Part 3 out of 5
"I sent it to her by the nurse, sir; Miss Kathleen still keeps her room,"
said Henry respectfully. "Vincent tells me that she refused even to see
her mother and father."
"Have you an answer for me?" as the servant paused.
"The nurse came to the kitchen and gave me these"--pulling a letter and
package out of his pocket--"to deliver personally to you, sir; Miss
Kathleen asked to have them sent at once."
Taking them Miller examined the addresses; the note was the one he had
written Kathleen, and the package bore the label of a prominent jeweler,
upon which was written Kathleen's full name in Miller's handwriting. Both
were unopened. Miller placed them in his pocket with unmoved face.
"Why did you not deliver them to me last night?" he asked curtly.
"I started to, sir, but seeing you walking with Baron von Fincke down
Massachusetts Avenue, sir, I...." Henry's eyes wavered and fell before
"Followed me?" prompted the latter, bending forward.
"Only a little way"--quickly. "I did not like to intrude, sir, and by
following hoped to get a chance to give you Miss Kathleen's package and
note. I lost sight of you at Thomas Circle, sir, and went home. That is
the gospel truth, sir, as sure as my name is--Heinrich."
Miller viewed the chauffeur in silence. "So!" he exclaimed, and a pleased
smile brightened his face. "Naturalized, or born in this country?"
"Born here, sir, of naturalized parents." The chauffeur twisted his cap
nervously. "German-American, sir."
"There is no such thing, Heinrich." Miller's voice deepened. "The hyphen
cannot be recognized. You are either American or German."
The chauffeur straightened himself, and his heels clicked together as he
raised his hand in salute.
"Hoch der Kaiser!"
The words were echoed by Miller as he sprang forward and grasped the
chauffeur's hand. "For the Fatherland!" he added in German. "Why have you
not declared yourself before?"
"Until last night, Herr Captain, I was not absolutely sure you were one
of us. But later in the evening Baron von Fincke...."
"Stood sponsor for me," finished Miller, thrusting his hand in his pajama
pocket, and thereby pushing an envelope still deeper in it. "What have
you to report? Wait, speak English; the walls have ears."
The chauffeur whitened and moved closer to Miller. "Was Mr. Spencer in
"And the Baron did not trust him," said Heinrich, reflectively. "If he
was not one of us, how came he to be killed?"
"God knows." Miller threw out his hands in a hopeless gesture. "I don't."
"But there must be some motive for the crime," argued the chauffeur.
"Miss Kathleen must have suspected something before taking ..." Powerful
hands on his throat choked his utterance.
"Never mention Miss Kathleen's name in that connection again," commanded
Miller, his voice low and stern. "You hear me, you dog!" and he shook
Heinrich until his teeth rattled, then released him.
"Pardon," gasped the badly frightened man. "I meant no offense."
"See that you follow my instructions hereafter."
"Yes, sir"--Heinrich caressed his throat tenderly, and looked at Miller
with a new respect. "I was only going to mention, sir, that Mr. Spencer
meddled in what did not concern him. I believe he suspected what I have
come to believe."
"And what is that?"
"That this photography business is only a blind."
"A blind?" Miller looked thoughtfully at his companion. "Suppose you pull
up a chair; wait, first hang your cap over the keyhole of the hall door."
While waiting for Heinrich to follow his instructions Miller seated
himself. "A blind?" he repeated. "No, no, Heinrich, you are mistaken; Mr.
Whitney has invented a very perfect aeroplane camera, of that I am
thoroughly convinced. And our country needs it...."
"Undoubtedly, sir," Heinrich almost stuttered in his growing excitement.
"But he has invented something that we need more...."
"What is that?"
"I don't know, sir."
Miller, who had been leaning forward in his eagerness, drew back. "Don't
waste my time, Heinrich," he said roughly.
"Your time won't be wasted," protested the German. "Have patience and let
me explain. I cannot manage this affair alone, I need assistance--and
--you are a frequent caller at the Whitney house...."
"Well, what then?"
"Mr. Whitney may be persuaded to take you to his studio ..." the
"Proceed," directed Miller shortly. "You can count on me."
"Good," the chauffeur hitched his chair closer. "Day before yesterday I
carried a telegram up to the studio. Not hearing any sound in the room, I
carefully turned the knob of the door and found it unlocked. For months I
have tried that door, hoping for just such luck," he interpolated.
"Opening it very softly, I saw Mr. Whitney standing with his back to me,
and facing the muzzle of a rifle. I had only time to note that the rifle
was braced on two iron brackets and that Mr. Whitney was holding a string
which was attached to the trigger; when I saw a flash, the rifle's
recoil--and Mr. Whitney still standing just where he was."
Miller stared incredulously at Heinrich, down whose face sweat was
running; the man was obviously telling the truth--at least, what he
believed to be the truth.
"Wake up, Heinrich," he said skeptically, and the chauffeur
"It's God's truth I'm telling you," he declared solemnly. "For the sake
of the Fatherland, believe me."
"I will," and Miller's fist came softly down on his desk. "Did you hear
"None; there was a Maxim silencer on the rifle." "I see--and blank
cartridges in the breech." "That is what I first thought on seeing Mr.
Whitney still standing," admitted Heinrich. "I believed he was trying to
commit suicide. Then I heard him exclaim: 'God be thanked! I've solved
the problem; it stood the test.'"
"Hardly a suicide's speech." Miller stared at Heinrich. "Probably he was
testing the Maxim silencer."
"No, Herr Captain." The chauffeur almost jumbled his words over each
other in his haste. "An instant after the flash, I saw Mr. Whitney sway
upon his feet, recover his balance, and stand upright."
"The blast of powder must have caused that."
"He was fully the length of the room from the muzzle of the rifle. There
were no powder marks on his vest and coat when he opened the door in
response to my knock a few minutes later. You see, Herr Captain, as soon
as I got back my wits, I closed the door. When Mr. Whitney pulled out
his gold pencil from his vest pocket to sign for the telegram I heard
something drop on the floor, and letting the receipt slip fall, I
stooped over and picked up with it--this--" and he laid on the desk a
Miller examined it curiously. His companion was the first to break the
silence. "It is flattened on one side, Herr Captain."
"I see it is." Miller weighed the bullet in his hand. "You have something
more to tell me, Heinrich; out with it."
"Yes, Herr Captain. That night I bribed Vincent to let me valet Mr.
Whitney, and I found the vest he wore that afternoon. In it, over the
heart, was a round hole."
"Did the bullet fit it?"
"Exactly." There was a protracted silence, which the chauffeur broke with
a question. "What do you make out of it, sir?"
Miller did not answer directly. "Was Mr. Whitney wearing his ordinary
business suit?" he inquired.
"Yes, Herr Captain."
"You are sure he wore nothing over it?"
Miller handed back the bullet. "It rather looks as if Mr. Whitney has
invented some wearing apparel which Mauser bullets cannot penetrate," he
said slowly, "or else...."
"Yes, Herr Captain."
"You are a great liar."
AT THE MORGUE
Shortly before three o'clock on that same afternoon in which Heinrich had
confided in Miller, dashing turnouts and limousines, their smartly
liveried coachmen and chauffeurs asking now and then the direction from
street-crossing policeman, trotted and tooted their way down busy Seventh
Street toward the wharves, their destination a modest two-storied
stuccoed building bearing the words, "D. C. Morgue." The inquest on
Sinclair Spencer was to be held there at three o'clock.
Spencer's tragic death twenty-four hours before had indeed created a
sensation in the nation's Capital. The wildest rumors were afloat. Was it
deliberate murder or suicide? The press, ever keen to scent sensational
news, had devoted much space to the little known facts and hinted at even
more startling developments; all of which but whetted the curiosity of
the public. The social prominence of the Whitneys had precipitated them
still further into the limelight; not often did the smart set have so
choice a titbit to discuss, and gossip ran riot. It had few facts to
thrive upon, as both the coroner and the police refused to give out the
"Good gracious!" ejaculated Miss Kiametia, as the touring car in which
she and Senator Foster were riding threaded its tooting way through the
many vehicles. "This street resembles Connecticut Avenue on Saturday
afternoon. Where _is_ the morgue?"
"Right here," and Foster sprang out of the car with alacrity as it drew
up to the curb. He had been, for his cheery temperament, singularly
morose, and Miss Kiametia's attempt to make conversation during their
ride had failed. The spinster's talkativeness was a sure indication that
her nerves were on edge; she usually kept guard upon her tongue.
"Do you suppose the Whitneys are here?" she asked, adjusting her veil
with nervous fingers as she crossed the uneven sidewalk.
