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The Silent Bullet by Arthur B. Reeve

Part 4 out of 6

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with him that day. We rode up in his car, and as we passed
through Williston he said he would stop a minute and wish
Templeton luck. I didn't think it strange, for he said he had
nothing any longer against Laura Wainwright, and Templeton only
did his duty as a lawyer against us. I forgave John for
prosecuting us, but Schuyler didn't, after all. Oh, my poor boy,
why did you do it? We could have gone somewhere else and started
all over again--it wouldn't have been the first time."

At last came the flutter of an eyelid and a voluntary breath or
two. Vanderdyke seemed to realise where he was. With a last
supreme effort he raised his hand and drew it slowly across his
face. Then he fell back, exhausted by the effort.

But he had at last put himself beyond the reach of the law. There
was no tourniquet that would confine the poison now in the
scratch across his face. Back of those lack-lustre eyes he heard
and knew, but could not move or speak. His voice was gone, his
limbs, his face, his chest, and, last, his eyes. I wondered if it
were possible to conceive a more dreadful torture than that
endured by a mind which so witnessed the dying of one organ after
another of its own body, shut up, as it were, in the fulness of
life, within a corpse.

I looked in bewilderment at the scratch on his face. "How did he
do it?" I asked.

Carefully Craig drew off the azure ring and examined it. In that
part which surrounded the blue lapis lazuli, he indicated a
hollow point, concealed. It worked with a spring and communicated
with a little receptacle behind, in such a way that the murderer
could give the fatal scratch while shaking hands with his victim.

I shuddered, for my hand had once been clasped by the one wearing
that poison ring, which had sent Templeton, and his fiancee and
now Vanderdyke himself, to their deaths.

VIII. "Spontaneous Combustion"

Kennedy and I had risen early, for we were hustling to get off
for a week-end at Atlantic City. Kennedy was tugging at the
straps of his grip and remonstrating with it under his breath,
when the door opened and a messenger-boy stuck his head in.

"Does Mr. Kennedy live here" he asked.

Craig impatiently seized the pencil, signed his name in the book,
and tore open a night letter. From the prolonged silence that
followed I felt a sense of misgiving. I, at least, had set my
heart on the Atlantic City outing, but with the appearance of the
messenger-boy I intuitively felt that the board walk would not
see us that week.

"I'm afraid the Atlantic City trip is off, Walter," remarked
Craig seriously. "You remember Tom Langley in our class at the
university? Well, read that."

I laid down my safety razor and took the message. Tom had not
spared words, and I could see at a glance at the mere length of
the thing that it must be important. It was from Camp Hang-out in
the Adirondacks.

"Dear old K.," it began, regardless of expense, "can you arrange
to come up here by next train after you receive this? Uncle Lewis
is dead. Most mysterious. Last night after we retired noticed
peculiar odour about house. Didn't pay much attention. This
morning found him lying on floor of living-room, head and chest
literally burned to ashes, but lower part of body and arms
untouched. Room shows no evidence of fire, but full of sort of
oily soot. Otherwise nothing unusual. On table near body siphon
of seltzer, bottle of imported limes, and glass for rickeys. Have
removed body, but am keeping room exactly as found until you
arrive. Bring Jameson. Wire if you cannot come, but make every
effort and spare no expense. Anxiously, Tom Langley."

Craig was impatiently looking at his watch as I hastily ran
through the letter.

"Hurry, Walter," he exclaimed. "We can just catch the Empire
State. Never mind shaving--we'll have a stopover at Utica to wait
for the Montreal express. Here, put the rest of your things in
your grip and jam it shut. We'll get something to eat on the
train--I hope. I'll wire we're coming. Don't forget to latch the

Kennedy was already half-way to the elevator, and I followed
ruefully, still thinking of the ocean and the piers, the bands
and the roller chairs.

It was a good ten-hour journey up to the little station nearest
Camp Hang-out and at least a two hour ride after that. We had
plenty of time to reflect over what this death might mean to Tom
and his sister and to speculate on the manner of it. Tom and
Grace Langley were relatives by marriage of Lewis Langley, who,
after the death of his wife, had made them his proteges. Lewis
Langley was principally noted, as far as I could recall, for
being a member of some of the fastest clubs of both New York and
London. Neither Kennedy nor myself had shared in the world's
opinion of him, for we knew how good he had been to Tom in
college and, from Tom, how good he had been to Grace. In fact, he
had made Tom assume the Langley name, and in every way had
treated the brother and sister as if they had been his own

Tom met us with a smart trap at the station, a sufficient
indication, if we had not already known, of the "roughing it" at
such a luxurious Adirondack "camp" as Camp Hang-out. He was
unaffectedly glad to see us, and it was not difficult to read in
his face the worry which the affair had already given him.

"Tom; I'm awfully sorry to--" began Craig when, warned by
Langley's look at the curious crowd that always gathers at the
railroad station at train time, he cut it short. We stood
silently a moment while Tom was arranging the trap for us.

As we swung around the bend in the road that cut off the little
station and its crowd of lookers-on, Kennedy was the first to
speak. "Tom," he said, "first of all, let me ask that when we get
to the camp we are to be simply two old classmates whom you had
asked to spend a few days before the tragedy occurred. Anything
will do. There may be nothing at all to your evident suspicions,
and then again there may. At any rate, play the game
safely--don't arouse any feeling which might cause unpleasantness
later in case you are mistaken."

"I quite agree with you," answered Tom. "You wired, from Albany,
I think, to keep the facts out of the papers as much as possible.
I'm afraid it is too late for that. Of course the thing became
vaguely known in Saranac, although the county officers have been
very considerate of us, and this morning a New York Record
correspondent was over and talked with us. I couldn't refuse,
that would have put a very bad face on it."

"Too bad," I exclaimed. "I had hoped, at least, to be able to
keep the report down to a few lines in the Star. But the Record
will have such a yellow story about it that I'll simply have to
do something to counteract the effect."

"Yes," assented Craig. "But--wait. Let's see the Record story
first. The office doesn't know you're up here. You can hold up
the Star and give us time to look things over, perhaps get in a
beat on the real story and set things right. Anyhow, the news is
out. That's certain. We must work quickly. Tell me, Tom, who are
at the camp--anyone except relatives?"

"No," he replied, guardedly measuring his words. "Uncle Lewis had
invited his brother James and his niece and nephew, Isabelle and
James, junior--we call him Junior. Then there are Grace and
myself and a distant relative, Harrington Brown, and--oh, of
course, uncle's physician, Doctor Putnam."

"Who is Harrington Brown" asked Craig.

"He's on the other side of the Langley family, on Uncle Lewis's
mother's side. I think, or at least Grace thinks, that he is
quite in love with Isabelle. Harrington Brown would be quite a
catch. Of course he isn't wealthy, but his family is mighty well
connected. Oh, Craig," sighed Langley, "I wish he hadn't done
it--Uncle Lewis, I mean. Why did he invite his brother up here
now when he needed to recover from the swift pace of last winter
in New York? You know --or you don't know, I suppose, but you'll
know it now--when he and Uncle Jim got together there was nothing
to it but one drink after another. Doctor Putnam was quite
disgusted, at least he professed to be, but, Craig," he lowered
his voice to a whisper, as if the very forest had ears, "they're
all alike--they've been just waiting for Uncle Lewis to drink
himself to death. Oh," he added bitterly, "there's no love lost
between me and the relatives on that score, I can assure you."

"How did you find him that morning?" asked Kennedy, as if to turn
off this unlocking of family secrets to strangers.

"That's the worst part of the whole affair," replied Tom, and
even in the dusk I could see the lines of his face tighten. "You
know Uncle Lewis was a hard drinker, but he never seemed to show
it much. We had been out on the lake in the motor-boat fishing
all the afternoon and--well, I must admit both my uncles had had
frequent recourse to 'pocket pistols,' and I remember they
referred to it each time as 'bait.' Then after supper nothing
would do but fizzes and rickeys. I was disgusted, and after
reading a bit went to bed. Harrington and my uncles sat up with
Doctor Putnam--according to Uncle Jim--for a couple of hours
longer. Then Harrington, Doctor Putnam, and Uncle Jim went to
bed, leaving Uncle Lewis still drinking. I remember waking in the
night, and the house seemed saturated with a peculiar odour. I
never smelt anything like it in my life. So I got up and slipped
into my bathrobe. I met Grace in the hall. She was sniffing.

"Don't you smell something burning?' she asked.

"I said I did and started down-stairs to investigate. Everything
was dark, but that smell was all over the house. I looked in each
room down-stairs as I went, but could see nothing. The kitchen
and dining-room were all right. I glanced into the living-room,
but, while the smell was more noticeable there, I could see no
evidence of a fire except the dying embers on the hearth. It had
been coolish that night, and we had had a few logs blazing. I
didn't examine the room--there seemed no reason for it. We went
back to our rooms, and in the morning they found the gruesome
object I had missed in the darkness and shadows of the

Kennedy was intently listening. "Who found him?" he asked.

"Harrington," replied Tom. "He roused us. Harrington's theory is
that uncle set himself on fire with a spark from his cigar--a
charred cigar butt was found on the floor."

We found Tom's relatives a saddened, silent party in the face of
the tragedy. Kennedy and I apologised very profusely for our
intrusion, but Tom quickly interrupted, as we had agreed, by
explaining that he had insisted on our coming, as old friends on
whom he felt he could rely, especially to set the matter right in
the newspapers.

I think Craig noticed keenly the reticence of the family group in
the mystery--I might almost have called it suspicion. They did
not seem to know just whether to take it as an accident or as
something worse, and each seemed to entertain a reserve toward
the rest which was very uncomfortable.

