The Gold of the Gods HTML version

9. The Paper Fibres
Kennedy examined the anonymous letter carefully for several minutes, while we watched
him in silence.
"Too clever to use a typewriter," he remarked, still regarding the note through the lens of
a hand-glass. "Almost any one would have used a machine. That would have been due to
the erroneous idea that typewriting cannot be detected. The fact is that the typewriter is
perhaps a worse means of concealing identity than is disguised handwriting, especially
printing like this. It doesn't afford the effective protection to the criminal that one
supposes. On the contrary, the typewriting of such a note may be the direct means by
which it can be traced to its source. We can determine what kind of machine it was done
with, then what particular machine was used can be identified."
He paused and indicated a number of little instruments which he had taken from a drawer
and laid on the table, as he tore off a bit of the corner of the sheet of paper and examined
"There is one thing I can do now, though," he continued. "I can study the quality of the
paper in this sheet. If it were only torn like those warnings we have already received, it
might perhaps be mated with another piece as accurately as if the act had been performed
before our eyes."
He picked up a little instrument with a small curved arm and a finely threaded screw that
brought the two flat surfaces of the arm and the end of the screw together.
"There is no such good fortune in this case, however," he resumed, placing the paper
between the two small arms. "But by measurements made by this vernier micrometer
caliper I can find the precise thickness of the paper as compared to the other samples."
He turned to a microscope and placed the corner of the paper under it. Then he drew from
the drawer the four scraps of paper which had already been sent to us, as well as a pile of
"Under ordinary circumstances," he explained, "I should think that what I am doing
would be utterly valueless as a clue to anything. But we are reduced to the minutiae in
this affair. And to-day science is not ready to let anything pass as valueless."
He continued to look at the various pieces of paper under the microscope. "I find under
microscopic examination," he went on, addressing Inez, but not looking up from the eye-
piece as he shifted the papers, "that the note you have received, Senorita Mendoza, is
written on a rather uncommon linen bond paper. Later I shall take a number of
microphotographs of it. I have here, also, about a hundred microphotographs of the fibres
in other kinds of paper, many of them bonds. These I have accumulated from time to time