The Ear in the Wall - Arthur B. Reeve - ebook

The Ear in the Wall ebook

Arthur B. Reeve

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The scientific detective known as the „American Sherlock Holmes” pursues a ruthless arch villain in this high-stakes suspense novel. „The Exploits of Elaine” is a collection of short stories about a beautiful young woman Elaine, who’s father was murdered by the mysterious gang leader The Clutching Hand, and who is subsequently terrorized by him and his gang. Using the latest advances in forensic science, the professor Craig Kennedy and his loyal sidekick, newspaper reporter Walter Jameson, uncover the exotic and deadly scheme behind the murders. But when the Clutching Hand and his band of evildoers kidnap Elaine, Kennedy must shed his lab coat and leap into action before it’s too late.

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Liczba stron: 400

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Contents

I. THE VANISHER

II. THE BLACK BOOK

III. THE SAFE ROBBERY

IV. THE ANONYMOUS LETTER

V. THE SUFFRAGETTE SECRETARY

VI. THE WOMAN DETECTIVE

VII. THE GANG LEADER

VIII. THE SHYSTER LAWYER

IX. THE JURY FIXER

X. THE AFTERNOON DANCE

XI. THE TYPEWRITER CLUE

XII. THE "PORTRAIT PARLE"

XIII. THE CONVICTION

XIV. THE BEAUTY PARLOUR

XV. THE PHANTOM CIRCUIT

XVI THE SANITARIUM

XVII. THE SOCIETY SCANDAL

XVIII. THE WALL STREET WOLF

XIX. THE ESCAPE

XX. THE METRIC PHOTOGRAPH

XXI. THE MORGUE

XXII. THE CANARD

XXIII. THE CONFESSION

XXIV. THE DEBACLE OF DORGAN

XXV. THE BLOOD CRYSTALS

XXVI. THE WHITE SLAVE

XXVII. THE ELECTION NIGHT

I

THE VANISHER

“Hello, Jameson, is Kennedy in?”

I glanced up from the evening papers to encounter the square-jawed, alert face of District Attorney Carton in the doorway of our apartment.

“How do you do, Judge?” I exclaimed. “No, but I expect him any second now. Won’t you sit down?”

The District Attorney dropped, rather wearily I thought, into a chair and looked at his watch.

I had made Carton’s acquaintance some years before as a cub reporter on the Star while he was a judge of an inferior court. Our acquaintance had grown through several political campaigns in which I had had assignments that brought me into contact with him. More recently some special writing had led me across his trail again in telling the story of his clean-up of graft in the city. At present his weariness was easily accounted for. He was in the midst of the fight of his life for re-election against the so-called “System,” headed by Boss Dorgan, in which he had gone far in exposing evils that ranged all the way from vice and the drug traffic to bald election frauds.

“I expect a Mrs. Blackwell here in a few minutes,” he remarked, glancing again at his watch. His eye caught the headline of the news story I had been reading and he added quickly, “What do the boys on the Star think of that Blackwell case, anyhow?”

It was, I may say, a case deeply shrouded in mystery–the disappearance without warning of a beautiful young girl, Betty Blackwell, barely eighteen. Her family, the police, and now the District Attorney had sought to solve it in vain. Some had thought it a kidnaping, others a suicide, and others had even hinted at murder. All sorts of theories had been advanced without in the least changing the original dominant note of mystery. Photographs of the young woman had been published broadcast, I knew, without eliciting a word in reply. Young men whom she had known and girls with whom she had been intimate had been questioned without so much as a clue being obtained. Reports that she had been seen had come in from all over the country, as they always do in such cases. All had been investigated and had turned out to be based on nothing more than imagination. The mystery remained unsolved.

“Well,” I replied, “of course there’s a lot of talk now in the papers about aphasia and amnesia and all that stuff. But, you know, we reporters are a sceptical lot. We have to be shown. I can’t say we put much faith in THAT.”

“But what is your explanation? You fellows always have an opinion. Sometimes I think the newspapermen are our best detectives.”

“I can’t say that we have any opinion in this case–yet,” I returned frankly. “When a girl just simply disappears on Fifth Avenue and there isn’t even the hint of a clue as to any place she went or how, well–oh, there’s Kennedy now. Put it up to him.”

“We were just talking of that Betty Blackwell disappearance case,” resumed Carton, when the greetings were over. “What do you think of it?”

“Think of it?” repeated Kennedy promptly with a keen glance at the District Attorney; “why, Judge, I think of it the same as you evidently do. If you didn’t think it was a case that was in some way connected with your vice and graft investigation, you wouldn’t be here. And if I didn’t feel that it promised surprising results, aside from the interest I always have naturally in solving such mysteries, I wouldn’t be ready to take up the offer which you came here to make.”

“You’re a wizard, Kennedy,” laughed Carton, though it was easily seen that he was both pleased and relieved to think that he had enlisted Craig’s services so easily.

“Not much of a wizard. In the first place, I know the fight you’re making. Also, I know that you wouldn’t go to the police in the present state of armed truce between your office and Headquarters. You want someone outside. Well, I’m more than willing to be that person. The whole thing, in its larger aspects, interests me. Betty Blackwell in particular, arouses my sympathies. That’s all.”

