Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Silent Bullet by Arthur B. Reeve

Part 3 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the things that you all could see supernaturally if you were in

The mere sound of Farrington's voice seemed to rouse in me all
the animosity of my nature. I felt that a man who could trump up
an excuse like that when a person was caught with the goods was
capable of almost anything.

"Enough of this fake seance," exclaimed Craig. "I have let it go
on merely for the purpose of opening the eyes of a certain
deluded gentleman in this room. Now, if you will all be seated I
shall have something to say that will finally establish whether
Mary Vandam was the victim of accident, suicide, or murder."

With hearts beating rapidly we sat in silence.

Craig took the beakers and test-tubes from the shelf behind the
curtain and placed them on the little deal table that had been so
merrily dancing about the room.

"The increasing frequency with which tales of murder by poison
appear in the newspapers," he began formally, "is proof of how
rapidly this new civilisation of ours is taking on the aspects of
the older civilisations across the seas. Human life is cheap in
this country; but the ways in which human life has been taken
among us have usually been direct, simple, aboveboard, in keeping
with our democratic and pioneer traditions. The pistol and the
bowie-knife for the individual, the rope and the torch for the
mob, have been the usual instruments of sudden death. But when we
begin to use poisons most artfully compounded in order to hasten
an expected bequest and remove obstacles in its way--well, we are
practising an art that calls up all the memories of sixteenth
century Italy.

"In this beaker," he continued, "I have some of the contents of
the stomach of the unfortunate woman. The coroner's physician has
found that they show traces of morphine. Was the morphine in such
quantities as to be fatal? Without doubt. But equally without
doubt analysis could not discover and prove it in the face of one
inconsistency. The usual test which shows morphine poisoning
failed in this case. The pupils of her eyes were not
symmetrically contracted. In fact they were normal.

"Now, the murderer must have known of this test. This clever
criminal also knew that to be successful in the use of this drug
where others had failed, the drug must be skilfully mixed with
something else. In that first box of capsules there were six. The
druggist compounded them correctly according to the prescription.
But between the time when they came into the house from the
druggist's and the time when she took the first capsule, that
night, someone who had access to the house emptied one capsule of
its harmless contents and refilled it with a deadly dose of
morphine --a white powder which looks just like the powder
already in the capsules.

"Why, then, the normal pupils of the eyes? Simply because the
criminal put a little atropine, or belladonna, with the morphine.
My tests show absolutely the presence of atropine, Dr. Hanson,"
said Craig, bowing to the physician.

"The best evidence, however, is yet to come. A second box of six
capsules, all intact, was discovered yesterday in the possession
of Henry Vandam. I have analysed the capsules. One contains no
quinine at all--it is all morphine and atropine. It is, without
doubt, precisely similar to the capsule which killed Mrs. Vandam.
Another night or so, and Henry Vandam would have died the same

The old man groaned. Two such exposures had shaken him. He looked
from one of us to another as if not knowing in whom he could
trust. But Kennedy hurried on to his next point.

"Who was it that gave the prescription to Mrs. Vandam originally?
She is dead and cannot tell. The others won't tell, for the
person who gave her that prescription was the person who later
substituted the fatal capsule in place of the harmless. The
original prescription is here. I have been able to discover from
it nothing at all by examining the handwriting. Nor does the
texture of the paper indicate anything to me. But the ink--ah,
the ink.

"Most inks seem very similar, I suppose, but to a person who has
made a study of the chemical composition of ink they are very
different. Ink is composed of iron tannate, which on exposure to
air gives the black of writing. The original pigment--say blue or
blue-black ink--is placed in the ink, to make the writing visible
at first, and gradually fades, giving place to the black of the
tannate which is formed. The dyestuffs employed in the commercial
inks of to-day vary in colour from pale greenish blue to indigo
and deep violet. No two give identical reactions--at all events
not when mixed with the iron tannate to form the pigment in

"It is owing to the difference in these provisional colouring
matters that it is possible to distinguish between writing
written with different kinds of ink. I was able easily to obtain
samples of the inks used by the Vandams, by Mrs. Popper, by Mr.
Farrington, and by the druggist. I have compared the writing of
the original prescription with a colour scale of my own
construction, and I have made chemical tests. The druggist's ink
conforms exactly to the writing on the two pill-boxes, but not to
the prescription. One of the other three inks conforms by test
absolutely to the ink in that prescription signed 'Dr. C. W. H.'
as a blind. In a moment my chain of evidence against the owner of
that bottle of ink will be complete."

I could not help but think of the two pendulums on the shelf
behind the curtain, but Craig said nothing for a moment to
indicate that he referred to that apparatus. We sat dazed.
Farrington seemed nervous and ill at ease. Mrs. Popper, who had
not recovered from the hysterical condition of her exposure, with
difficulty controlled her emotion. Vandam was crushed.

"I have not only arranged this laboratory so as to reproduce Mrs.
Popper's seance-room," began Craig afresh, "but I have had the
cabinet placed in relatively the same position a similar cabinet
occupies in Mr. Vandam's private seance-room in the Vandam

"One night, Mr. Jameson and myself were visiting Mr. Vandam. At
precisely twelve-thirty we heard most unaccountable rappings from
that cabinet. I particularly noted the position of the cabinet.
Back of it ran a hallway. That is duplicated here. Back of this
cabinet is a hallway. I had heard of these rappings before we
went, but was afraid that it would be impossible for me to catch
the ghost red handed. There is a limit to what you can do the
first time you enter a man's house, and, besides, that was no
time to arouse suspicion in the mind of anyone. But science has a
way out of every dilemma. I determined to learn something of
these rappings."

Craig paused and glanced first at Farrington, then at Mrs.
Popper, and then at Mr. Vandam.

"Mr. Jameson," he resumed, "will escort the doctor, the
inspector, Mr. Farrington, Mrs. Popper, and Mr. Vandam into my
imitation hall of the Vandam mansion. I want each of you in turn
to tiptoe up that hall to a spot indicated on the wall, back of
the cabinet, and strike that spot several sharp blows with your

I did as Craig instructed tiptoeing up myself first so that they
could not mistake his meaning. The rest followed separately, and
after a moment we returned silently in suppressed excitement to
the room.

Craig was still standing by the table, but now the pendulums with
the magnets and needles and the drums worked by clockwork were
before him.

"Another person outside the Vandam family had a key to the Vandam
mansion," he began gravely. "That person, by the way, was the one
who waited, night by night, until Mrs. Vandam took the fatal
capsule, and then when she had taken it apprised the old man of
the fact and strengthened an already blind faith in the shadow

You could have heard a pin drop. In fact you could almost have
felt it drop.

"That other person who, unobserved, had free access to the
house," he continued in the breathless stillness, "is in this
room now."

He was looking at O'Connor as if for corroboration. O'Connor
nodded. "Information derived from the butler," he muttered.

"I did not know this until yesterday," Kennedy continued, "but I
suspected that something of the sort existed when I was first
told by Dr. Hanson of the rappings. I determined to hear those
rappings, and make a record of them. So, the night Mr. Jameson
and I visited Mr. Vandam, I carried this little instrument with

Almost lovingly he touched the pendulums on the table. They were
now at rest and kept so by means of a lever that prevented all
vibration whatever.

"See, I release this lever-now, let no one in the room move.
Watch the needles on the paper as the clockwork revolves the
drums. I take a step--ever so lightly. The pendulums vibrate, and
the needles trace a broken line on the paper on each drum. I
stop; the lines are practically straight. I take another step and
another, ever so lightly. See the delicate pendulums vibrate?
See, the lines they trace are jagged lines."

He stripped the paper off the drums and laid it flat on the table
before him, with two other similar pieces of paper.

"Just before the time of the rapping I placed this instrument in
the corner of the Vandam cabinet, just as I placed it in this
cabinet after Mr. Jameson conducted you from the room. In neither
case were suspicions aroused. Everything in both cases was
perfectly normal--I mean the 'ghost' was in ignorance of the
presence, if not the very existence, of this instrument.

"This is an improved seismograph," he explained, "one after a
very recent model by Prince Galitzin of the Imperial Academy of
St. Petersburg. The seismograph, as you know, was devised to
register earthquakes at a distance. This one not only measures
the size of a distant earthquake, but the actual direction from
which the earth-tremors come. That is why there are two pendulums
and two drums.

"The magnetic arrangement is to cut short the vibrations set up
in the pendulums, to prevent them from continuing to vibrate
after the first shock. Thus they are ready in an instant to
record another tremor. Other seismographs continue to vibrate for
a long time as a result of one tremor only. Besides, they give
little indication of the direction from which the tremors come.

"I think you must all appreciate that your tiptoeing up the hall
must cause a far greater disturbance in this delicate seismograph
than even a very severe earthquake thousands of miles away, which
it was built to record."

He paused and examined the papers sharply.

"This is the record made by the 'ghost's' walk the other night,"
he said, holding up two of them in his left hand. "Here on the
table, on two other longer sheets, I have records of the
vibrations set up by those in this room walking tonight.

"Here is Mr. Jameson's--his is not a bit like the ghost's. Nor is
Mr. Vandam's. Least of all are Dr. Hanson's and Inspector
O'Connor's, for they are heavy men.

"Now here is Mr. Farrington's"--he bent down closely, "he is a
light man, and the ghost was light."

Craig was playing with his victim like a cat with a mouse.

Suddenly I felt something brush by me, and with a swish of air
and of garments I saw Mrs. Popper fling herself wildly at the
table that bore the incriminating records. In another instant
Farrington was on his feet and had made a wild leap in the same

It was done so quickly that I must have acted first and thought
afterward. I found myself in the midst of a melee with my hand at
his throat and his at mine. O'Connor with a jiu-jitsu movement
bent Farrington's other arm until he released me with a cry of

In front of me I saw Craig grasping Mrs. Popper's wrists as in a
vise. She was glaring at him like a tigress.

