The Soul Analysis by Arthur B Reeve

Story type: Literature

The day was far advanced after this series of very unsatisfactory interviews. I looked at Kennedy blankly. We seemed to have uncovered so little that was tangible that I was much surprised to find that apparently he was well contented with what had happened in the case so far.

“I shall be busy for a few hours in the laboratory, Walter,” he remarked, as we parted at the subway. “I think, if you have nothing better to do, that you might employ the time in looking up some of the gossip about Mrs. Maitland and Masterson, to say nothing of Dr. Ross,” he emphasised. “Drop in after dinner.”

There was not much that I could find. Of Mrs. Maitland there was practically nothing that I already did not know from having seen her name in the papers. She was a leader in a certain set which was devoting its activities to various social and moral propaganda. Masterson’s early escapades were notorious even in the younger smart set in which he had moved, but his years abroad had mellowed the recollection of them. He had not distinguished himself in any way since his return to set gossip afloat, nor had any tales of his doings abroad filtered through to New York clubland. Dr. Ross, I found to my surprise, was rather better known than I had supposed, both as a specialist and as a man about town. He seemed to have risen rapidly in his profession as physician to the ills of society’s nerves.

I was amazed after dinner to find Kennedy doing nothing at all.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Have you struck a snag?”

“No,” he replied slowly, “I was only waiting. I told them to be here between half-past eight and nine.”

“Who?” I queried.

“Dr. Leslie,” he answered. “He has the authority to compel the attendance of Mrs. Maitland, Dr. Ross, and Masterson.”

The quickness with which he had worked out a case which was, to me, one of the most inexplicable he had had for a long time, left me standing speechless.

One by one they dropped in during the next half-hour, and, as usual, it fell to me to receive them and smooth over the rough edges which always obtruded at these little enforced parties in the laboratory.

Dr. Leslie and Dr. Ross were the first to arrive. They had not come together, but had met at the door. I fancied I saw a touch of professional jealousy in their manner, at least on the part of Dr. Ross. Masterson came, as usual ignoring the seriousness of the matter and accusing us all of conspiring to keep him from the first night of a light opera which was opening. Mrs. Maitland followed, the unaccustomed pallor of her face heightened by the plain black dress. I felt most uncomfortable, as indeed I think the rest did. She merely inclined her head to Masterson, seemed almost to avoid the eye of Dr. Ross, glared at Dr. Leslie, and absolutely ignored me.

Craig had been standing aloof at his laboratory table, beyond a nod of recognition paying little attention to anything. He seemed to be in no hurry to begin.

“Great as science is,” he commenced, at length, “it is yet far removed from perfection. There are, for instance, substances so mysterious, subtle, and dangerous as to set the most delicate tests and powerful lenses at naught, while they carry death most horrible in their train.”

He could scarcely have chosen his opening words with more effect.

“Chief among them,” he proceeded, “are those from nature’s own laboratory. There are some sixty species of serpents, for example, with deadly venom. Among these, as you doubtless have all heard, none has brought greater terror to mankind than the cobra-di-capello, the Naja tripudians of India. It is unnecessary for me to describe the cobra or to say anything about the countless thousands who have yielded up their lives to it. I have here a small quantity of the venom”–he indicated it in a glass beaker. “It was obtained in New York, and I have tested it on guinea-pigs. It has lost none of its potency.”

I fancied that there was a feeling of relief when Kennedy by his actions indicated that he was not going to repeat the test.

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“This venom,” he continued, “dries in the air into a substance like small scales, soluble in water but not in alcohol. It has only a slightly acrid taste and odour, and, strange to say, is inoffensive on the tongue or mucous surfaces, even in considerable quantities. All we know about it is that in an open wound it is deadly swift in action.”

It was difficult to sit unmoved at the thought that before us, in only a few grains of the stuff, was enough to kill us all if it were introduced into a scratch of our skin.

