The Deadly Tube, A Mystery
by Arthur B. Reeve
"For Heaven's sake, Gregory, what is the matter?" asked Craig Kennedy
as a tall, nervous man stalked into our apartment one evening.
"Jameson, shake hands with Dr. Gregory. What's the matter, Doctor?
Surely your X-ray work hasn't knocked you out like this?"
The doctor shook hands with me mechanically. His hand was icy. "The
blow has fallen," he exclaimed, as he sank limply into a chair and
tossed an evening paper over to Kennedy.
In red ink on the first page, in the little square headed "Latest
News," Kennedy read the caption, "Society Woman Crippled for Life by
"A terrible tragedy was revealed in the suit begun to-day," continued
the article, "by Mrs. Huntington Close against Dr. James Gregory, an
X-ray specialist with offices at—Madison Avenue, to recover damages
for injuries which Mrs. Close alleges she received while under his
care. Several months ago she began a course of X-ray treatment to
remove a birthmark on her neck. In her complaint Mrs. Close alleges
that Dr. Gregory has carelessly caused X-ray dermatitis, a skin
disease of cancerous nature, and that she has also been rendered a
nervous wreck through the effects of the rays. Simultaneously with
filing the suit she left home and entered a private hospital. Mrs.
Close is one of the Most popular hostesses in the smart set, and her
loss will be keenly felt."
"What am I to do, Kennedy?" asked the doctor imploringly. "You
remember I told you the other day about this case—that there was
something queer about it, that after a few treatments I was afraid to
carry on any more and refused to do so? She really has dermatitis and
nervous prostration, exactly as she alleges in her complaint. But,
before Heaven, Kennedy, I can't see how she could possibly have been
so affected by the few treatments I gave her. And to-night just as I
was leaving the office, I received a telephone call from her husband's
attorney, Lawrence, very kindly informing me that the case would be
pushed to the limit. I tell you, it looks black for me."
"What can they do?"
"Do? Do you suppose any jury is going to take enough expert testimony
to outweigh the tragedy of a beautiful woman? Do? Why, they can ruin
me, even if I get a verdict of acquittal. They can leave me with a
reputation for carelessness that no mere court decision can ever
"Gregory, you can rely on me," said Kennedy. "Anything I can do to
help you I will gladly do. Jameson and I were on the point of going
out to dinner. Join us, and after that we will go down to your office
and talk things over."
"You are really too kind," murmured the doctor. The air of relief that
was written on his face was pathetically eloquent.
"Now not a word about the case till we have had dinner," commanded
Craig. "I see very plainly that you have been worrying about the blow
for a long time. Well, it has fallen. The next thing to do is to look
over the situation and see where we stand."
Dinner over, we rode down-town in the subway, and Gregory ushered
us into an office-building on Madison Avenue, where he had a very
handsome suite of several rooms. We sat down in his waiting-room to
discuss the affair.
"It is indeed a very tragic case," began Kennedy, "almost more tragic
than if the victim had been killed outright. Mrs. Huntington Close is
or rather I suppose I should say was—one of the famous beauties of
the city. From what the paper says, her beauty has been hopelessly
ruined by this dermatitis, which, I understand, Doctor, is practically
Dr. Gregory nodded, and I could not help following his eyes as he
looked at his own rough and scarred hands.
"Also," continued Craig, with, his eyes half closed and his
finger-tips together, as if he were taking a mental inventory of the
facts in the case, "her nerves are so shattered that she will be years
in recovering, if she ever recovers."
"Yes," said the doctor simply. "I myself, for instance, am subject to
the most unexpected attacks of neuritis. But, of course, I am under
the influence of the rays fifty or sixty times a day, while she had
only a few treatments at intervals of many days."
"Now, on the other hand," resumed Craig, "I know you, Gregory, very
well. Only the other day, before any of this came out, you told me the
whole story with your fears as to the outcome. I know that the lawyer
of Close's has been keeping this thing hanging over your head for a
long time. And I also know that you are one of the most careful X-ray
operators in the city. If this suit goes against you, one of the most
brilliant men of science in America will be ruined. Now, having said
this much, let me ask you to describe just exactly what treatments you
gave Mrs. Close."
