“Well, I can look at my records,” said the pharmacist. “I keep a list of all persons to whom I sell poison, and make them sign a receipt for it. Of course I have no means of knowing that the names are true ones. There are some poisons I sell only on a doctor’s prescription, but it is not against the local law to dispense cyanide, and it has many legitimate uses. I’ll look it up for you.”
He disappeared behind his ground-glass partition, to return presently, announcing:
“My clerk made that sale. He’ll be in presently, and he can tell you who bought the stuff. The name signed is Jacob Crouse, however.”
“Jacob Crouse,” mused Tom, and he slowly shook his head. Yet there was a gleam of hope in his eyes. “Maybe it isn’t him after all.”
Tom spent a fretful half hour, waiting for the clerk to come in, and he was nervous lest some of the school lads enter and question him as to his presence in the place. For Tom was not anxious that his errand be known except to his chums. But none from Elmwood Hall came in, and shortly the clerk arrived. There was a whispered conference between him and the proprietor, and the clerk addressed Tom.
“You wish to know who bought cyanide, some time ago?” asked the young man.
“Yes,” said Tom. “Can you describe Jacob Crouse?”
“I don’t know that he gave me the right name,” said the clerk. “In fact I suspect he didn’t. But he was a young fellow, about your own age and build.”
“He was!” exclaimed Tom, and his voice showed disappointment.
“Yes, but he was not so well dressed. In fact he was rather shabby. He said he wanted the stuff to kill rats, and asked the best way to prepare it. I tried to sell him some regular rat poison, but he wanted the cyanide. I told him to mix it with corn meal. He said there were lots of rats on his father’s farm.”
“He said that?” cried Tom.
“Yes. Oh, they make up all sorts of stories when they want to get suspicious stuff, though there’s no law here against cyanide. Why, did some one of your friends poison someone, or commit suicide?”
“Oh, not as bad as that,” replied Tom. “Is that all you can tell me about this—this person?”
[Transcriber’s note: The next piece of text has several missing fragments, which seem to have been caused during printing. I have indicated the missing text with brackets.]
“Well, about all—hold on, though, he had a big scar on—let me see—on his left cheek. It extended from his eye almost to his [missing words] livid, ugly scar.”
[missing words] good! [missing words] I’m much obliged to you, and with a smile of hope our hero hurried from the drug store, followed by the curious glances of the proprietor and the clerk.