The Treasure-Train by Arthur B. Reeve
VI. The Beauty Mask
"Oh, Mr. Jameson, if they could only wake her up--find out what is the matter--do something! This suspense is killing both mother and myself."
Scenting a good feature story, my city editor had sent me out on an assignment, my sole equipment being a clipping of two paragraphs from the morning Star.
GIRL IN COMA SIX DAYS--SHOWS NO SIGN OF REVIVAL
Virginia Blakeley, the nineteen-year-old daughter of Mrs. Stuart Blakeley, of Riverside Drive, who has been in a state of coma for six days, still shows no sign of returning consciousness.
Ever since Monday some member of her family has been constantly beside her. Her mother and sister have both vainly tried to coax her back to consciousness, but their efforts have not met with the slightest response. Dr. Calvert Haynes, the family physician, and several specialists who have been called in consultation, are completely baffled by the strange malady.
Often I had read of cases of morbid sleep lasting for days and even for weeks. But this was the first case I had ever actually encountered and I was glad to take the assignment.
The Blakeleys, as every one knew, had inherited from Stuart Blakeley a very considerable fortune in real estate in one of the most rapidly developing sections of upper New York, and on the death of their mother the two girls, Virginia and Cynthia, would be numbered among the wealthiest heiresses of the city.
They lived in a big sandstone mansion fronting the Hudson and it was with some misgiving that I sent up my card. Both Mrs. Blakeley and her other daughter, however, met me in the reception-room, thinking, perhaps, from what I had written on the card, that I might have some assistance to offer
Mrs. Blakeley was a well-preserved lady, past middle-age, and very nervous.
"Mercy, Cynthia!" she exclaimed, as I explained my mission, "it's another one of those reporters. No, I cannot say anything--not a word. I don't know anything. See Doctor Haynes. I--"
"But, mother," interposed Cynthia, more calmly, "the thing is in the papers. It may be that some one who reads of it may know of something that can be done. Who can tell?"
"Well, I won't say anything," persisted the elder woman. "I don't like all this publicity. Did the newspapers ever do anything but harm to your poor dear father? No, I won't talk. It won't do us a bit of good. And you, Cynthia, had better be careful."
Mrs. Blakeley backed out of the door, but Cynthia, who was a few years older than her sister, had evidently acquired independence. At least she felt capable of coping with an ordinary reporter who looked no more formidable than myself.
"It is quite possible that some one who knows about such cases may learn of this," I urged.
She hesitated as her mother disappeared, and looked at me a moment, then, her feelings getting the better of her, burst forth with the strange appeal I have already quoted.
It was as though I had come at just an opportune moment when she must talk to some outsider to relieve her pent-up feelings.
By an adroit question here and there, as we stood in the reception-hall, I succeeded in getting the story, which seemed to be more of human interest than of news. I even managed to secure a photograph of Virginia as she was before the strange sleep fell on her.
Briefly, as her sister told it, Virginia was engaged to Hampton Haynes, a young medical student at the college where his father was a professor of diseases of the heart. The Hayneses were of a fine Southern family which had never recovered from the war and had finally come to New York. The father, Dr. Calvert Haynes, in addition to being a well-known physician, was the family physician of the Blakeleys, as I already knew. "Twice the date of the marriage has been set, only to be postponed," added Cynthia Blakeley. "We don't know what to do. And Hampton is frantic."
"Then this is really the second attack of the morbid sleep?" I queried.
"Yes--in a few weeks. Only the other wasn't so long--not more than a day."
She said it in a hesitating manner which I could not account for. Either she thought there might be something more back of it or she recalled her mother's aversion to reporters and did not know whether she was saying too much or not.
"Do you really fear that there is something wrong?" I asked, significantly, hastily choosing the former explanation.
Cynthia Blakeley looked quickly at the door through which her mother had retreated.
"I--I don't know," she replied, tremulously. "I don't know why I am talking to you. I'm so afraid, too, that the newspapers may say something that isn't true."
"You would like to get at the truth, if I promise to hold the story back?" I persisted, catching her eye.
"Yes," she answered, in a low tone, "but--" then stopped.
"I will ask my friend, Professor Kennedy, at the university, to come here," I urged.
"You know him?" she asked, eagerly. "He will come?"
