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- The War Terror - 10/65 -
say, without exaggeration, a hundred feet.
The lettering on the matchbox could be seen in the silvered mirror, enlarged to such a point that the letters were plainly visible!
"Think of the possibilities in that," he added excitedly. "I saw them at once. You can read what some one is writing at a desk a hundred, perhaps two hundred feet away."
"Yes," I cried, more interested in the practical aspects of it than in the mechanics and optics. "What have you found?"
"Some one came into the boathouse while you were away," he said. "He had a note. It read, 'Those new detectives are watching everything. We must have the evidence. You must get those letters to-night, without fail.'"
"Letters--evidence," I repeated. "Who wrote it? Who received it?"
"I couldn't see over the hedge who had entered the boathouse, and by the time I got around here he was gone."
"Was it Wickham--or intended for Wickham?" I asked.
Kennedy shrugged his shoulders.
"We'll gain nothing by staying here," he said. "There is just one possibility in the case, and I can guard against that only by returning to Verplanck's and getting some of that stuff I brought up here with me. Let us go."
Late in the afternoon though it was, after our return, Kennedy insisted on hurrying from Verplanck's to the Yacht Club up the bay. It was a large building, extending out into the water on made land, from which ran a long, substantial dock. He had stopped long enough only to ask Verplanck to lend him the services of his best mechanician, a Frenchman named Armand.
On the end of the yacht club dock Kennedy and Armand set up a large affair which looked like a mortar. I watched curiously, dividing my attention between them and the splendid view of the harbor which the end of the dock commanded on all sides.
"What is this?" I asked finally. "Fireworks?"
"A rocket mortar of light weight," explained Kennedy, then dropped into French as he explained to Armand the manipulation of the thing.
There was a searchlight near by on the dock.
"You can use that?" queried Kennedy.
"Oh, yes. Mr. Verplanck, he is vice-commodore of the club. Oh, yes, I can use that. Why, Monsieur?"
Kennedy had uncovered a round brass case. It did not seem to amount to much, as compared to some of the complicated apparatus he had used. In it was a four-sided prism of glass--I should have said, cut off the corner of a huge glass cube.
He handed it to us.
"Look in it," he said.
It certainly was about the most curious piece of crystal gazing I had ever done. Turn the thing any way I pleased and I could see my face in it, just as in an ordinary mirror.
"What do you call it?" Armand asked, much interested.
"A triple mirror," replied Kennedy, and again, half in English and half in French, neither of which I could follow, he explained the use of the mirror to the mechanician.
We were returning up the dock, leaving Armand with instructions to be at the club at dusk, when we met McNeill, tired and disgusted.
"What luck?" asked Kennedy.
"Nothing," he returned. "I had a 'short' shadow and a 'long' shadow at Wickham's heels all day. You know what I mean. Instead of one man, two--the second sleuthing in the other's tracks. If he escaped Number One, Number Two would take it up, and I was ready to move up into Number Two's place. They kept him in sight about all the time. Not a fact. But then, of course, we don't know what he was doing before we took up tailing him. Say," he added, "I have just got word from an agency with which I correspond in New York that it is reported that a yeggman named 'Australia Mac,' a very daring and clever chap, has been attempting to dispose of some of the goods which we know have been stolen through one of the worst 'fences' in New York."
"Is that all?" asked Craig, with the mention of Australia Mac showing the first real interest yet in anything that McNeill had done since we met him the night before.
"All so far. I wired for more details immediately."
"Do you know anything about this Australia Mac?"
"Not much. No one does. He's a new man, it seems, to the police here."
"Be here at eight o'clock, McNeill," said Craig, as we left the club for Verplanck's. "If you can find out more about this yeggman, so much the better."
"Have you made any progress?" asked Verplanck as we entered the estate a few minutes later.
"Yes," returned Craig, telling only enough to whet his interest. "There's a clue, as I half expected, from New York, too. But we are so far away that we'll have to stick to my original plan. You can trust Armand?"
"Then we shall transfer our activity to the Yacht Club to-night," was all that Kennedy vouchsafed.
THE TRIPLE MIRROR
It was the regular Saturday night dance at the club, a brilliant spectacle, faces that radiated pleasure, gowns that for startling combinations of color would have shamed a Futurist, music that set the feet tapping irresistibly--a scene which I shall pass over because it really has no part in the story.
The fascination of the ballroom was utterly lost on Craig. "Think of all the houses only half guarded about here to-night," he mused, as we joined Armand and McNeill on the end of the dock. I could not help noting that that was the only idea which the gay, variegated, sparkling tango throng conveyed to him.
In front of the club was strung out a long line of cars, and at the dock several speed boats of national and international reputation, among them the famous Streamline II, at our instant beck and call. In it Craig had already placed some rather bulky pieces of apparatus, as well as a brass case containing a second triple mirror like that which he had left with Armand.
With McNeill, I walked back along the pier, leaving Kennedy with Armand, until we came to the wide porch, where we joined the wallflowers and the rocking-chair fleet. Mrs. Verplanck, I observed, was a beautiful dancer. I picked her out in the throng immediately, dancing with Carter.
McNeill tugged at my sleeve. Without a word I saw what he meant me to see. Verplanck and Mrs. Hollingsworth were dancing together. Just then, across the porch I caught sight of Kennedy at one of the wide windows. He was trying to attract Verplanck's attention, and as he did so I worked my way through the throng of chatting couples leaving the floor until I reached him. Verplanck, oblivious, finished the dance; then, seeming to recollect that he had something to attend to, caught sight of us, and ran off during the intermission from the gay crowd to which he resigned Mrs. Hollingsworth.
"What is it?" he asked.
"There's that light down the bay," whispered Kennedy.
Instantly Verplanck forgot about the dance.
"Where?" he asked.
"In the same place."
I had not noticed, but Mrs. Verplanck, woman-like, had been able to watch several things at once. She had seen us and had joined us.
"Would you like to run down there in the Streamline?" he asked. "It will only take a few minutes."
"What is it--that light again?" she asked, as she joined us in walking down the dock.
"Yes," answered her husband, pausing to look for a moment at the stuff Kennedy had left with Armand. Mrs. Verplanck leaned over the Streamline, turned as she saw me, and said: "I wish I could go with you. But evening dress is not the thing for a shivery night in a speed boat. I think I know as much about it as Mr. Verplanck. Are you going to leave Armand?"
"Yes," replied Kennedy, taking his place beside Verplanck, who was seated at the steering wheel. "Walter and McNeill, if you two will sit back there, we're ready. All right."
Armand had cast us off and Mrs. Verplanck waved from the end of
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