Through Glass Darkly
FOR THE MOMENT the Blue Grotto was Montreal’s fashionable night club, and its clientele still preserved a reasonable mixture of haule noblesse and half-world. To the subtle lament of saxophone, the tall, slim figure of Kent Power moved through tables most of whose occupants were dancing on the dark-wooded floor. As his grey eves were fixed on a definite destination, he did not see the girl until her hand touched his arm and she murmured in a throaty voice :
“Am I so completely negligible, Kent?”
He stopped suddenly. You did stop suddenly for Vivienne Laird. For she was vibrantly young and lovely. Playing the current lead in Brave Young Heart, the description clung to her even off the boards. With waving blonde hair, laughing eyes and eager lips, she rode vibrantly the white horses of youth and loveliness. That she should be alone, even for a moment, was incredible, and Power answered, grinning: “If anyone says you’re negligible, lady, I’ll knock his block off.” Then after a glance at the distant table which was his goal and where Mrs. Hector Greenaway sat alone fanning her avoirdupois, he added quickly : “Care to dance?” “I’d love it. darling.”
He was too knowing to accept the intimate designation at its full worth, since he knew that probably twenty other men among this gathering of gilded youth and age had thrilled to it. Nevertheless it stirred his zest. With a sudden
lift of feeling he swept her into the crush of dancers, and for the moment their rhythmic and well-matched movement left a trail of beauty.
“Why don’t I dance with you oftener?” she asked.
“That’s my loss,” he replied lightly.
“You never go places.”
“I go places, but there are no queens—”
An imperative tap on his arm brought that retort to a sharp end, and he turned to find young Brent Goslyn cutting in.
“My honor, I think,” the boy said, the least bit harshly.
Power let his arms drop from the girl’s lithe body, and became immediately aware that things were not happy between these two. Vivienne Laird’s laughter had gone, and there was a veil of anger over her lovely eyes. The boy’s dark face showed sulkiness. He was the least flushed with drink—the least unsteady. But he still had the Goslyn hauteur which no Goslyn ever lost, for they were vieux Montreal—old family—and bore their pride as swords to their belt.
As though Power had not been there, he said to the girl : “That phone call—got to go. Drive me?”
Her glance broke from his sulky demand to Power, went back again and became unexpectedly yearning.
“All right,” she replied in an odd, bleak way. And then to Power, with a twist of a smile:
“Sorry! Some other time.”
Staring after them—tall, dark boy and fair, slim girl—Kent Power had it in his heart to feel a sudden pity and surprise. The strange ways of the heart. So many men had laid siege to her youth, and yet only this sulky boy in his pride and drink seemed able to breach her lovely walls. It made one a little sad; for those walls would suffer because of the Goslyn pride, the Goslyn ruthlessness.
Power joined Mrs. Hector Greenaway, who put a red paper hat on his head with fattish coquetry and flung a roll of streamer at a passing couple chickenishly. The place was getting tangled up with streamers, the air full of faint star dust, and high laughter growing higher. The music ceased and the rest of the flushed, laughing party drew in around the table to rail at Power for his lateness, his sobriety. Nor had this sobriety undergone particular change when, half an hour later, he found himself in the club phone booth, listening to the hurried, almost breathless voice of Sergeant Jules Papineau of the Montreal Detective Force.
“Me, I am puzzle’ complètement! I do not understand this thing! You will come at once, no?”
Power shrugged. In a half hour he had not recaptured a first rapture.
“Okay,” he muttered into the vulcanite circle and, putting down the receiver, moved to the cloakroom desk.
A TAXI whirred him through the
diminuendoing life of the big city; and against the darkness of streets ascending toward the Mount, figures seemed to move furtively toward lost goals. The taxi came to a stop opposite a driveway where a large, dark house loomed beyond trees in mellow’ sombreness. He saw’ lights, heard voices up the driveway, where shadowy men clustered around the shining blackness of a small car. Paying the driver negligently, he mounted the gravelled slope, and then Pap’s rotund figure detached itself, still breathlessly.
