“One moment, please,” Maitland interrupted, calling her back, “I have something I have been trying to ask you for the last hour, but have repeatedly put off. I believe your father’s death to have resulted from poisoning. You know the result of the post-mortem inquest. It is necessary to make an analysis of the poison, if there be any, and an absolutely thorough microscopic examination of the wound. I—I regret to pain you—but to do this properly it will be necessary to cut away the wounded portion. Have we your permission to do so?”
For a moment Gwen did not answer. She fell upon her knees before her father’s body, and kissed the cold face passionately. For the first time since the tragedy she found relief in tears. When she arose a great change had come over her. She was very pale and seized a chair for support as she replied to Maitland’s question between the convulsive sobs which she seemed powerless to check: “I—I have bidden him good-bye. We shall but obey his command in sparing no pains to reach the assassin. You—you have my permission to do anything—everything—that may be—necessary to that end. I—I know you will be as gentle—” But she could not finish her sentence. The futility of gentleness—the realisation that her father was forever past all need of tenderness, fell like a shroud about her soul. The awakening I had dreaded had come. Her hand fell from the chair, she staggered, and would have fallen to the floor had not Maitland caught her in his arms.
THE EPISODE OF THE SEALED DOCUMENT
Father of all surveyors, Time drags
his chain of rust through
every life, and only Love—unaging God of the Ages—immeasurable,
keeps his untarnished youth.
Maitland carried the unconscious girl into the study, and for some time we busied ourselves in bringing her to herself. When this task was accomplished we did not feel like immediately putting any further tax upon her strength. Maitland insisted that she should rest while he and I ransacked the desk, and, ever mindful of her promise to obey his instructions, she yielded without remonstrance. Our search revealed the insurance policies, and a sealed envelope bearing the inscription: “To Miss Gwen Darrow, to be opened after the death of John Darrow,” and three newspapers with articles marked in blue pencil. I read the first aloud. It ran as follows:
I have reason to believe an attempt will sooner or
later be made upon my life, and that the utmost cunning
will be employed to lead the authorities astray.
The search for the assassin will be long, expensive,
and discouraging—just such a task as is
never successfully completed without some strong personal
incentive. This I propose to supply in advance.
My death will place in my daughter’s hands
a fund of fifty thousand dollars, to be held in trust
by her, and delivered, in the event of my being murdered,
to such person or persons as shall secure evidence
leading to the conviction of the murderer.
(Signed) John Hinton Darrow.