“You are. You can tell her, you can tell everybody. I’ll tell— I’ll tell myself. I won’t wait. That child is mine—mine—not hers. Now—go!”
Veronica Haversham on the stage never towered in a fit of passion as she did now in real life, as her ungovernable feelings broke forth tempestuously on us.
I was astounded, bewildered at the revelation, the possibilities in those simple words, “The child is mine.” For a moment I was stunned. Then as the full meaning dawned on me I wondered in a flood of consciousness whether it was true. Was it the product of her drug-disordered brain? Had her desperate love for Hazleton produced a hallucination?
Kennedy, silent, saw that the case demanded quick action. I shall never forget the breathless ride down from the sanitarium to the Hazleton house on Riverside Drive.
“Mrs. Hazleton,” he cried, as we hurried in, “you will pardon me for this unceremonious intrusion, but it is most important. May I trouble you to place your fingers on this paper—so?”
He held out to her a piece of the prepared paper. She looked at him once, then saw from his face that he was not to be questioned. Almost tremulously she did as he said, saying not a word. I wondered whether she knew the story of Veronica, or whether so far only hints of it had been brought to her.
“Thank you,” he said quickly. “Now, if I may see Morton?”
It was the first time we had seen the baby about whom the rapidly thickening events were crowding. He was a perfect specimen of well-cared-for, scientific infant.
Kennedy took the little chubby fingers playfully in his own. He seemed at once to win the child’s confidence, though he may have violated scientific rules. One by one he pressed the little fingers on the paper, until little Morton crowed with delight as one little piggy after another “went to market.” He had deserted thousands of dollars’ worth of toys just to play with the simple piece of paper Kennedy had brought with him. As I looked at him, I thought of what Kennedy had said at the start. Perhaps this innocent child was not to be envied after all. I could hardly restrain my excitement over the astounding situation which had suddenly developed.
“That will do,” announced Kennedy finally, carelessly folding up the paper and slipping it into his pocket. “You must excuse me now.”
“You see,” he explained on the way to the laboratory, “that powder adheres to fresh finger prints, taking all the gradations. Then the paper with its paraffine and glycerine coating takes off the powder.”
In the laboratory he buried himself in work, with microscope compasses, calipers, while I fumed impotently at the window.
“Walter,” he called suddenly, “get Dr. Maudsley on the telephone. Tell him to come immediately to the laboratory.”
Meanwhile Kennedy was busy arranging what he had discovered in logical order and putting on it the finishing touches.