“It has happen’ comme ça. Officer Gatier”—he jerked a fat thumb at a long, lean policemen behind him—“is making his beat below. He has passed this car and suddenly there is a crash across the street—bang ! It has moved from the curb below’—there! It has gone across the street—smash! —there. Against the lamp post. Regard!” Papineau
indicated the bashed-in front fender. “Then he discovers this. This!” he repeated, switching on the dome light inside the window and pointing dramatically.
Power stared. The girl, still thrillingly lovely, was slumped behind the wheel; the white fur of her blue silk cloak bare over two w’hite shoulders.
“Vivienne Laird!” he breathed, almost painfully.
She would be Brave Young Heart never again. The eager lips had gone still, the eyes had lost that vibrant eagerness, that flash of life that had caught at the emotions of so many men.
He swung sharply on Sergeant Papineau.
“What else?” he snapped tersely.
“She has let Mr. Brent Goslyn out of the car down there. They have been quarrelling. Officer Gatier heard them as
he passed, is it not?” Pap swung on the beanpole policeman, who swallowed his Adam’s apple and replied:
"Oui! They are speak loud, angry, as I pass.”
“Inside”—Pap’s fat thumb jerked toward the house— “there is a man with him now on guard—and his brother, Mr. Spencer Goslyn. And Brent is drunk. But tell me, Kent Power”—Pap’s face wrinkled in rotund puzzlement— “from what ’as she die? There is no mark ; not’ing !”
There teas no mark, no brutal blemish against the girl’s pallid beauty.
“Been a bit hasty, haven’t you?” Power muttered.
“Might have been a heart attack.” “Huh?” The wind collapsed suddenly from Papineau’s eager sails. “Name of a—sacre, I have not t’ink of that ! She is dead, comme ça, and I . . . ”
Power had gone around the car to the other door. Opening this, he stepped inside, searched about him with close, concentrated glance. Nothing. Only the star dust that glistened on the fur collar of the pale blue wrap. He remembered suddenly that there had been star dust at the Blue Grotto. It had fallen from the streamers.
He stepped out again.
“Let’s go inside,” he said curtly. “Have this car taken to headquarters —as it is. Disturb nothing. Dr. Morin’ll have to do a post-mortem.”
He moved down the driveway, and turned to the front of the house, but with his finger at the bell of the large Georgian doorway he hesitated. The Goslyns could wait; everything could wait until he learned why that girl had died.
He swung on Pap, who had come running to heel.
“Headquarters first,” he said gruffly.
‘HEY MOVED into a little office off the post-mortem room.
“It makes nothing,” declared Dr. Morin, Montreal’s little coroner, stripping off his rubber gloves. “Unless you. Kent Power, find something in that" -he pointed to the test tube of blood in the detective’s hand—“I cannot say why that jxxm child has died. It was not from any natural cause.”
“What then?” Pap asked Power. “Do I arrest this boy, Brent Goslyn?” “I guess so,” the other replied from the distance of thoughts that distressed him. “We’ll go there now.”
It has been written that the Goslyns were proud. They were also, as it goes in a new world, aristocrats. The first Goslyn had been an apothecary with Wolfe’s army of conquest, and it w as he who started the business that was now’ one of the proudest pharmaceutical houses in Canada. L. Goslyn, Chemist, it had been called then; but, with a dawning sense of pride, a grandson had sought anonymity behind Interprovincial Pharmacy, Ltd., which grandson was the great-grandfather of the Spencer Goslyn who now confronted Power from the hearthrug of a mellowed old living room. This Goslyn was a tall, wide-shouldered man, whose strong face was marred only by a cleft chin and an expression of arrogance.
“I’m glad they’ve brought you into this business, Power,” he said curtly. “My brother had nothing to do with the girl’s death. Look at him.”
