It was a diploma from the Central Western College of Nursing. As I read the name written in, it was with a shock. It was not Dora Sears, but Dora Baldwin.
“A very clever plot,” he ground out, taking a step nearer us. “With the aid of your sister and a disreputable gang of chauffeurs you planned to hasten the death of Mrs. Blake, to hasten the inheritance of the Blake fortune by your future wife. I think your creditors will have less chance of collecting now than ever, Duncan Baldwin.”
THE DEVIL WORSHIPERS
Tragic though the end of the young nurse, Dora Baldwin, had been, the scheme of her brother, in which she had become fatally involved, was by no means as diabolical as that in the case that confronted us a short time after that.
I recall this case particularly not only because it was so weird but also because of the unique manner in which it began.
“I am damned—Professor Kennedy—damned!”
The words rang out as the cry of a lost soul. A terrible look of inexpressible anguish and fear was written on the face of Craig’s visitor, as she uttered them and sank back, trembling, in the easy chair, mentally and physically convulsed.
As nearly as I had been able to follow, Mrs. Veda Blair’s story had dealt mostly with a Professor and Madame Rapport and something she called the “Red Lodge” of the “Temple of the Occult.”
She was not exactly a young woman, although she was a very attractive one. She was of an age that is, perhaps, even more interesting than youth.
Veda Blair, I knew, had been, before her recent marriage to Seward Blair, a Treacy, of an old, though somewhat unfortunate, family. Both the Blairs and the Treacys had been intimate and old Seward Blair, when he died about a year before, had left his fortune to his son on the condition that he marry Veda Treacy.
“Sometimes,” faltered Mrs. Blair, “it is as though I had two souls. One of them is dispossessed of its body and the use of its organs and is frantic at the sight of the other that has crept in.”
She ended her rambling story, sobbing the terrible words, “Oh—I have committed the unpardonable sin—I am anathema—I am damned— damned!”
She said nothing of what terrible thing she had done and Kennedy, for the present, did not try to lead the conversation. But of all the stories that I have heard poured forth in the confessional of the detective’s office, hers, I think, was the wildest.
Was she insane? At least I felt that she was sincere. Still, I wondered what sort of hallucination Craig had to deal with, as Veda Blair repeated the incoherent tale of her spiritual vagaries.
Almost, I had begun to fancy that this was a case for a doctor, not for a detective, when suddenly she asked a most peculiar question.
“Can people affect you for good or evil, merely by thinking about you?” she queried. Then a shudder passed over her. “They may be thinking about me now!” she murmured in terror.