THE CURIO SHOP
Edwards crumpled up as Kennedy and I faced him. There was no escape. In fact our greatest difficulty was to protect him from Waldon.
Kennedy’s work in the case was over when we had got Edwards ashore and in the hands of the authorities. But mine had just begun and it was late when I got my story on the wire for the Star.
I felt pretty tired and determined to make up for it by sleeping the next day. It was no use, however.
“Why, what’s the matter, Mrs. Northrop?” I heard Kennedy ask as he opened our door the next morning, just as I had finished dressing.
He had admitted a young woman, who greeted us with nervous, wide-staring eyes.
“It’s—it’s about Archer,” she cried, sinking into the nearest chair and staring from one to the other of us.
She was the wife of Professor Archer Northrop, director of the archeological department at the university. Both Craig and I had known her ever since her marriage to Northrop, for she was one of the most attractive ladies in the younger set of the faculty, to which Craig naturally belonged. Archer had been of the class below us in the university. We had hazed him, and out of the mild hazing there had, strangely enough, grown a strong friendship.
I recollected quickly that Northrop, according to last reports, had been down in the south of Mexico on an archeological expedition. But before I could frame, even in my mind, the natural question in a form that would not alarm his wife further, Kennedy had it on his lips.
“No bad news from Mitla, I hope?” he asked gently, recalling one of the main working stations chosen by the expedition and the reported unsettled condition of the country about it. She looked up quickly.
“Didn’t you know—he—came back from Vera Cruz yesterday?” she asked slowly, then added, speaking in a broken tone, “and—he seems—suddenly—to have disappeared. Oh, such a terrible night of worry! No word—and I called up the museum, but Doctor Bernardo, the curator, had gone, and no one answered. And this morning—I couldn’t stand it any longer—so I came to you.”
“You have no idea, I suppose, of anything that was weighing on his mind?” suggested Kennedy.
“No,” she answered promptly.
In default of any further information, Kennedy did not pursue this line of questioning. I could not determine from his face or manner whether he thought the matter might involve another than Mrs. Northrop, or, perhaps, something connected with the unsettled condition of the country from which her husband had just arrived.
“Have you any of the letters that Archer wrote home?” asked Craig, at length.
“Yes,” she replied eagerly, taking a little packet from her handbag. “I thought you might ask that. I brought them.”
“You are an ideal client,” commented Craig encouragingly, taking the letters. “Now, Mrs. Northrop, be brave. Trust me to run this thing down, and if you hear anything let me know immediately.”