-morrow, and, might I ask
you to be sure to wear that hat which you have on?"

It was a very becoming hat, but Kennedy's tone clearly indicated
that it was not his taste in inverted basket millinery that prompted
the request. She promised, smiling, for even a suffragette may like
pretty hats.

Craig had still to see Travis and report on his work. The candidate
was waiting anxiously at his hotel after a big political mass
meeting on the East Side, at which capitalism and the bosses had
been hissed to the echo, if that is possible.

"'What success?" inquired Travis eagerly.

"I'm afraid," replied Kennedy, and the candidate's face fell at
the tone, "I'm afraid you will have to meet them, for the present.
The time limit will expire to-morrow, and I understand Hanford
is coming up for a final answer. We must have copies of those
photographs, even if we have to pay for them. There seems to be
no other way."

Travis sank back in his chair and regarded Kennedy hopelessly. He
was actually pale. "you - you don't mean to say that there is no
other way, that I'll have to admit even before Bennett - and others
that I'm in bad?"

"I wouldn't put it that way," said Kennedy mercilessly, I thought.

"It is that way," Travis asserted almost fiercely. "Why, we could
have done that anyhow. No, no, - I don't mean that. Pardon me.
I'm upset by this. Go ahead," he sighed.

"You will direct Bennett to make the best terms he can with Hanford
when he comes up to-morrow. Have him arrange the details of payment
and then rush the best copies of the photographs to me."

Travis seemed crushed.

We met Miss Ashton the following morning entering her office.
Kennedy handed her a package, and in a few words, which I did not
hear, explained what he wanted, promising to call again later.

When we called, the girls and other clerks had arrived, and the
office was a hive of industry in the rush of winding up the
campaign. Typewriters were clicking, clippings were being snipped
out of a huge stack of newspapers and pasted into large scrap-books,
circulars were being folded and made ready to mail for the final
appeal. The room was indeed crowded, and I felt that there was no
doubt, as Kennedy had said, that nothing much could go on there
unobserved by any one to whose interest it was to see it.

Miss Ashton was sitting at her desk with her hat on directing the
work. "It works," she remarked enigmatically to Kennedy.

"Good," he replied. "I merely dropped in to be sure. Now if
anything of interest happens, Miss Ashton, I wish you would let
me know immediately. I must not be seen up here, but I shall be
waiting downstairs in the corridor of the building. My next move
depends entirely on what you have to report."

Downstairs Craig waited with growing impatience. We stood in an
angle in which we could see without being readily seen, and our
impatience was not diminished by seeing Hanford enter the elevator.

I think that Miss Ashton would have made an excellent woman
detective, that is, on a case in which her personal feelings were
not involved as they were here. She was pale and agitated as she
appeared in the corridor, and Kennedy hurried toward her.

"I can't believe it. I won't believe it," she managed to say.

"Tell me, what happened?" urged Kennedy soothingly.

"Oh, Mr. Kennedy, why did you ask me to do this?" she reproached.
"I would almost rather not have known it at all."

"Believe me, Miss Ashton," said Kennedy, "you ought to know. It is
on you that I depend most. We saw Hanford go up. What occurred?"

She was still pale, and replied nervously, "Mr. Bennett came in
about quarter to ten. He stopped to talk to me and looked about
the room curiously. Do you know, I felt very uncomfortable for a
time. Then he locked the door leading from the press bureau to
his office, and left word that he was not to be disturbed. A few
minutes later a man called."

"Yes, yes," prompted Kennedy. "Hanford, no doubt."

She was racing on breathlessly, scarcely giving one a chance to
inquire how she had learned so much.

"Why," she cried with a sort of defiant ring in her tone, "Mr.
Travis is going to buy those pictures after all. And the worst of
it is that I met him in the hall coming in as I was coming down here,
and he tried to act toward me in the same old way and that after all
I know now about him. They have fixed it all up, Mr. Bennett acting
for Mr. Travis, and this Mr. Hanford. They are even going to ask me
to carry the money in a sealed envelope to the studio of this fellow
Hanford, to be given to a third person who will be there at two
o'clock this afternoon."

"You, Miss Ashton?" inquired Kennedy, a light breaking on his face
as if at last he saw something.

