Detected by the Camera by Lucy Maud
One summer I was attacked by the craze for amateur
photography. It became chronic afterwards,
and I and my camera have never since been parted.
We have had some odd adventures together, and
one of the most novel of our experiences was that in
which we played the part of chief witness against
I may say that my name is Amy Clarke, and that I
believe I am considered the best amateur photographer
in our part of the country. That is all I need
tell you about myself.
Mr. Carroll had asked me to photograph his
place for him when the apple orchards were in
bloom. He has a picturesque old-fashioned country
house behind a lawn of the most delightful old
trees and flanked on each side by the orchards. So I
went one June afternoon, with all my accoutrements,
prepared to "take" the Carroll establishment
in my best style.
Mr. Carroll was away but was expected home
soon, so we waited for him, as all the family
wished to be photographed under the big maple at
the front door. I prowled around among the shrubbery
at the lower end of the lawn and, after a great
deal of squinting from various angles, I at last fixed
upon the spot from which I thought the best view
of the house might be obtained. Then Gertie and
Lilian Carroll and I got into the hammocks and
swung at our leisure, enjoying the cool breeze
sweeping through the maples.
Ned Brooke was hanging around as usual,
watching us furtively. Ned was one of the hopeful
members of a family that lived in a tumble-down
shanty just across the road from the Carrolls. They
were wretchedly poor, and old Brooke, as he was
called, and Ned were employed a good deal by Mr.
Carroll—more out of charity than anything else, I
The Brookes had a rather shady reputation. They
were notoriously lazy, and it was suspected that
their line of distinction between their own and
their neighbours' goods was not very clearly
drawn. Many people censured Mr. Carroll for encouraging
them at all, but he was too kind-hearted
to let them suffer actual want and, as a consequence,
one or the other of them was always dodging
about his place.
Ned was a lank, tow-headed youth of about fourteen,
with shifty, twinkling eyes that could never
look you straight in the face. His appearance was
anything but prepossessing, and I always felt,
when I looked at him, that if anyone wanted to do a
piece of shady work by proxy, Ned Brooke would
be the very lad for the business.
Mr. Carroll came at last, and we all went down to
meet him at the gate. Ned Brooke also came shuffling
along to take the horse, and Mr. Carroll tossed
the reins to him and at the same time handed a
pocketbook to his wife.
"Just as well to be careful where you put that,"
he said laughingly. "There's a sum in it not to be
picked up on every gooseberry bush. Gilman Harris
paid me this morning for that bit of woodland I
sold him last fall—five hundred dollars. I promised
that you and the girls should have it to get a new
piano, so there it is for you."
"Thank you," said Mrs. Carroll delightedly.
"However, you'd better put it back in your pocket
till we go in. Amy is in a hurry."
Mr. Carroll took back the pocketbook and
dropped it carelessly into the inside pocket of the
light overcoat that he wore.
I happened to glance at Ned Brooke just then,
and I could not help noticing the sudden crafty, eager
expression that flashed over his face. He eyed
the pocketbook in Mr. Carroll's hands furtively,
after which he went off with the horse in a great
The girls were exclaiming and thanking their father,
and nobody noticed Ned Brooke's behaviour
but myself, and it soon passed out of my mind.
"Come to take the place, are you, Amy?" said
Mr. Carroll. "Well, everything is ready, I think. I
suppose we'd better proceed. Where shall we
stand? You had better group us as you think best."
Whereupon I proceeded to arrange them in due
order under the maple. Mrs. Carroll sat in a chair,
while her husband stood behind her. Gertie stood
on the steps with a basket of flowers in her hand,
and Lilian was at one side. The two little boys,
Teddy and Jack, climbed up into the maple, and
little Dora, the dimpled six-year-old, stood gravely
in the foreground with an enormous grey cat
hugged in her chubby arms.
It was a pretty group in a pretty setting, and I
thrilled with professional pride as I stepped back
for a final, knowing squint at it all. Then I went to
my camera, slipped in the plate, gave them due
warning and took off the cap.
I took two plates to make sure and then the thing
was over, but as I had another plate left I thought I
might as well take a view of the house by itself, so I
carried my camera to a new place and had just got
everything ready to lift the cap when Mr. Carroll
came down and said:
"If you girls want to see something pretty, come
to the back field with me. That will wait till you
come back, won't it, Amy?"
