A modern wizard, p.1
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       A Modern Wizard, p.1

           Rodrigues Ottolengui
 
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A Modern Wizard


  Produced by Suzanne Shell and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file wasproduced from images generously made available by TheInternet Archive/American Libraries.)

  A MODERN WIZARD

  BY

  RODRIGUES OTTOLENGUI AUTHOR OF "AN ARTIST IN CRIME," "A CONFLICT OF EVIDENCE," ETC.

  G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK LONDON 27 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET 24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND The Knickerbocker Press 1894

  COPYRIGHT, 1894 BY G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS Entered at Stationers' Hall, London

  Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by The Knickerbocker Press, New York G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

  TO

  HON. GEORGE P. ANDREWS

  JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

  WHO IS RECOGNIZED, NOT ONLY AS AN EMINENT JURIST BUT AS A TYPE OF HUMAN JUSTICE AND LEGAL INTEGRITY

  THIS WORK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

  CONTENTS.

  BOOK FIRST.

  CHAPTER PAGE I.--LAWYER AND CLIENT 1 II.--JACK BARNES INVESTIGATES 17 III.--A WIZARD'S TRICK 32 IV.--DR. MEDJORA SURRENDERS 53 V.--FOR THE PROSECUTION 70 VI.--DAMAGING TESTIMONY 84 VII.--THE PROSECUTION RESTS 101 VIII.--FOR THE DEFENCE 120 IX.--THE DEFENCE CLOSES 137 X.--MR. BLISS MAKES HIS SPEECH 149 XI.--TERMINATION OF THE GREAT CASE 165

  BOOK SECOND.

  I.--ONE NIGHT 183 II.--A FRIEND IN NEED 205 III.--SELLING A NEW ENGLAND FARM 225 IV.--AN OMINOUS WELCOME 239 V.--A FACE FROM THE PAST 257 VI.--AGNES DUDLEY 272 VII.--A WIZARD'S TEACHING 288 VIII.--THE FAITHFUL DOG 311 IX.--A WIZARD'S KNOWLEDGE 330 X.--THE BETROTHAL 347 XI.--THE GENESIS OF LOVE 362 XII.--THE MARQUIS OF LOSSY 375 XIII.--THE DISCOVERY 392 XIV.--SANATOXINE 407

  A MODERN WIZARD.

  BOOK FIRST.

  CHAPTER I.

  LAWYER AND CLIENT.

  Early one morning, in the spring of eighteen hundred andseventy-three, two young lawyers were seated in their private office.The firm name, painted in gilt letters upon the glass of the door, wasDUDLEY & BLISS. Mortimer Dudley was the senior member, though not overthirty years old. Robert Bliss was two years younger.

  Mr. Dudley was sorting some papers and deftly tying them into bundleswith red tape. Why lawyers will persist in using tape of a sanguinecolor is an unsolvable mystery to me, unless it may be that they areloath to disturb the many old adages in which the significant coupletof words appears. However that may be, Mr. Dudley paused in hisoccupation, attracted by an exclamation from his partner, who had beenreading a morning paper.

  "What is it, Robert?" asked Mr. Dudley.

  "Oh! Only another sensational murder case, destined, I imagine, to addmore lustre to the name of some lawyer who doesn't need it. Mortimer,I wonder when our turn will come. Here we have been in these rooms forthree months, and not a criminal case has come to us yet."

  "Don't be impatient, Robert. We must not give up hope. Look at Munson.He was in the same class with us at college, and we all considered hima dunce. By accident he was engaged to defend that fellow who wasaccused of poisoning his landlady. Munson actually studied chemistryin order to defend the case. His cross-examination of theprosecution's experts made him famous. Who knows! We may get anopportunity like that some day."

  "Some day! Yes, some day! I believe there is a song that begins thatway. I always detested it. I do not like that word 'some day.' It's sobeastly indefinite. I prefer 'to-day' or even 'to-morrow.' But let meread to you the account of this case. It is about that young woman whodied so mysteriously, up in the boarding-house on West Twenty-sixthStreet."

  "I don't know anything about it, Robert. I haven't read the papers forthree days. Tell me the main facts."

  "Well, it is really a very curious story. It seems there was a younggirl, twenty or thereabouts, living in town temporarily, whilst shestudied music. Her name was Mabel Sloane. She is described as pretty,though that is a detail that the reporters always add. But, pretty orugly, she died last Sunday morning, under rather peculiarcircumstances. The doctors differed as to the cause of death."

