The Treasure-Train by Arthur B. Reeve
III. The Soul-Analysis
"Here's the most remarkable appeal," observed Kennedy, one morning, as he tossed over to me a letter. "What do you make of that?" It read:
MY DEAR PROFESSOR KENNEDY:
You do not know me, but I have heard a great deal about you. Please, I beg of you, do not disregard this letter. At least try to verify the appeal I am making.
I am here at the Belleclaire Sanatorium, run by Dr. Bolton Burr, in Montrose. But it is not a real sanatorium. It is really a private asylum.
Let me tell my story briefly. After my baby was born I devoted myself to it. But, in spite of everything, it died. Meanwhile my husband neglected me terribly. After the baby's death I was a nervous wreck, and I came up here to rest.
Now I find I am being held here as an insane patient. I cannot get out. I do not even know whether this letter will reach you. But the chambermaid here has told me she will post it for me.
I am ill and nervous--a wreck, but not insane, although they will tell you that the twilight-sleep treatment affected my mind. But what is happening here will eventually drive me insane if some one does not come to my rescue.
Cannot you get in to see me as a doctor or friend? I will leave all to you after that.
JANET (MRS. ROGER) CRANSTON.
"What do you make of it yourself?" I returned, handing back the letter. "Are you going to take it up?" He slowly looked over the letter again.
"Judging by the handwriting," he remarked, thoughtfully, "I should say that the writer is laboring under keen excitement--though there is no evidence of insanity on the face of it. Yes; I think I'll take up the case."
"But how are you going to get in?" I asked. "They'll never admit you willingly."
Kennedy pondered a minute. "I'll get in, all right," he said, at length; "come on--I'm going to call on Roger Cranston first."
"Roger Cranston?" I repeated, dumfounded. "Why, he'll never help you! Ten to one he's in on it."
"We'll have to take a chance," returned Kennedy, hurrying me out of the laboratory.
Roger Cranston was a well-known lawyer and man about town. We found him in his office on lower Broadway. He was young and distinguished-looking, which probably accounted for the fact that his office had become a sort of fashionable court of domestic relations.
"I'm a friend of Dr. Bolton Burr, of Montrose," introduced Kennedy. Cranston looked at him keenly, but Kennedy was a good actor. "I have been studying some of the patients at the sanatorium, and I have seen Mrs. Cranston there."
"Indeed!" responded Cranston. "I'm all broken up by it myself."
I could not resist thinking that he took it very calmly, however.
"I should like very much to make what we call a psychanalysis of Mrs. Cranston's mental condition," Kennedy explained.
"A psychanalysis?" repeated Cranston.
"Yes; you know it is a new system. In the field of abnormal psychology, the soul-analysis is of first importance. To-day, this study is of the greatest help in neurology and psychiatry. Only, I can't make it without the consent of the natural guardian of the patient. Doctor Burr tells me that you will have no objection."
Cranston thoughtfully studied the wall opposite.
"Well," he returned, slowly, "they tell me that without treatment she will soon be hopelessly insane--perhaps dangerously so. That is all I know. I am not a specialist. If Doctor Burr--" He paused.
"If you can give me just a card," urged Kennedy, "that is all Doctor Burr wishes."
Cranston wrote hastily on the back of one of his cards what Kennedy dictated.
"You will let me know--if there is--any hope?" he asked.
"As soon as I can," replied Kennedy, "I'll let you have a copy of my report."
Cranston thanked us and bowed us to the door suavely.
"Well," I remarked, as we rode down in the elevator, "that was clever. He fell for it, too. You're an artist. Do you think he was posing?"
Kennedy shrugged his shoulders.
We lost no time in getting the first train for Montrose, before Cranston had time to reconsider and call up Doctor Burr.
The Belleclaire Sanatorium was on the outskirts of the town. It was an old stone house, rather dingy, and surrounded by a high stone wall surmounted by sharp pickets.
Dr. Bolton Burr, who was at the head of the institution, met us in the plainly furnished reception-room which also served as his office. Through a window we could see some of the patients walking or sitting about on a small stretch of scraggly grass between the house and the wall.