The younger Goslyn sat slumped over elbows that rested on his knees, staring at the carpet in front of him. In the Blue Grotto he had appeared merely in drink; he was quite far along now’. Instead of sobering him, this tragedy had flooded his brain with stupefaction; had glazed his dark, sullen eyes. Police Officer Gatier stood like a sentry behind his chair.
“If your brother ’as not done this thing, why did he say out there”—Pap jerked his thumb in the direction of the street—T have—’ an’ then close up like a clam? What he mean to say was T have keel her’—no?”
The glazy-eyed boy came suddenly out of his daze.
“I didn’t mean that! I tell you, I didn’t kill her!” And then almost pitiably to Power: “Why should I kill her, of all people? I loved her.” He glared at his brother. “Loved her!” The words came defiantly.
“Hasn't there been altogether too much talk about killing?” Spencer Goslyn asked coldly. “How do you know Continued on page 26
Continued from page 11
that she didn’t die of sudden heart failure?” When Power told him of the evidence of the post-mortem he merely shrugged.
“You haven’t established a cause of death then. Is there any reason why we should continue to entertain this—gentleman?” He indicated Officer Gatier.
“We’ve established other facts,” Power replied curtly. “In the first place, your brother and the dead girl left one another in a quarrel; Officer Gatier heard them. In the second place, your brother was the only one near the car before it moved away from the curb. And finally, when he heard the crash and dashed across the street, and saw the girl dead in the car he cried, ‘I’ve—’ I take it he meant to say ‘killed her.’ We’ll have to arrest him; that is, unless you can throw some further light on the matter.” “I think I can,” Spencer Goslyn said gruffly, and pressed the bell beside him.
IT WAS ANSWERED by the butler a I tall, thin, elderly man who might have been an English solicitor.
"Joad,” Goslyn said curtly, “tell these gentlemen what you saw in the garden before theaccident.”
The butler addressed Power.
“Some one running, sir. In a great ’urry, sir. Toward the wall at the back.”
“You heard the car crash into the lamp post across the street?” Power asked him. “Yes, sir.”
“Was that before or after you saw this man running?”
“Almost immediately afterward.”
“What did he look like?”
The servant glanced at Spencer Goslyn as though for a sign, but, getting none, answered :
"I couldn’t exactly say, sir. ’E was some distance from me, in the rose garden. Made a blur like, as ’e ran.”
"Tall or short?”
“Medium, I should say, sir.”
“What was he wearing?”
The butler made a deprecatory gesture. "Really, sir ”
"Dark or light clothes?”
“1 should say dark, sir."
"Yes, sir. A bowler, I’d say.”
"What did you do?”
"Eh?” sputter«! Papineau. “You do not’ing and when there is someone running t'rough your garden, perhaps a t'ief?” Joad’s expression became slightly anguish«!. Again he sought the guidance of Spencer Goslyn's glance, and again got none.
"You see, sir,” he said with some embarrassment, “I thought it was Mr. Brent. I ’ave seen ’im ’urry out the back way to get through to Pine Avenue.”
“You don’t think it was Mr. Brent now?” “Oh, no, sir. When I returned to the ’ouse, ’e was ’ere with Mr. Sjxmcer and the officer.”
“And it couldn’t have been Mr. Spencer either?”
“How long was it before you returned to the house?”
"About ten minutes, sir. They were pushing the car up the drivew-ay when I came down. I stopped to enquire what it was about and then came in to tell Mr. Spencer what was going on. But of course ’e knew already.”
Power turned to the elder Goslyn, shaking his head.
“Your butler’s evidence may mean something and"—a certain taut significance entered both his glance and voice—“it may not.”
Goslyn caught the significance, cried angrily;
“Do you think we have manufactured Joad’s evidence?”
“I assure you, sir,” exclaimed the butler agitatedly, “I ’ave spoken only the truth and nothing but—”
The burr of an electric bell halted the
words on his lips and, recomposed, he moved toward the front door. As he did so Spencer Goslyn growled :
“I don’t have to manufacture evidence. Power.”
