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The Sixth Sense
by [?]

It was late in the afternoon before we had an opportunity to call at the Gaskell town house where the Rovignos were staying. The Count was not at home, but the Countess welcomed us and led us directly into a large library.

“I’d like to have you meet my father,” she introduced. “Father, this is Professor Kennedy, whom Alex and I have engaged to look into the burning of our house.”

Old Roger Gaskell received us, I thought, with a curious mixture of restraint and eagerness.

“I hope you’ll excuse me?” asked the Countess a moment later. “I really must dress for dinner. But I think I’ve told you all I can. I wanted you to talk to my father.”

“I’ve heard of the epidemic of fires from my friend Mr. Jameson here, on the Star,” remarked Kennedy when we were alone. “Some, I understand, have attributed the fires to incendiaries, others have said they were the work of disgruntled servants, others of an architect or contractor who hasn’t shared in the work and thinks he may later. I’ve even heard it said that an insurance man may be responsible–hoping to get new business, you know.”

Gaskell looked at us keenly. Then he rose and approached us, raising his finger as though cautioning silence.

“Do you know,” he whispered so faintly that it was almost lost, “sometimes I think there is a plot against me?”

“Against you ?” whispered back Kennedy. “Why, what do you mean?”

“I can’t tell you–here,” he replied. “But, I believe there are detectaphones hidden about this house!”

“Have you searched?” asked Kennedy keenly.

“Yes, but I’ve found nothing. I’ve gone over all the furniture and such things. Still, they might be inside the walls, mightn’t they?”

Kennedy nodded.

“Could you discover them if they were?” asked Gaskell.

“I think I could,” replied Craig confidently.

“Then there’s another peculiar thing,” resumed Gaskell, a little more freely, yet still whispering. “I suppose you know that I have a country estate not far from my daughter?”

He paused. “Of course I know,” he went on, watching Kennedy’s face, “that sparks are sometimes struck by horses’ shoes when they hit stones. But the shoes of my horses, for instance, out there lately have been giving forth sparks even in the stable. My groom called my attention to it, and I saw it myself.”

He continued looking searchingly at Kennedy. “You are a scientist,” he said at length. “Can you tell me why?”

Kennedy was thinking deeply. “I can’t, offhand,” he replied frankly. “But I should like to have a chance to investigate.”

“There may be some connection with the fire,” hinted Gaskell anxiously as he accompanied us to the door.

At our own apartment, when we returned, we found our friend, Burke, of the Secret Service, waiting for us.

“Just had a hurry call to come to New York,” he explained, “and thought I’d like to drop in on you first.”

“What’s the trouble?” asked Kennedy.

“Why, there’s been a mysterious yacht lurking about the mouth of the harbor for several days and they want to look into it.”

“Whose yacht do they think it is?”

“They don’t know, but it is said to resemble one that belongs to a man named Gaskell.”

“Gaskell?” repeated Craig, turning suddenly.

“Yes,–the Furious –a fast, floating palace–one of these new power yachts, run by a gas engine–built for speed. Why, do you know anything about it?”

Kennedy said nothing.

“The revenue cutter Uncas has been assigned to me,” went on Burke. “If you have nothing better to do, I’d like to have you give me a hand in the case. You might find it a little different from the ordinary run.”

“I shall be glad to go with you,” replied Craig cordially. “Only, just now I’ve got a particular case of my own. I’ll see you tomorrow at the Customs House, though, if I can.”

“Good!” exclaimed Burke. “I don’t think either of you, particularly Jameson, will regret it. It promises to be a good story.”