"Do you suppose for a moment that that toy is going to convince
the world that Henry Vandam has been deceived and that the spirit
which visited him was a fraud? Is that why you have lured me here
under false pretences, to play on my feelings, to insult me, to
take advantage of a lone, defenceless woman, surrounded by
hostile men? Shame on you," she added contemptuously. "You call
yourself a gentleman, but I call you a coward."

Kennedy, always calm and collected, ignored the tirade. His voice
was as cold as steel as he said: "It would do little good, Mrs.
Popper, to destroy this one link in the chain I have forged. The
other links are too heavy for you. Don't forget the evidence of
the ink. It was your ink. Don't forget that Henry Vandam will not
any longer conceal that he has altered his will in favour of you.
To-night he goes from here to his lawyer's to draw up a new will
altogether. Don't forget that you have caused the Vandams
separately to have the prescription filled, and that you are now
caught in the act of a double murder. Don't forget that you had
access to the Vandam mansion, that you substituted the deadly for
the harmless capsules. Don't forget that your rappings announced
the death of one of your victims and urged the other, a cruelly
wronged and credulous old man, to leave millions to you who had
deceived and would have killed him.

"No, the record of the ghost on the seismograph was not Mr.
Farrington's, as I implied at the moment when you so kindly
furnished this additional proof of your guilt by trying to
destroy the evidence. The ghost was you, Mrs. Popper, and you are
at liberty to examine the markings as minutely as you please, but
you must not destroy them. You are an astute criminal, Mrs.
Popper, but to-night you are under arrest for the murder of Mary
Vandam and the attempted murder of Henry Vandam."

VI. The Diamond Maker

"I've called, Professor Kennedy, to see if we can retain you in a
case which I am sure will tax even your resources. Heaven knows
it has taxed ours."

The visitor was a large, well-built man. He placed his hat on the
table and, without taking off his gloves, sat down in an easy
chair which he completely filled.

"Andrews is my name--third vice-president of the Great Eastern
Life Insurance Company. I am the nominal head of the company's
private detective force, and though I have some pretty clever
fellows on my staff we've got a case that, so far, none of us has
been able to unravel. I'd like to consult you about it."

Kennedy expressed his entire willingness to be consulted, and
after the usual formalities were over, Mr. Andrews proceeded.

"I suppose you are aware that the large insurance companies
maintain quite elaborate detective forces and follow very keenly
such of the cases of their policy-holders as look at all
suspicious. This case which I wish to put in your hands is that
of Mr. Solomon Morowitch, a wealthy Maiden Lane jeweller. I
suppose you have read something in the papers about his sudden
death and the strange robbery of his safe?"

"Very little," replied Craig. "There hasn't been much to read."

"Of course not, of course not," said Mr. Andrews with some show
of gratification. "I flatter myself that we have pulled the wires
so as to keep the thing out of the papers as much as possible. We
don't want to frighten the quarry till the net is spread. The
point is, though, to find out who is the quarry. It's most

"I am at your service," interposed Craig quietly, "but you will
have to enlighten me as to the facts in the case. As to that, I
know no more than the newspapers."

"Oh, certainly, certainly. That is to say, you know nothing at
all and can approach it without bias." He paused and then,
seeming to notice something in Craig's manner, added hastily:
"I'll be perfectly frank with you. The policy in question is for
one hundred thousand dollars, and is incontestable. His wife is
the beneficiary. The company is perfectly willing to pay, but we
want to be sure that it is all straight first. There are certain
suspicious circumstances that in justice to ourselves we think
should be cleared up. That is all--believe me. We are not seeking
to avoid an honest liability."

"What are these suspicious circumstances?" asked Craig,
apparently satisfied with the explanation.

"This is in strict confidence, gentlemen," began Mr. Andrews.
"Mr. Morowitch, according to the story as it comes to us,
returned home late one night last week, apparently from his
office, in a very weakened, a semiconscious, condition. His
family physician, Doctor Thornton, was summoned, not at once, but
shortly. He pronounced Mr. Morowitch to be suffering from a
congestion of the lungs that was very like a sudden attack of

"Mr. Morowitch had at once gone to bed, or at least was in bed,
when the doctor arrived, but his condition grew worse so rapidly
that the doctor hastily resorted to oxygen, under which treatment
he seemed to revive. The doctor had just stepped out to see
another patient when a hurry call was sent to him that Mr.
Morowitch was rapidly sinking. He died before the doctor could
return. No statement whatever concerning the cause of his sudden
illness was made by Mr. Morowitch, and the death-certificate, a
copy of which I have, gives pneumonia as the cause of death. One
of our men has seen Doctor Thornton, but has been able to get
nothing out of him. Mrs. Morowitch was the only person with her,
husband at the time."

There was something in his tone that made me take particular note
of this last fact, especially as he paused for an instant.

"Now, perhaps there would be nothing surprising about it all, so
far at least, were it not for the fact that the following
morning, when his junior partner, Mr. Kahan, opened the place of
business, or rather went to it, for it was to remain closed, of
course, he found that during the night someone had visited it.
The lock on the great safe, which contained thousands of dollars'
worth of diamonds, was intact; but in the top of the safe a huge
hole was found--an irregular, round hole, big enough to put your
foot through. Imagine it, Professor Kennedy, a great hole in a
safe that is made of chrome steel, a safe that, short of a
safety-deposit vault, ought to be about the strongest thing on

"Why, that steel would dull and splinter even the finest
diamond-drill before it made an impression. The mere taking out
and refitting of drills into the brace would be a most lengthy
process. Eighteen or twenty hours is the time by actual test
which it would take to bore such a hole through those laminated
plates, even if there were means of exerting artificial pressure.
As for the police, they haven't even a theory yet."

"And the diamonds"

"All gone--everything of any value was gone. Even the
letter-files were ransacked. His desk was broken open, and papers
of some nature had been taken out of it. Thorough is no name for
the job. Isn't that enough to arouse suspicion"

"I should like to see that safe," was all Kennedy said.

"So you shall, so you shall," said Mr. Andrews. "Then we may
retain you in our service? My car is waiting down-stairs. We can
go right down to Maiden Lane if you wish."

"You may retain me on one condition," said Craig without moving.
"I am to be free to get at the truth whether it benefits or hurts
the company, and the case is to be entirely in my hands."

"Hats on," agreed Mr. Andrews, reaching in his vest pocket and
pulling out three or four brevas. "My chauffeur is quite a
driver. He can almost beat the subway down."

"First, to my laboratory," interposed Craig. "It will take only a
few minutes."

We drove up to the university and stopped on the campus while
Craig hurried into the Chemistry Building to get something.

"I like your professor of criminal science;" said Andrews to me,
blowing a huge fragrant cloud of smoke.

I, for my part, liked the vice-president. He was a man who seemed
thoroughly to enjoy life, to have most of the good things, and a
capacity for getting out of them all that was humanly possible.
He seemed to be particularly enjoying this Morowitch case.

"He has solved some knotty cases," was all I said. "I've come to
believe there is no limit to his resourcefulness."

"I hope not. He's up against a tough one this trip, though, my

I did not even resent the "my boy." Andrews was one of those men
in whom we newspaper writers instinctively believe. I knew that
it would be "pens lifted" only so long as the case was
incomplete. When the time comes with such men they are ready to
furnish us the best "copy" in the world.

Kennedy quickly rejoined us, carrying a couple of little glass
bottles with ground-glass stoppers.

Morowitch & Co. was, of course, closed when we arrived, but we
had no trouble in being admitted by the Central Office man who
had been detailed to lock the barn door after the horse was
stolen. It was precisely as Mr. Andrews had said. Mr. Kahan
showed us the safe. Through the top a great hole had been made--I
say made, for at the moment I was at a loss to know whether it
had been cut, drilled, burned, blown out, or what-not.

Kennedy examined the edges of the hole carefully, and just the
trace of a smile of satisfaction flitted over his face as he did
so. Without saying a word he took the glass stopper out of the
larger bottle which he had brought and poured the contents on the
top of the safe near the hole. There it lay, a little mound of
reddish powder.

Kennedy took a little powder of another kind from the other
bottle and lighted it with a match.

"Stand back--close to the wall," he called as he dropped the
burning mass on the red powder. In two or three leaps he joined
us at the far end of the room.

Almost instantly a dazzling, intense flame broke out, and sizzled
and crackled. With bated breath we watched. It was almost
incredible, but that glowing mass of powder seemed literally to
be sinking, sinking right down into the cold steel. In tense
silence we waited. On the ceiling we could still see the
reflection of the molten mass in the cup which it had burned for
itself in the top of the safe.

At last it fell through into the safe--fell as the burning roof
of a frame building would fall into the building. No one spoke a
word, but as we cautiously peered over the top of the safe we
instinctively turned to Kennedy for an explanation. The Central
Office man, with eyes as big as half-dollars, acted almost as if
he would have liked to clap the irons on Kennedy. For there in
the top of the safe was another hole, smaller but identical in
nature with the first one.

"Thermit," was all Kennedy said.

"Thermit?" echoed Andrews, shifting the cigar which he had
allowed to go out in the excitement.

"Yes, an invention of a chemist named Goldschmidt, of Essen,
Germany. It is a compound of iron oxide, such as comes off a
blacksmith's anvil or the rolls of a rolling-mill, and powdered
metallic aluminum. You could thrust a red-hot bar into it without
setting it off, but when you light a little magnesium powder and
drop it on thermit, a combustion is started that quickly reaches
fifty-four hundred degrees Fahrenheit. It has the peculiar
property of concentrating its heat to the immediate spot on which
it is placed. It is one of the most powerful oxidising agents
known, and it doesn't even melt the rest of the steel surface.
You see how it ate its way through the steel. Either black or red
thermit will do the trick equally well."

No one said anything. There was nothing to say.

"Someone uncommonly clever, or instructed by someone uncommonly
clever, must have done that job," added Craig. "Well, there is
nothing more to be done here," he added, after a cursory look
about the office. "Mr. Andrews, may I have a word with you? Come
on, Jameson. Good day, Mr. Kahan. Good day, Officer."