Doctor Burr was a tall and commanding-looking man with a Vandyke beard, and one would instinctively have picked him out anywhere as a physician.
"I believe you have a patient here--Mrs. Roger Cranston," began Kennedy, after the usual formalities. Doctor Burr eyed us askance. "I've been asked by Mr. Cranston to make an examination of his wife," pursued Craig, presenting the card which he had obtained from Roger Cranston.
"H'm!" mused Doctor Burr, looking quickly from the card to Kennedy with a searching glance.
"I wish you would tell me something of the case before I see her," went on Kennedy, with absolute assurance.
"Well," temporized Doctor Burr, twirling the card, "Mrs. Cranston came to me after the death of her child. She was in a terrible state. But we are slowly building up her shattered nerves by plain, simple living and a tonic."
"Was she committed by her husband?" queried Kennedy, unexpectedly.
Whether or not Doctor Burr felt suspicious of us I could not tell. But he seemed eager to justify himself.
"I have the papers committing her to my care," he said, rising and opening a safe in the corner.
He laid before us a document in which appeared the names of Roger Cranston and Julia Giles.
"Who is this Julia Giles?" asked Kennedy, after he had read the document.
"One of our nurses," returned the doctor. "She has had Mrs. Cranston under observation ever since she arrived."
"I should like to see both Miss Giles and Mrs. Cranston," insisted Kennedy. "It is not that Mr. Cranston is in any way dissatisfied with your treatment, but he thought that perhaps I might be of some assistance to you."
Kennedy's manner was ingratiating but firm, and he hurried on, lest it should occur to Doctor Burr to call up Cranston. The doctor, still twirling the card, finally led us through the wide central hall and up an old-fashioned winding staircase to a large room on the second floor.
He tapped at the door, which was opened, disclosing an interior tastefully furnished.
Doctor Burr introduced us to Miss Giles, conveying the impression, which Kennedy had already given, that he was a specialist, and I his assistant.
Janet Cranston was a young and also remarkably beautiful girl. One could see traces of sorrow in her face, which was exceedingly, though not unpleasingly, pale. The restless brilliancy of her eyes spoke of some physical, if not psychical, disorder. She was dressed in deep mourning, which heightened her pallor and excited a feeling of mingled respect and interest. Thick brown coils of chestnut hair were arranged in such a manner as to give an extremely youthful appearance to her delicate face. Her emotions were expressed by the constant motion of her slender fingers.
Miss Giles was a striking woman of an entirely different type. She seemed to be exuberant with health, as though nursing had taught her not merely how to take care of others, but had given her the secret of caring, first of all, for herself.
I could see, as Doctor Burr introduced us to his patient, that Mrs. Cranston instantly recognized Kennedy's interest in her case. She received us with a graceful courtesy, but she betrayed no undue interest that might excite suspicion, nor was there any hint given of the note of appeal. I wondered whether that might not be an instance of the cunning for which I had heard that the insane are noted. She showed no sign of insanity, however.
I looked about curiously to see if there were evidences of the treatment which she was receiving. On a table stood a bottle and a glass, as well as a teaspoon, and I recalled the doctor's remark about the tonic.
"You look tired, Mrs. Cranston," remarked Kennedy, thoughtfully. "Why not rest while we are here, and then I will be sure my visit has had no ill effects."
"Thank you," she murmured, and I was much impressed by the sweetness of her voice.
As he spoke, Kennedy arranged the pillows on a chaise lounge and placed her on it with her head slightly elevated. Having discussed the subject of psychanalysis with Kennedy before, I knew that this was so that nothing might distract her from the free association of ideas.
He placed himself near her head, and motioned to us to stand farther back of him. where she could not see us.
"Avoid all muscular exertion and distraction," he continued. "I want you to concentrate your attention thoroughly. Tell me anything that comes into your mind. Tell all you know of your symptoms. Concentrate, and repeat all you think of. Frankly express all the thoughts that you have, even though they may be painful and embarrassing."
He said this soothingly, and she seemed to understand that much depended upon her answers and the fact of not forcing her ideas.
"I am thinking of my husband," Mrs. Cranston began, finally, in a dreamy tone.
"What of him?" suggested Kennedy.