The doctor led us into his X-ray room adjoining. A number of X-ray
tubes were neatly put away in a great glass case, and at one end of
the room was an operating-table with an X-ray apparatus suspended
over it. A glance at the room showed that Kennedy's praise was not
"How many treatments did you give Mrs. Close?" asked Kennedy.
"Not over a dozen, I should say," replied Gregory. "I have a record of
them and the dates, which I will give you presently. Certainly
they were not numerous enough or frequent enough to have caused a
dermatitis such as she has. Besides, look here. I have an apparatus
which, for safety to the patient, has few equals in the country. This
big lead-glass bowl, which is placed over my X-ray tube when in
use, cuts off the rays at every point except exactly where they are
He switched on the electric current, and the apparatus began to
sputter. The pungent odor of ozone from the electric discharge filled
the room. Through the lead-glass bowl I could see the X-ray tube
inside suffused with its Peculiar, yellowish-green light, divided into
two hemispheres of different shades. That, I knew, was the cathode
ray, not the X-ray, for the X-ray itself, which streams outside the
tube, is invisible to the human eye. The doctor placed in our hands a
couple of fluoroscopes, an apparatus by which X-rays can be detected.
It consists simply of a closed box with an opening to which the eyes
are placed. The opposite end of the box is a piece of board coated
with a salt such as platino-barium cyanide. When the X-ray strikes
this salt it makes it glow, or fluoresce, and objects held between the
X-ray tube and the fluoroscope cast shadows according to the density
of the parts which the X-rays penetrate.
With the lead-glass bowl removed, the X-ray tube sent forth its
wonderful invisible radiation and made the back of the fluoroscope
glow with light. I could see the bones of my fingers as I held them up
between the X-ray tube and the fluoroscope. But with the lead-glass
bowl in position over the tube, the fluoroscope was simply a black box
into which I looked and saw nothing. So very little of the radiation
escaped from the bowl that it was negligible—except at one point
where there was an opening in the bottom of the bowl to allow the rays
to pass freely through exactly on the spot on the patient where they
were to be used.
"The dermatitis, they say, has appeared all over her body,
particularly on her head and shoulders," added Dr. Gregory. "Now I
have shown you my apparatus to impress on you how really impossible it
would have been for her to contract it from her treatments here. I've
made thousands of exposures with never an X-ray burn before—except to
myself. As for myself, I'm as careful as I can be, but you can see I
am under the rays very often, while the patient is only under them
once in a while."
To illustrate his care he pointed out to us a cabinet directly back
of the operating-table, lined with thick sheets of lead. From this
cabinet he conducted most of his treatments as far as possible.
A little peep-hole enabled him to see the patient and the X-ray
apparatus, while an arrangement of mirrors and a fluorescent screen
enabled him to see exactly what the X-rays were disclosing, without
his leaving the lead-lined cabinet.
"I can think of no more perfect protection for either patient or
operator," said Kennedy admiringly. "By the way, did Mrs. Close come
"No, the first time Mr. Close came with her. After that, she came with
her Trench maid."
The next day we paid a visit to Mrs. Close herself at the private
hospital. Kennedy had been casting about in his mind for an excuse to
see her, and I had suggested that we go as reporters from the Star.
Fortunately after sending up my card on which I had written Craig's
name we were at length allowed to go up to her room.
We found the patient-reclining in an easy chair, swathed in bandages,
a wreck of her former self. I felt the tragedy keenly. All that social
position and beauty had meant to her had been suddenly blasted.
"You will pardon my presumption," began Craig, "but, Mrs. Close, I
assure you that I am actuated by the best of motives. We represent the
New York Star—"
"Isn't it terrible enough that I should suffer so," she interrupted,
"but must the newspapers hound me, too?"