Outside we stopped for a moment at the door of Andrews's car.

"I shall want to see Mr. Morowitch's papers at home," said Craig,
"and also to call on Doctor Thornton. Do you think I shall have
any difficulty?"

"Not at all," replied Mr. Andrews, "not at all. I will go with
you myself and see that you have none. Say, Professor Kennedy,"
he broke out, "that was marvellous. I never dreamed such a thing
was possible. But don't you think you could have learned
something more up there in the office by looking around?"

"I did learn it," answered Kennedy. "The lock on the door was
intact--whoever did the job let himself in by a key. There is no
other way to get in."

Andrews gave a low whistle and glanced involuntarily up at the
window with the sign of Morowitch & Co. in gold letters several
floors above.

"Don't look up. I think that was Kahan looking out at us," he
said, fixing his eyes on his cigar. "I wonder if he knows more
about this than he has told! He was the 'company,' you know, but
his interest in the business was only very slight. By George--"

"Not too fast, Mr. Andrews," interrupted Craig. "We have still to
see Mrs. Morowitch and the doctor before we form any theories."

"A very handsome woman, too," said Andrews, as we seated
ourselves in the car: "A good deal younger than Morowitch. Say,
Kahan isn't a bad-looking chap, either, is he? I hear he was a
very frequent visitor at his partner's house. Well, which first,
Mrs. M. or the doctor?"

"The house," answered Craig.

Mr. Andrews introduced us to Mrs. Morowitch, who was in very deep
mourning, which served, as I could not help noticing, rather to
heighten than lessen her beauty. By contrast it brought out the
rich deep colour of her face and the graceful lines of her
figure. She was altogether a very attractive young widow.

She seemed to have a sort of fear of Andrews, whether merely
because he represented the insurance company on which so much
depended or because there were other reasons for fear, I could
not, of course, make out. Andrews was very courteous and polite,
yet I caught myself asking if it was not a professional rather
than a personal politeness. Remembering his stress on the fact
that she was alone with her husband when he died, it suddenly
flashed across my mind that somewhere I had read of a detective
who, as his net was being woven about a victim, always grew more
and more ominously polite toward the victim. I know that Andrews
suspected her of a close connection with the case. As for myself,
I don't know what I suspected as yet.

No objection was offered to our request to examine Mr.
Morowitch's personal effects in the library, and accordingly
Craig ransacked the desk and the letter-file. There was
practically nothing to be discovered.

"Had Mr. Morowitch ever received any threats of robbery?" asked
Craig, as he stood before the desk.

"Not that I know of," replied Mrs. Morowitch. "Of course every
jeweller who carries a large stock of diamonds must be careful.
But I don't think my husband had any special reason to fear
robbery. At least he never said anything about it. Why do you

"Oh, nothing. I merely thought there might be some hint as to the
motives of the robbery," said Craig. He was fingering one of
those desk-calendars which have separate leaves for each day with
blank spaces for appointments.

"'Close deal Poissan,'" he read slowly from one of the entries,
as if to himself. "That's strange. It was the correspondence
under the letter 'P' that was destroyed at the office, and there
is nothing in the letter-file here, either. Who was Poissan?"

Mrs. Morowitch hesitated, either from ignorance or from a desire
to evade the question. "A chemist, I think," she said doubtfully.
"My husband had some dealings with him--some discovery he was
going to buy. I don't know anything about it. I thought the deal
was off."

"The deal?"

"Really, Mr. Kennedy, you had better ask Mr. Kahan. My husband
talked very, little to me about business affairs."

"But what was the discovery?"

"I don't know. I only heard Mr. Morowitch and Mr. Kahan refer to
some deal about a discovery regarding diamonds."

"Then Mr. Kahan knows about it?"

"I presume so."

"Thank you, Mrs. Morowitch," said Kennedy, when it was evident
that she either could not or would not add anything to what she
had said. "Pardon us for causing all this trouble."

"No trouble at all," she replied graciously, though I could see
she was intent on every word and motion of Kennedy and Andrews.

Kennedy stopped the car at a drug-store a few blocks away and
asked for the business telephone directory. In an instant, under
chemists, he put his finger on the name of Poissan--"Henri
Poissan, electric furnaces,--William St.," he read.

"I shall visit him to-morrow morning. Now for, the doctor."

Doctor Thornton was an excellent specimen of the genus physician
to the wealthy--polished, cool, suave. One of Mr. Andrews's men,
as I have said, had seen him already, but the interview had been
very unsatisfactory. Evidently, however, the doctor had been
turning something over in his mind since then and had thought
better of it. At any rate, his manner was cordial enough now.

As he closed the doors to his office, he began to pace the floor.
"Mr. Andrews," he said, "I am in some doubt whether I had better
tell you or the coroner what I know. There are certain
professional secrets that a doctor must, as a duty to his
patients, conceal. That is professional ethics. But there are
also cases when, as a matter of public policy, a doctor should
speak out."

He stopped and faced us.

"I don't mind telling you that I dislike the publicity that would
attend any statement I might make to the coroner."

"Exactly," said Andrews. "I appreciate your position exactly.
Your other patients would not care to see you involved in a
scandal--or at least you would not care to have them see you so
involved, with all the newspaper notoriety such a thing brings."

Doctor Thornton shot a quick glance at Andrews, as if he would
like to know just how much his visitor knew or suspected.

Andrews drew a paper from his pocket. "This is a copy of the
death-certificate," he said. "The Board of Health has furnished
it to us. Our physicians at the insurance company tell me it is
rather extraordinary vague. A word from us calling the attention
of the proper authorities to it would be sufficient, I think.
But, Doctor, that is just the point. We do not desire publicity
any more than you do. We could have the body of Mr. Morowitch
exhumed and examined, but I prefer to get the facts in the case
without resorting to such extreme measures."

"It would do no good," interrupted the doctor hastily. "And if
you'll save me the publicity, I'll tell you why."

Andrews nodded, but still held the death-certificate where the
doctor was constantly reminded of it.

"In that certificate I have put down the cause of death as
congestion of the lungs due to an acute attack of pneumonia. That
is substantially correct, as far as it goes. When I was summoned
to see Mr. Morowitch I found him in a semiconscious state and
scarcely breathing. Mrs. Morowitch told me that he had been
brought home in a taxicab by a man who had picked him up on
William Street. I'm frank to say that at first sight I thought it
was a case of plain intoxication, for Mr. Morowitch sometimes
indulged a little freely when he made a splendid deal. I smelled
his breath, which was very feeble. It had a sickish sweet odour,
but that did not impress me at the time. I applied my stethoscope
to his lungs. There was a very marked congestion, and I made as
my working diagnosis pneumonia. It was a case for quick and
heroic action. In a very few minutes I had a tank of oxygen from
the hospital.

"In the meantime I had thought over that sweetish odour, and it
flashed on my mind that it might, after all, be a case of
poisoning. When the oxygen arrived I administered it at once. As
it happens, the Rockefeller Institute has just published a report
of experiments with a new antidote for various poisons, which
consists simply in a new method of enforced breathing and
throwing off the poison by oxidising it in that way. In either
case--the pneumonia theory or the poison theory--this line of
action was the best that I could have adopted on the spur of the
moment. I gave him some strychnine to strengthen his heart and by
hard work I had him resting apparently a little easier. A nurse
had been sent for, but had not arrived when a messenger came to
me telling of a very sudden illness of Mrs. Morey, the wife of
the steel-magnate. As the Morey home is only a half-block away, I
left Mr. Morowitch, with very particular instructions to his wife
as to what to do.

"I had intended to return immediately, but before I got back Mr.
Morowitch was dead. Now I think I've told you all. You see, it
was nothing but a suspicion--hardly enough to warrant making a
fuss about. I made out the death-certificate, as you see.
Probably that would have been all there was to it if I hadn't
heard of this incomprehensible robbery. That set me thinking
again. There, I'm glad I've got it out of my system. I've thought
about it a good deal since your man was here to see me."

"What do you suspect was the cause of that sweetish odour?" asked

The doctor hesitated. "Mind, it is only a suspicion. Cyanide of
potassium or cyanogen gas; either would give such an odour."

"Your treatment would have been just the same had you been

"Practically the same, the Rockefeller treatment."

"Could it have been suicide" asked Andrews.

"There was no motive for it, I believe," replied the doctor.

"But was there any such poison in the Morowitch house?"

"I know that they were much interested in photography. Cyanide of
potassium is used in certain processes in photography."

"Who was interested in photography, Mr. or Mrs. Morowitch?"

"Both of them."

"Was Mrs. Morowitch?"

"Both of them," repeated the doctor hastily. It was evident how
Andrews's questions were tending, and it was also evident that
the doctor did not wish to commit himself or even to be

Kennedy had sat silently for some minutes, turning the thing over
in his mind. Apparently disregarding Andrews entirely, he now
asked, "Doctor, supposing it had been cyanogen gas which caused
the congestion of the lungs, and supposing it had not been
inhaled in quantities large enough to kill outright, do you
nevertheless feel that Mr. Morowitch was in a weak enough
condition to die as a result of the congestion produced by the
gas after the traces of the cyanogen had been perhaps thrown

"That is precisely the impression which I wished to convey."

"Might I ask whether in his semi-conscious state he said anything
that might at all serve as a clue?"

"He talked ramblingly, incoherently. As near as I can remember
it, he seemed to believe himself to have become a millionaire, a
billionaire. He talked of diamonds, diamonds, diamonds. He seemed
to be picking them up, running his fingers through them, and once
I remember he seemed to want to send for Mr. Kahan and tell him
something. 'I can make them, Kahan,' he said, 'the finest, the
largest, the whitest--I can make them.'"

Kennedy was all attention as Dr. Thornton added this new

"You know," concluded the doctor, "that in cyanogen poisoning
there might be hallucinations of the wildest kind. But then, too,
in the delirium of pneumonia it might be the same."