Mr. Langley's attorney in New York had been notified, but
apparently was out of town, for he had not been heard from. They
seemed rather anxious to get word from him.

Dinner over, the family group separated, leaving Tom an
opportunity to take us into the gruesome living-room. Of course
the remains had been removed, but otherwise the room was exactly
as it had been when Harrington discovered the tragedy. I did not
see the body, which was lying in an anteroom, but Kennedy did,
and spent some time in there.

After he rejoined us, Kennedy next examined the fireplace. It was
full of ashes from the logs which had been lighted on the fatal
night. He noted attentively the distance of Lewis Langley's chair
from the fireplace, and remarked that the varnish on the chair
was not even blistered.

Before the chair, on the floor where the body had been found, he
pointed out to us the peculiar ash-marks for some space around,
but it really seemed to me as if something else interested him
more than these ash-marks.

We had been engaged perhaps half an hour in viewing the room. At
last Craig suddenly stopped.

"Tom," he said, "I think I'll wait till daylight before I go any
further. I can't tell with certainty under these lights, though
perhaps they show me some things the sunlight wouldn't show. We'd
better leave everything just as it is until morning."

So we locked the room again and went into a sort of library
across the hall.

We were sitting in silence, each occupied with his own thoughts
on the mystery, when the telephone rang. It proved to be a
long-distance call from New York for Tom himself. His uncle's
attorney had received the news at his home out on Long Island and
had hurried to the city to take charge of the estate. But that
was not the news that caused the grave look on Tom's face as he
nervously rejoined us.

"That was uncle's lawyer, Mr. Clark, of Clark & Burdick," he
said. "He has opened uncle's personal safe in the offices of the
Langley estate--you remember them, Craig--where all the property
of the Langley heirs is administered by the trustees. He says he
can't find the will, though he knows there was a will and that it
was placed in that safe some time ago. There is no duplicate."

The full purport of this information at once flashed on me, and I
was on the point of blurting out my sympathy, when I saw by the
look which Craig and Tom exchanged that they had already realised
it and understood each other. Without the will the
blood-relatives would inherit all of Lewis Langley's interest in
the old Langley estate. Tom and his sister would be penniless.

It was late, yet we sat for nearly an hour longer, and I don't
think we exchanged a half-dozen sentences in all that time. Craig
seemed absorbed in thought. At length, as the great hall-clock
sounded midnight, we rose as if by common consent.

"Tom," said Craig, and I could feel the sympathy that welled up
in his voice, "Tom, old man, I'll get at the bottom of this
mystery if human intelligence can do it."

"I know you will, Craig," responded Tom, grasping each of us by
the hand. "That's why I so much wanted you fellows to come up

Early in the morning Kennedy aroused me. "Now, Walter, I'm going
to ask you to come down into the living-room with me, and we'll
take a look at it in the daytime."

I hurried into my clothes, and together we quietly went down.
Starting with the exact spot where the unfortunate man had been
discovered, Kennedy began a minute examination of the floor,
using his pocket lens. Every few moments he would stop to examine
a spot on the rug or on the hardwood floor more intently. Several
times I saw him scrape up something with the blade of his knife
and carefully preserve the scrapings, each in a separate piece of

Sitting idly by, I could not for the life of me see just what
good it did for me to be there, and I said as much. Kennedy
laughed quietly.

"You're a material witness, Walter," he replied. "Perhaps I shall
need you some day to testify that I actually found these spots in
this room."

Just then Tom stuck his head in. "Can I help?" he asked. "Why
didn't you tell me you were going at it so early?"

"No, thanks," answered Craig, rising from the floor. "I was just
making a careful examination of the room before anyone was up so
that nobody would think I was too interested. I've finished. But
you can help me, after all. Do you think you could describe
exactly how everyone was dressed that night?"

"Why, I can try. Let me see. To begin with, uncle had on a
shooting-jacket--that was pretty well burnt, as you know. Why, in
fact, we all had our shooting-jackets on. The ladies were in

Craig pondered a little, but did not seem disposed to pursue the
subject further, until Tom volunteered the information that since
the tragedy none of them had been wearing their shooting jackets.

"We've all been wearing city clothes," he remarked.

"Could you get your Uncle James and your Cousin Junior to go with
you for an hour or two this morning on the lake, or on a tramp in
the woods?" asked Craig after a moment's thought.

"Really, Craig," responded Tom doubtfully, "I ought to go to
Saranac to complete the arrangements for taking Uncle Lewis's
body to New York."

"Very well, persuade them to go with you. Anything, so long as
you keep me from interruption for an hour or two."

They agreed on doing that, and as by that time most of the family
were up, we went in to breakfast, another silent and suspicious

After breakfast Kennedy tactfully withdrew from the family, and I
did the same. We wandered off in the direction of the stables and
there fell to admiring some of the horses. The groom, who seemed
to be a sensible and pleasant sort of fellow, was quite ready to
talk, and soon he and Craig were deep in discussing the game of
the north country.

"Many rabbits about here?" asked Kennedy at length, when they had
exhausted the larger game.

"Oh, yes. I saw one this morning, sir," replied the groom.

"Indeed?" said Kennedy. "Do you suppose you could catch a couple
for me?"

"Guess I could, sir--alive, you mean?"

"Oh, yes, alive--I don't want you to violate the game laws. This
is the closed season, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir, but then it's all right, sir, here on the estate."

"Bring them to me this afternoon, or--no, keep them here in the
stable in a cage and let me know when you have them. If anybody
asks you about them, say they belong to Mr. Tom."

Craig handed a small treasury note to the groom, who took it with
a grin and touched his hat.

"Thanks," he said. "I'll let you know when I have the bunnies."

As we walked slowly back from the stables we caught sight of Tom
down at the boat-house just putting off in the motor-boat with
his uncle and cousin. Craig waved to him, and he walked up to
meet us.

"While you're in Saranac," said Craig, "buy me a dozen or so
test-tubes. Only, don't let anyone here at the house know you are
buying them. They might ask questions."

While they were gone Kennedy stole into James Langley's room and
after a few minutes returned to our room with the hunting-jacket.
He carefully examined it with his pocket lens. Then he filled a
drinking-glass with warm boiled water and added a few pinches of
table salt. With a piece of sterilised gauze from Doctor Putnam's
medicine-chest, he carefully washed off a few portions of the
coat and set the glass and the gauze soaking in it aside. Then he
returned the coat to the closet where he had found it. Next, as
silently, he stole into Junior's room and repeated the process
with his hunting-jacket, using another glass and piece of gauze.

"While I am out of the room, Walter," he said, "I want you to
take these two glasses, cover them, and number them and on a slip
of paper which you must retain, place the names of the owners of
the respective coats. I don't like this part of it--I hate to
play spy and would much rather come out in the open, but there is
nothing else to do, and it is much better for all concerned that
I should play the game secretly just now. There may be no cause
for suspicion at all. In that case I'd never forgive myself for
starting a family row. And then again but we shall see."

After I had numbered and recorded the glasses Kennedy returned,
and we went down-stairs again.

"Curious about the will, isn't it?" I remarked as we stood on the
wide verandah a moment.

"Yes," he replied. "It may be necessary to go back to New York to
delve into that part of it before we get through, but I hope not.
We'll wait."

At this point the groom interrupted us to say that he had caught
the rabbits. Kennedy at once hurried to the stable. There he
rolled up his sleeves, pricked a vein in his arm, and injected a
small quantity of his own blood into one of the rabbits. The
other he did not touch.

It was late in the afternoon when Tom returned from town with his
uncle and cousin. He seemed even more agitated than usual.
Without a word he hurried up from the landing and sought us out.

"What do you think of that?" he cried, opening a copy of the
Record, and laying it flat on the library table.

There on the front page was Lewis Langley's picture with a huge


"It's all out," groaned Tom, as we bent over to read the account.
"And such a story!"

Under the date of the day previous, a Saranac despatch ran:

Lewis Langley, well known as sporting man and club member in New
York, and eldest son of the late Lewis Langley, the banker, was
discovered dead under the most mysterious circumstances this
morning at Camp Hangout, twelve miles from this town.

The Death of "Old Krook" in Dickens's "Bleak House" or of the
victim in one of Marryat's most thrilling tales was not more
gruesome than this actual fact. It is without doubt a case of
spontaneous human combustion, such as is recorded beyond dispute
in medical and medico-legal text-books of the past two centuries.
Scientists in this city consulted for the Record agree that,
while rare, spontaneous human combustion is an established fact
and that everything in this curious case goes to show that
another has been added to the already well-authenticated list of
cases recorded in America and Europe. The family refuse to be
interviewed, which seems to indicate that the rumours in medical
circles in Saranac have a solid basis of fact.

Then followed a circumstantial account of the life of Langley and
the events leading up to the discovery of the body--fairly
accurate in itself, but highly coloured.

"The Record man must have made good use of his time here," I
commented, as I finished reading the despatch. "And--well, they
must have done some hard work in New York to get this story up so
completely--see, after the despatch follow a lot of interviews,
and here is a short article on spontaneous combustion itself."

Harrington and the rest of the family had just come in.

"What's this we hear about the Record having an article?"
Harrington asked. "Read it aloud, Professor, so we can all hear

"'Spontaneous human combustion, or catacausis ebriosus,"' began
Craig, "'is one of the baffling human scientific mysteries.
Indeed, there can be no doubt but that individuals have in some
strange and inexplicable manner caught fire and been partially or
almost wholly consumed.

