Author: Heyliger, William, 1884-1955
Detective and mystery stories
Blind — Juvenile fiction
Detectives, Inc.: A Mystery Story for Boys
- Foreword 13
- Theft in the Rain 21
- Voices in the Night 53
- The Unknown Four 81
- Blind Man’s Touch 107
- Birthday Warning 137
- The House of Beating Hearts 163
- As a Man Speaks 193
- Arm of Guilt 221
DOGS WHO SET BLIND MEN FREE
In Morristown, New Jersey, there is what is probably the most remarkable school in the world—a school where dogs are educated to liberate physically the blind people of our country. This school is called The Seeing Eye and was founded in 1928 by a woman whose life and wealth has been devoted to this remarkable cause; her name is Mrs. Harrison Eustis.
Female German shepherd dogs are chosen for this work because they are not easily distracted from the duties entrusted to them. It takes from three to five months to complete a dog’s education. The first few months are spent with her instructor: she learns to pick up whatever he drops; learns that if she walks off a curb without first stopping, he stumbles and falls; that if she passes under a low obstruction, he hits his head.
It is very hard to find men with sufficient patience to learn how to educate these dogs and it is equally as difficult to teach the blind how to rely upon and use these dogs.
HOW THE DOG WORKS
The method by which the dog and man work together is simple. The dog guide does not take her master to his destination without being told where to go. It is not generally appreciated, but blind people develop an adequate mental picture of their own communities. All they need is a means by which they may be guided around their picture. In a strange city they ask directions as anyone else would. It is simple to remember the blocks and to remember also when to go right or left. In familiar territory people with eyesight do not look for the name of every street. The master directs his dog by oral commands of “right,” “left” or “forward.” But it is the dog that guides the master. By means of the handle of the leather harness which he holds lightly in his left hand, she takes him around pedestrians, sidewalk obstructions, automobiles, anything which may interfere with his safe progress. The pace is rapid, rather faster than that of the average pedestrian. Upon arriving at street crossings the dog guides her master to the edge of the curb and stops. He finds the edge immediately with his foot or cane and then gives his guide the necessary command for the direction in which he wishes to go.
The dog can be depended upon to do her part. Her lessons have been thorough, particularly those which teach her to think for herself. She must pass the school’s rigid “blindfold” test in which her instructor’s eyes are bandaged so that he is, for practical purposes, blind. She is then tested under the most difficult conditions, on streets and intersections and in the heaviest of pedestrian and auto traffic. She does not look at traffic lights but at traffic. When she passes she can be certified as ready for her blind master.
Not every blind person can use a dog guide. Some are too young, many too old. Some do not like dogs. But conservative estimates indicate that there are about 10,000 in America who would benefit through a dog guide. It is understandable that leading workers for the blind, business men and women, are urging The Seeing Eye to extend its facilities as rapidly as is consistent with the maintenance of the highest possible standards.
THE ESSENTIALS TO SUCCESS
There are no secrets which The Seeing Eye uses to make the shepherd an effective guide, but there are several essentials to success. The first is experience. The knowledge gained by the years of work which have gone into the development of The Seeing Eye is called upon in the education of every student. A second essential is that the carefully selected dog is educated, not trained. She is taught to think for herself and in her instruction learns certain principles which she can apply to problems she will meet later. If she reacted only to commands she would be useless in guiding blind people. Another essential is the fact that she loves to work. To her, service is a pleasure and not a duty. Her master’s hours are hers. Her main compensation is her master’s affection and his utter reliance on her.
Blind students, men and women, come to the school in classes of eight, the maximum an instructor is able to teach at one time. While their major objective is to learn through practice and instruction how to direct the dog and follow her guidance, some of them must learn other things, too. Many of them since blindness have lost the faculty of finding their way in known surroundings. Others have fallen into the habit of shuffling feet and groping walk, with body bent forward and hands outstretched. Some never have walked down stairs unaided. These are things which must be unlearned if the dog is to bring independence. At The Seeing Eye the student is taught to free himself from these habits of helplessness, so that self-reliance and courage gradually return. Anticipation replaces despair as the dog opens a new world for her master, one he dreamed of but never hoped to have again.