I could see by the way Kennedy acted that for the first time a
ray of light had dawned upon him in tracing out the case. As we
rose to go, the doctor shook hands with us. His last words were
said with an air of great relief, "Gentlemen, I have eased my
conscience considerably."

As we parted for the night Kennedy faced Andrews. "You recall
that you promised me one thing when I took up this case" he

Andrews nodded.

"Then take no steps until I tell you. Shadow Mrs. Morowitch and
Mr. Kahan, but do not let them know you suspect them of anything.
Let me run down this Poissan clue. In other words, leave the case
entirely in my hands in other respects. Let me know any new facts
you may unearth, and some time to-morrow I shall call on you, and
we will determine what the next step is to be. Good night. I want
to thank you for putting me in the way of this case. I think we
shall all be surprised at the outcome."

It was late the following afternoon before I saw Kennedy again.
He was in his laboratory winding two strands of platinum wire
carefully about a piece of porcelain and smearing on it some
peculiar black glassy granular substance that came in a sort of
pencil, like a stick of sealing-wax. I noticed that he was very
particular to keep the two wires exactly the same distance from
each other throughout the entire length of the piece of
porcelain, but I said nothing to distract his attention, though a
thousand questions about the progress of the case were at my
tongue's end.

Instead I watched him intently. The black substance formed a sort
of bridge connecting and covering the wires. When he had finished
he said: "Now you can ask me your questions, while I heat and
anneal this little contrivance. I see you are bursting with

"Well, did you see Poissan?" I asked.

Kennedy continued to heat the wire-covered porcelain. "I did, and
he is going to give me a demonstration of his discovery

"His discovery!"

"You remember Morowitch's 'hallucination;' as the doctor called
it? That was no hallucination; that was a reality. This man
Poissan says he has discovered a way to make diamonds
artificially out of pure carbon in an electric furnace.
Morowitch, I believe, was to buy his secret. His dream of
millions was a reality--at least to him."

"And did Kahan and Mrs. Morowitch know it?" I asked quickly.

"I don't know yet," replied Craig, finishing the annealing.

The black glassy substance was now a dull grey.

"What's that stuff you were putting on the wire" I asked.

"Oh, just a by-product made in the manufacture of sulphuric
acid," answered Kennedy airily, adding, as if to change the
subject: "I want you to go with me to-night. I told Poissan I was
a professor in the university and that I would bring one of our
younger trustees, the son of the banker, T. Pierpont Spencer, who
might put some capital into his scheme. Now, Jameson, while I'm
finishing up my work here, run over to the apartment and get my
automatic revolver. I may need it to-night. I have communicated
with Andrews, and he will be ready. The demonstration will take
place at half-past-eight at Poissan's laboratory. I tried to get
him to give it here, but he absolutely refused."

Half an hour later I rejoined Craig at his laboratory, and we
rode down to the Great Eastern Life Building.

Andrews was waiting for us in his solidly furnished office.
Outside I noted a couple of husky men, who seemed to be waiting
for orders from their chief.

>From the manner in which the vice-president greeted us it was
evident that he was keenly interested in what Kennedy was about
to do. "So you think Morowitch's deal was a deal to purchase the
secret of diamond-making?" he mused.

"I feel sure of it," replied Craig. "I felt sure of it the moment
I looked up Poissan and found that he was a manufacturer of
electric furnaces. Don't you remember the famous Lemoine case in
London and Paris?"

"Yes, but Lemoine was a fakir of the first water;" said Andrews.
"Do you think this man is, too?"

"That's what I'm going to find out to-night before I take another
step," said Craig. "Of course there can be no doubt that by
proper use the electric furnace will make small, almost
microscopic diamonds. It is not unreasonable to suppose that some
day someone will be able to make large diamonds synthetically by
the same process."

"Maybe this man has done it," agreed Andrews. "Who knows? I'll
wager that if he has and that if Morowitch had bought an interest
in his process Kahan knew of it. He's a sharp one. And Mrs.
Morowitch doesn't let grass grow under her feet, when it comes to
seeing the main chance as to money. Now just supposing Mr.
Morowitch had bought an interest in a secret like that and
supposing Kahan was in love with Mrs. Morowitch and that they--"

"Let us suppose nothing, Mr. Andrews," interrupted Kennedy. "At
least not yet. Let me see; it is now ten minutes after eight.
Poissan's place is only a few blocks from here. I'd like to get
there a few minutes early. Let's start."

As we left the office, Andrews signalled to the two men outside,
and they quietly followed a few feet in the rear, but without
seeming to be with us.

Poissan's laboratory was at the top of a sort of loft building a
dozen stories or so high. It was a peculiar building, with
several entrances besides a freight elevator at the rear and
fire-escapes that led to adjoining lower roofs.

We stopped around the corner in the shadow, and Kennedy and
Andrews talked earnestly. As near as I could make out Kennedy was
insisting that it would be best for Andrews and his men not to
enter the building at all, but wait down-stairs while he and I
went up. At last the arrangement was agreed on.

"Here," said Kennedy, undoing a package he had carried, "is a
little electric bell with a couple of fresh dry batteries
attached to it, and wires that will reach at least four hundred
feet. You and the men wait in the shadow here by this side
entrance for five minutes after Jameson and I go up. Then you
must engage the night watchman in some way. While he is away you
will find two wires dangling down the elevator shaft. Attach them
to these wires from the bell and the batteries--these two--you
know how to do that. The wires will be hanging in the third
shaft--only one elevator is running at night, the first. The
moment you hear the bell begin to ring; jump into the elevator
and come up to the twelfth floor--we'll need you."

As Kennedy and I rode up in the elevator I could not help
thinking what an ideal place a down-town office building is for
committing a crime, even at this early hour of the evening. If
the streets were deserted, the office-buildings were positively
uncanny in their grim, black silence with only here and there a

The elevator in the first shaft shot down again to the ground
floor, and as it disappeared Kennedy took two spools of wire from
his pocket and hastily shoved them through the lattice work the
third elevator shaft. They quickly unrolled, and I could hear
them strike the top of the empty car below in the basement. That
meant that Andrews on the ground floor could reach the wires and
attach them to the bell.

Quickly in the darkness Kennedy attached the ends of the wires to
the curious little coil I had seen him working on in the
laboratory, and we proceeded down the hall to the rooms occupied
by Poissan, Kennedy had allowed for the wire to reach from the
elevator-shaft up this hall, also, and as he walked he paid it
out in such a manner that it fell on the floor close to the wall,
where, in the darkness, it would never be noticed or stumbled

Around an "L" in the hall I could see a ground-glass window with
a light shining through it. Kennedy stopped at the window and
quickly placed the little coil on the ledge, close up against the
glass, with the wires running from it down the hall. Then we

"On time to the minute, Professor," exclaimed Poissan, snapping
his watch. "And this, I presume, is the banker who is interested
in my great discovery of making artificial diamonds of any size
or colour?" he added, indicating me.

"Yes," answered Craig, "as I told you, a son of Mr. T. Pierpont

I shook hands with as much dignity as I could assume, for the
role of impersonation was a new one to me.

Kennedy carelessly laid his coat and hat on the inside ledge of
the ground-glass window, just opposite the spot where he had
placed the little coil on the other side of the glass. I noted
that the window was simply a large pane of wire-glass set in the
wall for the purpose of admitting light in the daytime from the
hall outside.

The whole thing seemed eerie to me--especially as Poissan's
assistant was a huge fellow and had an evil look such as I had
seen in pictures of the inhabitants of quarters of Paris which
one does not frequent except in the company of a safe guide. I
was glad Kennedy had brought his revolver, and rather vexed that
he had not told me to do likewise. However, I trusted that Craig
knew what he was about.

We seated ourselves some distance from a table on which was a
huge, plain, oblong contrivance that reminded me of the diagram
of a parallelopiped which had caused so much trouble in my solid
geometry at college.

"That's the electric furnace, sir," said Craig to me with an
assumed deference, becoming a college professor explaining things
to the son of a great financier. "You see the electrodes at
either end? When the current is turned on and led through them
into the furnace you can get the most amazing temperatures in the
crucible. The most refractory of chemical compounds can be broken
up by that heat. What is the highest temperature you have
attained, Professor?"

"Something over three thousand degrees Centigrade," replied
Poissan, as he and his assistant busied themselves about the

We sat watching him in silence.

"Ah, gentlemen, now I am ready," he exclaimed at length, when
everything was arranged to his satisfaction. "You see, here is a
lump of sugar carbon--pure amorphous carbon: Diamonds, as you
know, are composed of pure carbon crystallised under enormous
pressure. Now, my theory is that if we can combine an enormous
pressure and an enormous heat we can make diamonds artificially.
The problem of pressure is the thing, for here in the furnace we
have the necessary heat. It occurred to me that when molten cast
iron cools it exerts a tremendous pressure. That pressure is what
I use."

"You know, Spencer, solid iron floats on molten iron like solid
water --ice--floats on liquid water," explained Craig to me.

Poissan nodded. "I take this sugar carbon and place it in this
soft iron cup. Then I screw on this cap over the cup, so. Now I
place this mass of iron scraps in the crucible of the furnace and
start the furnace."

He turned a switch, and long yellowish-blue sheets of flame
spurted out from the electrodes on either side. It was weird,
gruesome. One could feel the heat of the tremendous electric

As I looked at the bluish-yellow flames they gradually changed to
a beautiful purple, and a sickish sweet odour filled the room.
The furnace roared at first, but as the vapors increased it
became a better conductor of the electricity, and the roaring

In almost no time the mass of iron scraps became molten. Suddenly
Poissan plunged the cast-iron cup into the seething mass. The cup
floated and quickly began to melt. As it did so he waited
attentively until the proper moment. Then with a deft motion he
seized the whole thing with a long pair of tongs and plunged it
into a vat of running water. A huge cloud of steam filled the

I felt a drowsy sensation stealing over me as the sickish sweet
smell from the furnace increased. Gripping the chair, I roused
myself and watched Poissan attentively. He was working rapidly.
As the molten mass cooled and solidified he took it out of the
water and laid it on an anvil.

