Part 3 out of 4
"You are making me your debtor," Gwen replied slowly, "beyond my
power ever to repay you."
"It is in the hope that no payment may ever be demanded of you,"
he rejoined, "that I am busying myself in your affairs." The colour
sprang to Gwen's cheeks, but she only replied by a grateful glance.
I knew what was passing through her mind. She was thinking of her
promise - of her father's last words, and of the terrible
possibilities thereof from which Maitland was seeking to rescue her.
She felt that she could safely owe him any debt of gratitude, however
great, while he, on his part, took what I fancied, both then and
afterward, were unnecessary pains to assure her that, in the event
of his finding the assassin, she need have no fear of his making
any claim whatsoever upon her. And so the whole affair was dropped
for the time being and the rest of the evening devoted to listening
to Maitland's account of his experiences while abroad.
The next morning I called upon our detective at his laboratory and
asked him what he intended to do next. He replied that he had no
plans as yet, but that he wished to review with me all the evidence
"You see," he said, "the thing that renders the solution of this
mystery so difficult is the fact that all our clues, while they
would be of the utmost service in the conviction of the assassin
had we found him, are almost destitute of any value until he has
been located. Add to this that we are now unable to find any
motive for the crime and you can see how slight are our hopes of
success. If ever we chance to find the man, - for I feel that
such a consummation would result more from chance than from
anything else, - I think we can convict him.
"Here, for example," he said, taking up a small slip of glass
which he had cut from the eastern parlour window of the Darrow
house, "is something I have never shown either you or Miss Darrow.
It is utterly worthless, so far as assisting us to track the
assassin is concerned, but, if ever we suspect the right man, the
evidence on that glass would probably convict him, though there
were ten thousand other suspects."
I took the glass from him and, examining it with the utmost care,
I detected a smutch of yellowish paint upon it, nothing more.
"For Heaven's sake, Maitland!" I said in astonishment, "of what
possible use can that formless daub of paint be, or is there
something else on the glass that has escaped me?" He laughed at
my excitement as he replied:
"There is nothing there hut the paint spot. Regarding that, however,
you have come to a very natural though erroneous conclusion. It is
not formless"; and he passed me a jeweller's eye-glass to assist me
in a closer examination. He was right. The paint lay upon the
glass in little irregular furrows which arranged themselves
concentrically about a central oval groove somewhat imperfect in
shape. "Well," continued. Maitland, as I returned him the
magnifying glass, "what do you make of it?" "If you hadn't already
attached so much importance to the thing," I said, "I should
pronounce it a daub of paint transferred to the glass by somebody's
thumb, but, as such a thing would be clearly useless, I am at a loss
to know what it is."
"Well," he rejoined, "you've hit the nail on the head, - that's just
what it is, but you are entirely wrong in your assumption that the
thumb-mark can have no value as evidence. Do you not know that
there are no two thumbs in the world which are capable of making
indistinguishable marks?" I was not aware of this. "How do you
know," I asked, "that this mark was made by the assassin? It seems
to me there can hardly be a doubt that one of the painters, while
priming the sill, accidentally pressed his thumb against the glass.
His hands would naturally have been painty, and this impression
would as naturally have resulted."
"What you say," replied Maitland, "is very good, so far as it goes.
My reasons for believing this thumb-mark was made by the assassin are
easily understood. First: there was another impression of a thumb
in the moist paint of the sill directly under that upon the glass.
Both marks were made by the same thumb and, in the lower one, the
microscope revealed minute traces of gravel dust, not elsewhere
discernible upon the sill. The thumb carried the dust there, and
was the thumb of the hand pressed into the gravel, - the hand of
which I have a cast. You see how this shows how the thumb came to
have paint upon it when pressed upon the glass. Second: the two
men engaged in priming the house, James Cogan and Charles Rice, were
the only persons save the assassin known to have been upon that side
of the house the day of the murder. "Here," he said, carefully
removing two strips of glass from a box, "are the thumb-marks of
Cogan and Rice made with the same paint. You see that neither of
these men could, by any possibility, have made the mark upon the
glass. So there you are. But we are missing the question before
us. What line of procedure can you suggest, Doc? I'm all at sea."
"We must find someone," I said, "who could have had a motive. This
someone ought to have a particularly good reason for concealing his
footprints, and is evidently lame besides. I can't for the life of
me see anything else we have to go by, unless it be the long nail
of the little finger, and I don't see how that is going to help us
find the assassin - unless we can find out why it was worn long.
If we knew that it might assist us. As I have already suggested, a
Chinaman might have a long nail on the little finger, but he would
also have the other nails long, wouldn't he? Furthermore, he might
use the boards to conceal the prints of his telltale foot-gear; but
why should he not have put on shoes of the ordinary type? If he had
time to prepare the boards, - the whole affair shows premeditation,
- clearly he had time to change his boots. The Chinese are usually
small, and this might easily account for the smallness of the hand
as shown by your cast. These are the pros and cons of the only clue
that suggests itself to me. By the way, Maitland, it's a shame we
did not try, before it was too late, to track this fellow down with
"Ah," he replied, "there is another little thing I have not told you.
After you had left the house with Miss Darrow on the night of the
murder, and all the servants had retired, I locked the parlour
securely and quietly slipped out to look about a bit. As you know,
the moon was very bright and any object moderately near was plainly
visible. I went around to the eastern side of the house where the
prints of the hand and boards were found, and examined them with
extreme care. What I particularly wished to learn was the direction
taken by the assassin as he left the house and the point at which
he had removed the boards from his feet. The imprints of the boards
were clearly discernible so far as the loose gravel extended, but
beyond that nothing could be discovered. I sat down and pondered
over the matter. I had about concluded to drive two nails into the
heels of my boots to enable me to distinguish my own footprints from
any other trail I might intersect, and then, starting with the house
as a centre, to describe an involute about it in the hope of being
able to detect some one or more points where my course crossed that
of the assassin, when I remembered that my friend Burwell, whose
Uncle Tom's Cabin Combination recently stranded at Brockton was at
home. As you are perhaps aware an Uncle Tom Company consists of
a 'Legree,' one or two 'Markses,' one or two 'Topsies,' 'Uncle Tom,'
a 'Little Eva,' who should not be over fifty years old, - or at
least should not appear to be, - two bloodhounds, and anybody else
that happens to be available. It really doesn't make the least
difference how many or how few people are in the cast. I have
heard that an Uncle Tom manager on a Western circuit, most of whose
company deserted him because the 'ghost' never walked, succeeded
in cutting and rewriting the piece so as to double 'George Harris'
and 'Legree,' ' Marks' and 'Topsy,' 'Uncle Tom' and 'Little Eva.'
As for the rest he had it so arranged that he could himself 'get
off the door' in time to 'do,' with the aid of the dogs, all the
other characters. You see the dogs held the stage while he changed,
say, from 'Eliza' to Eva's father. 'George Harris' would look off
left second entrance and say that 'Legree' was after him. Then he
would discharge a revolver, rush off right first entrance, where he
would pass his weapon to 'Eva' and 'Uncle Tom,' and this bisexual
individual would discharge it in the wings at the imaginary pursuer,
while 'Harris ' would put on a wire beard, slouch hat, black
melodramatic cape, and,=20rushing behind the flat, enter left as
"The hardest thing to manage was the death of 'Little Eva' with
'Uncle Tom' by the bedside, but managerial genius overcame the
difficulty after the style of Mantell's 'Corsican Brothers.' You
see it is all easy enough when you know how. 'Little Eva' is
discovered, sitting up in bed with the curtains drawn back. She
says what she has to say to her father and the rest. Then her
father has a line in which he informs 'Eva' that she is tired and
had better try to sleep. She says she will try, just to please him,
and he gently lowers her back upon the pillows and draws the
curtains in front of the bed. But instead of utilising this
seclusion for a refreshing sleep 'Eva' rolls out at the back side
of the bed. 'Legree' snatches off 'Eva's' wig and 'Topsy' deftly
removes the white nightdress concealing his - 'Eva's' - 'Uncle Tom'
make-up, while the erstwhile little girl hastily blackens his face
and hands, puts on a negro wig, and in less than a minute is
changed in colour, race, and sex. He 'gets round' left and enters
the sick room as 'Uncle Tom' with 'Topsy.' They are both told that
'Little Eva' is asleep, and 'Topsy' peeps cautiously between the
curtains and remarks that the child's eyes are open and staring.
The father looks in and, overcome by grief, informs the audience
that his child is dead. 'Topsy,' tearful and grief-stricken,
'gets off' right and washes up to 'do' 'Little Eva' climbing the
golden stair in the last tableau. Meanwhile 'Uncle Tom,' in a
paroxysm of grief, throws himself upon the bed and holds the stage
till he smells the red fire for the vision; then he staggers down
stage, strikes an attitude; the others do likewise; picture of
'Little Eva,' curtain. Talk about doubling 'Marcellus,' 'Folonius,'
'Osric,' and the 'First Grave Digger'! Why, that's nothing to these
'Uncle Tom' productions. But hold on, where did I get side-tracked?
Oh, yes, the dogs.
"Well, as I was saying, as soon as I thought of Burwell I made up
my mind at once to borrow one of his hounds. It was late when I got
to his house. When I knocked at the door both Pompey and Caesar
began sub-bass solos of growls, and Burwell was awake in a minute.
I told him I wanted a dog for private business and took Caesar off
with me. He found the trail with no difficulty, and followed it in
a bee-line down to the water, where he raised his big muzzle and
howled in dismal impotency. The assassin had taken to the water.
I took the dog up and down the shore to see if he had returned to
land, but all I found of interest was a clump of alders from
which a pole had been cut. I knew by the dog's actions that the
assassin had been there, for Caesar immediately took a new trail
back to the house. Try as I might I could learn nothing further,
and I at once returned the dog. There is no doubt that the
murderer made his escape in a boat and took with him the pole he
had cut, the boards he had worn, and everything else, I dare say,
connected with his crime. One thing seems clear, and that is that
we are dealing with no ordinary criminal. I would wager a good
deal that this fellow, if ever he is caught, will be found to be
a man of brains. I don't place much confidence in the Chinese
theory, Doc, but as I have nothing better to offer, let us go see
Miss Darrow. If her father has ever had any dealings with Chinamen,
we shall probably deem it wise to look the Orientals up a bit."
We immediately acted upon this suggestion, waiting upon Gwen at my
house. She said she and her father had spent a year in San
Francisco when she was about seven years of age. While there their
household was looked after by two Chinese servants, named Wah Sing
and Sam Lee. The latter had been discharged by her father because
of his refusal to perform certain minor duties which, through
oversight, had not been set down as part of his work when he was
engaged. So far as she knew no altercation had taken place and
there were no hard feelings on either side. Sam Lee had bade her
good-bye and had seemed sorry to leave, notwithstanding which,
however, he refused, with true Chinese pertinacity, to assume the
new duties. She did not think it likely that either of these
Chinamen had been instrumental in her father's death, yet she
agreed with Maitland that it would be a point gained to be assured
of this fact. Maitland accordingly determined to depart at once
for San Francisco, and the next day he was off.