"Of how the baby--separated us--and--" She paused, almost in tears.
From what I knew of the method of psychanalysis, I recalled it was the gaps and hesitations which were most important in arriving at the truth regarding the cause of her trouble.
"Perhaps it was my fault; perhaps I was a better mother than wife. I thought I was doing what he would want me to do. Too late I see my mistake."
It was easy to read into her story that there had been other women in his life. It had wounded her deeply. Yet it was equally plain that she still loved him.
"Go on," urged Kennedy, gently.
"Oh yes," she resumed, dreamily; "I am thinking about once, when I left him, I wandered through the country. I remember little except that it was the country through which we had passed on an automobile trip on our honeymoon. Once I thought I saw him, and I tried to get to him. I longed for him, but each time, when I almost reached him, he would disappear. I seemed to be so deserted and alone. I tried to call him, but my tongue refused to say his name. It must have been hours that I wandered about, for I recall nothing after that until I was found, disheveled and exhausted."
She paused and closed her eyes, while I could see that Kennedy considered this gap very important.
"Don't stop," persisted Kennedy. "Once we quarreled over one of his clients who was suing for a divorce. I thought he was devoting too much time and attention to her. While there might not have been anything wrong, still I was afraid. In my anger and anxiety I accused him. He retorted by slamming the door, and I did not see him for two or three days. I realized my nervous condition, and one day a mutual friend of ours introduced me to Doctor Burr and advised me to take a rest-cure at his sanatorium. By this time Roger and I were on speaking-terms again. But the death of the baby and the quarrel left me still as nervous as before. He seemed anxious to have me do something, and so I came here."
"Do you remember anything that happened after that?" asked Craig, for the first time asking a mildly leading question.
"Yes; I recall everything that happened when I came here," she went on. "Roger came up with me to complete the necessary arrangements. We were met at the station by Doctor Burr and this woman who has since been my nurse and companion. On the way up from the station to the sanatorium Doctor Burr was very considerate of me, and I noticed that my husband seemed interested in Miss Giles and the care she was to take of me."
Kennedy flashed a glance at me from a note-book in which he was apparently busily engaged in jotting down her answers. I did not know just what interpretation to put on it, but surmised that it meant that he had struck what the new psychologists call a "complex," in the entrance of Miss Giles into the case.
Before we realized it there came a sudden outburst of feeling.
"And now--they are keeping me here by force!" she cried.
Doctor Burr looked at us significantly, as much as to say, "Just what might be expected, you see." Kennedy nodded, but made no effort to stop Mrs. Cranston.
"They have told Roger that I am insane, and I know he must believe it or he would not leave me here. But their real motive, I can guess, is mercenary. I can't complain about my treatment here--it costs enough."
By this time she was sitting bolt upright, staring straight ahead as though amazed at her own boldness in speaking so frankly before them.
"I feel all right at times--then--it is as though I had a paralysis of the body, but not of the mind--not of the mind," she repeated, tensely. There was a frightened look on her face, and her voice was now wildly appealing.
What would have followed I cannot guess, for at that instant there came a noise outside from another of the rooms as though pandemonium had broken loose. By the shouting and confusion, one might easily have wondered whether keepers and lunatics might not have exchanged places.
"It is just one of the patients who has escaped from his room," explained Doctor Burr; "nothing to be alarmed about. We'll soon have him quieted."
Doctor Burr hurried out into the corridor while Miss Giles was looking out of the door.
Quickly Kennedy reached over and abstracted several drops from a bottle of tonic on the table, pouring it into his handkerchief, which he rolled up tightly and stuffed into his pocket. Mrs. Cranston watched him pleadingly, and clasped her hands in mute appeal, with a hasty glance at Miss Giles.
Kennedy said nothing, either, but rapidly folded up a page of the note-book on which he had been writing and shoved it into Mrs. Cranston's hand, together with something he had taken from his pocket. She understood, and quickly placed it in her corsage.
"Read it--when you are absolutely alone," he whispered, just as Miss Giles shut the door and turned to us.
The excitement subsided almost as quickly as it had arisen, but it had been sufficient to put a stop to any further study of the case along those lines. Miss Giles's keen eyes missed no action or movement of her patient.
