The White Slave by Arthur Reeve
Kennedy and I had just tossed a coin to decide whether it
should be a comic opera or a good walk in the mellow spring
night air and the opera had won, but we had scarcely begun
to argue the vital point as to where to go, when the door
buzzer sounded--a sure sign that some box-office had lost
It was a much agitated middle-aged couple who
entered as Craig threw open the door. Of our two visitors,
the woman attracted my attention first, for on her pale
face the lines of sorrow were almost visibly deepening. Her
nervous manner interested me greatly, though I took pains to
conceal the fact that I noticed it. It was quickly
accounted for, however, by the card which the man presented
bearing the name "Mr. George Gilbert" and a short
scribble from First Deputy O'Connor:
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert desire to consult you with regard
to the mysterious disappearance of their daughter,
Georgette. I am sure I need say nothing further to
interest you than that: the M. P. Squad is completely
"H--m," remarked Kennedy; "not
strange for the Missing Persons Squad to be baffled--at
least in this case."
"Then you know of our daughter's
strange--er--departure?" asked Mr. Gilbert, eagerly
scanning Kennedy's face and using a euphemism that would
fall less harshly on his wife's ears than the truth.
"Indeed, yes," nodded Craig with
marked sympathy: that is, I have read most of what the
papers have said. Let me introduce my friend, Mr. Jameson.
You will recall we were discussing the Gilbert case this
I did, and perhaps before I proceed further
with the story, I should quote at least the important parts
of the in the morning Star which had
occasioned the discussion. The article had been headed
"When Personalities Are Lost," and with the
Gilbert case as a text many instances had been cited which
had later been solved by the return of the memory to the
sufferer. In part the article had said:
Mysterious disappearances, such as that
of Georgette Gilbert have alarmed the public and
baffled the police before this, disappearances that in
their suddenness, apparent lack of purpose and
inexplicability, have had much in common with the case
of Miss Gilbert.
Leaving out of account the class of
disappearances such as embezzlers, blackmailers, and
other criminals, there is still a large number of
recorded cases where the subjects have dropped out of
sight without apparent cause or reason and have left
behind them untarnished reputations. Of these a small
percentage are found to have met with violence; others
have been victims of a suicidal mania; and sooner or
later a clue has come to light, for the dead are often
easier to find than the living. Of the remaining small
proportion there are on record a number of carefully
authenticated cases where the subjects have been the
victims of a sudden and complete loss of memory.
This dislocation of memory is a variety
of aphasia known as amnesia, and when the memory is
recurrently lost is and restored, it is an
"alternating personality." The psychical
researchers and psychologists have reported many cases
of alternating personality. Studious efforts are being
made to understand and to explain the strange type of
mental phenomena exhibited in these cases, but no one
has yet given a final, clear, and comprehensive
explanation of them. Such cases are by no means always
connected with disappearances, but the variety known
as the ambulatory type, where the patient suddenly
loses all knowledge of his own identity and of his
past and takes himself off, leaving no trace or clue
is the variety which the present case calls to popular
There followed a list of a dozen or so
interesting cases of persons who had vanished completely
and had, some several days and some even years later
"awakened" to their first personality, returned,
and taken up the thread of that personality where it had
To Kennedy's inquiry I was about to reply
that I recalled the conversation distinctly, when Mr.
Gilbert shot an inquiring glance from beneath his bushy
eyebrows, quickly shifting from my face to Kennedy's and
asked, "And what was your conclusion--what do you think
of the case? Is it aphasia, or whatever the doctors call
it, and do you think she is wandering about somewhere
unable to recover her real personality?"
"I should like to have all the facts at
first hand before venturing an opinion," Craig replied
with precisely that shade of hesitancy that might reassure
the anxious father and mother without raising a false hope.
Mr. And Mrs. Gilbert exchanged glances, the
purport of which was that she desired him to tell the story.
"It was day before yesterday,"
began Mr. Gilbert, gently touching his wife's trembling
hand sought his arm as he began rehearsing the tragedy that
had cast its shadow across their lives, "Thursday that
Georgette--er--since we have heard of Georgette." His
voice faltered a bit, but he proceeded, "As you know,
she was last seen walking on Fifth Avenue. The police have
traced her since she left home that morning. It is known
that she went first to the public library, then that she
stopped at a department store on the avenue, where she
made a small purchase which she had charged to our family
account, and finally that she went to a large bookstore.
Then--that is the last."
Mrs. Gilbert sighed, and buried her face in a
lace kerchief as her shoulders shook convulsively.
"Yes, I have read that," repeated
Kennedy gently, though with manifest eagerness to get down
to facts that might prove more illuminating. "I think
I need hardly impress upon you the advantage of complete
frankness, the fact that anything you tell me is of a much
more confidential nature than if it were told to the
police. Er--r, had Miss Gilbert any--love affair, any
trouble of such a nature that it might have preyed on her
Kennedy's tactful manner seemed to reassure
both the father and the mother, who exchanged another
"Although we have said no to the
reporters," Mrs. Gilbert replied bravely in answer to
approval from her husband, and much as if she were making a
confession for them both, "I fear that Georgette had
had a love affair. No doubt you have heard hints of Dudley
Lawson's name in connection with the case? I can't imagine
how they could have leaked out, for I should have said that
old affair had long since been forgotten even by the
society gossips. The fact is that shortly after Georgette
'came out,' Dudley Lawson, who is quite on the road to
becoming one of the rather notorious members of the younger
set began to pay her marked attentions. He is a
fascinating, romantic sort of fellow, one that, I imagine,
possesses much attraction for a girl who has been brought
up as simply as Georgette was, and who has absorbed a
surreptitious diet of modern literature, such as we now
know Georgette did. I suppose you have seen portraits of
Georgette in the newspapers and know what a dreamy and
artistic nature her face indicates?"
