The Collected Works of Arthur B. Reeve
The Collected Works of Arthur B. Reeve
The Soul Analysis
Table of Contents
The day was far advanced after this series of very unsatisfactory interviews. I looked at Kennedy blankly. We seemed to have uncovered so little that was tangible that I was much surprised to find that apparently he was well contented with what had happened in the case so far.
"I shall be busy for a few hours in the laboratory, Walter," he remarked, as we parted at the subway, "I think, if you have nothing better to do, that you might employ the time in looking up some of the gossip about Mrs. Maitland and Masterson, to say nothing of Dr. Ross," he emphasised. "Drop in after dinner."
There was not much that I could find. Of Mrs. Maitland there was practically nothing that I already did not know from having seen her name in the papers. She was a leader in a certain set which was devoting its activities to various social and moral propaganda. Masterson's early escapades were notorious even in the younger smart set in which he had moved, but his years abroad had mellowed the recollection of them. He had not distinguished himself in any way since his return to set gossip afloat, nor had any tales of his doings abroad filtered through to New York clubland. Dr. Ross, I found to my surprise, was rather better known than I had supposed, both as a specialist and as a man about town. He seemed to have risen rapidly in his profession as physician to the ills of society's nerves.
I was amazed after dinner to find Kennedy doing nothing at all.
"What's the matter?" I asked. "Have you struck a snag?"
"No," he replied slowly, "I was only waiting. I told them to be here between half-past eight and nine."
"Who?" I queried.
"Dr. Leslie," he answered. "He has the authority to compel the attendance of Mrs. Maitland, Dr. Ross, and Masterson."
The quickness with which he had worked out a case which was, to me, one of the most inexplicable he had had for a long time, left me standing speechless.
One by one they dropped in during the next half-hour, and, as usual, it fell to me to receive them and smooth over the rough edges which always obtruded at these little enforced parties in the laboratory.
Dr. Leslie and Dr. Ross were the first to arrive. They had not come together, but had met at the door. I fancied I saw a touch of professional jealousy in their manner, at least on the part of Dr. Ross. Masterson came, as usual ignoring the seriousness of the matter and accusing us all of conspiring to keep him from the first night of a light opera which was opening. Mrs. Maitland followed, the unaccustomed pallor of her face heightened by the plain black dress. I felt most uncomfortable, as indeed I think the rest did. She merely inclined her head to Masterson, seemed almost to avoid the eye of Dr. Ross, glared at Dr. Leslie, and absolutely ignored me.
Craig had been standing aloof at his laboratory table, beyond a nod of recognition paying little attention to anything. He seemed to be in no hurry to begin.
"Great as science is," he commenced, at length, "it is yet far removed from perfection. There are, for instance, substances so mysterious, subtle, and dangerous as to set the most delicate tests and powerful lenses at naught, while they carry death most horrible in their train."
He could scarcely have chosen his opening words with more effect.
"Chief among them," he proceeded, "are those from nature's own laboratory. There are some sixty species of serpents, for example, with deadly venom. Among these, as you doubtless have all heard, none has brought greater terror to mankind than the cobra-di-capello, the Naja tripudians of India. It is unnecessary for me to describe the cobra or to say anything about the countless thousands who have yielded up their lives to it. I have here a small quantity of the venom"-he indicated it in a glass beaker. "It was