"Probably; I imagine we are late. Look out for that swing door."
Foster put out a steadying hand. "This way," turning to the left of
"One moment, sir," and Detective Mitchell, who with several others from
the Central Office had been unobtrusively keeping tab on each new
arrival, joined them. "Miss Grey, being a witness, must stay with the
others in this room. The inquest is being held in that inner room, Mr.
Senator. Will you sit over here, Miss Grey...."
But the spinster hesitated; she relied upon Foster more than she was
willing to admit, and the promise of his presence had reconciled her to
the prospect of a trying afternoon.
"I prefer to go with you," she objected, turning appealingly to him.
"But, Kiametia, you can't," interposed Foster hurriedly. "The law forbids
it. I will be in the next room should you need me." He gave her hand a
reassuring squeeze, then glanced hastily about the room. In one corner
the Whitney servants, their inward perturbance showing in their white
scared faces, sat huddled together, but there was no sign of Mr. and Mrs.
Whitney and Kathleen. Apparently he and Miss Kiametia were earlier than
he had at first thought. Turning from Miss Kiametia, he addressed
Detective Mitchell in a low tone.
"Have you caught Julie, the French maid?" he asked.
"All developments in the case will be brought out at the inquest,"
replied Mitchell politely, and Foster, his curiosity unsatisfied, walked
away. He found the room used for inquests crowded to the doors, and made
his way through the knot of men standing about, to the reporters' table,
where a seat had been reserved for him by the morgue master. Across the
east end of the room was the raised platform upon which stood a long
table and chairs for the coroner, the deputy coroner, and the witnesses,
while to their left were the six chairs for the coroner's jury. As the
Senator seated himself he spied Charles Miller among the men standing at
the back of the room. There was a vacant chair next to his, and after a
few hurried words with the coroner, Foster beckoned Miller to join him.
"I called you up repeatedly this morning," said Miller, pushing his chair
closer to the Senator so as to make room for a reporter on his left. "But
your servant declared you were not at home."
"I spent most of the morning at the Whitneys' and lunched with Miss Grey.
Horrible affair, this; the Whitneys are all unstrung."
"Did you see Kathleen?"
"No," Foster stroked his chin nervously. "She has steadily refused to see
anyone, even her parents. Her conduct is most strange."
"I don't agree with you," warmly. "She has undergone a great shock,
finding a friend dead in an elevator...."
"Ah, did she?" The words seemed forced from Foster; he would have given
much to recall them on seeing the look that flashed in Miller's eyes.
"She did," he asserted tersely. "Kathleen is the soul of honor--you have
but to know her to appreciate that--she and evil can never be associated
"You are a warm champion," exclaimed Foster. "I should almost imagine--"
"That I am engaged to her?" calmly. "Quite true, I am."
Foster drew back. "I--I beg pardon," he stammered in some confusion. "I
had no idea affairs had progressed so far--I am sorry I spoke as I did."
"You were but echoing what I hear on all sides," answered Miller
"True," Foster nodded. "Kathleen's extraordinary silence, when by a few
words she could explain what happened yesterday morning before her
screams aroused the household, is causing unfavorable comment and
"The mystery will be explained this afternoon," and quiet confidence rang
in Miller's pleasantly modulated tones. "Hello, I see some members of the
Diplomatic Corps are present."
"And the so-called 'four hundred,'" growled Foster. The close atmosphere
had started him coughing, and he scowled at Baron Frederic von Fincke
who was seated near by. "Where is the jury?" he asked, as soon as the
paroxysm of coughing was over.
"Viewing the body in that room." Miller indicated a closed door to his
right. "The jury is sworn in there by the morgue master."
As he spoke the door opened and the six men, led by the morgue master,
filed into the room and took their places, and the low hum of
conversation died away as the coroner, stepping to the platform, stated
briefly the reason for the inquest, and summoned Dr. Hall, of the
Emergency Hospital, to the witness chair. He was quickly sworn by the
morgue master, and in response to the coroner's question, stated that he
had reached the Whitney residence shortly after eight o'clock Wednesday
morning in answer to a telephone call.
"Tell the jury what you found on your arrival," directed the coroner.
"I was shown upstairs by the butler, whose incoherent remarks led me to
suppose that someone was ill in the elevator. On entering it I found Mr.
Spencer, whom I knew slightly, lying there dead."
"Did you make a thorough examination?"
"Only enough to prove that life was extinct. The butler informed me that
my services were needed by Miss Whitney, and I went at once to her."
"In what condition did you find her?"
"Hysterical. To quiet her, I finally administered an opiate, and sent for
a trained nurse."
"Did you consider her case dangerous?"
"No, but she was completely unstrung; her nervous system had undergone a
severe shock, and I feared for her mental condition if not given
immediate relief and complete rest."
"Have you seen her today?"
"Yes, this morning."
"How was she?"
"Did Miss Whitney speak to you of Mr. Spencer?"
"She did not."
"Did you question her on the subject of the mystery surrounding Mr.
"I did not. In her condition I judged it a topic to be avoided. I also
cautioned her parents not to discuss it with her unless she voluntarily
alluded to it."
"How long had Spencer been dead, Doctor, when you saw him?"
"I cannot answer positively, as I did not make a thorough examination,
but judging from appearances, I should say he had been dead at least
Miller shot a triumphant look at Foster, then turned his attention to the
coroner, who was scanning his notebook.
"I think that is all, Doctor," he announced, "you are excused."
There was a slight pause, and the deputy coroner, who had been taking the
testimony, laid down his pen and gently massaged his hand. The next
instant at the coroner's direction, the morgue master ushered in
Detective Mitchell. The detective, after being duly sworn, told his full
name and length of service in the District force, and briefly described
his arrival at the Whitney residence.
"You examined the body in the elevator?" questioned the coroner.
"Was Mr. Spencer dressed?"
"Yes, sir, except for coat, waistcoat, collar, and shoes."
"Are these the clothes he had on at the time of his death?" The coroner
pointed to a pile of wearing apparel lying on the desk.
"Did you search for the weapon with which Mr. Spencer's throat
"At once, sir," answered Mitchell promptly. "At the back of the elevator
near the body I found this"--holding up a short bone-handled knife which
he took from his coat pocket. "The blade was covered with blood."
Coroner Penfield took the knife and after examining it, handed it to the
foreman of the jury who, upon scanning it closely, passed it on to his
"Have you ever seen such a knife before?" questioned the coroner. "The
blade is a peculiar shape."
"Yes, sir; that shape of knife is sometimes used in modeling clay and by
glaziers when handling putty."
Penfield and the deputy coroner exchanged glances, then the coroner
resumed his questions. "Did you examine the bedroom Mr. Spencer occupied
Tuesday night, Mitchell?"
"I did, sir."
"Had the bed been slept in?"
"Apparently it had, sir. The pillows and covering had been tossed about."
"Did you find anything in the room belonging to the deceased?"
"Yes, the coat and waistcoat of his suit, his collar and shoes."
"Was there any indication, besides the tossing of the bedclothes, that
the deceased had made preparations to sleep there?"
"Yes; I found a pair of pajamas lying on the floor near the bed,
apparently hastily discarded, as they were turned wrong side out."
"Did you examine the deceased's clothes?'
"Yes, sir. They were what any gentleman would wear in the evening. In his
pockets I found a wallet containing twenty dollars in bills, three
dollars in loose change, and his keys. Here they are, sir," and Mitchell,
as he mentioned each ticketed article, laid them on the table before the
coroner, who examined them carefully.
"Was there anything about the room which especially claimed your
attention?" Mitchell paused and glanced thoughtfully at his polished
shoes. "Let me alter that question," said the coroner hastily. "Did
you find any indication in the room that Mr. Spencer expected to
return to it?"
"His clothes were there, and the electric light by the bureau was
burning, notwithstanding the fact that it was nearly nine o'clock in
The coroner consulted his papers, "That is all just now," and Mitchell
departed. "Ask Mr. Whitney to step here," directed Penfield, a second
"Beg pardon, sir," and the morgue master stepped before the platform.
"Mr. Whitney went back to his residence to escort his daughter here. Mrs.
Whitney, however, is waiting in the next room."
"Very well, bring Mrs. Whitney here," and the coroner left his seat to
assist her to the platform. Mrs. Whitney's customary self-control and air
of good breeding had not deserted her, and whatever her inward
tribulation at appearing before a coroner's jury, it was successfully
concealed as she repeated the oath after the morgue master.
"Your full name?" questioned Coroner Penfield.