Then his assistant began to hammer it with careful, sharp blows,
chipping off the outside.

"You see, we have to get down to the core of carbon gently," he
said, as he picked up the little pieces of iron and threw them
into a scrap-box. "First rather brittle cast iron, then hard
iron, then iron and carbon, then some black diamonds, and in the
very centre the diamonds.

"Ah! we are getting to them. Here is a small diamond. See, Mr.
Spencer--gently Francois--we shall come to the large ones

"One moment, Professor Poissan," interrupted Craig; "let your
assistant break them out while I stand over him."

"Impossible. You would not know when you saw them. They are just
rough stones."

"Oh, yes, I would."

"No, stay where you are. Unless I attend to it the diamonds might
be ruined."

There was something peculiar about his insistence, but after he
picked out the next diamond I was hardly prepared for Kennedy's
next remark.

"Let me see the palms of your hands."

Poissan shot an angry glance at Kennedy, but he did not open his

"I merely wish to convince you, 'Mr. Spencer,'" said Kennedy to
me, "that it is no sleight-of-hand trick and that the professor
has not several uncut stones palmed in his hand like a

The Frenchman faced us, his face livid with rage. "You call me a
prestidigitator, a fraud--you shall suffer for that! Sacrebleu!
Ventre du Saint Gris! No man ever insults the honour of Poissan.
Francois, water on the electrodes!"

The assistant dashed a few drops of water on the electrodes. The
sickish odour increased tremendously. I felt myself almost going,
but with an effort I again roused myself. I wondered how Craig
stood the fumes, for I suffered an intense headache and nausea.

"Stop!" Craig thundered. "There's enough cyanogen in this room
already. I know your game--the water forms acetylene with the
carbon, and that uniting with the nitrogen of the air under the
terrific heat of the electric arc forms hydrocyanic acid. Would
you poison us, too? Do you think you can put me unconscious out
on the street and have a society doctor diagnose my case as
pneumonia? Or do you think we shall die quietly in some hospital
as a certain New York banker did last year after he had watched
an alchemist make silver out of apparently nothing!"

The effect on Poissan was terrible. He advanced toward Kennedy,
the veins in his face fairly standing out. Shaking his
forefinger, he shouted: "You know that, do you? You are no
professor, and this is no banker. You are spies, spies. You come
from the friends of Morowitch, do you? You have gone too far with

Kennedy said nothing, but retreated and took his coat and hat off
the window ledge. The hideous penetrating light of the tongues of
flame from the furnace played on the ground-glass window.

Poissan laughed a hollow laugh.

"Put down your hat and coat, Mistair Kennedy," he hissed. "The
door has been locked ever since you have been here. Those windows
are barred, the telephone wire is cut, and it is three hundred
feet to the street. We shall leave you here when the fumes have
overcome you. Francois and I can stand them up to a point, and
when we reach that point we are going."

Instead of being cowed Kennedy grew bolder, though I, for my
part, felt so weakened that I feared the outcome of a
hand-to-hand encounter with either Poissan or Francois, who
appeared as fresh as if nothing had happened. They were hurriedly
preparing to leave us.

"That would do you no good," Kennedy rejoined, "for we have no
safe full of jewels for you to rob. There are no keys to offices
to be stolen from our pockets. And let me tell you--you are not
the only man in New York who knows the secret of thermit. I have
told the secret to the police, and they are only waiting to find
who destroyed Morowitch's correspondence under the letter 'P' to
apprehend the robber of his safe. Your secret is out."

"Revenge! revenge!" Poissan cried. "I will have revenge.
Francois, bring out the jewels--ha! ha!--here in this bag are the
jewels of Mr. Morowitch. To-night Francois and I will go down by
the back elevator to a secret exit. In two hours all your police
in New York cannot find us. But in two hours you two impostors
will be suffocated--perhaps you will die of cyanogen, like
Morowitch, whose jewels I have at last."

He went to the door into the hall and stood there with a mocking
laugh. I moved to make a rush toward them, but Kennedy raised his

"You will suffocate," Poissan hissed again.

Just then we heard the elevator door clang, and hurried steps
came down the long hall.

Craig whipped out his automatic and began pumping the bullets out
in rapid succession. As the smoke cleared I expected to see
Poissan and Francois lying on the floor. Instead, Craig had fired
at the lock of the door. He had shattered it into a thousand
bits. Andrews and his men were running down the hall.

"Curse you!" muttered Poissan as he banged the now useless lock,
"who let those fellows in? Are you a wizard?"

Craig smiled coolly as the ventilation cleared the room of the
deadly cyanogen.

"On the window-sill outside is a selenium cell. Selenium is a bad
conductor of electricity in the dark, and an excellent conductor
when exposed to light. I merely moved my coat and hat, and the
light from the furnace which was going to suffocate us played
through the glass on the cell, the circuit was completed without
your suspecting that I could communicate with friends outside, a
bell was rung on the street, and here they are. Andrews, there is
the murderer of Morowitch, and there in his hands are the

Poissan had moved toward the furnace. With a quick motion he
seized the long tongs. There was a cloud of choking vapour.
Kennedy leaped to the switch and shut off the current. With the
tongs he lifted out a shapeless piece of valueless black

"All that is left of the priceless Morowitch jewels," he
exclaimed ruefully. "But we have the murderer."

"And to-morrow a certified check for one hundred thousand dollars
goes to Mrs. Morowitch with my humblest apologies and sympathy,"
added Andrews. "Professor Kennedy, you have earned your

VII. The Azure Ring

Files of newspapers and innumerable clippings from the press
bureaus littered Kennedy's desk in rank profusion. Kennedy
himself was so deeply absorbed that I had merely said good
evening as I came in and had started to open my mail. With an
impatient sweep of his hand, however, he brushed the whole mass
of newspapers into the waste-basket.

"It seems to me, Walter," he exclaimed in disgust, "that this
mystery is considered insoluble for the very reason which should
make it easy to solve--the extraordinary character of its

Inasmuch as he had opened the subject, I laid down the letter I
was reading. "I'll wager I can tell you just why you made that
remark, Craig," I ventured. "You're reading up on that
Wainwright-Templeton affair."

"You are on the road to becoming a detective yourself, Walter,"
he answered with a touch of sarcasm. "Your ability to add two
units to two other units and obtain four units is almost worthy
of Inspector O'Connor. You are right and within a quarter of an
hour the district attorney of Westchester County will be here. He
telephoned me this afternoon and sent an assistant with this mass
of dope. I suppose he'll want it back," he added, fishing the
newspapers out of the basket again. "But, with all due respect to
your profession, I'll say that no one would ever get on speaking
terms with the solution of this case if he had to depend solely
on the newspaper writers."

"No?" I queried, rather nettled at his tone.

"No," he repeated emphatically. "Here one of the most popular
girls in the fashionable suburb of Williston, and one of the
leading younger members of the bar in New York, engaged to be
married, are found dead in the library of the girl's home the day
before the ceremony. And now, a week later, no one knows whether
it was an accident due to the fumes from the antique
charcoal-brazier, or whether it was a double suicide, or suicide
and murder, or a double murder, or--or--why, the experts haven't
even been able to agree on whether they have discovered poison or
not," he continued, growing as excited as the city editor did
over my first attempt as a cub reporter.

"They haven't agreed on anything except that on the eve of what
was, presumably, to have been the happiest day of their lives two
of the best known members of the younger set are found dead,
while absolutely no one, as far as is known, can be proved to
have been near them within the time necessary to murder them. No
wonder the coroner says it is simply a case of asphyxiation. No
wonder the district attorney is at his wits' end. You fellows
have hounded them with your hypotheses until they can't see the
facts straight. You suggest one solution and before-"

The door-bell sounded insistently, and without waiting for an
answer a tall, spare, loose-jointed individual stalked in and
laid a green bag on the table.

"Good evening, Professor Kennedy," he began brusquely. "I am
District Attorney Whitney, of Westchester. I see you have been
reading up on the case. Quite right."

"Quite wrong," answered Craig. "Let me introduce my friend, Mr.
Jameson, of the Star. Sit down. Jameson knows what I think of the
way the newspapers have handled this case. I was about to tell
him as you came in that I intended to disregard everything that
had been printed, to start out with you as if it were a fresh
subject and get the facts at first hand. Let's get right down to
business. First tell us just how it was that Miss Wainwright and
Mr. Templeton were discovered and by whom."

The district attorney loosened the cords of the green bag and
drew out a bundle of documents. "I'll read you the affidavit of
the maid who found them," he said, fingering the documents
nervously. "You see, John Templeton had left his office in New
York early that afternoon, telling his father that he was going
to visit Miss Wainwright. He caught the three-twenty train,
reached Williston all right, walked to the Wainwright house, and,
in spite of the bustle of preparation for the wedding, the next
day, he spent the rest of the afternoon with Miss Wainwright.
That's where the mystery begins. They had no visitors. At least,
the maid who answers the bell says they had none. She was busy
with the rest of the family, and I believe the front door was not
locked--we don't lock our doors in Williston, except at night."

He had found the paper and paused to impress these facts on our

"Mrs. Wainwright and Miss Marian Wainwright, the sister, were
busy about the house. Mrs. Wainwright wished to consult Laura
about something. She summoned the maid and asked if Mr. Templeton
and Miss Wainwright were in the house. The maid replied that she
would see, and this is her affidavit. Ahem! I'll skip the legal
part: 'I knocked at the library door twice, but obtaining no
answer, I supposed they had gone out for a walk or perhaps a ride
across country as they often did. I opened the door partly and
looked in. There was a silence in the room, a strange, queer
silence. I opened the door further and, looking toward the
davenport in the corner, I saw Miss Laura and Mr. Templeton in
such an awkward position. They looked as if they had fallen
asleep. His head was thrown back against the cushions of the
davenport, and on his face was a most awful look. It was
discoloured. Her head had fallen forward on his shoulder,
sideways, and on her face, too, was the same terrible stare and
the same discolouration. Their right hands were tightly clasped.

