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to hide."

The prisoner looked up incredulously. "You say it _forces_ him to betray

"That's practically what it does. There may be men strong enough and
self-controlled enough to resist but we haven't found such a person yet.
It's true the system is quite recently devised, it hasn't been thoroughly
tested, but so far we have had wonderful results and - it's just the thing
for your case."

Groener was listening carefully. "Why?"

"Because, if you are guilty, we shall know it, and can go on confidently
looking for certain links now missing in the chain of evidence against you.
On the other hand, if you are innocent, we shall know that, too, and - if
you _are_ innocent, Groener, here is your chance to prove it."

If the prisoner's fear was stirred he did not show it, for he answered
mockingly: "How convenient! I suppose you have a scales that registers
innocent or guilty when the accused stands on it?"

Hauteville shook his head. "It's simpler than that. We make the accused
register his own guilt or his own innocence _with his own words_."

"Whether he wishes to or not?"

The other nodded grimly. "Within certain limits - yes."


The judge opened a leather portfolio and selected several sheets of paper
ruled in squares. Then he took out his watch.

"On these sheets," he explained, "M. Coquenil and I have written down about
a hundred words, simple, everyday words, most of them, such as 'house,'
'music,' 'tree,' 'baby,' that have no particular significance; among these
words, however, we have introduced thirty that have some association with
this crime, words like 'Ansonia,' 'billiards,' 'pistol.' Do you


"I shall speak these words slowly, one by one, and when I speak a word I
want you to speak another word that my word suggests. For example, if I say
'tree,' you might say 'garden,' if I say 'house,' you might say 'chair.' Of
course you are free to say any word you please, but you will find yourself
irresistibly drawn toward certain ones according as you are innocent or

"For instance, Martinez, the Spaniard, was widely known as a billiard
player. Now, if I should say 'billiard player,' and you had no personal
feeling about Martinez, you might easily, by association of ideas, say
'Spaniard'; but, if you had killed Martinez and wished to conceal your
crime then, when I said 'billiard player' you would _not_ say 'Spaniard,'
but would choose some innocent word like table or chalk. That is a crude
illustration, but it may give you the idea."

"And is that all?" asked Groener, in evident relief.

"No, there is also the time taken in choosing a word. If I say 'pen' or
'umbrella' it may take you three quarters of a second to answer 'ink' or
'rain,' while it may take another man whose mind acts slowly a second and a
quarter or even more for his reply; each person has his or her average time
for the thought process, some longer, some shorter. But that time process
is always lengthened after one of the critical or emotional words, I mean
if the person is guilty. Thus, if I say, 'Ansonia' to you, and you are the
murderer of Martinez, it will take you one or two or three seconds longer
to decide upon a safe answering word than it would have taken if you were
_not_ the murderer and spoke the first word that came to your tongue. Do
you see?"

"I see," shrugged the prisoner, "but - after all, it's only an experiment,
it never would carry weight in a court of law."

"Never is a long time," said the judge. "Wait ten years. We have a
wonderful mental microscope here and the world will learn to use it. _I_
use it now, and I happen to be in charge of this investigation."

Groener was silent, his fine dark eyes fixed keenly on the judge.

"Do you really think," he asked presently, while the old patronizing smile
flickered about his mouth, "that if I were guilty of this crime I could
not make these answers without betraying myself?"

"I'm sure you could not."

"Then if I stood the test you would believe me innocent?"

The magistrate reflected a moment. "I should be forced to believe one of
two things," he said; "either that you are innocent or that you are a man
of extraordinary mental power. I don't believe the latter so - yes, I should
think you innocent."

"Let me understand this," laughed the prisoner; "you say over a number of
words and I answer with other words. You note the exact moment when you
speak your word and the exact moment when I speak mine, then you see how
many seconds elapse between the two moments. Is that it?"

"That's it, only I have a watch that marks the fifths of a second. Are you
willing to make the test?"

"Suppose I refuse?"

"Why should you refuse if you are innocent?"

"But if I do?"

The magistrate's face hardened. "If you refuse to-day I shall know how to
_force_ you to my will another day. Did you ever hear of the third degree,
Groener?" he asked sharply.

