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The Tango Thief
by [?]

“Professor Kennedy,” he began nervously, hitching his chair closer, without further introduction, in the manner of a man who was accustomed to having his own way in any matter he undertook, “I am in a most peculiar situation.”

Seabury paused a moment, Kennedy nodded acquiescence, and the man suddenly blurted out, “I–I don’t know whether I’m being slowly poisoned or not!”

The revelation was startling enough in itself, but doubly so after the interview that had just preceded.

I covered my own surprise by a quick glance at Craig. His face was impassive as he narrowly searched Seabury’s. I knew, though, that back of his assumed calm, Craig was doing some rapid thinking about the ethics of listening to both parties in the case. However, he said nothing. Indeed, Seabury, once started, hurried on, scarcely giving him a chance to interrupt.

“I may as well tell you,” he proceeded, with the air of a man who for the first time is relieving his mind of something that has been weighing heavily on him, “that for some time I have not been exactly–er–easy in my mind about the actions of my wife.”

Evidently he had arrived at the conclusion to tell what worried him, and must say it, for he continued immediately: “It’s not that I actually know anything about any indiscretions on Agatha’s part, but,–well, there have been little things–hints that she was going frequently to thes dansants, and that sort of thing, you know. Lately, too, I have seen a change in her manner toward me, I fancy. Sometimes I think she seems to avoid me, especially during the last few days. Then again, as this morning, she seems to be–er–too solicitous.”

He passed his hand over his forehead, as if to clear it. For once he did not seem to be the self-confident man who had at first entered our apartment. I noticed that he had a peculiar look, a feeble state of the body which he was at times at pains to conceal, a look which the doctors call, I believe, cachectic.

“I mean,” he added hastily, as if it might as well be said first as last, “that she seems to be much concerned about my health, my food–“

“Just what is it that you actually know, not what you fear?” interrupted Kennedy, perhaps a little brusquely, at last having seen a chance to insert a word edgewise into the flow of Seabury’s troubles, real or imaginary.

Seabury paused a moment, then resumed with a description of his health, which, to tell the truth, was by no means reassuring.

“Well,” he answered slowly, “I suffer a good deal from such terrible dyspepsia, Professor Kennedy. My stomach and digestion are all upset–bad health and growing weakness–pain, discomfort–vomiting after meals, even bleeding. I’ve tried all sorts of cures, but still I can feel that I am still losing health and strength, and, so far, at least, the doctors don’t seem to be doing me much good. I have begun to wonder whether it is a case for the doctors, after all. Why, the whole thing is getting on my nerves so that I’m almost afraid to eat,” he concluded.

“You have eaten nothing today, then, I am to understand?” asked Craig when Seabury had finished with his minute and puzzling account of his troubles.

“Not even breakfast this morning,” he replied. “Mrs. Seabury urged me to eat, but–I–I couldn’t.”

“Good!” exclaimed Kennedy, much to our surprise. “That will make it just so much easier to use a test I have in mind to determine whether there is anything in your suspicions.”

He had risen and gone over to a cabinet.

“Would you mind baring your arm a moment?” he asked Seabury.

With a sharp little instrument, carefully sterilized, Craig pricked a vein in the man’s arm. Slowly a few drops of darkened venous blood welled out. A moment later Kennedy caught them in a sterile test tube and sealed the tube.

Before our second visitor could start again in retailing his suspicions which now seemed definitely, in his own mind at least, directed in some way against Mrs. Seabury, Kennedy skillfully closed the interview.

“I feel sure that the test I shall make will tell me positively, soon, whether your fears are well grounded or not, Mr. Seabury,” he concluded briefly, as he accompanied the man out into the hall to shake hands farewell with him at the elevator door. “I’ll let you know as soon as anything develops, but until we have something tangible there is no use wasting our energies.”