As Carton finished, Kennedy seemed to be emerging from a brown study. He rose slowly and put on his hat.
“Your story about Murtha’s commitment interests me,” he remarked, “particularly since you mentioned Dorgan’s name in connection with it. I’ve been thinking about Murtha myself a good deal since I heard about his condition. I want to see him myself.”
Carton hesitated a minute. “I can break an engagement I had to speak to-night,” he said. “Yes, I’ll go with you. It’s more important to look to the foundations than to the building just now.”
A few minutes later we were all on our way in a touring car to the private sanitarium up in Westchester, where it had been announced that Murtha had been taken.
I had apprehended that we would have a great deal of difficulty either in getting admitted at all or in seeing Murtha himself. We arrived at the sanitarium, a large building enclosed by a high brick wall, and evidently once a fine country estate, at just about dusk. To my surprise, as we stopped at the entrance, we had no difficulty in being admitted.
For a moment, as we waited in the richly furnished reception room, I listened to the sounds that issued from other parts of the building. Something was clearly afoot, for things were in a state of disorder. I had not an extensive acquaintance with asylums for the care and treatment of the insane, but the atmosphere of excitement which palpably pervaded the air was not what one would have expected. I began to think of Poe’s Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, and wonder whether there might not have been a revolution in the place and the patients have taken charge of their keepers.
At last one of the attendants passed the door. No one had paid any attention to us since our admission and this man, too, was going to pass us without notice.
“I beg your pardon,” interrupted Kennedy, who had heard his footsteps approaching and had placed himself in the hallway so that the attendant could not pass, “but we have called to see Mr. Murtha.”
The attendant eyed us curiously. I expected him to say that it was against the rules, or to question our right to see the patient.
“I’m afraid you’re too late,” he said briefly, instead.
“Too late?” queried Kennedy sharply. “What do you mean?”
The man answered promptly as if that were the quickest way to get back to his own errand.
“Mr. Murtha escaped from his keepers this evening, just after dinner, and there is no trace of him.”
THE METRIC PHOTOGRAPH
Murtha’s escape from the sanitarium had again thrown our calculations into chaos. We rode back to the city in silence, and even Kennedy had no explanation to offer.
Even at a late hour that night, although a widespread alarm had been sent out for him, no trace of the missing man could be found. The next morning’s papers, of course, were full of the strange disappearance, but gave no hint of his discovery. In fact, all day the search was continued by the authorities, but without result.