Power gazed at the man quietly, and realized suddenly that there was a lot atout people that he didn’t know'. This scion of old Montreal looked an arrogant man of affairs, but there wrere depths in his pride, in his ruthlessness, that could doubtless be fanned into passion, into dark, brutal gesture.
The butler announced from the door.
“Mr. Connors, sir.”
Both Power and Sergeant Papineau swung sharply around. It w'as now half past two in the morning—strange hour for visitors. The newcomer was a tall young man with unruly reddish hair, dressed in grey loose tweeds. He had birdlike eyes and a quick eager manner; yet there was something mechanical in his smile, in his outer veneer of conduct, that seemed to underline the fact that these were veneer and that underneath them moved another awareness.
He said to Spencer Goslyn:
“I just got your message and came straight around. Been w-orking at the lab. all night—that new barbituric compound. What really happened?”
Goslyn introduced him curt ly to Power as “my associate, Shaun Connors,” and then explained the situation to the latter. He ended with:
“I’m trying to persuade the police not to make fools of themselves bv arresting Brent.”
Connors gave the younger Goslyn a curt, almost contemptuous look, and there W’as a cool glitter in his birdlike eyes. He shrugged.
“Ridiculous!” he grunted.
“Ridiculous or not,” Power said grimly, “lie’s going to be arrested.”
Spencer Goslyn took an angry step forward.
“If he is, I’ll make you the laughing-stock of Montreal.”
“You, and who else?” Power enquired gently.
“My lawyer, Leon Pellatte.”
They could hire heavy artillery, these Goslyns. Leon Pellatte was one of the acknowledged leaders of the Quebec bar. a national figure.
“When Leon Pellatte makes a laughingstock of me,” Power replied, “I’ll join the laugh.” And then to Papineau:
“Do your stuff.”
But as he turned to leave the room he caught a glimpse into the birdlike blue eyes of Shaun Connors. Was there a certain icy triumph in their glittering depths?
PAPINEAU had for some time ceased to share the long night’s vigil, and his breathing rose and fell in rhythmic diapasons as he slept in a large chair. Kent Power, however, was wideawake. With the dexterity of one who knew his way tho oughly, he moved from retort to microscope, from microscope to retort. Finally, frowning deeply, he lunged with his toe at Pap’s shins. As the latter sat bolt upright, he announced: “It makes nothing.”
“Qu'est que ca; you mean there is no—”
“No evidence of poison in her blood.”
Pap shook himself, blinked.
“Then we are - stymie? We 'ave not’ing?” “We’ve got a dead girl, on whom star dust fell.”
“Then,” declared Pap, “we ’ave star dust; moonshine, tologny.”
Star dust !
“Me,” declared Pap, rising, “I’m going ’ome.”
Power shot suddenly to his feet, caught the other by the arm with a grip that brought a howl to his lips.
“No, you’re not ! You’re coming with me.
I want another look at that car.”
In the taxi moving eastward, Pap demanded querulously:
“What does it make? All night we ride back and forth ...”
“You can walk if you like. Perhaps the exercise would stir up that dumb brain of yours. Why the heck didn’t yo» think of it?” “T’ink of what? Always you speak riddles.”
“An eight-lettered word meaning
A sleepy policeman led them down divers passages in.to the police garage, where the damaged coupé stood. The pale blue cloak with its white fur collar lay against the back of the seat as though its folds still yearned for warm young flesh. Power gathered it up gingerly, folding it with infinite care. As they were stepping into the taxi outside again he said suddenly to Papineau:
“On second thought, I want you to go to the Blue Grotto. It’s a quarter past four; they’ll probably still be holding revel. Get a roll of the sort of streamer they u'ere throwing last night—the kind wdth the star dust on it—and hustle along to my flat.”
A quarter of an hour later, back in his own laboratory, he w'as picking carefully with a pair of finely pointed tweezers those fragments of glitter from the fur. On closer inspection some of these seemed larger than the rest. Dumping them indiscriminately into a test tube, he added distilled water and then began to work concentratedly on the resultant solution.