  "Why, there is nothing odd about that, is there?" Mr. Dudley smiled athis own wit. "Doctors disagree and the patient dies. That is the oldadage. You have only reversed it. Your patient died, and the doctorsthen disagreed. Where's the odds?"

  "The odds amount to this, Mortimer. One doctor signed a certificate ofdeath, naming diphtheria as the cause. The other physician reported tothe Board of Health that there were suspicious circumstances which ledhim to think that the woman might have died from poison."

  "Poison? This is interesting."

  "The more you hear, the more you will think so. In yesterday's papersit was announced that the Coroner had taken up the case, and that anautopsy would be held."

  "Does this morning's paper give the result of the post-mortem?"

  "Yes. Listen! 'The autopsy upon the body of Mabel Sloane, thebeautiful young musician'--you see they still harp on thebeautiful--'young musician, whose mysterious death was reportedyesterday, shows conclusively that the girl was poisoned. The doctorsclaim to have found morphine enough to kill three men. Thus thecaution of Dr. Meredith, in notifying the Health Board of hissuspicions, is to be commended. It is but just to say, however, thatthe doctors who made the post-mortem, entirely exonerate Dr. Fisher,the physician who certified that the death was caused by diphtheria,for they claim, curiously enough, that the woman would undoubtedlyhave died of that disease even if the morphine had not beenadministered. This opens up a most interesting set of complications.Why should any one poison a person who is about to die a naturaldeath? It might be claimed that the murderer did not know that a fataltermination of the disease would ensue. This brings us to the mostinteresting fact, that the one who is suspected by the police is noother than the girl's sweetheart, who is himself a physician. Thus itis plain that he should have known that the disease would probablyprove fatal, and under these circumstances it is almost inconceivablethat he should have resorted to poison. Nevertheless, the detectivesclaim that they have incontestible evidence of his guilt, althoughthey refuse to reveal what their proofs are. However, some factsleaked out yesterday which certainly tend to incriminate Dr. EmanuelMedjora, the suspected man. In the first place, Dr. Medjora hassuddenly and completely disappeared. Inquiry at his office elicitedthe statement that he has not been there since the day beforeyesterday, which it will be remembered was the time when the Coronerfirst came into the case. Dr. Medjora has not been at his residence,and none of his friends has seen him. In short, if he had beenswallowed by an earthquake he could not have vanished more swiftly. Hewas supposed to have been engaged to marry Miss Sloane, and as she wasa beautiful girl, accomplished, and altogether charming, it haspuzzled all who knew her, to understand why he should wish to destroyher. Some light may be thrown upon this, however, by the disco
very atthe autopsy, that she has been a mother. What has become of the child,or where it was born, is still a part of the mystery. Miss Sloane haslived at the Twenty-sixth Street house about three months, and as shehas always been cheerful and happy, the boarders cannot reconcile thisreport of the doctors with what they knew of the woman. They claim,with much reason, that if her baby had died she should have hadmoments of despondency when her grief would have been noticeable. Orif the child were alive, then why did she never allude to it? Anothersignificant fact is, that Dr. Medjora has been seen driving in thePark, recently, with a handsome woman, stylishly dressed, andevidently wealthy, as the coachman and footman wore expensive livery.Did the Doctor tire of his pretty little musician, and wish to marryhis rich friend who owns the carriage and horses? His disappearancelends color to the theory.' There, what do you think of that?" saidMr. Bliss, throwing aside the newspaper.

  "What do I think?" answered his partner. "I think that this will be agreat case. A chance for young men like us to make fame and fortune.If we could only be retained by that man----"

  The door from the outer office opened and young Jack Barnes, theassistant, entered and handed Mr. Dudley a visiting card. The lawyerlooked at it, seemed astonished, said "Show the gentleman in," andwhen Barnes had left the office, turned to his partner, handing himthe card, and, slightly excited, exclaimed:

  "In heaven's name, Robert, look at that!"

  Mr. Bliss took the card and read the name:

  EMANUEL MEDJORA, M.D.

  The two young men looked at each other in silence, startled by thecoincidence, and wondering whether at last Dame Fortune was about tosmile upon them. A moment later Dr. Medjora entered.