"Without a doubt," I reassured, waiting for her to say no more, but picking up the telephone receiver on a stand in the hall.
Fortunately I found Craig at his laboratory and a few hasty words were all that was necessary to catch his interest.
"I must tell mother," Cynthia cried, excitedly, as I hung up the receiver. "Surely she cannot object to that. Will you wait here?"
As I waited for Craig, I tried to puzzle the case out for myself. Though I knew nothing about it as yet, I felt sure that I had not made a mistake and that there was some mystery here.
Suddenly I became aware that the two women were talking in the next room, though too low for me to catch what they were saying. It was evident, however, that Cynthia was having some difficulty in persuading her mother that everything was all right.
"Well, Cynthia," I heard her mother say, finally, as she left the room for one farther back, "I hope it will be all right--that is all I can say."
What was it that Mrs. Blakeley so feared? Was it merely the unpleasant notoriety? One could not help the feeling that there was something more that she suspected, perhaps knew, but would not tell. Yet, apparently, it was aside from her desire to have her daughter restored to normal. She was at sea, herself, I felt.
"Poor dear mother!" murmured Cynthia, rejoining me in a few moments. "She hardly knows just what it is she does want-except that we want Virginia well again."
We had not long to wait for Craig. What I had told him over the telephone had been quite enough to arouse his curiosity.
Both Mrs. Blakeley and Cynthia met him, at first a little fearfully, but quickly reassured by his manner, as well as my promise to see that nothing appeared in the Star which would be distasteful.
"Oh, if some one could only bring back our little girl!" cried Mrs. Blakeley, with suppressed emotion, leading the way with her daughter up-stairs.
It was only for a moment that I could see Craig alone to explain the impressions I had received, but it was enough.
"I'm glad you called me," he whispered. "There is something queer."
We followed them up to the dainty bedroom in flowered enamel where Virginia Blakeley lay, and it was then for the first time that we saw her. Kennedy drew a chair up beside the little white bed and went to work almost as though he had been a physician himself.
Partly from what I observed myself and partly from what he told me afterward, I shall try to describe the peculiar condition in which she was.
She lay there lethargic, scarcely breathing. Once she had been a tall, slender, fair girl, with a sort of wild grace. Now she seemed to be completely altered. I could not help thinking of the contrast between her looks now and the photograph in my pocket.
Not only was her respiration slow, but her pulse was almost imperceptible, less than forty a minute. Her temperature was far below normal, and her blood pressure low. Once she had seemed fully a woman, with all the strength and promise of precocious maturity. But now there was something strange about her looks. It is difficult to describe. It was not that she was no longer a young woman, but there seemed to be something almost sexless about her. It was as though her secondary sex characteristics were no longer feminine, but--for want of a better word--neuter.
Yet, strange to say, in spite of the lethargy which necessitated at least some artificial feeding, she was not falling away. She seemed, if anything, plump. To all appearances there was really a retardation of metabolism connected with the trance-like sleep. She was actually gaining in weight!
As he noted one of these things after another, Kennedy looked at her long and carefully. I followed the direction of his eyes. Over her nose, just a trifle above the line of her eyebrows, was a peculiar red mark, a sore, which was very disfiguring, as though it were hard to heal.
"What is that?" he asked Mrs. Blakeley, finally.
"I don't know," she replied, slowly. "We've all noticed it. It came just after the sleep began."
"You have no idea what could have caused it?"
"Both Virginia and Cynthia have been going to a face specialist," she admitted, "to have their skins treated for freckles. After the treatment they wore masks which were supposed to have some effect on the skin. I don't know. Could it be that?"
Kennedy looked sharply at Cynthia's face. There was no red mark over her nose. But there were certainly no freckles on either of the girls' faces now, either.
"Oh, mother," remonstrated Cynthia, "it couldn't be anything Doctor Chapelle did."
"Doctor Chapelle?" repeated Kennedy.
"Yes, Dr. Carl Chapelle," replied Mrs. Blakeley. "Perhaps you have heard of him. He is quite well known, has a beauty-parlor on Fifth Avenue. He--"
"It's ridiculous," cut in Cynthia, sharply. "Why, my face was worse than Virgie's. Car--He said it would take longer."
I had been watching Cynthia, but it needed only to have heard her to see that Doctor Chapelle was something more than a beauty specialist to her.
