then walked slowly to the center of the room as the pretty stenographer
passed out with a curious level glance at him.
"Why do you say that photography plays a part
in my case?" he asked.
"Yes. But how—"
"Oh, I only guessed it," said Keen with
a smile. "I made another guess that your case involved a cipher
code. Does it?"
"Y-es," said the young man, astonished,
"but I don't see—"
"It also involves the occult," observed
Keen calmly. "We may need Miss Borrow to help us."
Almost staggered, Harren stared at the Tracer out
of his astonished gray eyes until that gentleman laughed outright
and seated himself, motioning Harren to do likewise.
"Don't be surprised, Captain Harren,"
he said. "I suppose you have no conception of our business,
no realization of its scope—its network of information bureaus
all over the civilized world, its myriad sources of information,
the immensity of its delicate machinery, the endless data and the
infinitesimal details we have at our command. You, of course, have
no idea of the number of people of every sort and condition who
are in our employ, of the ceaseless yet inoffensive surveillance
we maintain. For example, when your letter came last week I called
up the person who has charge of the army list. There you were, Kenneth
Harren, Captain Philippine Scouts, with the date of your graduation
from West Point. Then I called up a certain department devoted to
personal detail, and in five minutes I knew your entire history.
I then touched another electric button, and in a minute I had before
me the date of your arrival in New York, your present address, and"—he
looked up quizzically at Harren—"and several items of
general information, such as your peculiar use of your camera, and
the list of books on Psychical Phenomena and Cryptograms which you
have been buying—"
Harren flushed up. "Do you mean to say that
I have been spied upon, Mr. Keen?"
"No more than anybody else who comes to us
as a client. There was nothing offensive in the surveillance."
He shrugged his shoulders and made a deprecating gesture. "Ours
is a business, my dear sir, like any other. We, of course, are obliged
to know about people who call on us. Last week you wrote me, and
I immediately set every wheel in motion; in other words, I had you
under observation from the day I received your letter to this very
"You learned much concerning me?" asked
"Exactly, my dear sir."
"But," continued Harren with a touch
of malice, "you didn't learn that my leave is up to-morrow,
"Yes, I learned that, too."
"Then why did you give me an appointment for
the day after to-morrow?" demanded the young man bluntly.
The Tracer looked him squarely in the eye. "Your
leave is to be extended," he said.
"Exactly. It has been extended one week."
"How do you know that?"
"You applied for extension, did you not?"
"Yes," said Harren, turning red, "but
I don't see how you knew that I—"
"There's a cablegram in your rooms at this
very moment," said the Tracer carelessly. "You have the
extension you desired. And now, Captain Harren," with a singularly
pleasant smile, "what can I do to help you to a pursuit of
that true happiness which is guaranteed for all good citizens under
Captain Harren crossed his long legs, dropping
one knee over the other, and deliberately surveyed his interrogator.
"I really have no right to come to you,"
he said slowly. "Your prospectus distinctly states that Keen
& Co. undertake to find live people, and I don't know whether
the person I am seeking is alive or—or—"
His steady voice faltered; the Tracer watched him
"Of course, that is important," he said.
"If she is dead—"
"Didn't you say 'she,' Captain?"
"No, I did not."
"I beg your pardon, then, for anticipating
you," said the Tracer carelessly.
"Anticipating? How do you know it is not a
man I am in search of?" demanded Harren.
"Captain Harren, you are unmarried and have
no son; you have no father, no brother, no sister. Therefore I infer—several
things—for example, that you are in love."
"I? In love?"
"Your inferences seem to satisfy you, at least,"
said Harren almost sullenly, "but they don't satisfy me—clever
as they appear to be."
"Exactly. Then you are not in love?"
"I don't know whether I am or not."
"I do," said the Tracer of Lost Persons.
"Then you know more than I," retorted
"But that is my business—to know more
than you do," returned Mr. Keen patiently. "Else why are
you here to consult me?" And as Harren made no reply: "I
have seen thousands and thousands of people in love. I have reduced
the superficial muscular phenomena and facial symptomatic aspect
of such people to an exact science founded upon a schedule approximating
the Bertillon system of records. And," he added, smiling, "out
of the twenty-seven known vocal variations your voice betrays twenty-five
unmistakable symptoms; and out of the sixteen reflex muscular symptoms
your face has furnished six, your hands three, your limbs and feet
six. Then there are other superficial symptoms—"
"Good heavens!" broke in Harren; "how
can you prove a man to be in love when he himself doesn't know whether
he is or not? If a man isn't in love no Bertillon system can make
him so; and if a man doesn't know whether or not he is in love,
who can tell him the truth?"