"Yes, I," she repeated. "Hanford insisted that it was part of the
compact. They - they haven't asked me openly yet to be the means
of carrying out their dirty deals, but when they do, I won't - "

"Miss Ashton," remonstrated Kennedy, "I beg you to be calm. I had
no idea you would take it like this, no idea. Please, please.
Walter, you will excuse us if we take a turn down the corridor
and out in the air. This is most extraordinary."

For five or ten minutes Kennedy and Miss Ashton appeared to be
discussing the new turn of events earnestly, while I waited
impatiently. As they approached again she seemed calmer, but I
heard her say, "I hope you're right. I'm all broken up by it. I'm
ready to resign. My faith in human nature is shaken. No, I won't
expose Wesley Travis for his sake. It cuts me to have to admit it,
but Cadwalader used always to say that every man has his price. I
am afraid this will do great harm to the cause of reform and through
it to the woman suffrage cause which cast its lot with this party.
I - I can hardly believe"

Kennedy was still looking earnestly at her. "Miss Ashton," he
implored, "believe nothing. Remember one of the first rules of
politics is loyalty. Wait until "

"Wait?" she echoed. "How can I? I hate Wesley Travis for giving
in - more than I hate Cadwalader Brown for his cynical disregard of
honesty in others."

She bit her lip at thus betraying her feelings, but what she had
heard had evidently affected her deeply. It was as though the feet
of her idol had turned to clay. Nevertheless it was evident that
she was coming to look on it more as she would if she were an

"Just think it over," urged Kennedy. "They won't ask you right
away. Don't do anything rash. Suspend judgment. You won't regret

Craig's next problem seemed to be to transfer the scene of his
operations to Hanford's studio. He was apparently doing some rapid
thinking as we walked uptown after leaving Miss Ashton, and I did
not venture to question him on what had occurred when it was so
evident that everything depended on being prepared for what was
still to occur.

Hanford was out. That seemed to please Kennedy, for with a
brightening face, which told more surely than words that he saw his
way more and more clearly, he asked me to visit the agent and hire
the vacant office next to the studio while he went uptown to
complete his arrangements for the final step.

I had completed my part and was waiting in the empty room when he
returned. He lost no time in getting to work, and it seemed to me
as I watched him curiously in silence that he was repeating what
he had already done at the Travis headquarters. He was boring into
the wall, only this time he did it much more carefully, and it was
evident that if he intended putting anything into this cavity it
must be pretty large. The hole was square, and as I bent over I
could see that he had cut through the plaster and laths all the way
to the wallpaper on the other side, though he was careful to leave
that intact. Then he set up a square black box in the cavity,
carefully poising it and making measurements that told of the exact
location of its centre with reference to the partitions and walls.

A skeleton key took us into Hanford's well-lighted but now empty
studio. For Miss Ashton's sake I wished that the photographs had
been there. I am sure Kennedy would have found slight compunction
in a larceny of them, if they had been. It was something entirely
different that he had in mind now, however, and he was working
quickly for fear of discovery. By his measurements I guessed that
he was calculating as nearly as possible the centre of the box
which he had placed in the hole in the wall on the other side of
the dark wallpaper. When he had quite satisfied himself he took a
fine pencil from his pocket and made a light cross on the paper to
indicate it. The dot fell to the left of a large calendar hanging
on the wall.

Kennedy's appeal to Margaret Ashton had evidently had its effect,
for when we saw her a few moments after these mysterious preparations
she had overcome her emotion.

"They have asked me to carry a note to Mr. Hanford's studio," she
said quietly, "and without letting them know that I know anything
about it I have agreed to do so."

"Miss Ashton," said Kennedy, greatly relieved, "you're a trump."

"No," she replied, smiling faintly, "I'm just feminine enough to
be curious."

Craig shook his head, but did not dispute the point. "After you
have handed the envelope to the person, whoever it may be, in
Hanford's studio, wait until he does something - er - suspicious.
Meanwhile look at the wall on the side toward the next vacant office.
To the left of the big calendar you will see a light pencil mark, a
cross. Somehow you must contrive to get near it, but don't stand in
front of it. Then if anything happens stick this little number 10
needle in the wall right at the intersection of the cross. Withdraw
it quickly, count fifteen, then put this little sticker over the
cross, and get out as best you can, though we shan't be far away if
you should need us. That's all."

