Not a word was said, as Kennedy brought the stupefied little man around.
Denison, pale, shaken, was leaning back now in a big office chair, gasping and holding his head.
Kennedy, before him, reached down into his pocket and handed him the spinthariscope.
“You see that?” he demanded.
Denison looked through the eyepiece.
“Wh—where did you get so much of it?” he asked, a queer look on his face.
“I got that bit of radium from the base of the collar button of Hartley Haughton,” replied Kennedy quietly, “a collar button which some one intimate with him had substituted for his own, bringing that deadly radium with only the minutest protection of a thin strip of metal close to the back of his neck, near the spinal cord and the medulla oblongata which controls blood pressure. That collar button was worse than the poisoned rings of the Borgias. And there is more radium in the pretty gift of a tortoiseshell comb with its paste diamonds which Miss Wallace wore in her hair. Only a fraction of an inch, not enough to cut off the deadly alpha rays, protected the wearers of those articles.”
He paused a moment, while surging through my mind came one after another the explanations of the hitherto inexplicable. Denison seemed almost to cringe in the chair, weak already from the fumes.
“Besides,” went on Kennedy remorselessly, “when I went in there to drag you out, I saw the safe open. I looked. There was nothing in those pretty platinum tubes, as I suspected. European trust—bah! All the cheap devices of a faker with a confederate in London to send a cablegram—and another in New York to send a threatening letter.”
Kennedy extended an accusing forefinger at the man cowering before him.
“This is nothing but a get-rich-quick scheme, Denison. There never was a milligram of radium in the Poor Little Rich Valley, not a milligram here in all the carefully kept reports of Miss Wallace— except what was bought outside by the Corporation with the money it collected from its dupes. Haughton has been fleeced. Miss Wallace, blinded by her loyalty to you—you will always find such a faithful girl in such schemes as yours—has been fooled.
“And how did you repay it? What was cleverer, you said to yourself, than to seem to be robbed of what you never had, to blame it on a bitter rival who never existed? Then to make assurance doubly sure, you planned to disable, perhaps get rid of the come-on whom you had trimmed, and the faithful girl whose eyes you had blinded to your gigantic swindle.
“Denison,” concluded Kennedy, as the man drew back, his very face convicting him, “Denison, you are the radium robber—robber in another sense!”
THE DEAD LINE
Maiden Lane, no less than Wall Street, was deeply interested in the radium case. In fact, it seemed that one case in this section of the city led to another.