“Exactly, Kennedy. This fight I’m in is going to be the fight of my life. Just now, in addition to everything else, people are looking to me to find Betty Blackwell. Her mother was in to see me today; there isn’t much that she could add to what has already been said. Betty was a most attractive girl. The family is an excellent one, but in reduced circumstances. She had been used to a great deal as a child, but now, since the death of her father, she has had to go to work–and you know what that means to a girl like that.”

Carton laid down a new photograph which the newspapers had not printed yet. Betty Blackwell was slender, petite, chic. Her dark hair was carefully groomed, and there was an air with which she wore her clothes and carried herself, even in a portrait, which showed that she was no ordinary girl.

Her soft brown eyes had that magnetic look which is dangerous to their owner if she does not know how to control it, eyes that arrested one’s gaze, invited notice. Even the lens must have felt the spell. It had caught, also, the soft richness of the skin of her oval face and full throat and neck. Indeed one could not help remarking that she was really the girl to grace a fortune. Only a turn of the hand of that fickle goddess had prevented her from doing so.

I had picked up one of the evening papers and was looking at the newspaper half-tone which more than failed to do justice to her. Just then my eye happened on an item which I had been about to discuss with Carton when Kennedy entered.

“As a scientist, does the amnesia theory appeal to you, Craig?” I asked. “Now, here is an explanation by one of the special writers, headed, ‘Personalities Lost Through Amnesia.’ Listen.”

The article was brief:

Mysterious disappearances, such as that of Betty Blackwell, have alarmed the public and baffled the police before this–disappearances that have in their suddenness, apparent lack of purpose, and inexplicability much in common with her case. Leaving out of account the class of disappearances for their own convenience–embezzlers, blackmailers, and so forth–there is still a large number of recorded cases where the subjects have dropped out of sight without apparent cause or reason and have left behind them untarnished reputations and solvent back accounts. Of these, a small percentage are found to have met with violence; others have been victims of suicidal mania, and sooner or later a clue has come to light which has established the fact. The dead are often easier to find than the living.

Of the remaining small proportion, there are on record, however, a number of carefully authenticated cases where the subject has been the victim of a sudden and complete loss of memory.

This dislocation of memory is a variety of aphasia known as amnesia, and when the memory is recurrently lost and restored, we have alternating personality. The Society for Psychical Research and many eminent psychologists, among them the late William James, Dr. Weir Mitchell, Dr. Hodgson of Boston, and Dr. A. E. Osborn of San Francisco, have reported many cases of alternating personality.

Studious efforts are being made to understand and to explain the strange type of mental phenomena exhibited in these cases, but as yet no one has given a clear and comprehensive explanation of them. Such cases are by no means always connected with disappearances, and exhaustive studies have been made of types of alternating personality that have from first to last been carefully watched by scientists of the first rank.

The variety known as the ambulatory type, where the patient suddenly loses all knowledge of his own identity and of the past and takes himself off, leaving no trace or clue, is the variety which the present case of Miss Blackwell seems to suggest.

There followed a number of most interesting cases and an elaborate argument by the writer to show that Betty Blackwell was a victim of this psychological aberration, that she was, in other words, “a vanisher.”

I laid down the paper with a questioning look at Kennedy.

“As a scientist,” he replied deliberately, “the theory, of course, does appeal to me, especially in the ingenious way in which that writer applied it. However, as a detective”–he shook his head slowly–“I must deal with facts–not speculations. It leaves much to be explained, to say the least.”

Just then the door buzzer sounded and Carton himself sprang to answer it.

“That’s Mrs. Blackwell now–her mother. I told her that I was going to take the case to you, Kennedy, and took the liberty of asking her to come up here to meet you. Good-afternoon, Mrs. Blackwell. Let me introduce Professor Kennedy and Mr. Jameson, of whom I spoke to you.”

She bowed and murmured a tremulous greeting. Kennedy placed a chair for her and she thanked him.

Mrs. Blackwell was a slender little woman in black, well past middle age. Her face and dress spoke of years of economy, even of privation, but her manner was plainly that of a woman of gentle breeding and former luxury. She was precisely of the type of decayed gentlewoman that one meets often in the city, especially at some of the middle-class boarding-houses.

Deeply as the disappearance of her daughter had affected her, Mrs. Blackwell was facing it bravely. That was her nature. One could imagine that only when Betty was actually found would this plucky little woman collapse. Instinctively, one felt that she claimed his assistance in the unequal fight she was waging against the complexities of modern life for which she had been so ill prepared.

“I do hope you will be able to find my daughter,” she began, controlling her voice with an effort. “Mr. Carton has been so kind, more than kind, I am sure, in getting your aid. The police seem to be able to do nothing. They make out reports, put me off, tell me they are making progress–but they don’t find Betty.”

There was a tragic pathos in the way she said it.

“Betty was such a good girl, too,” she went on, her emotions rising. “Oh, I was so proud of her when she got her position down in Wall Street, with the broker, Mr. Langhorne.”

“Tell Mr. Kennedy just what you told me of her disappearance,” put in Carton.

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