We did not accompany her to the studio for fear of being observed,
but waited impatiently in the next office. We could hear nothing
of what was said, but when a door shut and it was evident that she
had gone, Kennedy quickly removed something from the box in the wall
covered with a black cloth.

As soon as it was safe Kennedy had sent me posting after her to
secure copies of the incriminating photographs which were to be
carried by her from the studio, while he remained to see who came
out. I thought a change had come over her as she handed me the
package with the request that I carry it to Mr. Bennett and get them
from him.

The first inkling I had that Kennedy had at last been able to trace
back something in the mysterious doings of the past two days came
the following evening, when Craig remarked casually that he would
like to have me call on Billy McLoughlin if I had no engagement.
I replied that I had none and managed to squirm out of the one I
really had.

The Boss's office was full of politicians, for it was the eve of
"dough day," when the purse strings were loosed and a flood of
potent argument poured forth to turn the tide of election. Hanford
was there with the other ward heelers.

"Mr. McLoughlin," began Kennedy quietly, when we were seated alone
with Hanford in the little sanctum of the Boss, "you will pardon me
if I seem a little slow in coming to the business that has brought
me here to-night. First of all, I may say, and you, Hanford, being
a photographer will appreciate it, that ever since the days of
Daguerre photography has been regarded as the one infallible means
of portraying faithfully any object, scene, or action. Indeed a
photograph is admitted in court as irrefutable evidence. For when
everything else fails, a picture made through the photographic lens
almost invariably turns the tide. However, such a picture upon
which the fate of an important case may rest should be subjected
to critical examination for it is an established fact that a
photograph may be made as untruthful as it may be reliable.
Combination photographs change entirely the character of the initial
negative and have been made for the past fifty years. The earliest,
simplest, and most harmless photographic deception is the printing
of clouds into a bare sky. But the retoucher with his pencil and
etching tool to-day is very skilful. A workman of ordinary skill
can introduce a person taken in a studio into an open-air scene well
blended and in complete harmony without a visible trace of falsity.

"I need say nothing of how one head can be put on another body in
a picture, nor need I say what a double exposure will do. There
is almost no limit to the changes that may be wrought in form and
feature. It is possible to represent a person crossing Broadway
or walking on Riverside Drive, places he may never have visited.
Thus a person charged with an offence may be able to prove an
alibi by the aid of a skilfully prepared combination photograph.

"Where, then, can photography be considered as irrefutable evidence?
The realism may convince all, will convince all, except the expert
and the initiated after careful study. A shrewd judge will insist
that in every case the negative be submitted and examined for
possible alterations by a clever manipulator."

Kennedy bent his gaze on McLoughlin. "Now, I do not accuse you,
sir, of anything. But a photograph has come into the possession of
Mr. Travis in which he is represented as standing on the steps of
your house with yourself and Mr. Cadwalader Brown. He and Mr. Brown
are in poses that show the utmost friendliness. I do not hesitate
to say that that was originally a photograph of yourself, Mr. Brown,
and your own candidate. It is a pretty raw deal, a fake in which
Travis has been substituted by very excellent photographic forgery."

McLoughlin motioned to Hanford to reply. "A fake?" repeated the
latter contemptuously. "How about the affidavits? There's no
negative. You've got to prove that the original print stolen from
Travis, we'll say, is a fake. You can't do it."

"September 19th was the date alleged, I believe?" asked Kennedy
quietly, laying down the bundle of metric photographs and the
alleged photographs of Travis. He was pointing to a shadow of a
gable on the house as it showed in the metric photographs and the

"You see that shadow of the gable? Perhaps you never heard of it,
Hanford, but it is possible to tell the exact time at which a
photograph was taken from a study of the shadows. It is possible
in principle and practice and can be trusted. Almost any scientist
may be called on to bear testimony in court nowadays, but you would
say the astronomer is one of the least likely. Well, the shadow in
this picture will prove an alibi for some one.