“Until recently chemistry was powerless to solve the enigma, the microscope to detect its presence, or pathology to explain the reason for its deadly effect. And even now, about all we know is that autopsical research reveals absolutely nothing but the general disorganisation of the blood corpuscles. In fact, such poisoning is best known by the peculiar symptoms–the vertigo, weak legs, and falling jaw. The victim is unable to speak or swallow, but is fully sensible. He has nausea, paralysis, an accelerated pulse at first followed rapidly by a weakening, with breath slow and laboured. The pupils are contracted, but react to the last, and he dies in convulsions like asphyxia. It is both a blood and a nerve poison.”

As Kennedy proceeded, Mrs. Maitland never took her large eyes from his face.

Kennedy now drew from a large envelope in which he protected it, the typewritten note which had been found on Maitland. He said nothing about the “suicide” as he quietly began a new line of accumulating evidence.

“There is an increasing use of the typewriting machine for the production of spurious papers,” he began, rattling the note significantly. “It is partly due to the great increase in the use of the typewriter generally, but more than all is it due to the erroneous idea that fraudulent typewriting cannot be detected. The fact is that the typewriter is perhaps a worse means of concealing identity than is disguised handwriting. It does not afford the effective protection to the criminal that is supposed. On the contrary, the typewriting of a fraudulent document may be the direct means by which it can be traced to its source. First we have to determine what kind of machine a certain piece of writing was done with, then what particular machine.”

He paused and indicated a number of little instruments on the table.

“For example,” he resumed, “the Lovibond tintometer tells me its story of the colour of the ink used in the ribbon of the machine that wrote this note as well as several standard specimens which I have been able to obtain from three machines on which it might have been written.

“That leads me to speak of the quality of the paper in this half-sheet that was found on Mr. Maitland. Sometimes such a half-sheet may be mated with the other half from which it was torn as accurately as if the act were performed before your eyes. There was no such good fortune in this case, but by measurements made by the vernier micrometer caliper I have found the precise thickness of several samples of paper as compared to that of the suicide note. I need hardly add that in thickness and quality, as well as in the tint of the ribbon, the note points to person as the author.”

No one moved.

“And there are other proofs–unescapable,” Kennedy hurried on. “For instance, I have counted the number of threads to the inch in the ribbon, as shown by the letters of this note. That also corresponds to the number in one of the three ribbons.”

Kennedy laid down a glass plate peculiarly ruled in little squares.

“This,” he explained, “is an alignment test plate, through which can be studied accurately the spacing and alignment of typewritten characters. There are in this pica type ten to the inch horizontally and six to the inch vertically. That is usual. Perhaps you are not acquainted with the fact that typewritten characters are in line both ways, horizontally and vertically. There are nine possible positions for each character which may be assumed with reference to one of these little standard squares of the test plate. You cannot fail to appreciate what an immense impossibility there is that one machine should duplicate the variations out of the true which the microscope detects for several characters on another.

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“Not only that, but the faces of many letters inevitably become broken, worn, battered, as well as out of alignment, or slightly shifted in their position on the type bar. The type faces are not flat, but a little concave to conform to the roller. There are thousands of possible divergences, scars, and deformities in each machine.

“Such being the case,” he concluded, “typewriting has an individuality like that of the Bertillon system, finger-prints, or the portrait parle.”

He paused, then added quickly: “What machine was it in this case? I have samples here from that of Dr. Boss, from a machine used by Mr. Masterson’s secretary, and from a machine which was accessible to both Mr. and Mrs. Maitland.”

Kennedy stopped, but he was not yet prepared to relieve the suspense of two of those whom his investigation would absolve.

“Just one other point,” he resumed mercilessly, “a point which a few years ago would have been inexplicable–if not positively misleading and productive of actual mistake. I refer to the dreams of Mrs. Maitland.”

I had been expecting it, yet the words startled me. What must they have done to her? But she kept admirable control of herself.

“Dreams used to be treated very seriously by the ancients, but until recently modern scientists, rejecting the ideas of the dark ages, have scouted dreams. To-day, however, we study them scientifically, for we believe that whatever is, has a reason. Dr. Ross, I think, is acquainted with the new and remarkable theories of Dr. Sigmund Freud, of Vienna?”

