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The Drug Syndicate
At six-thirty that morning Margaret Halley was aroused by her maid-- the latter but
half awake--and sitting up in bed and switching on the lamp, she looked at the card
which the servant had brought to her, and read the following:
New Scotland Yard, S.W.I.
"Oh, dear," she said sleepily, "what an appallingly early visitor. Is the bath ready
yet, Janet?"
"I'm afraid not," replied the maid, a plain, elderly woman of the old-fashioned useful
servant type. "Shall I take a kettle into the bathroom?"
"Yes--that will have to do. Tell Inspector Kerry that I shall not be long."
Five minutes later Margaret entered her little consulting-room, where Kerry, having
adjusted his tie, was standing before the mirror in the overmantle, staring at a large
photograph of the charming lady doctor in military uniform. Kerry's fierce eyes
sparkled appreciatively as his glance rested on the tall figure arrayed in a woollen
dressing- gown, the masculine style of which by no means disguised the beauty of
Margaret's athletic figure. She had hastily arranged her bright hair with deliberate
neglect of all affectation. She belonged to that ultra-modern school which scorns to
sue masculine admiration, but which cannot dispense with it nevertheless. She
aspired to be assessed upon an intellectual basis, an ambition which her
unfortunate good looks rendered difficult of achievement.
"Good morning, Inspector," she said composedly. "I was expecting you."
"Really, miss?" Kerry stared curiously. "Then you know what I've come about?"
"I think so. Won't you sit down? I am afraid the room is rather cold. Is it about--Sir
Lucien Pyne?"
"Well," replied Kerry, "it concerns him certainly. I've been in communication by
telephone with Hinkes, Mr. Monte Irvin's butler, and from him I learned that you
were professionally attending Mrs. Irvin."
"I was not her regular medical adviser, but--"
Margaret hesitated, glancing rapidly at the Inspector, and then down at the writing-
table before which she was seated. She began to tap the blotting-pad with an ivory
paper-knife. Kerry was watching her intently.
"Upon your evidence, Miss Halley," he said rapidly, "may depend the life of the
missing woman."
"Oh!" cried Margaret, "whatever can have happened to her? I rang up as late as
two o'clock this morning; after that I abandoned hope."
"There's something underlying the case that I don't understand, miss. I look to you
to put me wise."
She turned to him impulsively.
"I will tell you all I know, Inspector," she said. "I will be perfectly frank with you."
"Good!" rapped Kerry. "Now--you have known Mrs. Monte Irvin for some time?"
"For about two years."