"'Some have attributed it to gases in the body, such as
carbureted hydrogen. Once it was noted at the Hotel Dieu in Paris
that a body on being dissected gave forth a gas which was
inflammable and burned with a bluish flame. Others have
attributed the combustion to alcohol. A toper several years ago
in Brooklyn and New York used to make money by blowing his breath
through a wire gauze and lighting it. Whatever the cause, medical
literature records seventy-six cases of catacausis in two hundred

"'The combustion seems to be sudden and is apparently confined to
the cavities, the abdomen, chest, and head. Victims of ordinary
fire accidents rush hither and thither frantically, succumb from
exhaustion, their limbs are burned, and their clothing is all
destroyed. But in catacausis they are stricken down without
warning, the limbs are rarely burned, and only the clothing in
contact with the head and chest is consumed. The residue is like
a distillation of animal tissue, grey and dark, with an
overpoweringly fetid odour. They are said to burn with a
flickering stifled blue flame, and water, far from arresting the
combustion, seems to add to it. Gin is particularly rich in
inflammable, empyreumatic oils, as they are called, and in most
cases it is recorded that the catacausis took place among
gin-drinkers, old and obese.

"'Within the past few years cases are on record which seem to
establish catacausis beyond doubt. In one case the heat was so
great as to explode a pistol in the pocket of the victim. In
another, a woman, the victim's husband was asphyxiated by the
smoke. The woman weighed, one hundred and eighty pounds in life,
but the ashes weighed only twelve pounds: In all these cases the
proof of spontaneous combustion seems conclusive.'"

As Craig finished reading, we looked blankly, horrified, at one
another. It was too dreadful to realise.

"What do you think of it, Professor" asked James Langley, at
length. "I've read somewhere of such cases, but to think of its
actually happening--and to my own brother. Do you really think
Lewis could have met his death in this terrible manner"

Kennedy made no reply. Harrington seemed absorbed in thought. A
shudder passed over us as we thought about it. But, gruesome as
it was, it was evident that the publication of the story in the
Record had relieved the feelings of the family group in one
respect--it at least seemed to offer an explanation. It was
noticeable that the suspicious air with which everyone had
regarded everyone else was considerably dispelled.

Tom said nothing until the others had withdrawn. "Kennedy," he
burst out, then, "do you believe that such combustion is
absolutely spontaneous? Don't you believe that something else is
necessary to start it?"

"I'd rather not express an opinion just yet, Tom," answered Craig
carefully. "Now, if you can get Harrington and Doctor Putnam away
from the house for a short time, as you did with your uncle and
cousin this morning, I may be able to tell you something about
this case soon."

Again Kennedy stole into another bed-room, and returned to our
room with a hunting-jacket. Just as he had done before, he
carefully washed it off with the gauze soaked in the salt
solution and quickly returned the coat, repeating the process
with Doctor Putnam's coat and, last, that of Tom himself. Finally
he turned his back while I sealed the glasses and marked and
recorded them on my slip.

The next day was spent mainly in preparations for the journey to
New York with the body of Lewis Langley. Kennedy was very busy on
what seemed to me to be preparations for some mysterious chemical
experiments. I found myself fully occupied in keeping special
correspondents from all over the country at bay.

That evening after dinner we were all sitting in the open summer
house over the boat-house. Smudges of green pine were burning and
smoking on little artificial islands of stone near the lake
shore, lighting up the trees on every side with a red glare. Tom
and his sister were seated with Kennedy and myself on one side,
while some distance from us Harrington was engaged in earnest
conversation with Isabelle. The other members of the family were
further removed. That seemed typical to me of the way the family
group split up.

"Mr. Kennedy," remarked Grace in a thoughtful, low tone, "what do
you make of that Record article?"

"Very clever, no doubt," replied Craig.

"But don't you think it strange about the will?"

"Hush," whispered Tom, for Isabelle and Harrington had ceased
talking and might perhaps be listening.

Just then one of the servants came up with a telegram.

Tom hastily opened it and read the message eagerly in the corner
of the summer house nearest one of the glowing smudges. I felt
instinctively that it was from his lawyer. He turned and beckoned
to Kennedy and myself.

"What do you think of that" he whispered hoarsely.

We bent over and in the flickering light read the message:

New York papers full of spontaneous combustion story. Record had
exclusive story yesterday, but all papers to-day feature even
more. Is it true? Please wire additional details at once. Also
immediate instructions regarding loss of will. Has been
abstracted from safe. Could Lewis Langley have taken it himself?
Unless new facts soon must make loss public or issue statement
Lewis Langley intestate.


Tom looked blankly at Kennedy, and then at his sister, who was
sitting alone. I thought I could read what was passing in his
mind. With all his faults Lewis Langley had been a good
foster-parent to his adopted children. But it was all over now if
the will was lost.

"What can I do?" asked Tom hopelessly. "I have nothing to reply
to him."

"But I have," quietly returned Kennedy, deliberately folding up
the message and handing it back. "Tell them all to be in the
library in fifteen minutes. This message hurries me a bit, but I
am prepared. You will have something to wire Mr. Clark after
that." Then he strode off toward the house, leaving us to gather
the group together in considerable bewilderment.

A quarter of an hour later we had all assembled in the library,
across the hall from the room in which Lewis Langley had been
found. As usual Kennedy began by leaping straight into the middle
of his subject.

"Early in the eighteenth century;" he commenced slowly, "a woman
was found burned to death. There were no clues, and the
scientists of that time suggested spontaneous combustion. This
explanation was accepted. The theory always has been that the
process of respiration by which the tissues of the body are used
up and got rid of gives the body a temperature, and it has seemed
that it may be possible, by preventing the escape of this heat,
to set fire to the body."

We were leaning forward expectantly, horrified by the thought
that perhaps, after all, the Record was correct.

"Now," resumed Kennedy, his tone changing, "suppose we try a
little experiment--one that was tried very convincingly by the
immortal Liebig. Here is a sponge. I am going to soak it in gin
from this bottle, the same that Mr. Langley was drinking from on
the night of the--er--the tragedy."

Kennedy took the saturated sponge and placed it in an agate-iron
pan from the kitchen. Then he lighted it. The bluish flame shot
upward, and in tense silence we watched it burn lower and lower,
till all the alcohol was consumed. Then he picked up the sponge
and passed it around. It was dry, but the sponge itself had not
been singed.

"We now know," he continued, "that from the nature of combustion
it is impossible for the human body to undergo spontaneous
ignition or combustion in the way the scientific experts of the
past century believed. Swathe the body in the thickest of
non-conductors of heat, and what happens? A profuse perspiration
exudes, and before such an ignition could possibly take place all
the moisture of the body would have to be evaporated. As
seventy-five per cent or more of the body is water, it is evident
that enormous heat would be necessary moisture is the great
safeguard. The experiment which I have shown you could be
duplicated with specimens of human organs preserved for years in
alcohol in museums. They would burn just as this sponge--the
specimen itself would be very nearly uninjured by the burning of
the alcohol."

"Then, Professor Kennedy, you maintain that my brother did not
meet his death by such an accident" asked James Langley.

"Exactly that, sir," replied Craig. "One of the most important
aspects of the historic faith in this phenomenon is that of its
skilful employment in explaining away what would otherwise appear
to be convincing circumstantial evidence in cases of accusations
of murder."

"Then how do you explain Mr. Langley's death?" demanded
Harrington. "My theory of a spark from a cigar may be true, after

"I am coming to that in a moment," answered Kennedy quietly. "My
first suspicion was aroused by what not even Doctor Putnam seems
to have noticed. The skull of Mr. Langley, charred and consumed
as it was, seemed to show marks of violence. It might have been
from a fracture of the skull or it might have been an accident to
his remains as they were being removed to the anteroom. Again,
his tongue seemed as though it was protruding. That might have
been natural suffocation, or it might have been from forcible
strangulation. So far I had nothing but conjecture to work on.
But in looking over the living-room I found near the table, on
the hardwood floor, a spot--just one little round spot. Now,
deductions from spots, even if we know them to be blood, must be
made very carefully. I did not know this to be a blood-spot, and
so was very careful at first.

"Let us assume it was a blood-spot, however. What did it show? It
was just a little regular round spot, quite thick. Now, drops of
blood falling only a few inches usually make a round spot with a
smooth border. Still the surface on which the drop falls is quite
as much a factor as the height from which it falls. If the
surface is rough the border may be irregular. But this was a
smooth surface and not absorbent. The thickness of a dried
blood-spot on a non-absorbent surface is less the greater the
height from which it has fallen. This was a thick spot. Now if it
had fallen, say, six feet, the height of Mr. Langley, the spot
would have been thin --some secondary spatters might have been
seen, or at least an irregular edge around the spot. Therefore,
if it was a blood-spot, it had fallen only one or two feet. I
ascertained next that the lower part of the body showed no wounds
or bruises whatever.

"Tracks of blood such as are left by dragging a bleeding body
differ very greatly from tracks of arterial blood which are left
when the victim has strength to move himself. Continuing my
speculations, supposing it to be a blood-spot, what did it
indicate? Clearly that Mr. Langley was struck by somebody on the
head with a heavy instrument, perhaps in another part of the
room, that he was choked, that as the drops of blood oozed from
the wound on his head, he was dragged across the floor, in the
direction of the fireplace--"

"But, Professor Kennedy," interrupted Doctor Putnam, "have you
proved that the spot was a blood-spot? Might it not have been a
paint-spot or something of that sort?"

Kennedy had apparently been waiting for just such a question.

"Ordinarily, water has no effect on paint," he answered. "I found
that the spot could be washed off with water. That is not all. I
have a test for blood that is so delicately sensitive that the
blood of an Egyptian mummy thousands of years old will respond to
it. It was discovered by a German scientist, Doctor Uhlenhuth,
and was no longer ago than last winter applied in England in
connection with the Clapham murder. The suspected murderer
declared that stains on his clothes were only spatters of paint,
but the test proved them to be spatters of blood. Walter, bring
in the cage with the rabbits."

