The Campaign Grafter
by Arthur B. Reeve
"What a relief it will be when this election is over and
the newspapers print news again," I growled as I turned the
first page of the Star with a mere glance at the
"Yes," observed Kennedy, who was puzzling over a note
which he had received in the morning mail. "This is the
bitterest campaign in years. Now, do you suppose that they
are after me in a professional way or are they trying to
round me up as an independent voter?"
The letter which had called forth this remark was headed,
"The Travis Campaign Committee of the Reform League,"
as Kennedy evidently intended me to pass an opinion on it, I
picked it up. It was only a few lines, requesting him to
call during the morning, if convenient, on Wesley Travis,
the candidate for governor and the treasurer of his campaign
committee, Dean Bennett. It had evidently been written in
great haste in longhand the night before.
"Professional," I hazarded. "There must be some
in the campaign for which they require your services."
"I suppose so," agreed Craig. "Well, if it is
instead of politics it has at least this merit--it is
current business. I suppose you have no objection to going
Thus it came about that not very much later in the morning
we found ourselves at the campaign headquarters, in the
presence of two nervous and high-keyed gentlemen in frock
coats and silk hats. It would have taken no great
astuteness, even without seeing the surroundings, to deduce
instantly that they were engaged in the annual struggle of
seeking the votes of their fellow-citizens for something or
other, and were nearly worn out by the arduous nature of
Their headquarters were in a tower of a skyscraper, whence
poured forth a torrent of appeal to the moral sense of the
electorate, both in printed and oral form. Yet there was a
different tone to the place from that which I had ordinarily
associated with political headquarters in previous
campaigns. There was an absence of the old-fashioned
politicians and of the air of intrigue laden with tobacco.
Rather, there was an air of earnestness and efficiency which
was decidedly prepossessing. Maps of the state were hanging
on the walls, some stuck full of various coloured pins
denoting the condition of the canvass. A map of the city in
colours, divided into all sorts of districts, told how fared
the battle in the stronghold of the boss, Billy McLoughlin.
Huge systems of card indexes, loose leaf devices,
labour-saving appliances for getting out a vast mass of
campaign "literature" in a hurry, in short a perfect
such as a great, well-managed business might have been proud
of, were in evidence everywhere.
Wesley Travis was a comparatively young man, a lawyer who
had early made a mark in politics and had been astute enough
to shake off the thraldom of the bosses before the popular
uprising against them. Now he was the candidate of the
Reform League for governor and a good stiff campaign he was
His campaign manager, Dean Bennett, was a business man
whose financial interests were opposed to those usually
understood to be behind Billy McLoughlin, of the regular
party to which both Travis and Bennett might naturally have
been supposed to belong in the old days. Indeed the Reform
League owed its existence to a fortunate conjunction of both
moral and economic conditions demanding progress.
"Things have been going our way up to the present,"
Travis confidentially, when we were seated democratically
with our campaign cigars lighted. "Of course we haven't
such a big 'barrel' as our opponents, for we are not frying
the fat out of the corporations. But the people have
supported us nobly, and I think the opposition of the vested
interests has been a great help. We seem to be winning, and
I say 'seem' only because one can never be certain how
anything is going in this political game nowadays.
"You recall, Mr. Kennedy, reading in the papers that my
country house out on Long Island was robbed the other day?
Some of the reporters made much of it. To tell the truth, I
think they had become so satiated with sensations that they
were sure that the thing was put up by some muckrakers and
that there would be an expose of some kind. For the thief,
whoever he was, seems to have taken nothing from my library
but a sort of scrap-book or album of photographs. It was a
peculiar robbery, but as I had nothing to conceal it didn't
worry me. Well, I had all but forgotten it when a fellow
came into Bennett's office here yesterday and demanded--
tell us what it was, Bennett. You saw him."
Bennett cleared his throat. "You see, it was this way.
He gave his name as Harris Hanford and described himself as
a photographer. I think he has done work for Billy
McLoughlin. At any rate, his offer was to sell us several
photographs, and his story about them was very
circumstantial. He hinted that they had been evidently
among those stolen from Mr. Travis and that in a roundabout
way they had come into the possession of a friend of his
without his knowing who the thief was. He said that he had
not made the photographs himself, but had an idea by whom
they were made, that the original plates had been destroyed,
but that the person who made them was ready to swear that
the pictures were taken after the nominating convention this
fall which had named Travis. At any rate the photographs
were out and the price for hem was $25,000."
"What are they that he should set such a price on
asked Kennedy, keenly looking from Bennett quickly to
Travis met his look without flinching. "They are supposed
to be photographs of myself," he replied slowly. "One
purports to represent me in a group on McLoughlin's porch at
his farm on the south shore of the island, about twenty
miles from my place. As Hanford described it, I am standing
between McLoughlin and J. Cadwalader Brown, the trust
promoter who is backing McLoughlin to save his investments.
Brown's hand is on my shoulder and we are talking
familiarly. Another is a picture of Brown, McLoughlin and
myself riding in Brown's car, and in it Brown and I are
evidently on the best of terms. Oh, there are several of
them, all in the same vein. Now," he added, and his voice
rose with emotion as if he were addressing a cart-tail
meeting which must be convinced that there was nothing
criminal in riding in a motor-car, "I don't hesitate to
admit that a year or so ago I was not on terms of intimacy
with these men, but at least acquainted with them. At
various times, even as late as last spring, I was present at
conferences over the presidential outlook in this state, and
once I think I did ride back to the city with them. But I
know that there were no pictures taken, and even if there
had been I would not care if they told the truth about them.
I have frankly admitted in my speeches that I knew these
men, that my knowledge of them and breaking from them is my
chief qualification for waging an effective war on them if I
am elected. They hate me cordially. You know that. What I
do care about is the sworn allegation that now accompanies
these--these fakes. They were not, could not have been
taken after the independent convention that nominated me.
If the photographs were true I would be a fine traitor. But
I haven't even seen McLoughlin or Brown since last spring.
