The Dream Doctor
10. The Toxin Of Death
The note of appeal in her tone was powerful, but I could not so readily shake off my first
suspicions of the woman. Whether or not she convinced Kennedy, he did not show.
"I was only a young girl when I met Mr. Thornton," she raced on. "I was not yet eighteen
when we were married. Too late, I found out the curse of his life--and of mine. He was a
drug fiend. From the very first life with him was insupportable. I stood it as long as I
could, but when he beat me because he had no money to buy drugs, I left him. I gave
myself up to my career on the stage. Later I heard that he was dead--a suicide. I worked,
day and night, slaved, and rose in the profession--until, at last, I met Mr. Pitts."
She paused, and it was evident that it was with a struggle that she could talk so.
"Three months after I was married to him, Thornton suddenly reappeared, from the dead
it seemed to me. He did not want me back. No, indeed. All he wanted was money. I gave
him money, my own. money, for I made a great deal in my stage days. But his demands
increased. To silence him I have paid him thousands. He squandered them faster than
ever. And finally, when it became unbearable, I appealed to a friend. That friend has now
succeeded in placing this man quietly in a sanitarium for the insane."
"And the murder of the chef?" shot out Kennedy.
She looked from one to the other of us in alarm. "Before God, I know no more of that
than does Mr. Pitts."
Was she telling the truth? Would she stop at anything to avoid the scandal and disgrace of
the charge of bigamy? Was there not something still that she was concealing? She took
refuge in the last resort--tears.
Encouraging as it was to have made such progress, it did not seem to me that we were
much nearer, after all, to the solution of the mystery. Kennedy, as usual, had nothing to
say until he was absolutely sure of his ground. He spent the greater part of the next day
hard at work over the minute investigations of his laboratory, leaving me to arrange the
details of a meeting he planned for that night.
There were present Mr. and Mrs. Pitts, the former in charge of Dr. Lord. The valet,
Edward, was also there, and in a neighbouring room was Thornton in charge of two
nurses from the sanitarium. Thornton was a sad wreck of a man now, whatever he might
have been when his blackmail furnished him with an unlimited supply of his favourite
"Let us go back to the very start of the case," began Kennedy when we had all assembled,
"the murder of the chef, Sam."