So we all betook ourselves to the back field, a
short distance away, where Mr. Carroll proudly displayed
two of the prettiest little Jersey cows I had
We returned to the house by way of the back lane
and, as we came in sight of the main road, my
brother Cecil drove up and said that if I were ready,
I had better go home with him and save myself a
hot, dusty walk.
The Carrolls all went down to the fence to speak
to Cecil, but I dashed hurriedly down through the
orchard, leaped over the fence into the lawn and
ran to the somewhat remote corner where I had left
my camera. I was in a desperate hurry, for I knew
Cecil's horse did not like to be kept waiting, so I
never even glanced at the house, but snatched off
the cap, counted two and replaced it.
Then I took out my plate, put it in the holder and
gathered up my traps. I suppose I was about five
minutes at it all and I had my back to the house the
whole time, and when I laid all my things ready
and emerged from my retreat, there was nobody to
be seen about the place.
As I hurried up through the lawn, I noticed Ned
Brooke walking at a smart pace down the lane, but
the fact did not make any particular impression on
me at the time, and was not recalled until afterwards.
Cecil was waiting for me, so I got in the buggy
and we drove off. On arriving home I shut myself
up in my dark room and proceeded to develop the
first two negatives of the Carroll housestead. They
were both excellent, the first one being a trifle the
better, so that I decided to finish from it. I intended
also to develop the third, but just as I finished the
others, a half-dozen city cousins swooped down
upon us and I had to put away my paraphernalia,
emerge from my dark retreat and fly around to entertain
The next day Cecil came in and said:
"Did you hear, Amy, that Mr. Carroll has lost a
pocketbook with five hundred dollars in it?"
"No!" I exclaimed. "How? When? Where?"
"Don't overwhelm a fellow. I can answer only
one question—last night. As to the 'how,' they
don't know, and as to the 'where'—well, if they
knew that, there might be some hope of finding it.
The girls are in a bad way. The money was to get
them their longed-for piano, it seems, and now it's
"But how did it happen, Cecil?"
"Well, Mr. Carroll says that Mrs. Carroll handed
the pocketbook back to him at the gate yesterday,
and he dropped it in the inside pocket of his over-coat—"
"I saw him do it," I cried.
"Yes, and then, before he went to be photographed,
he hung his coat up in the hall. It hung
there until the evening, and nobody seems to have
thought about the money, each supposing that
someone else had put it carefully away. After tea
Mr. Carroll put on the coat and went to see somebody
over at Netherby. He says the thought of the
pocketbook never crossed his mind; he had forgotten
all about putting it in that coat pocket. He came
home across the fields about eleven o'clock and
found that the cows had broken into the clover hay,
and he had a great chase before he got them out.
When he went in, just as he entered the door, the
remembrance of the money flashed over him. He
felt in his pocket, but there was no pocketbook
there; he asked his wife if she had taken it out. She
had not, and nobody else had. There was a hole in
the pocket, but Mr. Carroll says it was too small for
the pocketbook to have worked through. However,
it must have done so—unless someone took it out
of his pocket at Netherby, and that is not possible,
because he never had his coat off, and it was in an
inside pocket. It's not likely that they will ever see it
again. Someone may pick it up, of course, but the
chances are slim. Mr. Carroll doesn't know his exact
path across the fields, and if he lost it while he
was after the cows, it's a bluer show still. They've
been searching all day, of course. The girls are
A sudden recollection came to me of Ned
Brooke's face as I had seen it the day before at the
gate, coupled with the remembrance of seeing him
walking down the lane at a quick pace, so unlike
his usual shambling gait, while I ran through the
"How do they know it was lost?" I said. "Perhaps
it was stolen before Mr. Carroll went to Netherby."
"They think not," said Cecil. "Who would have
"Ned Brooke. I saw him hanging around. And
you never saw such a look as came over his face
when he heard Mr. Carroll say there was five hundred
dollars in that pocketbook."