"'I called to them. They did not answer. Then the horrible truth
flashed on me. They were dead. I felt giddy for a minute, but
quickly recovered myself, and with a cry for help I rushed to
Mrs. Wainwright's room, shrieking that they were dead. Mrs.
Wainwright fainted. Miss Marian called the doctor on the
telephone and helped us restore her mother. She seemed perfectly
cool in the tragedy, and I do not know what we servants should
have done if she had not been there to direct us. The house was
frantic, and Mr. Wainwright was not at home.

"'I did not detect any odour when I opened the library door. No
glasses or bottles or vials or other receptacles which could have
held poison were discovered or removed by me, or to the best of
my knowledge and belief by anyone else.' "

"What happened next" asked Craig eagerly.

"The family physician arrived and sent for the coroner
immediately, and later for myself. You see, he thought at once of

"But the coroner, I understand, thinks differently," prompted

"Yes, the coroner has declared the case to be accidental. He says
that the weight of evidence points positively to asphyxiation.
Still, how can it be asphyxiation? They could have escaped from
the room at any time; the door was not locked. I tell you, in
spite of the fact that the tests for poison in their mouths,
stomachs, and blood have so far revealed nothing, I still believe
that John Templeton and Laura Wainwright were murdered."

Kennedy looked at his watch thoughtfully. "You have told me just
enough to make me want to see the coroner himself," he mused. "If
we take the next train out to Williston with you, will you engage
to get us a half-hour talk with him on the case, Mr. Whitney"

"Surely. But we'll have to start right away. I've finished my
other business in New York. Inspector O'Connor--ah, I see you
know him--has promised to secure the attendance of anyone whom I
can show to be a material witness in the case. Come on,
gentlemen: I'll answer your other questions on the train."

As we settled ourselves in the smoker, Whitney remarked in a low
voice, "You know, someone has said that there is only one thing
more difficult to investigate and solve than a crime whose
commission is surrounded by complicated circumstances and that is
a crime whose perpetration is wholly devoid of circumstances."

"Are you so sure that this crime is wholly devoid of
circumstances?" asked Craig.

"Professor," he replied, "I'm not sure of anything in this case.
If I were I should not require your assistance. I would like the
credit of solving it myself, but it is beyond me. Just think of
it: so far we haven't a clue, at least none that shows the
slightest promise, although we have worked night and day for a
week. It's all darkness. The facts are so simple that they give
us nothing to work on. It is like a blank sheet of paper."

Kennedy said nothing, and the district attorney proceeded: "I
don't blame Mr. Nott, the coroner, for thinking it an accident.
But to my mind, some master criminal must have arranged this very
baffling simplicity of circumstances. You recall that the front
door was unlocked. This person must have entered the house
unobserved, not a difficult thing to do, for the Wainwright house
is somewhat isolated. Perhaps this person brought along some
poison in the form of a beverage, and induced the two victims to
drink. And then, this person must have removed the evidences as
swiftly as they were brought in and by the same door. That, I
think, is the only solution."

"That is not the only solution. It is one solution," interrupted
Kennedy quietly.

"Do you think someone in the house did it?" I asked quickly.

"I think," replied Craig, carefully measuring his words, "that if
poison was given them it must have been by someone they both knew
pretty well."

No one said a word, until at last I broke the silence. "I know
from the gossip of the Star office that many Williston people say
that Marian was very jealous of her sister Laura for capturing
the catch of the season. Williston people don't hesitate to hint
at it."

Whitney produced another document from that fertile green bag. It
was another affidavit. He handed it to us. It was a statement
signed by Mrs. Wainwright, and read:

"Before God, my daughter Marian is innocent. If you wish to find
out all, find out more about the past history of Mr. Templeton
before he became engaged to Laura. She would never in the world
have committed suicide. She was too bright and cheerful for that,
even if Mr. Templeton had been about to break off the engagement.
My daughters Laura and Marian were always treated by Mr.
Wainwright and myself exactly alike. Of course they had their
quarrels, just as all sisters do, but there was never, to my
certain knowledge, a serious disagreement, and I was always close
enough to my girls to know. No, Laura was murdered by someone

Kennedy did not seem to attach much importance to this statement.
"Let us see," he began reflectively. "First, we have a young
woman especially attractive and charming in both person and
temperament. She is just about to be married and, if the reports
are to be believed, there was no cloud on her happiness.
Secondly, we have a young man whom everyone agrees to have been
of an ardent, energetic, optimistic temperament. He had
everything to live for, presumably. So far, so good. Everyone who
has investigated this case, I understand, has tried to eliminate
the double-suicide and the suicide-and-murder theories. That is
all right, providing the facts are as stated. We shall see,
later, when we interview the coroner. Now, Mr. Whitney, suppose
you tell us briefly what you have learned about the past history
of the two unfortunate lovers."

"Well, the Wainwrights are an old Westchester family, not very
wealthy, but of the real aristocracy of the county. There were
only two children, Laura and Marian. The Templetons were much the
same sort of family. The children all attended a private school
at White Plains, and there also they met Schuyler Vanderdyke.
These four constituted a sort of little aristocracy in the
school. I mention this, because Vanderdyke later became Laura's
first husband. This marriage with Templeton was a second

"How long ago was she divorced?" asked Craig attentively.

"About three years ago. I'm coming to that in a moment. The
sisters went to college together, Templeton to law school, and
Vanderdyke studied civil engineering. Their intimacy was pretty
well broken up, all except Laura's and Vanderdyke's. Soon after
he graduated he was taken into the construction department of the
Central Railroad by his uncle, who was a vice-president, and
Laura and he were married. As far as I can learn he had been a
fellow of convivial habits at college, and about two years after
their marriage his wife suddenly became aware of what had long
been well known in Williston, that Vanderdyke was paying marked
attention to a woman named Miss Laporte in New York.

"No sooner had Laura Vanderdyke learned of this intimacy of her
husband," continued Whitney, "than she quietly hired private
detectives to shadow him, and on their evidence she obtained a
divorce. The papers were sealed, and she resumed her maiden name.

"As far as I can find out, Vanderdyke then disappeared from her
life. He resigned his position with the railroad and joined a
party of engineers exploring the upper Amazon. Later he went to
Venezuela. Miss Laporte also went to South America about the same
time, and was for a time in Venezuela, and later in Peru.

"Vanderdyke seems to have dropped all his early associations
completely, though at present I find he is back in New York
raising capital for a company to exploit a new asphalt concession
in the interior of Venezuela. Miss Laporte has also reappeared in
New York as Mrs. Ralston, with a mining claim in the mountains of

"And Templeton?" asked Craig. "Had he had any previous
matrimonial ventures?"

"No, none. Of course he had had love affairs, mostly with the
country-club set. He had known Miss Laporte pretty well, too,
while he was in law school in New York. But when he settled down
to work he seems to have forgotten all about the girls for a
couple of years or so. He was very anxious to get ahead, and let
nothing stand in his way. He was admitted to the bar and taken in
by his father as junior member of the firm of Templeton, Mills &
Templeton. Not long ago he was appointed a special master to take
testimony in the get-rich-quick-company prosecutions, and I
happen to know that he was making good in the investigation."

Kennedy nodded. "What sort of fellow personally was Templeton?"
he asked.

"Very popular," replied the district attorney, "both at the
country club and in his profession in New York. He was a fellow
of naturally commanding temperament--the Templetons were always
that way. I doubt if many young men even with his chances could
have gained such a reputation at thirty-five as his. Socially he
was very popular, too, a great catch for all the sly mamas of the
country club who had marriageable daughters. He liked automobiles
and outdoor sports, and he was strong in politics, too. That was
how he got ahead so fast.

"Well, to cut the story short, Templeton met the Wainwright girls
again last summer at a resort on Long Island. They had just
returned from a long trip abroad, spending most of the time in
the Far East with their father, whose firm has business interests
in China. The girls were very attractive. They rode and played
tennis and golf better than most of the men, and this fall
Templeton became a frequent visitor at the Wainwright home in

"People who know them best tell me that his first attentions were
paid to Marian, a very dashing and ambitious young woman. Nearly
every day Templeton's car stopped at the house and the girls and
some friend of Templeton's in the country club went for a ride.
They tell me that at this time Marian always sat with Templeton
on the front seat. But after a few weeks the gossips--nothing of
that sort ever escapes Williston--said that the occupant of the
front seat was Laura. She often drove the car herself and was
very clever at it. At any rate, not long after that the
engagement was announced."

As he walked up from the pretty little Williston station Kennedy
asked: "One more question, Mr. Whitney. How did Marian take the

The district attorney hesitated. "I will be perfectly frank, Mr.
Kennedy," he answered. "The country-club people tell me that the
girls were very cool toward each other. That was why I got that
statement from Mrs. Wainwright. I wish to be perfectly fair to
everyone concerned in this case."

We found the coroner quite willing to talk, in spite of the fact
that the hour was late. "My friend, Mr. Whitney, here, still
holds the poison theory," began the coroner, "in spite of the
fact that everything points absolutely toward asphyxiation. If I
had been able to discover the slightest trace of illuminating-gas
in the room I should have pronounced it asphyxia at once. All the
symptoms accorded with it. But the asphyxia was not caused by
escaping illuminating-gas.

"There was an antique charcoal-brazier in the room, and I have
ascertained that it was lighted. Now, anything like a brazier
will, unless there is proper ventilation, give rise to carbonic
oxide or carbon monoxide gas, which is always present in the
products of combustion, often to the extent of from five to ten
per cent. A very slight quantity of this gas, insufficient even
to cause an odour in a room, will give a severe headache, and a
case is recorded where a whole family in Glasgow was poisoned
without knowing it by the escape of this gas. A little over one
per cent of it in the atmosphere is fatal, if breathed for any
length of time. You know, it is a product of combustion, and is
very deadly --it is the much-dreaded white damp or afterdamp of a
mine explosion.