  Dr. Emanuel Medjora was no ordinary personage. His commanding staturewould attract attention anywhere, and the more he was observed themore he incited curiosity. First as to his nationality. To what climedid he owe allegiance by birth? One could scarcely decide. His namemight lead to the conclusion that he was Spanish, but save that hisskin was swarthy there was little to identify him with that type.Perhaps, more than anything, he looked like the ideals which have beengiven to us of Othello, though again his color was at fault, not beingso deep as the Moor's. He wore a black beard, close trimmed, andpointed beneath the chin. His hair, also jetty, was longer than isusually seen in New York, and quite straight, combed back from theforehead without a part. The skull was large, the brain cavity beingremarkably well developed. Any phrenologist would have revelled in thetask of fingering his bumps. The physiognomist, also, would havedelighted to read the character of the man from the expressiveness ofhis features, every one of which evidenced refined and culturedintellectuality. The two, summing up their findings, would probablyhave accredited the Doctor with all the virtues and half of the vicesthat go to make up the modern man, not to mention many of the talentscommonly allotted to the rare geniuses of the world.

  But according these scientists the freest scope in their examinations,and giving them besides the assistance of the palmist, clairvoyant,astrologist, chirographist, and all the other modern savants whoadvertise to read our inmost thoughts, for sums varying in proportionto the credulity of the applicant, and when all was told, it could notbe truthfully said that either, or all, had discovered about Dr.Medjora aught save that which he may have permitted them to learn.Probably no one thoroughly understood Dr. Medjora, except Dr. Medjorahimself. That he did comprehend himself, appreciating exactly hisabilities and his limitations, there cannot be a shadow of a doubt.And it was this that made him such a master of men, being as he was socompletely the master of himself. Those who felt bound to admit thatin his presence they dwindled even in their own estimation, attributedit to various causes, all erroneous, the true secret being what I havestated. Some said that it was a certain magnetic power which heexerted through his eyes. The Doctor's eyes certainly were remarkable.Deep set in the head, and thus hidden by the beautifully arched brows,they seemed to lurk in the shadow, and from their point of vantage tolook out at, and I may say into, the individual confronting him. Iremember the almost weird attraction of those eyes when I first methim. Being at the time interested in an investigation of the phenomenawhich have been attributed to mesmerism, hypnotism, and other "isms"which are but different terms for the same thing, I could not resistthe impulse to ask him whether he had ever attempted any suchexperiments. Evading my question, without apparently meaning to shirka reply, he merely smiled and said, "Do you believe in that sort ofthing?" Then he passed on and spoke to some one else. I relate theincident merely to show the manner of the man. But on the point,raised by some, that he controlled men by supernatural means, I thinkthat we must dismiss that hypothesis as untenable in the main. Ofcourse those who believed that he possessed some uncanny or mysteriouspower of the eyes, might be influenced by his keen scrutiny, and wouldprobably reveal whatever he were endeavoring to extort from them. Buta true analysis would show that this was but an exhibition of theirweakness, rather than of his strength. Yet, after all, the man wasexcessively intellectual, and as the eyes have been aptly called the"windows of the soul," what more natural than that so self-centred andwilful a man should find his lustrous orbs a great advantage to himthrough life?

  At the moment of his entrance into the private office of Messrs.Dudley & Bliss, those two young men had partly decided that he was amurderer. At sight of him, they both abandoned the conclusion. Thus itwill be seen that, if brought to the bar of justice, his presencemight equally affect the jury in his behalf. He held his polished silkhat in his gloved hand, and looked keenly at each of the lawyers inturn. Then turning towards Mr. Dudley he said:

  "You are Mr. Dudley, I believe? The senior member of your firm?"

  Mr. Bliss was insensibly annoyed, although very fond of his partner.Being only two years his junior, he did not relish being so easilyrelegated to the secondary status.

  "My name is Dudley," replied the elder lawyer, "but unless you havemet me before, I cannot understand how you guessed my identity, as mypartner is scarcely at all younger than I am." Mr. Dudley understoodhis partner's character very well, and wished to soothe any irritationthat may have been aroused. Dr. Medjora grasped the situationinstantly. Turning to Mr. Bliss he said with his most fascinatingmanner:

  "I am sure you are not offended at my ready discrimination as to yourrespective ages. It is a habit of mine to observe closely. But youthis nothing to be ashamed of surely, or if so, then I am the lesserlight here, for I am perhaps even younger than yourself, Mr. Bliss,being but twenty-seven."

