The Gold of the Gods HTML version

7. The Arrow Poison
Back again in the laboratory, Kennedy threw off his coat and plunged again into his
investigation of the blood sample he had taken from the wound in Mendoza's body.
We had scarcely been back half an hour before the door opened and Dr. Leslie's
perplexed face looked in on us. He was carrying a large jar, in which he had taken away
the materials which he wished to examine.
"Well," asked Kennedy, pausing with a test-tube poised over a Bunsen burner, "have you
found anything yet? I haven't had time to get very far with my own tests yet."
"Not a blessed thing," returned the coroner. "I'm desperate. One of the chemists
suggested cyanide, another carbon monoxide. But there is no trace of either. Then he
suggested nux vomica. It wasn't nux vomica; but my tests show that it must have been
something very much like it. I've looked for all the ordinary known poisons and some of
the little-known alkaloids, but, Kennedy, I always get back to the same point. There must
have been a poison there. He did not die primarily of the wound. It was asphyxia due to a
poison that really killed him, though the wound might have done so, but not quite so
I could tell by the look that crossed Kennedy's face that at last a ray of light had pierced
the darkness. He reached for a bottle on the shelf labelled spirits of turpentine.
Then he poured a little of the blood sample from the jar which the coroner had brought
into a clean tube and added a few drops of the spirits of turpentine. A cloudy, dark
precipitate formed. He smiled quietly, and said, half to himself, "I thought so."
"What is it?" asked the coroner eagerly, "nux vomica?"
Craig shook his head as he stared at the black precipitate. "You were perfectly right about
the asphyxiation, Doctor," he remarked slowly, "but wrong as to the cause. It was a
poison--one you would never dream of."
"What is it?" Leslie and I asked simultaneously.
"Let me take all these samples and make some further tests," he said. "I am quite sure of
it, but it is new to me. By the way, may I trouble you and Leslie to go over to the
Museum of Natural History with a letter?"
It was evident that he wanted to work uninterrupted, and we agreed readily, especially
because by going we might also be of some use in solving the mystery of the poison.
He sat down and wrote a hasty note to the director of the Museum, and a few moments
later we were speeding over in Leslie's car.