"I'm going to tell you a secret which I have not given out to the
press yet. I tried an experiment in a closed room today, lighting
the brazier. Some distance from it I placed a cat confined in a
cage so it could not escape. In an hour and a half the cat was

The coroner concluded with an air of triumph that quite squelched
the district attorney.

Kennedy was all attention. "Have you preserved samples of the
blood of Mr. Templeton and Miss Wainwright?" he asked.

"Certainly. I have them in my office."

The coroner, who was also a local physician, led us back into his
private office.

"And the cat?" added Craig.

Doctor Nott produced it in a covered basket.

Quickly Kennedy drew off a little of the blood of the cat and
held it up to the light along with the human samples. The
difference was apparent.

"You see," he explained, "carbon monoxide combines firmly with
the blood, destroying the red colouring matter of the red
corpuscles. No, Doctor, I'm afraid it wasn't carbonic oxide that
killed the lovers, although it certainly killed the cat."

Doctor Nott was crestfallen, but still unconvinced. "If my whole
medical reputation were at stake," he repeated, "I should still
be compelled to swear to asphyxia. I've seen it too often, to
make a mistake. Carbonic oxide or not, Templeton and Miss
Wainwright were asphyxiated."

It was now Whitney's chance to air his theory.

"I have always inclined toward the cyanide-of-potassium theory,
either that it was administered in a drink or perhaps injected by
a needle," he said. "One of the chemists has reported that there
was a possibility of slight traces of cyanide in the mouths."

"If it had been cyanide," replied Craig, looking reflectively at
the two jars before him on the table, "these blood specimens
would be blue in colour and clotted. But they are not. Then, too,
there is a substance in the saliva which is used in the process
of digestion. It gives a reaction which might very easily be
mistaken for a slight trace of cyanide. I think that explains
what the chemist discovered; no more, no less. The cyanide theory
does not fit."

"One chemist hinted at nux vomica," volunteered the coroner. "He
said it wasn't nux vomica, but that the blood test showed
something very much like it. Oh, we've looked for morphine
chloroform, ether, all the ordinary poisons, besides some of the
little known alkaloids. Believe me, Professor Kennedy, it was

I could tell by the look that crossed Kennedy's face that at last
a ray of light had pierced the darkness. "Have you any spirits of
turpentine in the office" he asked.

The coroner shook his head and took a step toward the telephone
as if to call the drug-store in town.

"Or ether?" interrupted Craig. "Ether will do."

"Oh, yes, plenty of ether."

Craig poured a little of one of the blood samples from the jar
into a tube and added a few drops of ether. A cloudy dark
precipitate formed. He smiled quietly and said, half to himself,
"I thought so."

"What is it?" asked the coroner eagerly. "Nux vomica?"

Craig shook his head as he stared at the black precipitate. "You
were perfectly right about the asphyxiation, Doctor," he remarked
slowly, "but wrong as to the cause. It wasn't carbon monoxide or
illuminating-gas. And you, Mr. Whitney, were right about the
poison, too. Only it is a poison neither of you ever heard of."

"What is it?" we asked simultaneously.

"Let me take these samples and make some further tests. I am sure
of it, but it is new to me. Wait till to-morrow night, when my
chain of evidence is completed. Then you are all cordially
invited to attend at my laboratory at the university. I'll ask
you, Mr. Whitney, to come armed with a warrant for John or Jane
Doe. Please see that the Wainwrights, particularly Marian, are
present. You can tell Inspector O'Connor that Mr. Vanderdyke and
Mrs. Ralston are required as material witnesses--anything so long
as you are sure that these five persons are present. Good night,

We rode back to the city in silence, but as we neared the
station, Kennedy remarked: "You see, Walter, these people are
like the newspapers. They are floundering around in a sea of
unrelated facts. There is more than they think back of this
crime. I've been revolving in my mind how it will be possible to
get some inkling about this concession of Vanderdyke's, the
mining claim of Mrs. Ralston, and the exact itinerary of the
Wainwright trip in the Far East. Do you think you can get that
information for me? I think it will take me all day to-morrow to
isolate this poison and get things in convincing shape on that
score. Meanwhile if you can see Vanderdyke and Mrs. Ralston you
can help me a great deal. I am sure you will find them very
interesting people."

"I have been told that she is quite a female high financier," I
replied, tacitly accepting Craig's commission. "Her story is that
her claim is situated near the mine of a group of powerful
American capitalists, who are opposed to having any competition,
and on the strength of that story she has been raking in the
money right and left. I don't know Vanderdyke, never heard of him
before, but no doubt he has some equally interesting game."

"Don't let them think you connect them with the case, however,"
cautioned Craig.

Early the next morning I started out on my quest for facts,
though not so early but that Kennedy had preceded me to his work
in his laboratory. It was not very difficult to get Mrs. Ralston
to talk about her troubles with the government. In fact, I did
not even have to broach the subject of the death of Templeton.
She volunteered the information that in his handling of her case
he had been very unjust to her, in spite of the fact that she had
known him well a long time ago. She even hinted that she believed
he represented the combination of capitalists who were using the
government to aid their own monopoly and prevent the development
of her mine. Whether it was an obsession of her mind, or merely
part of her clever scheme, I could not make out. I noted,
however, that when she spoke of Templeton it was in a studied,
impersonal way, and that she was at pains to lay the blame for
the governmental interference rather on the rival mine-owners.

It quite surprised me when I found from the directory that
Vanderdyke's office was on the floor below in the same building.
Like Mrs. Ralston's, it was open, but not doing business, pending
the investigation by the Post-Office Department.

Vanderdyke was a type of which I had seen many before. Well
dressed to the extreme, he displayed all those evidences of
prosperity which are the stock in trade of the man with
securities to sell. He grasped my hand when I told him I was
going to present the other side of the post-office cases and held
it between both of his as if he had known me all his life. Only
the fact that he had never seen me before prevented his calling
me by my first name. I took mental note of his stock of
jewellery, the pin in his tie that might almost have been the
Hope diamond, the heavy watch chain across his chest, and a very
brilliant seal ring of lapis lazuli on the hand that grasped
mine. He saw me looking at it and smiled.

"My dear fellow, we have deposits of that stuff that would make a
fortune if we could get the machinery to get at it. Why, sir,
there is lapis lazuli enough on our claim to make enough
ultramarine paint to supply all the artists to the end of the
world. Actually we could afford to crush it up and sell it as
paint. And that is merely incidental to the other things on the
concession. The asphalt's the thing. That's where the big money
is. When we get started, sir, the old asphalt trust will simply
melt away, melt away."

He blew a cloud of tobacco smoke and let it dissolve
significantly in the air.

When it came to talking about the suits, however, Vanderdyke was
not so communicative as Mrs. Ralston, but he was also not so
bitter against either the post-office or Templeton.

"Poor Templeton," he said. "I used to know him years ago when we
were boys. Went to school with him and all that sort of thing,
you know, but until I ran across him, or rather he ran across me,
in this investigation I hadn't heard much about him. Pretty
clever fellow he was, too. The state will miss him, but my lawyer
tells me that we should have won the suit anyhow, even if that
unfortunate tragedy hadn't occurred. Most unaccountable, wasn't
it? I've read about it in the papers for old time's sake, and can
make nothing out of it."

I said nothing, but wondered how he could pass so lightheartedly
over the death of the woman who had once been his wife. However,
I said nothing. The result was he launched forth again on the
riches of his Venezuelan concession and loaded me down with
"literature," which I crammed into my pocket for future

My next step was to drop into the office of a Spanish-America
paper whose editor was especially well informed on South American

"Do I know Mrs. Ralston?" he repeated, thoughtfully lighting one
of those black cigarettes that look so vicious and are so mild.
"I should say so. I'll tell you a little story about her. Three
or four years ago she turned up in Caracas. I don't know who Mr.
Ralston was--perhaps there never was any Mr. Ralston. Anyhow, she
got in with the official circle of the Castro government and was
very successful as an adventuress. She has considerable business
ability and represented a certain group of Americans. But, if you
recall, when Castro was eliminated pretty nearly everyone who had
stood high with him went, too. It seems that a number of the old
concessionaires played the game on both sides. This particular
group had a man named Vanderdyke on the anti-Castro side. So,
when Mrs. Ralston went, she just quietly sailed by way of Panama
to the other side of the continent, to Peru--they paid her
well--and Vanderdyke took the title role.

"Oh, yes, she and Vanderdyke were very good friends, very,
indeed. I think they must have known each other here in the
States. Still they played their parts well at the time. Since
things have settled down in Venezuela, the concessionaires have
found no further use for Vanderdyke either, and here they are,
Vanderdyke and Mrs. Ralston, both in New York now, with two of
the most outrageous schemes of financing ever seen on Broad
Street. They have offices in the same building, they are together
a great deal, and now I hear that the state attorney-general is
after both of them."

With this information and a very meagre report of the Wainwright
trip to the Far East, which had taken in some out-of-the-way
places apparently, I hastened back to Kennedy. He was surrounded
by bottles, tubes, jars, retorts, Bunsen burners, everything in
the science and art of chemistry, I thought.

I didn't like the way he looked. His hand was unsteady, and his
eyes looked badly, but he seemed quite put out when I suggested
that he was working too hard over the case. I was worried about
him, but rather than say anything to offend him I left him for
the rest of the afternoon, only dropping in before dinner to make
sure that he would not forget to eat something. He was then
completing his preparations for the evening. They were of the
simplest kind, apparently. In fact, all I could see was an
apparatus which consisted of a rubber funnel, inverted and
attached to a rubber tube which led in turn into a jar about a
quarter full of water. Through the stopper of the jar another
tube led to a tank of oxygen.