As the judge became threatening the prisoner's good nature increased.
"After all," he said carelessly, "what does it matter? Go ahead with your
little game. It rather amuses me."

And, without more difficulty, the test began, Hauteville speaking the
prepared words and handling the stop watch while Coquenil, sitting beside
him, wrote down the answered words and the precise time intervals.

First, they established Groener's average or normal time of reply when
there was no emotion or mental effort involved. The judge said "milk" and
Groener at once, by association of ideas, said "cream"; the judge said
"smoke," Groener replied "fire"; the judge said "early," Groener said
"late"; the judge said "water," Groener answered "river"; the judge said
"tobacco," Groener answered "pipe." And the intervals varied from four
fifths of a second to a second and a fifth, which was taken as the
prisoner's average time for the untroubled thought process.

"He's clever!" reflected Coquenil. "He's establishing a slow average."

Then began the real test, the judge going deliberately through the entire
list which included thirty important words scattered among seventy
unimportant ones. The thirty important words were:

14. AUGER. 29. RED HAIR.

They went through this list slowly, word by word, with everything carefully
recorded, which took nearly an hour; then they turned back to the beginning
and went through the list again, so that, to the hundred original words,
Groener gave two sets of answering words, most of which proved to be the
same, especially in the seventy unimportant words. Thus both times he
answered "darkness" for "light," "tea" for "coffee," "clock" for "watch,"
and "handle" for "broom." There were a few exceptions as when he answered
"salt" for "sugar" the first time and "sweet" for "sugar" the second time;
almost always, however, his memory brought back, automatically, the same
unimportant word at the second questioning that he had given at the first

It was different, however, with the important words, as Hauteville pointed
out when the test was finished, in over half the cases the accused had
answered different words in the two questionings.

"You made up your mind, Groener," said the judge as he glanced over the
sheets, "that you would answer the critical words within your average time
of reply and you have done it, but you have betrayed yourself in another
way, as I knew you would. In your desire to answer quickly you repeatedly
chose words that you would not have chosen if you had reflected longer;
then, in going through the list a second time, you realized this and
improved on your first answers by substituting more innocent words. For
example, the first time you answered 'hole' when I said 'auger,' but the
second time you answered 'hammer.' You said to yourself: 'Hole is not a
good answer because he will think I am thinking, of those eyeholes, so
I'll change it to "hammer" which, means nothing.' For the same reason when
I said 'Fourth of July' you answered 'banquet' the first time and 'America'
the second time, which shows that the Ansonia banquet was in your mind. And
when I said 'watchdog' you answered first 'scent' and then 'tail'; when I
said 'Brazil' you answered first 'ship' and then 'coffee,' when I said
'dreams' you answered first 'fear' and then 'sleep'; you made these changes
with the deliberate purpose to get as far away as possible from
associations with the crime."

"Not at all," contradicted Groener, "I made the changes because every word
has many associations and I followed the first one that came into my head.
When we went through the list a second time I did not remember or try to
remember the answers I had given the first time."

"Ah, but that is just the point," insisted the magistrate, "in the seventy
unimportant words you _did_ remember and you _did_ answer practically the
same words both times, your memory only failed in the thirty important
words. Besides, in spite of your will power, the test reveals emotional

"In me?" scoffed the prisoner.

"Precisely. It is true you kept your answers to the important words within
your normal tone of reply, but in at least five cases you went beyond this
normal time in answering the _unimportant_ words."

Groener shrugged his shoulders. "The words are unimportant and so are the

"Do you think so? Then explain this. You were answering regularly at the
rate of one answer in a second or so when suddenly you hesitated and
clenched your hands and waited _four and two fifths seconds_ before
answering 'feather' to the simple word 'hat.'"

"Perhaps I was tired, perhaps I was bored."

The magistrate leaned nearer. "Yes, and perhaps you were inwardly disturbed
by the shock and strain of answering the _previous_ word quickly and
unconcernedly. I didn't warn you of that danger. Do you know what the
previous word was?"