The whole thing is a----"
"Lie from start to finish," put in Bennett
"Yes, Travis, we all know that. I'd quit right now if I
didn't believe in you. But let us face the facts. Here is
this story, sworn to as Hanford says and apparently
acquiesced in by Billy McLoughlin and Cad. Brown. What do
they care anyhow as long as it is against you? And there
too, are the pictures themselves--at least they will be in
print or suppressed, according as we act. Now, you know
that nothing could hurt the reform ticket worse than to have
an issue like this raised at this time. We were supposed at
least to be on the level, with nothing to explain away.
There may be just enough people to believe that there is
some basis for this suspicion to turn the tide against us.
If it were earlier in the campaign I'd say accept the issue,
fight it out to a finish, and in the turn of events we
should really have the best campaign material. But it is
too late now to expose such a knavish trick of theirs on the
Friday before election. Frankly, I believe discretion is
the better part of valour in this case and without abating a
jot of my faith in you, Travis, well, I'd pay first and
expose the fraud afterward, after the election, at leisure."
"No, I won't," persisted Travis, shutting his square
doggedly. "I won't be held up."
The door had opened and a young lady in a very stunning
street dress, with a huge hat and a tantalizing veil, stood
in it for a moment, hesitated, and then was about to shut it
with an apology for intruding on a conference.
"I'll fight it if it takes my last dollar," declared
Travis "but I won't be blackmailed out of a cent. Good
morning, Miss Ashton. I'll be free in a moment. I'll see
you in your office directly."
The girl, with a portfolio of papers in her hand, smiled,
and Travis quickly crossed the room and held the door
deferentially open as he whispered a word or two. When she
had disappeared he returned and remarked, "I suppose you
have heard of Miss Margaret Ashton, the suffragette leader,
Mr. Kennedy? She is the head of our press bureau." Then a
heightened look of determination set his fine face in hard
lines, and he brought his fist down on the desk. "No, not a
cent," he thundered.
Bennett shrugged his shoulders hopelessly and looked at
Kennedy in mock resignation as if to say, "What can you do
with such a fellow?" Travis was excitedly pacing the floor
and waving his arms as if he were addressing a meeting in
the enemy's country. "Hanford comes at us in this way,"
continued, growing more excited as he paced up and down.
"He says plainly that the pictures will of course be
accepted as among those stolen from me, and in that, I
suppose, he is right. The public will swallow it. When
Bennett told him I would prosecute he laughed and said, 'Go
ahead. I didn't steal the pictures. That would be a great
joke for Travis to seek redress from the courts he is
criticizing. I guess he'd want to recall the decision if it
went against him--hey?' Hanford says that a hundred copies
have been made of each of the photographs and that this
person, whom we do not know, has them ready to drop into the
mail to the one hundred leading papers of the state in time
for them to appear in the Monday editions just before
Election Day. He says no amount of denying on our part can
destroy the effect--or at least he went further and said
'shake their validity.'
"But I repeat. They are false. For all I know, it is a
plot of McLoughlin's, the last fight of a boss for his life,
driven into a corner. And it is meaner than if he had
attempted to forge a letter. Pictures appeal to the eye and
mind much more than letters. That's what makes the thing so
dangerous. Billy McLoughlin knows how to make the best use
of such a roor-back on the eve of an election, and even if I
not only deny but prove that they are a fake, I'm afraid the
harm will be done. I can't reach all the voters in time.
Ten see such a charge to one who sees the denial."
"Just so," persisted Bennett coolly. "You admit
are practically helpless. That's what I have been saying
all along. Get control of the prints first, Travis, for
God's sake. Then raise any kind of a howl you want--before
election or after. As I say, if we had a week or two it
might be all right to fight. But we can make no move
without making fools of ourselves until they are published
Monday as the last big thing of the campaign. The rest of
Monday and the Tuesday morning papers do not give us time
to reply. Even if they were published today we should
hardly have time to expose the plot, hammer it in and make
the issue an asset instead of a liability. No, you must
admit it yourself. There isn't time. We must carry out the
work we have so carefully planned to cap the campaign, and
if we are diverted by this it means a let-up in our final
efforts, and that is as good as McLoughlin wants anyhow.
Now, Kennedy, don't you agree with me? Squelch the pictures
now at any cost, then follow the thing up and, if we can,
prosecute after election?"
Kennedy and I, who had been so far little more than
interested spectators, had not presumed to interrupt.
Finally Craig asked, "You have copies of the pictures?"
"No," replied Bennett. "This Hanford is a brazen
but he was too astute to leave them. I saw them for an
instant. They look bad. And the affidavits with them look
"H'm," considered Kennedy, turning the crisis over in
mind. "We've had alleged stolen and forged letters before,
but alleged stolen and forged photographs are new. I'm not
surprised that you are alarmed, Bennett--nor that you want
to fight, Travis."
"Then you will take up the case?" urged the latter
eagerly, forgetting both his campaign manager and his
campaign manners, and leaning forward almost like a prisoner
in the dock to catch the words of the foreman of the jury.
"You will trace down the forger of those pictures before it
is too late?"
"I haven't said I'll do that--yet," answered Craig
measuredly. "I haven't even said I'd take up the case.
Politics is a new game to me, Mr. Travis. If I go into this
thing I want to go into it and stay in it--well, you know
how you lawyers put it, with clean hands. On one condition
I'll take the matter up, and on only one."
"Name it," cried Travis anxiously.
"Of course, having been retained by you," continued
with provoking slowness, "it is not reasonable to suppose
that if I find--how shall I put it--bluntly, yes?--if I find
that the story of Hanford has some--er--foundation, it is
not reasonable to suppose that I should desert you and go
over to the other side. Neither is it to be supposed that I
will continue and carry such a thing through for you
regardless of truth. What I ask is to have a free hand, to
be able to drop the case the moment I cannot proceed further
in justice to myself, drop it, and keep my mouth shut. You
understand? These are my conditions and no less."
"And you think you can make good?" questioned Bennett
rather sceptically. "You are willing to risk it? You don't
think it would be better to wait until after the election is
"You have heard my conditions," reiterated Craig.