"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Close," said Craig, "but you must be aware
that the news of your suit of Dr. Gregory has now become public
property. I couldn't stop the Star, much less the other papers, from
talking about it. But I can and will do this, Mrs. Close. I will see
that justice is done to you and all others concerned. Believe me, I
am not here as a yellow journalist to make newspaper copy out of
your misfortune. I am here to get at the truth sympathetically.
Incidentally, I may be able to render you a service, too."
"You can render me no service except to expedite the suit against that
careless doctor—I hate him."
"Perhaps," said Craig. "But suppose someone else should be proved to
have been really responsible? Would you still want to press the suit
and let the guilty person escape?"
She bit her lip. "What is it you want of me?" she asked. I merely want
permission to visit your rooms at your home and to talk with your
maid. I do not mean to spy on you, far from it; but consider, Mrs.
Close, if I should be able to get at the bottom of this thing, find
out the real cause of your misfortune, perhaps show that you are the
victim of a cruel wrong rather than of carelessness, would you not
be willing to let me go ahead? I am frank to tell you that I suspect
there is more to this affair than you yourself have any idea of."
"No, you are mistaken, Mr. Kennedy. I know the cause of it. It was my
love of beauty. I couldn't resist the temptation to get rid of even a
slight defect. If I had left well enough alone I should not be here
now. A friend recommended Dr. Gregory to my husband, who took me
there. My husband wishes me to remain at home, but I tell him I feel
more comfortable here in the hospital. I shall never go to that house
again—the memory of the torture of sleepless nights in my room there
when I felt my good looks going, going"—she shuddered—"is such that
I can never forget it. He says I would be better off there, but no,
I cannot go. Still," she continued wearily, "there can be no harm in
your talking to my maid."
Kennedy noted attentively what she was saying. "I thank you, Mrs.
Close," he replied. "I am sure you will not regret your permission.
Would you be so kind as to give me a note to her?"
She rang, dictated a short note to a nurse, signed it, and languidly
I don't know that I ever felt as depressed as I did after that
interview with one who had entered a living death to ambition, for
while Craig had done all the talking I had absorbed nothing but
depression. I vowed that if Gregory or anybody else was responsible I
would do my share toward bringing on him retribution.
The Closes lived in a splendid big house in the Murray Hill section.
The presentation of the note quickly brought Mrs. Close's maid down to
us. She had not gone to the hospital because Mrs. Close had considered
the services of the trained nurses quite sufficient.
Yes, the maid had noticed how her mistress had been failing, had
noticed it long ago, in fact almost at the time when she had begun the
X-ray treatment. She had seemed to improve once when she went away for
a few days, but that was at the start, and directly after her return
she grew worse again, until she was no longer herself.
"Did Dr. Gregory, the X-ray specialist, ever attend Mrs. Close at her
home, in her room?" asked Craig.
"Yes, once, twice, he call, but he do no good," she said with her
"Did Mrs. Close have other callers?"
"But, m'sieur, everyone in society has many. What does m'sieur mean?"
"Frequent callers—a Mr. Lawrence, for instance?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Lawrence frequently."
"When Mr. Close was at home?"
"Yes, on business and on business, too, when he was not at home. He is
the attorney, m'sieur."
"How did Mrs. Close receive him?"
"He is the attorney, m'sieur," Marie repeated persistently.
"And he, did he always call on business?"
"Oh, yes, always on business, but—well, madame, she was a very
beautiful woman. Perhaps he like beautiful women—eh bien? That was
before the Doctor Gregory treated madame. After the doctor treated
madame M'sieur Lawrence do not call so often. That's all."
"Are you thoroughly devoted to Mrs. Close? Would you do a favor for
her?" asked Craig pointblank.
"Sir, I would give my life, almost, for madame. She was always so good
"I don't ask you to give your life for her, Marie," said Craig, "but
you can do her a great service, a very great service."
"I will do it."