"_It was guillotine!_"

"Ah?" said the prisoner, absolutely impassive.

"And why did you waver and wipe your brow and draw in your breath quickly
and wait _six and one fifth seconds_ before answering 'violin' when I gave
you the word 'music'?"

"I'm sure I don't know."

"Then I'll tell you; it was because you were again deeply agitated by the
previous word 'coaching party' which you had answered instantly with

"I don't see anything agitating in the word 'coaching party,'" said

Hauteville measured the prisoner for a moment in grim silence, then,
throwing into his voice and manner all the impressiveness of his office and
his stern personality he said: "And why did you start from your seat and
tremble nervously and wait _nine and four fifths seconds_ before you were
able to answer 'salad' to the word 'potato'?"

Groener stared stolidly at the judge and did not speak.

"Shall I tell you why? It was because your heart was pounding, your head
throbbing, your whole mental machinery was clogged and numbed by the shock
of the word before, by the terror that went through you _when you answered
'worsted work' to 'Charity Bazaar.'_"

The prisoner bounded to his feet with a hoarse cry: "My God, you have no
right to torture me like this!" His face was deathly white, his eyes were

"We've got him going now," muttered Coquenil.

"Sit down!" ordered the judge. "You can stop this examination very easily
by telling the truth."

The prisoner dropped back weakly on his chair and sat with eyes closed and
head fallen forward. He did not speak.

"Do you hear, Groener?" continued Hauteville. "You can save yourself a
great deal of trouble by confessing your part in this crime. Look here!
Answer me!"

With an effort the man straightened up and met the judge's eyes. His face
was drawn as with physical pain.

"I - I feel faint," he murmured. "Could you - give me a little brandy?"

"Here," said Coquenil, producing a flask. "Let him have a drop of this."

The guard put the flask to the prisoner's lips and Groener took several

"Thanks!" he whispered.

"I told you it wouldn't be amusing," said the magistrate grimly. "Come now,
it's one thing or the other, either you confess or we go ahead."

"I have nothing to confess, I know nothing about this crime - nothing."

"Then what was the matter with you just now?"

With a flash of his former insolence the prisoner answered: "Look at that
clock and you'll see what was the matter. It's after ten, you've had me
here for five hours and - I've had no food since noon. It doesn't make a man
a murderer because he's hungry, does it?"

The plea seemed reasonable and the prisoner's distress genuine, but,
somehow, Coquenil was skeptical; he himself had eaten nothing since midday,
he had been too busy and absorbed, and he was none the worse for it;
besides, he remembered what a hearty luncheon the wood carver had eaten
and he could not quite believe in this sudden exhaustion. Several times,
furthermore, he fancied he had caught Groener's eye fixed anxiously on the
clock. Was it possible the fellow was trying to gain time? But why? How
could that serve him? What could he be waiting for?

As the detective puzzled over this there shot through his mind an idea for
a move against Groener's resistance, so simple, yet promising such dramatic
effectiveness that he turned quickly to Hauteville and said: "I _think_ it
might be as well to let him have some supper."

The judge nodded in acquiescence and directed the guard to take the
prisoner into the outer office and have something to eat brought in for

"Well," he asked when they were alone, "what is it?"

Then, for several minutes Coquenil talked earnestly, convincingly, while
the magistrate listened.

"It ought not to take more than an hour or so to get the things here,"
concluded the detective, "and if I read the signs right, it will just about
finish him."

"Possibly, possibly," reflected the judge. "Anyhow it's worth trying," and
he gave the necessary orders to his clerk. "Let Tignol go," he directed.
"Tell him to wake the man up, if he's in bed, and not to mind what it
costs. Tell him to take an auto. Hold on, I'll speak to him myself."

The clerk waited respectfully at the door as the judge hurried out,
whereupon Coquenil, lighting a cigarette, moved to the open window and
stood there for a long time blowing contemplative smoke rings into the
quiet summer night.



"Are you feeling better?" asked the judge an hour later when the accused
was led back.

"Yes," answered Groener with recovered self-possession, and again the
detective noticed that he glanced anxiously at the clock. It was a quarter
past eleven.