"Done," broke in Travis. "I'm going to fight it
Bennett. If we get in wrong by dickering with them at the
start it may be worse for us in the end. Paying amounts to
Bennett shook his head dubiously. "I'm afraid this will
suit McLoughlin's purpose just as well. Photographs are
like statistics. They don't lie unless the people who make
them do. But it's hard to tell what a liar can accomplish
with either in an election."
"Say, Dean, you're not going to desert me?" reproached
Travis. "You're not offended at my kicking over the traces,
Bennett rose, placed a hand on Travis's shoulder, and
grasped his other. "Wesley," he said earnestly. "I
wouldn't desert you even if the pictures were true."
"I knew it," responded Travis heartily. "Then let
Kennedy have one day to see what he can do. Then if we make
no progress we'll take your advice, Dean. We'll pay, I
suppose, and ask Mr. Kennedy to continue the case after next
"With the proviso," put in Craig.
"With the proviso, Kennedy," repeated Travis.
on that. Say, I think I've shaken hands with half the male
population of this state since I was nominated, but this
means more to me than any of them. Call on us, either
Bennett or myself, the moment you need aid. Spare no
reasonable expense, and--and get the goods, no matter whom
it hits higher up, even if it is Cadwalader Brown himself.
Good-bye, and a thousand thanks--oh, by the way, wait. Let
me take you around and introduce you to Miss Ashton. She
may be able to help you."
The office of Bennett and Travis was in the centre of the
suite. On one side were the cashier and clerical force as
well as the speakers' bureau, where spellbinders of all
degrees were getting instruction, tours were being laid out,
and reports received from meetings already held.
On the other side was the press bureau with a large and
active force in charge of Miss Ashton, who was supporting
Travis because he had most emphatically declared for "Votes
for Women" and had insisted that his party put this plank in
its platform. Miss Ashton was a clever girl, a graduate of
a famous woman's college, and had had several years of
newspaper experience before she became a leader in the
suffrage cause. I recalled having read and heard a great
deal about her, though I had never met her. The Ashtons
were well known in New York society, and it was a sore trial
to some of her conservative friends that she should reject
what they considered the proper "sphere" for women.
those friends, I understood, was Cadwalader Brown himself.
Travis had scarcely more than introduced us, yet already I
scented a romance behind the ordinarily prosaic conduct of a
campaign press bureau. It is far from my intention to
minimise the work or the ability of the head of the press
bureau, but it struck me, both then and later, that the
candidate had an extraordinary interest in the newspaper
campaign, much more than in the speakers' bureau, and I am
sure that it was not solely accounted for by the fact that
publicity is playing a more and more important part in
Nevertheless such innovations as her card index system by
election districts all over the state, showing the attitude
of the various newspaper editors, of local political
leaders, and changes of sentiment, were very full and
valuable. Kennedy, who had a regular pigeon-hole mind for
facts, was visibly impressed by this huge mechanical memory
built up by Miss Ashton. Though he said nothing to me I
knew he had also observed the state of affairs between the
reform candidate and the suffrage leader.
It was at a moment when Travis had been called back to his
office that Kennedy, who had been eyeing Miss Ashton with
marked approval, leaned over and said in a low voice, "Miss
Ashton, I think I can trust you. Do you want to do a great
favour for Mr. Travis?"
She did not betray even by a fleeting look on her face
what the true state of her feelings was, although I fancied
that the readiness of her assent had perhaps more meaning
than she would have placed in a simple "Yes" otherwise.
"I suppose you know that an attempt is being made to
blackmail Mr. Travis?" added Kennedy quickly.
"I know something about it," she replied in a tone
left it for granted that Travis had told her before even we
were called in. I felt that not unlikely Travis's set
determination to fight might be traceable to her advice or
at least to her opinion of him.
"I suppose in a large force like this it is not impossible
that your political enemies may have a spy or two," observed
Kennedy, glancing about at the score or more clerks busily
engaged in getting out "literature".
"I have sometimes thought that myself," she agreed.
of course I don't know. Still, I have to be pretty careful.
Some one is always over here by my desk or looking over here.
There isn't much secrecy in a big room like this. I never
leave important stuff lying about where any of them could
"Yes," mused Kennedy. "What time does the office
"We shall finish to-night about nine, I think. To-morrow it
may be later."
"Well, then, if I should call here tonight at, say, half-
past nine, could you be here? I need hardly say that your
doing so may be of inestimable value to--to the campaign."
"I shall be here," she promised, giving her hand with
peculiar straight arm shake and looking him frankly in the
face with those eyes which even the old guard in the
legislature admitted were vote-winners.
Kennedy was not quite ready to leave yet, but sought out
Travis and obtained permission to glance over the financial
end of the campaign. There were few large contributors to
Travis's fund, but a host of small sums ranging from ten and
twenty-five dollars down to dimes and nickels. Truly it
showed the depth of the popular uprising. Kennedy also
glanced hastily over the items of expense--rent, salaries,
stenographer and office force, advertising, printing and
stationery, postage, telephone, telegraph, automobile and
travelling expenses, and miscellaneous matters.
As Kennedy expressed it afterwards, as against the small
driblets of money coming in, large sums were going out for
expenses in lumps. Campaigning in these days costs money
even when done honestly. The miscellaneous account showed
some large indefinite items, and after a hasty calculation
Kennedy made out that if all the obligations had to be met
immediately the committee would be in the hole for several
"In short," I argued as we were leaving, "this
break Travis privately or put his fund in hopeless shape.
Or does it mean that he foresees defeat and is taking this
way to recoup himself under cover of being held up?"
Kennedy said nothing in response to my suspicions, though
I could see that in his mind he was leaving no possible clue
It was only a few blocks to the studio of Harris Hanford,
whom Kennedy was now bent on seeing. We found him in an old
building on one of the side streets in the thirties which
business had captured. His was a little place on the top
floor, up three flights of stairs, and I noticed as we
climbed up that the room next to his was vacant.
Our interview with Hanford was short and unsatisfactory.
He either was or at least posed as representing a third
party in the affair, and absolutely refused to permit us to
have even a glance at the photographs.
"My dealings," he asserted airily, "must all be
Bennett, or with Mr. Travis, direct, not with emissaries. I
don't make any secret about it. The prints are not here.
