Naturally, the Star and the other papers made much of the capture of Denison. Still, I was not prepared for the host of Maiden Lane cases that followed. Many of them were essentially trivial. But one proved to be of extreme importance.
“Professor Kennedy, I have just heard of your radium case, and I— I feel that I can—trust you.”
There was a note of appeal in the hesitating voice of the tall, heavily veiled woman whose card had been sent up to us with a nervous “Urgent” written across its face.
It was very early in the morning, but our visitor was evidently completely unnerved by some news which she had just received and which had sent her posting to see Craig.
Kennedy met her gaze directly with a look that arrested her involuntary effort to avoid it again. She must have read in his eyes more than in his words that she might trust him.
“I—I have a confession to make,” she faltered.
“Please sit down, Mrs. Moulton,” he said simply. “It is my business to receive confidences—and to keep them.”
She sank into, rather than sat down in, the deep leather rocker beside his desk, and now for the first time raised her veil.
Antoinette Moulton was indeed stunning, an exquisite creature with a wonderful charm of slender youth, brightness of eye and brunette radiance.
I knew that she had been on the musical comedy stage and had had a rapid rise to a star part before her marriage to Lynn Moulton, the wealthy lawyer, almost twice her age. I knew also that she had given up the stage, apparently without a regret. Yet there was something strange about the air of secrecy of her visit. Was there a hint in it of a disagreement between the Moultons, I wondered, as I waited while Kennedy reassured her.
Her distress was so unconcealed that Craig, for the moment, laid aside his ordinary inquisitorial manner. “Tell me just as much or just as little as you choose, Mrs. Moulton,” he added tactfully. “I will do my best.”
A look almost of gratitude crossed her face.
“When we were married,” she began again, “my husband gave me a beautiful diamond necklace. Oh, it must have been worth a hundred thousand dollars easily. It was splendid. Everyone has heard of it. You know, Lynn—er—Mr. Moulton, has always been an enthusiastic collector of jewels.”
She paused again and Kennedy nodded reassuringly. I knew the thought in his mind. Moulton had collected one gem that was incomparable with all the hundred thousand dollar necklaces in existence.
“Several months ago.” she went on rapidly, still avoiding his eyes and forcing the words from her reluctant lips, “I—oh, I needed money—terribly.”
She had risen and faced him, pressing her daintily gloved hands together in a little tremble of emotion which was none the less genuine because she had studied the art of emotion.
“I took the necklace to a jeweler, Herman Schloss, of Maiden Lane, a man with whom my husband had often had dealings and whom I thought I could trust. Under a promise of secrecy he loaned me fifty thousand dollars on it and had an exact replica in paste made by one of his best workmen. This morning, just now, Mr. Schloss telephoned me that his safe had been robbed last night. My necklace is gone!”