"Well, I did suggest to them that Ned might
know something about it, for I remembered having
seen him go down the lane while I was waiting for
you, but they won't hear of such a thing. The
Brookes are kind of protégés of theirs, you know,
and they won't believe anything bad of them. If
Ned did take it, however, there's not a shadow of
evidence against him."
"No, I suppose not," I answered thoughtfully,
"but the more I think it over, the more I'm convinced
that he took it. You know, we all went to the
back field to look at the Jerseys, and all that time
the coat was hanging there in the hall, and not a
soul in the house. And it was just after we came
back that I saw Ned scuttling down the lane so
I mentioned my suspicions to the Carrolls a few
days afterwards, when I went down with the photographs,
and found that they had discovered no
trace of the lost pocketbook. But they seemed
positively angry when I hinted that Ned Brooke
might know more about its whereabouts than anyone
else. They declared that they would as soon
think of suspecting one of themselves as Ned, and
altogether they seemed so offended at my suggestion
that I held my peace and didn't irritate them by
any more suppositions.
Afterwards, in the excitement of our cousins'
visit, the matter passed out of my mind completely.
They stayed two weeks, and I was so busy the
whole time that I never got a chance to develop that
third plate and, in fact, I had forgotten all about it.
One morning soon after they went away, I remembered
the plate and decided to go and develop
it. Cecil went with me, and we shut ourselves up in
our den, lit our ruby lantern and began operations.
I did not expect much of the plate, because it had
been exposed and handled carelessly, and I
thought that it might prove to be underexposed or
light-struck. So I left Cecil to develop it while I prepared
the fixing bath. Cecil was whistling away
when suddenly he gave a tremendous "whew" of
astonishment and sprang to his feet.
"Amy, Amy, look here!" he cried.
I rushed to his side and looked at the plate as he
held it up in the rosy light. It was a splendid one,
and the Carroll house came out clear, with the
front door and the steps in full view.
And there, just in the act of stepping from the
threshold, was the figure of a boy with an old straw
hat on his head and—in his hand—the pocketbook!
He was standing with his head turned towards
the corner of the house as if listening, with one
hand holding his ragged coat open and the other
poised in mid-air with the pocketbook, as if he
were just going to put it in his inside pocket. The
whole scene was as clear as noonday, and nobody
with eyes in his head could have failed to recognize
"Goodness!" I gasped. "In with it—quick!"
And we doused the thing into the fixing bath and
then sat down breathlessly and looked at each
"I say, Amy," said Cecil, "what a sell this will be
on the Carrolls! Ned Brooke couldn't do such a
thing—oh, no! The poor injured boy at whom everyone
has such an unlawful pick! I wonder if this
will convince them."
"Do you think they can get it all back?" I asked.
"It's not likely he would have dared to use any of it
"I don't know. We'll have a try, anyhow. How
long before this plate will be dry enough to carry
down to the Carrolls as circumstantial evidence?"
"Three hours or thereabouts," I answered, "but
perhaps sooner. I'll take two prints off when it is
ready. I wonder what the Carrolls will say."
"It's a piece of pure luck that the plate should
have turned out so well after the slap-dash way in
which it was taken and used. I say, Amy, isn't this
quite an adventure?"
At last the plate was dry, and I printed two
proofs. We wrapped them up carefully and
marched down to Mr. Carroll's.
You never saw people so overcome with astonishment
as the Carrolls were when Cecil, with
the air of a statesman unfolding the evidence of
some dreadful conspiracy against the peace and
welfare of the nation, produced the plate and the
proofs, and held them out before them.
Mr. Carroll and Cecil took the proofs and went
over to the Brooke shanty. They found only Ned
and his mother at home. At first Ned, when taxed
with his guilt, denied it, but when Mr. Carroll confronted
him with the proofs, he broke down in a
spasm of terror and confessed all. His mother produced
the pocketbook and the money—they had
not dared to spend a single cent of it—and Mr. Carroll
went home in triumph.
Perhaps Ned Brooke ought not to have been let
off so easily as he was, but his mother cried and
pleaded, and Mr. Carroll was too kind-hearted to
resist. So he did not punish them at all, save by
utterly discarding the whole family and their concerns.
The place got too hot for them after the story
came out, and in less than a month all moved
away—much to the benefit of Mapleton.