The Dream Doctor HTML version

9. The Elixir Of Life
As Minna Pitts led us through the large mansion preparatory to turning us over to a
servant she explained hastily that Mr. Pitts had long been ill and was now taking a new
treatment under Dr. Thompson Lord. No one having answered her bell in the present state
of excitement of the house, she stopped short at the pivoted door of the kitchen, with a
little shudder at the tragedy, and stood only long enough to relate to us the story as she
had heard it from the valet, Edward.
Mr. Pitts, it seemed, had wanted an early breakfast and had sent Edward to order it. The
valet had found the kitchen a veritable slaughter-house, with, the negro chef, Sam, lying
dead on the floor. Sam had been dead, apparently, since the night before.
As she hurried away, Kennedy pushed open the door. It was a marvellous place, that
antiseptic or rather aseptic kitchen, with its white tiling and enamel, its huge ice-box, and
cooking- utensils for every purpose, all of the most expensive and modern make.
There were marks everywhere of a struggle, and by the side of the chef, whose body now
lay in the next room awaiting the coroner, lay a long carving-knife with which he had
evidently defended himself. On its blade and haft were huge coagulated spots of blood.
The body of Sam bore marks of his having been clutched violently by the throat, and in
his head was a single, deep wound that penetrated the skull in a most peculiar manner. It
did not seem possible that a blow from a knife could have done it. It was a most unusual
wound and not at all the sort that could have been made by a bullet.
As Kennedy examined it, he remarked, shaking his head in confirmation of his own
opinion, "That must have been done by a Behr bulletless gun."
"A bulletless gun?" I repeated.
"Yes, a sort of pistol with a spring-operated device that projects a sharp blade with great
force. No bullet and no powder are used in it. But when it is placed directly over a vital
point of the skull so that the aim is unerring, a trigger lets a long knife shoot out with
tremendous force, and death is instantaneous."
Near the door, leading to the courtyard that opened on the side street, were some spots of
blood. They were so far from the place where the valet had discovered the body of the
chef that there could be no doubt that they were blood from the murderer himself.
Kennedy's reasoning in the matter seemed irresistible.
He looked under the table near the door, covered with a large light cloth. Beneath the
table and behind the cloth he found another blood spot.
"How did that land there?" he mused aloud. "The table-cloth is bloodless."