They are safe and ready to be produced at the right time,
either to be handed over for the money or to be published in
the newspapers. We have found out all about them; we are
satisfied, although the negatives have been destroyed. As
for their having been stolen from Travis, you can put two
and two together. They are out and copies have been made of
them, good copies. If Mr. Travis wishes to repudiate them,
let him start proceedings. I told Bennett all about that.
To-morrow is the last day, and I must have Bennett's answer
then, without any interlopers coming into it. If it is yes,
well and good; if not, then they know what to expect.
It was still early in the forenoon, and Kennedy's next
move was to go out on Long Island to examine the library at
Travis's from which the pictures were said to have been
stolen. At the laboratory Kennedy and I loaded ourselves
with a large oblong black case containing a camera and a tripod.
His examination of the looted library was minute, taking
in the window through which the thief had apparently
entered, the cabinet he had forced, and the situation in
general. Finally Craig set up his camera with most
particular care and took several photographs of the window,
the cabinet, the doors, including the room from every angle.
Outside he snapped the two sides of corner of the house in
which the library was situated. Partly by trolley and
partly by carriage we crossed the island to the south shore,
and finally found McLouglin's farm, where we had no trouble
in getting half a dozen photographs of the porch and house.
Altogether the proceedings seemed tame to me, yet I knew
from previous experience that Kennedy had a deep laid
We parted in the city, to meet just before it was time to
visit Miss Ashton. Kennedy had evidently employed the
interval in developing his plates, for he now had ten or a
dozen prints, all of exactly the same size, mounted on stiff
cardboard in a space with scales and figures on all four
sides. He saw me puzzling over them.
"Those are metric photographs such as Bertillon of Paris
takes," he explained. "By means of the scales and tables
other methods that have been worked out we can determine
from those pictures distances and many other things almost
as well as if we were on the spot itself. Bertillon has
cleared up many crimes with this help, such as the mystery
of the shooting in the Hotel Quai d'Orsay and other cases.
The metric photograph, I believe, will rank in time with
the portrait parle, finger prints, and the rest.
"For instance, in order to solve the riddle of a crime the
detective's first task is to study the scene
topographically. Plans and elevations of a room or house
are made. The position of each object is painstakingly
noted. In addition, the all-seeing eye of the camera is
called into requisition. The plundered room is
photographed, as in this case. I might have done it by
placing a foot rule on a table and taking that in the
picture, but a more scientific and accurate method has been
devised by Bertillon. His camera lens is always used at a
fixed height from the ground and forms its image on the
plate at an exact focus. The print made from the negative
is mounted on a card in a space of definite size, along the
edges of which a metric scale is printed. In the way he has
worked it out the distance between any two points in the
picture can be determined. With a topographical plan and a
metric photograph one can study a crime as a general studies
the map of a strange country. There were several peculiar
things that I observed to-day, and I have here an indelible
record of the scene of the crime. Preserved in this way it
cannot be questioned.
"Now the photographs were in this cabinet. There are
other cabinets, but none of them has been disturbed.
Therefore the thief must have known just what he was after.
The marks made in breaking the lock were not those of a
jimmy but of a screwdriver. No amazing command of the
resources of science is needed so far. All that is
necessary is a little scientific common sense, Walter.
"Now, how did the robber get in? All the windows and
doors were supposedly locked. It is alleged that a pane was
cut from this window at the side. It was, and the pieces
were there to show it. But take a glance at this outside
photograph. To reach that window even a tall man must have
stood on a ladder or something. There are no marks of a
ladder or of any person in the soft soil under the window.
What is more, that window was cut from the inside. The
marks of the diamond which cut it plainly show that.
Scientific common sense again."
"Then it must have been some one in the house or at least
some one familiar with it?" I exclaimed.
Kennedy nodded. "One thing we have which the police
greatly neglect," he pursued, "a record. We have made
progress in reconstructing the crime, as Bertillon calls it.
If we only had those Hanford pictures we should be all
We were now on our way to see Miss Ashton at headquarters
and as we rode downtown I tried to reason out the case. Had
it really been a put-up job? Was Travis himself faking, and
was the robbery a "plant" by which he might forestall
exposure of what had become public property in the hands of
another, no longer disposed to conceal it? Or was it after
all the last desperate blow of the Boss?
The whole thing began to assume a suspicious look in my
mind. Although Kennedy seemed to have made little real
progress, I felt that, far from aiding Travis, it made
things darker. There was nothing but his unsupported word
that he had not visited the Boss subsequent to the
nominating convention. He admitted having done so before
the Reform League came into existence. Besides it seemed
tacitly understood that both the Boss and Cadwalader Brown
acquiesced in the sworn statement of the man who said he had
made the pictures. Added to that the mere existence of the
actual pictures themselves was a graphic clincher to the
story. Personally, if I had been in Kennedy's place I think
I should have taken advantage of the proviso in the compact
with Travis to back out gracefully. Kennedy, however, now
started on the case, hung to it tenaciously.
Miss Ashton was waiting for us at the press bureau. Her
desk was at the middle of one end of the room in which, if
she could keep an eye on her office force, the office force
also could keep an eye on her.
Kennedy had apparently taken in the arrangement during our
morning visit, for he set to work immediately. The side of
the room toward the office of Travis and Bennett presented
an expanse of blank wall. With a mallet he quickly knocked
a hole in the rough plaster, just above the baseboard about
the room. The hole did not penetrate quite through to the
other side. In it he placed a round disc of vulcanized
rubber, with insulated wires leading down back of the
baseboard, then out underneath it, and under the carpet.
Some plaster quickly closed up the cavity in the wall, and
he left it to dry.
Next he led the wires under the carpet to Miss Ashton's
desk. There they ended, under the carpet and a rug,
eighteen or twenty huge coils several feet in diameter
disposed in such a way as to attract no attention by a
curious foot on the carpet which covered them.
"That is all, Miss Ashton," he said as we watched for
next move. "I shall want to see you early to-morrow, and
--might I ask you to be sure to wear that hat which you have
It was a very becoming hat, but Kennedy's tone clearly
indicated that it was not his taste in inverted basket
millinery that prompted the request. She promised, smiling,
for even a suffragette may like pretty hats.
