The Dream Doctor HTML version

4. The Beauty Shop
It was only after a few hours that Kennedy thought it wise to try to question the poor girl
at the hospital. Her story was simple enough in itself, but it certainly complicated matters
considerably without throwing much light on the case. She had been busy because her
day was full, and she had yet to dress the hair of Miss Blaisdell for her play that night.
Several times she had been interrupted by impatient messages from the actress in her
little dressing-booth, and one of the girls had already demolished the previous hair-
dressing in order to save time. Once Agnes had run down for a few seconds to reassure
her that she would be through in time.
She had found the actress reading a newspaper, and when Kennedy questioned her she
remembered seeing a note lying on the dresser. "Agnes," Miss Blaisdell had said, "will
you go into the writing- room and bring me some paper, a pen, and ink? I don't want to
go in there this way. There's a dear good girl." Agnes had gone, though it was decidedly
no part of her duty as one of the highest paid employes of the Novella. But they all
envied the popular actress, and were ready to do anything for her. The next thing she
remembered was finishing the coiffure she was working on and going to Miss Blaisdell.
There lay the beautiful actress. The light in the corridor had not been lighted yet, and it
was dark. Her lips and mouth seemed literally to shine. Agnes called her, but she did not
move; she touched her, but she was cold. Then she screamed and fled. That was the last
she remembered.
"The little writing-room," reasoned Kennedy as we left the poor little hair-dresser quite
exhausted by her narrative, "was next to the sanctum of Millefleur, where they found that
bottle of ether phosphore and the oil of turpentine. Some one who knew of that note or
perhaps wrote it must have reasoned that an answer would be written immediately. That
person figured that the note would be the next thing written and that the top envelope of
the pile would be used. That person knew of the deadly qualities of too much
phosphorised ether, and painted the gummed flap of the envelope with several grains of
it. The reasoning held good, for Agnes took the top envelope with its poisoned flap to
Miss Blaisdell. No, there was no chance about that. It was all clever, quick reasoning."
"But," I objected, "how about the oil of turpentine?"
"Simply to remove the traces of the poison. I think you will see why that was attempted
before we get through."
Kennedy would say no more, but I was content because I could see that he was now
ready to put his theories, whatever they were, to the final test. He spent the rest of the day
working at the hospital with Dr. Barron, adjusting a very delicate piece of apparatus
down in a special room, in the basement. I saw it, but I had no idea what it was or what
its use might be.