Kennedy nodded. It is, of course, one of the
tenets of journalism that all women are beautiful, but even
the coarse screen of the ordinary newspaper half-tone had
not been able to conceal the exceptional beauty of Miss
Georgette Gilbert. If it had, all the shortcomings
photographic art would have been quickly glossed over by
the almost ardent descriptions by those ladies of the press
who come along about the second day after an event of this
kind with signed articles analyzing the character and
motives, the life and gowns of the latest actors in the
"Naturally both my husband and myself
opposed attentions from the first. It was a hard struggle,
for Georgette, of course, assumed the much injured air of
some of the heroines of her favourite novels. But I, at
least, believed that we had won and that Georgette finally
was brought to respect, and I hoped, understand our wishes
in the matter. I believe so yet. Mr. Gilbert in a
roundabout way came to an understanding with old Mr. Dudley
Lawson, who possesses a great influence over his son
and--well, Dudley Lawton seemed to have passed out of
Georgette's life. I believed so then, at least, and I see
no reason for not believing so yet. I feel that you ought
to know this, but really I don't think it is right to say
that Georgette had a love affair. I should rather say that
she had had a love affair, but that it had been
forgotten, perhaps a year ago."
Mrs. Gilbert paused again, and it was evident
that though she was concealing nothing she was measuring
her words carefully in order not to give a false
"What does Dudley Lawton say about the
newspapers bringing his name into the case?" asked
Kennedy, addressing Mr. Gilbert.
"Nothing," replied he. "He
denies that he has even spoken to her for nearly a year.
And yet I cannot quite believe that Lawson is as
uninterested as he seems. I know that he has often spoken
about her to members of the Cosmos Club where he lives, and
that he reads practically everything that the new
newspapers print the case."
"But you have no reason to think that
there has ever been any secret communication between them?
Miss Georgette left no letters or anything that would
indicate that her former infatuation survived?"
"None whatever," repeated Mr.
Gilbert emphatically. "We have gone over her personal
effects fully, and I can't say they furnish a clue. In
fact, there were very few letters. She rarely kept a
letter. Whether it was merely from habit or for some
purpose, I can't say."
"Besides her liking for Dudley Lawton
and her rather romantic nature, there are no other things
in her life that would cause a desire for freedom?"
asked Kennedy, much as a doctor might test the nerves of a
patient. "She had no hobbies?"
"Beyond the reading of some books which
her mother and I did not altogether approve of, I should
say no--no hobbies."
"So far, I suppose, it is true that
neither you nor the police have received even a hint as to
where she went after leaving the book-store? "
"Not a hint. She dropped out as
completely as if the earth had swallowed her."
"Mrs. Gilbert," said Kennedy, as
our visitors rose to go, "you may rest assured that if
it is humanly possible to find your daughter I shall leave
no stone unturned until I have probed to the bottom of this
mystery. I have seldom had a case that hung on more
slender threads, yet if I can weave other threads to
support it I feel that we shall soon find that the mystery
is not so baffling as the Missing Persons Squad has found it
Scarcely had the Gilberts left when Kennedy
put on his hat, remarking: "We'll at least get our
walk, if not the show. Let's stroll around to the Cosmos
club. Perhaps we may catch Lawton in."
Luckily we chanced to find him there in the
reading-room. Lawton was, as Mrs. Gilbert had said, a type
that is common enough in New York and is fascinating to
many girls. In fact, he was one of those fellows whose sins
are readily forgiven because they are always interesting.
Not a few men secretly admire though publicly execrate the
I say that we chanced to find him in. That
was about all we found. Our interview was most
unsatisfactory. For my part, I could not determine whether
he was merely anxious to avoid any notoriety in connection
with the case or whether he was concealing something that
might compromise himself.
"Really gentlemen," he drawled,
puffing languidly on a cigarette and turning slowly toward
the window to watch the passing throng under the lights of
the avenue, "really I don't see how I can be of any
assistance. You see, except for a mere passing acquaintance
Miss Gilbert and I had drifted apart--entirely apart--owing
to circumstances over which I, at least, had no
"I thought perhaps you might have heard
from her or about her, through some mutual friend,"
remarked Kennedy, carefully concealing under his
nonchalance what I knew was working in his mind--a belief
that, after all, the old attachment had not been not been
so dead as the Gilbert's fancied.
"No, not a breath, either before this
sad occurrence or, of course, after. Believe me, if I could
add one fact that would simplify the search for
Georgette--ah, Miss Gilbert--ah--I would do so in a
moment," replied Lawton quickly, as if desirous of
getting rid of us as soon as possible. Then perhaps as if
regretting the brusqueness with which he had tried to end
the interview, he added, "Don't misunderstand me. The
moment you have discovered anything that points to
whereabouts, let me know immediately. You can count on
me--provided you don't get me into the papers. Goodnight,
gentlemen. I wish you the best of success."
"Do you think he could have kept up the
acquaintance secretly?" I asked as we walked up the
avenue after this baffling interview. "Could he have
cast her off when he found that in spite of her parents'
protests she was still in his power?"
"It's impossible to say what a man of
Dudley Lawton's type could do," mused Kennedy,
"for the simple reason that he himself doesn't know
until he has to do it. Until we have more facts, anything
is both possible and probable."
There was nothing more that could be done
that night, though after our walk we sat up for an hour
discussing the possibilities. It did not take me long to
reach the end of my imagination and give up the case, but
Kennedy continued to revolve the matter in his mind,
looking at it from every possible angle and calling upon
all the vast store of information that he had treasured up
in that marvellous brain of his, ready to be called on
almost as if his mind were card-indexed.