I opened the door and took the cage from the groom, who had
brought it up from the stable and stood waiting with it some
distance away.

"This test is very simple, Doctor Putnam," continued Craig, as I
placed the cage on the table and Kennedy unwrapped the sterilised
test-tubes. "A rabbit is inoculated with human blood, and after a
time the serum that is taken from the rabbit supplies the
material for the test.

"I will insert this needle in one of these rabbits which has been
so inoculated and will draw off some of the serum, which I place
in this test-tube to the right. The other rabbit has not been
inoculated. I draw off some of its serum and place that tube here
on the left--we will call that our 'control tube.' It will check
the results of our tests.

"Wrapped up in this paper I have the scrapings of the spot which
I found on the floor--just a few grains of dark, dried powder. To
show how sensitive the test is, I will take only one of the
smallest of these minute scrapings. I dissolve it in this third
tube with distilled water. I will even divide it in half, and
place the other half in this fourth tube.

"Next I add some of the serum of the uninoculated rabbit to the
half in this tube. You observe, nothing happens. I add a little
of the serum of the inoculated rabbit to the other half in this
other tube. Observe how delicate the test is--"

Kennedy was leaning forward, almost oblivious of the rest of us
in the room, talking almost as if to himself. We, too, had
riveted our eyes on the tubes.

As he added the serum from the inoculated rabbit, a cloudy milky
ring formed almost immediately in the hitherto colourless, very
dilute blood-solution.

"That," concluded Craig, triumphantly holding the tube aloft,
"that conclusively proves that the little round spot on the
hardwood floor was not paint, was not anything in this wide world
but blood."

No one in the room said a word, but I knew there must have been
someone there who thought volumes in the few minutes that

"Having found one blood-spot, I began to look about for more, but
was able to find only two or three traces where spots seemed to
have been. The fact is that the blood spots had been apparently
carefully wiped up. That is an easy matter. Hot water and salt,
or hot water alone, or even cold water, will make quite short
work of fresh blood-spots--at least to all outward appearances.
But nothing but a most thorough cleaning can conceal them from
the Uhlenhuth test, even when they are apparently wiped out. It
is a case of Lady Macbeth over again, crying in the face of
modern science, ' Out, out, damned spot.'

"I was able with sufficient definiteness to trace roughly a
course of blood-spots from the fireplace to a point near the door
of the living-room. But beyond the door, in the hall, nothing."

"Still," interrupted Harrington, "to get back to the facts in the
case. They are perfectly in accord either with my theory of the
cigar or the Record's of spontaneous combustion. How do you
account for the facts?"

"I suppose you refer to the charred bead, the burned neck, the
upper chest cavity, while the arms and legs were untouched?"

"Yes, and then the body was found in the midst of combustible
furniture that was not touched. It seems to me that even the
spontaneous-combustion theory has considerable support in spite
of this very interesting circumstantial evidence about
blood-spots. Next to my own theory, the combustion theory seems
most in harmony with the facts."

"If you will go over in your mind all the points proved to have
been discovered--not the added points in the Record story--I
think you will agree with me that mine is a more logical
interpretation than spontaneous combustion," reasoned Craig.
"Hear me out and you will see that the facts are more in harmony
with my less fanciful explanation. No, someone struck Lewis
Langley down either in passion or in cold blood, and then, seeing
what he had done, made a desperate effort to destroy the evidence
of violence. Consider my next discovery."

Kennedy placed the five glasses which I had carefully sealed and
labelled on the table before us.

"The next step," he said, "was to find out whether any articles
of clothing in the house showed marks that might be suspected of
being blood-spots. And here I must beg the pardon of all in the
room for intruding in their private wardrobes. But in this crisis
it was absolutely necessary, and under such circumstances I never
let ceremony stand before justice.

"In these five glasses on the table I have the washings of spots
from the clothing worn by Tom, Mr. James Langley, Junior,
Harrington Brown, and Doctor Putnam. I am not going to tell you
which is which--indeed I merely have them marked, and I do not
know them myself. But Mr. Jameson has the marks with the names
opposite on a piece of paper in his pocket. I am simply going to
proceed with the tests to see if any of the stains on the coats
were of blood."

Just then Doctor Putnam interposed. "One question, Professor
Kennedy. It is a comparatively easy thing to recognise a
blood-stain, but it is difficult, usually impossible, to tell
whether the blood is that of a man or of an animal. I recall that
we were all in our hunting-jackets that day, had been all day.
Now, in the morning there had been an operation on one of the
horses at the stable, and I assisted the veterinary from town. I
may have got a spot or two of blood on my coat from that
operation. Do I understand that this test would show that"

"No," replied Craig, "this test would not show that. Other tests
would, but not this. But if the spot of human blood were less
than the size of a pin-head, it would show--it would show if the
spot contained even so little as one twenty-thousandth of a gram
of albumin. Blood from a horse, a deer, a sheep, a pig, a dog,
could be obtained, but when the test was applied the liquid in
which they were diluted would remain clear. No white precipitin,
as it is called, would form. But let human blood, ever so
diluted, be added to the serum of the inoculated rabbit, and the
test is absolute."

A death-like silence seemed to pervade the loom. Kennedy slowly
and deliberately began to test the contents of the glasses.
Dropping into each, as he broke the seal, some of the serum of
the rabbit, he waited a moment to see if any change occurred.

It was thrilling. I think no one could have gone through that
fifteen minutes without having it indelibly impressed on his
memory. I recall thinking as Kennedy took each glass, "Which is
it to be, guilt or innocence, life or death?" Could it be
possible that a man's life might hang on such a slender thread? I
knew Kennedy was too accurate and serious to deceive us. It was
not only possible, it was actually a fact.

The first glass showed no reaction. Someone had been vindicated.

The second was neutral likewise--another person in the room had
been proved innocent.

The third--no change. Science had released a third.

The fourth--

Almost it seemed as if the record in my pocket
burned--spontaneously --so intense was my feeling. There in the
glass was that fatal, telltale white precipitate.

"My God, it's the milk ring!" whispered Tom close to my ear.

Hastily Kennedy dropped the serum into the fifth. It remained as
clear as crystal.

My hand trembled as it touched the envelope containing my record
of the names.

"The person who wore the coat with that bloodstain on it,"
declared Kennedy solemnly, "was the person who struck Lewis
Langley down, who choked him and then dragged his scarcely dead
body across the floor and obliterated the marks of violence in
the blazing log fire. Jameson, whose name is opposite the sign on
this glass?"

I could scarcely tear the seal to look at the paper in the
envelope. At last I unfolded it, and my eye fell on the name
opposite the fatal sign. But my mouth was dry, and my tongue
refused to move. It was too much like reading a death-sentence.
With my finger on the name I faltered an instant.

Tom leaned over my shoulder and read it to himself. "For Heaven's
sake, Jameson," he cried, "let the ladies retire before you read
the name."

"It's not necessary," said a thick voice. "We quarrelled over the
estate. My share's mortgaged up to the limit, and Lewis refused
to lend me more even until I could get Isabelle happily married.
Now Lewis's goes to an outsider--Harrington, boy, take care of
Isabelle, fortune or no fortune. Good--"

Someone seized James Langley's arm as he pressed an automatic
revolver to his temple. He reeled like a drunken man and dropped
the gun on the floor with an oath.

"Beaten again," he muttered. "Forgot to move the ratchet from
'safety' to 'fire.'"

Like a madman he wrenched himself loose from us, sprang through
the door, and darted upstairs. "I'll show you some combustion!"
he shouted back fiercely.

Kennedy was after him like a flash. "The will!" he cried.

We literally tore the door off its hinges and burst into James
Langley's room. He was bending eagerly over the fireplace.
Kennedy made a flying leap at him. Just enough of the will was
left unburned to be admitted to probate.

IX. The Terror In The Air

"There's something queer about these aeroplane accidents at
Belmore Park," mused Kennedy, one evening, as his eye caught a
big headline in the last edition of the Star, which I had brought
uptown with me.

"Queer?" I echoed. "Unfortunate, terrible, but hardly queer. Why,
it is a common saying among the aeronauts that if they keep at it
long enough they will all lose their lives."

"Yes, I know that," rejoined Kennedy; "but, Walter, have you
noticed that all these accidents have happened to Norton's new
gyroscope machines?"

"Well, what of that" I replied. "Isn't it just barely possible
that Norton is on the wrong track in applying the gyroscope to an
aeroplane? I can't say I know much about either the gyroscope or
the aeroplane, but from what I hear the fellows at the office say
it would seem to me that the gyroscope is a pretty good thing to
keep off an aeroplane, not to put on it."

"Why?" asked Kennedy blandly.

"Well, it seems to me, from what the experts say, that anything
which tends to keep your machine in one position is just what you
don't want in an aeroplane. What surprises them, they say, is
that the thing seems to work so well up to a certain point--that
the accidents don't happen sooner. Why, our man on the aviation
field tells me that when that poor fellow Browne was killed he
had all but succeeded in bringing his machine to a dead stop in
the air. In other words, he would have won the Brooks Prize for
perfect motionlessness in one place. And then Herrick, the day
before, was going about seventy miles an hour when he collapsed.
They said it was heart failure. But to-night another expert says
in the Star --here, I'll read it: 'The real cause was
carbonic-acid-gas poisoning due to the pressure on the mouth from
driving fast through the air, and the consequent inability to
expel the poisoned air which had been breathed. Air once breathed
is practically carbonic-acid-gas. When one is passing rapidly
through the air this carbonic-acid-gas is pushed back into the
lungs, and only a little can get away because of the rush of air
pressure into the mouth. So it is rebreathed, and the result is
gradual carbonic-acid-gas poisoning, which produces a kind of
narcotic sleep.'"