Doctor Burr returned shortly. It was evident from his manner that he wished to have the visit terminated, and Kennedy seemed quite willing to take the hint. He thanked Mrs. Cranston, and we withdrew quietly, after bidding her good-by in a manner as reassuring as we could make it under the circumstances.
"You see," remarked Doctor Burr, as we walked down the hall, "she is quite unstrung still. Mr. Cranston comes up here once in a while, and we notice that after these visits she is, if anything, worse."
Down the hall a door had been left open, and we could catch a glimpse of a patient rolled in a blanket, while two nurses forced something down his throat. Doctor Burr hastily closed the door as we passed.
"That is the condition Mrs. Cranston might have got into if she had not come to us when she did," he said. "As it is, she is never violent and is one of the most tractable patients we have."
We left shortly, without finding out whether Doctor Burr suspected us of anything or not. As we made our way back to the city, I could not help the feeling of depression such as Poe mentioned at seeing the private madhouse in France.
"That glimpse we had into the other room almost makes one recall the soothing system of Doctor Maillard. Is Doctor Burr's system better?" I asked.
"A good deal of what we used to think and practise is out of date now," returned Kennedy. "I think you are already familiar with the theory of dreams that has been developed by Dr. Sigmund Freud, of Vienna. But perhaps you are not aware of the fact that Freud's contribution to the study of insanity is of even greater scientific value than his dream theories taken by themselves.
"Hers, I feel sure now, is what is known as one of the so-called 'border-line cases,'" he continued. "It is clearly a case of hysteria--not the hysteria one hears spoken of commonly, but the condition which scientists know as such. We trace the impulses from which hysterical conditions arise, penetrate the disguises which these repressed impulses or wishes must assume in order to appear in the consciousness. Such transformed impulses are found in normal people, too, sometimes. The hysteric suffers mostly from reminiscences which, paradoxically, may be completely forgotten,
"Obsessions and phobias have their origin, according to Freud, in sexual life. The obsession represents a compensation or substitute for an unbearable sexual idea and takes its place in consciousness. In normal sexual life, no neurosis is possible, say the Freudists. Sex is the strongest impulse, yet subject to the greatest repression, and hence the weakest point of our cultural development. Hysteria arises through the conflict between libido and sex-repression. Often sex-wishes may be consciously rejected but unconsciously accepted. So when they are understood every insane utterance has a reason. There is really method in madness.
"When hysteria in a wife gains her the attention of an otherwise inattentive husband it fills, from the standpoint of her deeper longing, an important place, and, in a sense, may be said to be desirable. The great point about the psychanalytic method, as discovered by Breuer and Freud, is that certain symptoms of hysteria disappear when the hidden causes are brought to light and the repressed desires are gratified."
"How does that apply to Mrs. Cranston?" I queried.
"Mrs. Cranston," he replied, "is suffering from what the psychanalysts call a psychic trauma--a soul-wound, as it were. It is the neglect, in this case, of her husband, whom she deeply loves. That, in itself, is sufficient to explain her experience wandering through the country. It was the region which she associated with her first love-affair, as she told us. The wave of recollection that swept over her engulfed her mind. In other words, reason could no longer dominate the cravings for a love so long suppressed. Then, when she saw, or imagined she saw, one who looked like her lover the strain was too great."
It was the middle of the afternoon when we reached the laboratory. Kennedy at once set to work studying the drops of tonic which had been absorbed in the handkerchief. As Kennedy worked, I began thinking over again of what we had seen at the Belleclaire Sanatorium. Somehow or other, I could not get out of my mind the recollection of the man rolled in the blanket and trussed up as helpless as a mummy. I wondered whether that alone was sufficient to account for the quickness with which he had been pacified. Then I recalled Mrs. Cranston's remark about her mental alertness and physical weakness. Had it anything to do with the "tonic"?
"Suppose, while I am waiting," I finally suggested to Craig, "I try to find out what Cranston does with his time since his wife has been shut off from the world."
"That's a very good idea," acquiesced Kennedy. "Don't take too long, however, for I may strike something important here any minute."