"To-night," said Craig. "I want you to sleep in Mrs. Close's room. You
can do so, for I know that Mr. Close is living at the St. Francis Club
until his wife returns from the sanitarium. To-morrow morning come to
my laboratory"—Craig handed her his card—"and I will tell you what
to do next. By the way, don't say anything to anyone in the house
about it, and keep a sharp watch on the actions of any of the servants
who may go into Mrs. Close's room."
"Well," said Craig, "there is nothing more to be done immediately." We
had once more regained the street and were walking up-town. We walked
in silence for several blocks.
"Yes," mused Craig, "there is something you can do, after all, Walter.
I would like you to look up Gregory and Close and Lawrence. I already
know something about them. But you can find out a good deal with your
newspaper connections. I would like to have every bit of scandal that
has ever been connected with them, or with Mrs. Close, or," he added
significantly, "with any other woman. It isn't necessary to say that
not a breath of it must be published—yet."
I found a good deal of gossip, but very little of it, indeed, seemed
to me at the time to be of importance. Dropping in at the St. Francis
Club, where I had some friends, I casually mentioned the troubles
of the Huntington Closes. I was surprised to learn that Close spent
little of his time at the Club, none at home, and only dropped into
the hospital to make formal inquiries as to his wife's condition. It
then occurred to me to drop into the office of Society Squibs, whose
editor I had long known. The editor told me, with that nameless look
of the cynical scandalmonger, that if I wanted to learn anything about
Huntington Close I had best watch Mrs. Frances Tulkington, a very
wealthy Western divorcée about whom the smart set were much excited,
particularly those whose wealth made it difficult to stand the pace of
society as it was going at present.
"And before the tragedy," said the editor with another nameless look,
as if he were imparting a most valuable piece of gossip, "it was the
talk of the town, the attention that Close's lawyer was paying to Mrs.
Close. But to her credit let me say that she never gave us a chance to
hint at anything, and—well, you know us; we don't need much to make
snappy society news."
The editor then waxed even more confidential, for if I am anything
at all, I am a good listener, and I have found that often by sitting
tight and listening I can get more than if I were a too-eager
"It really was a shame the way that man Lawrence played his game," he
went on. "I understand that it was he who introduced Close to Mrs. T.
They were both his clients. Lawrence had fought her case in the courts
when she sued old Tulkington for divorce, and a handsome settlement
he got for her, too. They say his fee ran up into the hundred
thousands—contingent, you know. I don't know what his game was"—here
he lowered his voice to a whisper—"but they say Close owes him a good
deal of money. You can figure it out for yourself as you like. Now,
I've told you all I know. Come in again, Jameson, when you want some
more scandal, and remember me to the boys down on the Star."
The following day the maid visited Kennedy at his laboratory while I
was reporting to him on the result of my investigations.
She looked worn and haggard. She had spent a sleepless night and
begged that Kennedy would not ask her to repeat the experiment.
"I can promise you, Marie," he said, "that you will rest better
to-night. But you must spend one more night in Mrs. Close's room. By
the way, can you arrange for me to go through the room this morning
when you go back?"
Marie said she could, and an hour or so later Craig and I quietly
slipped into the Close residence under her guidance. He was carrying
something that looked like a miniature barrel, and I had another
package which he had given me, both carefully wrapped up. The butler
eyed us suspiciously, but Marie spoke a few words to him and I think
showed him Mrs. Close's note. Anyhow he said nothing.
Within the room that the unfortunate woman had occupied Kennedy took
the coverings off the packages. It was nothing but a portable electric
vacuum cleaner, which he quickly attached and set running. Up and down
the floor, around and under the bed he pushed the cleaner. He used the
various attachments to clean the curtains, the walls, and even the
furniture. Particularly did he pay attention to the base board on the
wall back of the bed. Then he carefully removed the dust from the
cleaner and sealed it up in a leaden box.