He ivas staring wide-eyed at a faint yellowish precipitate in a small tube when Papineau arrived. Thrusting the thing quickly into a rack, he snatched the roll of streamer from the other’s hand.
“You ’ave find somet’ing, no?” Pap panted.
I íe received no reply. The roll of streamer was being loosened and shaken into a dry beaker. The glittering frost was covered with solvent and then held high as the light drops from a reagent bottle fell into it. Yet nothing happened. The supernatant solvent remained crystalline clear. With a sudden exclamation Pow'er snatched up the test tube with the yellowish precipitate, poured the latter off into another tube, and dumped the deposit of star dust in its bottom on to a microscopic slide. The latter he thrust under the microscope, focused avidly on it.
“Got it !” he cried. “Look !”
From long association with Kent Power, Pap had learned the wray of microscopes. Down there in the white glare he saw fragments of glass of many different sizes.
Those larger bits; notice their shape— convex, like the fragments of a thin shell.” “Oui; as you say.”
“They’re our evidence, Pap; exhibit A. And they’re not star dust. They give the reaction for arsenic—which star dust doesn’t.”
“Arsenic!” Pap gasped. “Then she ’as been poison’?”
“WTien her car was drawing away from the curb in front of the Goslyn" home tonight, a thin glass bulb broke on Vivienne Laird’s fur cloak, dose to her face. She must have died within a matter of seconds, and the car ran driverless until it brought up against that lamp post.”
“But,” exclaimed Pap, “if it is arsenic, why ’as it not show in the blood?”
“Because it w'as one of the most volatile forms of arsenic; probably a hydrogen arsenide. Only takes a w'hiff of that to send one to bye-bye for keeps.”
“Sacre!” Pap gasped. “If I’ad what you ’ave! You are a wizard, Kent Power!”
* It only looks like magic,” he exclaimed, lighting a cigarette. “Simple enough when you know. What isn’t so simple is which of three gents flung a glass bulb into Vivienne Laird’s car.”
“The three gents with the means of production. The three manufacturing chemists of Interprovincial Pharmacy, Limited— Messrs. Goslyn and Shaun Connors.”
“But the boy—”
“We’ll leave that until tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Sleep on it, Pap.”
KENT POWER’S breakfast was an affair of interruptions. First, his man Hicks ushered in the suave and immaculate figure of M. Leon Pellatte. M. Pellatte draped himself in the overstuffed chair by the window and brushed the air with a wellmanicured hand.
“You do not answer your phone calls promptly, my boy.” A deprecatory smile crossed his freshly shaven, heavy features. “I left a message with your man. No reply.
I am a busy man, and you bring me here to your castle.”
“I’m a busy man, too, Mr. Pellatte,” Power answered with an ironic twist of his lips. “Looking for a murderer.”
^ ou don t find him in the boy you’ve arrested, I’m quite sure.”
“Then, of course”—the well-manicured hand waved the air again—“you will release him from arrest this morning.”
“When we decide who did murder Vivienne Laird.”
You have a clue?” Curiosity gleamed in Leon Pellatte’s dark eyes.
“Perhaps.” And that was all M. Pellatte gained for his visit.
Within five minutes of his departure Harvey Graham was ushered in. Graham was a perennial bachelor, one almost said a perennial adolescent. Fat, fifty, fatuous, he was one of those gossips found in every haut monde circle, who make the tea hour possible for dowagers no longer in touch with life.
“Well, old dear,” he demanded breezily, “what’s on your mind that you had to rout me out of bed at this ghastly hour.” It was nine-fifteen.
“Seen the Star this morning?” Kent asked, munching a square of toast.
“I thought as much.” Harvey Graham slapped a fat thigh. “Poor Vivienne Laird. Sweet girl. That young fool must be mad. Terrible business!”
“Spencer Goslyn’s a proud man, isn’t he?” Harvey’s round eyes stared out of a round face.
“Of course he’s proud, arrogant. All the Goslyns are arrogant. Why?”