"Notice. It is seen very prominently to the right, and its exact
location on the house is an easy matter. You could almost use the
metric photograph for that. The identification of the gable casting
the shadow is easy. To be exact it is 19.62 feet high. The shadow
is 14.23 feet down, 13.10 feet east, and 3.43 feet north. You see
I am exact. I have to be. In one minute it moved 0.080 feet upward,
0.053 feet to the right, and 0.096 feet in its apparent path. It
passes the width of a weatherboard, 0.37 foot, in four minutes and
thirty-seven seconds."

Kennedy was talking rapidly of data which he had derived from his
metric photograph, from plumb line, level, compass, and tape,
astronomical triangle, vertices, zenith, pole and sun, declination,
azimuth, solar time, parallactic angles, refraction, and a dozen
bewildering terms.

"In spherical trigonometry," he concluded, "to solve the problem
three elements must be known. I knew four. Therefore I could take
each of the known, treat it as unknown, and have four ways to check
my result. I find that the time might have been either three
o'clock, twenty-one minutes and twelve seconds, in the afternoon, or
3:21 :31, or 3 :21 :29, or 3:21 :33. The average is 3 :21 :26, and
there can therefore be no appreciable error except for a few seconds.
For that date must have been one of two days, either May 22 or
July 22. Between these two dates we must decide on evidence other
than the shadow. It must have been in May, as the immature condition
of the foliage shows. But even if it had been in July, that is far
from being September. The matter of the year I have also settled.
Weather conditions, I find, were favourable on all=20these dates except
that in September. I can really answer, with an assurance and
accuracy superior to that of the photographer himself - even if he
were honest - as to the real date. The real picture, aside from
being doctored, was actually taken last May. Science is not fallible,
but exact in this matter."

Kennedy had scored a palpable hit. McLaughlin and Hanford were
speechless. Still Craig hurried on.

"But, you may ask, how about the automobile picture? That also is
an unblushing fake. Of course I must prove that. In the first
place, you know that the general public has come to recognise
the distortion of a photograph as denoting speed. A picture of a
car in a race that doesn't lean is rejected - people demand to see
speed, speed, more speed even in pictures. Distortion does indeed
show speed, but that, too, can be faked.

"Hanford knows that the image is projected upside down by the lens
on the plate, and that the bottom of the picture is taken before
the top. The camera mechanism admits light, which makes the picture,
in the manner of a roller blind curtain. The slit travels from the
top to the bottom and the image on the plate being projected upside
down, the bottom of the object appears on the top of the plate. For
instance, the wheels are taken before the head of the driver. If
the car is moving quickly the image moves on the plate and each
successive part is taken a little in advance of the last. The whole
leans forward. By widening the slit and slowing the speed of the
shutter, there is more distortion.

"Now, this is what happened. A picture was taken of Cadwalader
Brown's automobile, probably at rest, with Brown in it. The matter
of faking Travis or any one else by his side is simple. If with an
enlarging lantern the image of this faked picture is thrown on the
paper like a lantern slide, and if the right hand side is a little
further away than the left, the top further away than the bottom,
you can print a fraudulent high speed ahead picture. True,
everything else in the picture, even if motionless, is distorted,
and the difference between this faking and the distortion of the
shutter can be seen by an expert. But it will pass. In this case,
however, the faker was so sure of that that he was careless.
Instead of getting the plate further from the paper on the right
he did so on the left. It was further away on the bottom than on
the top. He got distortion all right, enough still to satisfy the
uninitiated. But it was distortion in the wrong way! The top of
the wheel, which goes fastest and ought to be most indistinct, is,
in the fake, as sharp as any other part. It is a small mistake,
but fatal. That picture is really at high speed - backwards!
It is too raw, too raw."

"You don't think people are going to swallow all that stuff, do
you?" asked Hanford coolly, in spite of the exposures.

Kennedy paid no attention. He was looking at McLoughlin. The Boss
was regarding him surlily. "Well," he said at length, "what of all
this? I had nothing to do with it. Why do you come to me? Take
it to the proper parties."

"Shall I?" asked Kennedy quietly.

He had uncovered another picture carefully. We could not see it,
but as he looked at it McLoughlin fairly staggered.

"Wh - where did you get that?" he gasped.