He was about to detach and pack up the cleaner when another idea
seemed to occur to him. "Might as well make a thorough job of it,
Walter," he said, adjusting the apparatus again. "I've cleaned
everything but the mattress and the brass bars behind the mattress
on the bed. Now I'll tackle them. I think we ought to go into the
suction-cleaning business—more money in it than in being a detective,
The cleaner was run over and under the mattress and along every crack
and cranny of the brass bed. This done and this dust also carefully
stowed away, we departed, very much to the mystification of Marie
and, I could not help feeling, of other eyes that peered in through
keyholes or cracks in doors.
"At any rate," said Kennedy exultingly, "I think we have stolen a
march on them. I don't believe they were prepared for this, not at
least at this stage in the game. Don't ask me any questions, Walter.
Then you will have no secrets to keep if anyone should try to pry them
loose. Only remember that this man Lawrence is a shrewd character."
The next day Marie came, looking even more careworn than before.
"What's the matter, mademoiselle?" asked Craig. "Didn't you pass a
"Oh, mon Dieu, I rest well, yes. But this morning while I am at
breakfast, Mr. Close send for me. He say that I am discharged. Some
servant tell of your visit and he ver-ry angr-ry. And now what is to
become of me—will madame his wife give a recommendation now?"
"Walter, we have been discovered," exclaimed Craig with considerable
vexation. Then he remembered the poor girl who had been an involuntary
sacrifice to our investigation. Turning to her he said: "Marie, I know
several very good families, and I am sure you will not suffer for what
you have done by being faithful to your mistress. Only be patient a
few days. Go live with some of your folks. I will see that you are
The girl was profuse in her thanks as she dried her tears and
"I hadn't anticipated having my hand forced so soon," said Craig after
she had gone, leaving her address. "However, we are on the right
track. What was it that you were going to tell me when Marie came in?"
"Something that may be very important, Craig," I said, "though I don't
understand it myself. Pressure is being brought to bear on the Star
to keep this thing out of the papers, or at least to minimize it."
"I'm not surprised," commented Craig. "What do you mean by pressure
"Why, Close's lawyer, Lawrence, called up the editor this morning—I
don't suppose that you know, but he has some connection with the
interests which control the Star—and said that the activity of
one of the reporters from the Star, Jameson by name, was very
distasteful to Mr. Close and that this reporter was employing a man
named Kennedy to assist him.
"I don't understand it, Craig," I confessed, "but here one day they
give the news to the papers, and two days later they almost threaten
us with suit if we don't stop publishing it."
"It is perplexing," said Craig, with the air of one who was not a bit
perplexed, but rather enlightened.
He pulled down the district telegraph messenger lever three times, and
we sat in silence for a while.
"However," he resumed, "I shall be ready for them to-night."
I said nothing. Several minutes elapsed. Then the messenger rapped on
"I want these two notes delivered right away," said Craig to the boy;
"here's a quarter for you. Now mind you don't get interested in a
detective story and forget the notes. If you are back here quickly
with the receipts I'll give you another quarter. Now scurry along."
Then, after the boy had gone, he said casually to me: "Two notes to
Close and Gregory, asking them to be present with their attorneys
to-night. Close will bring Lawrence, and Gregory will bring a young
lawyer named Asche, a very clever fellow. The notes are so worded that
they can hardly refuse the invitation."
Meanwhile I carried out an assignment for the Star, and telephoned
my story in so as to be sure of being with Craig at the crucial
moment. For I was thoroughly curious about his next move in the game.
I found him still in his laboratory attaching two coils of thin wire
to the connections on the outside of a queer-looking little black box.
"What's that?" I asked, eyeing the sinister-looking little box
suspiciously. "An infernal machine? You're not going to blow the
culprit into eternity, I hope."
"Never mind what it is, Walter. You'll find that out in due time. It
may or it may not be an infernal machine—of a different sort than any
you have probably ever heard of. The less you know now the less likely
you are to give anything away by a look or an act. Come now, make
yourself useful as well as ornamental. Take these wires and lay them
in the cracks of the floor, and be careful not to let them show. A
little dust over them will conceal them beautifully."