We received no letters from him during his absence and were,
accordingly, unable to tell when he expected to get back. Since
his return from India Gwen had given evidence of a reviving interest
in life, but now that he was again away, she relapsed into her old
listless condition, from which we found it impossible to arouse her.
Alice, who did her utmost to please her, was at her wit's end. She
could never tell which of two alternatives Gwen preferred, since
that young lady would invariably express herself satisfied with
either and did not seem to realise why she should be expected to have
any choice in the matter. Alice was quite at a loss to understand
this state of affairs, until I told her that Gwen was in a condition
of semi-torpor in which even the effort of choice seemed an
unwarrantable outlay. She simply did not care what happened. She
felt nothing, save a sense of fatigue, and even what she saw was
viewed as from afar, - and seemed to her a drama in which she took
no other part than that of an idle, tired, and listless spectator.
Clearly she was losing her hold on life. I told Alice we must do
our utmost to arouse her, to stimulate her will, to awaken her
interest, and we tried many things in vain.
Maitland had been gone, I think, about three weeks when my sister
and I hit upon a plan which we thought might have the desired effect
upon Gwen. Before her father's death she had been one of the most
active members of a Young People's Club which devoted every
Wednesday evening to the study of Shakespeare. She had attended
none of its meetings since her bereavement, but Alice and I soon
persuaded her to accompany us on the following week and I succeeded,
by a little quiet wire-pulling, in getting her appointed to take
charge of the following meeting, which was to be devoted to the
study of "Antony and Cleopatra." When informed of the task which
had been imposed upon her Gwen was for declining the honour at once,
and the most Alice and I were able to do was to get her to promise
to think it over a day or so before she refused.
The next morning Maitland walked in upon us. He had found both of
Mr. Darrow's former servants and satisfied himself that they were
in San Francisco on the night of the murder. So that ended my
Chinese clue. While Alice and Gwen were discussing the matter, I
took occasion to draw Maitland aside, and told him of Gwen's
appointment to take charge of the Cleopatra night, and how necessary
it was to her health that she should be aroused from her torpor. It
doesn't take long for Maitland to see a thing, and before I had
whispered a dozen sentences he had completely grasped the situation.
He crossed the room, drew a chair up beside Gwen, and sat down.
"Miss Darrow," he began, "I am afraid you will have a poor opinion
of me as a detective. This is the second time I have failed. I
feel that I should remind you again of our compact, at least, that
part of it which permits you to dispense with my services whenever
you shall see fit to do so, and, at the same time, to relieve you
from your obligation to let me order your actions. I tell you
frankly it will be necessary for you to discharge me, if you would be
rid of me, for, unless you do so, or I find the assassin, I shall
never cease my search so long as I have the strength and means to
conduct it. What do you say? Have I not proved my uselessness?"
This was said in a tentative, half-jesting tone. Gwen answered it
"You have done for me," she said, in the deep, vibrating tones of her
rich contralto voice, "all that human intelligence could suggest. You
have examined the evidence and conducted the whole affair with a
thoroughness which I never could have obtained elsewhere. That your
search has been unavailing is due, not to any fault of yours, but
rather to the consummate skill of the assassin, who, I think, we may
conclude, is no ordinary criminal. I do not know much of the
abilities of Messrs. Osborne and Allen, but I understand that M.
Godin has the reputation of being the cleverest detective in America.
I cannot learn that he has made any progress whatsoever in the
solution of this terrible mystery. I do not feel, therefore, that
you have any right to reproach yourself. Such hope as I have that
my father's murderer may ever be brought to justice rests in your
efforts; else I should feel bound to relieve you of a task, which,
though self-imposed, is, none the less, onerous and ill-paid. Do
not consider me altogether selfish if I ask that you still continue
the search, and that I - that I still be held to my covenant. I am
aware that I can never fully repay the kindness I am asking of you,
but - "
Maitland did not wait for her to finish. "Let us not speak of that,"
he said. "It is enough to know that you are still satisfied with my,
thus far, unsuccessful efforts in your behalf. There is nothing
affords me keener pleasure than to struggle with and solve an
intricate problem, whether it be in algebra, geometry, or the
mathematics of crime; and then - well, even if I succeed, I shall
quit the work your debtor."
He had spoken this last impulsively, and when he had finished he
remained silent, as if surprised and a bit nettled at his own failure
to control himself. Gwen made no reply, not even raising her eyes;
but I noticed that her=20fingers at once busied themselves with the
entirely uncalled-for labour of readjusting the tidy upon the arm of
her chair, and I thought that, if appearances were to be trusted,
she was very happy and contented at the change she had made in the
bit of lacework beneath her hands. With singular good sense, with
which she was always surprising me, Alice now introduced the subject
of the Young People's Club, and mentioned incidentally that Gwen was
to have charge of the next meeting. Before Gwen had time to inform
Maitland that she intended to decline this honour, he congratulated
her upon it, and rendered her withdrawal difficult by saying: "I feel
that I should thank you, Miss Darrow, for the faithful way in which
you fulfil the spirit of your agreement to permit me to order your
actions. I know, if you consulted your own desires, you would
probably decline the honour conferred upon you, and that in accepting
it, you are influenced by the knowledge that you are pursuing just
the course I most wish you to follow. Verily, you make my office of
tyrant over you a perfect sinecure. I had expected you to chafe a
little under restraint, but, instead, I find you voluntarily yielding
to my unexpressed desires."
Gwen made no reply, but we heard no more of her resignation. She
applied herself at once to the preparation of her paper upon
"Antony and Cleopatra." Maitland, who, like all vigorous, healthy,
and informed intellects, was an ardent admirer of Shakespeare, found
time to call on Gwen and to discuss the play with her. This seemed
to please her very much, and I am sure his interest in the play was
abnormal. He confessed to me that every morning, as he awoke, the
first thing which flashed into his mind, even before he had full
possession of his senses, was these words of Antony:
"I am dying, Egypt, dying."
He professed himself utterly unable to account for this, and asked
me what I thought was the cause of it. He furthermore suddenly
decided that he would ask Gwen to propose his name for membership at
the next meeting of the Young People's Club. I hastily indorsed
this resolution, for I had a vague sort of feeling that it would
The "Antony and Cleopatra" night at length arrived. We all attended
the meeting and listened to a very able paper upon the play. One
of the most marked traits of Gwen's character is that whatever she
does she does thoroughly, and this was fully exemplified on the night
in question. Maitland was very much impressed by some verse Gwen
had written for the occasion, and a copy of which he succeeded in
procuring from her. I think, from certain remarks he made, that it
was the broad and somewhat unfeminine charity expressed in the verse
which most astonished and attracted him, but of this, after what I
have said, you will, when you have perused it, be as good a judge
In Egypt, where the lotus sips the waters
Of ever-fruitful Nile, and the huge Sphinx
In awful silence, - mystic converse with
The stars, - doth see the pale moon hang her crescent on
The pyramid's sharp peak, - e'en there, well in
The straits of Time's perspective,
Went out, by Caesarean gusts from Rome,
The low-burned candle of the Ptolemies:
Went out without a flicker in full glare
Of noon-day glory. When her flame lacked oil
Too proud was Egypt's queen to be
The snuff of Roman spirits; so she said,
"Good-night," and closed the book of life half read
And little understood; perchance misread
The greater part, - yet, who shall say? Are we
An ermined bench to call her culprit failings up
And make them plead for mercy? Or can we,
Upon whom soon shall fall the awful shadow of
The Judgment Seat, stand in her light and throw
Ourselves that shadow? Rather let fall upon
Her memory the softening gauze of Time,
As mantle of a charity which else
We might not serve. She was a woman,
And as a woman loved! What though the fierce
Simoom blew ever hot within the sail
Of her desire? What if it shifted with
Direction of her breath? Or if the rudder of
Her will did lean as many ways as trampled straws,
And own as little worth? She was a woman still,
And queen. They do best understand themselves
Who trust themselves the least; as they are wisest
Who, for their safety, thank more the open sea
Than pilot will. Oh, Egypt's self-born Isis!
Ought we to fasten in thy memory the fangs
Of unalloyed distrust? We know how little
Better is History's page than leaf whereat the ink
Is thrown. Nor yet should we forget how much
The nearer thou than we didst come to
The rough-hewn corner-stone of Time. We know
Thy practised love enfolded Antony;
And that around the heart of Hercules'
Descendant, threading through and through,
Like the red rivers of its life, in tangled mesh
No circumstance could e'er unravel, thou
Didst coil, - the dreamy, dazzling "Serpent of
The Nile!" Thy sins stick jagged out
From history's page, and bleeding tear
Fair Judgment from thy merits. We perchance
Do wrong thee, Isis; for that coward, History,
Who binds in death his object's jaw and then
Besmuts her name, hath crossed his focus in
Another age, and paled his spreading figment from
Our sight. Thou art so far back toward
The primal autocrat whose wish, hyena-like,
Was his religion, that, appearing as thou dost
On an horizon new flushed in the first
Uncertain ray of Altruism, thou seem'st
More ghost than human. Yet thou lovest, loving ghost,
And thy fierce parent flame thyself snuffed out
Scarce later than the dark'ning of the fire
Thou gav'st to be eternal vestal of
Thine Antony's spirit. Thou didst love and die
Of love; let, therefore, no light tongue, brazen
In censure, say that nothing in thy life
Became thee like the leaving it. The cloth
From which humanity is cut is woven of
The warp and woof of circumstance, and all
Are much alike. We spring from out the mantle, Earth,
And hide at last beneath it; in the interim
Our acts are less of us than it. We are
No judge, then, of thy sins, thou ending link
Of Ptolemy's chain. Forsooth, we are too much
O'erfilled with wondering how like to thee
We all had been, inclipt and dressed in thine
Own age and circumstance.
The exercises of the evening concluded with the reading of the
familiar poem, beginning:
"I am dying, Egypt, dying;
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast."
It was about noon the next day when Maitland called upon me. "See
here, Doc," he began at once, "do you believe in coincidences?" I
informed him that his question was not altogether easy to understand.
"Wait a moment," he said, "while I explain. For at least two years
prior to my recent return from California the name 'Cleopatra' has
not entered my mind. You were the first to mention it to me, and
from you I learned that Miss Darrow was to have charge of the 'Antony
and Cleopatra' night. That is all natural enough. But why should I,
on every morning since you first mentioned the subject to me, awake
with Antony's words upon my lips? Why should every book or paper I
pick up contain some reference to Cleopatra? Why, man, if I were
superstitious, it would seem positively spookish. I am getting to
believe that I shall be confronted either by Cleopatra's name, or
some allusion to her, every time I pick up a book. It's getting to
be decidedly interesting."
"I have had," I replied, "similar, though less remarkable,
experiences. It is quite a common occurrence to learn of a thing,
say, this morning for the first time in one's life, and then to
find, in the course of the day's reading, three or four independent
references to the same thing. Suppose we step into the library, and
pick out a few books haphazard, just to see if we chance upon any
reference to Cleopatra."
To this Maitland agreed, and, entering the library, I pushed the
Morning Herald across the table to him, saying: "One thing's as good
as another; try that." He started a little, but did not touch the
paper. "You will have to find something harder than that," he said,
pointing to the outspread paper.
I followed the direction of his finger, and read:
"Boston Theatre. Special engagement of Miss Fanny Davenport.