"I got it where I got it, and it is no fake," replied Kennedy
enigmatically. Then he appeared to think better of it. "This,"
he explained, "is what is known as a pinhole photograph. Three
hundred years ago della Porta knew the camera obscura, and but for
the lack of a sensitive plate would have made photographs. A box,
thoroughly light-tight, slotted inside to receive plates, covered
with black, and glued tight, a needle hole made by a number 10
needle in a thin sheet of paper and you have the apparatus for
lensless photography. It has a correctness such as no
image-forming means by lenses can have. It is literally
rectigraphic, rectilinear, it needs no focussing, and it takes a
wide angle with equal effect. Even pinhole snapshots are possible
where the light is abundant, with a ten to fifteen second exposure.

"That picture, McLoughlin, was taken yesterday at Hanford's. After
Miss Ashton left I saw who came out, but this picture shows what
happened before. At a critical moment Miss Ashton stuck a needle
in the wall of the studio, counted fifteen closed the needle-hole,
and there is the record Walter, Hanford, - leave us alone an instant."

When Kennedy passed out of the Boss's office there was a look of
quiet satisfaction on his face which I could not fathom. Not a word
could I extract from him either that night or on the following day,
which was the last before the election. I must say that I was keenly
disappointed by the lack of developments, however. The whole thing
seemed to me to be a mess. Everybody was involved. What had Miss
Ashton overheard and what had Kennedy said to McLoughlin? Above
all, what was his game? Was he playing to spare the girl's feelings
by allowing the election to go on without a scandal for Travis?

At last election night arrived. We were all at the Travis
headquarters, Kennedy, Travis, Bennett, and myself. Miss Ashton
was not present, but the first returns had scarcely begun to trickle
in when Craig whispered to me to go out and find her, either at her
home or club. I found her at home. She had apparently lost
interest in the election, and it was with difficulty that I persuaded
her to accompany me.

The excitement of any other night in the year paled to insignificance
before this. Distracted crowds everywhere were cheering and blowing
horns. Now a series of wild shouts broke forth from the dense mass
of people before a newspaper bulletin board. Now came sullen groans,
hisses, and catcalls, or all together with cheers as the returns
swung in another direction. Not even baseball could call out such a
crowd as this. Lights blazed everywhere. Automobiles honked and
ground their gears. The lobster palaces were thronged. Police were
everywhere. People with horns and bells and all manner of
noise-making devices pushed up one side of the thoroughfares and
down the other. Hungrily, ravenously they were feeding or the meagre
bulletins of news.

Yet back of all the noise and human energy I could only think of the
silent, systematic gathering and editing of the news. High up in
the League headquarters, when we returned, a corps of clerks was
tabulating returns, comparing official and semi-official reports.
As first the state swung one way, then another, our hopes rose and
fell. Miss Ashton seemed cold and ill at ease, while Travis looked
more worried and paid less attention to the returns than would have
seemed natural. She avoided him and he seemed to hesitate to seek
her out.

Would the up-state returns, I had wondered at first, be large enough
to overcome the hostile city vote? I was amazed now to see how
strongly the city was turning to Travis.

"McLoughlin has kept his word," ejaculated Kennedy as district after
district showed that the Boss's pluralities were being seriously cut
into. "His word? What do you mean?" we asked almost together.

"I mean that he has kept his word given to me at a conference which
Mr. Jameson saw but did not hear. I told him I would publish the
whole thing, not caring whom or where or when it hit if he did
not let up on Travis. I advised him to read his Revised Statutes
again about money in elections, and I ended up with the threat,
'There will be no dough day, McLoughlin, or this will be prosecuted
to the limit.' There was no dough day. You see the effect in the

"But how did you do it?" I asked, not comprehending. "The faked
photographs did not move him, that I could see."

The words, "faked photographs," caused Miss Ashton to glance up
quickly. I saw that Kennedy had not told her or any one yet, until
the Boss had made good. He had simply arranged one of his little

"Shall I tell, Miss Ashton?" he asked, adding, "Before I complete
my part of the compact and blot out the whole affair?"

"I have no right to say no," she answered tremulously, but with a
look of happiness that I had not seen since our first introduction.