"We will have the visual test now," said Hauteville; "we must go to another
room. Take the prisoner to Dr. Duprat's laboratory," he directed the guard.

Passing down the wide staircase, strangely silent now, they entered a long
narrow passageway leading to a remote wing of the Palais de Justice. First
went the guard with Groener close beside him, then twenty paces, behind
came M. Paul and the magistrate and last came the weary clerk with Maître
Curé. Their footsteps, echoed ominously along the stone floor, their
shadows danced fantastically before them and behind them under gas jets
that flared through the tunnel.

"I hope this goes off well," whispered the judge uneasily. "You don't think
they have forgotten anything?"

"Trust Papa Tignol to obey orders," replied Coquenil. "Ah!" he started and
gripped his companion's arm. "Do you remember what I told you about those
alleyway footprints? About the pressure marks? Look!" and he pointed ahead
excitedly. "I knew it, he has gout or rheumatism, just touches that come
and go. He had it that night when he escaped from the Ansonia and he has
it now. See!"

The judge observed the prisoner carefully and nodded in agreement. There
was no doubt about it, as he walked _Groener was limping noticeably on his
left foot!_

Dr. Duprat was waiting for them in his laboratory, absorbed in recording
the results of his latest experiments. A kind-eyed, grave-faced man was
this, who, for all his modesty, was famous over Europe as a brilliant
worker in psychological criminology. Bertillon had given the world a method
of identifying criminals' bodies, and now Duprat was perfecting a method of
recognizing their mental states, especially any emotional disturbances
connected with fear, anger or remorse.

Entering the laboratory, they found themselves in a large room, quite dark,
save for an electric lantern at one end that threw a brilliant circle on a
sheet stretched at the other end. The light reflected from this sheet
showed the dim outlines of a tiered amphitheater before which was a long
table spread with strange-looking instruments, electrical machines and
special apparatus for psychological experiments. On the walls were charts
and diagrams used by the doctor in his lectures.

"Everything ready?" inquired the magistrate after an exchange of greetings
with Dr. Duprat.

"Everything," answered the latter. "Is this the - er - the subject?" he
glanced at the prisoner.

Hauteville nodded and the doctor beckoned to the guard.

"Please bring him over here. That's right - in front of the lantern." Then
he spoke gently to Groener: "Now, my friend, we are not going to do
anything that will cause you the slightest pain or inconvenience. These
instruments look formidable, but they are really good friends, for they
help us to understand one another. Most of the trouble in this world comes
because half the people do not understand the other half. Please turn
sideways to the light."

For some moments he studied the prisoner in silence.

"Interesting, _ve_-ry interesting," murmured the doctor, his fine student's
face alight. "Especially the lobe of this ear! I will leave a note about it
for Bertillon himself, he mustn't miss the lobe of this ear. Please turn a
little for the back of the head. Thanks! Great width! Extraordinary
fullness. Now around toward the light! The eyes - ah! The brow - excellent!
Yes, yes, I know about the hand," he nodded to Coquenil, "but the head is
even more remarkable. I must study this head when we have time - _ve_-ry
remarkable. Tell me, my friend, do you suffer from sudden shooting
pains - here, over your eyes?"

"No," said Groener.

"No? I should have thought you might. Well, well!" he proceeded kindly, "we
must have a talk one of these days. Perhaps I can make some suggestions. I
see so _many_ heads, but - not many like yours, no, no, not many like

He paused and glanced toward an assistant who was busy with the lantern.
The assistant looked up and nodded respectfully.

"Ah, we can begin," continued the doctor. "We must have these off," he
pointed to the handcuffs. "Also the coat. Don't be alarmed! You will
experience nothing unpleasant - nothing. There! Now I want the right arm
bare above the elbow. No, no, it's the left arm, I remember, I want the
left arm bare above the elbow."

When these directions had been carried out, Dr. Duprat pointed to a heavy
wooden chair with a high back and wide arms.

"Please sit here," he went on, "and slip your left arm into this leather
sleeve. It's a little tight because it has a rubber lining, but you won't
mind it after a minute or two."