"Then it wasn't the gyroscope in that case" said Kennedy with a
rising inflection.

"No," I admitted reluctantly, "perhaps not."

I could see that I had been rash in talking so long. Kennedy had
only been sounding me to see what the newspapers thought of it.
His next remark was characteristic.

"Norton has asked me to look into the thing," he said quietly.
"If his invention is a failure, he is a ruined man. All his money
is in it, he is suing a man for infringing on his patent, and he
is liable for damages to the heirs, according to his agreement
with Browne and Herrick. I have known Norton some time; in fact,
he worked out his ideas at the university physical laboratory. I
have flown in his machine, and it is the most marvellous biplane
I ever saw. Walter, I want you to get a Belmore Park assignment
from the Star and go out to the aviation meet with me tomorrow.
I'll take you on the field, around the machines--you can get
enough local colour to do a dozen Star specials later on. I may
add that devising a flying-machine capable of remaining
stationary in the air means a revolution that will relegate all
other machines to the scrap-heap. >From a military point of view
it is the one thing necessary to make the aeroplane the superior
in every respect to the dirigible."

The regular contests did not begin until the afternoon, but
Kennedy and I decided to make a day of it, and early the next
morning we were speeding out to the park where the flights were
being held.

We found Charles Norton, the inventor, anxiously at work with his
mechanicians in the big temporary shed that had been accorded
him, and was dignified with the name of hangar.

"I knew you would come, Professor," he exclaimed, running forward
to meet us.

"Of course," echoed Kennedy. "I'm too much interested in this
invention of yours not to help you, Norton. You know what I've
always thought of it--I've told you often that it is the most
important advance since the original discovery by the Wrights
that the aeroplane could be balanced by warping the planes."

"I'm just fixing up my third machine," said Norton. "If anything
happens to it, I shall lose the prize, at least as far as this
meet is concerned, for I don't believe I shall get my fourth and
newest model from the makers in time. Anyhow, if I did I couldn't
pay for it--I am ruined, if I don't win that
twenty-five-thousand-dollar Brooks Prize. And, besides, a couple
of army men are coming to inspect my aeroplane and report to the
War Department on it. I'd have stood a good chance of selling it,
I think, if my flights here had been like the trials you saw.
But, Kennedy," he added, and his face was drawn and tragic, "I'd
drop the whole thing if I didn't know I was right. Two men
dead--think of it. Why, even the newspapers are beginning to call
me a cold, heartless, scientific crank, to keep on. But I'll show
them--this afternoon I'm going to fly myself. I'm not afraid to
go anywhere I send my men. I'll die before I'll admit I'm

It was easy to see why Kennedy was fascinated by a man of
Norton's type. Anyone would have been. It was not foolhardiness.
It was dogged determination, faith in himself and in his own
ability to triumph over every obstacle.

We now slowly entered the shed where two men were working over
Norton's biplane. One of the men was a Frenchman, Jaurette, who
had worked with Farman, a silent, dark-browed, weatherbeaten
fellow with a sort of sullen politeness. The other man was an
American, Roy Sinclair, a tall, lithe, wiry chap with a seamed
and furrowed face and a loose-jointed but very deft manner which
marked him a born bird-man. Norton's third aviator, Humphreys,
who was not to fly that day, much to his relief, was reading a
paper in the back of the shed.

We were introduced to him, and be seemed to be a very
companionable sort of fellow, though not given to talking.

"Mr. Norton," he said, after the introduction, "there's quite an
account of your injunction against Delanne in this paper. It
doesn't seem to be very friendly," he added, indicating the

Norton read it and frowned. "Humph! I'll show them yet that my
application of the gyroscope is patentable. Delanne will put me
into 'interference' in the patent office, as the lawyers call it,
will he? Well, I filed a 'caveat' over a year and a half ago. If
I'm wrong, he's wrong, and all gyroscope patents are wrong, and
if I'm right, by George, I'm first in the field. That's so, isn't
it?" he appealed to Kennedy.

Kennedy shrugged his shoulders non-committally, as if he had
never heard of the patent office or the gyroscope in his life.
The men were listening, whether or not from loyalty I could not

"Let us see your gyroplane, I mean aeroseope--whatever it is you
call it," asked Kennedy.

Norton took the cue. "Now you newspaper men are the first that
I've allowed in here," he said. "Can I trust your word of honour
not to publish a line except such as I O.K. after you write it?"

We promised.

As Norton directed, the mechanicians wheeled the aeroplane out on
the field in front of the shed. No one was about.

"Now this is the gyroscope," began Norton, pointing out a thing
encased in an aluminum sheath, which weighed, all told, perhaps
fourteen or fifteen pounds. "You see, the gyroscope is really a
flywheel mounted on gimbals and can turn on any of its angles so
that it can assume any angle in space. When it's at rest like
this you can turn it easily. But when set revolving it tends to
persist always in the plane in which it was started rotating."

I took hold of it, and it did turn readily in any direction. I
could feel the heavy little flywheel inside.

"There is a pretty high vacuum in that aluminum case," went on
Norton. "There's very little friction on that account. The power
to rotate the flywheel is obtained from this little dynamo here,
run by the gas-engine which also turns the propellers of the

"But suppose the engine stops, how about the gyroscope" I asked

"It will go right on for several minutes. You know, the Brennan
monorail car will stand up some time after the power is shut off.
And I carry a small storage-battery that will run it for some
time, too. That's all been guarded against."

Jaurette cranked the engine, a seven-cylindered affair, with the
cylinders sticking out like the spokes of a wheel without a rim.
The propellers turned so fast that I could not see the blades--
turned with that strong, steady, fierce droning buzz that can be
heard a long distance and which is a thrilling sound to hear.
Norton reached over and attached the little dynamo, at the same
time setting the gyroscope at its proper angle and starting it.

"This is the mechanical brain of my new flier," he remarked,
patting the aluminum case lovingly. "You can look in through this
little window in the case and see the flywheel inside revolving -
ten thousand revolutions a minute. Press down on the gyroscope,"
he shouted to me.

As I placed both hands on the case of the apparently frail little
instrument, he added, "You remember how easily you moved it just
a moment ago."

I pressed down with all my might. Then I literally raised myself
off my feet, and my whole weight was on the gyroscope. That
uncanny little instrument seemed to resent--yes, that's the word,
resent --my touch. It was almost human in the resentment, too.
Far from yielding to me, it actually rose on the side I was
pressing down

The men who were watching me laughed at the puzzled look on my

I took my hands off, and the gyroscope leisurely and nonchalantly
went back to its original position.

"That's the property we use, applied to the rudder and the
ailerons --those flat planes between the large main planes. That
gives automatic stability to the machine," continued Norton. "I'm
not going to explain how it is done--it is in the combination of
the various parts that I have discovered the basic principle, and
I'm not going to talk about it till the thing is settled by the
courts. But it is there, and the court will see it, and I'll
prove that Delanne is a fraud--a fraud when he says that my
combination isn't patentable and isn't practicable even at that.
The truth is that his device as it stands isn't practicable, and,
besides, if he makes it so it infringes on mine. Would you like
to take a flight with me?"

I looked at Kennedy, and a vision of the wreckage of the two
previous accidents, as the Star photographer had snapped them,
flashed across my mind. But Kennedy was too quick for me.

"Yes," he answered. "A short flight. No stunts."

We took our seats by Norton, I, at least, with some misgiving.
Gently the machine rose into the air. The sensation was
delightful. The fresh air of the morning came with a stinging
rush to my face. Below I could see the earth sweeping past as if
it were a moving-picture film. Above the continuous roar of the
engine and propeller Norton indicated to Kennedy the automatic
balancing of the gyroscope as it bent the ailerons.

"Could you fly in this machine without the gyroscope at all?"
yelled Kennedy. The noise was deafening, conversation almost
impossible. Though sitting side by side he had to repeat his
remark twice to Norton.

"Yes," called back Norton. Reaching back of him, he pointed out
the way to detach the gyroscope and put a sort of brake on it
that stopped its revolutions almost instantly. "It's a ticklish
job to change in the air," he shouted. "It can be done, but it's
safer to land and do it."

The flight was soon over, and we stood admiring the machine while
Norton expatiated on the compactness of his little dynamo.

"What have you done with the wrecks of the other machines?"
inquired Kennedy at length.

They are stored in a shed down near the railroad station. They
are just a mass of junk, though there are some parts that I can
use, so I'll ship them back to the factory."

"Might I have a look at them?"

"Surely. I'll give you the key. Sorry I can't go myself, but I
want to be sure everything is all right for my flight this

It was a long walk over to the shed near the station, and,
together with our examination of the wrecked machines, it took us
the rest of the morning. Craig carefully turned over the
wreckage. It seemed a hopeless quest to me, but I fancied that to
him it merely presented new problems for his deductive and
scientific mind.

"These gyroscopes are out of business for good," he remarked as
he glanced at the dented and battered aluminum cases. "But there
doesn't seem to be anything wrong with them except what would
naturally happen in such accidents."

For my part I felt a sort of awe at the mass of wreckage in which
Browne and Herrick had been killed. It was to me more than a
tangled mass of wires and splinters. Two human lives had been
snuffed out in it.

"The engines are a mass of scrap; see how the cylinders are bent
and twisted," remarked Kennedy with great interest. "The
gasoline-tank is intact, but dented out of shape. No explosion
there. And look at this dynamo. Why, the wires in it are actually
fused together. The insulation has been completely burned off. I
wonder what could have caused that?"