For one week. Beginning Monday, the 12th of December, Sardou's
I was indeed surprised, but I said nothing. The next thing I handed
him was a copy of Godey's Magazine, several years old. He opened it
carelessly, and in a moment read the following line: "I am dying,
sweetheart, dying." "Doesn't that sound familiar? It reminds me at
once of the poetic alarm clock that wakens me every morning, - 'I am
dying, Egypt, dying.' There is no doubt that Higginson's poem
suggested this one. Here is the whole of the thing as it is printed
here," he said, and read the following:
I am dreaming, loved one, dreaming
Of the sweet and beauteous past
When the world was as its seeming,
Ere the fatal shaft was cast.
I am sobbing, sad-eyed, sobbing,
At the darkly sullen west,
Of the smile of ignorance robbing
The pale face against the breast.
I am smiling, tear-stained, smiling,
As the sun glints on the crest
Of the troubled wave, beguiling
Shipwrecked Hope to its long rest.
I am parting, broken, parting,
From a soul that I hold dear,
And the music of whose beauty
Fades a dead strain on my ear.
I am dying, sweetheart, dying,
Drips life's gold through palsied hands, -=20
See; the dead'ning Sun is sighing
His last note in red'ning bands.
So I'm sighing, sinking, sighing,
Flows life's river to the sea.
Death my throbbing heart is tying
With the strings that ache for thee.
"Yes," I said, when he had finished. "I shall have to admit that
immediately suggests Higginson's poem and Cleopatra's name. But
here, try this," and I threw an old copy of the Atlantic Monthly
upon the table. Maitland opened it and laughed. "This may be mere
chance, Doc," he said, "but it is remarkable, none the less. See
here!" He held the magazine toward me, and I read: "Cleopatra's
Needle. The Historic Significance of Central Park's New Monument.
Some of the Difficulties that Attended its Transportation and
Erection. By James Theodore Wright, Ph. D." I was dumfounded.
Things were indeed getting interesting.
"Magazines and newspapers," I said, "seem to be altogether too much
in your line. We'll try a book this time. Here," and I pulled the
first one that came to hand, "is a copy of Tennyson's Poems I fancy
it will trouble you to find your reference in that." Maitland took
it in silence, and, opening it at random, began to read. The result
surprised him even more than it did me. He had chanced upon these
verses from "A Dream of Fair Women":
"'We drank the Libyan Sun to sleep, and lit
Lamps which outburn'd Canopus. 0 my life
In Egypt! 0 the dalliance and the wit,
The flattery and the strife.
"'And the wild kiss when fresh from war's alarms,
My Hercules, my Roman Antony,
My mailed Bacchus leapt into my arms,
Contented there to die!
"'And there he died! And when I heard my name
Sigh'd forth with life, I would not brook my fear
Of the other! With a worm I balked his fame.
What else was left? look here!'
"With that she tore her robe apart and half
The polished argent of her breast to sight
Laid bare. Thereto she pointed with a laugh,
Showing the aspic's bite."
"There is no doubt about that," I said, as he laid the book upon the
table. "I want to try this thing once more. Here is Pascal; if you
can find any reference to the 'Serpent of the Nile' in that, you
needn't go any farther, I shall be satisfied," and I passed the book
to him. He turned the pages over in silence for half a minute, or
so, and then said: "I guess this counts as a failure, - no, though,
by Jove! Look here!" His face was of almost deathly pallor, and
his finger trembled upon the passage it indicated as he held the
book toward me. I glanced with some anxiety from his face to the
book, and read, as nearly as I now can remember: "If Cleopatra's
nose had been shorter, the entire face of the world would have been
It was some minutes before Maitland fully regained his composure,
and during that time neither of us spoke. "Well, Doc," he said at
length, and his manner was decidedly grave, even for him:
"What do you make of it?" I didn't know what to make of it, and
I admitted my ignorance with a frankness at which, considering my
profession, I have often since had occasion to marvel. I told
him that I could scarcely account for it on the ground of mere
coincidence, and I called his attention to that part of "The Mystery
of Marie Roget," where Poe figures out the mathematical likelihood
of a certain combination of peculiarities of clothing being found
to obtain in the case of two young women who were unknown to each
other. If the finding of a single reference to Cleopatra had been
a thing of so infrequent occurrence as to at once challenge
Maitland's attention, what was to be said when, all of a sudden, her
name, or some reference to her, seemed to stare at him from every
page he read?
"'There is something in this more than natural,
If philosophy could find it out,'"=20
murmured Maitland, more to himself than to me. "Come, what do you
say?" and he turned abruptly to me with one of those searching looks
so peculiar to him in moments of excitement. "I see," I replied,
"that you are determined I shall give my opinion now and here,
without a moment's reflection. Very well; you have just quoted
'Hamlet'; I will do likewise:
"'There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy I'
"You seem in some strange way to be dominated by the shade of
Cleopatra. Now, if I believed in metempsychosis, I should think you
were Mark Antony brought down to date. There, with that present
sober air of yours, you'd pass anywhere for such an anachronism.
But to be serious, and to give you advice which is positively bilious
with gravity, I should say, investigate this thing fully; make a
study of this ancient charmer. By the way, why not begin by going
to see Davenport in Sardou's 'Cleopatra'? You have never seen her
in it, have you?"
In this way. I succeeded in getting him out of his depressed state.
We got into an argument concerning the merits of Miss Davenport's
work. I know of nothing Maitland would sooner do than argue, and,
if attacked on a subject upon which he feels strongly, he is, for
the time being, totally oblivious of everything else. For this
reason I trapped him into this argument. I abominate what is now
known as "realism" just as much as he does, but you don't have much
of an argument without some apparent difference of opinion, so, for
the nonce, I became a realist of whom Zola himself would have been
proud. "Why, man," I said, "realism is truth. You certainly can't
have any quarrel with that." I knew this would have the effect of
a red rag flaunted in the face of a bull.
"Truth! Bah!" he exclaimed excitedly. "I have no patience with
such aesthetic hod-carriers! Truth, indeed! Is there no other truth
in art but that coarse verisimilitude, that vulgar trickery, which
appeals to the eyes and the ears of the rabble? Are there not
psychological truths of immensely greater importance? What sane man
imagines for a moment that the pleasure he derives from seeing that
greatest of all tragedians, Edwin Booth, in one of Shakespeare's
matchless tragedies, is dependent upon his believing that this or
that character is actually killed? Why, even the day of the
cranberry-juice dagger is long since passed. When Miss Davenport
shrieks in 'Fedora,' the shriek is literal - 'real,' you would call
it - and you find yourself instinctively saying, 'Don't! - don't!'
and wishing you were out of the house. When Mr. Booth, as 'Shylock'
shrieks at 'Tubal's' news, the cry is not real, is not literal, but
is suggestive, and you see at once the fiendish glee of which it is
the expression. The difference between the two is the difference
between vocal cords and grey matter."
"But surely," I rejoined, "one doesn't want untruth; one wants - "
but he did not let me finish.
"Always that cry of truth!" he retorted. "Do you not see how absurd
it is, as used by your exponents of realism? With a bit of charcoal
some Raphael draws a face with five lines, and some photographer
snaps a camera at the same face. Which would any sane man choose as
the best work of art? The five-line face, of course. Why? Is the
work of the camera unreal? Is it not more accurate in drawing, more
subtle in gradation than the less mechanical picture? To be sure.
What, then, makes the superiority of the few lines of our Raphael?
That which makes the superiority of all noble art - its truth,, not
on a low, but on a high, plane: its power of interpreting. See!"
he said, fairly aglow with excitement. "What does your realist do,
even assuming that he has reached that never-to--be-attained
perfection which is the lifelong Mecca of his desires? He gives
you, by his absolutely realistic goes with you, and interprets its
grandeur to you. Stand before his canvas and enjoy it as you would
Nature herself if there. Surely, you say, nothing more could be
desired, and you clap your hands, and shout, 'Bravo!' But wait a
bit; the other side is yet to be heard from. What does the true
artist do for you by his picture of Yosemite Valley? He not only
gives you a free conveyance to it, but he goes with you, and
interprets its grandeur to you. He translates into the language of
your consciousness beauties which, without him, you would entirely
miss. It is this very capability of seeing more in Nature than is
ever perceived by the common throng that constitutes the especial
genius of the artist, and a work that is not aglow with its creator's
personality - personality, mind you, not coarse realism - can never
rank as a masterpiece. But, come, this won't do. Why did you want
to get me astride my hobby?"
I thought it advisable to answer this question by asking another,
so I said: "But how about Davenport? Will you go?"
"Yes," he replied. "Anything with a Cleopatra to it interests me.
I'll go now and see about the tickets," and he left me.
I have related Maitland's aesthetic views as expressed to me upon
this occasion, not because they have any particular bearing upon the
mystery I am narrating, but because they cast a strong side-light
upon the young man's character, and also for the reason that I
believe his personality to be sufficiently strong and unique to be
of general interest.
We went that same night to see Sardou's "Cleopatra." I asked Maitland
how he liked the piece, and the only reply he vouchsafed was: "I have
recently read Shakespeare's treatment of the same theme."=20
If events spread themselves out fanwise from the past into the
future, then must the occurrences of the present exhibit
convergence toward some historical burning-point, - some focal
centre whereat the potential was warmed=20into the kinetic.
It was nearly a week after the events last narrated before I saw
Maitland again, and then only by chance. We happened to meet in the
Parker House, and, as he had some business pertaining to a case he
was on, to transact at the Court House, I walked up Beacon Street
with him. There is a book or stationery store, on Somerset Street,
just before you turn down toward Pemberton Square. As we were
passing this store, Maitland espied a large photographic reproduction
of some picture.
"Let us cross over and see what it is," he said. We did so. It was
a photograph of L. Alma-Tadema's painting of Antony and Cleopatra.
Maitland started a little as he read the title, and then said
lightly: "Do you suppose, Doc, that woman's mummy is in existence?
I should like to find it. I've an idea she left some hieroglyphic
message for me on her mummy-case, and doesn't propose to let me
rest easy until I find and translate it. Now, if I believed in
transmigration of souls - do you see any mark of Antony about me?
Say, though, just imagine the spirit of Marcus Antonius in a rubber
apron, making an analysis of oleomargarine! But here we are;
good-bye," and he left me without awaiting any reply. He seemed to
me to be in decidedly better spirits than formerly, and I was at
the time at a loss to account for it. The cause of his levity,
however, was soon explained, for that night, as Gwen, my sister, and
I were sitting cosily in the study according to our usual custom,
Maitland walked in, unannounced. He had come now to be a regular
visitor, and I invented not a few subterfuges to get him to call
even oftener than he otherwise would, for I perceived that his
coming gave pleasure to Gwen. She exhibited less depression when
in his presence than at any other time. I had learned that hers
was one of those deep natures in which grief crystallises slowly,
but with an unconquerable persistence. Instead of her forgetting
her bereavement, or the sense thereof waxing weaker by time, she
seemed to be drifting toward that ever-present consciousness of
loss in which the soul feels itself gradually, but surely, sinking
under an insupportable burden - a burden so long borne, so well
known, that the mind no longer thinks of it. The heart beats
stolidly under its load, and seems to forget the time when it was
not so oppressed. No one knows better than we physicians the danger
of this autocracy of grief, and I watched Gwen with a solicitude at
times almost bordering on despair. But, as I said before, she always
seemed to show more interest in affairs when Maitland was present,
and, on the night in question, his abrupt and unexpected entrance
surprised her into the betrayal of more pleasure than she would have
wished us to note, and, indeed, so quickly did she conceal her
confusion that I was the only one who noticed it. Maitland was too
busy with the news he brought.