Dr. Ross nodded. “I dissent vigorously from some of Freud’s conclusions,” he hastened.

“Let me state them first,” resumed Craig. “Dreams, says Freud, are very important. They give us the most reliable information concerning the individual. But that is only possible”–Kennedy emphasised the point–“if the patient is in entire rapport with the doctor.

“Now, the dream is not an absurd and senseless jumble, but a perfect mechanism and has a definite meaning in penetrating the mind. It is as though we had two streams of thought, one of which we allow to flow freely, the other of which we are constantly repressing, pushing back into the subconscious, or unconscious. This matter of the evolution of our individual mental life is too long a story to bore you with at such a critical moment.

“But the resistances, the psychic censors of our ideas, are always active, except in sleep. Then the repressed material comes to the surface. But the resistances never entirely lose their power, and the dream shows the material distorted. Seldom does one recognise his own repressed thoughts or unattained wishes. The dream really is the guardian of sleep to satisfy the activity of the unconscious and repressed mental processes that would otherwise disturb sleep by keeping the censor busy. In the case of a nightmare the watchman or censor is aroused, finds himself overpowered, so to speak, and calls on consciousness for help.

“There are three kinds of dreams–those which represent an unrepressed wish as fulfilled, those that represent the realisation of a repressed wish in an entirely concealed form, and those that represent the realisation of a repressed wish in a form insufficiently or only partially concealed.

“Dreams are not of the future, but of the past, except as they show striving for unfulfilled wishes. Whatever may be denied in reality we nevertheless can realise in another way–in our dreams. And probably more of our daily life, conduct, moods, beliefs than we think, could be traced to preceding dreams.”

Dr. Ross was listening attentively, as Craig turned to him. “This is perhaps the part of Freud’s theory from which you dissent most strongly. Freud says that as soon as you enter the intimate life of a patient you begin to find sex in some form. In fact, the best indication of abnormality would be its absence. Sex is one of the strongest of human impulses, yet the one subjected to the greatest repression. For that reason it is the weakest point in our cultural development. In a normal life, he says, there are no neuroses. Let me proceed now with what the Freudists call the psychanalysis, the soul analysis, of Mrs. Maitland.”

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It was startling in the extreme to consider the possibilities to which this new science might lead, as he proceeded to illustrate it.

“Mrs. Maitland,” he continued, “your dream of fear was a dream of what we call the fulfilment of a suppressed wish. Moreover, fear always denotes a sexual idea underlying the dream. In fact, morbid anxiety means surely unsatisfied love. The old Greeks knew it. The gods of fear were born of the goddess of love. Consciously you feared the death of your husband because unconsciously you wished it.”

It was startling, dramatic, cruel, perhaps, merciless–this dissecting of the soul of the handsome woman before us; but it had come to a point where it was necessary to get at the truth.

Mrs. Maitland, hitherto pale, was now flushed and indignant. Yet the very manner of her indignation showed the truth of the new psychology of dreams, for, as I learned afterward, people often become indignant when the Freudists strike what is called the “main complex.”

“There are other motives just as important,” protested Dr. Boss. “Here in America the money motive, ambition–“

“Let me finish,” interposed Kennedy. “I want to consider the other dream also. Fear is equivalent to a wish in this sort of dream. It also, as I have said, denotes sex. In dreams animals are usually symbols. Now, in this second dream we find both the bull and the serpent, from time immemorial, symbols of the continuing of the life-force. Dreams are always based on experiences or thoughts of the day preceding the dreams. You, Mrs. Maitland, dreamed of a man’s face on these beasts. There was every chance of having him suggested to you. You think you hate him. Consciously you reject him; unconsciously you accept him. Any of the new psychologists who knows the intimate connection between love and hate, would understand how that is possible. Love does not extinguish hate; or hate, love. They repress each other. The opposite sentiment may very easily grow.”

The situation was growing more tense as he proceeded. Was not Kennedy actually taxing her with loving another?

“The dreamer,” he proceeded remorselessly, “is always the principal actor in a dream, or the dream centres about the dreamer most intimately. Dreams are personal. We never dream about matters that really concern others, but ourselves.