Kennedy continued to regard the tangled mass thoughtfully for
some time, then locked the door, and we strolled back to the
grand stand on our side of the field. Already the crowd had begun
to collect. Across the field we could see the various machines in
front of their hangars with the men working on them. The buzz of
the engines was wafted across by the light summer breeze as if a
thousand cicadas had broken loose to predict warm weather.

Two machines were already in flight, a little yellow Demoiselle,
scurrying around close to the earth like a frightened hen, and a
Bleriot, high overhead, making slow and graceful turns like a
huge bird.

Kennedy and I stopped before the little wireless telegraph
station of the signal corps in front of the grand stand and
watched the operator working over his instruments.

"There it is again," muttered the operator angrily.

"What's the matter?" asked Kennedy. "Amateurs interfering with

The man nodded a reply, shaking his head with the telephone-like
receiver, viciously. He continued to adjust his apparatus.

"Confound it!" he exclaimed. "Yes, that fellow has been jamming
me for the past two days off and on, every time I get ready to
send or receive a message. Williams is going up with a Wright
machine equipped with wireless apparatus in a minute, and this
fellow won't get out of the way. By Jove, though, those are
powerful impulses of his. Hear that crackling? I've never been
interfered with so in my experience. Touch that screen door with
your knife."

Kennedy did so, and elicited large sparks with quite a tingle of
a shock.

"Yesterday and the day before it was so bad we had to give up
attempting to communicate with Williams," continued the operator.
"It was worse than trying to work in a thunder-shower. That's the
time we get our troubles, when the air is overcharged with
electricity, as it is now."

"That's interesting," remarked Kennedy.

"Interesting?" flashed back the operator, angrily noting the
condition in his "log book."

"Maybe it is, but I call it darned mean. It's almost like trying
to work in a power station."

"Indeed" queried Kennedy. "I beg your pardon--I was only looking
at it from the purely scientific point of view. Who is it, do you

"How do I know? Some amateur, I guess. No professional would butt
in this way."

Kennedy took a leaf out of his note-book and wrote a short
message which he gave to a boy to deliver to Norton.

"Detach your gyroscope and dynamo," it read. "Leave them in the
hangar. Fly without them this afternoon, and see what happens. No
use to try for the prize to-day. Kennedy."

We sauntered out on the open part of the field, back of the fence
and to the side of the stands, and watched the fliers for a few
moments. Three were in the air now, and I could see Norton and
his men getting ready.

The boy with the message was going rapidly across the field.
Kennedy was impatiently watching him. It was too far off to see
just what they were doing, but as Norton seemed to get down out
of his seat in the aeroplane when the boy arrived, and it was
wheeled back into the shed, I gathered that he was detaching the
gyroscope and was going to make the flight without it, as Kennedy
had requested.

In a few minutes it was again wheeled out.

The crowd, which had been waiting especially to see Norton,

"Come, Walter," exclaimed Kennedy, "let's go up there on the roof
of the stand where we can see better. There's a platform and
railing, I see."

His pass allowed him to go anywhere on the field, so in a few
moments we were up on the roof.

It was a fascinating vantage-point, and I was so deeply engrossed
between watching the crowd below, the bird-men in the air, and
the machines waiting across the field that I totally neglected to
notice what Kennedy was doing. When I did, I saw that he had
deliberately turned his back on the aviation field, and was
anxiously, scanning the country back of us.

"What are you looking for?" I asked. "Turn around. I think Norton
is just about to fly."

"Watch him then," answered Craig. "Tell me when he gets in the

Just then Norton's aeroplane rose gently from the field. A wild
shout of applause came from the people below us, at the heroism
of the man who dared to fly this new and apparently fated
machine. It was succeeded by a breathless, deathly calm, as if
after the first burst of enthusiasm the crowd had suddenly
realised the danger of the intrepid aviator. Would Norton add a
third to the fatalities of the meet?

Suddenly Kennedy jerked my arm. "Walter, look over there across
the road back of us--at the old weatherbeaten barn. I mean the
one next to that yellow house. What do you see?"

"Nothing, except that on the peak of the roof there is a pole
that looks like the short stub of a small wireless mast. I should
say there was a boy connected with that barn, a boy who has read
a book on wireless for beginners."

"Maybe," said Kennedy. "But is that all you see? Look up in the
little window of the gable, the one with the closed shutter."

I looked carefully. "It seems tome that I saw a gleam of
something bright at the top of the shutter, Craig," I ventured.
"A spark or a flash."

"It must be a bright spark, for the sun is shining brightly,"
mused Craig.

"Oh, maybe it's the small boy with a looking-glass. I can
remember when I used to get behind such a window and shine a
glass into the darkened room of my neighbours across the street."

I had really said that half in raillery, for I was at a loss to
account in any other way for the light, but I was surprised to
see how eagerly Craig accepted it.

"Perhaps you are right, in a way," he assented. "I guess it isn't
a spark, after all. Yes, it must be the reflection of the sun on
a piece of glass--the angles are just about right for it.

Anyhow it caught my eye. Still, I believe that barn will bear

Whatever his suspicions, Craig kept them to himself, and
descended. At the same time Norton gently dropped back to earth
in front of his hangar, not ten feet from the spot where he
started. The applause was deafening, as the machine was again
wheeled into the shed safely.

Kennedy and I pushed through the crowd to the wireless operator.

"How's she working" inquired Craig.

"Rotten," replied the operator sullenly. "It was worse than ever
about five minutes ago. It's much better now, almost normal

Just then the messenger-boy, who had been hunting through the
crowd for us, handed Kennedy a note. It was merely a scrawl from

"Everything seems fine. Am going to try her next with the
gyroscope. NORTON."

"Boy," exclaimed Craig, "has Cdr. Norton a telephone?"

"No, sir, only that hangar at the end has a telephone."

"Well, you run across that field as fast as your legs can carry
you and tell him if he values his life not to do it."

"Not to do what, sir?"

"Don't stand there, youngster. Run! Tell him not to fly with that
gyroscope. There's a five-spot in it if you get over there before
he starts."

Even as he spoke the Norton aeroplane was wheeled out again. In a
minute Norton had climbed up into his seat and was testing the

Would the boy reach him in time? He was half across the field,
waving his arms like mad. But apparently Norton and his men were
too engrossed in their machine to pay attention.

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Craig. "He's going to try it. Run, boy,
run!" he cried, although the boy was now far out of hearing.

Across the field we could hear now the quick staccato chug-chug
of the engine. Slowly Norton's aeroplane, this time really
equipped with the gyroscope, rose from the field and circled over
toward us. Craig frantically signalled to him to come down, but
of course Norton could not have seen him in the crowd. As for the
crowd, they looked askance at Kennedy, as if he had taken leave
of his senses.

I heard the wireless operator cursing the way his receiver was

Higher and higher Norton went in one spiral after another, those
spirals which his gyroscope had already made famous.

The man with the megaphone in front of the judge's stand
announced in hollow tones that Mr. Norton had given notice that
he would try for the Brooks Prize for stationary equilibrium.

Kennedy and I stood speechless, helpless, appalled.

Slower and slower went the aeroplane. It seemed to hover just
like the big mechanical bird that it was.

Kennedy was anxiously watching the judges with one eye and Norton
with the other. A few in the crowd could no longer restrain their
applause. I remember that the wireless back of us was spluttering
and crackling like mad.

All of a sudden a groan swept over the crowd. Something was wrong
with Norton. His aeroplane was swooping downward at a terrific
rate. Would he be able to control it? I held my breath and
gripped Kennedy by the arm. Down, down came Norton, frantically
fighting by main strength, it seemed to me, to warp the planes so
that their surface might catch the air and check his descent.

"He's trying to detach the gyroscope," whispered Craig hoarsely.

The football helmet which Norton wore blew off and fell more
rapidly than the plane. I shut my eyes. But Kennedy's next
exclamation caused me quickly to open them again.

"He'll make it, after all!"

Somehow Norton had regained partial control of his machine, but
it was still swooping down at a tremendous pace toward the level
centre of the field.

There was a crash as it struck the ground in a cloud of dust.

With a leap Kennedy had cleared the fence and was running toward
Norton. Two men from the judge's stand were ahead of us, but
except for them we were the first to reach him. The men were
tearing frantically at the tangled framework, trying to lift it
off Norton, who lay pale and motionless, pinned under it. The
machine was not so badly damaged, after all, but that together we
could lift it bodily off him.

A doctor ran out from the crowd and hastily put his ear to
Norton's chest. No one spoke, but we all scanned the doctor's
face anxiously.

"Just stunned--he'll be all right in a moment. Get some water,"
he said.

Kennedy pulled my arm. "Look at the gyroscope dynamo," he

I looked. Like the other two which we had seen, it also was a
wreck. The insulation was burned off the wires, the wires were
fused together, and the storage-battery looked as if it had been
burned out.

A flicker of the eyelid and Norton seemed to regain some degree
of consciousness. He was living over again the ages that had
passed during the seconds of his terrible fall.

"Will they never stop? Oh, those sparks, those sparks! I can't
disconnect it. Sparks, more sparks--will they never--" So he
rambled on. It was fearsome to hear him.

But Kennedy was now sure that Norton was safe and in good hands,
and he hurried back in the direction of the grand stand. I
followed. Flying was over for that day, and the people were
filing slowly out toward the railroad station where the special
trains were waiting. We stopped at the wireless station for a

"Is it true that Norton will recover?" inquired the operator.

"Yes. He was only stunned, thank Heaven! Did you keep a record of
the antics of your receiver since I saw you last?"