"I can," said the Tracer calmly.
"What! When I tell you I myself don't know?"
"That," said the Tracer, smiling, "is
the final and convincing symptom. You don't know. I know because
you don't know. That is the easiest way to be sure that you are
in love, Captain Harren, because you always are when you are not
sure. You'd know if you were not in love. Now, my dear sir, you
may lay your case confidently before me."
Harren, unconvinced, sat frowning and biting his
lip and twisting his short, crisp mustache which the tropical sun
had turned straw color and curly.
"I feel like a fool to tell you," he
said. "I'm not an imaginative man, Mr. Keen; I'm not fanciful,
not sentimental. I'm perfectly healthy, perfectly normal—a
very busy man in my profession, with no time and no inclination
to fall in love."
"Just the sort of man who does it," commented
Harren fidgeted about in his chair, looked out
of the window, squinted at the ceiling, then straightened up, folding
his arms with sudden determination.
"I'd rather be boloed than tell you,"
he said. "Perhaps, after all, I am a lunatic; perhaps I've
had a touch of the Luzon sun and don't know it."
"I'll be the judge," said the Tracer,
"Very well, sir. Then I'll begin by telling
you that I've seen a ghost."
"There are such things," observed Keen
"Oh, I don't mean one of those fabled sheeted
creatures that float about at night; I mean a phantom—a real
phantom—in the sunlight—standing before my very eyes
in broad day! . . . Now do you feel inclined to go on with my case,
"Certainly," replied the Tracer gravely.
"Please continue, Captain Harren."
"All right, then. Here's the beginning of
it: Three years ago, here in New York, drifting along Fifth Avenue
with the crowd, I looked up to encounter the most wonderful pair
of eyes that I ever beheld—that any living man ever beheld!
He sat so long immersed in retrospection that the
Tracer said: "I am listening, Captain," and the Captain
woke up with a start.
"What was I saying? How far had I proceeded?"
"Only to the eyes."
"Oh, I see! The eyes were dark, sir, dark
and lovely beyond any power of description. The hair was also dark—very
soft and thick and—er—wavy and dark. The face was extremely
youthful, and ornamental to the uttermost verges of a beauty so
exquisite that, were I to attempt to formulate for you its individual
attractions, I should, I fear, transgress the strictly rigid bounds
of that reticence which becomes a gentleman in complete possession
of his senses."
"Exactly," mused the Tracer.
"Also," continued Captain Harren, with
growing animation, "to attempt to describe her figure would
be utterly useless, because I am a practical man and not a poet,
nor do I read poetry or indulge in futile novels or romances of
any description. Therefore I can only add that it was a figure,
a poise, absolutely faultless, youthful, beautiful, erect, wholesome,
gracious, graceful, charmingly buoyant and—well, I cannot
describe her figure, and I shall not try."
"Exactly; don't try."
"No," said Harren mournfully, "it
is useless"; and he relapsed into enchanted retrospection.
"Who was she?" asked Mr. Keen softly.
"I don't know."
"You never again saw her?"
"Mr. Keen, I—I am not ill-bred, but
I simply could not help following her. She was so b-b-beautiful
that it hurt; and I only wanted to look at her; I didn't mind being
hurt. So I walked on and on, and sometimes I'd pass her and sometimes
I'd let her pass me, and when she wasn't looking I'd look—not
offensively, but just because I couldn't help it. And all the time
my senses were humming like a top and my heart kept jumping to get
into my throat, and I hadn't a notion where I was going or what
time it was or what day of the week. She didn't see me; she didn't
dream that I was looking at her; she didn't know me from any of
the thousand silk-hatted, frock-coated men who passed and repassed
her on Fifth Avenue. And when she went into St. Berold's Church,
I went, too, and I stood where I could see her and where she couldn't
see me. It was like a touch of the Luzon sun, Mr. Keen. And then
she came out and got into a Fifth Avenue stage, and I got in, too.
And whenever she looked away I looked at her—without the slightest
offense, Mr. Keen, until, once, she caught my eye—"
He passed an unsteady hand over his forehead.
"For a moment we looked full at one another,"
he continued. "I got red, sir; I felt it, and I couldn't look
away. And when I turned color like a blooming beet, she began to
turn pink like a rosebud, and she looked full into my eyes with
such a wonderful purity, such exquisite innocence, that I—I
never felt so near—er—heaven in my life! No, sir, not
even when they ambushed us at Manoa Wells—but that's another
thing—only it is part of this business."