“Who’s Shaun Connors? I mean, where does he come from and where’s he going?” “Young Irishman. Old Perry Goslyn picked him up in London before he died. Bit of a chemical genius. The wizard of the firm.” And then suddenly a light gleamed in the rotund sophomoric face. “I’m getting you now, old dear. As a matter of fact, his sister, Helen, was practically engaged to Brent Goslyn before Vivienne Laird came to town. By gad, that gives him a motive for murder, doesn’t it?”
Whoever said you were dumb was wrong, Harvey,” Power exclaimed, bending over the bacon. “Carry on. You’re a gold mine in disguise.”
“Ha-ha, old boy, I let them think I’m dumb and fool them.” Again the fat thigh was slapped and Graham leaned sharply forward. “I couldn’t believe that boy murdered her. He was crazy about her, crazy! Connors is your man. Why, I’d even suspect Spencer Goslyn of murder before the kid.” ‘That’s funny,” Power exclaimed. “So would I. But we lack a motive for Master Spencer.”
“Hum!” Harvey Graham’s fat face screwed itself into thought. “I’m not so sure.
I suppose you’ve heard that Interprovincial Pharmacy is in a bad way financially?”
Power glanced up sharply.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Very bad way. Spencer’s been worried. Loves that firm; worships it. Sell his soul for its good name. These old family businesses get into the blood, you know. And, of course, Helen Connors is an heiress. An old aunt left her a pot last year—up in the Continued on page 28
Continued from page 26 hundreds of thousands. Gad, I see it now ! If Brent were to marry lier the business would be safe.”
"Why couldn't Connors get the money from his sister? He’s one of the firm, isn’t he?”
"You don’t know' Shaun Connors, old dear. He’d never put cash into a sinking ship; and I understand things haven’t been so happy between him and the Grisly ns since Vivienne Laird came to town. By Jove, you’re a clever devil, Kent. Brains. Fancy your suspecting those two without knowing anything about them.”
“Can you keep a secret, Harvey?” Power asked gently.
"Deep as the sea, old boy.”
“Well, keep it a secret that we suspect those two gents, will you?”
“Absolutely, old dear.” Graham bounced to his feet. "Well, I must be trotting. Date with my hairdresser. Cheerio!” And Perennial Adolescence was gone, bouncing out of the door like an animated bubble.
ÇEATED, THOUGHTFUL, in the ensu0 ing silence, sipping his coffee, Kent Power suddenly let out an exclamation. He recalled those last few moments at the Blue Grotto the night before. Brent Goslyn had been at the telephone. “That phone call; got to go. Drive me?” That phone call !
A quarter of an hour later Power was in the city prison. The haggard-eyed boy met him with a stony, arrogant silence at first. But Kent Power had a way with men and animals a frank, open sympathy that could get beneath the harshest exterior when it suited his purpose. He had been called up, the boy confessed finally, by Joad, the butler; and the message was that his brother had urgent matters to discuss.
"If it hadn’t been for that cursed phone call,” Brent Goslyn said hopelessly, “she might still be alive.”
But he made no protest of his innocence this time. As Power was leaving the cell Brent got to his feet and seemed on the point of breaking into passionate disclaimer, but sank back again into his bleak vistas.
The detective went at once to the Goslyn mansion -and received somewhat of a surprise. Joad denied, at first reservedly and then with heat, that he had called Master Brent at the Blue Grotto. What was more, in reply to a query, he declared that, so fatas he knew, Spencer Goslyn had not called the boy either, had mentioned earlier in the evening, in fact, that Master Brent would probably be out most of the night as usual.
it was ten-fifteen when Power arrived at headquarters and found Sergeant Papineau leaning far back in his rickety swivel chair with his feet on the desk.
"That’s a good position Pap,” he said, indicating the feet. "Allows the blood to get up where you need it.”
Disregarding theinnuendo, Pap demanded : "You ’ave somet’ing?"
Power told him.
"It is Connors, then, who ’as ring up the boy, disguising his voice no?”