"Murder, suicides, robberies, and
burglaries are, after all, easily explained," he
remarked, after a long period of silence on my part,
"but the sudden disappearance of people out of the
crowded city into nowhere is something that is much harder
to explain. And it isn't so difficult to disappear as some
people imagine, either. You remember the celebrated Arctic
explorer whose picture had been published scores of times in
every illustrated paper. He had no trouble in disappearing
and then reappearing later, when he got ready.
"Yet experience has taught me that
there is always a reason for disappearances. It is our next
duty to discover that reason. Still, it won't do to say
that disappearances are not mysterious. Disappearances
except for money troubles are all mysterious. The first
thing in such a case is to discover whether the person has
any hobbies or habits or fads. That is what I tried to
find out from the Gilberts. I can't tell yet whether I
Kennedy took a pencil and hastily jotted
down something on a piece of paper which he tossed over to
me. It read:
1. Love, family trouble
2. A romantic disposition
3. Temporary insanity, self-destruction
4. Criminal assault.
"Those are the reasons why people
disappear, eliminating criminals and those who have
financial difficulties. Dream on that and see if you can
work out the answer in your subliminal consciousness.
Needless to say, I was no further advanced
in the morning than at midnight, but Kennedy seemed to have
evolved at least a tentative program. It started with a
visit to the library, where he carefully went over the
ground already gone over by the police. Finding nothing, he
concluded that Miss Gilbert had not found what she wanted at
the library and had continued the quest, even as he was
continuing the quest himself.
His next step was to visit the
department-store. The purchase had been an inconsequential
affair of half a dozen handkerchiefs, to be sent home.
This certainly did not look like a premeditated
disappearance; but Craig was proceeding on the assumption
that this purchase indicated nothing except that there had
been a sale of handkerchiefs which caught her eye. Having
stopped at the library first and a book-shop afterwards, he
assumed that she had also visited the book-department of
the store. But here again nobody seemed to recall her or
that she had asked for anything in particular.
Our last hope was the book-shop. We paused
for a moment to look at the display in the window, but only
for a moment, for Craig quickly pulled me along inside. In
the window was a display of books bearing the sign:
BOOKS ON NEW THOUGHT, OCCULTISM,|
Instead of attempting to go over the ground
already traversed by the police, who had interrogated
numerous clerk without discovering which one, if any, had
waited on Miss Gilbert, Kennedy asked at once to see the
record of sales of the morning on which she had disappeared.
Running his eye quickly down the record, he picked out a
work on clairvoyance and asked to see the young woman who
had made the sale. The clerk was, however, unable to
recall to whom she had sold the book, though she finally
admitted that she thought it might have been a young woman
who had some difficulty in making up her mind just which of
the numerous volumes she wanted. She could not say whether
the picture Kennedy showed her of Miss Gilbert was that of
her customer, nor was she sure that the customer was not
escorted by some one. Altogether it was nearly as hazy as
our interview with Lawton.
"Still," remarked Kennedy
cheerfully, "it may furnish a clue, after all. The
clerk was at least not positive that it was not
Miss Gilbert to whom she sold the book. Since we are down
in this neighbourhood, let us drop in and see Mr. Gilbert
again. Perhaps something may have happened since last
Mr. Gilbert was in the dry-goods business in
a loft building in the new dry-goods section on Fourth
Avenue. One could almost feel that a tragedy had invaded
even his place of business. As we entered, we could see
groups of clerks, evidently discussing the case. It was
no wonder, I felt, for the head of the firm was almost
frantic, and beside the loss of his only daughter the loss
of his business would count as nothing, at least until the
keen edge of his grief had worn off.
"Mr. Gilbert is out," replied his
secretary in answer to our inquiry. "Haven't you
heard? They have just discovered the body of his daughter
in a lonely spot in the Croton Aqueduct. The report came in
from the police just a few minutes ago. It is thought that
she was murdered in the city and carried there in an
The news came with a stinging shock. I felt
that, after all, we were too late. In another hour the
extras would be out, and the news would be spread
broadcast. The affair would be in the hands of the amateur
detectives, and there was no telling how many promising
clues might be lost.
"Dead!" exclaimed Kennedy, as he
jammed his hat on his head and bolted for the door.
"Hurry, Walter, we must get there before the coroner
makes his examination."
I don't know how we managed to do it, but by
dint of subway, elevated, and taxicab we arrived on the
scene of the tragedy not very long after the coroner. Mr.
Gilbert was there, silent, and looking as if he had aged
many years since the night before; his hand shook and he
could merely nod recognition to us.
Already the body had been carried to a rough
shanty in the neighbourhood, and the coroner was
questioning those who had made the discovery, a party of
Italian labourers on the water improvement near by. They
were a vicious looking crew, but they could tell nothing
beyond the fact that one of them had discovered the body in
a thicket where it could not possibly have lain longer than
overnight. There was no reason, as yet, to suspect any of
them, and indeed, as a much travelled automobile road ran
within a few feet of the thicket, there was every reason to
believe that the murder, if murder it was, had been
committed elsewhere and that the perpetrator had taken this
means of getting rid of his unfortunate victim.
Drawn and contorted were the features of the
poor girl, as if she had died in great physical agony or
after a terrific struggle. Indeed, marks of violence on her
delicate throat and neck showed only too plainly that she
had been choked.
As Kennedy bent over the form of the once
lovely Georgette, he noted the clenched hands. Then he
looked at them more closely. I was standing a little behind
him, for though Craig and I had been through many thrilling
adventures, the death of a human being, especially of a girl
like Miss Gilbert, filled me with horror and revulsion. I
could see, however, that he had noted something unusual.
