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The Serum Diagnosis
by [?]

We paid our check and Kennedy and I sauntered in the direction Sherburne had taken, finding him ultimately in the cafe, alone. Without further introduction Kennedy approached him.

“So–you are a detective?” sneered Sherburne superciliously, elevating his eyebrows just the fraction of an inch.

“Not exactly,” parried Kennedy, seating himself beside Sherburne. Then in a tone as if he were willing to get down, without further preliminary, to business, seemingly negotiating, he asked: “Mr. Sherburne, may I ask just what it is on which you base your claim on Mrs. Seabury? Is it merely meeting her here? If that is so you must know that it amounts to nothing–now.”

The two men faced each other, each taking the other’s measure.

“Nothing?” coolly retorted Sherburne. “Perhaps not–in itself. But–suppose–I–had–“

He said the words slowly, as he fumbled in his fob pocket, then cut them short as he found what he was looking for. Safely, in the palm of his hand, he displayed a latch-key, momentarily, then with a taunting smile dropped it back again into the fob pocket.

“Perhaps she gave it to me–perhaps I was a welcome visitor in her apartment,” he insinuated. “How would she relish having that told to Mr. Seabury–backed up by the possession of the key?”

I could not help feeling that for the moment Kennedy was checkmated. Sherburne was playing a desperate game and apparently held the key, however he got it, as a trump card.

“Thank you,” was all that Kennedy said, as he rose. “I wanted to know how far you could go. Perhaps we can meet you halfway.”

Sherburne smiled cynically. “All the way,” he said quietly, as we left the cafe.

In silence Kennedy left the hotel and jumped into a cab, directing the driver to the laboratory, where he had asked Mrs. Seabury to wait for him. We found her there, still much agitated.

Hastily Craig explained to her how he had saved the situation, but her mind was too occupied over something else to pay much attention.

“I–I can’t blame you, Professor Kennedy,” she cried, choking down a sob in her voice, “but I have just discovered–he has told me that it is even worse than I had anticipated.”

We were both following her closely, the incident of the latch-key still fresh in mind.

“Some time ago,” she hurried on, “I missed my latch-key. I thought nothing of it at the time–thought perhaps I had mislaid it. But today he told me–just after the dance, even while I was making him think I would pay him the money, because–because I liked him–he told me he had it. The brute! He must have picked my handbag!”

Her eyes were blazing now with indignation. Yet as she looked at us both, evidently the recollection of what had just happened came flooding over her mind, and she dropped her head in her hands in helpless dismay at the new development.

Craig pulled out his watch hastily. “It is about six, Mrs. Seabury,” he reassured. “Can you be here at, say, eight?”

“I will be here,” she murmured pliantly, realizing her own helplessness.

She had scarcely closed the door when Craig seized the telephone, and hurriedly tried to locate Seabury himself.

“Apparently no trace of him yet,” he fumed, as he hung up the receiver. “The first problem is how to get that key.”

Instantly I thought of Dunn’s secret service girl. Kennedy shook his head doubtfully. “I’m afraid there is no time for that,” he answered. “But will you attend to that end of the affair for me, Walter? I have just a little more work here at the laboratory before I am ready. I don’t care how you do it, but I want you to convey to Sherburne the welcome news that Mrs. Seabury is prepared to give in, in any way he may see fit, if he will call her up here at eight o’clock.”

Kennedy had already plunged back among his beakers and test tubes, and with these slender instructions I sallied forth in my quest of Sherburne. I had little difficulty in locating him and delivering my message, which he received with a satisfaction that invited assault and battery and mayhem. However, I managed to restrain myself and rejoin Craig in the laboratory, shortly after seven o’clock.