  "Oh, not at all!" exclaimed Mr. Bliss, much mollified, and telling theconventional lie with the easy grace which we all have acquired inthis nineteenth century. "You were quite right to choose between us.Mr. Dudley is my superior----"

  "In the firm name only, I am sure," interjected the Doctor. "Will youshake hands, as a sign that you forgive my unintentional rudeness? Butstop. I am forgetting. I see that you have just been reading theannouncement"--he pointed to the newspaper lying where Mr. Bliss haddropped it on a chair, folded so that the glaring head-lines wereeasily read--"that I am a murderer!" He paused a moment and bothlawyers colored deeply. Before they could speak, the Doctor againaddressed them. "You have read the particulars, and you have decidedthat I am guilty. Am I not right?"

  "Really, Dr. Medjora, I should hardly say that. You see----" Mr.Dudley hesitated, and Dr. Medjora interrupted him, speaking sharply:

  "Come! Tell me the truth! I want no polite lying. Stop!" Mr. Dudleyhad started up, angry at the word "lying." "I do not intend anyinsult; but understand me thoroughly. I have come here to consult youin your professional capacity. I am prepared to pay you a handsomeretainer. But before I do so, I must be satisfied that you are thesort of men in whose hands I may place my life. It is no light thingfor a man in my position to intrust such an important case to youngmen who have their reputations to earn."

  "If you do not think we are capable, why have you come to us?" askedMr. Bliss, hotly.

  "You are mistaken. I do think
you capable. But think is a veryindefinite word. I must know before I go further. That is why I asked,and why I ask again, have you decided, from what you have read of mycase, that I am guilty? Upon your answer I will begin to estimate yourcapability to manage my case."

  The two young lawyers looked at each other a moment, embarrassed, andremained silent. Dr. Medjora scrutinized them keenly. Finally, Mr.Dudley decided upon his course, and spoke.

  "Dr. Medjora, I will confess to you that before you came in, and, asyou have guessed, from reading what the newspaper says, I had decidedthat you are guilty. But that was not a juridical deduction. That is,it was not an opinion adopted after careful weighing of the evidence,for, as it is here, it is all on one side. I regret now that I shouldhave formed an opinion so rashly, even though you were one in whom, atthe time, I supposed I would have no interest."

  "Very good, Mr. Dudley," said the Doctor. "I like your candor. Ofcourse, it was not the decision of the lawyer, but simply that of thecitizen affected by his morning newspaper. As such, I do not object toyour having entertained it. But now, speaking as a lawyer, and withouthearing anything of my defence, tell me what value is to be put uponthe evidence against me, always supposing that the prosecution canbring good evidence to sustain their position."

  "Well," replied Mr. Dudley, "the evidence is purely circumstantial,though circumstantial evidence often convinces a jury, and convicts aman. It is claimed against you that you have disappeared. From this itis argued that you are hiding from the police. The next deduction is,that if you fear the police, you are guilty. Per contra, whilst thesedeductions may be true and logical, they are not necessarily so;consequently, they are good only until refuted. For example, were youto go now to the District Attorney and surrender yourself, making theclaim that you have been avoiding the police only to prevent arrest,preferring to present yourself to the law officers voluntarily, thewhole theory of the police, from this one standpoint, falls to theground utterly worthless."

  "Very well argued. Do you then advise me to surrender myself? Butwait! We will take that up later. Let me hear your views on the nextfact against me. I refer to the statement that poison was found in thebody."

  "Several interesting points occur to me," replied Mr. Dudley, speakingslowly. "Let me read the newspaper account again." He took up thepaper, and after a minute read aloud: "'The result of the autopsy,etc., etc., shows conclusively that the girl was poisoned. The doctorsclaim to have discovered morphine enough to kill three men.' That isupon the face of it a premature statement. The woman died on Sundaymorning. The autopsy was held yesterday. I believe it will require achemical analysis before it can be asserted that morphine is present.Am I not correct?" The Doctor made one of his non-committal replies.

  "Let us suppose that at the trial, expert chemists swear that theyfound morphine in poisonous quantities."

  "Even then, the burden of proof would be upon the prosecution. Theymust prove not merely that morphine was present in quantitiessufficient to cause death, but that in this case it did actually kill.That is, they must show that Mabel Sloane died from poison, and notfrom diphtheria. That will be their great difficulty. We can havecelebrated experts, as many as you can afford, and even though poisondid produce the death, we can create such a doubt from thecontradictions of the experts, that the jury would give you theverdict."

