The Silent Bullet HTML version

2. The Scientific Cracksman
"I'm willing to wager you a box of cigars that you don't know the most fascinating story
in your own paper tonight," remarked Kennedy, as I came in one evening with the four or
five newspapers I was in the habit of reading to see whether they had beaten the Star in
getting any news of importance.
"I'll bet I do," I said, "or I was one of about a dozen who worked it up. It's the Shaw
murder trial. There isn't another that's even a bad second."
"I am afraid the cigars will be on you, Walter. Crowded over on the second page by a lot
of stale sensation that everyone has read for the fiftieth time, now, you will find what
promises to be a real sensation, a curious half-column account of the sudden death of
John G. Fletcher."
I laughed. "Craig," I said, "when you put up a simple death from apoplexy against a
murder trial, and such a murder trial; well, you disappoint me--that's all."
"Is it a simple case of apoplexy?" he asked, pacing up and down the room, while I
wondered why he should grow excited over what seemed a very ordinary news item, after
all. Then he picked up the paper and read the account slowly aloud.
John Graham Fletcher, the aged philanthropist and steelmaker, was found dead in his
library this morning at his home at Fletcherwood, Great Neck, Long Island. Strangely,
the safe in the library in which he kept his papers and a large sum of cash was found
opened, but as far as could be learned nothing is missing.
It had always been Mr. Fletcher's custom to rise at seven o'clock. This morning his
housekeeper became alarmed when he had not appeared by nine o'clock. Listening at the
door, she heard no sound. It was not locked, and on entering she found the former steel-
magnate lying lifeless on the floor between his bedroom and the library adjoining. His
personal physician, Dr. W. C. Bryant, was immediately notified.
Close examination of the body revealed that his face was slightly discoloured, and the
cause of death was given by the physician as apoplexy. He had evidently been dead about
eight or nine hours when discovered.
Mr. Fletcher is survived by a nephew, John G. Fletcher, II., who is the Blake professor of
bacteriology at the University, and by a grandniece, Miss Helen Bond. Professor Fletcher
was informed of the sad occurrence shortly after leaving a class this morning and hurried
out to Fletcherwood. He would make no statement other than that he was inexpressibly