As Kent placed it on the table, his eyes caught suddenly a gleam of steel under the edge of a newspaper, and he drew out from their hiding-place the long-bladed clipping scissors which Kedsty had used in the preparation of his scrap-books and official reports. It was the last link in the deadly evidence—the automatic with its telltale stain, the scissors, the tress of hair, and Marette Radisson. He felt a sensation of sudden dizziness. Every nerve-center in his body had received its shock, and when the shock had passed it left him sweating.
Swiftly the reaction came. It was a lie, he told himself. The evidence was false. Marette could not have committed that crime, as the crime had visualized itself before his eyes. There was something which he had not seen, something which he could not see, something that was hiding itself from him. He became, in an instant, the old James Kent. The instinctive processes of the man-hunter leaped to their stations like trained soldiers. He saw Marette again, as she had looked at him when he entered the room. It was not murder he had caught in her wide-open eyes. It was not hatred. It was not madness. It was a quivering, bleeding soul crying out to him in an agony that no other human eyes had ever revealed to him before. And suddenly a great voice cried out in his brain, drowning all other things, telling him how contemptible a thing was love unless in that love was faith.
With his heart choking him, he turned again to Kedsty. The futility of the thing which he had told himself was faith gripped at him sickeningly, yet he fought for that faith, even as his eyes looked again upon the ghastly torture that was in Kedsty’s face.
He was becoming calmer. He touched the dead man’s cheek and found that it was no longer warm. The tragedy must have occurred an hour before. He examined more closely the abrasion on Kedsty’s forehead. It was not a deep wound, and the blow that had made it must have stunned the Inspector of Police for only a short time. In that space the other thing had happened. In spite of his almost superhuman effort to keep the picture away from him, Kent saw it vividly—the swift turning to the table, the inspiration of the scissors, the clipping of the long tress of hair, the choking to death of Kedsty as he regained consciousness. Over and over again he whispered to himself the impossibility of it, the absurdity of it, the utter incongruity of it. Only a brain gone mad would have conceived that monstrous way of killing Kedsty. And Marette was not mad. She was sane.
Like the eyes of a hunting ferret his own eyes swept quickly about the room. At the four windows there were long curtain cords. On the walls, hung there as trophies, were a number of weapons. On one end of Kedsty’s desk, used as a paperweight, was a stone tomahawk. Still nearer to the dead man’s hands, unhidden by papers, was a boot-lace. Under his limp right hand was the automatic. With these possible instruments of death close at hand, ready to be snatched up without trouble or waste of time, why had the murderer used a tress of woman’s hair?