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- The Dream Doctor - 3/59 -
A few moments later Mrs. Maitland returned, calmer.
"In his note," resumed Kennedy, "he spoke of Dr. Ross and--"
"Oh," she cried, "can't you see Dr. Ross about it? Really I--I oughtn't to be--questioned in this way--not now, so soon after what I've had to go through."
It seemed that her nerves were getting unstrung again. Kennedy rose to go.
"Later, come to see me," she pleaded. "But now--you must realise-- it is too much. I cannot talk--I cannot."
"Mr. Maitland had no enemies that you know of?" asked Kennedy, determined to learn something now, at least.
"No, no. None that would--do that."
"You had had no quarrel?" he added.
"No--we never quarrelled. Oh, Price--why did you? How could you?"
Her feelings were apparently rapidly getting the better of her. Kennedy bowed, and we withdrew silently. He had learned one thing. She believed or wanted others to believe in the note.
At a public telephone, a few minutes later, Kennedy was running over the names in the telephone book. "Let me see--here's an Arnold Masterson," he considered. Then turning the pages he went on, "Now we must find this Dr. Ross. There--Dr. Sheldon Ross-- specialist in nerve diseases--that must be the one. He lives only a few blocks further uptown."
Handsome, well built, tall, dignified, in fact distinguished, Dr. Ross proved to be a man whose very face and manner were magnetic, as should be those of one who had chosen his branch of the profession.
"You have heard, I suppose, of the strange death of Price Maitland?" began Kennedy when we were seated in the doctor's office.
"Yes, about an hour ago." It was evident that he was studying us.
"Mrs. Maitland, I believe, is a patient of yours?"
"Yes, Mrs. Maitland is one of my patients," he admitted interrogatively. Then, as if considering that Kennedy's manner was not to be mollified by anything short of a show of confidence, he added: "She came to me several months ago. I have had her under treatment for nervous trouble since then, without a marked improvement."
"And Mr. Maitland," asked Kennedy, "was he a patient, too?"
"Mr. Maitland," admitted the doctor with some reticence, "had called on me this morning, but no, he was not a patient."
"Did you notice anything unusual?"
"He seemed to be much worried," Dr. Ross replied guardedly.
Kennedy took the suicide note from his pocket and handed it to him.
"I suppose you have heard of this?" asked Craig.
The doctor read it hastily, then looked up, as if measuring from Kennedy's manner just how much he knew. "As nearly as I could make out," he said slowly, his reticence to outward appearance gone, "Maitland seemed to have something on his mind. He came inquiring as to the real cause of his wife's nervousness. Before I had talked to him long I gathered that he had a haunting fear that she did not love him any more, if ever. I fancied that he even doubted her fidelity."
I wondered why the doctor was talking so freely, now, in contrast with his former secretiveness.
"Do you think he was right?" shot out Kennedy quickly, eying Dr. Ross keenly.
"No, emphatically, no; he was not right," replied the doctor, meeting Craig's scrutiny without flinching. "Mrs. Maitland," he went on more slowly as if carefully weighing every word, "belongs to a large and growing class of women in whom, to speak frankly, sex seems to be suppressed. She is a very handsome and attractive woman--you have seen her? Yes? You must have noticed, though, that she is really frigid, cold, intellectual."
The doctor was so sharp and positive about his first statement and so careful in phrasing the second that I, at least, jumped to the conclusion that Maitland might have been right, after all. I imagined that Kennedy, too, had his suspicions of the doctor.
"Have you ever heard of or used cobra venom in any of your medical work?" he asked casually.
Dr. Ross wheeled in his chair, surprised.
"Why, yes," he replied quickly. "You know that it is a test for blood diseases, one of the most recently discovered and used parallel to the old tests. It is known as the Weil cobra-venom test."
"Do you use it often?"
"N--no," he replied. "My practice ordinarily does not lie in that direction. I used it not long ago, once, though. I have a patient under my care, a well-known club-man. He came to me originally--"
"Arnold Masterson?" asked Craig.
"Yes--how did you know his name?"
"Guessed it," replied Craig laconically, as if he knew much more than he cared to tell. "He was a friend of Mrs. Maitland's, was he not?"
"I should say not," replied Dr. Ross, without hesitation. He was quite ready to talk without being urged. "Ordinarily," he explained confidentially, "professional ethics seals my lips, but in this instance, since you seem to know so much, I may as well tell more."
I hardly knew whether to take him at his face value or not. Still he went on: "Mrs. Maitland is, as I have hinted at, what we specialists would call a consciously frigid but unconsciously passionate woman. As an intellectual woman she suppresses nature. But nature does and will assert herself, we believe. Often you will find an intellectual woman attracted unreasonably to a purely physical man--I mean, speaking generally, not in particular cases. You have read Ellen Key, I presume? Well, she expresses it well in some of the things she has written about affinities. Now, don't misunderstand me," he cautioned. "I am speaking generally, not of this individual case."
I was following Dr. Ross closely. When he talked so, he was a most fascinating man.
"Mrs. Maitland," he resumed, "has been much troubled by her dreams, as you have heard, doubtless. The other day she told me of another dream. In it she seemed to be attacked by a bull, which suddenly changed into a serpent. I may say that I had asked her to make a record of her dreams, as well as other data, which I thought might be of use in the study and treatment of her nervous troubles. I readily surmised that not the dream, but something else, perhaps some recollection which it recalled, worried her. By careful questioning I discovered that it was--a broken engagement."
"Yes," prompted Kennedy.
"The bull-serpent, she admitted, had a half-human face--the face of Arnold Masterson!"
Was Dr. Ross desperately shifting suspicion from himself? I asked.
"Very strange--very," ruminated Kennedy. "That reminds me again. I wonder if you could let me have a sample of this cobra venom?"
"Surely. Excuse me; I'll get you some."
The doctor had scarcely shut the door when Kennedy began prowling around quietly. In the waiting-room, which was now deserted, stood a typewriter.
Quickly Craig ran over the keys of the machine until he had a sample of every character. Then he reached into drawer of the desk and hastily stuffed several blank sheets of paper into his pocket.
"Of course I need hardly caution you in handling this," remarked Dr. Ross, as he returned. "You are as well acquainted as I am with the danger attending its careless and unscientific uses." "I am, and I thank you very much," said Kennedy.
We were standing in the waiting-room.
"You will keep me advised of any progress you make in the case?" the doctor asked. "It complicates, as you can well imagine, my treatment of Mrs. Maitland."
"I shall be glad to do so," replied Kennedy, as we departed.
An hour later found us in a handsomely appointed bachelor apartment in a fashionable hotel overlooking the lower entrance to the Park.
"Mr. Masterson, I believe?" inquired Kennedy, as a slim, debonair, youngish-old man entered the room in which we had been waiting.
"I am that same," he smiled. "To what am I indebted for this pleasure?"
We had been gazing at the various curios with which he had made the room a veritable den of the connoisseur.
"You have evidently travelled considerably," remarked Kennedy,
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