"Minna Caswell Whitney, daughter of the late Judge William Caswell, of
"You were married to Winslow Whitney in--"
"And you have resided in Washington since then?"
"Yes, except in the summer months when we went to our home in
Massachusetts or, occasionally, abroad."
"Will you kindly state what took place at your house on Tuesday evening,
"I entertained the Sisters in Unity, and afterward went to bed." The
concise reply wrung a smile from Foster.
"At what hour did the members of your club depart?"
"A little before one o'clock, Wednesday morning."
"Then did you go direct to bed?"
"No, I first showed Miss Kiametia Grey who, owing to an attack of
faintness, was spending the night at my home, to her room; then I
"Were you aware that Mr. Spencer was also spending the night under
"Not until Miss Grey informed me of the fact; I had inadvertently
placed her in the same room with Mr. Spencer. I immediately took her to
"Was Mr. Spencer's bedroom in darkness when you ushered Miss Grey into
"Did not your husband tell you of Mr. Spencer's presence?"
"I did not see my husband until Wednesday morning; he had gone to his
studio in the attic when I went to my bedroom. He frequently works all
night on his inventions."
"Were you awakened during the night by any noise?"
"Did you see your daughter before retiring?"
"Did she attend the meeting of your club?"
"No, she is not a member."
"When did you first hear of Mr. Spencer's death?"
"The next morning, when my daughter's screams aroused the household."
"How long has Julie Genet, your French maid, been in your employ?"
"Have you heard from her since her disappearance?"
"Was she acquainted with Mr. Spencer?"
"I really don't know."
The coroner flushed at her tone. "Was Julie discontented with her place?"
he asked, somewhat harshly.
"I have no reason to suppose so; she never complained."
"How did you come to employ her?"
"A friend of mine brought her to this country, and a year later Julie
came to me; she was highly recommended."
"Has she any relatives in this country to whom she might have gone?"
"None that I ever heard of." Mrs. Whitney reflected for a second, then
added, "Julie told me some months ago that her only near relatives had
been killed in the war in France."
"Was Julie a well trained servant?"
"She was indeed; also good-natured, thoughtful, and obedient."
"When did you last see Julie?"
"Downstairs, when giving final directions to Vincent. I told her to
assist him in closing the house, and then go direct to bed; that I would
undress myself as it was so late."
"Did she appear as usual?"
"Did you go at all to Mr. Spencer's bedroom yesterday morning after
hearing of his death?"
"We will not detain you longer, Mrs. Whitney," and with a slight bow to
the jurors and the coroner she made her way from the room.
Her place was taken by Vincent, the butler, who testified that he had
gone about his work on Wednesday morning as customary, that all windows
and doors were locked as he had left them the night before, and that he
and Henry, the chauffeur, were busy replacing the drawing-room furniture,
removed the night before to make room for chairs for the meeting of the
Sisters in Unity, when startled by Miss Whitney's screams. He also stated
that having gone to bed very late, he had slept heavily and had not been
awakened until aroused at seven o'clock by the cook. His bedroom was
across the hall from the other servants. He had not realized that Julie
Genet was absent until Mrs. Whitney rang for her; he had supposed the
maid was upstairs waiting upon either her or Miss Whitney. No, Julie was
not quarrelsome; she was quiet, deeply engrossed in her own affairs, and
spent much of her time sewing in Miss Whitney's sitting-room. He had
heard that she was to have been married the previous December, but the
war had taken her fiancé back to the colors, and he had been killed in
the retreat on Paris.
Henry, the chauffeur, was the next to testify. He admitted admiration for
Julie and stated that she had not encouraged his attentions, and the
remainder of his testimony simply corroborated that of Vincent. He did
not sleep in the Whitney residence, but took his meals there.
When giving their testimony the chambermaid, laundress, and scullery
maid also stated they did not sleep at the Whitneys'; that Julie, while
always pleasant, kept very much to herself. They one and all declared
that they had never entered Sinclair Spencer's bedroom Wednesday morning
after the discovery of the tragedy. The coroner quickly dismissed each
one, and Rosa, the cook, looking extremely perturbed, was the last
servant to be questioned. She stated that she had not gone upstairs
Wednesday morning until noon.
"Sure, I dunno whin Julie wint downstairs Wednesday mornin'," she
declared. "I slep' that heavy I niver hear her a'movin' around."
"Was it her habit to get up before you did?" asked Coroner Penfield.
"Yis, sor. She had oneasy nights, like, an' would be off downstairs at
the foist peep o' day. She brooded too much over the papers, I'm feared;
though 'twas natural to read av the divils who killed her kin and
swateheart in France."
"Did Julie ever speak to you of Mr. Spencer?"
"Wance or twice, maybe," admitted Rosa reluctantly.
"Did she ever meet Mr. Spencer away from the house?"
"Niver, sor." Rosa looked shocked. "Julie was real dacent, she niver
sought her betters' society. Nay, she was afeared Miss Kathleen might
listen to his courtin'. She didn't consider no wan good enough for Miss
"Ah, then she was fond of Miss Kathleen?"
"Sure, fond's not the word; she was daffy about her. An' no wonder, Miss
Kathleen was that good to her; comforted her whin bad news came from the
wars, let her sit and sew wid her, and give her money to sind to France."
"Was Julie on good terms with the other servants?"
"Yis, sor. She and Henry had words now and thin; when Henry got teasin',
she didn't always take ut in good part."
"Have you any idea where Julie went on leaving the Whitneys?"
"No, sor; she has no real frinds in Washington. I dunno where she can be,
an' I'm sick o' worryin' over her." The warm-hearted Irishwoman's eyes
filled with tears. "Julie was excitable like and quicktempered, but she
niver did wrong, an' don't let yourselves be thinkin' ut."
"There, there." The coroner laid a kindly hand on her arm. "We won't keep
you any longer, Mrs. O'Leary. Careful of that step," and as the morgue
master appeared, he asked, "Is Miss Kiametia Grey here?"
"Then ask her to come in." He exchanged a few remarks with the deputy
coroner in a tone too low to reach the ears of the attentive reporters,
then turned back to the witness chair as Miss Kiametia seated herself.
"We will only keep you a few minutes," he began, after the preliminary
questions had been asked the spinster. "I understand you were
accidentally shown into the bedroom already occupied by Mr. Spencer."
"I was," stated Miss Kiametia, as the coroner paused. "Neither Mrs.
Whitney nor I was aware he was within a mile of us."
"Did you discover his presence at once?"
"No." The spinster's tone was short. "The bed is in an alcove, and I had
only turned on the electric bulb by the bureau; thus the room was in
partial darkness. I--eh--eh--" then with a rush--"I did not know he was
there until I was ready to get in bed."
"Was Mr. Spencer asleep?"
"I never waited to see."
Coroner Penfield stifled a smile and changed the subject. "Were you
aroused during the night by any noise?"
"No," sharply. "When once in the hall bedroom I took a pretty stiff drink
of whiskey as a nightcap, for I was feeling pretty shaky about then.
Consequently I slept soundly all through the night."
"Was Mr. Spencer a great friend of yours?"
"No," with uncomplimentary promptness. "But I did occasionally ask him to
"Did you see Miss Whitney before retiring on Tuesday night?"
"No. Her mother told me she had gone to bed early."
"Did you see Mr. Whitney?"
"Did you see Julie, the French maid?"
"Not upstairs. Mrs. Whitney gave me the whiskey and a dressing-gown."
"Can you tell me if Mr. Spencer was wearing his pajamas in bed?"
"I cannot," dryly.
"Did you enter Mr. Spencer's bedroom the next morning after hearing of
"I did not."
"While in his room Tuesday night did you observe his clothes on a
chair or table?
"No, and after discovering his presence, I was too keen to get out of
the room to notice anything in it."
"Then possibly you left the light burning by the bureau?"
"I did nothing of the sort. It is a hobby of mine never to waste gas or
electricity, and I remember distinctly stopping to put out the light
after I had picked up my clothes."
"Quite sure, Miss Gray?" and the spinster bridled at his quizzical
"I am willing to take my dying oath," she said solemnly, "that I left
that room in total darkness."
"Mr. Winslow Whitney will be the next witness," announced Coroner
Penfield, first signifying to Miss Kiametia Grey that her presence was no
longer required in the witness chair, and the spinster, with an audible
sigh of relief, picked up her gold mesh purse and its dangling
accessories and hastily left the room.
