“Hello, Jameson, is Kennedy in?”
I glanced up from the evening papers to encounter the square-jawed, alert face of District Attorney Carton in the doorway of our apartment.
“How do you do, Judge?” I exclaimed. “No, but I expect him any second now. Won’t you sit down?”
The District Attorney dropped, rather wearily I thought, into a chair and looked at his watch.
I had made Carton’s acquaintance some years before as a cub reporter on the Star while he was a judge of an inferior court. Our acquaintance had grown through several political campaigns in which I had had assignments that brought me into contact with him. More recently some special writing had led me across his trail again in telling the story of his clean-up of graft in the city. At present his weariness was easily accounted for. He was in the midst of the fight of his life for re-election against the so-called “System,” headed by Boss Dorgan, in which he had gone far in exposing evils that ranged all the way from vice and the drug traffic to bald election frauds.
“I expect a Mrs. Blackwell here in a few minutes,” he remarked, glancing again at his watch. His eye caught the headline of the news story I had been reading and he added quickly, “What do the boys on the Star think of that Blackwell case, anyhow?”
It was, I may say, a case deeply shrouded in mystery—the disappearance without warning of a beautiful young girl, Betty Blackwell, barely eighteen. Her family, the police, and now the District Attorney had sought to solve it in vain. Some had thought it a kidnaping, others a suicide, and others had even hinted at murder. All sorts of theories had been advanced without in the least changing the original dominant note of mystery. Photographs of the young woman had been published broadcast, I knew, without eliciting a word in reply. Young men whom she had known and girls with whom she had been intimate had been questioned without so much as a clue being obtained. Reports that she had been seen had come in from all over the country, as they always do in such cases. All had been investigated and had turned out to be based on nothing more than imagination. The mystery remained unsolved.
“Well,” I replied, “of course there’s a lot of talk now in the papers about aphasia and amnesia and all that stuff. But, you know, we reporters are a sceptical lot. We have to be shown. I can’t say we put much faith in that.”
“But what is your explanation? You fellows always have an opinion. Sometimes I think the newspapermen are our best detectives.”
“I can’t say that we have any opinion in this case—yet,” I returned frankly. “When a girl just simply disappears on Fifth Avenue and there isn’t even the hint of a clue as to any place she went or how, well—oh, there’s Kennedy now. Put it up to him.”