Kennedy glanced thoughtfully from the clear skin of Cynthia to the red mark on Virginia. Though he said nothing, I could see that his mind was on it. I had heard of the beauty doctors who promise to give one a skin as soft and clear as a baby's--and often, by their inexpert use of lotions and chemicals, succeed in ruining the skin and disfiguring the patient for life. Could this be a case of that sort? Yet how explain the apparent success with Cynthia?
The elder sister, however, was plainly vexed at the mention of the beauty doctor's name at all, and she showed it. Kennedy made a mental note of the matter, but refrained from saying any more about it.
"I suppose there is no objection to my seeing Doctor Haynes?" asked Kennedy, rising and changing the subject.
"None whatever," returned Mrs. Blakeley. "If there's anything you or he can do to bring Virginia out of this--anything safe--I want it done," she emphasized.
Cynthia was silent as we left. Evidently she had not expected Doctor Chapelle's name to be brought into the case.
We were lucky in finding Doctor Haynes at home, although it was not the regular time for his office hours. Kennedy introduced himself as a friend of the Blakeleys who had been asked to see that I made no blunders in writing the story for the Star. Doctor Haynes did not question the explanation.
He was a man well on toward the sixties, with that magnetic quality that inspires the confidence so necessary for a doctor. Far from wealthy, he had attained a high place in the profession.
As Kennedy finished his version of our mission, Doctor Haynes shook his head with a deep sigh.
"You can understand how I feel toward the Blakeleys," he remarked, at length. "I should consider it unethical to give an interview under any circumstances--much more so under the present."
"Still," I put in, taking Kennedy's cue, "just a word to set me straight can't do any harm. I won't quote you directly."
He seemed to realize that it might be better to talk carefully than to leave all to my imagination.
"Well," he began, slowly, "I have considered all the usual causes assigned for such morbid sleep. It is not auto-suggestion or trance, I am positive. Nor is there any trace of epilepsy. I cannot see how it could be due to poisoning, can you?"
I admitted readily that I could not.
"No," he resumed, "it is just a case of what we call narcolepsy-- pathological somnolence--a sudden, uncontrollable inclination to sleep, occurring sometimes repeatedly or at varying intervals. I don't think it hysterical, epileptic, or toxemic. The plain fact of the matter, gentlemen, is that neither myself nor any of my colleagues whom I have consulted have the faintest idea what it is--yet."
The door of the office opened, for it was not the hour for consulting patients, and a tall, athletic young fellow, with a keen and restless face, though very boyish, entered.
"My son," the doctor introduced, "soon to be the sixth Doctor Haynes in direct line in the family."
We shook hands. It was evident that Cynthia had not by any means exaggerated when she said that he was frantic over what had happened to his fiancee.
Accordingly, there was no difficulty in reverting to the subject of our visit. Gradually I let Kennedy take the lead in the conversation so that our position might not seem to be false.
It was not long before Craig managed to inject a remark about the red spot over Virginia's nose. It seemed to excite young Hampton.
"Naturally I look on it more as a doctor than a lover," remarked his father, smiling indulgently at the young man, whom it was evident he regarded above everything else in the world. "I have not been able to account for it, either. Really the case is one of the most remarkable I have ever heard of."
"You have heard of a Dr. Carl Chapelle?" inquired Craig, tentatively.
"A beauty doctor," interrupted the young man, turning toward his father. "You've met him. He's the fellow I think is really engaged to Cynthia."
Hampton seemed much excited. There was unconcealed animosity in the manner of his remark, and I wondered why it was. Could there be some latent jealousy?
"I see," calmed Doctor Haynes. "You mean to infer that this--er-- this Doctor Chapelle--" He paused, waiting for Kennedy to take the initiative.
"I suppose you've noticed over Miss Blakeley's nose a red sore?" hazarded Kennedy.
"Yes," replied Doctor Haynes, "rather refractory, too. I--"
"Say," interrupted Hampton, who by this time had reached a high pitch of excitement, "say, do you think it could be any of his confounded nostrums back of this thing?"
"Careful, Hampton," cautioned the elder man.
"I'd like to see him," pursued Craig to the younger. "You know him?"
"Know him? I should say I do. Good-looking, good practice, and all that, but--why, he must have hypnotized that girl! Cynthia thinks he's wonderful."
