The Film Mystery
2. The Tiny Scratch
Kennedy, before his own examination of the body, turned to Doctor Blake. "Tell me just
what you found when you arrived," he directed.
The physician, whose practice embraced most of the wealthy families in and around
Tarrytown, was an unusually tall, iron- gray-haired man of evident competency. It was
very plain that he resented his unavoidable connection with the case.
"She was still alive," he responded, thoughtfully, "although breathing with difficulty.
Nearly everyone had clustered about her, so that she was getting little air, and the room
was stuffy from the lights they had been using in taking the scene. They told me she
dropped unconscious and that they couldn't revive her, but at first it did not occur to me
that it might be serious. I thought perhaps the heat--"
"You saw nothing suspicious," interrupted Kennedy, "nothing in the actions or manner of
anyone in the room?"
"No, when I first entered I didn't suspect anything out of the way. I had them send
everyone into the next room, except Manton and Phelps, and had the doors and windows
thrown open to give her air. Then when I examined her I detected what seemed to me to
be both a muscular and nervous paralysis, which by that time had proceeded pretty far.
As I touched her she opened her eyes, but she was unable to speak. She was breathing
with difficulty; her heart action was weakening so rapidly that I had little opportunity to
apply restorative measures."
"What do you think caused the death?"
"So far, I can make no satisfactory explanation." The doctor shrugged his shoulders very
slightly. "That is why I advised an immediate investigation. I did not care to write a death
"You have no hypothesis?"
"If she died from any natural organic disorder, the signs were lacking by which I could
trace it. Everything indicates the opposite, however. It would be hard for me to say
whether the paralysis of respiration or of the heart actually caused her death. If it was due
to poison--Well, to me the whole affair is shrouded in mystery. The symptoms indicated
nothing I could recognize with any degree of certainty."
Kennedy stooped over, making a superficial examination of the girl. I saw that some faint
odor caught his nostrils, for he remained poised a moment, inhaling reflectively, his eyes
clouded in thought. Then he went to the windows, raising the shades an additional few
inches each, but that did not seem to give him the light he wished.