He pulled out a little pocket magnifying glass and made an
even more minute examination of the hands. At last he rose
and faced us, almost as if in triumph. I could not see what
he had discovered--at least it did not seem to be anything
tangible, like a weapon.
Quickly he opened the pocketbook which she
had carried. It seemed to be empty, and he was about to
shut it when something white, sticking in one corner,
caught his eye. Craig pulled out a clipping from a
newspaper, and we crowded about him to look at it. It was a
large clipping from the section of one of the metropolitan
journals which carries a host of such advertisements as
"spirit medium," "psychic palmist,"
"yogi mediator," "magnetic influences,"
"crystal gazer," "astrologer,"
"trance medium," and the like. At once I thought
of the sallow, somewhat mystic countenance of Dudley and
the idea flashed, half-formed, in my mind that somehow this
clue, together with the purchase of the book on
clairvoyance, might prove the final link necessary.
But the first problem in Kennedy's mind was
to keep in touch with what the authorities were doing.
They kept us busy for several hours, during which Craig was
in close consultation with the coroner's physician. The
physician was of the opinion that Miss Gilbert had been
drugged as well as strangled, and for many hours, down in
his laboratory, his chemist were engaged in trying to
discover from tests of her blood whether the theory was
true. One after another the ordinary poisons were
eliminated until it began to look hopeless.
So far Kennedy had been only an interested
spectator, but as the different tests failed, he had become
more and more keenly alive. At last it seemed as if he
could wait no longer.
"Might I try one or two reactions with
that sample?" he asked of the physician who handed him
the test tube in silence.
For a moment or two Craig thoughtfully
regarded it, while with one hand he fingered the bottles of
ether, alcohol, distilled water, and the many reagents
standing before him. He picked up and poured a little liquid
into the test tube. Then, removing the precipitate that
was formed, he tried to dissolve it in water. Not
succeeding, he tried the ether and then the alcohol. Both
"What is it?" we asked as he held the
tube up critically to the light.
"I can't be sure yet," he answered
slowly. I though at first that it was some alkaloid. I'll
have to make further tests before I can be positive just
what it is. If I may retain this sample I think that with
other clues that I have discovered I may be able to tell
you something definite soon."
The coroner's physician willingly assented,
and Craig quickly dispatched the tube, carefully sealed, to
"That part of our investigation will
keep," he remarked as we left the coroner's office.
"To-night I think we had better resume the search which
was so unexpectedly interrupted this morning. I suppose you
have concluded, Walter, that we can be reasonably sure that
the trail leads back through the fortune-tellers and
soothsayers of New York,--which one, it would be difficult
to say. The obvious thing, therefore, is to consult them
all. I think you will enjoy that part of it, with your
newspaperman's liking for the bizarre."
The fact was that it did appeal to me,
though at the moment I was endeavouring to formulate a
theory in which Dudley Lawton and an accomplice would
account for the facts.
It was early in the evening as we started
out on our tour of the clairvoyants of New York. The first
whom Kennedy selected from the advertisements in the
clipping described himself as "Hata, the Veiled
Prophet, born with a double veil, educated in the occult
mysteries and Hindu philosophy in Egypt and India."
Like all of them his advertisement dwelt much on love and
The great questions of life are quickly
solved, failure turned to success, sorrow to joy,
the separated are brought together, foes made
friends. Truths are laid bare to his mysteries mind. He
gives you power to attract and control those whom
you may desire, tells you of living or dead, your
secret troubles, the cause and remedy. Advice on all
affairs of life, love, courtship, marriage,
business, speculations, investments. Overcomes
rivals, enemies, and all evil influences. Will tell
you how to attract, control, and change the
thought, intentions, actions, or character of
anyone you desire.
Hata was as a modest adept who professed to
be able to explain the whole ten stages of Yoga. He had
established himself on a street near Time Square, just off
Broadway, and there we found several automobiles standing
at the curb, a mute testimony to the wealth of at least some
of his clientele.
A solemn-faced coloured man ushered us into
a front parlor and asked if we had come to see the
professor. Kennedy answered that we had.
"Will you please write your names and
addresses on the outside sheet of this pad, then tear it
off and keep it?" asked the attendant. We ask all
visitors to do that simply as a guarantee of good faith.
Then if you will write under it what you wish to find out
from the professor I think it will help you to concentrate.
But don't write while I am in the room, and don't let me
see the writing."
"A pretty cheap trick," exclaimed
Craig, when the attendant had gone. "That's how he
tells the gullible their names before they tell him. I've a
good notion to tear off two sheets. The second is
chemically prepared, with paraffin, I think. By dusting it
over with powdered charcoal you can bring out what was
written on the first sheet over it. Oh, well, let's let him
get something across, anyway. Here goes, our names and
addresses, and underneath I'll write, 'What has become of
Perhaps five minutes later the negro took
the pad, the top sheet having been torn off and placed in
Kennedy's pocket. He also took a small fee of two dollars.
A few minutes later we were ushered into the awful presence
of the "Veiled Prophet," a tall, ferret-eyed man
in a robe that looked like a brocaded dressing-gown much
too large for him.
Sure enough, he addressed us solemnly by
name and proceeded directly to tell us why we had come.
"Let us look into the crystal of the
past, present, and future and read what it has to
reveal," he added solemnly, darkening the room, which
was already only dimly lighted. Then Hata, the crystal
gazer, solemnly seated himself in a chair. Before him, in
his hands, reposing on a bag of satin, lay a huge oval
piece of glass. He threw forward his head and riveted his
eyes on the milky depths of the crystal. In a moment he
began to talk, first ramblingly, then coherently.
