The Poisoned Pen and Other Stories
"Interesting story, this fight between the Five-Borough and the Inter-River Transit," I
remarked to Kennedy as I sketched out the draft of an expose of high finance for the
"Then that will interest you, also," said he, throwing a letter down on my desk. He had
just come in and was looking over his mail.
The letterhead bore the name of the Five-Borough Company. It was from Jack Orton, one
of our intimates at college, who was in charge of the construction of a new tunnel under
the river. It was brief, as Jack's letters always were. "I have a case here at the tunnel that I
am sure will appeal to you, my own case, too," it read. "You can go as far as you like
with it, but get to the bottom of the thing, no matter whom it hits. There is some deviltry
afoot, and apparently no one is safe. Don't say a word to anybody about it, but drop over
to see me as soon as you possibly can."
"Yes," I agreed, "that does interest me. When are you going over?"
"Now," replied Kennedy, who had not taken off his hat. "Can you come along?"
As we sped across the city in a taxicab, Craig remarked: "I wonder what is the trouble?
Did you see in the society news this morning the announcement of Jack's engagement to
Vivian Taylor, the daughter of the president of the Five-Borough?"
I had seen it, but could not connect it with the trouble, whatever it was, at the tunnel,
though I did try to connect the tunnel mystery with my expose.
We pulled up at the construction works, and a strapping Irishman met us. "Is this
Professor Kennedy?" he asked of Craig.
"It is. Where is Mr. Orton's office?"
"I'm afraid, sir, it will be a long time before Mr. Orton is in his office again, sir. The
doctor have just took him out of the medical lock, an' he said if you was to come before
they took him to the 'orspital I was to bring you right up to the lock."
"Good heavens, man, what has happened?" exclaimed Kennedy. "Take us up to him
Without waiting to answer, the Irishman led the way up and across a rough board
platform until at last we came to what looked like a huge steel cylinder, lying
horizontally, in which was a floor with a cot and some strange paraphernalia. On the cot
lay Jack Orton, drawn and contorted, so changed that even his own mother would