The Ear in the Wall HTML version

22. The Canard
We did not have to wait long for the secret of the robbery of Carton to come out. It was
not in any "extras," or in the morning papers the next day, but it came through a secret
source of information to the Reform League.
"A clerk in the employ of the organization who is really a detective employed by the
Reform League," groaned Carton, as he told us the story himself the next morning at his
office, "has just given us the information that they have prepared a long and
circumstantial story about me--about my intimacy with Mrs. Ogleby and Murtha and
some others. The story of the robbery of my study is in the papers this morning. To-
morrow they plan to publish some photographs--alleged to have been stolen."
"Photographs--Mrs. Ogleby," repeated Kennedy. "Real ones?"
"No," exclaimed Carton quickly, "of course not--fakes. Don't you see the scheme? First
they lay a foundation in the robbery, knowing that the public is satisfied with sensations,
and that they will be sure to believe that the robbery was put up by some muckrakers to
obtain material for an expose. I wasn't worried last night. I knew I had nothing to
"Then what of it?" I asked naively.
"A good deal of it," returned Carton excitedly, "The story is to be, as I understand it, that
the fake pictures were among those stolen from me and that in a roundabout way they
came into the possession of someone in the organization, without their knowing who the
thief was. Of course they don't know who took them and the original plates or films are
destroyed, but they've concocted some means of putting a date on them early in the
"What are they that they should take such pains with them?" persisted Kennedy, looking
fixedly at Carton.
Carton met his look without flinching. "They are supposed to be photographs of myself,"
he repeated. "One purports to represent me in a group composed of Mrs. Ogleby, Murtha,
another woman whom I do not even know, and myself. I am standing between Murtha
and Mrs. Ogleby and we look very familiar. Another is a picture of the same four riding
in a car, owned by Murtha. Oh, there are several of them, of that sort."
He paused as a dozen unspoken questions framed themselves in my mind. "I don't
hesitate to admit," he added, "that a few months ago I knew Mrs. Ogleby--socially. But
there was nothing to it. I never knew Murtha well, and the other woman I never saw. At
various times I have been present at affairs where she was, but I know that no pictures
were ever taken, and even if there had been, I would not care, provided they told the truth