“They must have some graft, though, besides the beauty parlour,” went on Kennedy. “They wouldn’t be giving up money to Ike the Dropper if that was all there was.”
“No, and that is where the doped cigarette comes in. That is why I want to go again. I imagine it’s like the Montmartre. They have to know you and think you are all right before you get the real inside of the place.”
“I don’t doubt it.” “I can’t go around looking like a chorus girl,” remarked Miss Kendall finally, with a glance at a little mirror she carried in her bag. “I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me until I get rid of this beautification.”
The telephone rang sharply.
As Kennedy answered, we gathered that it was Carton. A few minutes of conversation, mostly on Carton’s part, followed. Kennedy hung up the receiver with an exclamation of vexation.
“I’m afraid I did wrong to start anything with the portrait parle yet,” he said. “Why, this thing we are investigating has so many queer turns that you hardly know whom to trust.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know who could have given the thing away, but Carton says it wasn’t an hour after the inquiries began about Marie that it became known in the underworld that she was being looked for in this way. Oh, they are clever, those grafters. They have all sorts of ways of keeping in touch. I suppose they remember they had one experience with the portrait parle and it has made them as wary as a burglar is over finger-prints. Carton tells me that Marie has disappeared.”
“I could swear I heard her or someone at Margot’s,” said Clare.
“And Harris has disappeared. Of course you thought you overheard him, too. But you may have been mistaken.”
“As nearly as Carton can find out,” said Kennedy quickly, “Marie is Madame Margot herself.”
THE PHANTOM CIRCUIT
“I want to go to Margot’s again to-day,” volunteered Miss Kendall the following morning, adding with a smile, “You see, I’ve got the habit. Really, though, there is a mystery about that place that fascinates me. I want to find out more about this Marie, or Margot, or whoever it was that I thought I heard there. And then those doped cigarettes interest me. You see, I haven’t forgotten what you said about dope the first time we talked about Dr. Harris. They will be more free with me, too, now that I am no longer a stranger.”
“That is a good idea,” agreed Kennedy, who was now chafing under the enforced inaction of the case. “I hope that this time they will let you into some of the secrets. There is one thing, though, I wish you’d look out for especially.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I should like to know what ways there are of communicating with the outside. You realize, of course, that it is very easy for them, if they come to suspect you, to frame up something in a place like that. There are strong-arm women as well as men, and I’m not at all sure that there may not be some men besides Dr. Harris who are acquainted with that place. At any rate Dr. Harris is unscrupulous enough himself.”