"I see a man, a dark man," he
began. "He is talking earnestly to a young girl. She
is trying to avoid him. Ah--he seizes her by both arms. He
has his hand at her throat. He is choking her."
I was thinking of the newspaper descriptions
of Lawton, which the fakir had undoubtedly read, but
Kennedy was leaning forward over the crystal-gazer, not
watching the crystal at all, nor with his on the
"Her tongue is protruding from her
mouth , her eyes are bulging."
"Yes, yes," urged Kennedy.
"She falls. He strikes her. He
flees. He goes to--"
Kennedy laid his hand ever so lightly on the
arm of the clairvoyant, then quickly withdrew it.
"I cannot see where he goes. It is
dark, dark. You will have to come back to-morrow when the
vision is stronger."
The thing stung me by its crudity. Kennedy,
however, seemed elated by our experience as we gained the
"Craig," I remonstrated, "
you don't mean to say you attach any importance to
vapourings like that? Why, there wasn't a thing the fellow
couldn't have imagined from the newspapers, even the
description of Dudley Lawton."
"We'll see," he replied
cheerfully, as we stopped under a light to read the address
of the next seer, who happened to be in the same block.
It proved to be the psychic palmist who
called himself "the Pandit." He also was
"born with a strange and remarkable power--not meant to
gratify the idle curious, but to direct, advise, and men and
women"--at the usual low fee. He said in print that
he gave instant relief to those in trouble in love, and
also positively guaranteed to tell you your name and the
object of your visit. He added:
Love courtship, marriage. What is more
beautiful than the unblemished love of one person for
another? What is sweeter, better, or more to be
desired than perfect than perfect harmony and
happiness? If you want to win the esteem, love, and
everlasting affection of another, see the Pandit, the
greatest living master of the occult science.
In as much as this seer fell into a passion
at the other incompetent soothsayers in the next column
(and almost next door) it seemed as if we must surely get
something for our money from the Pandit.
Like Hata, the Pandit lived in a large
brownstone house. The man who admitted us led us into a
parlor where several people were seated about as if waiting
for some one. The pad and writing process were repeated with
little variation. Since we were the latest comers we had to
wait some time before we were ushered into the presence of
Pandit, who was clad in a green silk robe.
The room was large and had very small
windows of stained glass. At one end of the room was an
altar which burned several candles which gave out an
incense. The atmosphere of the room was heavy with a
fragrance that seemed to combine cologne with chloroform.
The Pandit waved a wand, muttering strange
sounds as he did so, for in addition to his palmistry,
which he seemed not disposed to exhibit that night, he
dealt in mysteries beyond human ken. A voice, quite
evidently from a phonograph buried in the depths of the
altar, answered in an unknown language which sounded much
like "Al-ya wa-aa haal-ya waa-aa." Across the
dim room flashed a pale blue light with a crackling noise,
the visible rays from a Crookes tube, I verily believe. The
Pandit, however, said it was the soul of a saint passing
through. Then he produced two silken robes, one red, which
he placed on Kennedy's shoulders, and one violet, which he
threw over me.
From the air proceeded strange sounds of
weird music and words. The Pandit seemed to fall asleep,
muttering. Apparently, however, Kennedy and I were bad
subjects, for after some minutes of this he gave it up,
saying that the spirits had no revelations to make to-night
in the matter in which we had called. Inasmuch as we had
not written on the pad just what that matter was, I was not
surprised. Nor was I surprised when the Pandit laid off
his robe and said unctuously, "But if you will call
to-morrow and concentrate, I am sure that I can secure a
message that will be helpful about your little
Kennedy promised to call, but still he
lingered. The Pandit, anxious to get rid of us, moved
toward the door. Kennedy sidled over toward the green robe
which the Pandit had laid on a chair.
"Might I have some of your writings to
look over in the meantime?" asked Craig as if to gain
"Yes, but they will cost you three
dollars a copy--the price I charge all my students,"
answer the Pandit with just a trace of a gleam of
satisfaction at having at last made an impression.
He turned and entered a cabinet to secure
the mystic literature. The moment he had disappeared
Kennedy seized the opportunity he had been waiting for. He
picked up the green robe and examined the collar and neck
very carefully under the least dim of the lights in the
room. He seemed to find what he wished, yet he continued to
examine the robe until the sound of returning footsteps
warned him to lay it down again. He had not been quite
quick enough. The Pandit eyed us suspiciously, then he rang
a bell. The attendant appeared instantly, noiselessly.
"Show these men into the library,"
he command with just the faintest shade of trepidation.
"My servant will give you the book," he said to
Craig. "Pay him."
It seemed that we had suddenly been looked
upon with disfavour, and I half suspected he thought we
were spies of the police, who had recently received
numerous complaints of the financial activities of the
fortune tellers, who worked in close harmony with certain
bucket-shop operator in fleecing the credulous out of their
money by inspired investment advice. At any rate, the
attendant quickly opened a door into the darkness. Treading
cautiously I followed Craig. The door closed behind us. I
clenched my fists, not knowing what to expect.
"The deuce!" exclaimed Kennedy.
"He passed us out into an alley. There is the street
not twenty feet away. The Pandit is a clever one, all
It was now too late to see any of the other
clairvoyants on our list, so that with this unceremonious
dismissal we decided to conclude our investigations for the
The next morning we wend our way up into the
Bronx, where one of the mystics had ensconced himself rather
out of the beaten track of police protection, or
persecution, one could not say which. I was wondering what
sort of vagary would come next. It proved to be "Swami,
the greatest clairvoyant, psychic palmist, and Yogi
meditator of them all."