Craig had still to see Travis and report on his work. The
candidate was waiting anxiously at his hotel after a big
political mass meeting on the East Side, at which capitalism
and the bosses had been hissed to the echo, if that is
"What success?" inquired Travis eagerly.
"I'm afraid," replied Kennedy, and the candidate's face
fell at the tone, "I'm afraid you will have to meet them,
for the present. The time limit will expire to-morrow, and
understand Hanford is coming up for a final answer. We must
have copies of those photographs, even if we have to pay for
them. There seems to be no other way."
Travis sank back in his chair and regarded Kennedy
hopelessly. He was actually pale. "You--you don't mean to
say that there is no other way, that I'll have to admit even
before Bennett--and others that I'm in bad?"
"I wouldn't put it that way," said Kennedy mercilessly,
"It is that way," Travis asserted almost fiercely.
we could have done that anyhow. No, no--I don't mean that.
Pardon me. I'm upset by this. Go ahead," he sighed.
"You will direct Bennett to make the best terms he can
with Hanford when he comes up to-morrow. Have him arrange
the details of payment and then rush the best copies of the
photographs to me."
Travis seemed crushed.
We met Miss Ashton the following morning entering her
office. Kennedy handed her a package, and in a few words,
which I did not hear explained what he wanted, promising to
call again later.
When we called, the girls and other clerks had arrived,
and the office was a hive of industry in the rush of winding
up the campaign. Typewriters were clicking, clippings were
being snipped out of a huge stack of newspapers and pasted
into large scrap-books, circulars were being folded and made
ready to mail for the final appeal. The room was indeed
crowded, and I felt that there was no doubt, as Kennedy had
said, that nothing much could go on there unobserved by any
one to whose interest it was to see it.
Miss Ashton was sitting at her desk with her hat on
directing the work. "It works," she remarked
"Good," he replied. "I merely dropped in to be
if anything of interest happens, Miss Ashton, I wish you
would let me know immediately. I must not be seen up here,
but I shall be waiting downstairs in the corridor of the
building. My next move depends entirely on what you have to
Downstairs Craig waited with growing impatience. We stood
in an angle in which we could see without being readily
seen, and our impatience was not diminished by seeing
Hanford enter the elevator.
I think that Miss Ashton would have made an excellent
woman detective, that is, on a case in which her personal
feelings were not involved as they were here. She was pale
and agitated as she appeared in the corridor, and Kennedy
hurried toward her.
"I can't believe it. I won't believe it," she managed
"Tell me, what happened?" urged Kennedy soothingly.
"Oh, Mr. Kennedy, why did you ask me to do this?" she
reproached. "I would almost rather not have known at
"Believe me, Miss Ashton," said Kennedy, "you
know. It is on you that I depend most. We saw Hanford go
up. What occurred?"
She was still pale, and replied nervously, "Mr. Bennett
came in about quarter to ten. He stopped to talk to me and
looked about the room curiously. Do you know, I felt very
uncomfortable for a time. Then he locked the door leading
from the press bureau to his office, and left word that he
was not to be disturbed. A few minutes later a man called."
"Yes, yes," prompted Kennedy. "Hanford, no
She was racing on breathlessly, scarcely giving one a
chance to inquire how she had learned so much.
"Why," she cried with a sort of defiant ring in her
"Mr. Travis is going to buy those pictures after all. And
the worst of it is that I met him in the hall coming in as I
was coming down here, and he tried to act toward me in the
same old way--and that after all I know now about him. They
have fixed it all up, Mr. Bennett acting for Mr. Travis, and
this Mr. Hanford. They are even going to ask me to carry
the money in a sealed envelope to the studio of this fellow
Hanford, to be given to a third person who will be there at
two o'clock this afternoon."
"You, Miss Ashton?" inquired Kennedy, a light breaking
his face as if at last he saw something.
"Yes, I," she repeated. "Hanford insisted that it
part of the compact. They--they haven't asked me openly yet
to be the means of carrying out their dirty deals, but when
they do, I--I won't----"
"Miss Ashton," remonstrated Kennedy, "I beg you to
calm. I had no idea you would take it like this, no idea.
Please, please. Walter, you will excuse us if we take a
turn down the corridor and out in the air. This is most
For five or ten minutes Kennedy and Miss Ashton appeared
to be discussing the new turn of events earnestly, while I
waited impatiently. As they approached again she seemed
calmer, but I heard her say, "I hope you're right. I'm all
broken up by it. I'm ready to resign. My faith in human
nature is shaken. No, I won't expose Wesley Travis for his
sake. It cuts me to have to admit it, but Cadwalader used
always to say that every man has his price. I am afraid
this will do great harm to the cause of reform and through
it to the woman suffrage cause which cast its lot with this
party. I--I can hardly believe----"
Kennedy was still looking earnestly at her. "Miss
Ashton," he implored, "believe nothing. Remember one of
first rules of politics is loyalty. Wait until----"
"Wait?" she echoed. "How can I? I hate Wesley
giving in--more than I hate Cadwalader Brown for his cynical
disregard of honesty in others."
She bit her lip at thus betraying her feelings, but what
she had heard had evidently affected her deeply. It was as
though the feet of her idol had turned to clay.
Nevertheless it was evident that she was coming to look on
it more as she would if she were an outsider.
"Just think it over," urged Kennedy. "They won't
right away. Don't do anything rash. Suspend judgement.
You won't regret it."
Craig's next problem seemed to be to transfer the scene of
his operations to Hanford's studio. He was apparently doing
some rapid thinking as we walked uptown after leaving Miss
Ashton, and I did not venture to question him on what had
occurred when it was so evident that everything depended on
being prepared for what was still to occur.