"I'd like to see him," suggested Craig.
"Very well," agreed Hampton, taking him at his word. "Much as I dislike the fellow, I have no objection to going down to his beauty-parlor with you."
"Thank you," returned Craig, as we excused ourselves and left the elder Doctor Haynes.
Several times on our journey down Hampton could not resist some reference to Chapelle for commercializing the profession, remarks which sounded strangely old on his lips.
Chapelle's office, we found, was in a large building on Fifth Avenue in the new shopping district, where hundreds of thousands of women passed almost daily. He called the place a Dermatological Institute, but, as Hampton put it, he practised "decorative surgery."
As we entered one door, we saw that patients left by another. Evidently, as Craig whispered, when sixty sought to look like sixteen the seekers did not like to come in contact with one another.
We waited some time in a little private room. At last Doctor Chapelle himself appeared, a rather handsome man with the manner that one instinctively feels appeals to the ladies.
He shook hands with young Haynes, and I could detect no hostility on Chapelle's part, but rather a friendly interest in a younger member of the medical profession.
Again I was thrown forward as a buffer. I was their excuse for being there. However, a newspaper experience gives you one thing, if no other--assurance.
"I believe you have a patient, a Miss Virginia Blakeley?" I ventured.
"Miss Blakeley? Oh yes, and her sister, also."
The mention of the names was enough. I was no longer needed as a buffer.
"Chapelle," blurted out Hampton, "you must have done something to her when you treated her face. There's a little red spot over her nose that hasn't healed yet."
Kennedy frowned at the impetuous interruption. Yet it was perhaps the best thing that could have happened.
"So," returned Chapelle, drawing back and placing his head on one side as he nodded it with each word, "you think I've spoiled her looks? Aren't the freckles gone?"
"Yes," retorted Hampton, bitterly, "but on her face is this new disfigurement."
"That?" shrugged Chapelle. "I know nothing of that--nor of the trance. I have only my specialty."
Calm though he appeared outwardly, one could see that Chapelle was plainly worried. Under the circumstances, might not his professional reputation be at stake? What if a hint like this got abroad among his rich clientele?
I looked about his shop and wondered just how much of a faker he was. Once or twice I had heard of surgeons who had gone legitimately into this sort of thing. But the common story was that of the swindler--or worse. I had heard of scores of cases of good looks permanently ruined, seldom of any benefit. Had Chapelle ignorantly done something that would leave its scar forever? Or was he one of the few who were honest and careful?
Whatever the case, Kennedy had accomplished his purpose. He had seen Chapelle. If he were really guilty of anything the chances were all in favor of his betraying it by trying to cover it up. Deftly suppressing Hampton, we managed to beat a retreat without showing our hands any further.
"Humph!" snorted Hampton, as we rode down in the elevator and hopped on a 'bus to go up-town. "Gave up legitimate medicine and took up this beauty doctoring--it's unprofessional, I tell you. Why, he even advertises!"
We left Hampton and returned to the laboratory, though Craig had no present intention of staying there. His visit was merely for the purpose of gathering some apparatus, which included a Crookes tube, carefully packed, a rheostat, and some other paraphernalia which we divided. A few moments later we were on our way again to the Blakeley mansion.
No change had taken place in the condition of the patient, and Mrs. Blakeley met us anxiously. Nor was the anxiety wholly over her daughter's condition, for there seemed to be an air of relief when Kennedy told her that we had little to report.
Up-stairs in the sick-room, Craig set silently to work, attaching his apparatus to an electric-light socket from which he had unscrewed the bulb. As he proceeded I saw that it was, as I had surmised, his new X-ray photographing machine which he had brought. Carefully, from several angles, he took photographs of Virginia's head, then, without saying a word, packed up his kit and started away.
We were passing down the hall, after leaving Mrs. Blakeley, when a figure stepped out from behind a portiere. It was Cynthia, who had been waiting to see us alone.
"You--don't think Doctor Chapelle had anything to do with it?" she asked, in a hoarse whisper.
"Then Hampton Haynes has been here?" avoided Kennedy.
"Yes," she admitted, as though the question had been quite logical. "He told me of your visit to Carl."
There was no concealment, now, of her anxiety. Indeed, I saw no reason why there should be. It was quite natural that the girl should worry over her lover, if she thought there was even a haze of suspicion in Kennedy's mind.