"Well, Miss Darrow," he began at once, "at last your detective has
got a clue - not much of a one - but still a clue. I can pick the
man for whom we are looking from among a million of his fellows - if
I am ever fortunate enough to get the chance."
Somebody has already called attention to the fact that women are
more or less curious, and there are well-authenticated cases on
record where this inquisitiveness has even extended to things which
did not immediately concern themselves; so I have little doubt I
shall be believed when I say the women folk were in a fever of
expectancy, and besought Maitland with an earnestness quite
unnecessary - (it would have required a great deal to have prevented
his telling it) - to begin at the beginning, and relate the whole
thing. He readily acceded to this request, and began by telling
them the experiences which I have just narrated. It was, he said,
during the last act of Sardou's "Cleopatra" that the idea had
suddenly come to him to change the plan of search from the analytical
to the synthetical.
"You see," he continued, "I had from the first been trying to find
the assassin without knowing the exact way in which the crime was
committed. I now determined to ascertain how, under the same
circumstances, I could commit such a crime, and leave behind no
other evidences of the deed than those which are in our possession.
I began to read detective stories, with all the avidity of a Western
Union Telegraph messenger, and, of course, read those by Conan Doyle.
The assertion of 'Sherlock Holmes' that there is no novelty in crime;
that crimes, like history, repeat themselves; and that criminals read
and copy each other's methods, deeply impressed me, and I at once
said to myself: 'If our assassin was not original, whom did he copy?'
"It was while reading 'The Sign of the Four,' which I had procured
at the Public Library, that I made the first discovery. The crime
therein narrated had been committed in such a singular manner that
it at once attracted my attention. The victim had apparently been
murdered without anyone having either entered or left the room. In
this respect it was like the problem we are trying to solve. Might
not this book, I said to myself, have suggested to your father's
assassin the course he pursued. I concluded to go to the library
and ask for a list of the names of persons who had taken out this
book for a few months prior to your father's death. I was fully
aware that the chance of my learning anything in this way was very
slight, In the first place; I reasoned that it was not especially
likely your father's murderer had read 'The Sign of the Four,'
and, in the second place, even if he had, what assurance had I that
he had read this particular copy of it? Notwithstanding this,
however, I felt impelled to give my synthetical theory a fair
experimental trial. I was informed by the Library attendants that
the book had been much read, and given the list of some twenty
names of persons who had borrowed the book during the time I had
specified. With these twenty-odd names before me, I sat down to
think what my next step should be. I went carefully over this chain
of reasoning link by link. 'I wish to find a certain murderer, and
have adopted this method in the hope that it may help me. If I
derive any assistance at all from it, it will be because my man has
read this particular copy of this work; therefore, I may as well
assume at the start that among these twenty-odd names is that of
the man I want. Is there any possibility of this crime having been
committed by a woman?' was my next question, and my answer was, 'Yes,
a possibility, but it is so decidedly improbable that I may count it
out for the time being.' Accordingly, I set aside all the female
names, which cut my list down to eighteen. Several of the applicants
had only signed the initials of their given names, and the attendant,
copying them from the slips, had done likewise; so I was obliged to
go to the registration clerk to determine this question of sex, and,
while there, I also ascertained the age of each applicant - that is,
of all but two. The registrar could give me no information regarding
J. Z. Weltz, or B. W. Rizzi. When I told him that one of the clerks
had copied the names for me from application slips, he informed me
that if I would go back to her I would undoubtedly find she had taken
the two last-mentioned names from the green slips used in applying
for books for hall use, as neither J. Z. Weltz nor B. W. Rizzi was a
"I decided to let these two names rest a while, and to give my
attention to the others. After careful deliberation I felt
reasonably sure your father's assassin could not fail to be a man
of mature judgment and extraordinary cunning, probably a man past
middle life - at all events, I could safely say he was over
twenty-one years of age. Proceeding upon this assumption my list
was reduced to ten names. But how should I further continue this
process of exclusion? This was the question which now confronted
me. I could think of but one way, apart from personally making the
gentlemen's acquaintance, which I did not then wish to do, and that
was to ascertain what other books they had borrowed immediately
before and after they had read 'The Sign of the Four.' This was
the course I determined to pursue.
"If you ask me why I so persistently followed an investigation, a
successful outcome of which anyone must recognise would be little
short of miraculous, I can only say that I felt impelled to do so.
Perhaps the impulse was due to my habit of testing patiently and
thoroughly each new theory which impresses me as having any degree
of probability, and perhaps it was due to something else - Cleopatra,
perhaps, eh, Doctor? - I don't know. I determined, however, to
thoroughly satisfy myself regarding these ten men. I made a careful
list, with the assistance of an attendant, of ten books taken by
each man, five taken just prior to 'The Sign of the Four,' and the
other five just following it. I made no deductions until the list
was completed, although I began to see certain things of interest
as we worked upon it. At length the whole hundred titles were spread
before me, and I sat down to see what I could make of them. I
purposely reserved consideration of the books borrowed by Weltz and
Rizzi until the last, because I had been able to learn nothing of
them, and considered, therefore, that they were the most difficult
persons in the list about whom to satisfy myself. I found the
other eight exhibited no system in their reading. One had read
- I think I can remember the books in the order in which they were
borrowed - 'Thelma,' 'Under Two Flags,' 'David Copperfield,' 'The
Story of an African Farm,' 'A Study in Scarlet,' 'The Sign of the
Four,' 'The Prisoner of Zenda,' 'The Dolly Dialogues,' 'The Yellow
Aster,' 'The Superfluous Woman,' and 'Ideala.' This is a fair sample
of the other seven. Not so, however, with Messrs. Weltz and Rizzi.
The reading of these men at once impressed me as having a purpose
"I will read you a list of the books taken by Weltz and Rizzi, just
to see what you will make out of it:
I."Lecons de Toxicologic," 1."Traite de Toxicologic,"
par M. Orifia. par C. P. Galtier.
2."The Poisons of Asps and 2."The Poisons of Asps and
Other Stories," by Florence Other Stories," by Florence
3."A Practical Essay on 3."A Practical Essay on
Cancer," by C. T. Johnson. Cancer," by C. T. Johnson.
4."The Sharper Detected 4."The Sharper Detected
and Exposed," by R. Houdin. and Exposed," by R. Houdin.
5."The Sign of the Four," 5."The Sign of the Four,"
by A. Conan Doyle. by A. Conan Doyle.
6."Cancer, a New Method of 6."Legal Chemistry: A
Treatment," by W. H. Guide to the Detection of
Broadbent. Poisons, Examinations of
Stains, etc., as Applied to=20
From the French of A. Naquet=20
by J. P. Battershall, Nat.Sc.D.
7."Reports of Trials for 7."Traite Pratique des =20
Murder by Poisoning," Maladies Cancerences,"
by G. L. Browne and C. par H. Lebert.
8."A Practical Treatise on 8."A Practical Treatise on
Poisons," by 0. H. Costill. Poisons," by 0. H. Costill.
9."Poisons, Their Effects 9."A Treatise on Poisons in
and Detection," by Alexander Relation to Medical=20
Wynter Blyth. Jurisprudence, Physiology,
and the Practice of Physic,"=20
by R. Christison,M.D., F.R.S.E.
10."Poisons, Their Effects 10."Poisons, Their Effects
and Detection," by Alexander and Detection," by Alexander =20
Wynter Blyth. Wynter Blyth.
"There, do you wonder that the perusal of that list excited me?
Come, now, before I go any further, tell me what you make of it,
Doc," and he passed it to me.
"There seems to me to be a singular unanimity of purpose existing
between these two men," I said; "not only as regards the
subject-matter of their reading, but in no less than six cases they
have both perused the same volume. This never happened by chance.
Clearly, they are acquaintances, and are working together toward
some common end. I should think it very likely, judging from their
interest in cancers and toxicology, that they were medical students.
Numbers four and five don't exactly seem to strengthen my medical
hypothesis, but they are only two out of the ten. That's about all
I can make out of it;" and I returned the list to him.
"Your views in the matter," replied Maitland, "are precisely those
which first occurred to me, and I am not sure but I should still
hold them, had I been obliged to decide solely from the evidence I
have submitted to you. It was clear to my mind from the first that
some common purpose actuated both Weltz and Rizzi. With a view to
ascertaining where they lived as a preparatory step toward learning
more of them, I consulted a Boston directory, only to learn that it
contained no such names. I was about to examine some of the
directories of neighbouring towns when it occurred to me that the
easiest way to find their places of residence would be to consult
the green slips upon which they had procured their books, and I
accordingly asked the attendant to kindly let me look at them.
While she was collecting the slips I re-examined the list of books
taken by Weltz and Rizzi, especially those which had been taken by
both men. One thing at once struck my attention, and that was that
most of these latter were large books which would take a long time
to peruse and would require to be borrowed several times for hall
use, were they to be examined with any care. I put this fact down
for future reference and gave my attention to the green slips, the
whole twenty of which the attendant now placed before me. The
residence of Weltz was given as No. 15 Staniford Place, Boston,
while that of Rizzi was No. 5 Oak Street, Boston. I was about to
walk over to Oak Street to see if Rizzi were still there when, in
returning the slips to the attendant, I noticed a peculiarity
in Weltz's 'z' which I had thought I had seen in Rizzi's signature.
I immediately compared the slips. There was the same oddly shaped
'z' in both. It was made like this" - and he handed us a slip of
paper with this z* upon it.
"You see," he continued, "it is so unusual a way of making the
letter that it at once attracted my attention, notwithstanding the
fact that Rizzi wrote with his left hand. Closer examination
revealed other peculiarities, as in the r*'s, common to both hands.
Well, to make a long story short, I satisfied myself that the same
person wrote the whole twenty slips and was, moreover, ambidextrous.
This I considered as a very promising discovery, so much so, indeed,
that I gave up an engagement I had for the evening and decided to
camp right there until the Library closed. Happily the books I had
been consulting were still on the table. I picked out those borrowed
under the names of Weltz and Rizzi, and began a most careful
examination of them. I had been working about two hours when I
discovered something that fairly took my breath away. I was not
sure that I was right, but I knew that, if my microscope bore me out,
I would be able to stake my life that the murderer of John Darrow
had read that book. I was aware, however, that even then I should
not be able to name the man who had put his mark upon the book, but
I could take oath that the record was made by the same hand that
committed the murder.
transcriber's note: the symbols designated z* and r* are shown as
script which is not reproducible here.
"I was too excited to do more till this had been settled, so I
besought the official in charge to let me take all the books home
with me, if only for a day, explaining to him the vital importance
of my request. He readily consented and I hastened home with the
whole lot. You may imagine with what interest I put the page I
wished to examine under my microscope and laid beside it the piece
of glass which, you will perhaps remember, I cut from a window of
the room in which the murder was committed. I believe I have never
yet explained to Miss Darrow why I preserved that bit of glass.