Craig now placed the black box back of one of the chairs well down
toward the floor, where it could hardly have been perceived unless one
were suspecting something of the sort. While he was doing so I ran the
wires across the floor, and around the edge of the room to the door.
"There," he said, taking the wires from me. "Now I'll complete the job
by carrying them into the next room. And while I'm doing it, go over
the wires again and make sure they are absolutely concealed."
That night six men gathered in Kennedy's laboratory. In my utter
ignorance of what was about to happen I was perfectly calm, and so
were all the rest, except Gregory. He was easily the most nervous of
us all, though his lawyer Asche tried repeatedly to reassure him.
"Mr. Close," began Kennedy, "if you and Mr. Lawrence will sit over
here on this side of the room while Dr. Gregory and Mr. Asche sit on
the opposite side with Mr. Jameson in the middle, I think both of
you opposing parties will be better suited. For I apprehend that at
various stages in what I am about to say both you, Mr. Close, and you
Dr. Gregory, will want to consult your attorneys. That, of course,
would be embarrassing, if not impossible, should you be sitting near
each other. Now, if we are ready, I shall begin."
Kennedy placed a small leaden casket on the table of his lecture hall.
"In this casket," he commenced solemnly, "there is a certain substance
which I have recovered from the dust swept up by a vacuum cleaner in
the room of Mrs. Close."
One could feel the very air of the room surcharged with excitement.
Craig drew on a pair of gloves and carefully opened the casket. With
his thumb and forefinger he lifted out a glass tube and held it
gingerly at arm's length. My eyes were riveted on it, for the bottom
of the tube glowed with a dazzling point of light.
Both Gregory and his attorney and Close and Lawrence whispered to each
other when the tube was displayed, as indeed they did throughout the
whole exhibition of Kennedy's evidence.
"No infernal machine was ever more subtle," said Craig, "than the
tube which I hold in my hand. The imagination of the most sensational
writer of fiction might well be thrilled with the mysteries of this
fatal tube and its power to work fearful deed. A larger quantity of
this substance in the tube would produce on me, as I now hold it,
incurable burns, just as it did on its discoverer before his death.
A smaller amount, of course, would not act so quickly. The amount in
this tube, if distributed about, would produce the burns inevitably,
providing I remained near enough for a long-enough time."
Craig paused a moment to emphasize his remarks.
"Here in my hand, gentlemen, I hold the price of a woman's beauty."
He stopped again for several moments, then resumed.
"And now, having shown it to you, for my own safety I will place it
back in its leaden casket."
Drawing off his gloves, he proceeded.
"I have found out by a cablegram to-day that seven weeks ago an order
for one hundred milligrams of radium bromide at thirty-five dollars a
milligram from a certain person in America was filled by a corporation
dealing in this substance."
Kennedy said this with measured words, and I felt a thrill run through
me as he developed his case.
"At that same time, Mrs. Close began a series of treatments with an
X-ray specialist in New York," pursued Kennedy. "Now, it is not
generally known outside scientific circles, but the fact is that in
their physiological effects the X-ray and radium are quite one and
the same. Radium possesses this advantage, however, that no elaborate
apparatus is necessary for its use. And, in addition, the emanation
from radium is steady and constant, whereas the X-ray at best varies
slightly with changing conditions of the current and vacuum in the
X-ray tube. Still, the effects on the body are much the same.
"A few days before this order was placed I recall the following
despatch which appeared in the New York papers. I will read it:
* * * * *
"'Liege, Belgium, Oct.—, 1910. What is believed to be the first
criminal case in which radium figures as a death-dealing agent is
engaging public attention at this university town. A wealthy old
bachelor, Pailin by name, was found dead in his flat. A stroke of
apoplexy was at first believed to have caused his death, but a close
examination revealed a curious discoloration of his skin. A specialist
called in to view the body gave as his opinion that the old man had
been exposed for a long time to the emanations of X-ray or radium.