"Really I have found out nothing yet," was the only answer Craig gave, from which I readily deduced that he was well satisfied to play the game by pitting each against all, in the hope of gathering here and there a bit of the truth. "As soon as I find out anything I shall let you and your mother know. And you must tell me everything, too."
He paused to emphasize the last words, then slowly turned again toward the door. From the corner of my eye I saw Cynthia take a step after him, pause, then take another.
"Oh, Professor Kennedy," she called.
"There's something I forgot," she continued. "There's something wrong with mother!" She paused, then resumed: "Even before Virginia was taken down with this--illness I saw a change. She is worried. Oh, Professor Kennedy, what is it? We have all been so happy. And now--Virgie, mother--all I have in the world. What shall I do?"
"Just what do you mean?" asked Kennedy, gently.
"I don't know. Mother has been so different lately. And now, every night, she goes out."
"Where?" encouraged Kennedy, realizing that his plan was working.
"I don't know. If she would only come back looking happier." She was sobbing, convulsively, over she knew not what.
"Miss Blakeley," said Kennedy, taking her hand between both of his, "only trust me. If it is in my power I shall bring you all out of this uncertainty that haunts you."
She could only murmur her thanks as we left.
"It is strange," ruminated Kennedy, as we sped across the city again to the laboratory. "We must watch Mrs. Blakeley."
That was all that was said. Although I had no inkling of what was back of it all, I felt quite satisfied at having recognized the mystery even on stumbling on it as I had.
In the laboratory, as soon as he could develop the skiagraphs he had taken, Kennedy began a minute study of them. It was not long before he looked over at me with the expression I had come to recognize when he found something important. I went over and looked at the radiograph which he was studying. To me it was nothing but successive gradations of shadows. But to one who had studied roentgenography as Kennedy had each minute gradation of light and shade had its meaning.
"You see," pointed out Kennedy, tracing along one of the shadows with a fine-pointed pencil, and then along a corresponding position on another standard skiagraph which he already had, "there is a marked diminution in size of the sella turcica, as it is called. Yet there is no evidence of a tumor." For several moments he pondered deeply over the photographs. "And it is impossible to conceive of any mechanical pressure sufficient to cause such a change," he added.
Unable to help him on the problem, whatever it might be, I watched him pacing up and down the laboratory.
"I shall have to take that picture over again--under different circumstances," he remarked, finally, pausing and looking at his watch. "To-night we must follow this clue which Cynthia has given us. Call a cab, Walter."
We took a stand down the block from the Blakeley mansion, near a large apartment, where the presence of a cab would not attract attention. If there is any job I despise it is shadowing. One must keep his eyes riveted on a house, for, once let the attention relax and it is incredible how quickly any one may get out and disappear.
Our vigil was finally rewarded when we saw Mrs. Blakeley emerge and hurry down the street. To follow her was easy, for she did not suspect that she was being watched, and went afoot. On she walked, turning off the Drive and proceeding rapidly toward the region of cheap tenements. She paused before one, and as our cab cruised leisurely past we saw her press a button, the last on the right- hand side, enter the door, and start up the stairs.
Instantly Kennedy signaled our driver to stop and together we hopped out and walked back, cautiously entering the vestibule. The name in the letter-box was "Mrs. Reba Rinehart." What could it mean?
Just then another cab stopped up the street, and as we turned to leave the vestibule Kennedy drew back. It was too late, however, not to be seen. A man had just alighted and, in turn, had started back, also realizing that it was too late. It was Chapelle! There was nothing to do but to make the best of it.
"Shadowing the shadowers?" queried Kennedy, keenly watching the play of his features under the arc-light of the street.
"Miss Cynthia asked me to follow her mother the other night," he answered, quite frankly. "And I have been doing so ever since."
It was a glib answer, at any rate, I thought.
"Then, perhaps you know something of Reba Rinehart, too," bluffed Kennedy.
Chapelle eyed us a moment, in doubt how much we knew. Kennedy played a pair of deuces as if they had been four aces instead.
"Not much," replied Chapelle, dubiously. "I know that Mrs. Blakeley has been paying money to the old woman, who seems to be ill. Once I managed to get in to see her. It's a bad case of pernicious anemia, I should say. A neighbor told me she had been to the college hospital, had been one of Doctor Haynes's cases, but that he had turned her over to his son. I've seen Hampton Haynes here, too."
