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- The Ear in the Wall - 1/51 -


THE EAR IN THE WALL

BY

ARTHUR B. REEVE

FRONTISPIECE BY WILL FOSTER

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

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


The Ear in the Wall - 1/51

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