There were several jars of various liquids on the table and a
number of chemicals. Among other things was a sort of gourd,
encrusted with a black substance, and in a corner was a box from
which sounds issued as if it contained something alive.

I did not trouble Kennedy with questions, for I was only too glad
when he consented to take a brisk walk and join me in a thick

It was a large party that gathered in Kennedy's laboratory that
night, one of the largest he had ever had. Mr. and Mrs.
Wainwright and Miss Marian came, the ladies heavily veiled.
Doctor Nott and Mr. Whitney were among the first to arrive. Later
came Mr. Vanderdyke and last of all Mrs. Ralston with Inspector
O'Connor. Altogether it was an unwilling party.

"I shall begin," said Kennedy, "by going over, briefly, the facts
in this case."

Tersely he summarised it, to my surprise laying great stress on
the proof that the couple had been asphyxiated.

"But it was no ordinary asphyxiation," he continued. "We have to
deal in this case with a poison which is apparently among the
most subtle known. A particle of matter so minute as to be hardly
distinguishable by the naked eye, on the point of a needle or a
lancet, a prick of the skin scarcely felt under any circumstances
and which would pass quite unheeded if the attention were
otherwise engaged, and not all the power in the world--unless one
was fully prepared--could save the life of the person in whose
skin the puncture had been made."

Craig paused a moment, but no one showed any evidence of being
more than ordinarily impressed.

"This poison, I find, acts on the so-called endplates of the
muscles and nerves. It produces complete paralysis, but not loss
of consciousness, sensation, circulation, or respiration until
the end approaches. It seems to be one of the most powerful
sedatives I have ever heard of. When introduced in even a minute
quantity it produces death finally by asphyxiation--by paralysing
the muscles of respiration. This asphyxia is what so puzzled the

"I will now inject a little of the blood serum of the victims
into a white mouse."

He took a mouse from the box I had seen, and with a needle
injected the serum. The mouse did not even wince, so lightly did
he touch it, but as we watched, its life seemed gently to ebb
away, without pain and without struggle. Its breath simply seemed
to stop.

Next he took the gourd I had seen on the table and with a knife
scraped off just the minutest particle of the black licorice-like
stuff that encrusted it. He dissolved the particle in some
alcohol and with a sterilised needle repeated his experiment on a
second mouse. The effect was precisely similar to that produced
by the blood on the first.

It did not seem to me that anyone showed any emotion except
possibly the slight exclamation that escaped Miss Marian
Wainwright. I fell to wondering whether it was prompted by a soft
heart or a guilty conscience.

We were all intent on what Craig was doing, especially Doctor
Nott, who now broke in with a question.

"Professor Kennedy, may I ask a question? Admitting that the
first mouse died in an apparently similar manner to the second,
what proof have you that the poison is the same in both cases?
And if it is the same can you show that it affects human beings
in the same way, and that enough of it has been discovered in the
blood of the victims to have caused their death? In other words,
I want the last doubt set aside. How do you know absolutely that
this poison which you discovered in my office last night in that
black precipitate when you added the ether--how do you know that
it asphyxiated the victims?"

If ever Craig startled me it was by his quiet reply. "I've
isolated it in their blood, extracted it, sterilised it, and I've
tried it on myself."

In breathless amazement, with eyes riveted on Craig, we listened.

"Altogether I was able to recover from the blood samples of both
of the victims of this crime six centigrams of the poison," he
pursued. "Starting with two centigrams of it as a moderate dose,
I injected it into my right arm subcutaneously. Then I slowly
worked my way up to three and then four centigrams. They did not
produce any very appreciable results other than to cause some
dizziness, slight vertigo, a considerable degree of lassitude,
and an extremely painful headache of rather unusual duration. But
five centigrams considerably improved on this. It caused a degree
of vertigo and lassitude that was most distressing, and six
centigrams, the whole amount which I had recovered from the
samples of blood, gave me the fright of my life right here in
this laboratory this afternoon.

"Perhaps I was not wise in giving myself so large an injection on
a day when I was overheated and below par otherwise because of
the strain I have been under in handling this case. However that
may be, the added centigram produced so much more on top of the
five centigrams previously taken that for a time I had reason to
fear that that additional centigram was just the amount needed to
bring my experiments to a permanent close.

"Within three minutes of the time of injection the dizziness and
vertigo had become so great as to make walking seem impossible.
In another minute the lassitude rapidly crept over me, and the
serious disturbance of my breathing made it apparent to me that
walking, waving my arms, anything, was imperative. My lungs felt
glued up, and the muscles of my chest refused to work. Everything
swam before my eyes, and I was soon reduced to walking up and
down the laboratory with halting steps, only preventing falling
on the floor by holding fast to the edge of this table. It seemed
to me that I spent hours gasping for breath. It reminded me of
what I once experienced in the Cave of the Winds of Niagara,
where water is more abundant in the atmosphere than air. My watch
afterward indicated only about twenty minutes of extreme
distress, but that twenty minutes is one never to be forgotten,
and I advise you all, if you ever are so foolish as to try the
experiment, to remain below the five-centigram limit.

"How much was administered to the victims, Doctor Nott, I cannot
say, but it must have been a good deal more than I took. Six
centigrams, which I recovered from these small samples, are only
nine-tenths of a grain. Yet you see what effect it had. I trust
that answers your question."

Doctor Nott was too overwhelmed to reply.

"And what is this deadly poison?" continued Craig, anticipating
our thoughts. "I have been fortunate enough to obtain a sample of
it from the Museum of Natural History. It comes in a little
gourd, or often a calabash. This is in a gourd. It is blackish
brittle stuff encrusting the sides of the gourd just as if it was
poured in in the liquid state and left to dry. Indeed, that is
just what has been done by those who manufacture this stuff after
a lengthy and somewhat secret process."

He placed the gourd on the edge of the table where we could all
see it. I was almost afraid even to look at it.

"The famous traveller, Sir Robert Schomburgh first brought it
into Europe, and Darwin has described it. It is now an article of
commerce and is to be found in the United States Pharmacopoeia as
a medicine, though of course it is used in only very minute
quantities, as a heart stimulant."

Craig opened a book to a place he had marked:

"At least one person in this room will appreciate the local
colour of a little incident I am going to read--to illustrate
what death from this poison is like. Two natives of the part of
the world whence it comes were one day hunting. They were armed
with blow-pipes and quivers full of poisoned darts made of thin
charred pieces of bamboo tipped with this stuff. One of them
aimed a dart. It missed the object overhead, glanced off the
tree, and fell down on the hunter himself. This is how the other
native reported the result:

"'Quacca takes the dart out of his shoulder. Never a word. Puts
it in his quiver and throws it in the stream. Gives me his
blow-pipe for his little son. Says to me good-bye for his wife
and the village. Then he lies down. His tongue talks no longer.
No sight in his eyes. He folds his arms. He rolls over slowly.
His mouth moves without sound. I feel his heart. It goes fast and
then slow. It stops. Quacca has shot his last woorali dart.'"

We looked at each other, and the horror of the thing sank deep
into our minds. Woorali. What was it? There were many travellers
in the room who had been in the Orient, home of poisons, and in
South America. Which one had run across the poison?

"Woorali, or curare," said Craig slowly, "is the well-known
poison with which the South American Indians of the upper Orinoco
tip their arrows. Its principal ingredient is derived from the
Strychnos toxifera tree, which yields also the drug nux vomica."

A great light dawned on me. I turned quickly to where Vanderdyke
was sitting next to Mrs. Ralston, and a little behind her. His
stony stare and laboured breathing told me that he had read the
purport of Kennedy's actions.

"For God's sake, Craig," I gasped. "An emetic,

A trace of a smile flitted over Vanderdyke's features, as much as
to say that he was beyond our interference.

"Vanderdyke," said Craig, with what seemed to me a brutal
calmness, "then it was you who were the visitor who last saw
Laura Wainwright and John Templeton alive. Whether you shot a
dart at them I do not know. But you are the murderer."

Vanderdyke raised his hand as if to assent. It fell back limp,
and I noted the ring of the bluest lapis lazuli.

Mrs. Ralston threw herself toward him. "Will you not do
something? Is there no antidote? Don't let him die!" she cried.

"You are the murderer," repeated Kennedy, as if demanding a final

Again the hand moved in confession, and he feebly moved the
finger on which shone the ring.

Our attention was centred on Vanderdyke. Mrs. Ralston,
unobserved, went to the table and picked up the gourd. Before
O'Connor could stop her she had rubbed her tongue on the black
substance inside. It was only a little bit, for O'Connor quickly
dashed it from her lips and threw the gourd through the window,
smashing the glass.

"Kennedy," he shouted frantically, "Mrs. Ralston has swallowed
some of it."

Kennedy seemed so intent on Vanderdyke that I had to repeat the

Without looking up, he said: "Oh, one can swallow it--it's
strange, but it is comparatively inert if swallowed even in a
pretty good-sized quantity. I doubt if Mrs. Ralston ever heard of
it before except by hearsay. If she had, she'd have scratched
herself with it instead of swallowing it."

If Craig had been indifferent to the emergency of Vanderdyke
before, he was all action now that the confession had been made.
In an instant Vanderdyke was stretched on the floor and Craig had
taken out the apparatus I had seen during the afternoon.

"I am prepared for this," he exclaimed quickly. "Here is the
apparatus for artificial respiration. Nott, hold that rubber
funnel over his nose, and start the oxygen from the tank. Pull
his tongue forward so it won't fall down his throat and choke
him. I'll work his arms. Walter, make a tourniquet of your
handkerchief and put it tightly on the muscles of his left arm.
That may keep some of the poison in his arm from spreading into
the rest of his body. This is the only antidote known--artificial

Kennedy was working feverishly, going through the motions of
first aid to a drowned man. Mrs: Ralston was on her knees beside
Vanderdyke, kissing his hands and forehead whenever Kennedy
stopped for a minute, and crying softly.

"Schuyler, poor boy, I wonder how you could have done it. I was

Book of the day: