“And I have been told why you married me—to show off your wicked jewels and help you in your—”
“You lie!” he cried fiercely. “Muller—some one—open this safe— whosever it is. If what I have been told is true, there is in it one new bag containing the necklace. It was stolen from Schloss to whom you sold my jewels. The other old bag, stolen from me, contains the paste replica you had made to deceive me.”
It was all so confused that I do not know how it happened. I think it was Muller who opened the safe.
“There is the new yellow bag,” cried Moulton, “from Schloss’ own safe. Open it.”
McLear had taken it. He did so. There sparkled not the real gems, but the replica.
“The devil!” Moulton exclaimed, breaking from Winters and seizing the old bag.
He tore it open and—it was empty.
“One moment,” interrupted Kennedy, looking up quietly from the counter. “Seal that safe again, McLear. In it are the Schloss jewels and the products of half a dozen other robberies which the dupe Muller—or Stein, as you please—pulled off, some as a blind to conceal the real criminal. You may have shown him how to leave no finger prints, but you yourself have left what is just as good--your own forehead print. McLear—you were right. There’s your criminal—Lynn Moulton, professional fence, the brains of the thing.”
THE GERM LETTER
Lynn Moulton made no fight and Kennedy did not pursue the case, for, with the rescue of Antoinette Moulton, his interest ceased.
Blackmail takes various forms, and the Moulton affair was only one phase of it. It was not long before we had to meet a much stranger attempt.
“Read the letter, Professor Kennedy. Then I will tell you the sequel.”
Mrs. Hunter Blake lay back in the cushions of her invalid chair in the sun parlor of the great Blake mansion on Riverside Drive, facing the Hudson with its continuous reel of maritime life framed against the green-hilled background of the Jersey shore.
Her nurse, Miss Dora Sears, gently smoothed out the pillows and adjusted them so that the invalid could more easily watch us. Mrs. Blake, wealthy, known as a philanthropist, was not an old woman, but had been for years a great sufferer from rheumatism.
I watched Miss Sears eagerly. Full-bosomed, fine of face and figure, she was something more than a nurse; she was a companion. She had bright, sparkling black eyes and an expression about her well-cut mouth which made one want to laugh with her. It seemed to say that the world was a huge joke and she invited you to enjoy the joke with her.
Kennedy took the letter which Miss Sears proffered him, and as he did so I could not help noticing her full, plump forearm on which gleamed a handsome plain gold bracelet. He spread the letter out on a dainty wicker table in such a way that we both could see it.