Hanford was out. That seemed to please Kennedy, for with
a brightening face, which told more surely than words that
he saw his way more and more clearly, he asked me to visit
the agent and hire the vacant office next to the studio
while he went uptown to complete his arrangements for the
I had completed my part and was waiting in the empty room
when he returned. He lost no time in getting to work, and
it seemed to me as I watched him curiously in silence that
he was repeating what he had already done at the Travis
headquarters. He was boring into the wall, only this time
he did it much more carefully, and it was evident that if he
intended putting anything into this cavity it must be pretty
large. The hole was square, and as I bent over I could see
that he had cut through the plaster and laths all the way to
the wallpaper on the other side, though he was careful to
leave that intact. Then he set up a square black box in the
cavity, carefully poising it and making measurements that
told of the exact location of its centre with reference to
the partitions and walls.
A skeleton key took us into Hanford's well-lighted but now
empty studio. For Miss Ashton's sake I wished that the
photographs had been there. I am sure Kennedy would have
found slight compunction in a larceny of them, if they had
been. It was something entirely different that he had in
mind now, however, and he was working quickly for fear of
discovery. By his measurements I guessed that he was
calculating as nearly as possible the centre of the box
which he had placed in the hole in the wall on the other
side of the dark wallpaper. When he had quite satisfied
himself he took a fine pencil from his pocket and made a
light cross on the paper to indicate it. The dot fell to
the left of a large calendar hanging on the wall.
Kennedy's appeal to Margaret Ashton had evidently had its
effect, for when he saw her a few moments after these
mysterious preparations she had overcome her emotion.
"They have asked me to carry a note to Mr. Hanford's
studio," she said quietly, "and without letting them know
that I know anything about it I have agreed to do so."
"Miss Ashton," said Kennedy, greatly relieved,
"No," she replied, smiling faintly, "I'm just
enough to be curious."
Craig shook his head, but did not dispute the point.
"After you have handed the envelope to the person, whoever
it may be, in Hanford's studio, wait until he does something
--er--suspicious. Meanwhile look at the wall on the side
toward the next vacant office. To the left of the big
calendar you will see a light pencil mark, a cross. Somehow
you must contrive to get near it, but don't stand in front
of it. Then if anything happens stick this little number 10
needle in the wall right at the intersection of the cross.
Withdraw it quickly, count fifteen, then put this little
sticker over the cross, and get out as best you can, though
we shan't be far away if you should need us. That's all."
We did not accompany her to the studio for fear of being
observed, but waited impatiently in the next office. We
could hear nothing of what was said, but when a door shut
and it was evident that she had gone, Kennedy quickly
removed something from the box in the wall covered with a
As soon as it was safe Kennedy had sent me posting after
her to secure copies of the incriminating photographs which
were to be carried by her from the studio, while he remained
to see who came out. I thought a change had come over her
as she handed me the package with the request that I carry
it to Mr. Bennett and get them from him.
The first inkling I had that Kennedy had at last been able
to trace back something in the mysterious doings of the past
two days came the following evening, when Craig remarked
casually that he would like to have me call on Billy
McLoughlin if I had no engagement. I replied that I had
none--and managed to squirm out of the one I really had.
The Boss's office was full of politicians, for it was the
eve of "dough day", when the purse strings were loosed
flood of potent argument poured forth to turn the tide of
election. Hanford was there with the other ward heelers.
"Mr. McLoughlin," began Kennedy quietly, when we were
seated alone with Hanford in the little sanctum of the Boss,
"you will pardon me if I seem a little slow in coming to the
business that has brought me here to-night. First of all, I
may say, and you, Hanford, being a photographer will
appreciate it, that ever since the days of Daguerre
photography has been regarded as the one infallible means of
portraying faithfully any object, scene, or action. Indeed
a photograph is admitted in court as irrefutable evidence.
For when everything else fails, a picture made through the
photographic lens almost invariably turns the tide.
However, such a picture upon which the fate of an important
case may rest should be subjected to critical examination
for it is an established fact that a photograph may be made
as untruthful as it may be reliable. Combination
photographs change entirely the character of the initial
negative and have been made for the past fifty years. The
earliest, simplest, and most harmless photographic deception
is the printing of clouds into a bare sky. But the
retoucher with his pencil and etching tool to-day is very
skilful. A workman of ordinary skill can introduce a person
taken in a studio into an open-air scene well blended and in
complete harmony without a visible trace of falsity.
"I need say nothing of how one head can be put on another
body in a picture, nor need I say what a double exposure
will do. There is almost no limit to the changes that may
be wrought in form and feature. It is possible to represent
a person crossing Broadway or walking on Riverside Drive,
places he may never have visited. Thus a person charged
with an offence may be able to prove an alibi by the aid of
a skilfully prepared combination photograph.
"Where, then, can photography be considered as irrefutable
evidence? The realism may convince all, will convince all,
except the expert and the initiated after careful study. A
shrewd judge will insist that in every case the negative be
submitted and examined for possible alterations by a clever
Kennedy bent his gaze on McLoughlin. "Now, I do not
accuse you, sir, of anything. But a photograph has come
into the possession of Mr. Travis in which he is represented
as standing on the steps of your house with yourself and Mr.
Cadwalader Brown. He and Mr. Brown are in poses that show
the utmost friendliness. I do not hesitate to say that that
was originally a photograph of yourself, Mr. Brown, and your
own candidate. It is a pretty raw deal, a fake in which
Travis has been substituted by very excellent photographic
McLoughlin motioned to Hanford to reply. "A fake?"
the latter contemptuously. "How about the affidavits?
no negative. You've got to prove that the original print stolen
from Travis, we'll say, is a fake. You can't do it."
"September 19th was the date alleged, I believe?" asked
Kennedy quietly, laying down the bundle of metric
photographs and the alleged photographs of Travis. He was
pointing to a shadow of a gable on the house as it showed in
the metric photographs and the others.
"You see that shadow of the gable? Perhaps you never
heard of it, Hanford, but it is possible to tell the exact
time at which a photograph was taken from a study of the
shadows. It is possible in principle and practice and can
be trusted. Almost any scientist may be called on to bear
testimony in court nowadays, but you would say the
astronomer is one of the least likely. Well, the shadow in
this picture will prove an alibi for someone.