The police theory is that M. Pailin was done to death by a systematic
application of either X-ray or radium by a student in the university
who roomed next to him. The student has disappeared.'
* * * * *
"Now here, I believe, was the suggestion which this American criminal
followed, for I cut it out of the paper rather expecting sooner or
later that some clever person would act on it. I have thoroughly
examined the room of Mrs. Close. She herself told me she never wanted
to return to it, that her memory of sleepless nights in it was too
vivid. That served to fix the impression that I had already formed
from reading this clipping. Either the X-ray or radium had caused her
dermatitis and nervousness. Which was it? I wished to be sure that I
would make no mistake. Of course I knew it was useless to look for an
X-ray machine in or near Mrs. Close's room. Such a thing could never
have been concealed. The alternative? Radium! Ah! that was different.
I determined on an experiment. Mrs. Close's maid was prevailed on to
sleep in her mistress's room. Of course radiations of brief duration
would do her no permanent harm, although they would produce their
effect, nevertheless. In one night the maid became extremely nervous.
If she had stayed under them several nights no doubt the beginning of
a dermatitis would have affected her, if not more serious trouble. A
systematic application, covering weeks and months, might in the end
even have led to death.
"The next day I managed, as I have said, to go over the room
thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner—a new one of my own which I had
bought myself. But tests of the dust which I got from the floors,
curtains, and furniture showed nothing at all. As a last thought I
had, however, cleaned the mattress of the bed and the cracks and
crevices in the brass bars. Teats of that dust showed it to be
extremely radioactive. I had the dust dissolved, by a chemist who
understands that sort of thing, recrystallized, and the radium salts
were extracted from the refuse. Thus I found that I had recovered
all but a very few milligrams of the radium that had been originally
purchased in London. Here it is in this deadly tube in the leaden
"It is needless to add that the night after I had cleaned out this
deadly element the maid slept the sleep of the just—and would have
been all right when next I saw her but for the interference of the
unjust on whom I had stolen a march."
Craig paused while the lawyers whispered again to their clients. Then
he continued: "Now three persons in this room had an opportunity to
secrete the contents of this deadly tube in the crevices of the metal
work of Mrs. Close's bed. One of these persons must have placed an
order through a confidential agent in London to purchase the radium
from the English Radium Corporation. One of these persons had a
compelling motive, something to gain by using this deadly element.
"The radium in this tube in the casket was secreted, as I have said,
in the metal work of Mrs. Close's bed, not in large enough quantities
to be immediately fatal, but mixed with dust so as to produce the
result more slowly but no less surely, and thus avoid suspicion.
At the same time Mrs. Close was persuaded—I will not say by
whom—through her natural pride, to take a course of X-ray treatment
for a slight defect. That would further serve to divert suspicion. The
fact is that a more horrible plot could hardly have been planned or
executed. This person sought to ruin her beauty to gain a most selfish
and despicable end."
Again Craig paused to let his words sink into our minds.
"Now I wish to state that anything you gentlemen may say will be used
against you. That is why I have asked you to bring your attorneys. You
may consult with them, of course, while I am getting ready my next
As Kennedy had developed his points in the case I had been more and
more amazed. But I had not failed to notice how keenly Lawrence was
With half a sneer on his astute face, Lawrence drawled: "I cannot
see that you have accomplished anything by this rather extraordinary
summoning of us to your laboratory. The evidence is just as black
against Dr. Gregory as before. You may think you're clever, Kennedy,
but on the very statement of facts as you have brought them out there
is plenty of circumstantial evidence against Gregory—more than there
was before. As for anyone else in the room, I can't see that you have
anything on us—unless perhaps this new evidence you speak of may
implicate Asche, or Jameson," he added, including me in a wave of his
hand, as if he were already addressing a jury. "It's my opinion that
twelve of our peers would be quite as likely to bring in a verdict of
guilty against them as against anyone else even remotely connected
with this case, except Gregory. No, you'll have to do better than this
in your next case, if you expect to maintain that so-called reputation
of yours for being a professor of criminal science."