There was an air of sincerity about Chapelle's words. But, then, I reflected that there had also been a similar ring to what we had heard Hampton say. Were they playing a game against each other? Perhaps--but what was the game? What did it all mean and why should Mrs. Blakeley pay money to an old woman, a charity patient?
There was no solution. Both Kennedy and Chapelle, by a sort of tacit consent, dismissed their cabs, and we strolled on over toward Broadway, watching one another, furtively. We parted finally, and Craig and I went up to our apartment, where he sat for hours in a brown study. There was plenty to think about even so far in the affair. He may have sat up all night. At any rate, he roused me early in the morning.
"Come over to the laboratory," he said. "I want to take that X-ray machine up there again to Blakeley's. Confound it! I hope it's not too late."
I lost no time in joining him and we were at the house long before any reasonable hour for visitors.
Kennedy asked for Mrs. Blakeley and hurriedly set up the X-ray apparatus. "I wish you would place that face mask which she was wearing exactly as it was before she became ill," he asked.
Her mother did as Kennedy directed, replacing the rubber mask as Virginia had worn it.
"I want you to preserve that mask," directed Kennedy, as he finished taking his pictures. "Say nothing about it to any one. In fact, I should advise putting it in your family safe for the present."
Hastily we drove back to the laboratory and Kennedy set to work again developing the second set of skiagraphs. I had not long to wait, this time, for him to study them. His first glance brought me over to him as he exclaimed loudly.
At the point just opposite the sore which he had observed on Virginia's forehead, and overlying the sella turcica, there was a peculiar spot on the radiograph.
"Something in that mask has affected the photographic plate," he explained, his face now animated.
Before I could ask him what it was he had opened a cabinet where he kept many new things which he studied in his leisure moments. From it I saw him take several glass ampules which he glanced at hastily and shoved into his pocket as we heard a footstep out in the hall. It was Chapelle, very much worried. Could it be that he knew his society clientele was at stake, I wondered. Or was it more than that?
"She's dead!" he cried. "The old lady died last night!"
Without a word Kennedy hustled us out of the laboratory, stuffing the X-ray pictures into his pocket, also, as we went.
As we hurried down-town Chapelle told us how he had tried to keep a watch by bribing one of the neighbors, who had just informed him of the tragedy.
"It was her heart," said one of the neighbors, as we entered the poor apartment. "The doctor said so."
"Anemia," insisted Chapelle, looking carefully at the body.
Kennedy bent over, also, and examined the poor, worn frame. As he did so he caught sight of a heavy linen envelope tucked under her pillow. He pulled it out gently and opened it. Inside were several time-worn documents and letters. He glanced over them hastily, unfolding first a letter.
"Walter," he whispered, furtively, looking at the neighbors in the room and making sure that none of them had seen the envelope already. "Read these. That's her story."
One glance was sufficient. The first was a letter from old Stuart Blakeley. Reba Rinehart had been secretly married to him--and never divorced. One paper after another unfolded her story.
I thought quickly. Then she had had a right in the Blakeley millions. More than that, the Blakeleys themselves had none, at least only what came to them by Blakeley's will.
I read on, to see what, if any, contest she had intended to make. And as I read I could picture old Stuart Blakeley to myself-- strong, direct, unscrupulous, a man who knew what he wanted and got it, dominant, close-mouthed, mysterious. He had understood and estimated the future of New York. On that he had founded his fortune.
According to the old lady's story, the marriage was a complete secret. She had demanded marriage when he had demanded her. He had pointed out the difficulties. The original property had come to him and would remain in his hands only on condition that he married one of his own faith. She was not of the faith and declined to become so. There had been other family reasons, also. They had been married, with the idea of keeping it secret until he could arrange his affairs so that he could safely acknowledge her.
It was, according to her story, a ruse. When she demanded recognition he replied that the marriage was invalid, that the minister had been unfrocked before the ceremony. She was not in law his wife and had no claim, he asserted. But he agreed to compromise, in spite of it all. If she would go West and not return or intrude, he would make a cash settlement. Disillusioned, she took the offer and went to California. Somehow, he understood that she was dead. Years later he married again.