After several inquiries over the telephone, I found that since his wife had been in Montrose Cranston had closed his apartment and was living at one of his clubs. Having two or three friends who were members, I did not hesitate to drop around.
Unfortunately, none of my friends happened to be there, and I was forced, finally, to ask for Cranston himself, although all that I really wanted to know was whether he was there or not. One of the clerks told me that he had been in, but had left in a taxicab only a short time before.
As there was a cab-stand outside the club, I determined to make an inquiry and perhaps discover the driver who had had him. The starter knew him, and when I said that it was very important business on which I wanted to see him he motioned to a driver who had just pulled up.
A chance for another fare and a generous tip were all that was necessary to induce him to drive me to the Trocadero, a fashionable restaurant and cabaret, where he had taken Cranston a short time before. It was crowded when I entered, and, avoiding the headwaiter, I stood by the door a few minutes and looked over the brilliant and gay throng. Finally, I managed to catch a glimpse of Cranston's head at a table in a far corner. As I made my way down the line of tables, I was genuinely amazed to see that he was with a woman. It was Julia Giles!
She must have come down on the next train after we did, but, at any rate, it looked as though she had lost no time in seeking out Cranston after our visit. I took a seat at a table next them.
They were talking about Kennedy, and, during a lull in the music, I overheard him asking her just what Craig had done.
"It was certainly very clever in him to play both you and Doctor Burr the way he did. He told Doctor Burr that you had sent him, and told you that Doctor Burr had sent him. By whom do you suppose he really was sent?"
"Could it have been my wife?"
"It must have been, but how she did it is more than I can imagine."
"How is she, anyway?" he asked.
"Sometimes she seems to be getting along finely, and then, other days, I feel quite discouraged about her. Her case is very obstinate."
"Perhaps I had better go out and see Burr," he considered. "It is early in the evening. I'll drive you out in my car. I'll stay at the sanatorium tonight, and then, perhaps, I'll know a little better what we can do."
It was his tone rather than his words which gave me the impression that he was more interested in being with Miss Giles than with Mrs. Cranston. I wondered whether it was a plot of Cranston's and Miss Giles's. Had he been posing before Kennedy, and were they really trying to put Mrs. Cranston out of the way?
As the music started up again, I heard her say, "Can't we have just one more dance?" A moment later they were lost in the gay whirl on the dancing-floor. They made a handsome couple, and it was evident that it was not the first time that they had dined and danced together. The music ceased, and they returned to their places reluctantly, while Cranston telephoned for his car to be brought around to the cabaret.
I hastened back to the laboratory to inform Craig what I had seen. As I told my story he looked up at me with a sudden flash of comprehension.
"I am glad to know where they will all be tonight," he said. "Some one has been giving her henbane--hyoscyamin. I have just discovered it in the tonic."
"What's henbane?" I asked.
"It is a drug derived from the hyoscyamus plant, much like belladonna, though more distinctly sedative. It is a hypnotic used often in mania and mental excitement. The feeling which Mrs. Cranston described is one of its effects. You recall the brightness of her eyes? That is one of the effects of the mydriatic alkaloids, of which this is one. The ancients were familiar with several of its peculiar properties, as they knew of the closely allied poison hemlock.
"Many of the text-books at the present time fail to say anything about the remarkable effect produced by large doses of this terrible alkaloid. This effect can be described technically so as to be intelligible, but no description can convey, even approximately, the terrible sensation produced in many insane patients by large doses. In a general way, it is the condition of paralysis of the body without the corresponding paralysis of the mind."
"And it's this stuff that somebody has been putting into her tonic?" I asked, startled. "Do you suppose that is part of Burr's system, or did Miss Giles lighten her work by putting it into the tonic?"
Kennedy did not betray his suspicion, but went on describing the drug which was having such a serious effect on Mrs. Cranston.