All the practice work of the student with his dog takes place on the streets of Morristown. Here, morning and afternoon each day, the student gradually assimilates his lessons. Near the end of his month’s course he is able to go easily and fearlessly about the city without an instructor, just as he will in his various activities on his return home.
THE DOG AND HER MASTER ARE INSEPARABLE
From the time the student is assigned his dog, the two are inseparable. No one else feeds or cares for her and within a few days the two are bound together by a mutual affection—a tie which remains unbroken throughout the years of the dog’s working life. Even about the house, where no guiding is necessary, dog and man are constantly together just because they want to be. She even sleeps close by her master’s bed.
For the sake of the story certain qualities have been given “Lady” which are found in individual German shepherd dogs, though never present in a blind leader.
A Mystery Story for Boys
THEFT IN THE RAIN
Joe Morrow, very sleepy, grew conscious of voices coming up from the porch—the slow drawl of his uncle, Dr. David Stone, and a quicker, sharper voice. Abruptly the sharper tone scratched at his memory and the drowsiness was gone. What was Harley Kent doing here? So far as he knew the man had never visited the house before, and his uncle had never set foot on the Kent place a quarter of a mile down the road. A word, stark and clear, came through the bedroom window. Robbery! And suddenly he was out of bed and slipping into his clothes.
The morning was cool and fresh after the heavy rain of the night. His uncle stood at the porch railing, sightless eyes turned off across the valley, a great, tawny German shepherd dog at his side. Harley Kent crowded the top step, and Joe noticed that the dog sneezed, and grew restless, and drew back a step.
“Lady, easy.” Dr. Stone’s hand felt for the dog’s head and rubbed a twitching ear. “When did you say it was discovered, Kent?”
“A little after six o’clock this morning. The maid found a window open and called me. The wall safe was open, too, and the necklace was gone. Could I trouble you for a match, Doctor? I’ve lost my lighter.”
The man stepped upon the porch, and the dog sneezed again and retreated. Dr. Stone brought forth matches, and Harley Kent had to come close to get them. Joe was vaguely conscious that his uncle’s face had become intent.
Harley Kent lit a cigar. “I’m not in the habit of keeping jewels in the house. Mrs. Kent’s been in Europe; her ship docks next Monday. We’re to attend a dinner that night, and I knew she’d want the necklace. I took it out of a safe deposit box a week ago and brought it home.”
Dr. Stone asked a question. “Insured, of course?” “Certainly. Twenty-five thousand.”
The boy sucked in his breath and wondered what twenty-five thousand dollars would look like piled up in shining half dollars. The Kent automobile gleamed in front of the house, and a uniformed chauffeur sat motionless behind the wheel.
“You’ve notified the police?”
“I tried to, but the storm last night crippled our telephone line. I came over to use yours.”
“Ours is out, too.”
Harley Kent made an impatient gesture. “That means I’ll have to run into the village.” The cigar came out of his mouth. “It was an inside job, Doctor. Whoever robbed that safe knew how to get into it. It was opened by combination.”
Dr. Stone said coolly, “That’s putting it on your own doorstep.”
Harley Kent shrugged. “Figure it out for yourself. There were only three of us in the house—Donovan, the chauffeur, the maid, and myself. Two days ago I forgot to take some papers to New York. I telephoned Donovan to bring them in. They were in the safe and I had to give him the combination. Well, I’m off for the village. I understand you were a police surgeon before——” The man coughed.
“Yes,” said Dr. Stone without emotion. “Before I lost my sight.”
“Well, if you’d like to run over and get the feel of a case again——”
“It might be interesting,” the doctor said slowly.
Harley Kent went down the steps, a door slammed, and the car rolled away. Joe had a glimpse of the uniformed figure at the wheel, and spoke in a hoarse whisper:
“Will Donovan be put in jail, Uncle David?”
“Perhaps.” The hand came up from the dog’s head and tapped the porch railing thoughtfully. “What time is it, Joe? About eight?”
“Two hours,” Dr. Stone said as though speaking to himself. Abruptly he jerked his head. “Time we had breakfast,” he added, and boy and dog followed at his heels. Here, in the home of his widowed sister that had sheltered him for five years, he knew his way perfectly, and there was nothing to mark him out as blind as he walked boldly toward the dining room. And yet at the last moment, his handicap touched him with uncertainty. He had to put out his hand to make sure of the table and then fumble for his chair.