Meanwhile she had invested her settlement, had prospered, had even married herself, thinking the first marriage void. Then her second husband died and evil times came. Blakeley was dead, but she came East. Since then she had been fighting to establish the validity of the first marriage and hence her claim to dower rights. It was a moving story.
As we finished reading, Kennedy gathered the papers together and took charge of them. Taking Chapelle, who by this time was in a high state of excitement over both the death and the discovery, Kennedy hurried to the Blakeley mansion, stopping only long enough to telephone to Doctor Haynes and his son.
Evidently the news had spread. Cynthia Blakeley met us in the hall, half frightened, yet much relieved.
"Oh, Professor Kennedy," she cried, "I don't know what it is, but mother seems so different. What is it all about?"
As Kennedy said nothing, she turned to Chapelle, whom I was watching narrowly. "What is it, Carl?" she whispered.
"I--I can't tell," he whispered back, guardedly. Then, with an anxious glance at the rest of us, "Is your sister any better?"
Cynthia's face clouded. Relieved though she was about her mother, there was still that horror for Virginia.
"Come," I interrupted, not wishing to let Chapelle get out of my sight, yet wishing to follow Kennedy, who had dashed up-stairs.
I found Craig already at the bedside of Virginia. He had broken one of the ampules and was injecting some of the extract in it into the sleeping girl's arm. Mrs. Blakeley bent over eagerly as he did so. Even in her manner she was changed. There was anxiety for Virginia yet, but one could feel that a great weight seemed to be lifted from her.
So engrossed was I in watching Kennedy that I did not hear Doctor Haynes and Hampton enter. Chapelle heard, however, and turned.
For a moment he gazed at Hampton. Then with a slight curl of the lip he said, in a low tone, "Is it strictly ethical to treat a patient for disease of the heart when she is suffering from anemia--if you have an interest in the life and death of the patient?"
I watched Hampton's face closely. There was indignation in every line of it. But before he could reply Doctor Haynes stepped forward.
"My son was right in the diagnosis," he almost shouted, shaking a menacing finger at Chapelle. "To come to the point, sir, explain that mark on Miss Virginia's forehead!"
"Yes," demanded Hampton, also taking a step toward the beauty doctor, "explain it--if you dare."
Cynthia suppressed a little cry of fear. For a moment I thought that the two young men would forget everything in the heat of their feelings.
"Just a second," interposed Kennedy, quickly stepping between them. "Let me do the talking." There was something commanding about his tone as he looked from one to the other of us.
"The trouble with Miss Virginia," he added, deliberately, "seems to lie in one of what the scientists have lately designated the 'endocrine glands'--in this case the pituitary. My X-ray pictures show that conclusively.
"Let me explain for the benefit of the rest. The pituitary is an oval glandular body composed of two lobes and a connecting area, which rest in the sella turcica, enveloped by a layer of tissue, about under this point." He indicated the red spot on her forehead as he spoke. "It is, as the early French surgeons called it, l'organe enigmatique. The ancients thought it discharged the pituita, or mucus, into the nose. Most scientists of the past century asserted that it was a vestigial relic of prehistoric usefulness. To-day we know better.
"One by one the functions of the internal secretions are being discovered. Our variously acquired bits of information concerning the ductless glands lie before us like the fragments of a modern picture puzzle. And so, I may tell you, in connection with recent experimental studies of the role of the pituitary, Doctor Cushing and other collaborators at Johns Hopkins have noticed a marked tendency to pass into a profoundly lethargic state when the secretion of the pituitary is totally or nearly so removed."
Kennedy now had every eye riveted on him as he deftly led the subject straight to the case of the poor girl before us.
"This," he added, with a wave of his hand toward her, "is much like what is called the Frohlich syndrome--the lethargy, the subnormal temperature, slow pulse, and respiration, lowered blood pressure, and insensitivity, the growth of fat and the loss of sex characteristics. It has a name--dystrophia adiposogenitalis."
He nodded to Doctor Haynes, but did not pause. "This case bears a striking resemblance to the pronounced natural somnolence of hibernation. And induced hypopituitarism--under activity of the gland--produces a result just like natural hibernation. Hibernation has nothing to do with winter, or with food, primarily; it is connected in some way with this little gland under the forehead.
