They all waited, and after what seemed an interminable time the Examiner reappeared and the other two doctors with him.
“Well, well,” Crowell began, his restless hands twisting themselves round each other. “Now, be quiet, Mrs, Embury—I declare, I don’t know how to say what I have to say, if you sit there like a chained tiger—”
“Go on!” Eunice now seemed to usurp something of Crowell’s own dictatorship. “Go on, Dr. Crowell!”
“Well, ma’am, I will. But there’s not much to tell. Our principal evidence is lack of evidence—”
“What do you mean? “cried Eunice. “Talk English, please!”
“I am doing so. There is positively no evidence that Mr. Embury was poisoned, yet owing to the absolute lack of any hint of any other means of death, we are forced to the conclusion that he was poisoned.”
“By his own hand?” asked Hendricks, his face grave.
“Probably not. You see, sir, with no knowledge of how the poison was administered—with no suspicion of any reason for its being administered—we are working in the dark—”
“I should say so!” exclaimed Elliott; “black darkness, I call it. Are you within your rights in assuming poison?”
“Entirely; it has to be the truth. No agent but a swift, subtle poison could have cut off the victim’s life like that.”
Crowell was now walking up and down the room. He was a restless, nervous man, and under stress of anxiety he became almost hysterical.
“I don’t know!” he cried out, as one in an extremity of uncertainty. “It must be poison—it must have been—murder!”
He pronounced the last word in a gasping way—as if afraid to suggest it but forced to do so.
Hendricks looked at him with a slight touch of contempt in his glance, but seeing this, Dr. Harper interjected:
“The Examiner is regretting the necessity of thrusting his convictions upon you, but he knows it must be done.”
“Yes,” said Crowell, more decidedly now, “I have had cases before where murder was committed in such an almost undiscoverable way as this. Never a case quite so mysterious, but nearly so.”
“What is your theory of the method?” asked Elliott, who was staggered by the rush of thoughts and conclusions made inevitable by the Examiner’s report.
“That’s the greatest mystery of all,” Crowell replied. He was quite calm now—apparently it was concern for the family that had made him so disturbed.
“Poison was not taken by way of the stomach, that is certain. Therefore, it must have been introduced through some other channel. But we find no trace of a hypodermic needle—”
“How utterly ridiculous!” Eunice exclaimed, her eyes blazing with scorn. “How could any one get in to poison my husband? Why, we lock all our doors at night—we always have.”
“Yes’m—exactly, ma’am,” Crowell began, rubbing his hands again; “and now, please tell me of the locking up last night. As usual, ma’am, as usual?”