He also stood alone in his power, for he
Names, friends, enemies, rivals, tells
whom and whom you will marry, advises you upon love,
courtship, marriage, business, speculation,
transactions of every nature. If you are worried,
perplexed, or in trouble come to this wonderful man.
He reads your life like an open book; he overcomes evil
influences, reunites the separated, causes speedy and
happy marriage with the one of your choice, tells how
to influence any one you desire, tells whether wife or
sweetheart is true or false. Love, friendship, and
influence of others obtained and a greater share of
happiness in life secured. The key to success is that
marvellous, subtle, unseen power that opens to your
vision the greatest secrets of life. It gives you
power which enables you to control the minds of men and
The Swami engaged to explain the
"wonderful Karmic law," and by his method one
could develop a magnetic personality by which he could win
anything the human heart desired. It was therefore with
great anticipation that we sought out the wonderful Swami
and, falling into the spirit of his advertisement, posed as
"come-ons" and pleaded to obtain this wonderful
magnetism and a knowledge of the Karmic law--at a
ridiculously low figure, considering its inestimable
advantages to one engaged in the pursuit of criminal
science. Naturally the Swami was pleased at two such early
callers, and his narrow, half-bald head, long slim nose, and
sallow, unwholesome complexion showed his pleasure in every
line and feature.
Rubbing his hands together as he motioned us
into the next room, the Swami seated us on a circular divan
with piles of cushions upon it. There were clusters of
flowers in vases about the room, which gave it the odour of
the renewed vitality of the year.
A lackey entered with a silver tray of cups
of coffee and a silver jar in the centre. Talking slowly
and earnestly about the " great Karmic law," the
Swami bade us drink the coffee, which was a vile, muddy,
Turkish variety. Then from the jar he took a box of rock
crystal containing a sort of greenish compound which he
kneaded into a little gum--gum tragacanth, I afterwards
learned--and bade us taste. It was not at all unpleasant to
the taste, and as nothing happened, except the suave
droning of the mystic before us, we ate several of the gum
I am at a loss to describe adequately just
the sensations that I soon experienced. It was as if puffs
of hot and cold air were alternately blown on my spine, and
I felt a twitching of my neck, legs, and arms. Then came a
subtle warmth. The whole thing seemed droll; the noise of
the Swami's voice was most harmonious. His and Kennedy's
faces seemed transformed. They were human faces, but each
had a sort of animal likeness back of it, as Lavater has
said. The Swami seemed the fox, Kennedy the owl. I looked
in the glass, and I was the eagle. I laughed outright.
It was sensuous in the extreme. The
beautiful paintings on the walls at once became clothed in
flesh and blood. A picture of a lady hanging near me caught
my eye. The countenance really smiled and laughed and
varied from moment to moment. Her figure became rounded and
living and seemed to stir in the frame. The face was
beautiful but ghastly. I seemed to be borne along on by
currents of voluptuous happiness.
Swami was affected by a profound politeness.
As he rose and walked about the room, still talking, he
salaamed and bowed. When I spoke it sounded like a gun,
with an echo long afterward rumbling in my brain. Thoughts
came to me like fury, bewildering, sometimes as points of
light in the most exquisite fireworks. Objects were clothed
in most fantastic garbs. I looked at my two animal
companions. I seemed to read their thoughts. I felt
strange affinities with them, even with the Swami. Yet it
was all by the psychological law of the association of
ideas, though I was no longer master but the servant of
As for Kennedy, the stuff seemed to affect
him much differently than it did myself. Indeed, it seemed
to rouse in him something vicious. The more I smiled and
the more the Swami salaamed, the more violent I could see
Craig getting, whereas I was lost in a maze of dreams that I
would not have stopped if I could. Seconds seemed to be
minutes, minutes ages. Things at only a short distance
looked much as they do when looked at through the inverted
end of a telescope. Yet it all carried with it an agreeable
exhilaration which I can only describe as the heightened
sense one feels on the first spring day of the year.
At last the continued plying of the drug
seem to be too much for Kennedy. The Swami had made a
profound salaam. In an instant Kennedy had seized with
both hands the long flowing hair of the Swami's bald
forehead, and he tugged until the mystic yelled with pain
and the tears stood in his eyes.
With a leap I roused myself from the train
of dreams and flung myself between them. At the
sound of my voice and the pressure of my grasp, Craig
sullenly and slowly relaxed his grip. A vacant look seemed
to steal into his face, and seizing his hat, which lay on a
near-by stool, he stalked out in silence, and I followed.
Neither of us spoke for a moment after we
had reached the street, but out of the corner of my eye I
could see that Kennedy's body was convulsed as if with
"Do you feel better in the air?" I
asked anxiously, yet somewhat vexed and feeling a sort of
lassitude and half regret at the real of life and not of
He seemed as if he could restrain himself no
longer. He burst out into a hearty laugh. "I was just
watching the look of disgust on your face," he said as
he opened his hand and showed me the gum lozenges that he
had palmed instead of swallowing. "Ha, ha! I wonder
what the Swami thinks of his earnest effort to expound the
It was beyond me. With the Swami's
concoction still shooting thoughts like sky rockets through
my brain I gave it up and allowed Kennedy to engineer the
next excursion into the occult.