“Years ago,” he continued, “you suffered what the new psychologists call a ‘psychic trauma’–a soul-wound. You were engaged, but your censored consciousness rejected the manner of life of your fiance. In pique you married Price Maitland. But you never lost your real, subconscious love for another.”

He stopped, then added in a low tone that was almost inaudible, yet which did not call for an answer, “Could you–be honest with yourself, for you need say not a word aloud–could you always be sure of yourself in the face of any situation?”

She looked startled. Her ordinarily inscrutable face betrayed everything, though it was averted from the rest of us and could be seen only by Kennedy. She knew the truth that she strove to repress; she was afraid of herself.

“It is dangerous,” she murmured, “to be with a person who pays attention to such little things. If every one were like you, I would no longer breathe a syllable of my dreams.”

She was sobbing now.

What was back of it all? I had heard of the so-called resolution dreams. I had heard of dreams that kill, of unconscious murder, of the terrible acts of the subconscious somnambulist of which the actor has no recollection in the waking state until put under hypnotism. Was it that which Kennedy was driving at disclosing?

Dr. Ross moved nearer to Mrs. Maitland as if to reassure her. Craig was studying attentively the effect of his revelation both on her and on the other faces before him.

Mrs. Maitland, her shoulders bent with the outpouring of the long-suppressed emotion of the evening and of the tragic day, called for sympathy which, I could see, Craig would readily give when he had reached the climax he had planned.

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“Kennedy,” exclaimed Masterson, pushing aside Dr. Ross, as he bounded to the side of Mrs. Maitland, unable to restrain himself longer, “Kennedy, you are a faker–nothing but a damned dream doctor–in scientific disguise.”

“Perhaps,” replied Craig, with a quiet curl of the lip. “But the threads of the typewriter ribbon, the alignment of the letters, the paper, all the ‘fingerprints’ of that type-written note of suicide were those of the machine belonging to the man who caused the soul-wound, who knew Madeline Maitland’s inmost heart better than herself–because he had heard of Freud undoubtedly, when he was in Vienna–who knew that he held her real love still, who posed as a patient of Dr. Ross to learn her secrets as well as to secure the subtle poison of the cobra. That man, perhaps, merely brushed against Price Maitland in the crowd, enough to scratch his hand with the needle, shove the false note into his pocket–anything to win the woman who he knew loved him, and whom he could win. Masterson, you are that man!”

The next half hour was crowded kaleidoscopically with events–the call by Dr. Leslie for the police, the departure of the Coroner with Masterson in custody, and the efforts of Dr. Ross to calm his now almost hysterical patient, Mrs. Maitland.

Then a calm seemed to settle down over the old laboratory which had so often been the scene of such events, tense with human interest. I could scarcely conceal my amazement, as I watched Kennedy quietly restoring to their places the pieces of apparatus he had used.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, catching my eye as he paused with the tintometer in his hand.

“Why,” I exclaimed, “that’s a fine way to start a month! Here’s just one day gone and you’ve caught your man. Are you going to keep that up? If you are–I’ll quit and skip to February. I’ll choose the shortest month, if that’s the pace!”

“Any month you please,” he smiled grimly, as he reluctantly placed the tintometer in its cabinet.

There was no use. I knew that any other month would have been just the same.

“Well,” I replied weakly, “all I can hope is that every day won’t be as strenuous as this has been. I hope, at least, you will give me time to make some notes before you start off again.”

“Can’t say,” he answered, still busy returning paraphernalia to its accustomed place. “I have no control over the cases as they come to me–except that I fan turn down those that don’t interest me.”

“Then,” I sighed wearily, “turn down the next one. I must have rest. I’m going home to sleep.”

“Very well,” he said, making no move to follow me.

I shook my head doubtfully. It was impossible to force a card on Kennedy. Instead of showing any disposition to switch off the laboratory lights, he appeared to be regarding a row of half-filled test-tubes with the abstraction of a man who has been interrupted in the midst of an absorbing occupation.