Joe wondered about jails, and was sorry for Donovan. Twice the man had picked him up on the road and carried him into the village, and once he had spent a fascinating afternoon in the Kent garage holding tools while the chauffeur worked on the car. Did they lock a prisoner in a cell and keep him there night and day?
His mother’s voice cut through his thoughts. “You’re going over, David?”
“I have a reason for wanting to go,” the man said.
Joe’s heart throbbed. A reason for going. His throat was husky again. “Right away, Uncle David? A policeman has to get there while the trail is hot, doesn’t he?”
“There are some trails,” Dr. Stone said in his slow drawl, “that do not grow cold.”
Out on the porch he filled a pipe and smoked quietly. Joe, watching that lion head topped by crisp, unruly white hair, wondered if his uncle ever became excited. He fidgeted and watched a clock; and by and by Dr. Stone knocked the ashes from his pipe, stood up, and took a dog’s harness down from a nail.
The dog stretched its great body and held out its head. A stiff leash rose from either side of the harness and joined a wide, hard handle-grip at the top.
Slowly, protectingly, the massive animal took Dr. Stone down the steps and along the concrete walk to the road.
Without hesitation the dog turned right, the tawny body pressed almost against the man’s left leg. They were off now, and Dr. Stone’s body bent slightly from the waist toward the dog, while his right hand lightly swung a cane. He might have been gifted with sight, so rapidly did he walk, so complete was his confidence in his four-footed guide. Joe had to stretch his legs to keep up with them. They went past fields and orchards, fences and tangles of wild grape. The doctor’s cane, swinging along, came in contact at last, with a wall of hedge.
“Kent’s place, Joe?”
“Yes, sir.” Joe’s throat throbbed with a twitching pulse.
A telephone repair truck was in the driveway. The dog slowed, and swung aside, pulling on the leash and changing his course. Without hesitation Dr. Stone followed the pull, and the dog led him around and past the truck. They appeared, in their movements, to be one.
The boy said: “I like to watch him do that.”
“He’s my eyes, Joe. Kent’s car?”
“No, sir; a telephone truck. I don’t see his car.”
“Not back yet,” said the doctor, and whistled soundlessly. They roamed the grounds. The dog at a rapid pace, took the man along one side of the house and deftly manoeuvered him around every tree and bush. In the rear a maid hung a sodden garment on the line and, after a frightened glance at them, disappeared into the house. The wind blew across the valley and the wet sleeve of a coat fluttered and swung toward Dr. Stone’s face. He reached out a groping hand, and found the sleeve, and brought it close to his sightless eyes as though trying to pierce a veil of darkness and make out the pattern. Bees droned through a blooming lilac and they moved around to the other side of the house.
“Joe, is there a pine tree on the place?”
Pin pricks ran along the boy’s spine. His uncle had never been here before—how did he know about the tree? “Yes, sir.”
“A large tree, heavy-branched?”
“Take me there. Lady, forward.”
The cane explored the trunk and then slowly tapped the ground.
“About six feet from the house, Joe?”
Joe blinked. “How do you know?”
“Sound echoes,” Dr. Stone chuckled. Automobile tires ground the gravel of the driveway.
“It’s Mr. Kent,” said the boy.
Harley Kent hurried up to them. “Is this village supposed to have a police force?” he demanded. “Had to wait half an hour for Captain Tucker to stroll back from breakfast. There could be a dozen murders committed——” He broke off. “Just a moment, Doctor, and I’ll be with you. It occurs to me I may have left that lighter in another suit——”
“The maid hung one out to dry,” Dr. Stone said.
“Why, yes.” Harley Kent stopped short. “That’s it,” he added, and was gone. Presently he was back. “Not there. I suppose it will turn up some place. Well, come in; come in. The police should be here before long.”
They mounted to the porch and Lady, after the manner of her breed when trained to work with the blind, stopped with her head directly under the knob of the strange door.
“A remarkable animal,” Harley Kent said in admiration. “Well, here’s where the job was done, Doctor.”
Joe was conscious of strange tremors. Lady, alert, cocked her head and sniffed the air with an inquiring nose. The doctor, halting in the arched doorway leading from the hall, seemed to lose himself in thought.