There was an instant craning of necks and raising of lorgnettes as the
door opened to admit Winslow Whitney. Courteously acknowledging the bows
of several friends seated near the entrance, he made his way to the
witness chair with a firm tread, and his clear voice was plainly heard
as, in answer to the morgue master's questions, he stated his full name,
age, and length of residence in Washington, having first taken the oath
to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Charles
Miller, watching him intently, was relieved to find that the nervous
twitching of the muscles of his face and hands, so noticeable the day
before, was missing. Though his haggard face testified to a sleepless
night, Whitney was outwardly composed.
"For how many years have you known Sinclair Spencer?" asked the coroner.
"Were you intimately acquainted?"
"No. I knew him as I know dozens of other men; he was frequently at my
house, and on several occasions he assisted me in protecting my patents
in the law courts."
"But you would not call him an intimate friend?"
"Most assuredly not."
"Was he in the habit of spending the night in your house?"
"He has sometimes stopped with me during the summer months when I was
detained in Washington and my wife and daughter were away."
"He was familiar with your house, then?"
"Yes. Could he find his way about it alone in the dark?"
"I presume he could--provided he was sober," dryly. "The arrangement of
the rooms is not complicated, and one floor is very much like another."
Coroner Penfield cleared his throat. "Was Mr. Spencer a welcome guest in
"Certainly; otherwise I should not have invited him," replied Whitney,
with quiet dignity.
"Let me amend my question." The coroner laid down his pencil. "Was Mr.
Spencer on a friendly footing with each member of your household?"
"I have every reason to believe he was."
"Was Mr. Spencer's manner the same as usual when he called upon you
"In what way was it different?"
"He had been drinking."
"Was he rough, boisterous?"
"The latter, yes. So much so, that I suggested he spend the night. I did
not wish him to go downstairs and disturb my wife's guests, which he was
quite capable of doing had the whim seized him."
"Were you then upstairs, Mr. Whitney?"
"Yes, in my wife's boudoir on the first bedroom floor."
"When did you last see Mr. Spencer alive?"
"When I showed him into his bedroom and loaned him a pair of pajamas."
"Did you help him undress?"
"No, as he assured me, with drunken gravity, that he could manage
"Did you inform your wife and daughter that Mr. Spencer was spending the
night in your house?"
"No. My wife was downstairs entertaining her guests, and my daughter was
asleep in her room. I did not see either of them until the next morning."
"Where did you go after leaving Mr. Spencer in his bedroom?"
"To my studio in the attic. I remained there all night absorbed in my
"Did you hear any unusual sounds during the night?"
"No; my studio, or workshop, is sound-proof. And it is the same
throughout the house," he added. "The walls, besides being of unusual
width, were all deadened by my grandfather's direction. He had a horror
"When did you leave your studio?"
"About seven o'clock Wednesday morning."
"Did you use the elevator then?"
"No, I seldom use it." Whitney twisted about in his chair. "I had the
elevator installed for the convenience of my wife and daughter."
Penfield made an entry in his notebook, then faced Whitney directly.
"Have you in connection with your workshop a photographic outfit and
darkroom?" he asked.
"I am told that you are working on a sort of camera which, used in an
aeroplane, makes a map of the country over which the machine passes. Is
that correct, Mr. Whitney?"
"Yes," acknowledged Whitney. "A patent is pending."
"Had it gotten about among your servants that you were working upon an
"It's very possible," Whitney conceded.
"Did Julie, your wife's maid, ever evince undue curiosity in your work?"
Whitney wrinkled his brow in thought. "No," he said. "I can't say that I
am aware she did. When I go to my studio, as we usually call my workshop,
it is an understood thing that I am not to be disturbed by _anyone_. It
is a rule I enforce by dismissal if broken, and the servants have learned
by experience to obey."
"Has your household access to your studio when you are not there?"
"No, I securely lock the door whenever I leave the room."
"Are you ever joined while in your studio by your wife and daughter and
"Occasionally they bring Miss Grey and Senator Foster in to see my
"Did you confide the particulars of your latest invention to Mr.
"I did not."
"Did he ever show deep interest in it?"
"Only questioned me about it now and then," replied Whitney casually, and
Charles Miller alone noted the nervous twitching of his eyelids.
"Was the electric light turned on in Mr. Spencer's room when you left him
for the night?"
"Y-yes." Whitney reflected for a moment, then added, "I believe the bulb
by the bureau was burning, but I can't swear to it."
"Did Mr. Spencer give you any inkling Tuesday night that he intended to
be an early riser on Wednesday morning?"
"No, he never mentioned the subject."
"Was it his custom on previous visits, to walk about your house before
the servants were up?"
"Not that I am aware of," Whitney hesitated. "Possibly his intoxicated
condition made him desire the fresh air."
"That is possible," admitted the coroner. "But witnesses testify that Mr.
Spencer had on no shoes."
"Which confirms my statement of his condition," replied Whitney quietly.
"No man in his sober senses seeks the street in his stockings."
The coroner, making no comment, held up the knife with the black bone
handle. "Have you ever seen this knife before?"
Whitney turned a shade whiter. "I may have; there is nothing distinctive
about the knife."
"Is it not used for modeling in clay?"
"I believe so."
"Who made the clay models in your studio, Mr. Whitney?"
The question remained unanswered, and after a brief pause the
coroner pushed back his chair and rose. "That is all, thank you, Mr.
Whitney; kindly wait in the adjoining room to the left; you will
find a chair there."
With a stiff bow Whitney stepped down from the platform and made his way
through the silent crowd to the room indicated.
As the door closed behind him, Penfield called the deputy coroner to the
stand. Laying down his pen, Dr. North took his seat in the witness chair,
and after being sworn, turned to face the jurors, chart in hand.
"You made the autopsy upon Mr. Sinclair Spencer?" questioned Penfield.
"I did, Doctor, in the presence of the morgue master."
"Please state to the jury the result of that autopsy."
The deputy coroner glanced at the notes on the back of the chart, then
reversed it, holding it aloft so that all in the room could see the
anatomical drawing of a human figure.
"The knife penetrated this section of the neck, just missing the carotid
artery," he began, using his pencil to indicate the spot marked on the
chart. "While the wound bled profusely it was superficial and did not
His words created a sensation. Men and women looked at each other, then
sat forward in their chairs, the better to view the deputy coroner and
"Were there indications of death from extreme alcoholism, then?"
questioned the coroner, and his voice sounded unusually loud in the deep
silence which prevailed.
"No. Judging by the contents of the stomach Mr. Spencer had not taken
alcohol to excess."
"Then if the knife wound was not fatal, and there was no indication of
intoxication, what caused Mr. Spencer's death?" demanded the coroner.
"On examination," Dr. North weighed his words carefully, "I found a
powerful drug had evidently been used, producing instantaneous death by
paralyzing the respiratory center and arresting the heart action."
All in the room were giving the deputy coroner rapt attention. Many had
come there purely from love of sensation, and they were not being
disappointed. The eyes of Charles Miller and Senator Foster met for a
second, then quickly shifted back to the deputy coroner. The reporters,
their pencils flying across the sheets, were the only ones in the room
who had not glanced at the witness.
"Have you discovered the drug used?" questioned the coroner.
"By tests I found it to be cyanide of potassium, a most deadly poison,
generally instantaneous in its action."
"How large a dose was given?"
"I don't know, as there were no indications of it in the gastric
"Then how was the drug administered?"
"Through the blood."
"By means of the knife?"
The deputy coroner looked puzzled. "Possibly," he admitted. "But I could
find no trace of the poison left on the knife blade. There was no mark
on the body to show how the poison was administered."
"At what hour did death occur?"
"Between three and four in the morning, judging by the condition of
"Was there any indication, Doctor, of resistance on the part of the
deceased? Did he make an effort to defend himself."
"No, Judging from his expression and the condition of the muscles I
should say that Mr. Spencer never knew what killed him, never knew even
that his life was threatened."
"Were his hands opened or clenched?"
"His right hand was clenched," acknowledged the deputy coroner. "Not,
however, for the purpose of defense, but to retain his grasp upon this--"
and drawing an envelope from his pocket he carefully shook into his open
palm a crushed and faded flower. "It is a cornflower," he explained.
"Sometimes called bachelor's button. The stem is broken short off." And
he held the flower so that all might view it.
Senator Foster, who had followed the testimony with unflagging interest,
heard a sudden sharp intake of breath to his right, but glancing quickly
at Charles Miller he found his face expressionless.
Penfield took the cornflower and envelope from the deputy coroner and
laid them carefully on his desk, while continuing his examination. No one
paid any attention to the lengthening shadows of the late afternoon, and
the coroner's next question was awaited with breathless interest.
"Is cyanide of potassium used in photography?" he inquired.
"That is all, Doctor, you are excused," and the deputy coroner returned
to his seat.
