The Ear in the Wall HTML version

25. The Blood Crystals
Much as we had accomplished, we had not found Betty Blackwell. Except for her
shadowing of Mrs. Ogleby, Clare Kendall had devoted her time to winning the
confidence of the poor girl, Sybil Seymour, whom we had rescued from Margot's.
Meanwhile, the estrangement of Carton and Margaret Ashton threw a cloud over even
our success.
During the rest of the morning Craig was at work again in the laboratory. He was busily
engaged in testing something through his powerful microscopes and had a large number
of curious microphotographs spread out on the table. As I watched him, apparently there
was nothing but the blood-stained gauze bandage which had been fastened to the face of
the strange, light-haired woman, and on the stains on this bandage he was concentrating
his attention. I could not imagine what he expected to discover from it.
I waited for Kennedy to speak, but he was too busy more than to notice that I had come
in. I fell to thinking of that woman. And the more I thought of the fair face, the more I
was puzzled by it. I felt somehow or other that I had seen it somewhere before, yet could
not place it.
A second time I examined the unpublished photograph of Betty Blackwell as well as the
pictures that had been published. The only conclusion that I could come to was that it
could not be she, for although she was light-haired and of fair complexion, the face as I
remembered it was that of a mature woman who was much larger than the slight Betty. I
was sure of that.
Every time I reasoned it out I came to the same contradictory conclusion that I had seen
her, and I hadn't. I gave it up, and as Kennedy seemed indisposed to enlighten me, I went
for a stroll about the campus, returning as if drawn back to him by a lodestone.
About him was still the litter of test tubes, the photographs, the microscopes; and he was
more absorbed in his delicate work than ever.
He looked up from his examination of a little glass slide and I could see by the crow's
feet in the corners of his eyes that he was not looking so much at me as through me at a
very puzzling problem.
"Walter," he remarked at length, "did you notice anything in particular about that blonde
woman who dashed down the steps into the taxicab and escaped from the dope joint?"
"I should say that I did," I returned, glad to ease my mind of what had been perplexing
me ever since. "I don't want to appear to be foolish, but, frankly, I thought I had seen her
before, and then when I tried to place her I found that I could not recognize her at all. She
seemed to be familiar, and yet when I tried to place her I could think of no one with just
those features. It was a foolish impression, I suppose."