“I consider this the very best tribute I can pay to the genius of the man who has undone me. I take my punishment, however, into my own hands.
“In my haste to have done with all this and to start on my long and chartless journey, I had well-nigh forgotten to tell just how I killed Mr. Darrow. No hypodermic syringe had anything to do with it. The while plan came to me while reading that fatal page upon which I left my telltale thumb-signature in my search for some feasible plan of making away with my victim. I need not go into particulars, for I know perfectly well that this Maitland knows to a nicety how the thing was done. The Daboia Russellii, or Russell’s viper, is one of the best known and most deadly of Indian vipers. I procured one of these reptiles at the cost of great delay and some slight risk. That is the whole story. On the night of the murder I took the viper in a box and went down to the water-front, near the Darrow estate. Here I cut a small pole from a clump of alders, made a split in one end of it, and thrust it over the tail of the viper. It pinched him severely and held him fast despite his angry struggles to free himself and to attack anything within his reach. All that remained to be done was to thrust this through the window into the darkened room and to bring the viper within reach of Mr. Darrow. This I did, being careful to crouch so as not to obstruct the light of the window. When I heard my victim’s outcry I withdrew the pole, and with it, of course, the viper, and made good my escape. That the reptile bit Mr. Darrow under the chin while his back was toward the window was mere chance, though I regarded it as a very lucky occurrence, since it seemed to render the suicide theory at first inevitable.
“I had had some fear lest the hissing of the viper might have been heard, for which reason I hazarded the only question I asked at the examination, and was completely reassured by its answer. I should perhaps state that my purpose in keeping in the background at this examination was my desire to avoid attracting attention to my deformed foot and my halting gait. This latter I had taken pains to conceal at my entrance, but I knew that the first step I took in forgetfulness would expose my halting habit. I had no fear of either Osborne or Allen, but there was something about this Maitland that bade me at once be on my guard, and, as I have said before, I never take an avoidable risk. For this reason I sat at once in the darkest corner I could find and remained there throughout the examination. I thought it extremely unlikely, though possible, that an attempt might be made to track the assassin with dogs, yet, since that is precisely the first thing I myself would have done, I decided that the risk was worth avoiding. I accordingly set the boat adrift to indicate an escape by water, and then waded along the beach for half a mile or so, carrying the pole, boards, etc.,