The next witness was the morgue master, and his testimony simply
corroborated that of the deputy coroner. He was followed by William Banks
and John P. Wilson, respectively, both well known in the financial world
of Washington, who testified to Sinclair Spencer's standing in the
community, and stated that his financial condition precluded any
suggestion of suicide; and that to their knowledge he had no enemies.
The lights were burning when the last named witness left the chair, but
there was no sign of weariness among the men and women in the room.
Although several consulted their watches, no one rose to go. Their
already deeply stirred interest was quickened into fever heat as, in
obedience to the coroner's summons, Kathleen Whitney took her place in
the witness chair.
Dressed with the strict attention to detail and taste which made her one
of the conspicuous figures in the younger set, Kathleen's appearance and
beauty made instant impression upon juror and spectator alike. But her
chic veil failed to hide the pallor of her cheeks, and the unnatural
brilliancy of her eyes. Despite every effort at control, her voice shook
as she repeated the oath word for word and stated her full name and age.
"Have you always resided in Washington?" asked the coroner.
"Were you educated in this city?"
"Yes, except for a winter in Germany."
"Did you take up a special study while in Germany, Miss Whitney?"
"Yes, miniature painting--"
"And modeling?" as she paused.
"Oh, no, I never studied that abroad although I occasionally help my
father by modeling in clay."
"When did you make your debut in Washington society?"
"Did you then make Mr. Sinclair Spencer's acquaintance?"
"No." She moved involuntarily at the mention of Spencer's name. "I
had known him previously. He was one of father's friends, and much
older than I."
"Were you not reported engaged to him last fall?"
Kathleen flushed at the question. "I never heard of it," she said coldly.
"I do not encourage gossip."
"Miss Whitney." Coroner Penfield surreptitiously scanned a small note
handed him before the commencement of the inquest. The handwriting was
distinctly foreign. "Miss Whitney," repeated Penfield. "Did you not
refuse Mr. Spencer's offer of marriage on Tuesday morning?"
For a moment Kathleen stared at him in speechless surprise. "Where did
you get that piece of information?" she demanded, recovering herself.
"You have not answered my question, Miss Whitney," and the quiet
persistence of his manner impressed Kathleen.
"Yes, I refused him," she admitted.
"Did Mr. Spencer make any attempt to persuade you to reconsider
"Yes." Kathleen shot an impatient look at the coroner. "I cannot see what
my private affairs have to do with the regrettable death of Mr.
Spencer," she protested.
Penfield ignored her remark. "Did Mr. Spencer communicate with you
Tuesday by letter or telephone?" he asked and waited, but the question
remained unanswered. To the disappointment of the reporters, he did not
repeat it, but asked instead: "Were you aware on Tuesday evening that Mr.
Spencer was spending the night at your house?"
"Did you see either your father or your mother that night before
"When did you last see Julie, your mother's maid?"
"Before dinner when she came to my bedroom to help me change my dress."
"Did she seem discontented with her situation?'" questioned the coroner.
"Did Julie ever evince dislike to Mr. Spencer?"
Kathleen's hand crept to her throat and she plucked nervously at her
veil. "Julie was too respectful to discuss our family friends with
me," she said.
"You have not answered my question, Miss Whitney," was Penfield's quick
retort, and Kathleen flushed under the rebuke.
"Because I am aware that you are striving to make me incriminate Julie in
Mr. Spencer's death," she began heatedly. "Instead, you and the police
should make every effort to find Julie and protect her ..."
"I don't know," hopelessly. "Julie has no friends in this city, no one
whom she could turn to in trouble but me. I cannot understand her
disappearance; I fear, greatly fear, foul play."
"Circumstantial evidence points to her having disappeared of her own
volition, Miss Whitney, to escape being charged with a heinous crime."
"Pardon me, her disappearance is the only scrap of evidence which leads
you to think she might possibly have murdered a man whom she knew by
sight," retorted Kathleen.
"Was it your habit to supply Julie with money?" questioned the coroner.
"Yes, which she sent to France as her mite toward the war fund," answered
Kathleen heatedly. "I am confident Julie had nothing whatever to do with
the death of Mr. Spencer."
"Can you tell us who did, Miss Whitney?" asked Penfield, and he saw the
terror which crept into her handsome eyes.
"I cannot," she answered with unsteady lips. "I never awoke that night."
"What took you downstairs at so early an hour yesterday morning?"
"I had rung the upstairs bell for Julie, and as she did not come, I
started to go down and find her," she hesitated uncertainly.
"Continue," directed Penfield. "Tell your story of finding Mr. Spencer's
body in your own way."
It was some minutes before Kathleen obeyed his request. "I went to the
elevator and pushed the button," she began slowly. "I was in a hurry, and
when I heard the click which indicated the cage was there I opened the
outer mahogany door, pushed back the inner steel grille-work door,
stepped into the elevator and without looking about me, closed the doors,
and pushed the basement button. Then I turned about"--Kathleen moistened
her dry lips--"and saw--and saw--Mr. Spencer lying there--the blood"--she
closed her eyes as if to shut out the, recollection--"I think for a time
I lost my reason. I have no intelligent recollection of anything that
occurred until I found myself in bed with a trained nurse in attendance."
As her charming voice ceased, Charles Miller, who had never taken his
eyes from her face, gently moved his chair so that Foster's figure cast
him in shadow. Never once had Kathleen glanced his way; she sat for the
most part with her eyes downcast or looking directly at the coroner.
Kathleen was visibly moved by the recital of her experiences in the
elevator, and Penfield waited an instant before questioning her further.
"Could you tell from what floor the elevator came when you pushed your
floor button?" he asked.
"No," was the disappointing answer. "The elevator runs practically
noiselessly, and we have no floor indicator such as you see in stores."
"Was the electric light turned on in the elevator when you entered it?"
"Then how could you see Mr. Spencer so clearly?"
"The brick elevator shaft is lighted by a skylight," answered Kathleen.
"The electric light is only needed at night."
"Do you recognize this knife?" and Penfield held it before her as he
spoke. Kathleen's eyes did not shift their gaze, but her teeth met
sharply on her lower lip.
"I see that it resembles one that I have," she said.
"You still have yours?"
"Yes, you will find it in my desk drawer at home."
"Had you only the one knife, Miss Whitney?"
"I may have had others," indifferently. "I do not recall; I buy my
painting and modeling supplies as I need them."
The coroner replaced the knife without further comment.
"You use azurea perfume, do you not?" he asked.
"What was your object in trying to rub out a blood stain on the front of
Mr. Spencer's white shirt, Miss Whitney, while you were in the elevator?"
Kathleen looked at him dully. "Wh-what d-did you say?" she stuttered.
For answer Penfield took from the pile of clothing on the table a white
shirt and pointed to a discoloration on its glazed surface.
"When I first saw this shirt on Mr. Spencer it reeked of perfume," he
said sternly. "Submitted to chemical tests, I find a blood stain was
partially removed by azurea. Again I ask, what was your object in
attempting to remove the blood stain?"
But Penfield spoke to deaf ears. Kathleen had fainted. Excitement waxed
high in the room as Kathleen was carried out by Charles Miller, the first
to reach her side, and placed in the tender care of Mrs. Whitney and the
trained nurse. Waiting only to see her brought back to consciousness by
Dr. Hall, Miller slipped back into the inquest room. Detective Mitchell
was again in the witness chair.
"You made a thorough examination of Miss Whitney's room?" inquired
"And what did you find?"
"This torn note"--and the detective held up the pieces in each hand.
"Read its contents aloud," ordered Penfield.
"KATHLEEN, MY DARLING:
"I implore you to reconsider--before it is too late. Consult
your father's best interests before you reject _me_.
"Yours, with undying affection,
Mitchell paused after reading the signature, then continued. "Here is a
sample of Mr. Spencer's handwriting, attested by his cousin, Captain
Dunbar; the handwriting of the notes is identical, sir," and he placed
the papers in Penfield's hand. Reading them carefully, the coroner passed
them along to the jury for examination.
"Where did you find this note?" he asked Mitchell.
"Among Miss Whitney's painting materials in her sitting-room."
"What is that in your lap?" and the coroner pointed to a paper box. In
answer Mitchell raised the cover and displayed a bouquet of faded
"I found it in Miss Whitney's sitting-room also," he stated. In tipping
the box, the better to show its contents, a small piece of white muslin
rolled to the floor. Quickly Penfield retrieved it. "I discovered that
handkerchief secreted in the folds of Miss Whitney's blue foulard gown,"
added Mitchell, as the coroner spread open the handkerchief. It was badly
mussed and its white center bore dark stains. Penfield sniffed the faint
perfume still hanging about it; then without comment handed the
handkerchief to the foreman of the jury.