"As the pituitary secretion is lessened, the blocking action of the fatigue products in the body be-comes greater and morbid somnolence sets in. There is a high tolerance of carbohydrates which are promptly stored as fat. I am surprised, Doctor Haynes, that you did not recognize the symptoms."
A murmur from Mrs. Blakeley cut short Doctor Haynes's reply. I thought I noticed a movement of the still face on the white bed.
"Virgie! Virgie!" called Mrs. Blakeley, dropping on her knee beside her daughter.
Virginia's eyes opened ever so slightly. Her face turned just an inch or two. She seemed to be making a great effort, but it lasted only a moment. Then she slipped back into the strange condition that had baffled skilled physicians and surgeons for nearly a week.
"The sleep is being dispelled," said Kennedy, quietly placing his hand on Mrs. Blakeley's shoulder. "It is a sort of semi- consciousness now and the improvement should soon be great."
"And that?" I asked, touching the empty ampule from which he had injected the contents into her.
"Pituitrin--the extract of the anterior lobe of the pituitary body. Some one who had an object in removing her temporarily probably counted on restoring her to her former blooming womanhood by pituitrin--and by removing the cause of the trouble."
Kennedy reached into his pocket and drew forth the second X-ray photograph he had taken. "Mrs. Blakeley, may I trouble you to get that beauty mask which your daughter wore?"
Mechanically Mrs. Blakeley obeyed. I expected Chapelle to object, but not a word broke the death-like stillness.
"The narcolepsy," continued Kennedy, taking the mask, "was due, I find, to something that affected the pituitary gland. I have here a photograph of her taken when she was wearing the mask." He ran his finger lightly over the part just above the eyes. "Feel that little lump, Walter," he directed.
I did so. It was almost imperceptible, but there was something.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Located in one of the best protected and most inaccessible parts of the body," Kennedy considered, slowly, "how could the pituitary be reached? If you will study my skiagraph, you will see how I got my first clue. There was something over that spot which caused the refractory sore. What was it? Radium--carefully placed in the mask with guards of lead foil in such a way as to protect the eyes, but direct the emission full at the gland which was to be affected, and the secretions stopped."
Chapelle gave a gasp. He was pale and agitated.
"Some of you have already heard of Reba Rinehart," shot out Kennedy, suddenly changing the subject.
Mrs. Blakeley could not have been more astounded if a bomb had dropped before her. Still kneeling before Virginia's bed, she turned her startled face at Kennedy, clasping her hands in appeal.
"It was for my girls that I tried to buy her off--for their good name--their fortune--their future," she cried, imploringly.
Kennedy bent down, "I know that is all," he reassured, then, facing us, went on: "Behind that old woman was a secret of romantic interest. She was contemplating filing suit in the courts to recover a widow's interest in the land on which now stand the homes of millionaires, hotel palaces, luxurious apartments, and popular theaters--millions of dollars' worth of property."
Cynthia moved over and drew her arms about the convulsed figure of her mother.
"Some one else knew of this old marriage of Stuart Blakeley," proceeded Kennedy, "knew of Reba Rinehart, knew that she might die at any moment. But until she died none of the Blakeleys could be entirely sure of their fortune."
It flashed over me that Chapelle might have conceived the whole scheme, seeking to gain the entire fortune for Cynthia.
"Who was interested enough to plot this postponement of the wedding until the danger to the fortune was finally removed?" I caught sight of Hampton Haynes, his eyes riveted on the face on the bed before us.
Virginia stirred again. This time her eyes opened wider. As if in a dream she caught sight of the face of her lover and smiled wanly.
Could it have been Hampton? It seemed incredible.
"The old lady is dead," pursued Kennedy, tensely. "Her dower right died with her. Nothing can be gained by bringing her case back again--except to trouble the Blakeleys in what is rightfully theirs."
Gathering up the beauty mask, the X-ray photographs, and the papers of Mrs. Rinehart, Kennedy emphasized with them the words as he whipped them out suddenly.
"Postponing the marriage, at the possible expense of Chapelle, until Reba Rinehart was dead, and trusting to a wrong diagnosis and Hampton's inexperience as the surest way of bringing that result about quickly, it was your inordinate ambition for your son, Doctor Haynes, that led you on. I shall hold these proofs until Virginia Blakeley is restored completely to health and beauty."