"Yes, sir. And I made a copy for you. By the way, it's working
all right now when I don't want it. If Williams was only in the
air now I'd give you a good demonstration of communicating with
an aeroplane," continued the operator as he prepared to leave.

Kennedy thanked him for the record and carefully folded it.
Joining the crowd, we pushed our way out, but instead of going
down to the station with them, Kennedy turned toward the barn and
the yellow house.

For some time we waited about casually, but nothing occurred. At
length Kennedy walked up to the shed. The door was closed and
double padlocked. He knocked, but there was no answer.

Just then a man appeared on the porch of the yellow house. Seeing
us, he beckoned. As we approached he shouted, "He's gone for the

"Has he a city address--any place I could reach him tonight"
asked Craig.

"I don't know. He hired the barn from me for two weeks and paid
in advance. He told me if I wanted to address him the best way
was 'Dr. K. Lamar, General Delivery, New York City.'"

"Ah, then I suppose I had better write to him," said Kennedy,
apparently much gratified to learn the name. "I presume he'll be
taking away his apparatus soon?"

"Can't say. There's enough of it. Cy Smith--he's in the electric
light company up to the village--says the doctor has used a
powerful lot of current. He's good pay, though he's awful
closemouthed. Flying's over for to-day, ain't it? Was that feller
much hurt?"

"No, he'll be all right to-morrow. I think he'll fly again. The
machine's in pretty good condition. He's bound to win that prize.

As he walked away I remarked, "How do you know Norton will fly

"I don't," answered Kennedy, "but I think that either he or
Humphreys will. I wanted to see that this Lamar believes it
anyhow. By the way, Walter, do you think you could grab a wire
here and 'phone in a story to the Star that Norton isn't much
hurt and will probably be able to fly to-morrow? Try to get the
City News Association, too, so that all the papers will have it.
I don't care about risking the general delivery--perhaps Lamar
won't call for any mail, but he certainly will read the papers.
Put it in the form of an interview with Norton--I'll see that it
is all right and that there is no come-back. Norton will stand
for it when I tell him my scheme."

I caught the Star just in time for the last edition, and some of
the other papers that had later editions also had the story. Of
course all the morning papers had it.

Norton spent the night in the Mineola Hospital. He didn't really
need to stay, but the doctor said it would be best in case some
internal injury had been overlooked. Meanwhile Kennedy took
charge of the hangar where the injured machine was. The men had
been in a sort of panic; Humphrey could not be found, and the
only reason, I think, why the two mechanicians stayed was because
something was due them on their pay.

Kennedy wrote them out personal checks for their respective
amounts, but dated them two days ahead to insure their staying.
He threw off all disguise now and with authority from Norton
directed the repairing of the machine. Fortunately it was in
pretty good condition. The broken part was the skids, not the
essential parts of the machine. As for the gyroscope, there were
plenty of them and another dynamo, and it was a very simple thing
to replace the old one that had been destroyed.

Sinclair worked with a will, far past his regular hours. Jaurette
also worked, though one could hardly say with a will. In fact,
most of the work was done by Sinclair and Kennedy, with Jaurette
sullenly grumbling, mostly in French under his breath. I did not
like the fellow and was suspicious of him. I thought I noticed
that Kennedy did not allow him to do much of the work, either,
though that may have been for the reason that Kennedy never asked
anyone to help him who seemed unwilling.

"There," exclaimed Craig about ten o'clock. "If we want to get
back to the city in any kind of time to-night we had better quit.
Sinclair, I think you can finish repairing these skids in the

We locked up the hangar and hurried across to the station. It was
late when we arrived in New York, but Kennedy insisted on posting
off up to his laboratory, leaving me to run down to the Star
office to make sure that our story was all right for the morning

I did not see him until morning, when a large touring-car drove
up. Kennedy routed me out of bed. In the tonneau of the car was a
huge package carefully wrapped up.

"Something I worked on for a couple of hours last night,"
explained Craig, patting it. "If this doesn't solve the problem
then I'll give it up."

I was burning with curiosity, but somehow, by a perverse
association of ideas, I merely reproached Kennedy for not taking
enough rest.

"Oh," he smiled. "If I hadn't been working last night, Walter, I
couldn't have rested at all for thinking about it."

When we arrived at the field Norton was already there with his
head bandaged. I thought him a little pale, but otherwise all
right. Jaurette was sulking, but Sinclair had finished the
repairs and was busily engaged in going over every bolt and wire.
Humphreys had sent word that he had another offer and had not
shown up.

"We must find him," exclaimed Kennedy. "I want him to make a
flight to-day. His contract calls for it."

"I can do it, Kennedy," asserted Norton. "See, I'm all right."

He picked up two pieces of wire and held them at arm's length,
bringing them together, tip to tip, in front of him just to show
us how he could control his nerves.

"And I'll be better yet by this afternoon," he added. "I can do
that stunt with the points of pins then."

Kennedy shook his head gravely, but Norton insisted, and finally
Kennedy agreed to give up wasting time trying to locate
Humphreys. After that he and Norton had a long whispered
conference in which Kennedy seemed to be unfolding a scheme.

"I understand," said Norton at length, "you want me to put this
sheet-lead cover over the dynamo and battery first. Then you want
me to take the cover off, and also to detach the gyroscope, and
to fly without using it. Is that it?"

"Yes," assented Craig. "I will be on the roof of the grand stand.
The signal will be three waves of my hat repeated till I see you
get it."

After a quick luncheon we went up to our vantage-point. On the
way Kennedy had spoken to the head of the Pinkertons engaged by
the management for the meet, and had also dropped in to see the
wireless operator to ask him to send up a messenger if he saw the
same phenomena as he had observed the day before.

On the roof Kennedy took from his pocket a little instrument with
a needle which trembled back and forth over a dial. It was
nearing the time for the start of the day's flying, and the
aeroplanes were getting ready. Kennedy was calmly biting a cigar,
casting occasional glances at the needle as it oscillated.
Suddenly, as Williams rose in the Wright machine, the needle
swung quickly and pointed straight at the aviation field,
vibrating through a small area, back and forth.

"The operator is getting his apparatus ready to signal to
Williams," remarked Craig. "This is an apparatus called an
ondometer. It tells you the direction and something of the
magnitude of the Hertzian waves used in wireless."

Five or ten minutes passed. Norton was getting ready to fly. I
could see through my field glass that he was putting something
over his gyroscope and over the dynamo, but could not quite make
out what it was. His machine seemed to leap up in the air as if
eager to redeem itself. Norton with his white-bandaged head was
the hero of the hour. No sooner had his aeroplane got up over the
level of the trees than I heard a quick exclamation from Craig.

"Look at the needle, Walter!" he cried. "As soon as Norton got
into the air it shot around directly opposite to the wireless
station, and now it is pointing--"

We raised our eyes in the direction which it indicated. It was
precisely in line with the weather-beaten barn.

I gasped. What did it mean? Did it mean in some way another
accident to Norton--perhaps fatal this time? Why had Kennedy
allowed him to try it to-day when there was even a suspicion that
some nameless terror was abroad in the air? Quickly I turned to
see if Norton was all right. Yes, there he was, circling above us
in a series of wide spirals, climbing up, up. Now he seemed
almost to stop, to hover motionless. He was motionless. His
engine had been cut out, and I could see his propeller stopped.
He was riding as a ship rides on the ocean.

A boy ran up the ladder to the roof. Kennedy unfolded the note
and shoved it into my hands. It was from the operator.

"Wireless out of business again. Curse that fellow who is butting
in. Am keeping record," was all it said.

I shot a glance of inquiry at Kennedy, but he was paying no
attention now to anything but Norton. He held his watch in his

"Walter," he ejaculated as he snapped it shut, "it has now been
seven minutes and a half since he stopped his propeller. The
Brooks Prize calls for five minutes only. Norton has exceeded it
fifty per cent. Here goes."

With his hat in his hand he waved three times and stopped. Then
he repeated the process.

At the third time the aeroplane seemed to give a start. The
propeller began to revolve, Norton starting it on the compression
successfully. Slowly he circled down again. Toward the end of the
descent he stopped the engine and volplaned, or coasted, to the
ground, landing gently in front of his hangar.

A wild cheer rose into the air from the crowd below us. All eyes
were riveted on the activity about Norton's biplane. They were
doing something to it. Whatever it was, it was finished in a
minute and the men were standing again at a respectful distance
from the propellers. Again Norton was in the air. As he rose
above the field Kennedy gave a last glance at his ondometer and
sprang down the ladder. I followed closely. Back of the crowd he
hurried, down the walk to the entrance near the railroad station.
The man in charge of the Pinkertons was at the gate with two
other men, apparently waiting.

"Come on!" shouted Craig.

We four followed him as fast as we could. He turned in at the
lane running up to the yellow house, so as to approach the barn
from the rear, unobserved.

"Quietly, now," he cautioned.

We were now at the door of the barn. A curious crackling,
snapping noise issued. Craig gently tried the door. It was bolted
on the inside. As many of us as could threw ourselves like a
human catapult against it. It yielded.

Inside I saw a sheet of flame fifteen or twenty feet long--it was
a veritable artificial bolt of lightning. A man with a telescope
had been peering out of the window, but now was facing us in

"Lamar," shouted Kennedy, drawing a pistol, "one motion of your
hand and you are a dead man. Stand still where you are. You are
caught red-handed."

The rest of us shrank back in momentary fear of the gigantic
forces of nature which seemed let loose in the room. The thought,
in my mind at least, was: Suppose this arch-fiend should turn his
deadly power on us?