"That is all, Mitchell," announced Penfield, and as the detective
departed, he turned and addressed the jury. His summing up of the case
was quick and to the point, and at the end the jurors silently filed into
another room. It was long after seven o'clock, but no one stirred in the
room, and the silence, which none cared to break, slowly grew oppressive.
The long wait was finally terminated by the reappearance of the jury.
Coroner Penfield rose and addressed them.
"Gentlemen of the jury," he said, "have you reached a verdict?"
"The jury find," answered the foreman, "that Kathleen Whitney is
responsible for the death of Sinclair Spencer by poison on the morning of
Wednesday, March 24, 1915, in her family residence in the city of
Quickly the crowded room emptied, reporters rushing madly for motors; not
often had the district morgue housed a _cause célèbre_, and its
sensational details had to be rushed on the wire. Charles Miller,
separated from Foster by the sudden crowding of the doorways, waited to
one side for him.
"Americans are an emotional people," commented a quiet voice at his
elbow, and turning hastily Miller recognized Baron Frederic von Fincke.
"One death more or less does not create a furore elsewhere."
"That depends on who dies," retorted Miller.
"True. If it should be a member of the Imperial Family"--Von Fincke's
gesture was eloquent. "To them, all give way. We others are pawns."
The atmosphere inside the house matched the leaden skies outside in point
of gloom, and even the wood fire, crackling on the hearth, failed to
mitigate the air of restraint and cheerlessness which prevailed in the
dining-room. The rain, falling in torrents, had brought with it a
penetrating cold wind, a last reminder of winter, and Vincent, passing
noiselessly to and from the pantry with sundry savory dishes, was
grateful for the heat thrown out by the blazing logs.
Mrs. Whitney, whose eyes were red and inflamed from constant weeping,
gave up her attempt to eat her breakfast and pushed her plate away.
"Let me give you some hot coffee, Winslow," she suggested. "Your cup must
be stone cold, and you haven't touched your fish balls."
Absorbed in his newspaper, Whitney did not at first heed her request, but
the pulling back of the portieres aroused him, and glancing over his
shoulder, he saw Kathleen entering the room.
"Good morning, Dad," laying her hand for a second on his shoulder before
taking the chair Vincent pulled out. "Just a cup of coffee, mother dear,
that is all," and Kathleen unfolded her napkin.
"You told me upstairs you would remain in bed, Kathleen." Mrs. Whitney
looked solicitously at her. "Are you prudent to tax your strength after
all you were subjected to yesterday?"
"I couldn't stay still a moment longer." Kathleen's slender, supple
fingers played with a piece of toast. "You need not bother to conceal the
newspapers, Dad," as Whitney surreptitiously tucked the _Herald_ and the
_Post_ behind his back. "I read them up in my room."
"My dearest, I'm sorry you did that." Whitney leaned over and clasped her
hand tenderly. "I gave orders that...."
"Vincent is not to blame," broke in Kathleen. "I borrowed the nurse's
newspapers before she left."
"There was no sense in your reading all this jargon," protested Whitney
warmly. "And there is no need, Kathleen, of paying attention to one word
published here. Your friends believe in you absolutely, as we do."
"Thank you, Dad." Kathleen returned the strong pressure of his hand, and
leaning over, kissed Mrs. Whitney. "Bless both your dear loyal hearts."
Her eyes brimmed with tears, and she dashed them impatiently away. "It
was better that I should see the papers," she continued a moment later,
"and know the world's unbiased opinion."
"Unbiased opinion in a newspaper!" Whitney laughed mirthlessly. "That and
the millennium will arrive together. Have you everything you want,
"Then you need not wait, Vincent. Now, Minna, what did you ask me a few
"If you will have some hot coffee. Yes? Then send me your cup," and Mrs.
Whitney, taking it from Kathleen, poured out the coffee and hot milk. As
she returned the cup and saucer, she glanced carefully about the room,
but Vincent had departed to the kitchen. Satisfied on that point, she
lowered her voice to a confidential pitch. "I hear the servants are
planning to leave."
"Who cares?" Whitney shrugged his shoulders. "There are better where they
"Quite true," agreed Mrs. Whitney. "Then, will you give me their
"Wages?" Whitney flushed with anger. "No, if the dirty dogs wish to leave
us in the lurch without notice, they will not get one cent from me."
"They won't leave us," declared Kathleen. "At least, I am sure that
Vincent and Rosa will not go. They have been with us too long."
"I only know what Henry told me he heard in the kitchen this morning,"
explained Mrs. Whitney.
"Oh, Henry!" exclaimed Kathleen contemptuously. "I wouldn't put any faith
in what he says; he is forever making trouble in the kitchen. He is ..."
The violent ringing of the telephone bell interrupted her.
"I have finished my breakfast, I'll go," volunteered Mrs. Whitney, and
she hastened into the pantry where a branch telephone had been installed
for the use of the servants. Before the swing door closed tightly, they
heard her say: "Oh, Kiametia ..."
"What is the reason the servants are so anxious to decamp?" asked
Whitney, handing Kathleen the dish of fruit, which she declined.
"You forget this house has become a chamber of horrors." Kathleen's voice
shook, and she paused to take a hasty swallow of hot coffee. "Possibly
the presence of the detectives makes them nervous."
"Well, a sudden leave-taking from here will probably center the
detectives' attention upon them more than if they stayed and did
"That is highly probable. Tell me, Dad"--Kathleen regarded Whitney
intently--"how is it that I am not in jail? Did not the coroner's jury
"Their verdict read that you were responsible for Spencer's death, and as
such you are under suspicion and will be held for the Grand Jury."
"Oh!" Kathleen shuddered slightly.
"I had no difficulty arranging bail," continued Whitney. "The officials
themselves realize--must realize," he interjected, with bitter
force--"there is little _real_ evidence against you. The coroner's
jury--the d----fools"--the words escaped between his clenched teeth--"to
place faith in circumstantial evidence!" Whitney's clenched fist
descended on the table with a force that made the goblets ring. "My dear,
why, why did you try to whitewash Julie?"
"Because I knew she had nothing to do with Sinclair Spencer's death."
"You knew nothing of the sort"--with subdued violence. "You are totally
wrong. That Julie ran away is confession of complicity in the crime."
"I don't believe Julie ran away; I do not"--meeting her father's angry
eyes steadily. "I believe she was enticed away. I tell you, Dad, if this
mystery is ever to be cleared, you must find...."
"Captain Miller," announced Vincent, drawing back the portières from the
doorway, and Miller, emerging from the hall, advanced into the room.
Kathleen's coffee cup descended with a clatter on its saucer as her
nerveless fingers released their hold, and placing one hand on the back
of her chair to steady herself, she rose slowly to her feet.
"Senator Foster would like to speak to you a minute, Mr. Whitney," added
Vincent. "He is waiting at the front door, sir."
"Certainly." Whitney shook Miller's hand cordially. "Excuse me a second,
Captain, I'll be back in a jiffy," and he followed Vincent from the room.
Impulsively Miller stepped toward Kathleen, hands extended and eyes
alight with passionate tenderness. "My love, my dear, dear love!"
"Stop!" Kathleen spoke in a dangerously low tone. "I must request you to
leave this house at once."
"You understand the English tongue?" Her cold repellent manner caused him
to pause in uncertainty. "Or shall I translate my request into German?"
"I will not put you to that inconvenience," he retorted hotly; then his
manner changed. "Ah, Kathleen, do not let us waste the precious seconds
bickering. Tell me what I can do for you."
"_You_ ask me that?" Her tone was impossible to translate.
"Yes." Miller held her gaze, his handsome eyes speaking a language all
their own. "You gave me the right, my darling, to protect you--and I
_shall_ protect you."
Her strength suddenly deserting her, Kathleen sank down in her chair.
"You will protect me," she echoed. "_You?_"
Her tone stung him to the quick. "Yes--I," he said slowly. "Do you not
realize the depth of my love? I would willingly sacrifice my career, my
life for you--and count it no sacrifice."
"Would God I could believe you!" The cry was wrung from her, and she
raised her trembling hands to brush away the blinding tears.
Miller dropped on one knee beside her. "My dearest, my heart's desire!"
he whispered passionately, taking her hands prisoner. At his touch she
shrank back, remembrance crowding upon her.
"Go!" she stammered. "I have kept faith; go, before I say too much."
Before Miller could answer he heard his name called, and the sound of
rapid footsteps. With a bound he was on his feet, and pausing only
long enough to whisper "Courage, Kathleen," he joined Winslow Whitney
in the hall.
