“Then, too, you know, there is an individual as well as family and sex susceptibility to lead. Women are especially liable to lead poisoning, but then perhaps in this case Mrs. Pearcy comes of a family that is very resistant. There are many factors. Personally, I don’t think Pearcy himself was resistant. Perhaps Minturn was not, either. At any rate, after Pearcy’s death, it was I who advised Minturn to take the electrolysis cure in New York. I took him down there,” added Gunther. “Confound it, I wish I had stayed with him. But I always found Josephson perfectly reliable in hydrotherapy with other patients I sent to him, and I understood that he had been very successful with cases sent to him by many physicians in the city.” He paused and I waited anxiously to see whether Kennedy would make some reference to the discovery of the strychnine salts.
“Have you any idea how the lead poisoning could have been caused?” asked Kennedy instead.
Dr. Gunther shook his head. “It is a puzzle to me,” he answered. “I am sure of only one thing. It could not be from working in lead, for it is needless to say that none of them worked.”
“Food?” Craig suggested.
The doctor considered. “I had thought of that. I know that many cases of lead poisoning have been traced to the presence of the stuff in ordinary foods, drugs and drinks. I have examined the foods, especially the bread. They don’t use canned goods. I even went so far as to examine the kitchen ware to see if there could be anything wrong with the glazing. They don’t drink wines and beers, into which now and then the stuff seems to get.”
“You seem to have a good grasp of the subject,” flattered Kennedy, as we rose to go. “I can hardly blame you for neglecting the water, since everyone here seems to be so sure of the purity of the supply.”
Gunther said nothing. I was not surprised, for, at the very least, no one likes to have an outsider come in and put his finger directly on the raw spot. What more there might be to it, I could only conjecture.
We left the druggist’s and Kennedy, glancing at his watch, remarked: “If you will go down to the station, Walter, and get that package we left there, I shall be much obliged to you. I want to make just one more stop, at the office of the water company, and I think I shall just about have time for it. There’s a pretty good restaurant across the street. Meet me there, and by that time I shall know whether to carry out a little plan I have outlined or not.”
THE ELECTROLYTIC MURDER
We dined leisurely, which seemed strange to me, for it was not Kennedy’s custom to let moments fly uselessly when he was on a case. However, I soon found out why it was. He was waiting for darkness.
As soon as the lights began to glow in the little stores on the main street, we sallied forth, taking the direction of the Pearcy and Minturn houses.