"Notice. It is seen very prominently to the right, and
its exact location on the house is an easy matter. You
could almost use the metric photograph for that. The
identification of the gable casting the shadow is easy. To
be exact it is 19·62 feet high. The shadow is 14·23 feet
down, 13·10 feet east, and 3·43 feet north. You see I am
exact. I have to be. In one minute it moved 0·080 feet
upward, 0·053 feet to the right, and 0·096 feet in its
apparent path. It passes the width of a weatherboard, 0·37
foot, in four minutes and thirty-seven seconds."
Kennedy was talking rapidly of data which he had derived
from his metric photograph, from plumb line, level, compass
and tape, astronomical triangle, vertices, zenith, pole and
sun, declination, azimuth, solar time, parallactic angles,
refraction, and a dozen bewildering terms.
"In spherical trigonometry," he concluded, "to
problem three elements must be known. I knew four.
Therefore I could take each of the known, treat it as
unknown, and have four ways to check my result. I find that
the time might have been either three o'clock, twenty-one
minutes and twelve seconds, in the afternoon, or 3:21:31, or
3:21:29, or 3:21:33. The average is 3:21:26 and there can
therefore be no appreciable error except for a few seconds.
For that date must have been one of two days, either May 22
or July 23. Between these two dates we must decide on
evidence other than the shadow. It must have been in May,
as the immature condition of the foliage shows. But even if
it had been in July, that is far from being September. The
matter of the year I have also settled. Weather conditions,
I find, were favourable on all these dates except that in
September. I can really answer, with an assurance and
accuracy superior to that of the photographer himself--even
if he were honest--as to the real date. The real picture,
aside from being doctored, was actually taken last May.
Science is not fallible, but exact in this matter."
Kennedy had scored a palpable hit. McLoughlin and Hanford
were speechless. Still Craig hurried on.
"But, you may ask, how about the automobile picture? That
also is an unblushing fake. Of course I must prove that.
In the first place, you know that the general public has
come to recognize the distortion of a photograph as denoting
speed. A picture of a car in a race that doesn't lean is
rejected--people demand to see speed, speed, more speed
even in pictures. Distortion does indeed show speed, but
that, too, can be faked.
"Hanford knows that the image is projected upside down by
the lens on the plate, and that the bottom of the picture is
taken before the top. The camera mechanism admits light,
which makes the picture, in the manner of a roller blind
curtain. The slit travels from the top to the bottom and
the image on the plate being projected upside down, the
bottom of the object appears on the top of the plate. For
instance, the wheels are taken before the head of the
driver. If the car is moving quickly the image moves on the
plate and each successive part is taken a little in advance
of the last. The whole leans forward. By widening the slit
and slowing the speed of the shutter, there is more
"Now, this is what happened. A picture was taken of
Cadwalader Brown's automobile, probably at rest, with Brown
in it. The matter of faking Travis or any one else by his
side is simple. If with an enlarging lantern the image of
this faked picture is thrown on the paper like a lantern
slide, and if the right hand side is a little further away
than the left, the top further away than the bottom, you can
print a fraudulent high speed ahead picture. True,
everything else in the picture, even if motionless, is
distorted, and the difference between this faking and the
distortion of the shutter can be seen by an expert. But it
will pass. In this case, however, the faker was so sure of
that that he was careless. Instead of getting the plate
further from the paper on the right he did so on the left.
It was further away on the bottom than on the top. He got
distortion all right, enough still to satisfy the
uninitiated. But it was distortion in the wrong way! The
top of the wheel, which goes fastest and ought to be most
indistinct, is, in the fake, as sharp as any other part. It
is a small mistake, but fatal. That picture is really at
high speed--backwards! It is too raw, too raw."
"You don't think people are going to swallow all that
stuff, do you?" asked Hanford coolly, in spite of the
Kennedy paid no attention. He was looking at McLoughlin.
The Boss was regarding him surlily. "Well," he said at
length, "what of all this? I had nothing to do with it.
Why do you come to me? Take it to the proper parties."
"Shall I?" asked Kennedy quietly.
He had uncovered another picture carefully. We could not
see it, but as he looked at it McLoughlin fairly staggered.
"Wh--where did you get that?" he gasped.
"I got it where I got it, and it is no fake," replied
Kennedy enigmatically. Then he appeared to think better of
it. "This," he explained, "is what is known as a
photograph. Three hundred years ago della Porta knew the
camera obscura, and but for the lack of a sensitive plate
would have made photographs. A box, thoroughly light-tight,
slotted inside to receive plates, covered with black, and
glued tight, a needle hole made by a number 10 needle in a
thin sheet of paper--and you have the apparatus for lensless
photography. It has a correctness such as no image-forming
means by lenses can have. It is literally rectigraphic,
rectilinear, it needs no focusing and it takes a wide angle
with equal effect. Even pinhole snapshots are possible
where the light is abundant, with a ten to fifteen second
"That picture, McLoughlin, was taken yesterday at
Hanford's. After Miss Ashton left I saw who came out--but
this picture shows what happened before. At a critical
moment Miss Ashton stuck a needle in the wall of the studio,
counted fifteen, closed the needle-hole, and there is the
record. Walter, Hanford,--leave us alone an instant."
When Kennedy passed out of the Boss's office there was a
look of quiet satisfaction on his face which I could not
fathom. Not a word could I extract from him either that
night or on the following day, which was the last before the
I must say that I was keenly disappointed by the lack of
developments, however. The whole thing seemed to me to be a
mess. Everybody was involved. What had Miss Ashton
overheard and what had Kennedy said to McLoughlin? Above
all, what was his game? Was he playing to spare the girl's
feelings by allowing the election to go on without a scandal
At last election night arrived. We were all at the Travis
headquarters, Kennedy, Travis, Bennett, and myself. Miss
Ashton was not present, but the first returns had scarcely
begun to trickle in when Craig whispered to me to go out and
find her, either at her home or club. I found her at home.
She had apparently lost interest in the election, and it was
with difficulty that I persuaded her to accompany me.
The excitement of any other night in the year paled to
insignificance before this. Distracted crowds everywhere
were cheering and blowing horns. Now a series of wild
shouts broke forth from the dense mass of people before a
newspaper bulletin board. Now came sullen groans, hisses,
and catcalls, or all together with cheers as the returns
swung in another direction. Not even baseball could call
out such a crowd as this. Lights blazed everywhere.