Groener walked to the chair and then drew back. "What are you going to do
to me?" he asked.

"We are going to show you some magic lantern pictures," answered the

"Why must I sit in this chair? Why do you want my arm in that leather

"I told you, Groener," put in the judge, "that we were coming here for the
visual test; it's part of your examination. Some pictures of persons and
places will be thrown on that sheet and, as each one appears, I want you to
say what it is. Most of the pictures are familiar to everyone."

"Yes, but the leather sleeve?" persisted the prisoner.

"The leather sleeve is like the stop watch, it records your emotions. Sit

Groener hesitated and the guard pushed him toward the chair. "Wait!" he
said. "I want to know _how_ it records my emotions."

The magistrate answered with a patience that surprised M. Paul.
"There is a pneumatic arrangement," he explained, "by which the
pulsations of your heart and the blood pressure in your arteries
are registered - automatically. Now then! I warn you if you don't
sit down willingly - well, you had better sit down."

Coquenil was watching closely and, through the prisoner's half shut eyes,
he caught a flash of anger, a quick clenching of the freed hands and
then - then Groener sat down.

Quickly and skillfully the assistant adjusted the leather sleeve over the
bared left arm and drew it close with straps.

"Not too tight," said Duprat. "You feel a sense of throbbing at first, but
it is nothing. Besides, we shall take the sleeve off shortly. Now then," he
turned toward the lantern.

Immediately a familiar scene appeared upon the sheet, a colored photograph
of the Place de la Concorde.

"What is it?" asked the doctor pleasantly.

The prisoner was silent.

"You surely recognize this picture. Look! The obelisk and the fountain, the
Tuileries gardens, the arches of the Rue de Rivoli, and the Madeleine,
there at the end of the Rue Royale. Come, what is it?"

"The Place de la Concorde," answered Groener sullenly.

"Of course. You see how simple it is. Now another."

The picture changed to a view of the grand opera house and at the same
moment a point of light appeared in the headpiece back of the chair. It was
shaded so that the prisoner could not see it and it illumined a graduated
white dial on which was a glass tube about thirty inches long, the whole
resembling a barometer. Inside the tube a red column moved regularly up and
down, up and down, in steady beats and Coquenil understood that this column
was registering the beating of Groener's heart. Standing behind the chair,
the doctor, the magistrate, and the detective could at the same time watch
the pulsating column and the pictures on the sheet; but the prisoner could
not see the column, he did not know it was there, he saw only the pictures.

"What is that?" asked the doctor.

Groener had evidently decided to make the best of the situation for he
answered at once: "The grand opera house."

"Good! Now another! What is that?"

"The Bastille column."

"Right! And this?"

"The Champs Elysées."

"And this?"

"Notre-Dame church."

So far the beats had come uniformly about one in a second, for the man's
pulse was slow; at each beat the liquid in the tube shot up six inches and
then dropped six inches, but, at the view of Notre-Dame, the column rose
only three inches, then dropped back and shot up seven inches.

The doctor nodded gravely while Coquenil, with breathless interest, with a,
morbid fascination, watched the beating of this red column. It was like the
beating of red blood.

"_And this?_"

As the picture changed there was a quiver in the pulsating column, a
hesitation with a quick fluttering at the bottom of the stroke, then the
red line shot up full nine inches.

M. Paul glanced at the sheet and saw a perfect reproduction of private room
Number Six in the Ansonia. Everything was there as on the night of the
crime, the delicate yellow hangings, the sofa, the table set for two. And,
slowly, as they looked, two holes appeared in the wall. Then a dim shape
took form upon the floor, more and more distinctly until the dissolving
lens brought a man's body into clear view, a body stretched face downward
in a dark red pool that grew and widened, slowly straining and wetting the
polished wood.

"Groener," said the magistrate, his voice strangely formidable in the
shadows, "do you recognize this room?"

"No," said the prisoner impassively, but the column was pulsing wildly.

"You have been in this room?"


"Nor looked through these eyeholes?"


"Nor seen that man lying on the floor?"

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Online LibraryCleveland MoffettThrough the Wall → online text (page 19 of 24)