But Kathleen was hardly conscious of his departure. With an exceedingly
bitter moan, she dropped her head upon her arms and cried as if her heart
would break. Mrs. Whitney, entering from the pantry a second later,
paused aghast, then running to Kathleen, soothed her with loving word and
hand back to some semblance of composure.
Miller found Winslow Whitney walking rapidly up and down the hall. He
stopped at sight of the latter. "Come in the library," he said. "I've
given instructions that we are not to be interrupted," closing the door
and also pulling to the folding doors behind the portières leading to
the dining-room. "Make yourself comfortable, Captain," producing a box
of cigars. "Don't mind if I walk up and down; I think better when
"Same here," but Miller selected the most comfortable chair in the room
and puffed slowly at his cigar, while never taking his eyes from his
host. Neither man spoke for fully five minutes, then Whitney pulled up a
chair and sat down near his companion.
"Have you seen Senator Foster today?" he inquired.
"Not to talk to; but I caught a glimpse of him coming here as I entered."
Miller knocked the gathering ash from the end of his cigar. "I was with
him at the inquest yesterday."
"I saw you both there." Whitney selected a cigar and, lighting it, sat
back. "Did Foster happen to tell you that Sinclair Spencer had in his
will made him executor of his estate?"
"Well, he came here today to tell me that, and also that Kathleen is
mentioned in Spencer's will as residuary legatee."
"What!" Miller's surprise was shown in his face, which had grown
"Spencer evidently really cared for Kathleen," went on Whitney, paying no
attention to his ejaculation. "A queer fellow, Spencer; I did not give
him credit for possessing sincere feeling, except where he himself was
"Was Spencer wealthy?" The question shot from Miller against his will.
"Report says so; I never inquired, myself." Whitney puffed a cloud of
smoke, and as it cleared away, turned impulsively to Miller. "I'm damned
if I like Foster's manner to me today!" he burst out.
"Why, what happened?" Miller bent eagerly forward.
"I only asked him to postpone probating Spencer's will," began Whitney,
laying down his cigar.
Miller's eyes opened. "Did he agree to it?"
"No--refused curtly." Whitney's eyes flashed. "And the manner of his
refusal--rankles," he confessed.
"Your request was somewhat singular," commented Miller slowly.
"Nothing singular about it," retorted Whitney. "I was thinking of
Kathleen when I made the request. Man, do you not see," and the haggard
lines in his face deepened, "the instant that will is offered for probate
its contents become public. And its publication now will but strengthen
the suspicion already centered about Kathleen, by supplying a possible
motive for Spencer's murder."
"Suspicion cannot injure the innocent," protested Miller.
"Oh, can't it! That's all you know about it," growled Whitney, wiping
beads of moisture from his forehead. "So much for Foster's friendship
when put to the test. I made it plain to him that my request was prompted
by my desire to shield Kathleen from further publicity."
"I understand, Mr. Whitney," said Miller gently.
"Yes, I believe you do," went on Whitney feverishly. "That an old friend
should be the first to go back on me; there's the sting. We are a proud
family, Miller, united in our affections." He cleared his throat of a
slight huskiness. "I would have given everything I possess to have spared
Kathleen that scene at the inquest yesterday; I never for a moment
imagined"--He straightened up.--"I am going to move heaven and earth to
clear Kathleen from this vile suspicion that she is in some way
responsible for Sinclair Spencer's death."
"I'm with you, Mr. Whitney," Miller's voice rang out clear and strong,
carrying conviction, and a flash of hope lighted Whitney's brooding eyes.
"I love your daughter, sir, and came this morning to ask your consent to
Whitney looked at him long and intently, and Miller bore the scrutiny
without flinching, his direct gaze never shifting, and his strongly
molded features set with dogged determination.
"You make this proposal, and at this time?" asked Whitney at last.
"Yes." Miller's hand tightened its grip on the arm of his chair.
"Clouds can be dispelled, sir; and my faith in your daughter will never
Without a word Whitney extended his hand, and Miller grasped it
eagerly. "You have my consent, Captain," he said, the huskiness of his
voice more pronounced. "I cannot, of course, answer for Kathleen; I
would not force her acceptance of any man." He turned to relight his
cigar, and Miller's swift change of expression escaped him. "Tell me,
Captain," continued Whitney, tossing away the match. "What conclusions
did you draw at the inquest?"
"I think the jury acted on inconclusive evidence," said Miller
thoughtfully. "Before rendering any verdict they should have waited to
hear Julie's testimony."
"You have hit the nail on the head," declared Whitney. "I firmly believe,
in spite of the other servants' testimony, that Julie and Sinclair
Spencer knew each other well, and his death is the result of a
clandestine love affair with her."
"Love may have entered into it," acknowledged Miller. "But I think there
is also another motive behind Spencer's murder, the significance of which
we have not fully grasped."
"And that is--?"
Miller did not answer directly. "What motive inspired Spencer to feign
drunkenness," he asked, "and when everyone was asleep, to steal over this
house like a thief in the night?"
Whitney drummed impatiently on the desk. "There is but one apparent
answer," he admitted reluctantly. "You believe that he was interested in
"I do; his actions certainly point to that conclusion."
Whitney shook his head. "His behavior that night would have been just the
same if planning a clandestine meeting with Julie."
"But, my dear sir, he could have met Julie elsewhere with far less danger
of discovery. Besides," Miller hesitated, "let us give the devil his due.
Spencer was evidently very much attached to Kathleen. With her image
before him, I do not believe he spared a thought for the French maid."
Whitney looked his disbelief. "In this instance, I cannot speak well of
the dead," he said slowly. "I know too much of Spencer's past. He was not
above courting the maid and the mistress at the same time."
"Well, at least Spencer was no fool; if he did court Julie, it was not
done in this house." Miller tossed his cigar stub into the ash receiver.
"It might be that he used the maid to assist him in securing information
about your inventions."
"You may be right." Whitney started from his chair. "And Julie, perhaps
believing in his protestations of affection at first, awoke to his
duplicity, and took the occasion of his spying to kill him."
"Yes, that's about my idea."
"But--but--" Whitney turned bewildered eyes on his companion. "What
prompted Spencer to desire to steal my inventions?"
"That we have still to learn. That he did try, I am as convinced as if I
had seen him." Miller picked up another cigar. "And, Mr. Whitney, permit
me to call attention to one very essential fact...."
"Go on," urged Whitney.
"That what Spencer failed to accomplish, others may."
"It is very far from nonsense." Miller's earnestness impressed Whitney.
"I do not for one moment believe that Spencer was working alone."
"You hint at conspiracy?" Whitney frowned perplexedly.
"Call it that if you wish; only, sir, take every precaution to safeguard
your inventions from prying eyes."
"I have, already."
"How, for instance?"
"With double locks, iron shutters, and electric wires, my workshop is
"Until a clever thief gains entrance." Miller laughed faintly. "The
science of house-breaking keeps step with modern inventions to protect
property. What one man can conceive another man can fathom."
"You may be right." Whitney took a short turn about the room, then
stopped in front of his companion. "What precautions would you suggest?"
Miller did not answer immediately. "It is very likely that another
attempt will be made to secure the drawings and specifications of your
inventions, if not your models," he said finally. "And if on guard, you
may not only catch the thief but Spencer's murderer."
"A good idea," acknowledged Whitney. "But how would you suggest going
about to catch the thief?"
"By laying a plot for him; forget to lock your studio door
occasionally, lay prepared paper inconspicuously about, and powder your
tables and floor with fine dust. The thief will leave an indelible
trail behind him."
"And walk off with all necessary data," answered Whitney skeptically. "As
clever a thief as you paint will never leave that room, once he is inside
it, without full knowledge of my inventions."
"The thief will not have an opportunity of stealing what he came for,
because the specifications and drawings of your inventions will not
"Eh!" Whitney's cigar fell unheeded to the floor. "Where will they be?"
"In my possession."
Too astounded to speak, Whitney stared at his companion. It was over a
minute before he recovered himself.
"Do you think I will trust you with the drawings and models of my latest
inventions?" he asked.
"You did not withhold your consent when, a short time ago, I asked for
Kathleen's hand in marriage," said Miller slowly. "Do you hold your
inventions dearer than your daughter's future happiness, which you are
willing to intrust to my care?"
Never taking his eyes from his companion's face Whitney stepped back. The
seconds lengthened into minutes before he spoke. "Come upstairs," he said
and, turning, made for the closed door.