Kennedy laid down a print on a table. It was the pinhole photograph,
a little blurry, but quite convincing. On a desk in the picture
was a pile of bills. McLoughlin was shoving them away from him
toward Bennett. A man who was facing forward in the picture was
talking earnestly to some one who did not appear. I felt
intuitively, even before Kennedy said so, that the person was Miss
Ashton herself as she stuck the needle into the wall. The man was
Cadwalader Brown.

"Travis," demanded Kennedy, "bring the account books of your
campaign. I want the miscellaneous account particularly."

The books were brought, and he continued, turning the leaves, "It
seemed to me to show a shortage of nearly twenty thousand dollars
the other day. Why, it has been made up. How was that, Bennett?"

Bennett was speechless. "I will tell you," Craig proceeded
inexorably. "Bennett, you embezzled that money for your business.
Rather than be found out, you went to Billy McLoughlin and offered
to sell out the Reform campaign for money to replace it. With the
aid of the crook, Hanford, McLoughlin's tool, you worked out the
scheme to extort money from Travis by forged photographs. You knew
enough about Travis's house and library to frame up a robbery one
night when you were staying there with him. It was inside work, I
found, at a glance. Travis, I am sorry to have to tell you that
your confidence was misplaced. It was Bennett who robbed you and worse.

"But Cadwalader Brown, always close to his creature, Billy McLoughlin,
heard of it. To him it presented another idea.=20 To him it offered a
chance to overthrow a political enemy and a hated rival for Miss
Ashton's hand. Perhaps into the bargain it would disgust her with
politics, disillusion her, and shake her faith in what he believed
to be some of her 'radical' notions. All could be gained at one
blow. They say that a check-book knows no politics, but Bennett has
learned some, I venture to say, and to save his reputation he will
pay back what he has tried to graft."

Travis could scarcely believe it yet. "How did you get your first
hint?" he gasped.

Kennedy was digging into the wall with a bill file at the place
where he had buried the little vulcanised disc. I had already
guessed that it was a dictograph, though I could not tell how it
was used or who used it. There it was, set squarely in the plaster.
There also were the wires running under the carpet. As he lifted
the rug under Miss Ashton's desk there also lay the huge circles
of wire. That was all.

At this moment Miss Ashton stepped forward. "Last Friday," she
said in a low tone, "I wore a belt which concealed a coil of wire
about my waist. From it a wire ran under my coat, connecting with
a small dry battery in a pocket. Over my head I had an arrangement
such as the telephone girls wear with a receiver at one ear
connected with the battery. No one saw it, for I wore a large hat
which completely hid it. If any one had known, and there were
plenty of eyes watching, the whole thing would have fallen through.
I could walk around; no one could suspect anything; but when I stood
or sat at my desk I could hear everything that was said in Mr.
Bennett's office."

"By induction," explained Kennedy. "The impulses set up in the
concealed dictograph set up currents in these coils of wire
concealed under the carpet. They were wirelessly duplicated by
induction in the coil about Miss Ashton's waist and so affected
the receiver under her very becoming hat. Tell the rest, Miss

"I heard the deal arranged with this Hanford," she added, almost
as if she were confessing something, "but not understanding it as
Mr. Kennedy did, I very hastily condemned Mr. Travis. I heard
talk of putting back twenty thousand into the campaign accounts,
of five thousand given to Hanford for his photographic work, and
of the way Mr. Travis was to be defeated whether he paid or not.
I heard them say that one condition was that I should carry the
purchase money. I heard much that must have confirmed Mr. Kennedy's
suspicion in one way, and my own in an opposite way, which I know
now was wrong. And then Cadwalader Brown in the studio taunted me
cynically and - and it cut me, for he seemed right. I hope that Mr.
Travis will forgive me for thinking that Mr. Bennett's treachery
was his"

A terrific cheer broke out among the clerks in the outer office.
A boy rushed in with a still unblotted report. Kennedy seized it
and read:

"McLoughlin concedes the city by a small majority to Travis,
fifteen election districts estimated. This clinches the Reform
League victory in the state."

I turned to Travis. He was paying no attention except to the pretty
apology of Margaret Ashton.

Kennedy drew me to the door. "We might as well concede Miss Ashton
to Travis," he said, adding gaily, "by induction of an arm about
the waist. Let's go out and watch the crowd."


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