"I don’t know. Spencer Goslyn might have done it after Joad went out into the garden to eat worms.”
’Me,” declared Pap, “I cannot see Spencer Goslyn. He ’as motive, yes. But regard, Kent Power. He is a man of affairs and family. He is respect’ in Mo’real. Will he do murder because there is a depression?”
“He’s a proud man, Pap,” Power said musingly as he stared out through a dustcovered window. “Living in the past. I doubt if he has wakened yet from the Victorian belief that marriage with an actress is a mésalliance. His friends seem to think that he’d lose a leg rather than see Interprovincial Pharmacy go the way of all the proud old houses, and that company is in sad financial straits. Men like Spencer Goslyn are hard for people like you and me to understand.”
“And from here, then, we go where?” Pap demanded, picking his teeth with a gold quill.
“To a meeting at Leon Pellatte’s office at four o’clock this afternoon or later,” Power replied tersely.
THREE GENTLEMEN had reached an
1 advanced stage of impatience when Kent Power and Sergeant Papineau stepped into the suave offices of M. Leon Pellatte, high up in the Confederation Bank Building.
“My dear fellow,” expostulated the lawyer with a most histrionic glance at his wrist watch, "did you arrange this interview' for four o’clock or for ten to five?”
"Four was the hour,” Power replied amiably, dropping into one of the luxurious leather chairs, “but unfortunately Sergeant Papineau and I can’t be in four places at the same time.” He smiled disarmingly at the two men on the far side of the wide mahogany desk.
"Well” Pellatte waved an immaculate hand —“we are all here now. You have something to report?”
"Plenty.” Power swung on Spencer Goslyn. “Feeling like telling the truth this afternoon, Goslyn?”
Anger and annoyance that had not been far from the other man’s heart, flared redly.
"I don’t care for that remark.”
"It was flippant,” Leon Pellatte interposed gently.
"One expects that sort of thing from the police,” remarked Shaun Connors with an acid smile.
Power grinned, faced Spencer Goslyn again.
“You stick to it then that you did not leave your house -even to stroll out to the grilled fence in front for an hour before the accident happened last night?”
“And you, Connors, spent the entire evening in the laboratory at Interprovincial Pharmacy?”
"That's what I said.” Suddenly Shaun Connors’ birdlike eyes narrowed to pinpoints of suspicion. "You’re not, by any chance, trying to fasten this murder on to us, are you?”
“I suspect somebody who knows a lot about chemistry. You and Goslyn happen to fit into that category,” Power returned. “Vivienne Laird died from a poison known as hydrogen arsenide. It was contained in a thin glass bulb that was flung at her as her car
drew' away from the curb, after depositing Brent Goslyn. This sort of thing.” He had a small cardboard container in his hand, which he opened dramatically. Its six compartments disclosed three unlabelled glass bulbs the size of walnuts.
A taut silence swept the room oppressively. Leon Pellatte’s dark eyes became orbs of swift chagrin. Spencer Goslyn and Connors stared at the thing in Power’s hand as though at some horror, and the latter’s reddish complexion had gone a sickly green.
Goslyn broke the silence first, growling:
“Where the devil did you get those things?”
“In the private laboratory at Interprovincial Pharmacy, the one you and Connors use exclusively. Sergeant Papineau and I searched it this afternoon.”
Goslyn turned slowly, almost painfully, on the red-headed man beside him. “Shaun, you didn’t ...” And then, as if suddenly recollecting himself, he closed up like a clam.
“Of course I didn’t!” Connors retorted, holding his anger only with effort. “You know whom we manufacture those things for and why.” He swung on Power. “It’s a special order we fill for a firm in Quebec. They use it for rat extermination. Our books will prove it.”
“My laboratory tests will also prove that one of them killed Vivienne Laird,” Power replied grimly.