THE YELLOW STREAK
Leaving the War Department; Detective Mitchell debated for a second
whether to walk around the back of the White House grounds to the
Municipal Building, or to go to Pennsylvania Avenue and take an east
bound electric car. But there was no sign of let-up in the pelting rain,
and pulling his coat collar up about his ears, he hastened toward the
avenue, and at sight of an approaching car broke into a run. The usually
empty sidewalks were filled with hurrying government employees, anxious
to get their luncheon and return in the prescribed half-hour to the
State, War, and Navy Departments, and the detective had some difficulty
in dodging the pedestrians.
Seeing an opening among the lowered umbrellas, he stepped off the curb
and dashed for the street car. He was almost by its side when the
hoarse sound of a motor siren smote his ear, and glancing sideways, he
saw a touring car bearing down upon him at full speed. In trying to
spring backward his foot slipped on the wet asphalt and he sprawled
forward on his knees. The automobile was almost upon him when strong
hands jerked him safely to one side. Scrambling to his feet, Mitchell
turned to look at the man whose strength and quickness had saved him
from a nasty accident.
"Much obliged, Captain Miller," he said. "I owe you a great deal."
Miller stooped over and picked up the detective's hat. "Why don't you
chaps arrest such speeders?" he inquired, pointing to the vanishing car.
"We do in most cases," returned Mitchell, brushing the mud from his
trousers, and limping back to the sidewalk. "However, the driver of that
car is exempt."
"We can't arrest a United States Senator."
"Ah, then you got his number." Miller led the way to the sidewalk.
"That car doesn't need a number to identify it," grumbled Mitchell. "Its
color and shape are too distinctive. We on the force call it the 'Yellow
Streak.' The car belongs to Senator Randall Foster; when he's at the
wheel, the Lord help the pedestrians!"
"So it would seem," dryly. "Where are you going, Mitchell?" observing
the detective's rather shaken appearance.
"To the Municipal Building."
"Suppose you come and lunch with me first at the Occidental," and the
smile which accompanied the invitation was very persuasive. "It's near
where you are going."
Mitchell had not lunched, and a hurried breakfast had been consumed
before six o'clock. It was his hunger which had occasioned his haste to
reach the Municipal Building and later a near-by café. His official
business was not very pressing, and since meeting Miller at the
Whitneys' two days before, he had heard of his attentions to Kathleen
Whitney. The rumor had interested him as much as Miller's personality.
Promptly he accepted Miller's invitation, and the two men boarded the
next downtown car.
Within a short time they were both eating an appetizing lunch in the
attractive restaurant of the Occidental. Just before the arrival of
coffee and cheese, Mitchell sat back in his chair with a sigh of physical
content. The Martini had warmed his chilled body, and the lassitude which
comes after a hearty meal was stealing over him. Miller had proved an
agreeable companion, able to talk upon any subject--except one, in spite
of the detective's hints in its direction. Their table was in one corner
apart from the others, and there was no danger of their conversation
being overheard. Taking in their isolated position at a glance, the
detective changed his tactics.
"I saw you at the Spencer inquest," he said abruptly, applying a match to
his cigar. "What do you think of the verdict?"
"What every sane man thinks," answered Miller. "That the prosecution will
have to secure more material and tangible proof before it can secure an
indictment by the Grand Jury."
"I'm not so certain of that," responded the detective, ruffled by
Miller's casual manner. "Our evidence against Miss Whitney was pretty
"It would have been just as conclusive if applied to any other inhabitant
of the Whitney house that night."
"Hardly." Mitchell smiled broadly. "I fear your friendship blinds you to
the danger in which Miss Whitney stands."
Miller refrained from answering until their waiter had served the coffee
and cheese and departed. "Circumstantial evidence will not always
convict--fortunately," he said, helping himself to the Camembert. "What
have you proved...."
"That Spencer was Miss Whitney's rejected lover," broke in Mitchell.
"That the knife belonged to her; that she tried to remove incriminating
blood stains on his shirt with her perfumed handkerchief; and that he
held in his hand a flower, possibly broken from the bouquet which she was
wearing at the time."
"It sounds formidable," commented Miller quietly. "But there are a number
of flaws. You have _not_ absolutely proved that the knife belonged to
Miss Whitney, only proved that it is probable she might have owned it.
Wait"--as Miller started to interrupt. "The deputy coroner testified that
Spencer was killed by cyanide of potassium."
"Which, as Spencer did not swallow it, was administered by aid of the
knife," retorted Mitchell hastily.
"The deputy coroner said he found no trace of the poison on the knife
blade." Miller paused to refill Mitchell's coffee cup. "Secondly,
cyanide of potassium is not a drug which Miss Whitney would be apt to
"I saw a half-filled bottle of it in Whitney's work-shop last Wednesday."
"Quite true, I saw it there myself," admitted Miller. "I also saw that
Whitney kept his studio workshop under lock and key."
"To outsiders; but it is just possible he is not so strict about the
members of his household, his testimony to the contrary," argued
Mitchell. "The point is not well taken, Captain, and even if it were," he
stirred his coffee thoughtfully, "Miss Whitney did not need to enter her
father's workshop to secure the cyanide of potassium; I find she buys all
his photographic supplies at a shop not far from here, and recently
purchased a new supply of cyanide."
"Purely circumstantial evidence," responded Miller, keeping his
expression unaltered by an effort. The detective's last statement had
startled him. "In regard to the flower which Spencer held in his hand:
you say it was probably broken from the bouquet which she wore at the
time of committing the crime--I am, for the sake of argument only,
admitting that she might be guilty. The medical evidence went to prove
that Spencer was killed between three and four in the morning; it is
straining probabilities to claim that a young girl, in donning her
wrapper, pinned on a bouquet of flowers."
"How do you know she was not fully dressed? It was not so late in the
morning; she could have gone to bed after the crime, or she may not have
gone to bed at all."
"All supposition," scoffed Miller.
"Not quite all." The detective, nettled by his jeering smile, spoke
hastily. "On further inquiry I learned from one of the servants
today that Miss Whitney had on the same dress Wednesday morning,
when her screams aroused the household, which she wore at dinner the
"Ah, indeed?" Miller's smile had ceased to be skeptical, it was strained.
"And which servant imparted that information to you?"
"Henry, the chauffeur."
"For a chauffeur, Henry seems to know a great deal about what transpires
inside the Whitney house," observed Miller thoughtfully. "Tell me,
Mitchell, what motive do you attribute to Miss Whitney for the killing of
Mitchell looked uncomfortable, and it was not until Miller repeated his
question that he spoke. "I believe Spencer persuaded Miss Whitney to meet
him clandestinely that night, and threatened to compromise her if she
refused again to marry him."
"Oh, come!" Miller spoke more roughly than he realized. "Wake up,
Mitchell; you've been reading penny dreadfuls. Try and think up a motive
which will hold water."
The detective flushed. "That is quite motive enough," he said. "If Miss
Whitney takes the stand in her own defense she can, on that motive, enter
a plea of killing to protect her honor...."
"And any jury in the country would acquit her," broke in Miller. "She
"Thus escape the gallows," finished the detective.
"But I can suggest an even better solution of the problem," put in Miller
suavely, although his fingers itched to choke his companion.
"And that is--?"
"That the detective force find the guilty party."
Mitchell suppressed a smile. "And where would you suggest that we hunt
for this guilty party?" he asked. "Provided he or she is still at large,
and not out on bail under indictment."
"Search among the men and women who spent Wednesday night at the
Whitneys', servants as well as guests."
"Captain," in his earnestness Mitchell leaned across the table, "it is
contrary to all records of crime that a man or woman will commit murder
"You forget homicidal maniacs."
"True, but they do not belong in this category," protested Mitchell.
"No person in that house, except Miss Whitney, had a motive for
"Motives are not always on the surface; I advise you to investigate ..."
"Is it true that arc lights have been installed at the United States
navy yards and arsenals, which make them as light as day on the
"I believe so." Mitchell glanced perplexedly at his companion. Why was he
changing the conversation?
"And that visitors are not encouraged to loiter on government
"I believe such an order has been issued," conceded the detective.
"Also visitors are forbidden at the Government Radio Station at
"And still there is a leak--government secrets are secrets no longer."
"How do you know that, Captain?" and the detective shot a look full of
suspicion at him.
"I only know what Senator Foster has told me," carelessly. "I believe
Foster's advice has been sought in the matter."
"And why did he confide in you?"
"He desired my help," responded Miller. "Seemed to think my opinion might
be worth something, but, honestly, Mitchell, I can't see anything to this
secret leak business--the Secret Service operatives are putting a scare
over on the government.