“There’s a door to the left of this room, Kent?”
“Yes; it leads into the dining room.”
“And windows in the wall facing this way. They’re open now.”
Harley Kent gave a startled grunt. “Doctor, if I didn’t know you were blind——”
“Air currents,” Dr. Stone said laconically. “I feel them on my face. You feel them, too, but they go unnoticed. You rely on your eyes. The wall safe, then, should be in the solid wall on the right. Correct, Kent?”
“I don’t understand it,” Harley Kent said, still startled.
The doctor asked an abrupt question. “How high is that safe from the floor?”
“Six feet, eight inches.”
“To work the combination without straining a short man would have to stand upon a chair.”
“Exactly, Doctor. None of the chairs was disturbed; none of the cushions trampled. I checked that with the maid.”
Dr. Stone’s face was impassive. “I gather that means something to you?”
“What would it mean to you if I told you Donovan was a tall man?”
The doctor’s sightless eyes were fixed straight ahead as though he saw something that was denied to other men. “Does Donovan know he’s suspected?”
“He isn’t quite a fool.”
A man passed quickly through the hall. Donovan! Joe instinctively stepped closer to the dog. And suddenly, under his feet, the floor boards creaked with a loud, harsh, dry protest.
“Loose boards all over the room,” Harley Kent explained. “I never bothered to have them nailed down. With the safe in this room I looked upon them as a burglar alarm. And yet, in the uproar of last night’s storm, a cannon ball might have been rolled across the floor and nobody upstairs would have heard it.” His hands made a resigned gesture of defeat. “No matter how sound you think your plans are, you can never be sure.”
“No,” Dr. Stone said slowly, “there’s always a slip.”
The telephone truck was gone, and now another car came up the driveway and stopped with a squeal of brakes.
“Captain Tucker has evidently finished his breakfast at last,” Harley Kent said with bitter sarcasm. “He’ll want to question Donovan. If you don’t mind, Doctor——”
“Of course.” The doctor took an uncertain step and paused. “I seem to have lost my bearings, Kent. Would you give me your arm to the door?”
Joe followed blankly. It was the first time he had ever known his uncle to lose a sense of direction once established. Behind those blind eyes the room, in all its essentials, had been mapped. And even if its outlines had not been printed on a clear mind, the man had only to say, “Lady, out!” and the dog would have taken him to the door. Why take Harley Kent’s arm?
Captain Tucker, on the porch, spoke a greeting and passed inside. The door closed. Down at the end of the gravel where the driveway met the road, Joe instinctively turned toward home. But Dr. Stone said, “Lady, right!” and was off toward the village at that amazingly rapid pace.
“I’m after pipe tobacco, Joe.”
The boy’s shorter legs beat a rapid tattoo on the dirt road. “I bought you some yesterday, Uncle David.”
“An extra tin won’t go to waste,” the man said casually.
Hedge and brush were full of fascinating odors that invited sniffing examination. But the shepherd dog, as though aware that the man who gripped the handle was in her keeping, went ahead with single-minded purpose. The dirt road became a paved street and they were in the town. Lady guided her charge toward the sidewalk, came to a cautious halt at the curb and waited for her command.
A voice called: “Dr. Stone! Dr. Stone!”
Joe saw that it was Tom Bloodgood, the jeweler. They waited, and Lady sat down on her haunches, watchful and alert.
“Heard about the robbery out your way, Doctor?”
“That’s something I’d never expect to happen. I can’t understand how a burglar could have got across that room without waking the dead. The way that floor creaked——”
“Kent says the storm drowned all other noise.” The doctor’s mouth had grown hard at the corners. “I didn’t know you and Kent were on visiting terms.”
“But if you knew about those floor boards——”
“Oh! That was a business call—the only time I was in the house. He sent for me last Wednesday——”
The voice stopped, and Joe found the jeweler’s eyes resting on him meaningly. Flushing, the boy took himself out of earshot and pretended to be absorbed in a store window. Presently his uncle called to him, and they went down the street to Stevenson’s shop, and Joe saw that the tight lines around the man’s mouth had showed much deeper.
Back on the street the blind man was silent, and walked with quick steps beside the dog. Half way home a cloud of dust rode toward them, and Captain Tucker’s car came out of the dust. The car stopped.