"The victim lies in an absolutely helpless condition sometimes with his muscles so completely paralyzed that he cannot so much as move a finger, cannot close his lips or move his tongue to moisten them. This feeling of helplessness is usually followed by unconsciousness and then by a period of depression. The combined feeling of helplessness and depression is absolutely unlike any other feeling imaginable, if I may judge from the accounts of those who have experienced it. Other sensations, such as pain, may be judged, in a measure, by comparison with other painful sensations, but the sensation produced by hyoscyamin in large doses seems to have no basis for comparison. There is no kindred feeling. Practically every institution for the insane used it a few years ago for controlling patients, but now better methods have been devised."
"The more I think of what I saw at the Trocadero," I remarked, "the more I wonder if Miss Giles has been seeking to win Cranston herself."
"In large-enough doses and repeated often enough," continued Kennedy, "I suppose the toxic effect of the drug might be to produce insanity. At any rate, if we are going to do anything, it might better be done at once. They are all out there now. If we act to-night, surely we shall have the best chance of making the guilty person betray himself."
Kennedy telephoned for a fast touring-car, and in half an hour, while he gathered some apparatus together, the car was before the door. In it he placed a couple of light silk-rope ladders, some common wooden wedges, and an instrument which resembled a surveyor's transit with two conical horns sticking out at the ends.
We made the trip out of New York and up the Boston post-road, following the route which Cranston and Miss Giles must have taken some hours before us. In the town of Montrose, Kennedy stopped only long enough to get a bite to eat and to study up in the roads in the vicinity.
It was long after midnight when we struck up into the country. The night was very dark, thick, and foggy. With the engine running as muffled as possible and the lights dimmed, Kennedy quietly jammed on the brakes as we pulled up along the side of the road.
A few rods farther ahead I could make out the Belleclaire Sanatorium surrounded by its picketed stone wall. Not a light was visible in any of the windows.
"Now that we're here," I whispered, "what can we do?"
"You remember the paper I gave Mrs. Cranston when the excitement in the hall broke loose?"
"Yes," I nodded, as we moved over under the shadow of the wall.
"I wrote on a sheet from my note-book," said Kennedy, "and told her to be ready when she heard a pebble strike the window; and I gave her a piece of string to let down to the ground."
Kennedy threw the silk ladder up until it caught on one of the pickets; then, with the other ladder and the wedges, he reached the top of the wall, followed by me. We pulled the first ladder up as we clung to the pickets, and let it down again inside. Noiselessly we crossed the lawn.
Above was Mrs. Cranston's window. Craig picked up some bits of broken stone from a walk about the house and threw them gently against the pane. Then we drew back into the shadow of the house, lest any prying eyes might discover us. In a few minutes the window on the second floor was stealthily opened. The muffled figure of Mrs. Cranston appeared in the dim light; then a piece of string was lowered.
To it Kennedy attached a light silk ladder and motioned in pantomime for her to draw it up. It took her some time to fasten the ladder to one of the heavy pieces of furniture in the room. Swaying from side to side, but clinging with frantic desperation to the ladder while we did our best to steady it, she managed to reach the ground. She turned from the building with a shudder, and whispered:
"This terrible place! How can I ever thank you for getting me out of it?"
Kennedy did not pause long enough to say a word, but hurried her across to the final barrier, the wall.
Suddenly there was a shout of alarm from the front of the house under the columns. It was the night watchman, who had discovered us.
Instantly Kennedy seized a chair from a little summer-house.
"Quick, Walter," he cried, "over the wall with Mrs. Cranston, while I hold him! Then throw the ladder back on this side. I'll join you in a moment, as soon as you get her safely over."
A chair is only an indifferent club, if that is all one can think of using it for. Kennedy ran squarely at the watchman, holding it out straight before him. Only once did I cast a hasty glance back. There was the man pinned to the wall by the chair, with Kennedy at the other end of it and safely out of reach.
Mrs. Cranston and I managed to scramble over the wall, although she tore her dress on the pickets before we reached the other side. I hustled her into the car and made everything ready to start. It was only a couple of minutes after I threw the ladder back before Craig rejoined us.
"How did you get away from the watchman?" I demanded, breathlessly, as we shot away.
"I forced him back with the chair into the hall and slammed the door. Then I jammed a wedge under it," he chuckled. "That will hold it better than any lock. Every push will jam it tighter."
