“What is it—what did you find?” both Carton and I asked.
Kennedy did not answer immediately.
“I—I can’t say,” he answered slowly at length, as we thanked the Morgue keeper for his courtesy and left the place. “In fact I’d rather not say—until I know.”
I knew from previous experiences that it was of no use to try to quiz Kennedy. He was a veritable Gradgrind for facts, facts, facts. As for myself, I could not help wondering whether, after all, Murtha might not have been the victim of foul play—and, if so, by whom?
We did not have to wait long for the secret of the robbery of Carton to come out. It was not in any “extras,” or in the morning papers the next day, but it came through a secret source of information to the Reform League.
“A clerk in the employ of the organization who is really a detective employed by the Reform League,” groaned Carton, as he told us the story himself the next morning at his office, “has just given us the information that they have prepared a long and circumstantial story about me—about my intimacy with Mrs. Ogleby and Murtha and some others. The story of the robbery of my study is in the papers this morning. To-morrow they plan to publish some photographs—alleged to have been stolen.”
“Photographs—Mrs. Ogleby,” repeated Kennedy. “Real ones?”
“No,” exclaimed Carton quickly, “of course not—fakes. Don’t you see the scheme? First they lay a foundation in the robbery, knowing that the public is satisfied with sensations, and that they will be sure to believe that the robbery was put up by some muckrakers to obtain material for an expose. I wasn’t worried last night. I knew I had nothing to conceal.”
“Then what of it?” I asked naively.
“A good deal of it,” returned Carton excitedly, “The story is to be, as I understand it, that the fake pictures were among those stolen from me and that in a roundabout way they came into the possession of someone in the organization, without their knowing who the thief was. Of course they don’t know who took them and the original plates or films are destroyed, but they’ve concocted some means of putting a date on them early in the spring.”
“What are they that they should take such pains with them?” persisted Kennedy, looking fixedly at Carton.
Carton met his look without flinching. “They are supposed to be photographs of myself,” he repeated. “One purports to represent me in a group composed of Mrs. Ogleby, Murtha, another woman whom I do not even know, and myself. I am standing between Murtha and Mrs. Ogleby and we look very familiar. Another is a picture of the same four riding in a car, owned by Murtha. Oh, there are several of them, of that sort.”