There were two reasons for it. The house had been primed that day
and there were two smutches of paint upon the glass and two almost
identical smutches upon the sill. One was a sinuous line, as if
the glass had been struck with a short bit of rope, - or possibly
rubber tubing since no rope-like texture was visible, - which had
previously been soiled with the paint from the sill. The other mark
was that of a human thumb. I had seen at the World's Fair an exhibit
of these thumbmarks collected by a Frenchman who has made an
exhaustive study of the subject, and had learned there for the first
time that no two thumbs in the world can make the same mark. I knew,
therefore, that this slip of glass would at any time tell me whether
or not a suspected man were guilty. I had not failed to get the
thumb-marks of the men who painted the house on that day, as well
as those of every other person known to be about the place. The
marks upon the glass could not, by any possibility, have been made
by any of them. The deduction was inevitable. They were made by
the man who stood by the window when the murder was committed.
"You will be surprised when I tell you it was some moments before
I could summon up courage to look through my microscope upon the
page beneath it. You see, I had been seized by an unaccountable
conviction that I had at last found a real clue to the murderer,
and I dreaded lest the first glance should show this to have been
an idle delusion. At length I looked. The thumb that had pressed
the paper was the thumb that had pressed the glass! There was not
a doubt of it. My suspicions were confirmed. Everything now
regarding this book was of immense importance. The page upon which
the mark was found - well, I think you would open your eyes if I
were to read it to you. I will defer this pleasure, however, till
I see if my suspicions are correct. The thumb-mark is upon page
469 of 'Poisons, Their Effects and Detection,' by Alexander Wynter
"No sooner had I made sure of my discovery than I set out for No. 5
Oak Street, the address given by Rizzi. There was no such person
there, nor had there been anyone of that name in the house during
the three years of the present tenant's occupancy. I went to 15
Staniford Place with the same result. A young woman about
twenty-five years of age came to the door. She informed me that
she had been born in the house and had always lived there. She had
never known anyone by the name of Weltz. This was just what I had
expected. The man for whom we are searching is shrewd almost beyond
belief, and if we succeed in finding him it will not, we may be
assured, be the result of any bungling on his part.
"I have now told you all I have learned, or rather all that is
sufficiently definite to communicate - it is not much, yet it is a
clue and may serve to give our hope a new lease of life. What do
you think of it, Miss Darrow?"
"I think what you have learned," Gwen replied, "will be of the
utmost importance. You have now something definite to guide you.
I am most fortunate in having the services of such a detective,
- indeed, I am at a loss to know how to thank you for all you have
done, - for all you are doing, I - "
"My dear Miss Darrow," Maitland interrupted, "I need no thanks. Be
assured I am selfish in all I do. It is a pleasure to me, therefore
I do it. You see I deserve no credit. If I am able to free you
from the danger of sacrificing yourself, I shall be more than
Gwen made no reply, but I, sitting as I did close beside her, saw
the moisture gather between her drooping lids. Maitland took his
leave almost immediately, having, he said, a long evening's work
before him; while Gwen, Alice, and I discussed the news he had
brought us, until far into the night. I did not see him the next
day, which was Tuesday, and I believe not on Wednesday. It was
Thursday afternoon, if I do not mistake, that he sent me a note
asking me to call on him at his office. I went at once, thinking
it might be something very important. I found him alone and
waiting for me.
"I wanted," he began as soon as I was seated, "to talk this matter
over with you. You see the great difficulty which besets me in this
case is that nearly all our evidence, while it is of a nature to
enable us to convict our man once we have him, is yet of almost no
assistance to us in finding him. What do we know of him up to date;
or at least of what do we feel reasonably assured? Let us see.
John Darrow was poisoned in some mysterious way by a man who was
stationed just outside the partly opened window. The weapon, or
whatever was used as such, was taken away by the murderer. Nothing
in the nature of a projectile could have been employed, since the
wound was upon a part of the victim's throat known to have been
turned away from the window and to have been completely shielded
upon that side by the high and massive back of the chair in which
the victim sat.
"He was fully eight feet from the casement, so that the assassin
could not have reached in and struck him. There were no footprints
by the window, as the assassin had strapped small boards upon his
feet. It is most likely, therefore, that he has some peculiarity
about his feet which he thought best to conceal. He is about five
feet five inches tall, weighs about one hundred and thirty-five
pounds, and steps three or four inches longer when the right foot
is thrown forward than he does when the left foot leads. We have a
cast of the assassin's hand showing unmistakable evidence of the
habit of biting the nails, with the exception of that of the little
finger, which nail, by the way, is abnormally long, and could only
have been spared for some special reason. The murderer is most
likely a foreigner. His handwriting would indicate this even if we
did not know, from the books he read, how conversant he is with at
least one foreign tongue. Again, he has some decided interest in
the subject of cancers and, perhaps, some interest in legerdemain,
if we may judge from his perusal of Robert Houdin's book.
"There are one or two other things I have learned, but this, so far
as any present effect is concerned, is about all we know, and it
doesn't seem to make the conduct of our search a very easy matter.
We have clearly to deal with a man who is possessed not merely of
low criminal cunning, but, I have reason to believe, with one who
has education and culture, and, if anything can be judged from
handwriting, rare strength of character as well. If we could only
find some motive! No one but a maniac would do such a deed without
a motive, yet we can't find one. A maniac! By Jove! I hadn't
thought of that. What do you think of the idea? 'Though this be
madness, yet there is method in't,' eh?"
I told him that the maniac theory did not appeal to me very strongly.
"Madness, to be sure, is often exceedingly cunning," I said, "but
it is hardly capable of such sustained masterfulness as our criminal
"Look here, Doc," Maitland said, breaking out suddenly, "I've an
idea. Might not this fellow's interest in cancers be due to his
having one himself? Suppose you make a canvass of the specialists
on cancer in Boston and vicinity, and see if any of them remember
being consulted by a patient answering the description with which I
will provide you. In addition to this I will insert an ad in the
papers calling attention to a new method for the cure of cancer,
and asking all interested to call at your office for further
particulars. The plan does not promise much, still it may bring
him. What do you say?"
I expressed my willingness to do all in my power to aid him, and he
left me. The next morning's papers contained the advertisement and
I had several calls in answer to it. These would have caused me
much inconvenience had I not explained the whole ruse in confidence
to a medical friend who made a specialty of the treatment of cancers,
and persuaded him to come to my office during the hours specified
in the advertisement. When a patient would call I would satisfy
myself that it was neither the person we were searching for, nor
anyone sent by him to make inquiries, and then turn him over to my
colleague, Dr. Rhodes. It would never have occurred to me to
interest myself in any patient who did not answer the description
given me by Maitland, had he not especially cautioned me in this
"We have," he said, "to deal with a man possessed of ability of no
common order. We have already seen that he never runs a risk,
however slight, which he can avoid. It is more than likely,
therefore, if our advertisement meets his eye and interests him, he
will inquire into it through some second party. Again, we are by
no means certain that his interest in cancers is a purely personal
one. Perhaps it is a wife, a sister, or some other relative who is
afflicted. In this case we could hardly expect him to come himself.
Let me caution you, therefore, to closely scrutinise all applicants
and question them until you are satisfied they are in nowise
connected with the man for whom we are searching."
I followed this advice most carefully and had no difficulty in
convincing myself that none of my callers had any relation whatsoever
with the murderer of John Darrow. This order of things was
continued for several days with the same result. In the meantime
Maitland was working upon a new clue he had discovered. He would
tell me all about it, he said, when he had followed it to the end.
This was on Tuesday. On Friday he came to the house and informed us
that he had met a man who had known a M. Henri Cazot, a Frenchman
whose description seemed to tally perfectly with nearly all we knew
of Mr. Darrow's murderer.
"It came about in this way," Maitland began in response to Gwen's
request that he should tell us all about it: "I determined to
thoroughly search every book on the 'Weltz-Rizzi' list, to see if I
might not get some additional clue. In the work by Robert Houdin
entitled 'The Sharper Detected and Exposed' I found the statement
that gamblers often neutralised a cut in a pack of cards by a rapid
and dexterous sleight. This, the book went on to say, was
accomplished in the following manner: When the cards are cut and
left in two packets upon the table, the sharper picks up with his
right hand the parcel of cards which was originally at the bottom
of the pack. This is brought above the other packet, as in an=20
onest cut, but, just before releasing the cards, the lower parcel
is deftly tilted up by inserting the right little finger under it,
and the upper packet quickly slid beneath it, leaving the cards in
precisely the position they occupied before cutting; For this
purpose, the book continued, the nail of the right little finger is
worn very long, so as to facilitate its being thrust beneath a
packet of cards. Here, I said to myself, is a possible explanation
of one of the peculiarities of my plaster cast. The long nail on
the left little finger may have served its function at the gaming
table. If so, however, it would seem to indicate that our man is
left-handed, while, as we have already seen, the writing upon the
library slips would indicate that he is ambidextrous. We need not,
therefore, I reasoned, be surprised if we find that both little
fingers have long nails. I at once acted upon these thoughts and
began a search of the gambling resorts of this city. In order not
to excite suspicion I played a little in each place, watching my
opportunity to engage the proprietor in conversation. In every case
I followed the same formula. Did he remember the gentleman who used
to come there? Foreigner, - spoke French, a little under medium
height; had a sort of halt in his walk; bit his finger nails, etc.,
etc. I met with no encouragement in the down-town places, though
the proprietor of one of the Hayward Place 'dives' had an idea such
a man had been there, but only once or twice and he was not sure he
could place him. I then went up to the South End and on Decatur
Street found a man who promptly responded to my inquiries: 'Gad!
that's Henri Cazot fast enough, in all but the height and gait.
Dick there, he'll tell you all about him. He owes him a little
debt of honour of about a hundred plunks. He gave him his note for
it, and Dick carries it around with him, not because he thinks he'll
ever get it, but he likes the writing. M. Henri Cazot! eh, Dick?'
and he burst into a coarse laugh. I turned to Dick for further
information. He had already produced a much-crumpled paper and was
smoothing it out upon the table.
"'There's the article,' he said, bringing his hand down emphatically
upon it. 'The cuss was hard up. Luck had gone agin him and he had
lost every cent he had. Jem Macey was a-dealin' and Cazot didn't
seem to grasp that fact, but kept bettin' heavy. You see, young
feller, ye ain't over likely to win at cards when yer playin' agin
the dealer. Cazot didn't know this and I wouldn't tell him, for he
was rather fly with the cards himself when he wan't watched too
close. Well, he struck me for a loan; said his little girl was
hungry and he hadn't a cent to buy bread. Gad, but he looked wild
though! I always thought he was more'n half loony. Well, as I had
helped to fleece him I lent him a hundred and took this here note.
That's the last I ever see of M. Henri Cazot,' and he handed the
paper to me. I glanced at the signature. It was the same hand that
had written 'Weltz' and 'Rizzi' upon the library slips. There was
that unmistakable z and the peculiar r which had just attracted my
attention! It required considerable effort on my part to so restrain
my feelings as not to appear especially interested in what I had
learned. I think, however, I succeeded, as they freely answered my
questions regarding Cazot and the daughter of whom he had spoken.