He tightened his clasped hands over his knee until
the knuckles whitened.
"That's my story, Mr. Keen," he said
"All of it?"
Harren looked at the floor, then at Keen: "No,
not all. You'll think me a lunatic if I tell you all."
"Oh, you saw her again?"
"N-never! That is—"
"Not in—in the flesh."
"Oh, in dreams?"
Harren stirred uneasily. "I don't know what
you call them. I have seen her since—in the sunlight, in the
open, in my quarters in Manila, standing there perfectly distinct,
looking at me with such strange, beautiful eyes—"
"Go on," said the Tracer, nodding.
"What else is there to say?" muttered
"You saw her—or a phantom which resembled
her. Did she speak?"
"Did you speak to her?"
"N-no. Once I held out my—my arms."
"She wasn't there," said Harren simply.
"No—I don't know. I—I didn't see
her any more."
"Didn't she fade?"
"No. I can't explain. She—there was
only myself in the room."
"How many times has she appeared to you?"
"A great many times."
"In your room?"
"Yes. And in the road under a vertical sun;
in the forest, in the paddy fields. I have seen her passing through
the hallway of a friend's house—turning on the stair to look
back at me! I saw her standing just back of the firing-line at Manoa
Wells when we were preparing to rush the forts, and it scared me
so that I jumped forward to draw her back. But—she wasn't
there, Mr. Keen. . . .
"On the transport she stood facing me on deck
one moonlit evening for five minutes. I saw her in 'Frisco; she
sat in the Pullman twice between Denver and this city. Twice in
my room at the Vice-Regent she has sat opposite me at midday, so
clear, so beautiful, so real that—that I could scarcely believe
she was only a—a—" He hesitated.
"The apparition of her own subconscious self,"
said the Tracer quietly. "Science has been forced to admit
such things, and, as you know, we are on the verge of understanding
the alphabet of some of the unknown forces which we must some day
Harren, tense, a trifle pale, gazed at him earnestly.
"Do you believe in such things?"
"How can I avoid believing?" said the
Tracer. "Every day, in my profession, we have proof of the
existence of forces for which we have as yet no explanation—or,
at best, a very crude one. I have had case after case of premonition;
case after case of dual and even multiple personality; case after
case where apparitions played a vital part in the plot which was
brought to me to investigate. I'll tell you this, Captain: I, personally,
never saw an apparition, never was obsessed by premonitions, never
received any communications from the outer void. But I have had
to do with those who undoubtedly did. Therefore I listen with all
seriousness and respect to what you tell me."
"Suppose," said Harren, growing suddenly
red, "that I should tell you I have succeeded in photographing
The Tracer sat silent. He was astounded, but, he
did not betray it.
"You have that photograph, Captain Harren?"
"Where is it?"
"In my rooms."
"You wish me to see it?"
Harren hesitated. "I—there is—seems
to be—something almost sacred to me in that photograph. .
. . You understand me, do you not? Yet, if it will help you in finding
"Oh," said the Tracer in guileless astonishment,
"you desire to find this young lady. Why?"
Harren stared. "Why? Why do I want to find
her? Man, I—I can't live without her!"
"I thought you were not certain whether you
really could be in love."
The hot color in the Captain's bronzed cheeks mounted
to his hair.
"Exactly," purred the Tracer, looking
out of the window. "Suppose we walk around to your rooms after
luncheon. Shall we?"
Harren picked up his hat and gloves, hesitating,
lingering on the threshold. "You don't think she is—a—dead?"
he asked unsteadily.
"No," said Mr. Keen, "I don't."
"Because," said Harren wistfully, "her
apparition is so superbly healthy and—and glowing with youth
"That is probably what sent it half the world
over to confront you," said the Tracer gravely; "youth
and life aglow with spiritual health. I think, Captain, that she
has been seeing you, too, during these three years, but probably
only in her dreams—memories of your encounters with her subconscious
self floating over continents and oceans in a quest of which her
waking intelligence is innocently unaware."
The Captain colored like a schoolboy, lingering
at the door, hat in hand. Then he straightened up to the full height
of his slim but powerful figure.
"At three?" he inquired bluntly.
"At three o'clock in your room, Hotel Vice-Regent.
Good morning, Captain."
"Good morning," said Harren dreamily,
and walked away, head bent, gray eyes lost in retrospection, and
on his lean, bronzed, attractive face an afterglow of color wholly