  "Very satisfactorily reasoned. I am encouraged. Now then, the nextpoint. The drives with the rich unknown."

  "Oh! That is a newspaper's argument, and would have no place in acourt of law, unless----"

  "Yes! Unless----?"

  "Unless the prosecution tried to prove that the motive for the crimewas to rid yourself of your _fiancee_ in order to marry a richerwoman. Of course we should fight against the admission of any suchevidence as tending to prejudice the jury against you, and untenablebecause the proof would only be presumptive."

  "Presumptive. That is as to my desire to marry the woman with whom Iam said to have been out driving. Now then, suppose that it could beshown that, since the death of Mabel Sloane, and prior to the trial, Ihad actually married this rich woman?"

  "I should say that such an act would damage your case verymaterially."

  "I only wished to have your opinion upon the point. Nothing of thesort has occurred. Well, gentlemen, I have decided to place my case inyour hands. Will five hundred dollars satisfy you as a retaining fee?"

  "Certainly." Mr. Dudley tried hard not to let it appear that he hadnever received so large a fee before. Dr. Medjora took a wallet fromhis pocket and counted out the amount. Mr. Bliss arose from his chairand started to leave the room, but as he touched the door knob theDoctor turned sharply and said:

  "Will you oblige me by not leaving the room?"

  "Oh! Certainly!" replied Mr. Bliss, mystified, and returning to hisseat.

  "Here, gentlemen, is the sum. I will take your receipt, if you please.Now then, as to your advice. Shall I surrender myself to the DistrictAttorney, and so destroy argument number one, as you suggested?"

  "But, Doctor," said Mr. Dudley, "you have not told us your defence."

  "I am satisfied with the one which you have outlined. Should futuredevelopments require it, I will tell you whatever you need to know, inorder to perfect your case. For the present I prefer to keep silent."

  "Well, but really, unless you confide in your lawyers you materiallyweaken your case."

  "I have more at stake than you have, gentlemen! You will gain inreputation, whatever may be the result. I risk my life. You mustpermit me therefore to conduct myself as I think best."

  "Oh! Certainly, if that is your wish. As to your surrenderingyourself, I strongly advise it, as you probably could not escape fromthe city, and even if you did, you would undoubtedly be recaptured."

  "There you are entirely wrong. Not only can I escape, as you term it,but I would never be retaken."

  "Then why take the risk of a trial? Innocent men have been convicted,even when ably defended!"

  "Yes, and guilty ones have escaped. But you ask why I do not leave NewYork. I answer, because I wish to remain here. Were I to run away fromthese charges, of course I should never be able to return."

  "Then, Doctor, I advise you to surrender."

  "I will adopt your advice. But not until the day after to-morrow. Ihave some affairs to settle first."

  "But you risk being captured by the detectives."

  "I think not," said the Doctor, with a smile.

  "Should we wish to communicate with you, where may we be able to findyou, Doctor?"

  Doctor Medjora appeared not to have heard the question. He said:

  "Oh! By the way, gentlemen, you need not either of you study upchemistry, as did Mr. Munson. You remember the case? I know enoughchemistry for any experts that they may introduce, and will formulatethe main lines of their cross-examination myself. Let me refer to apoint that you made. Did I understand you that if we can show thatMabel died of diphtheria, our case is won?"

  "Why, certainly, Doctor. If we can prove that, we show that she died anatural death."

  "Of course, I understood that. I merely wished to show you what asimple thing our defence is. We will convince the jury of that. I willmeet you at the office of the District Attorney at eleven o'clock onthe day after to-morrow. Good-morning, gentlemen." The Doctor bowedand left the room. The two lawyers looked at one another a moment, andthen Mr. Dudley spoke:

  "What a singular man!"

  "The most extraordinary man I ever met!"

  "Robert, why did you start to leave the room?"

  "Mortimer, that is a very curious thing. I had a sort of premonitionthat he would go away without leaving his address. I meant to instructBarnes to shadow him, when he should leave. I wonder if he read mythoughts?"

  "Rubbish! But why not send Jack after him now? He will catch up withhim easily enough."

  Acting upon the suggestion, Mr. Bliss went into the outer office, andwas annoyed to be told by the office boy that Jack Barnes had gone outhalf an hour befo
re.

 
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