The Poisoned Pen and Other Stories
"Hello! Yes, this is Professor Kennedy. I didn't catch the name - oh, yes - President
Blake of the Standard Burglary Insurance Company. What - really? The Branford pearls -
stolen? Maid chloroformed? Yes, I'll take the case. You'll be up in half an hour? All right,
I'll be here. Goodbye."
It was through this brief and businesslike conversation over the telephone that Kennedy
became involved in what proved to be one of the most dangerous cases he had ever
At the mention of the Branford pearls I involuntarily stopped reading, and listened, not
because I wanted to pry into Craig's affairs, but because I simply couldn't help it. This
was news that had not yet been given out to the papers, and my instinct told me that there
must be something more to it than the bare statement of the robbery.
"Some one has made a rich haul," I commented. "It was reported, I remember, when the
Branford pearls were bought in Paris last year that Mrs. Branford paid upward of a
million francs for the collection."
"Blake is bringing up his shrewdest detective to co-operate with me in the case," added
Kennedy. "Blake, I understand, is the head of the Burglary Insurance Underwriters'
Association, too. This will be a big thing, Walter, if we can carry it through."
It was the longest half-hour that I ever put in, waiting for Blake to arrive. When he did
come, it was quite evident that my surmise had been correct.
Blake was one of those young old men who are increasingly common in business to-day.
There was an air of dignity and keenness about his manner that showed clearly how
important he regarded the case. So anxious was he to get down to business that he barely
introduced himself and his companion, Special Officer Maloney, a typical private
"Of course you haven't heard anything except what I have told you over the wire," he
began, going right to the point. "We were notified of it only this noon ourselves, and we
haven't given it out to the papers yet, though the local police in Jersey are now on the
scene. The New York police must be notified to-night, so that whatever we do must be
done before they muss things up. We've got a clue that we want to follow up secretly.
These are the facts.
In the terse, straightforward language of the up-to-date man of efficiency, he sketched the
situation for us.
"The Branford estate, you know, consists of several acres on the mountain back of
Montclair, overlooking the valley, and surrounded by even larger estates. Branford, I