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- The Dream Doctor - 6/59 -

He stopped, then added in a low tone that was almost inaudible, yet which did not call for an answer, "Could you--be honest with yourself, for you need say not a word aloud--could you always be sure of yourself in the face of any situation?"

She looked startled. Her ordinarily inscrutable face betrayed everything, though it was averted from the rest of us and could be seen only by Kennedy. She knew the truth that she strove to repress; she was afraid of herself.

"It is dangerous," she murmured, "to be with a person who pays attention to such little things. If every one were like you, I would no longer breathe a syllable of my dreams."

She was sobbing now.

What was back of it all? I had heard of the so-called resolution dreams. I had heard of dreams that kill, of unconscious murder, of the terrible acts of the subconscious somnambulist of which the actor has no recollection in the waking state until put under hypnotism. Was it that which Kennedy was driving at disclosing?

Dr. Ross moved nearer to Mrs. Maitland as if to reassure her. Craig was studying attentively the effect of his revelation both on her and on the other faces before him.

Mrs. Maitland, her shoulders bent with the outpouring of the long- suppressed emotion of the evening and of the tragic day, called for sympathy which, I could see, Craig would readily give when he had reached the climax he had planned.

"Kennedy," exclaimed Masterson, pushing aside Dr. Ross, as he bounded to the side of Mrs. Maitland, unable to restrain himself longer, "Kennedy, you are a faker--nothing but a damned dream doctor--in scientific disguise."

"Perhaps," replied Craig, with a quiet curl of the lip. "But the threads of the typewriter ribbon, the alignment of the letters, the paper, all the 'fingerprints' of that type-written note of suicide were those of the machine belonging to the man who caused the soul-wound, who knew Madeline Maitland's inmost heart better than herself--because he had heard of Freud undoubtedly, when he was in Vienna--who knew that he held her real love still, who posed as a patient of Dr. Ross to learn her secrets as well as to secure the subtle poison of the cobra. That man, perhaps, merely brushed against Price Maitland in the crowd, enough to scratch his hand with the needle, shove the false note into his pocket-- anything to win the woman who he knew loved him, and whom he could win. Masterson, you are that man!"

The next half hour was crowded kaleidoscopically with events--the call by Dr. Leslie for the police, the departure of the Coroner with Masterson in custody, and the efforts of Dr. Ross to calm his now almost hysterical patient, Mrs. Maitland.

Then a calm seemed to settle down over the old laboratory which had so often been the scene of such events, tense with human interest. I could scarcely conceal my amazement, as I watched Kennedy quietly restoring to their places the pieces of apparatus he had used.

"What's the matter?" he asked, catching my eye as he paused with the tintometer in his hand.

"Why," I exclaimed, "that's a fine way to start a month! Here's just one day gone and you've caught your man. Are you going to keep that up? If you are--I'll quit and skip to February. I'll choose the shortest month, if that's the pace!"

"Any month you please," he smiled grimly, as he reluctantly placed the tintometer in its cabinet.

There was no use. I knew that any other month would have been just the same.

"Well," I replied weakly, "all I can hope is that every day won't be as strenuous as this has been. I hope, at least, you will give me time to make some notes before you start off again."

"Can't say," he answered, still busy returning paraphernalia to its accustomed place. "I have no control over the cases as they come to me--except that I fan turn down those that don't interest me."

"Then," I sighed wearily, "turn down the next one. I must have rest. I'm going home to sleep."

"Very well," he said, making no move to follow me.

I shook my head doubtfully. It was impossible to force a card on Kennedy. Instead of showing any disposition to switch off the laboratory lights, he appeared to be regarding a row of half- filled test-tubes with the abstraction of a man who has been interrupted in the midst of an absorbing occupation.

"Good night," I said at length.

"Good night," he echoed mechanically.

I know that he slept that night--at least his bed had been slept in when I awoke in the morning. But he was gone. But then, it was not unusual for him, when the fever for work was on him, to consider even five or fewer hours a night's rest. It made no difference when I argued with him. The fact that he thrived on it himself and could justify it by pointing to other scientists was refutation enough.

Slowly I dressed, breakfasted, and began transcribing what I could from the hastily jotted down notes of the day before. I knew that the work, whatever it was, in which he was now engaged must be in the nature of research, dear to his heart. Otherwise, he would have left word for me.

No word came from him, however, all day, and I had not only caught up in my notes, but, my appetite whetted by our first case, had become hungry for more. In fact I had begun to get a little worried at the continued silence. A hand on the knob of the door or a ring of the telephone would hare been a welcome relief. I was gradually becoming aware of the fact that I liked the excitement of the life as much as Kennedy did.

I knew it when the sudden sharp tinkle of the telephone set my heart throbbing almost as quickly as the little bell hammer buzzed.

"Jameson, for Heaven's sake find Kennedy immediately and bring him over here to the Novella Beauty Parlour. We've got the worst case I've been up against in a long time. Dr. Leslie, the coroner, is here, and says we must not make a move until Kennedy arrives."

I doubt whether in all our long acquaintance I had ever heard First Deputy O'Connor more wildly excited and apparently more helpless than he seemed over the telephone that night.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Never mind, never mind. Find Kennedy," he called back almost brusquely. "It's Miss Blanche Blaisdell, the actress--she's been found dead here. The thing is an absolute mystery. Now get him, GET HIM."

It was still early in the evening, and Kennedy had not come in, nor had he sent any word to our apartment. O'Connor had already tried the laboratory. As for myself, I had not the slightest idea where Craig was. I knew the case must be urgent if both the deputy and the coroner were waiting for him. Still, after half an hour's vigorous telephoning, I was unable to find a trace of Kennedy in any of his usual haunts.

In desperation I left a message for him with the hall-boy in case he called up, jumped into a cab, and rode over to the laboratory, hoping that some of the care-takers might still be about and might know something of his whereabouts. The janitor was able to enlighten me to the extent of telling me that a big limousine had called for Kennedy an hour or so before, and that he had left in great haste.

I had given it up as hopeless and had driven back to the apartment to wait for him, when the hall-boy made a rush at me just as I was paying my fare.

"Mr. Kennedy on the wire, sir," he cried as he half dragged me into the hall.

"Walter," almost shouted Kennedy, "I'm over at the Washington Heights Hospital with Dr. Barron--you remember Barron, in our class at college? He has a very peculiar case of a poor girl whom he found wandering on the street and brought here. Most unusual thing. He came over to the laboratory after me in his car. Yes, I have the message that you left with the hall-boy. Come up here and pick me up, and we'll ride right down to the Novella. Goodbye."

I had not stopped to ask questions and prolong the conversation, knowing as I did the fuming impatience of O'Connor. It was relief enough to know that Kennedy was located at last.

He was in the psychopathic ward with Barron, as I hurried in. The girl whom he had mentioned over the telephone was then quietly sleeping under the influence of an opiate, and they were discussing the case outside in the hall.

"What do you think of it yourself?" Barron was asking, nodding to me to join them. Then he added for my enlightenment: "I found this girl wandering bareheaded in the street. To tell the truth, I thought at first that she was intoxicated, but a good look showed me better than that. So I hustled the poor thing into my car and brought her here. All the way she kept crying over and over: 'Look, don't you see it? She's afire! Her lips shine--they shine, they shine.' I think the girl is demented and has had some hallucination."

"Too vivid for a hallucination," remarked Kennedy decisively. "It was too real to her. Even the opiate couldn't remove the picture, whatever it was, from her mind until you had given her almost enough to kill her, normally. No, that wasn't any hallucination. Now, Walter, I'm ready."

The Dream Doctor - 6/59

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