One more seer remained to be visited. This
one professed to "hold your life mirror" and by
his "magnetic monochrome," whatever that might
be, he would "impart to you an attractive personality,
mastery of being, for creation and control of life
He described himself as the
"Guru," and, among other things, he professed to
be a sun-worshipper. At any rate, the room into which we
were admitted was decorated with the four-spoked wheel, or
wheel and cross, the winged circle, and the winged orb. The
Guru himself was a swarthy individual with a purple turban
wound around his head. In his inner room were many
statuettes, photographs of other Gurus of the faith, and on
each of the four walls were mysterious symbols in plaster
representing a snake curved in a circle, swallowing his
tail, a five-pointed star, and in the centre another winged
Craig asked the Guru to explain the symbols,
to which he replied with a smile: "The snake
represents eternity, the star involution and evolution of
the soul, while the winged sphere--eh, well that represents
something else. Do you come to learn of the faith?"
At this gentle hint Craig replied that he
did and the utmost amicability was restored by the purchase
of the Green Book of the Guru, which seemed to deal with
everything under the sun, and particularly with the revival
of ancient Asiatic fire-worship with many forms and
ceremonies, together with posturing and breathing that
rivalled the "turkey trot," the "bunny
hug," and the "grizzly bear." The book, as we
turned over its pages, gave directions for preparing
everything from food to love-philtres and the elixir of
life. One very interesting chapter was devoted to
"electric marriage," which seemed to come to
those only who, after searching patiently, at least found
perfect mates. Another of Guru's tenets seemed to be
purification by eliminating all false modesty, bathing in
the sun, and while bathing engaging in any occupation which
kept the mind agreeably occupied. On the first page was the
legend, "There is nothing in the world that a
disciple can give to pay the debt to the Guru who has
taught him one truth."
As we talked, it seemed quite possible to me
that the Guru might exert a very powerful hypnotic
influence over his disciples or those who came to seek his
advice. Besides this indefinable hypnotic influence, I also
noted the more material lock on the door to the inner
"Yes," the Guru was saying to
Kennedy, "I can secure you one of the love-pills from
India, but it will cost you--er--ten dollars." I think
he hesitated to see how much the traffic would bear, from
one to one hundred, and compromised with only one zero
after the unit. Kennedy appeared satisfied, and the Guru
departed with alacrity to secure the imported pellet.
In a corner was a sort of dressing-table on
which lay a comb and brush. Kennedy seemed much interested
in the table and was examining it when the Guru returned.
Just as the door opened, he managed to slip the brush into
his pocket and appear interested in the mystic symbols on
the wall opposite.
"If that doesn't work," remarked
the Guru in remarkably good English, "let me know, and
you must try one of my charm-bottles. But the love-pills
are fine. Good-day."
Outside Craig looked at me quizzically.
"You wouldn't believe it, Walter, would you?" he
said. "Here in this twentieth century in New York, and
in fact in every large city of the
world--love-philtres, love-pills, and all the rest of it.
And it is not among the ignorant that these things are
found, either. You remember we saw automobiles waiting
before some of the places."
"I suspect that all who visit the
fakirs are not so gullible, after all," I replied
"Perhaps not. I think I shall have
something to say to-night as a result of our visits, at
During the remainder of the day Kennedy was
closely confined in his laboratory with his microscopes,
chemicals, test-tubes, and other apparatus. As for myself,
I put in the time speculating which of the fakirs had been
in some mysterious way connected with the case and in what
manner. Many were the theories which I had formed, and the
situations I conjured up, and in nearly all I had one
central figure, the young man whose escapades had been the
talk of even the fast set of a fast society.
That night Kennedy with the assistance of
First Deputy O'Connor, who was not averse to taking any
action within the law toward the soothsayers, assembled a
curiously cosmopolitan crowd in his laboratory. Besides
the Gilberts were Dudley Lawton and his father, Hata, the
Pandit, the Swami, and the Guru--the latter four persons in
high dudgeon at being deprived of the lucrative profits of a
Kennedy began slowly, leading gradually up
to his point: "A new means of bringing criminals to
justice has been lately studied by one the greatest
scientific detectives of crime in the world, the man to whom
we are indebted for our most complete systems of
identification and apprehension." Craig paused and
fingered the microscope before him thoughtfully.
"Human hair," he resumed, "has recently been
the study of that untiring criminal scientist, M.
Bertillon. He has drawn up a full classified, and graduated
table of all the known colours of the human hair, a
complete palette, so to speak, of samples gathered in every
quarter of the globe. Henceforth burglars, who already wear
gloves or paint their fingers with a rubber composition for
fear of leaving finger-prints, will have to war
close-fitting caps or keep their heads shaved. Thus he has
hit upon a new method of identification of those sought by
the police. For instance, from time to time the question
arises whether hair is human or animal. In such cases the
microscope tells the answer truthfully.
"For a long time I have been studying
hair, taking advantage of those excellent researches by M.
Bertillon. Human hair is fairly uniform, tapering
gradually. Under the microscope it is possible to
distinguish human hair from animal. I shall not go into
the distinctions, but I may add that it is also possible to
determine very quickly the difference between all hair,
human or animal, and cotton with its corkscrew-like twists,
linen with its jointed structure, and silk, which is long,
smooth, and cylindrical."
Again Kennedy paused as if to emphasise this
preface. "I have here," he continued, "a
sample of hair." He had picked up a microscope slide
that was lying on the table. It certainly did not look very
thrilling--a mere piece of glass, that was all. But on the
glass was what appeared to be merely a faint line.
"This slide," he said, holding it up, "has
what must prove an unescapable clue to the identity of the
man responsible for the disappearance of Miss Gilbert. I
shall not tell you yet who he is, for the simple reason
that, though I could make a shrewd guess, I do not yet know
what the verdict of science is, and in science we do not
guess where we can prove.
"You will undoubtedly remember that
when Miss Gilbert's body was discovered, it bore no
evidence of suicide, but on the contrary the marks of
violence. Her fists were clenched, as if she had struggled
with all her power against a force that had been too much
for her. I examined her hands, expecting to find some
evidence of a weapon she had used to defend herself.