Automobiles honked and ground their gears. The lobster
palaces were thronged. Police were everywhere. People with
horns and bells and all manner of noise-making devices
pushed up one side of the thoroughfares and down the other.
Hungrily, ravenously they were feeding on the meagre
bulletins of news.
Yet back of all the noise and human energy I could only
think of the silent, systematic gathering and editing of the
news. High up in the League headquarters, when we returned,
a corps of clerks was tabulating returns, comparing official
and semi-official reports. As first the state swung one
way, then another, our hopes rose and fell. Miss Ashton
seemed cold and ill at ease, while Travis looked more
worried and paid less attention to the returns than would
have seemed natural. She avoided him and he seemed to
hesitate to seek her out.
Would the up-state returns, I had wondered at first, be
large enough to overcome the hostile city vote? I was
amazed now to see how strongly the city was turning to
"McLoughlin has kept his word," ejaculated Kennedy as
district after district showed that the Boss's pluralities
were being seriously cut into.
"His word? What do you mean?" we asked almost together.
"I mean that he has kept his word given to me at a
conference which Mr. Jameson saw but did not hear. I told
him I would publish the whole thing, not caring whom or
where or when it hit if he did not let up on Travis. I
advised him to read his Revised Statutes again about money
in elections, and I ended up with the threat, 'There will be
no dough day, McLoughlin, or this will be prosecuted to the
limit.' There was no dough day. You see the effect in the
"But how did you do it?" I asked, not comprehending.
faked photographs did not move him, that I could see."
The words, "faked photographs", caused Miss Ashton to
glance up quickly. I saw that Kennedy had not told her or
any one yet, until the Boss had made good. He had simply
arranged one of his little dramas.
"Shall I tell, Miss Ashton?" he asked, adding.
complete my part of the compact and blot out the whole
"I have no right to say no," she answered tremulously,
with a look of happiness that I had not seen since our first
Kennedy laid down a print on a table. It was the pinhole
photograph, a little blurry, but quite convincing. On a
desk in the picture was a pile of bills. McLoughlin was
shoving them away from him toward Bennett. A man who was
facing forward in the picture was talking earnestly to
some one who did not appear. I felt intuitively, even before
Kennedy said so, that the person was Miss Ashton herself as
she stuck the needle into the wall. The man was Cadwalader
"Travis," demanded Kennedy, "bring the account
your campaign. I want the miscellaneous account
The books were brought, and he continued, turning the
leaves, "It seemed to me to show a shortage of nearly twenty
thousand dollars the other day. Why, it has been made up.
How was that, Bennett?"
Bennett was speechless. "I will tell you," Craig
proceeded inexorably. "Bennett, you embezzled that money
for your business. Rather than be found out, you went to
Billy McLoughlin and offered to sell out the Reform campaign
for money to replace it. With the aid of the crook,
Hanford, McLoughlin's tool, you worked out the scheme to
extort money from Travis by forged photographs. You knew
enough about Travis's house and library to frame up a
robbery one night when you were staying there with him. It
was inside work, I found, at a glance. Travis, I am sorry
to have to tell you that your confidence was misplaced. It
was Bennett who robbed you--and worse.
"But Cadwalader Brown, always close to his creature, Billy
McLoughlin, heard of it. To him it presented another idea.
To him it offered a chance to overthrow a political enemy
and a hated rival for Miss Ashton's hand. Perhaps into the
bargain it would disgust her with politics, disillusion her,
and shake her faith in what he believed to be some of her
'radical' notions. All could be gained at one blow. They
say that a check-book knows no politics, but Bennett has
learned some, I venture to say, and to save his reputation
he will pay back what he has tried to graft."
Travis could scarcely believe it yet. "How did you get
your first hint?" he gasped.
Kennedy was digging into the wall with a bill file at the
place where he had buried the little vulcanized disc. I had
already guessed that it was a dictograph, though I could not
tell how it was used or who used it. There it was, set
squarely in the plaster. There also were the wires running
under the carpet. As he lifted the rug under Miss Ashton's
desk there also lay the huge circles of wire. That was all.
At this moment Miss Ashton stepped forward.
"Last Friday," she said in a low tone, "I wore a
which concealed a coil of wire about my waist. From a wire
ran under my coat, connecting with a small dry battery in a
pocket. Over my head I had an arrangement such as the
telephone girls wear with a receiver at one ear connected
with the battery. No one saw it, for I wore a large hat
which completely hid it. If any one had known, and there
were plenty of eyes watching, the whole thing would have
fallen through. I could walk around; no one could suspect
anything; but when I stood or sat at my desk I could hear
everything that was said in Mr. Bennett's office."
"By induction," explained Kennedy. "The impulses
in the concealed dictograph set up currents in the coils of
wire concealed under the carpet. They were wirelessly
duplicated by induction in the coil about Miss Ashton's
waist and so affected the receiver under her very becoming
hat. Tell the rest, Miss Ashton."
"I heard the deal arranged with this Hanford," she
almost as if she were confessing something, "but not
understanding it as Mr. Kennedy did, I very hastily
condemned Mr. Travis. I heard talk of putting back twenty
thousand into the campaign accounts, of five thousand given
to Hanford for his photographic work, and of the way Mr.
Travis was to be defeated whether he paid or not. I heard
them say that one condition was that I should carry the
purchase money. I heard much that must have confirmed Mr.
Kennedy's suspicion in one way, and my own in an opposite
way, which I know now was wrong. And then Cadwalader Brown
in the studio taunted me cynically and--and it cut me, for
he seemed right. I hope that Mr. Travis will forgive me for
thinking that Mr. Bennett's treachery was his----"
A terrific cheer broke out among the clerks in the outer
office. A boy rushed in with a still unblotted report.
Kennedy seized it and read: "McLoughlin concedes the city by
a small majority to Travis, fifteen election districts
estimated. This clinches the Reform League victory in the
I turned to Travis. He was paying no attention except to
the pretty apology of Margaret Ashton.
Kennedy drew me to the door. "We might as well concede
Miss Ashton to Travis," he said, adding gaily, "by
of an arm about the waist. Let's go out and watch the