I glanced at the other two papers—the marked article was the same in each. “I wonder what your friend Osborne would say to that,” I said to Maitland.
“How old are the papers?” he replied.
“March 15th,—only a little over a month,” I answered.
“Let me see them, please,” he said. “Hum! All of the same date, and each in the paid part of the paper! It is clear Mr. Darrow inserted these singular notices himself. I will tell you what Osborne will say when he learns of these articles. He will say they strengthen his theory; that no sane man would publish such a thing, except as a weak attempt to deceive the insurance companies. As for the money all being paid to the discoverer of the assassin, instead of to his daughter, he will simply dispose of that by saying: ‘No assassin, no reward, and the fund remains intact.’ If now, the other papers permit Miss Darrow to use the interest of this fund while holding the principal in trust, we do not at present know enough of this matter to successfully refute Osborne’s reasoning. This mystery seems to grow darker rather than lighter. The one thing upon which we seem continually to get evidence is the question of sanity. If Mr. Darrow’s suspicions were directed against no one in particular, then it is clear his dreams, and all the rest of his fears for that matter, had a purely subjective origin, which is to say that upon this one subject, at least, he was of unsound mind.”
“I cannot think so,” Gwen interrupted. “He was so rational in everything else.”
“That is quite possible,” I replied. “I have known people to be monomaniacs upon the subject of water, and to go nowhere without a glass of it in their hands. There is also a well-authenticated case of a man who was as sane as you or I until he heard the words ’real estate.’ One day while quietly carving the meat at a dinner to which he had invited several guests, a gentleman opposite him inadvertently spoke the fatal words, when, without a word of warning, he sprang at him across the table, using the carving-knife with all the fury of the most violent maniac; and yet, under all other conditions, he was perfectly rational.”
“If, on the other hand,” said Maitland, continuing his remarks as if unaware of our interruption, “Mr. Darrow’s suspicions had any foundation in fact, it is almost certain they must have been directed against some specific person or persons. If so, why did he not name them?—but, stay—how do we know that he did not? Let us proceed with our examination of the papers,” and he began perusing the insurance policies. Neither Gwen nor I spoke till he had finished and thrown them down, when we both turned expectantly toward him.
“All in Osborne’s favour so far,” he said. “Principal to be held in trust by Miss Darrow under the terms of a will which we have yet to find; the income, until the discharge of the trust, to go to Miss Darrow. Now for this,” and he passed Gwen the sealed envelope addressed to her.