The Poisoned Pen
BY ARTHUR B. REEVE
Kennedy’s suit-case was lying open on the bed, and he was literally throwing things into it from his chiffonier, as I entered after a hurried trip up-town from the Star office in response to an urgent message from him.
“Come, Walter,” he cried, hastily stuffing in a package of clean laundry without taking off the wrapping-paper, “I’ve got your suit-case out. Pack up whatever you can in five minutes. We must take the six o’clock train for Danbridge.”
I did not wait to hear any more. The mere mention of the name of the quaint and quiet little Connecticut town was sufficient. For Danbridge was on everybody’s lips at that time. It was the scene of the now famous Danbridge poisoning case—a brutal case in which the pretty little actress, Vera Lytton, had been the victim.
“I’ve been retained by Senator Adrian Willard,” he called from his room, as I was busy packing in mine. “The Willard family believe that that young Dr. Dixon is the victim of a conspiracy—or at least Alma Willard does, which comes to the same thing, and—well, the senator called me up on long-distance and offered me anything I would name in reason to take the case. Are you ready? Come on, then. We’ve simply got to make that train.”
As we settled ourselves in the smoking-compartment of the Pullman, which for some reason or other we had to ourselves, Kennedy spoke again for the first time since our frantic dash across the city to catch the train.
“Now let us see, Walter,” he began. “We’ve both read a good deal about this case in the papers. Let’s try to get our knowledge in an orderly shape before we tackle the actual case itself.”
“Ever been in Danbridge?” I asked.
“Never,” he replied. “What sort of place is it?”
“Mighty interesting,” I answered; “a combination of old New England and new, of ancestors and factories, of wealth and poverty, and above all it is interesting for its colony of New-Yorkers—what shall I call it?—a literary-artistic-musical combination, I guess.”
“Yes,” he resumed. “I thought as much. Vera Lytton belonged to the colony. A very talented girl, too—you remember her in ’The Taming of the New Woman’ last season? Well, to get back to the facts as we know them at present.
“Here is a girl with a brilliant future on the stage discovered by her friend, Mrs. Boncour, in convulsions—practically insensible—with a bottle of headache-powder and a jar of ammonia on her dressing-table. Mrs. Boncour sends the maid for the nearest doctor, who happens to be a Dr. Waterworth. Meanwhile she tries to restore Miss Lytton, but with no result. She smells the ammonia and then just tastes the headache-powder, a very foolish thing to do, for by the time Dr. Waterworth arrives he has two patients.”