3. The Vampire Bat
An hour had elapsed since the departure of our visitor, and Paul Harley and I sat
in the cosy, book-lined study discussing the strange story which had been related
to us. Harley, who had a friend attached to the Spanish Embassy, had
succeeded in getting in touch with him at his chambers, and had obtained some
few particulars of interest concerning Colonel Don Juan Sarmiento Menendez,
for such were the full names and titles of our late caller.
He was apparently the last representative of a once great Spanish family,
established for many generations in Cuba. His wealth was incalculable, although
the value of his numerous estates had depreciated in recent years. His family
had produced many men of subtle intellect and powerful administrative qualities;
but allied to this they had all possessed traits of cruelty and debauchery which at
one time had made the name of Menendez a by-word in the West Indies. That
there were many people in that part of the world who would gladly have
assassinated the Colonel, Paul Harley's informant did not deny. But although this
information somewhat enlarged our knowledge of my friend's newest client, it
threw no fresh light upon that side of his story which related to Voodoo and the
extraordinary bat wing episodes.
"Of course," said Harley, after a long silence, "there is one possibility of which we
must not lose sight."
"What possibility is that?" I asked.
"That Menendez may be mad. Remorse for crimes of cruelty committed in his
youth, and beyond doubt he has been guilty of many, may have led to a sort of
obsession. I have known such cases."
"That was my first impression," I confessed, "but it faded somewhat as the
Colonel's story proceeded. I don't think any such explanation would cover the
"Neither do I," agreed my friend; "but it is distinctly possible that such an
obsession exists, and that someone is deliberately playing upon it for his own
"You mean that someone who knows of these episodes in the earlier life of
Menendez is employing them now for a secret purpose of his own?"
"It renders the case none the less interesting."
"I quite agree, Knox. With you, I believe, that even if the Colonel is not quite
sane, at the same time his fears are by no means imaginary."
He gingerly took up the bat wing from the arm of his chair where he had placed it
after a detailed examination.
"It seems to be pretty certain," he said, "that this thing is the wing of a Desmodus
or Vampire Bat. Now, according to our authority"--he touched a work which lay
open on the other arm of his chair--"these are natives of tropical America,
therefore the presence of a living vampire bat in Surrey is not to be anticipated. I