For a moment Kennedy gazed full in the eyes of them all.
“Was it a snake bite?” he asked slowly, then, turning to Mrs. Blair, after a quick glance, he went on rapidly, “The first thing to ascertain is whether the mark consists of two isolated punctures, from the poison-conducting teeth or fangs of the snake, which are constructed like a hypodermic needle.”
The hospital physician had bent over her at the words, and before Kennedy could go on interrupted: “This was not a snake bite; it was more likely from an all-glass hypodermic syringe with a platinum-iridium needle.”
Professor Rapport, priest of the Devil, advanced a step menacingly toward Kennedy. “Remember,” he said in a low, angry tone, “remember—you are pledged to keep the secrets of the Red Lodge!”
Craig brushed aside the sophistry with a sentence. “I do not recognize any secrets that I have to keep about the meeting this afternoon to which you summoned the Blairs and Mrs. Langhorne, according to reports from the shadows I had placed on Mrs. Langhorne and Dr. Vaughn.”
If there is such a thing as the evil eye, Rapport’s must have been a pair of them, as he realized that Kennedy had resorted to the simple devices of shadowing the devotees.
A cry, almost a shriek, startled us. Kennedy’s encounter with Rapport had had an effect which none of us had considered. The step or two in advance which the prophet had taken had brought him into the line of vision of the still half-stupefied Veda lying back of Kennedy on the hospital cot.
The mere sight of him, the sound of his voice and the mention of the Red Lodge had been sufficient to penetrate that stupor. She was sitting bolt upright, a ghastly, trembling specter. Slowly a smile seemed to creep over the cruel face of the mystic. Was it not a recognition of his hypnotic power?
Kennedy turned and laid a gentle hand on the quaking convulsed figure of the woman. One could feel the electric tension in the air, the battle of two powers for good or evil. Which would win— the old fascination of the occult or the new power of science?
It was a dramatic moment. Yet not so dramatic as the outcome. To my surprise, neither won.
Suddenly she caught sight of her husband. Her face changed. All the prehistoric jealousy of which woman is capable seemed to blaze forth.
“I will defend myself!” she cried. “I will fight back! She shall not win—she shall not have you—no—she shall not—never!”
I recalled the strained feeling between the two women that I had noticed in the cab. Was it Mrs. Langhorne who had been the disturbing influence, whose power she feared, over herself and over her husband?
Rapport had fallen back a step, but not from the mind of Kennedy.
“Here,” challenged Craig, facing the group and drawing from his pocket the glass ampoule, “I picked this up at the Red Lodge last night.”