“I made a transverse incision for the body of the name, and two vertical ones—one longer for the J, the other shorter, for the stem of the h. There was a dot after the name. I made a half-inch incision for it.”
“Will you sketch the cicatrix as you recall it?”
The doctor made a careful drawing on a pad that was passed to him. The drawing was much like this.
Line for line, dot for dot, it was the scar on the body found at Sewickley.
“You are sure the woman was Jennie Brice?”
“She sent me tickets for the theater shortly after. And I had an announcement of her marriage to the prisoner, some weeks later.”
“Were there any witnesses to the operation?”
“My assistant; I can produce him at any time.”
That was not all of the trial, but it was the decisive moment. Shortly after, the jury withdrew, and for twenty-four hours not a word was heard from them.
After twenty-four hours’ deliberation, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. It was a first-degree verdict. Mr. Howell’s unsupported word had lost out against a scar.
Contrary to my expectation, Mr. Holcombe was not jubilant over the verdict. He came into the dining-room that night and stood by the window, looking out into the yard.
“It isn’t logical,” he said. “In view of Howell’s testimony, it’s ridiculous! Heaven help us under this jury system, anyhow! Look at the facts! Howell knows the woman: he sees her on Monday morning, and puts her on a train out of town. The boy is telling the truth. He has nothing to gain by coming forward, and everything to lose. Very well: she was alive on Monday. We know where she was on Tuesday and Wednesday. Anyhow, during those days her gem of a husband was in jail. He was freed Thursday night, and from that time until his rearrest on the following Tuesday, I had him under observation every moment. He left the jail Thursday night, and on Saturday the body floated in at Sewickley. If it was done by Ladley, it must have been done on Friday, and on Friday he was in view through the periscope all day!”
Mr. Reynolds came in and joined us. “There’s only one way out that I see,” he said mildly. “Two women have been fool enough to have a name tattooed over their hearts. No woman ever thought enough of me to have my name put on her.”
“I hope not,” I retorted. Mr. Reynold’s first name is Zachariah.
But, as Mr. Holcombe said, all that had been proved was that Jennie Brice was dead, probably murdered. He could not understand the defense letting the case go to the jury without their putting more stress on Mr. Howell’s story. But we were to understand that soon, and many other things. Mr. Holcombe told me that evening of learning from John Bellows of the tattooed name on Jennie Brice and of how, after an almost endless search, he had found the man who had cut the name away.