“Hang it, man,” snapped Spencer Goslyn, “it doesn’t follow that because we manufacture the things we killed the girl ! Don’t be ridic—”
“Have I accused you of that yet?” Pow'er asked curtly. -
“If,” remarked Leon Pellatte with soothing suaveness, “every manufacturing chemist is to be suspected of murder because he happens to make the type of poison that kills a certain person, none will find it comfortable to be a manufacturing chemist.”
“Look here, Power” — Connors leaned sharply forward —“I want to state here and now that I did not kill that girl; that I had no reason under heaven for killing her.”
“The fact that Brent Goslyn had jilted your sister would play no part in your—”
“If you think I’d commit murder for such a reason, you’re out of your mind !”
QOWER TURNED on Spencer Goslyn. He \ was smiling the least ironically.
“Let’s suppose, Goslyn, that you murdered the girl.”
“I had no more reason than Shaun fordoing such a thing,” snapped the other angrily. "Confound it, man, we’re civilized human beings!”
“We think we are.” Power replied with the same irony. “But let’s just suppose that you did the murder. ”
Goslyn made an impatient gesture, but gave way to circumstances.
“Let’s suppose that you rang up your brother at the Blue Grotto last night,” Power went on, “and, disguising your voice to sound like Joad’s, ordered him home. Joad by this time had gone into the garden to commune with Nature. You now would go out the front door and take your stand under the trees by the iron fence bordering the sidewalk.”
“This is absurd,” growled Goslyn agitatedly. "I tell you I was not out of my house
before my brother returned last night. And I did not disguise my voice to ring him cn the phone.”
“Of course it’s absurd,” Power agreed smiling. “It’s just a game of make-believe. Now let’s pretend that you were standing there in the shadows, unseen, unheard. The car draws up. Your brother gets out after Officer Gatier has passed on, and you see he is fairly well oiled. And, by the way, we’ll have to pretend that Gatier’s presence in the vicinity must have given your nerve a bit of a strain. However, we’re pretending that you have lots of nerve-—”
“Really, my dear boy,” Leon Pellatte expostulated, “my clients—”
“So you fling the glass bulb. Now let’s pretend that you want a thorough alibi for this murder that is taking place practically on your doorstep. You now run to the back of the house and through the garden—where you know Joad to be. And when you have dragged a red herring across his trail, you double back around the rose arbor and get into the house before he returns.”
“Very interesting,’’ sneered Shaun Connors. “But hardly credible. Look.” He took one of the bulbs from the box on the desk where Power had placed it, and bounced it gingerly on his palm. “How' could you throw a thing as light as that thirty feet? Try it. The air resistance v'ould bring it to earth in half that distance.”
They stared at him, all of them. Pap let out a crestfallen:
“Well, my boy,” Leon Pellatte exclaimed, smiling suavely, “how do you pretend to answer that facer?”
“With this.” Power extracted from his pocket an unexpected contraption; nothing less than the type of slingshot that boys have used to the terror of little birds since time immemorial. He held it out to Connors. “Supposing this was used as the propelling force?” he demanded.
“Oh!” exclaimed the Irishman, licking his dry lips.
“You’ll notice that the leather which grips the missile has been specially hardened so that the pressure of the fingers wouldn’t crush the fragile bulb. I found this innocent thing in —”
“Non! Non!” yelped Pap, and made a spring toward Spencer Goslyn. He was too late. Spencer Goslyn’s hand had gone out and found the box on the table. Something had glittered and then shattered under his nose. For a moment now' he sat swaying in his chair with dilated eyes — and then plunged forward to the carpet on his face.
“Yes,” Kent Power said in reply to Leon Pellatte’s direct question a quarter of an hour later, “I found it in Goslyn’s bedroom closet; in the bottom of an old tin trunk with a lot of other childish relics. I still find it hard to realize his motive. That girl was such a lovely creature— and money is so—”
“I,” declared the lawyer sententiously, “can realize, although I do not sympathize. He was a queer, proud type. A man who lived a great deal in a world of his own making; in which he played, I feel sure, the rôle of Napoleon. It was surely in Napoleonic mood that he worked that poor girl’s death.”