They knew nothing further, they said, than what they had told me.
"'It was a year ago come next month that I lent him the money,' my
informant continued. He pocketed it, hurried out, and that is the
last I have ever seen or heard of him. Shouldn't wonder if he'd
blown his brains out long ago. He used to have a mighty desperate
look at times. He was one of them Monte Carlo fellers, I reckon.'
"That's all I have been able to learn thus far. It isn't very much,
but it shows we are on the right track. By the way, Doc, I'm going
to change that ad to-morrow, offering treatment by letter. Perhaps
our man is too shy to apply in person. At all events we'll give the
other method a trial."
When we least expect it the Ideal meets us in the street of the
Commonplace and locks arms with us. Nevermore shall we choose
our paths uninfluenced. A new leaven has entered our personality
to dominate and direct it.
The new advertisement duly appeared and on the next day, which was
Wednesday - I remember it because it was my hospital day - I received
several written answers, and among them, one in which I felt confident
I recognised the peculiar z*'s and r*'s of Weltz and Rizzi.
I took it at once to Maitland. He glanced at it a moment and then
impulsively grasped my hand. "By Jove, Doc!" he exclaimed, "if this
crafty fox doesn't scent the hound, we shall soon run him to earth.
You see he has given no address and signs a new name. We are to write
to Carl Cazenove, General Delivery, Boston. Good! we will do so at
once, and I will then arrange with the postal authorities to notify
me when they deliver the letter. Of course this will necessitate a
continuous watch, perhaps for several days, of the general delivery
window. It is hardly likely our crafty friend will himself call for
the letter, so it will be imperative that someone be constantly on
hand to shadow whomsoever he may send as a substitute. May I depend
on your assistance in this matter?"
"I will stand by you till we see the thing through," I said, "though
I have to live in the Post Office a month."
Well, I wrote and mailed the decoy letter and Maitland explained the
situation to the postal authorities, who furnished us a comfortable
place inside and near the general delivery window. They promised to
notify us when anyone called for our letter. Our vigil was not a
very long one. On Thursday afternoon the postal clerk signalled to
us that Carl Cazenove's mail had been asked for, and, while he was
consuming as much time as possible in finding our letter, Maitland
and I quietly stepped out into the corridor. The sight that met our
gaze was one for which we had not been at all prepared. There at the
window stood a beautiful young girl just on the verge of womanhood.
Her frank blue eyes met mine with the utmost candour as I passed by
her so that she should be between Maitland and me, and thus unable
to elude us, whichever way she turned upon leaving the window. We
had previously planned how we should shadow our quarry, one on each
side of the street in order not to attract attention, but these
tactics seemed to be entirely unnecessary, for the young lady did
not have the slightest suspicion that anyone could be in the least
interested in her movements. She walked leisurely along, stopping
now occasionally to gaze at the shop windows and never once turning
to look back. She did not even conceal the letter, but held it in
her hand with her porte-monnaie, and I could see that the address
was uppermost. A strange sensation came over me as I dogged her
steps. I felt as an assassin must feel who tracks his victim into
some lonely spot where he may dare to strike him. It was useless
for me to tell myself that I was on the side of justice and engaged
in an honourable errand. A single glance at the girl's delicate
face, as frank and open as the morning light, brought the hot blush
of shame to my cheek. In following her I dimly felt that, in some
way, I was seeking to associate her with evil, which seemed little
less than sacrilege. I could do nothing, however, but keep on, so
I followed her through Devonshire Street, to New Washington and
thence down Hanover Street almost to the ferry. Here she turned
into an alleyway and, waiting for Maitland to come up, we both
saw her enter a house at its farther end.
George glanced hastily up at the house and then said, as he seized
me impatiently by the arm: "It's a tenement house; come on, the
chase is not up yet; we, too, must go in!"
So in we went. The young lady had disappeared, but as we entered
we heard a door close on the floor above, and felt sure we knew
where she had gone. We mounted the stairs as noiselessly as
possible and listened in the hall. We could distinguish a woman's
voice and occasionally that of a man, but we could not hear what
passed between them. On our right there was a door partly ajar.
Maitland pushed it open, and looked in. The room was empty and
unfurnished, with the exception of a dilapidated stove which stood
against the partition separating this room from the one the young
lady had entered. Maitland beckoned to me and I followed him into
the room. There was a key on the inside of the door which he
noiselessly turned in the lock. He then began to investigate the
premises. Three other rooms communicated with the one of which we
had taken possession, forming, evidently, a suite which had been
let for housekeeping. Everything was in ill-repair, as is the
case with most of the cheap tenements in this locality. The
previous tenant had not thought it necessary to clean the apartments
when quitting them, - for altruism does not flourish at the North
End, - but had been content to leave all the dirt for the next
When we had finished reconnoitering we returned to the room we first
entered, which apparently was the kitchen. We could still hear
the voices, but not distinctly. "Do you stay here, Doc," whispered
Maitland, "while I get into some old clothes and hunt up the
landlord of this place. I'm going to rent these rooms long enough
to acquaint myself with my neighbours on the other side of the wall.
I'll be back soon. Don't let any man leave that room without your
knowing where he goes." With this he left me and I soon found a
way to busy myself in his absence. In the wall above the stove,
where the pipe passed through the partition into our neighbour's
apartment, there was a chink large enough to permit me, when
mounted upon the stove, to overlook the greater part of the adjacent
room. I availed myself of this privilege, though not without those
same twinges of conscience which I had felt some minutes before
when following the young lady. The apartment was poorly furnished,
and yet, despite this scantiness of appointment, there was
unmistakable evidence of refinement. Everything visible in the
room was scrupulously neat and the few pictures that adorned the
walls, while they were inexpensive half-tones, were yet reproductions
of masterpieces. In the centre of the room stood a small, deal
table, on the opposite side of which sat the man who had answered my
At one end of the table, poised upon the back of a chair, sat a
small Capucin monkey of the Weeper or Sai species. He watched the
man with that sober, judicial air which is by no means confined
exclusively to supreme benches. I, too, observed the man carefully.
He was tall and spare. He must have measured nearly six feet in
height and could not, I think, have weighed over one hundred and
fifty pounds. His face was pinched and careworn, but this effect
was more than redeemed by a pair of full, black eyes having a depth
and penetration I have never seen equalled, albeit there was, ever
and anon, a suggestion of wildness which somewhat marred their deep,
contemplative beauty. The brows and the carriage of the head at
once bespoke the scholar. While thus I watched him, the young girl
came from a corner of the room I could not overlook and laid my
letter before him. She stood behind his chair as he opened it,
smoothing his hair caressingly and, every now and then, kissing him
gently. He paused with the open letter before him, reached up both
arms, drew her down to him, kissed her passionately, sighed, and
picked up the letter again. I took pains that no act, word, or look
should escape me. This show of affection surprised me, and I
remember the thought flashed through my mind, "What inconsistent
beings we all are! Here is a man apparently capable of a causeless
and cold-blooded assassination of a harmless old man. You would
say such a murderer must be hopelessly selfish and brutal, amenable
to none of the better sentiments of mankind, and yet it needs but
a casual glance to see how his whole life is bound up in the young
girl before him."
While this was passing through my mind the man had glanced through
my letter and thrown it upon the table with an exclamation of
disgust. "Bah! he has had the effrontery," he said petulantly, "to
send me what he calls a new mode of treatment and it is in every
essential that of Broadbent, well known for more than a quarter of
a century. New indeed! I shall never find a doctor who has any
scientific acumen. I may as well abandon the search now. Mon Dieu!
and they call medicine a science! Bah!" and with a frown he dropped
his head despondently upon his hand. The young girl passed her hand
gently, soothingly, over his forehead and did not speak for nearly
"You are not feeling well to-night, father," she said at length.
"M. Godin has been here during my absence."
"M. Godin!" I exclaimed half aloud, catching at the stovepipe lest
I should fall from the stove. "So our rival is hot upon the scent,
- probably even ahead of us. How on earth - " But I did not finish
the exclamation. My seizure of the pipe upon my side of the
partition had produced an audible vibration of that portion extending
over the heads of my neighbours. The young girl's quick ear had
detected the sound and she had ceased speaking and fastened her eyes
suspiciously upon the aperture through which I was gazing. It seemed
to me as if she must see me, yet I dared not move. After a little
she seemed reassured and continued: "I knew he had been here. You
are always this way after his visits. Why, of late, does he always
come when I am away?" The question seemed innocent enough, yet the
man to whom it was addressed turned crimson and then as pale as
ashes. When he spoke the effort his self-control cost him was
"We have private business, dear," he said, "private business." He
hesitated a moment and again his eyes wore the wild look I had first
noticed. "I am selling him something," he continued, "very dear to
me - as dear as my heart's blood, and I expect to get enough for it
to guard you from want."
"And you, father?" the young girl questioned fervently. I thought
I noticed a tremor run through his frame, as drawing her face down
to his, he said, kissing her, "Me? Never mind me, Puss; this cancer
here will take care of me."
She made no reply, but turned away to hide the tears that sprang to
her eyes. As she did so she raised her face toward me. I have
never been considered particularly sympathetic, - that is, no more
than the average, - but there was something in the expression of her
face that went to my heart like a knife. I felt as if I were about
to sob with her. I do not know what it was that so aroused my
sympathies. We are, I fancy, more apt to feel for those whose beauty
is like to the ideals we have learned to love, than we are to be
moved by the suffering of those whose looks repel us, - and this may
have had something to do with my condition, - for the young girl was
radiantly beautiful, - yet it could hardly have been the real cause
So rapt was I in the sympathetic contemplation of her that I did not
see Maitland's entrance or realise I was observed till he plucked me
by the coat and motioned me to get down. I did so and he told me
he had rented the rooms, and laid before me the plan he meant to
As soon as he had ceased speaking I said to him: "George, you are
undoubtedly on the right track. The man in there is the one we are
looking for, fast enough, but I am afraid we are a bit too late."
"Too late!" he exclaimed in a tone that I feared might be overheard.
"What the mischief do you mean?"
"I mean," I replied, "that M. Godin is already upon the scene."
In the next ten seconds Maitland turned all colours and I edged
nearer to him, expecting him to fall, but he did not.
"M. Godin!" he ejaculated at length. "How in the name of all the
gods at once - Doc, he's all they claim for him, and as fascinating
as he is clever;" at which last remark a heavy cloud passed over
Maitland's face. "Come," he continued listlessly, "you may as well
tell me all you know about it."
I then confided to him what I had heard and ended by asking him
what he proposed to do.
"Do?" he replied. "There is but one thing I can do, which makes
the choice decidedly easy," and he set his jaws together with a
determined expression, the meaning of which I knew full well.
"I shall camp right here," he said, " till I learn all I wish to
know of our neighbours yonder. I have already provided myself with
instruments which will enable me to note every movement they make,
indeed to photograph them, if necessary, and to hear and record
every word they utter. You look surprised, but it is easily done.
I will place my lenses there at the chink through which you were
gazing and bring the image down into my camera obscura by a prism
arranged for total internal reflection. As for the hearing, that
is easier yet. I will carefully work away the plaster on this
side to-night till I get through to the paper covering their wall.
