The Film Mystery
10. Chemical Research
The following morning I found Kennedy up ahead of me, and I felt certain that he had
gone to the laboratory. Sure enough, I found him at work in the midst of the innumerable
scientific devices which he had gathered during years of crime detection of every sort.
As usual, he was surrounded by a perfect litter of test tubes, beakers, reagents,
microscopes, slides, and culture tubes. He had cut out the curious spots from the towel I
had discovered and was studying them to determine their nature. From the mass of
paraphernalia I knew he was neglecting no possibility which might lead to the hidden
truth or produce a clue to the crime.
"Have you learned anything yet?" I asked.
"Those brownish spots were blood, of course," was his reply as he stopped a moment in
his work. "In the blood I discovered some other substance, though I can't seem to identify
it yet. It will take time. I thought it might be a drug or poison, but it doesn't seem to be--at
least nothing one might ordinarily expect."
"How about the other spots, not the Chinese yellow?"
"Another problem I haven't solved. I dissolved enough of them so that I have plenty of
material to study if I don't waste it. But so far I haven't been able to identify the substance
with anything I know. There's a lot more work of elimination, Walter, before we're on the
road to the solution of this case. Whatever stained the towel was very unusual. As near as
I can make out the spots are of some protein composition. But it's not exactly a poison,
although many proteins may be extremely poisonous and extremely difficult to identify
because they are of organic nature."
I was disappointed. It seemed to me that he had made comparatively little progress so far.
"There's one thing," he added. "Samples of the body fluids of the victim have been sent
down by the coroner at Tarrytown and I have analyzed them. While I haven't decided
what it was that killed Stella Lamar, I am at least convinced that it has something to do
with these towel spots. They are not exactly the same--in fact, I should say they were
complementary, or, perhaps better, antithetical."
"The mark wasn't made by the needle which scratched her, then?"
"That's what I thought at first, that the point used had been wiped off on the towel. Then I
decided that the spots had nothing to do with the case at all. Now I believe there is some
connection, after all."
"I--I don't understand it," I protested.