As for Close, taking his cue from his attorney, he scornfully added:
"I came to find out some new evidence against the wretch who wrecked
the beauty of my wife. All I've got is a tiresome lecture on X-rays
and radium. I suppose what you say is true. Well, it only bears out
what I thought before. Gregory treated my wife at home, after he saw
the damage his office treatments had done. I guess he was capable of
making a complete job of it—covering up his carelessness by getting
rid of the woman who was such a damning piece of evidence against his
Never a shade passed Craig's face as he listened to this tirade.
"Excuse me a moment," was all he said, opening the door to leave
the room. "I have just one more fact to disclose. I will be back
Kennedy was gone several minutes, during which Close and Lawrence fell
to whispering behind their hands, with the assurance of those who
believed that this was only Kennedy's method of admitting a defeat.
Gregory and Asche exchanged a few words similarly, and it was plain
that Asche was endeavoring to put a better interpretation on something
than Gregory himself dared hope.
As Kennedy re-entered, Close was buttoning up his coat preparatory to
leaving, and Lawrence was lighting a fresh cigar.
In his hand Kennedy held a notebook. "My stenographer writes a very
legible shorthand; at least I find it so—from long practice, I
suppose. As I glance over her notes I find many facts which will
interest you later—at the trial. But—ah, here at the end—let me
"'Well, he's very clever, but he has nothing against me, has he?'
"'No, not unless he can produce the agent who bought the radium for
"'But he can't do that. No one could ever have recognized you on your
flying trip to London disguised as a diamond merchant who had just
learned that he could make his faulty diamonds good by applications of
radium and who wanted a good stock of the stuff.'
"'Still, we'll have to drop the suit against Gregory after all, in
spite of what I said. That part is hopelessly spoiled.'
"'Yes, I suppose so. Oh, well, I'm free now. She can hardly help but
consent to a divorce now, and a quiet settlement. She brought it on
herself—we tried every other way to do it, but she—she was too good
to fall into it. She forced us to it.'
"'Yes, you'll get a good divorce now. But can't we shut up this man
Kennedy? Even if he can't prove anything against us, the mere rumor
of such a thing coming to the ears of Mrs. Tulkington would be
Go as far as you like, Lawrence. You know what the marriage will mean
to me. It will settle my debts to you and all the rest.'
"'I'll see what I can do, Close. He'll be back in a moment.'"
Close's face was livid. "It's a pack of lies!" he shouted, advancing
toward Kennedy, "a pack of lies! You are a fakir and a blackmailer.
I'll have you in jail for this, by God—and you too, Gregory."
"One moment, please," said Kennedy calmly. "Mr. Lawrence, will you be
so kind as to reach behind your chair? What do you find?"
Lawrence lifted up the plain black box and with it he pulled up the
wires which I had so carefully concealed in the cracks of the floor.
"That," said Kennedy, "is a little instrument called the microphone.
Its chief merit lies in the fact that it will magnify a sound sixteen
hundred times, and carry it to any given point where you wish to place
the receiver. Originally this device was invented for the aid of the
deaf, but I see no reason why it should not be used to aid the law.
One needn't eavesdrop at the key-hole with this little instrument
about. Inside that box there is nothing but a series of plugs from
which wires, much finer than a thread, are stretched taut. Yet a fly
walking near it will make a noise as loud as a draft-horse. If the
microphone is placed in any part of the room, especially if near the
persons talking—even if they are talking in a whisper—a whisper such
as occurred several times during the evening and particularly while
I was in the next room getting the notes made by my stenographer—a
whisper, I say, is like shouting your guilt from the house-tops.
"You two men, Close and Lawrence, may consider yourselves under arrest
for conspiracy and whatever other indictments will lie against such
creatures as you. The police will be here in a moment. No, Close,
violence won't do now. The doors are locked—and see, we are four to