Instead, I found what was more valuable. Here on this
slide are several hairs that I found tightly grasped in her
I could not help recalling Kennedy's remark
earlier in the case--that it hung on slender threads. Yet
how strong might not those threads prove!
"There was also in her pocketbook a
newspaper clipping bearing the advertisements of several
clairvoyants," he went on. "Mr. Jameson and
myself had already discovered what the police had failed to
find, that on the morning of the day on which she
disappeared Miss Gilbert had made three distinct efforts,
probably, to secure books on clairvoyance. Accordingly,
Mr. Jameson and myself have visited several of the
fortune-tellers and practitioners of the occult sciences in
which we had reason to believe Miss Gilbert was interested.
They all, by the way, make a specialty of giving advice in
money matters and solving the problems of lovers. I
suspected that at times Mr. Jameson has thought that I was
demented, but I had to resort to many and various expedients
to collect the specimens of hair which I wanted. From the
police, who used Mr. Lawson's valet, I received some hair
from his head. Here is another specimen from each of the
advertisers, Hata, the Swami, the Pandit, and the Guru.
There is just one of these specimens which corresponds in
every particular of colour, thickness, and texture with the
hair found so tightly grasped in Miss Gilbert's hand."
"Lest I should be prejudiced," he
pursued evenly, "by my own rather strong convictions,
and in order that I might examine the samples without fear
or favour, I had one of my students at the laboratory take
the marked hairs, mount them, number them, and put in
numbered envelopes the names of the persons furnished them.
But before open the envelope numbered the same as the slide
which contains the hair which corresponds precisely with
that hair found in Miss Gilbert's hand--and it is slide No.
2--" said Kennedy, picking out the slide with his
finger and moving it on the table with as much coolness as
if he were moving a chessman on a board instead of playing
in the terrible game of human life, "before I read the
name I have still one more damning fact to disclose."
Craig now had us on edge with excitement, a
situation which I sometimes thought he enjoyed more keenly
than any other in his relentless tracing down of a
"What was it that caused Miss Gilbert's
death," asked Kennedy. "The coroner's physician
did not seem to be thoroughly satisfied with the theory of
physical violence alone. Nor did I. Some one, I believe,
exerted a peculiar force in order to get her into his
power. What was that force? At first I thought it might
have been the hackneyed knockout drops, but test by the
coroner's physician eliminated that. Then I thought it
might be one of the alkaloids, such as morphine, cocaine,
and others. But it was not any of the usual things that
was used to entice her away from her family and friends.
From tests I have made I have discovered the one fact
necessary to complete my case, the drug used to lure her
and against which she fought in deadly struggle."
He placed a test tube in a rack before us.
"This tube," he continued, "contains one of
the most singular and, among us, least known of five
common narcotics of the world-tobacco, opium, coca betel
nut, and hemp. It can be smoked, chewed, used as a drink,
or taken as a confection. In the form of a powder it is
used by the narghile smoker. As a liquid it can be taken
as an oily fluid or in alcohol. Taken in any of these forms,
it makes the nerves walk, dance, and run. It heightens the
feelings and sensibilities to distraction, producing what
is really hysteria. If the weather is clear, this drug will
make life gorgeous; if it rain, tragic. Slight vexation
becomes deadly revenge; courage becomes rashness; fear,
abject terror; and gentle affection or even a passing
liking is transformed into passionate love. It is the drug
derived from the Indian hemp, scientifically named
Cannabis Indica, better known as hashish, or
bhang, or a dozen other names in the East. Its chief
characteristic is that it has a profound effect on the
passions. Thus, under its influence, natives of the East
become greatly exhilarated, then debased, and finally
violent, rushing forth on the streets with the cry, 'Amok,
amok,'--'Kill, kill'--as we say, 'running amuck.' An
overdose of this drug often causes insanity, while in small
quantities our doctors use it as a medicine. Any one who has
read the brilliant Theophile Gautier's 'Club des
Hachichens' or Bayard Taylor's experience at Damascus knows
something of the effect of hashish, however.
"In reconstructing the story of
Georgette Gilbert, as best I can, I believe that she was
lured to the den of one of the numerous cults practised in
New York, lured by advertisements offering advice in hidden
love affairs. Led on by her love for a man whom she could
not and would not put out of her life, and by her affection
for her parents, she was frantic. This place offered hope,
and to it she went in all innocence, not knowing that it was
only the open door to a life such as the most lurid resorted
of the disorderly resorts of the metropolis could scarcely
match. There her credulity was preyed upon, and she was
tricked into taking this drug, which itself has such marked
and perverting effect. But, though she must have been
given a great deal of the drug, she did not yield, as many
of the sophisticated do. She struggled frantically,
futilely. Will and reason were not conquered, though they
sat unsteadily on their thrones. The wisp of hair so
tightly clasped in her dead hand show that she fought
bitterly to the end."
Kennedy was leaning forward earnestly,
glaring at each of us in turn. Lawton was twisting
uneasily in his chair, and I could see that his fists were
doubled up and that he was holding himself in leash, as if
waiting for something, eyeing us all keenly. The Swami was
seized with a violent fit of trembling, and the other
fakirs were staring in amazement.
Quickly I stepped between Dudley Lawton and
Kennedy, but as I did so, he leaped behind me, and before I
could turn he was grappling wildly with some one on the
"It's all right, Walter," cried
Kennedy, tearing open the envelope on the table.
"Lawton has guessed right. The hair was the Swami's.
Georgette Gilbert was one victim who fought and rescued
herself from a slavery worse than death. And there is one
mystic who could not foresee arrest and the death house at
Sing Sing in his horoscope."