At last the telephone rang and Carton answered it eagerly. As he did so, he quickly motioned to us to go to the outside office where we, too, could listen on extensions.
“Yes, this is Mr. Carton,” we heard him say.
“This is the editor of the Wall Street Record,” came back the reply in a tone that showed no hesitation or compunction if it was lying. “I suppose you have heard the rumours that are current downtown that Hartley Langhorne and the people associated with him have gone broke in the pool they formed to get control of the public utilities that would put them in a position to capture the city betterment contracts?”
“No—I hadn’t heard it,” answered Carton, with difficulty restraining himself from quizzing the informant about himself. Kennedy was motioning to him that that was enough. “I’m sure I can’t express any opinion at all for publication on the subject,” he concluded brusquely, jamming down the receiver on the hook before his interlocutor had a chance to ask another question.
The bell continued to ring, but Craig seized the receiver off its hook again and called back, “Mr. Carton has gone for the day,” hanging it up again with a bang.
“Call up the Record now,” advised Craig, disconnecting the recording instrument he had brought. “See what the editor has to say.”
“This is the District Attorney’s office,” said Carton a moment later when he got the number. “You just called me.”
“I called you?” asked the editor, non-plussed.
“About a rumour current in Wall Street.”
“Rumour? No, sir. It must be some mistake.”
“I guess so. Sorry to have troubled you. Good-bye.”
Carton looked from one to the other of us. “You see,” he said in disgust, “there it is again. That’s the sort of thing that has been going on all day. How do I know what that fellow is doing now—perhaps using my name?”
I had no answer to his implied query as to who was the “wolf” and what he might be up to. As for Kennedy, while he showed plainly that he had his suspicions which he expected to confirm absolutely, he did not care to say anything about them yet.
“Two can play at ‘wolf,’” he said quietly, calling up the headquarters of Dorgan’s organization.
I wondered what he would say, but was disappointed to find that it was a merely trivial conversation about some inconsequential thing, as though Kennedy had merely wished to get in touch with the “Silent Boss.” Next he called up the sanitarium to which Murtha had been committed, and after posing as Murtha’s personal physician managed to have the rules relaxed to the extent of exchanging a few sentences with him.
“How did he seem—irrational?” asked Carton with interest, for I don’t think the District Attorney had complete confidence in the commonly announced cause of Murtha’s enforced retirement.
Kennedy shook his head doubtfully. “Sounded pretty far gone,” was all he said, turning over the pages of the telephone book as he looked for another number.