The Film Mystery
27. The Film Fire
The bag lay open at my feet. The microscope and other paraphernalia brought by
Kennedy were untouched. Taking the film from Mackay and placing the can in with the
other things, Kennedy snapped the catch and turned to me as he straightened.
"I think our evidence is safest in plain sight, Walter. We'll carry it about with us."
Lloyd Manton seemed to be a genuinely unhappy individual. After some moments he
excused himself, nervously anxious about the turn of affairs at the studio. Immediately I
faced Kennedy and Mackay.
"Manton's the only one who knew just where we put the bag," I remarked. "When he left
us in the basement he had plenty of time to run up and steal the towel and return."
"How about the itching salve?"
"In his hurry he might have left the towel in the paper, intending to destroy it later."
Kennedy frowned. "That's possible, Walter. I had not thought of that. Still"--he
brightened--"I'm counting on human nature. I don't believe anyone guilty of the crime
could have that towel in his possession, after the hints I have thrown out, without
examining it so as to see what telltale mark or stain would be apt to betray his identity."
"You can see that Manton's the logical man?"
"It would be easy for anyone else to follow and observe us."
"First of all we must keep an eye out for any person showing signs of the itching
concoction. We must observe anyone with noticeably clean hands. Principally, however,
another thing worries me."
"What's that, Mr. Kennedy?" asked Mackay.
"Walter and I found a cigarette case belonging to Jack Gordon in the basement; also a
butt smoked three-quarters of the way down and left directly in the negative room. The
fire doors between the different film vaults, which are arranged like the safety
compartments in a ship, were all open. I want to know why Gordon was down there and--
well, I seem to sense something wrong."
"Good heavens! Craig," I interposed. "You don't attach any importance to the fact that
those doors were open!"