**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Yeggman
by [?]

“Hello! Yes, this is Professor Kennedy. I didn’t catch the name – oh, yes – President Blake of the Standard Burglary Insurance Company. What – really? The Branford pearls – stolen? Maid chloroformed? Yes, I’ll take the case. You’ll be up in half an hour? All right, I’ll be here. Goodbye.”

It was through this brief and businesslike conversation over the telephone that Kennedy became involved in what proved to be one of the most dangerous cases he had ever handled.

At the mention of the Branford pearls I involuntarily stopped reading, and listened, not because I wanted to pry into Craig’s affairs, but because I simply couldn’t help it. This was news that had not yet been given out to the papers, and my instinct told me that there must be something more to it than the bare statement of the robbery.

“Some one has made a rich haul,” I commented. “It was reported, I remember, when the Branford pearls were bought in Paris last year that Mrs. Branford paid upward of a million francs for the collection.”

“Blake is bringing up his shrewdest detective to co-operate with me in the case,” added Kennedy. “Blake, I understand, is the head of the Burglary Insurance Underwriters’ Association, too. This will be a big thing, Walter, if we can carry it through.”

It was the longest half-hour that I ever put in, waiting for Blake to arrive. When he did come, it was quite evident that my surmise had been correct.

Blake was one of those young old men who are increasingly common in business to-day. There was an air of dignity and keenness about his manner that showed clearly how important he regarded the case. So anxious was he to get down to business that he barely introduced himself and his companion, Special Officer Maloney, a typical private detective.

“Of course you haven’t heard anything except what I have told you over the wire,” he began, going right to the point. “We were notified of it only this noon ourselves, and we haven’t given it out to the papers yet, though the local police in Jersey are now on the scene. The New York police must be notified to-night, so that whatever we do must be done before they muss things up. We’ve got a clue that we want to follow up secretly. These are the facts.

In the terse, straightforward language of the up-to-date man of efficiency, he sketched the situation for us.

“The Branford estate, you know, consists of several acres on the mountain back of Montclair, overlooking the valley, and surrounded by even larger estates. Branford, I understand, is in the West with a party of capitalists, inspecting a reported find of potash salts. Mrs. Branford closed up the house a few days ago and left for a short stay at Palm Beach. Of course they ought to have put their valuables in a safe deposit vault. But they didn’t. They relied on a safe that was really one of the best in the market – a splendid safe, I may say. Well, it seems that while the master and mistress were both away the servants decided on having a good time in New York. They locked up the house securely – there’s no doubt of that – and just went. That is, they all went except Mrs. Branford’s maid, who refused to go for some reason or other. We’ve got all the servants, but there’s not a clue to be had from any of them. They just went off on a bust, that’s clear. They admit it.

“Now, when they got back early this morning they found the maid in bed – dead. There was still a strong odour of chloroform about the room. The bed was disarranged as if there had been a struggle. A towel had been wrapped up in a sort: of cone, saturated with chloroform, and forcibly held over the girl’s nose. The next thing they discovered was the safe – blown open in a most peculiar manner. I won’t dwell on that. We’re going to take you out there and show it to you after I’ve told you the whole story.