Kennedy saw us from the corner of his eye. "Don't be afraid," he
said with just a curl to his lip. "I've seen all this before. It
won't hurt you. It's a high frequency current. The man has simply
appropriated the invention of Mr. Nikola Tesla. Seize him. He
won't struggle. I've got him covered."

Two burly Pinkertons leaped forward gingerly into the midst of
the electrical apparatus, and in less time than it takes to write
it Lamar was hustled out to the doorway, each arm pinioned back
of him.

As we stood, half dazed by the suddenness of the turn of events,
Kennedy hastily explained:

"Tesla's theory is that under certain conditions the atmosphere,
which is normally a high insulator; assumes conducting properties
and so becomes capable of conveying any amount of electrical
energy. I myself have seen electrical oscillations such as these
in this room of such intensity that while they could be
circulated with impunity through one's arms and chest they would
melt wires farther along in the circuit. Yet the person through
whom such a current is passing feels no inconvenience. I have
seen a loop of heavy copper wire energised by such oscillations
and a mass of metal within the loop heated to the fusing point,
and yet into the space in which this destructive aerial turmoil
was going on I have repeatedly thrust my hand and even my head,
without feeling anything or experiencing any injurious
after-effect. In this form all the energy of all the dynamos of
Niagara could pass through one's body and yet produce no injury.
But, diabolically directed, this vast energy has been used by
this man to melt the wires in the little dynamo that runs
Norton's gyroscope. That is all. Now to the aviation field. I
have something more to show you."

We hurried as fast as we could up the street and straight out on
the field, across toward the Norton hangar, the crowd gaping in
wonderment. Kennedy waved frantically for Norton to come down,
and Norton, who was only a few hundred feet in the air, seemed to
see and understand.

As we stood waiting before the hangar Kennedy could no longer
restrain his impatience.

"I suspected some wireless-power trick when I found that the
field wireless telegraph failed to work every time Norton's
aeroplane was in the air," he said, approaching close to Lamar.
"I just happened to catch sight of that peculiar wireless, mast
of yours. A little flash of light first attracted my attention to
it. I thought it was an electric spark, but you are too clever
for that, Lamar. Still, you forgot a much simpler thing. It was
the glint of the sun on the lens of your telescope as you were
watching Norton that betrayed you."

Lamar said nothing.

"I'm glad to say you had no confederate in the hangar here,"
continued Craig. "At first I suspected it. Anyhow, you succeeded
pretty well single handed, two lives lost and two machines
wrecked. Norton flew all right yesterday when he left his
gyroscope and dynamo behind, but when he took them along you were
able to fuse the wires in the dynamo--you pretty nearly succeeded
in adding his name to those of Browne and Herrick."

The whir of Norton's machine told us he was approaching. We
scattered to give him space enough to choose the spot where he
would alight. As the men caught his machine to steady it, he
jumped lightly to the ground.

"Where's Kennedy" he asked, and then, without waiting for a
reply, he exclaimed: "Queerest thing I ever saw up there. The
dynamo wasn't protected by the sheet-lead shield in this flight
as in the first to-day. I hadn't risen a hundred feet before I
happened to hear the darndest sputtering in the dynamo. Look,
boys, the insulation is completely burned off the wires, and the
wires are nearly all fused together."

"So it was in the other two wrecked machines," added Kennedy,
coming coolly forward. "If you hadn't had everything protected by
those shields I gave you in your first flight to-day you would
have simply repeated your fall of yesterday--perhaps fatally.
This fellow has been directing the full strength of his wireless
high-tension electricity straight at you all the time."

"What fellow?" demanded Norton.

The two Pinkertons shoved Lamar forward. Norton gave a
contemptuous look at him. "Delaune," he said, "I knew you were a
crook when you tried to infringe on my patent, but I didn't think
you were coward enough to resort to--to murder."

Lamar, or rather Delanne, shrank back as if even the protection
of his captors was safety compared to the threatening advance of
Norton toward him.

"Pouff!" exclaimed Norton, turning suddenly on his heel. "What a
fool I am! The law will take care of such scoundrels as you.
What's the grand stand cheering for now?" he asked, looking
across the field in an effort to regain his self-control.

A boy from one of the hangars down the line spoke up from the
back of the crowd in a shrill, piping voice. "You have been
awarded the Brooks Prize, sir," he said.

X. The Black Hand

Kennedy and I had been dining rather late one evening at Luigi's,
a little Italian restaurant on the lower West Side. We had known
the place well in our student days, and had made a point of
visiting it once a month since, in order to keep in practice in
the fine art of gracefully handling long shreds of spaghetti.
Therefore we did not think it strange when the proprietor himself
stopped a moment at our table to greet us. Glancing furtively
around at the other diners, mostly Italians, he suddenly leaned
over and whispered to Kennedy:

"I have heard of your wonderful detective work, Professor. Could
you give a little advice in the case of a friend of mine?"

"Surely, Luigi. What is the case?" asked Craig, leaning back in
his chair.

Luigi glanced around again apprehensively and lowered his voice.
"Not so loud, sir. When you pay your check, go out, walk around
Washington Square, and come in at the private entrance. I'll be
waiting in the hall. My friend is dining privately upstairs."

We lingered a while over our Chianti, then quietly paid the check
and departed.

True to his word, Luigi was waiting for us in the dark hall. With
a motion that indicated silence, he led us up the stairs to the
second floor, and quickly opened a door into what seemed to be a
fair-sized private dining-room. A man was pacing the floor
nervously. On a table was some food, untouched. As the door
opened I thought he started as if in fear, and I am sure his dark
face blanched, if only for an instant. Imagine our surprise at
seeing Gennaro, the great tenor, with whom merely to have a
speaking acquaintance was to argue oneself famous.

"Oh, it is you, Luigi," he exclaimed in perfect English, rich and
mellow. "And who are these gentlemen?"

Luigi merely replied, "Friends," in English also, and then
dropped off into a voluble, low-toned explanation in Italian.

I could see, as we waited, that the same idea had flashed over
Kennedy's mind as over my own. It was now three or four days
since the papers had reported the strange kidnapping of Gennaro's
five-year-old daughter Adelina, his only child, and the sending
of a demand for ten thousand dollars ransom, signed, as usual,
with the mystic Black Hand--a name to conjure with in blackmail
and extortion.

As Signor Gennaro advanced toward us, after his short talk with
Luigi, almost before the introductions were over, Kennedy
anticipated him by saying: "I understand, Signor, before you ask
me. I have read all about it in the papers. You want someone to
help you catch the criminals who are holding your little girl."

"No, no!" exclaimed Gennaro excitedly. "Not that. I want to get
my daughter first. After that, catch them if you can--yes, I
should like to have someone do it. But read this first and tell
me what you think of it. How should I act to get my little
Adelina back without harming a hair of her head?" The famous
singer drew from a capacious pocketbook a dirty, crumpled,
letter, scrawled on cheap paper.

Kennedy translated it quickly. It read:

Honourable sir: Your daughter is in safe hands. But, by the
saints, if you give this letter to the police as you did the
other, not only she but your family also, someone near to you,
will suffer. We will not fail as we did Wednesday. If you want
your daughter back, go yourself, alone and without telling a
soul, to Enrico Albano's Saturday night at the twelfth hour. You
must provide yourself with $10,000 in bills hidden in Saturday's
Il Progresso Italiano. In the back room you will see a man
sitting alone at a table. He will have a red flower on his coat.
You are to say, "A fine opera is 'I Pagliacci.'" If he answers,
"Not without Gennaro, lay the newspaper down on the table. He
will pick it up, leaving his own, the Bolletino. On the third
page you will find written the place where your daughter has been
left waiting for you. Go immediately and get her. But, by the
God, if you have so much as the shadow of the police near
Enrico'a your daughter will be sent to you in a box that night.
Do not fear to come. We pledge our word to deal fairly if you
deal fairly. This is a last warning. Lest you shall forget we
will show one other sign of our power to-morrow. La

The end of this ominous letter was gruesomely decorated with a
skull and cross-bones, a rough drawing of a dagger thrust through
a bleeding heart, a coffin, and, under all, a huge black band.
There was no doubt about the type of letter that it was. It was
such as have of late years become increasingly common in all our
large cities, baffling the best detectives.

"You have not showed this to the police, I presume?" asked

"Naturally not."

"Are you going Saturday night?"

"I am afraid to go and afraid to stay away," was the reply, and
the voice of the fifty-thousand-dollars-a-season tenor was as
human as that of a five-dollar-a-week father, for at bottom all
men, high or low, are one.

"'We will not fail as we did Wednesday,'" reread Craig. "What
does that mean"

Gennaro fumbled in his pocketbook again, and at last drew forth a
typewritten letter bearing the letter-head of the Leslie
Laboratories, Incorporated.

"After I received the first threat," explained Gennaro, "my wife
and I went from our apartments at the hotel to her father's, the
banker Cesare, you know, who lives on Fifth Avenue. I gave the
letter to the Italian Squad of the police. The next morning my
father-in-law's butler noticed something peculiar about the milk.
He barely touched some of it to his tongue, and he has been
violently ill ever since. I at once sent the milk to the
laboratory of my friend Doctor Leslie to have it analysed. This
letter shows what the household escaped."

"My dear Gennaro," read Kennedy. "The milk submitted to us for
examination on the 10th inst. has been carefully analysed, and I
beg to hand you herewith the result:

Specific gravity 1.036 at 15 degrees Cent.

Water .............................................84.60 per cent
Casein .............................................3.49 " "
Albumin ..............................................56 " "
Globulin .............................................32 " "
Lactose ............................................5.08 " "
Ash ................................................ .72 " "
Fat ............................................... 3.42 " "
Ricin ............................................. 1.19 " "

"Ricin is a new and little-known poison derived from the shell of

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