Above the hubbub, inside now, we could hear a loud gong sounding insistently. All about were lights flashing up at the windows and moving through the passageways. Shouts came from the back of the house as a door was finally opened there. But we were off now, with a good start.
I could imagine the frantic telephoning that was going on in the sanatorium. And I knew that the local police of Montrose and every other town about us were being informed of the escape. They were required by the law to render all possible assistance, and, as the country boasted several institutions quite on a par with Belleclaire, an attempt at an escape was not an unusual occurrence.
The post-road by which we had come was therefore impossible, and Kennedy swung up into the country, in the hope of throwing off pursuit long enough to give us a better chance.
"Take the wheel, Walter," he muttered. "I'll tell you what turns to make. We must get to the State line of New York without being stopped. We can beat almost any car. But that is not enough. A telephone message ahead may stop us, unless we can keep from being seen."
I took the wheel, and did not stop the car as Kennedy climbed over the seat. In the back of the car, where Mrs. Cranston was sitting, he hastily adjusted the peculiar apparatus.
"Sounds at night are very hard to locate," he explained. "Up this side road, Walter; there is some one coming ahead of us."
I turned and shot up the detour, stopping in the shadow of some trees, where we switched off every light and shut down the engine. Kennedy continued to watch the instrument before him.
"What is it?" I whispered.
"A phonometer," he replied. "It was invented to measure the intensity of sound. But it is much more valuable as an instrument that tells with precision from what direction a sound comes. It needs only a small dry battery and can be carried around easily. The sound enters the two horns of the phonometer, is focused at the neck, and strikes on a delicate diaphragm, behind which is a needle. The diaphragm vibrates and the needle moves. The louder the sound the greater the movement of this needle.
"At this end, where it looks as though I were sighting like a surveyor, I am gazing into a lens, with a tiny electric bulb close to my eye. The light of this bulb is reflected in a mirror which is moved by the moving needle. When the sound is loudest the two horns are at right angles to the direction whence it comes. So it is only necessary to twist the phonometer about on its pivot until the sound is received most loudly in the horns and the band of light is greatest. I know then that the horns are at right angles to the direction from which the sound proceeds, and that, as I lift my head, I am looking straight toward the source of the sound. I can tell its direction to a few degrees."
I looked through it myself to see how sound was visualized by light.
"Hush!" cautioned Kennedy.
Down on the main road we could see a car pass along slowly in the direction of Montrose, from which we had come. Without the phonometer to warn us, it must inevitably have met us and blocked our escape over the road ahead.
That danger passed, on we sped. Five minutes, I calculated, and we should cross the State line to New York and safety.
We had been going along nicely when, "Bang!" came a loud report back of us.
"Confound it!" muttered Kennedy; "a blowout always when you least expect it."
We climbed out of the car and had the shoe off in short order.
"Look!" cried Janet Cranston, in a frightened voice, from the back of the car.
The light of the phonometer had flashed up. A car was following us.
"There's just one chance!" cried Kennedy, springing to the wheel. "We might make it on the rim."
Banging and pounding, we forged ahead, straining our eyes to watch the road, the distance, the time, and the phonometer all at once.
It was no use. A big gray roadster was overtaking us. The driver crowded us over to the very edge of the road, then shot ahead, and, where the road narrowed down, deliberately pulled up across the road in such a way that we had to run into him or stop.
Quickly Craig's automatic gleamed in the dim beams from the side lights.
"Just a minute," cautioned a voice. "It was a plot against me, quite as much as it was against her--the nurse to lead me on, while the doctor got a rich patient. I suspected all was not right. That's why I gave you the card. I knew you didn't come from Burr. Then, when I heard nothing from you, I let the Giles woman think I was coming to Montrose to be with her. But, really, I wanted to beat that fake asylum--"
Two piercing headlights shone down the road back of us. We waited a moment until they, too, came to a stop.
"Here they are!" shouted the voice of a man, as he jumped out, followed by a woman.
Kennedy stepped forward, waving his automatic menacingly.
"You are under arrest for conspiracy--both of you!" he cried, as we recognized Doctor Burr and Miss Giles.
A little cry behind me startled me, and I turned. Janet Cranston had flung herself into the arms of the only person who could heal her wounded soul.