This I will leave intact to use as a diaphragm. I have then only
to fasten my carbon to it, and, behold, we have a microphone or
telephone - whichever you choose to call it. All I have to look
out for is that I get it high enough to avoid the danger of the
paper being accidentally broken from the other side, and that I
work quietly while removing the plaster. I shall, of course, cover
it with a bit of black felt to prevent our light from showing, and
to deaden any sounds from this side. This will enable us to hear
all that goes on in the other room, but this may not be enough.
We may need a phonographic record of what transpires.
"The device whereby I secure this at such a distance is an invention
of my own which, for patent reasons - I might almost say 'patent
patent reasons' - I will ask you to kindly keep to yourself. To the
diaphragm there I fasten this bit of burnished silver. Upon this I
concentrate a pencil of light which, when reflected, acts
photographically upon a sensitised moving tape in this little box,
and perfectly registers the minutest movement of the receiving
diaphragm. How I develop, etch, and reproduce this record, and
transform it into a record of the ordinary type, you will see in
due time - and will kindly keep secret for the present. You had
better go now and send me the things on this list, as soon as
possible," and he passed me a paper, continuing:
"We will not despair yet. Our clever rival may not be ready to
prove his case so quickly as we. At all events, when he comes again
I shall be in a condition to ascertain how far he has progressed. I
have some things I must settle before I can ask for an arrest, and
I am not at all sure that M. Godin is in any better condition in
this regard than I am. By Jove! I'd give something to know how
that wizard has gotten so far without so much as a single sign
to indicate that he had even moved in the matter. I say, Doc, it
beats me, blessed if it doesn't! Please say to Miss Darrow that I
am at work upon a promising clue-promising for someone, anyway - and
may not see her for some time yet."
I did as he requested, and, if I am any judge of feminine
indications, my message did not yield Gwen unmixed pleasure; still,
she said nothing to warrant such a supposition on my part. I
visited Maitland every day to learn what he might wish me to bring
him, and also to carry him his mail, for he had determined to remain
constantly on the watch at his new quarters.
I have thus far, in the narration of these incidents been perfectly
candid both as regards my friends and myself, and, therefore, that
I may continue in like manner to the end, I shall suppress certain
qualms which are urging me to silence, and confess myself guilty of
some things of which you will, perhaps, think I may well be ashamed.
Be that as it may, you shall have the whole truth, however it may
affect your opinion of me. One reason why I went to Maitland's new
quarters so often, and stayed there so long, was because I was always
permitted to relieve him of his watch. With a telephone receiver
strapped to my right ear, and my eyes fastened upon the screen of
the camera obscura, I would sit by the hour prying into the affairs
of the two people in the next room. I tried for a number of days
to ease my conscience by telling myself that I was labouring in
the cause of justice, and was not a common eavesdropper. This
permitted me to retain a sort of quasi self-respect for a day or two
till my honesty rallied itself, and forced me to realise and to
admit that I was, to all intents and purposes, a common Paul Pry,
performing a disreputable act for the gratification it gave me. I
determined I would at least be honest with myself - and this was my
verdict. You will, perhaps, fancy that when I arrived at this
decision I at once mended my ways and resigned my seat of observation
to Maitland's entirely professional care. This, doubtless, I should
have done, if we fallible human beings governed our conduct by our
knowledge of what is right and proper. Inasmuch, however, as desires
and emotions are the determining factors of human conduct, I did
nothing of the sort. I simply watched there day after day, with
ever-increasing avidity, until at length I got to be impatient of
the duties that took me away, and more than half inclined to neglect
I shall gain nothing by attempting to make you believe it was the
man in the neighbouring room that interested me, so I shall not
essay it. I confess, with a feeling of guilt because I am not
more ashamed of it - that it was the young lady who attracted me.
You will, I trust, assume I had enough interest in her father to
palliate my conduct in a measure. Be generous in your judgment.
How do you know you will not be in the same predicament? Think
of it! A young woman beautiful beyond my feeble powers of
description; her eyes of a heavenly blue; her luxuriant hair like
a mass of spun gold; her complexion matched to the tint and
transparency of the blush rose - and such a throat! From it came
a voice as musical as the unguided waters when Winter rushes down
the hills in search of Spring. Never you mind, that's the way I
felt about it, and, if you had been in my place, you'd have been
just as bad as I; come, now, you know you would. Suppose I was a
bachelor, and almost old enough to be her father. Does that help
matters any? Is the heart less hungry because it has been starved?
Just look at your history. When nuns have relapsed from
other-worldliness to this-worldliness how have they been? I'll
tell you. They have been just a round baker's dozen times worse
than they would have been if they had never undertaken to cheat
Nature. Look at the thing fairly. I don't expect to dodge any
blame that I deserve, yet I do want all the palliating circumstances
duly noted. Many months have passed since then, and yet the thought
of that sweet girl sends a thrill all over me. I wonder where she
is now? I feel that we shall meet again some time, and perhaps you
will see her yourself. If so, you will see that I couldn't be
expected to withstand any such temptation.
On these visits Maitland and I talked but very little, and while I
was spying nothing of interest occurred - i. e., nothing of interest
to him - or, if it did, things of interest to me prevented my
observing it. On several occasions he alluded vaguely to things he
had learned which he said he should not divulge even to me until the
proper time came.
Things went on in this way for about two weeks. I visited Maitland
daily, and daily the little lady in the next room wove her spell
around me. If, as I am inclined to believe, thinking a great deal
of a person is much the same thing as thinking of a person a great
deal, I must have adored her.
One night, about a fortnight after Maitland's change of abode, I
found Alice in a terrible state of excitement upon my arrival home.
She met me at the door, and said Gwen needed my attention at once.
I did not stop to hear further particulars, but hastened to the
sitting-room, where Gwen lay upon the lounge. She was in a stupor
from which it seemed impossible to arouse her. In vain I tried to
attract her attention. Her fixed, staring eyes looked through
me as if I had been glass. I saw she had received a severe shock,
and so, after giving her some medicine, I took Alice aside and asked
her what had happened. She said that Gwen and she had been sitting
sewing by the window all the afternoon, and talking about Maitland's
recent discoveries. At about five o'clock the Evening Herald was
brought in as usual. She, Alice, had picked it up to glance over
the news, when, in the column headed "Latest," she had seen the
heading: "The Darrow Mystery Solved!" This she had read aloud,
without thinking of the shock the unexpected announcement might give
Gwen, when the sudden pallor that had overspread the young woman's
face had brought her to her senses, and she had paused. Her
companion, however, had seized the paper when she had hesitated and,
in a fever of excitement, had read in a half-audible voice:
John Darrow was murdered. - The assassin's inability to pay a
gambling debt the motive for the crime. - Extraordinary work
of a French detective! - The net -=20
But at this juncture the paper had dropped from Gwen's hands, and
she had fallen upon the floor before Alice could reach her.
THE EPISODE OF THE TELLTALE THUMB
When Disaster is bigger than its victim its bolt o'erlaps the
It was some time after Gwen had fallen before Alice had succeeded
in getting her upon the lounge, and then all her efforts to revive
her had failed. She had remained in the same nerveless stupor as
that in which I had found her. I asked Alice if she knew why this
announcement had produced such an effect upon Gwen, and she returned
my question with a look of amazement.
"Have you forgotten Gwen's promise to her father in this matter?"
she replied. "Has she not already told you that she should keep
that promise, whatever the sacrifice cost her? She is, therefore,
entirely at the mercy of this M. Godin, and she is also obliged to
advise him of this fact, if she would carry out her father's wishes.
Is this nothing for a sensitive nature like hers? If she has any
love for anyone else she must crush it out of her heart, for she is
M. Godin's now. Surely, Ned, you are not so stupid as your question
"We won't discuss that," I rejoined. "Let us go to Gwen and get
her to bed."
This done, and the sufferer made easy for the night, I glanced at
the article which had so upset her, and read its sensational
"scare-head." In full it ran as follows:
THE DARROW MYSTERY SOLVED!
JOHN DARROW WAS MURDERED!
The Assassin's Inability to Pay a Gambling Debt the
Motive for the Crime.
EXTRAORDINARY WORK OF A FRENCH DETECTIVE!
The Net so Completely Woven About the Alleged
Assassin That it is Thought He Will Confess.
The Arrest Entirely Due to the Unassisted Efforts of
M. LOUIS GODIN!
I did not stop to read the article, but seized my hat and hastened
at once to Maitland.
A copy of the Herald lay upon his table, advising me that he was
already acquainted with the strange turn affairs had taken. He
told me that he had heard the newsboys in the street calling out
"The Darrow Mystery Solved!" and had at once rushed out and bought
I informed him of Gwen's condition and he wished to go to her at
once, but I told him he must wait until the morrow, as she had
already retired, and was, I had reason to hope, fast asleep. I
reassured him with the information that a night's sleep and the
medicine I had given her would probably put Gwen in full possession
of her faculties. Having thus satisfied his fears, I thought it
fitting he should satisfy mine. I asked him what had become of the
young woman in the next room. He did not reply, but quietly led me
into his camera obscura that I might see for myself. She was
sitting at the table in the centre of the room, with her face buried
in her hands. I watched her for a long time, and the only movement
I could discern was that occasioned ever and anon by a convulsive
catching of her breath. The pet monkey was nowhere to be seen.
"They took her father away early this morning," Maitland said, "and,
after the first shock, she sank into this condition. She has not
moved since. When I see the despair her father's arrest has
occasioned I am almost tempted to rejoice that I had no hand in it,
and yet - well, there's no great harm without some small good - no
one will say now that John Darrow took his own life, eh? What do
you think our friends, Osborne and Allen, will say now? They were
so sure their theory was the only tenable one. Ah, well! we should
ever hold ourselves in readiness=20
"And for emergencies too," I continued; "and this strikes me as
being very like one. That young woman needs attention, if I am any
judge of appearances, and I'm going in there." "No use, Doc,"
Maitland replied, "the door is locked, and she either cannot or
will not open it. I knocked there for an hour, hoping to be able
to comfort her. It's no use for you to try, she won't open the
door." "Won't, eh! then I'll go through it!" I exclaimed, in a
tone that so amazed Maitland that he seized me by the shoulders and
gazed fixedly into my face. "It's all right, George," I said,
answering his look. "I'm going in there, and I'm not going to be
at all delicate about my entrance either."
He looked at me a little doubtfully, but I could see that, on the
whole, he was pleased with my decision. I went into the hall and
knocked loudly on the door. There was no response. I kicked it
till I must have been heard all over the house, but still there
was no response. It was now clear I should not enter by invitation,
so I went up four or five stairs of the flight opposite the door and
from that position sprang against it. I am not, if you remember, a
heavy man, but momentum is MV and I made up in the 'V' what I lacked
in the 'M.' The door opened inwardly, and I tore it from its hinges
and precipitated both myself and it into the centre of the apartment.
As I look back upon this incident I regard it as the most precipitous
thing I ever did in the way of a professional visit. If the young
lady started at all, she did so before I had gathered myself together
sufficiently to notice it. I spoke to her, but she gave no evidence
of hearing me. I raised her head. Her eyes were wide open and
stared full at me, yet in such a blank way that I knew she did not
hear me. The contraction of the brows, the knotted appearance of
the forehead, and the rigor of the face told me she was under an
all-but-breaking tension. There were tear-stains from tears which
long since had ceased to flow. The fire of fever had dried them up.
