Kennedy looked up quickly at Carton as he finished reading the letter.
“Typical,” he remarked. “Anonymous letters occasionally are of a friendly nature, but usually they reflect with more or less severity upon the conduct or character of someone. They usually receive little attention, but sometimes they are of the most serious character. In many instances they are most important links in chains of evidence pointing to grave crimes.
“It is possible to draw certain conclusions from such letters at once. For instance, it is a surprising fact that in a large number of cases the anonymous letter writer is a woman, who may write what it does not seem possible she could write. Such letters often by their writing, materials used, composition and general form indicate at once the sex of the writer and frequently show nationality, age, education, and occupation. These facts may often point to the probable author.
“Now in this case the writer evidently was well educated. Assumed illiteracy is a frequent disguise, but it is impossible for an author to assume a literacy he or she does not possess. Then, too, women are more apt to assume the characteristics of men than men of women. There are many things to be considered. Too bad it wasn’t in ordinary handwriting. That would have shown much more. However, we shall try our best with what we have here. What impressed you about it?”
“Well,” remarked Carton, “the thing that impressed me was that as usual and as I fully expected, the trail leads right back to protected vice and commercialized graft. This Little Montmartre is one of the swellest of such resorts in the city, the legitimate successor to the scores and hundreds of places which the authorities and the vice investigators have closed recently. In fact, Kennedy, I consider it more dangerous, because it is run, on the surface at least, just like any of the first-class hotels. There’s no violation of law there, at least not openly.”
Craig had continued to examine the letter closely. “So, you have already investigated the Little Montmartre?” he queried, drawing from his pocket a little strip of glass and laying it down carefully over the letter.
“Indeed I have,” returned the District Attorney, watching Kennedy curiously. “It is a place with a very unsavoury reputation. And yet I have been able to get nothing on it. They are so confounded clever. There is never any outward violation of law; they adhere strictly to the letter of the rule of outward decency.”
Over the typewritten characters Kennedy had placed the strip of glass and I could see that it was ruled into little oblongs, into each of which one of the type of the typewritten sheet seemed to fall. Apparently he had forgotten the contents of the letter in his interest in the text itself. He held the paper up to the light and seemed to study its texture and thickness. Then he examined the typed characters more closely with a little pocket magnifying glass, his lips moving as if he were counting something. Next he seized a mass of correspondence on his desk and began comparing the letter with others, apparently to determine just the shade of writing of the ribbon. Finally he gave it up and leaned back in his chair regarding us.