“Good night,” I said at length.

“Good night,” he echoed mechanically.

I know that he slept that night–at least his bed had been slept in when I awoke in the morning. But he was gone. But then, it was not unusual for him, when the fever for work was on him, to consider even five or fewer hours a night’s rest. It made no difference when I argued with him. The fact that he thrived on it himself and could justify it by pointing to other scientists was refutation enough.

Slowly I dressed, breakfasted, and began transcribing what I could from the hastily jotted down notes of the day before. I knew that the work, whatever it was, in which he was now engaged must be in the nature of research, dear to his heart. Otherwise, he would have left word for me.

No word came from him, however, all day, and I had not only caught up in my notes, but, my appetite whetted by our first case, had become hungry for more. In fact I had begun to get a little worried at the continued silence. A hand on the knob of the door or a ring of the telephone would hare been a welcome relief. I was gradually becoming aware of the fact that I liked the excitement of the life as much as Kennedy did.

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I knew it when the sudden sharp tinkle of the telephone set my heart throbbing almost as quickly as the little bell hammer buzzed.

“Jameson, for Heaven’s sake find Kennedy immediately and bring him over here to the Novella Beauty Parlour. We’ve got the worst case I’ve been up against in a long time. Dr. Leslie, the coroner, is here, and says we must not make a move until Kennedy arrives.”

I doubt whether in all our long acquaintance I had ever heard First Deputy O’Connor more wildly excited and apparently more helpless than he seemed over the telephone that night.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Never mind, never mind. Find Kennedy,” he called back almost brusquely. “It’s Miss Blanche Blaisdell, the actress–she’s been found dead here. The thing is an absolute mystery. Now get him, GET HIM.”

It was still early in the evening, and Kennedy had not come in, nor had he sent any word to our apartment. O’Connor had already tried the laboratory. As for myself, I had not the slightest idea where Craig was. I knew the case must be urgent if both the deputy and the coroner were waiting for him. Still, after half an hour’s vigorous telephoning, I was unable to find a trace of Kennedy in any of his usual haunts.

In desperation I left a message for him with the hall-boy in case he called up, jumped into a cab, and rode over to the laboratory, hoping that some of the care-takers might still be about and might know something of his whereabouts. The janitor was able to enlighten me to the extent of telling me that a big limousine had called for Kennedy an hour or so before, and that he had left in great haste.

I had given it up as hopeless and had driven back to the apartment to wait for him, when the hall-boy made a rush at me just as I was paying my fare.

“Mr. Kennedy on the wire, sir,” he cried as he half dragged me into the hall.

“Walter,” almost shouted Kennedy, “I’m over at the Washington Heights Hospital with Dr. Barron–you remember Barron, in our class at college? He has a very peculiar case of a poor girl whom he found wandering on the street and brought here. Most unusual thing. He came over to the laboratory after me in his car. Yes, I have the message that you left with the hall-boy. Come up here and pick me up, and we’ll ride right down to the Novella. Goodbye.”

I had not stopped to ask questions and prolong the conversation, knowing as I did the fuming impatience of O’Connor. It was relief enough to know that Kennedy was located at last.

He was in the psychopathic ward with Barron, as I hurried in. The girl whom he had mentioned over the telephone was then quietly sleeping under the influence of an opiate, and they were discussing the case outside in the hall.

“What do you think of it yourself?” Barron was asking, nodding to me to join them. Then he added for my enlightenment: “I found this girl wandering bareheaded in the street. To tell the truth, I thought at first that she was intoxicated, but a good look showed me better than that. So I hustled the poor thing into my car and brought her here. All the way she kept crying over and over: ‘Look, don’t you see it? She’s afire! Her lips shine–they shine, they shine.’ I think the girl is demented and has had some hallucination.”

“Too vivid for a hallucination,” remarked Kennedy decisively. “It was too real to her. Even the opiate couldn’t remove the picture, whatever it was, from her mind until you had given her almost enough to kill her, normally. No, that wasn’t any hallucination. Now, Walter, I’m ready.”

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