I regarded her case as far more desperate than Gwen's and determined
to lose no time in taking charge of it. It seemed to me so like
sacrilege to touch her without an explanation that, though I knew
she could not understand me, I said to her, as I took her in my arms.
"You are ill, and I must take you away from here."
She was just blossoming into womanhood and her form had that
exquisite roundness and grace which it is the particular function
of fashion to annihilate. If I held her closely, I think all
bachelors will agree that it was because this very roundness made
her heavy; if I did not put her down immediately I reached Maitland's
room, it is because, as a doctor of medicine, I have my own ideas as
to how a couch should be fixed before a patient is laid upon it.
Maitland may say what he pleases, but I know how important these
things are in sickness, and you know, quick as he is in most things,
George has moments when his head is so much in the clouds that he
doesn't know what he is doing, and moves as if he were in a dream
set to dirge music. He kept telling me to "put her on the couch!
- put her on the couch!" To this day, he fondly believes that when
I finally did release her, it was as the result of his advice, rather
than because he had at last made a suitable bed for her.
I sent Maitland for some medicine, which I knew would relax the
tension she was under and make it possible for her to sleep. When
I had administered this, Maitland and I talked the matter over and
we decided to take her at once to my house, where, with Gwen, she
could share the watchful care of my sister Alice. This we did,
though I was not without some misgivings as to Gwen's attitude in
the matter when she should recover sufficiently to know of it. I
expressed my doubts to Maitland and he replied: "Give yourself no
uneasiness on that score; Miss Darrow is too womanly to visit the
sins of a guilty father upon an unoffending daughter, and, besides,
this man, - it seems that his real name is Latour, not Cazenove, -=20
has a right to be judged innocent until his guilt is proved."
I found this to be sage counsel, for, when Gwen was able to
understand what I had done, she exhibited no antipathy toward the
new member of our household, but, on the contrary, became exceedingly
interested in her. I was especially glad of this, not only on
account of Miss Latour, the suspect's daughter, but also because the
one thing Gwen needed above all others was something to challenge
her interest. She had again relapsed into the old, state of passive
endurance, wherein nothing seemed to reach her consciousness. Her
actions appeared to flow more from her nerve-centres than from her
mind. She moved like an automaton. There is scarcely any condition
of which I am more fearful than this. The patient becomes wax in
one's hands. She will do anything without a murmur, or as willingly
refrain from anything. She simply is indifferent to life and all
that therein is. Is it any wonder, then, that I rejoiced to see
Gwen interest herself in poor Jeannette? It was a long time,
however, before Jeannette repaid this interest with anything more
than a dreamy, far-off gaze, that refused to focus itself upon
anything. As time wore on, however, I noticed with relief that there
was a faint expression of wonder in her look, and, as this daily
grew stronger, I knew she was beginning to realise her novel
surroundings and to ask herself if she were still dreaming. Yet she
did not speak; she seemed to fear the sound of her own voice and to
determine to solve, unaided, the mystery confronting her. I
requested that no one question her or make any attempt to induce
her to break silence, for I knew the time would come when she would
do so of her own free will. As it happened, her first words were
spoken to me, and, as my writing this recalls the event, a thrill
of pleasurable pain passes through me. You may think this foolish,
the more so, indeed, when you learn that nothing was said to warrant
such a feeling, but I must urge upon you not to let your satisfied
heart set itself up as judge in bachelor regions.
I had been mixing some medicine for her and was holding the cup to
her lips that she might drink the draught. She laid her hand upon
my wrist and gently put the cup aside, saying, as she gazed
thoughtfully at me: "Did you not bring me here?" "Yes," I replied.
She reached for the cup, and drinking its contents, sank back upon
the pillows with a half-satisfied look upon her face, as if my reply
had cleared up one mystery, but left many more to be solved.
>From this day Jeannette steadily improved, and within two weeks she
and Gwen had come to a very good understanding. It was plainly
evident that Alice, too, came in for a very good share of the little
French girl's love. They did not exchange confidences to any great
degree, for, as Maitland used to say, Alice was one of those rare,
sweet women who say but little, but seem to act upon all around them
by a sort of catalysis, sweetening the atmosphere by their very
Belief, though it be as ample as the ocean, does not always
similarly swell in crystallising. It has, however, its point of
maximum density, but this, not infrequently, is also ifs point
of minimum knowledge.
During all these days Gwen was gaining rapidly. Maitland came to
visit us almost every night, and he told Gwen that he did not feel
altogether certain that, in arresting M. Latour, the law had secured
her father's real assassin. It would be necessary to account for,
he told her, some very singular errors in his early calculations if
M. Latour was the man.
"When first I took up my abode under the same roof with him," he
said, "I had no doubt that we had at last run down our man. Now,
although another detective has come to the same conclusion, I myself
have many misgivings, and you may be assured, Miss Darrow, that I
shall lose no time in getting these doubts answered one way or the
other. At present you may say to your friend Jeannette that I am
straining every nerve in her father's behalf."
Why all this should so please Gwen I was at a loss to comprehend,
but I could not fail to see that it did please her greatly. She
had been the most anxious of us all to see her father's murderer
brought to justice, and now, when through the efforts of M. Godin,
a man stood all but convicted of the crime, she was pleased to hear
Maitland, whose efforts to track Latour she had applauded in no
equivocal way, say that he should spare no pains to give the suspect
every possible chance to prove his innocence. There was certainly
a reason, whatever it might have been, for Gwen's attitude in this
matter, for that young woman was exceptionally rational in all
things. Nothing of especial moment occurred between this time and
the beginning of the trial. Maitland, for the most part, kept his
own counsel and gave us little information other than a hint that
he still thought there was a chance of clearing M. Latour.
With this end in view he had become an associate attorney with
Jenkins in order the better to conduct M. Latour's case along the
lines which seemed to him the most promising. I asked him on one
occasion what led him to entertain a hope that Latour could be
cleared and he replied: "A good many things." "Well, then," I
rejoined, "what are some of them?" He hesitated a moment and then
replied laughingly: "You see I hate to acknowledge the falsity of
my theories. I said shortly after the murder was committed that I
thought the assassin was short and probably did not weigh over one
hundred and thirty-five pounds; that he most likely had some especial
reason for concealing his footprints, and that he had a peculiarity
in his gait. I felt tolerably sure then of all this, but now it
turns out that M. Latour is six feet tall in his stockings, and thin;
and that, emaciated as he is, he tips the scales at one hundred and
fifty pounds by reason of his large frame. His feet are as
commonplace as - as yours, Doc, and his gait as regular as - mine.
Is it to be expected that I am going to give up all my pet illusions
without a struggle?"
When the hour for the trial arrived Gwen insisted on accompanying us
to the court-room. She had a great deal of confidence in George and
felt sure that, as he expressed a strong doubt of the prisoner's
guilt, he would triumph in proving him innocent. She determined,
therefore, to be present at the trial, even before her attendance
should be required as a witness.
M. Latour, when he was led into the prisoner's box, seemed to have
aged greatly during his incarceration. It was with a marked effort
that he arose and straightened himself up as the indictment was read
to him. When the words: "Are you guilty or not guilty?" were
addressed to him every eye was turned upon him and every ear listened
to catch the first sound of his voice, but no sound came. The
question was repeated more loudly, "Are you guilty or not guilty?"
Like one suddenly awakened from a reverie M. Latour started, turned
toward his questioner, and in a full, firm voice replied:" Guilty,!"
I was so dumfounded that I could offer Gwen no word of comfort to
alleviate this sudden shock. Maitland and Godin seemed about the
only ones in the court-room who were not taken off their feet, so to
speak, by this unexpected plea, and George was at Gwen's side in a
moment and whispered something to her which I could not hear, but
which I could see had a very beneficial effect upon her. We had all
expected a long, complicated trial, and here the whole matter was
reduced to a mere formality by M. Latour's simple confession,
"Guilty!" Is it any wonder, therefore, that we were taken aback?
While we were recovering from our surprise at this sudden turn of
affairs, Maitland was engaged in private conversation with the Judge,
with whom, he afterward told me, he had become well acquainted both
in his own cases and in those of other lawyers requiring his services
as an=20expert chemist. He never told me what passed between them, nor
the substance of any of the brief interviews which followed with the
prosecuting attorney, his associate counsel, and other legal
functionaries. All I know is that when the case was resumed M.
Latour's senior counsel, Jenkins, kept carefully in the background,
leaving the practical conduct of the case in Maitland's hands.
If a hazelnut had the shell of a cocoanut, its meat would, in my
opinion, sustain about the same relation to its bulk as the gist of
the usual legal proceeding sustains to the mass of verbiage in which
it is enshrouded. For this reason you will not expect me to give a
detailed account of this trial. I couldn't if I would, and I wouldn't
if I could. My knowledge of legal procedure is far from profound,
albeit I once began the study of law. My memories of Blackstone
are such as need prejudice no ambitious aspirant for legal honours.
I have a recollection that somewhere Blackstone says something
about eavesdropping, - I mean in its literal sense - something
about the drippings from A's roof falling on B's estate; but for
the life of me I couldn't tell what he says. More distinctly do
I remember this learned lawgiver stated that there could be no
doubt of the evidence of witchcraft, because the Bible was full
of it, and that witches should be punished with death. This made
an impression upon me, because it was an instance, rare to me then,
but common enough now, of how minds, otherwise exceptionally able,
may have a spot so encankered with creed, bigotry, and superstition
as to render their judgments respecting certain classes of phenomena
erroneous and illogical, puerile and ridiculous.
But to return to those points of the trial which I can remember,
and which I think of sufficient interest to put before you. These
refer chiefly to Maitland's examination of M. Latour, and of the
government's chief witness, M. Godin. Such portions of their
testimony as I shall put before you I shall quote exactly as it
was given and reported by Maitland's friend, Simonds.
When Maitland began for the defence he said:
"At about half-past seven on the night of the 22d of April, John
Darrow met his death at his home in Dorchester. He died in the
presence of his daughter, Messrs. Willard, Browne, Herne, and
myself. His death was caused by injecting a virulent poison into
his system through a slight incision in his neck. That wound the
prisoner before you confesses he himself inflicted. I would like
to know a little more definitely how he succeeded in doing it
without detection, in the presence, not only of his victim, but
of five other persons sitting close about him. M. Latour will
please take the stand."
As M. Latour stepped into the witness-box, a wave of suppressed
excitement ran all over the court-room. Every nerve was strained
to its tensest pitch, every ear eager for the slightest syllable
he might utter. What could be done for a man who had confessed,
and what would be the solution of the crime which had so long
defied the authorities? The explanation was now to be made and it
is no wonder that the excitement was intense.
I omit all uninteresting formalities.
Q. Have you ever seen me before to-day?
A. Not to my knowledge.
Q. Have you any reason to believe I have ever seen you before to-day?
A. None whatever - er - that is - unless on the night of the murder.
Q. Were you acquainted with John Darrow?
Q. How long have you known him?
A. About six months - perhaps seven.
Q. What were your relations?
A. I don't understand. - We had gambled together.