The Gold of the Gods
13. The Poisoned Cigarette
There was not a grain of superstition in Kennedy, yet I could see that he was pondering
deeply what Inez Mendoza had just said. Was it possible that there might be something in
it--not objectively, but subjectively? Might that very fear which the Senorita had of the
Senora engender a feeling that would produce the very result that she feared? I knew that
there were strange things that modern psychology was discovering. Could there be some
scientific explanation of the evil eye?
Kennedy turned and went back into the hotel, to keep his appointment with Whitney, and
as he did so I reflected that, whatever credence might be given the evil-eye theory, there
was something now before us that was a fact--the physical condition which Inez had
observed in her father before his death, saw now in Whitney, and foresaw in Lockwood.
Surely that in itself constituted enough of a problem.
We found Whitney in the cafe, sitting alone in a leather-cushioned booth, and smoking
furiously. I observed him narrowly. His eyes had even more than before that peculiar,
staring look. By the manner in which his veins stood out I could see that his heart action
must be very rapid.
"Well," he remarked, as we seated ourselves, "how did you come out in your tete-a-tete?"
"About as I expected," answered Kennedy nonchalantly. "I let it go on merely because I
wanted Senorita Mendoza to hear certain things, and I thought that the Senora could tell
them best. One of them related to the history of that dagger."
I thought Whitney's eyes would pop out of his head. "What about it?" he asked.
"Well," replied Kennedy briefly, "there was the story of how her brother had it and was
driven crazy until he gave it up to somebody, then committed suicide by throwing
himself into Titicaca. The other was the tradition that in the days after Pizarro a Mendoza
was murdered by it, just as her father has now been murdered."
Whitney was listening intently, and seemed to be thinking deeply of something.
"Do you know," he said finally, with a nod to indicate that he knew what it was that
Kennedy referred to, "I've been thinking of that de Moche woman a good deal since I left
you with her. I've had some dealings with her."
He looked at Kennedy shrewdly, as though he would have liked to ask whether she had
said anything about him, but did not because he knew Kennedy would not tell. He was
trying to figure out some other way of finding out.
"Sometimes I think she is trying to double-cross me," he said, at length. "I know that
when she talks to others about me she says many things that aren't so. Yet when she is