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le. As for me, I may as well confess that the growing unhappiness of Mrs. Wilford preyed on my mind—u


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ntil I was almost mad." I heard Honora take a sharp breath, as though to control her feelings. She was leaning forward now, her cheeks burning, her eyes fixed on the face of the man who was speaking. With every word, I could see her emotions rising higher. Never had I dreamed

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that it was in this woman to show such depth of feeling. It was as though she were passing through som

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e transformation which she herself did not understand, but which was changing her own soul and making a new crea

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ture of her. "I cannot recall just what passed between us," went on Shattuck, as though eager to hasten on and have it over wit

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h. "It was about his wife and what I thought his duties were. Every moment I could see that he was growing more and more angry

—which was what I intended. Finally he rose, threatening. Wilford was a powerful man and no mean antagonist—but I had come prepared. I had my gun at his breast before he knew it. I forced him back into his chair. [276] "'Honora is being driven mad by the way thi

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ngs are going,' I remember I shouted at him. 'One or the other of us must get out of her life.' "I could have shot him as he sat there, facing me before his desk—but I did not." Shattuck was ta

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lking calmly now, and earnestly, though underneath there was a depth of passion. "Then what?" demanded Doyle, as though fearful that something might even yet arise to stop the story. "I to

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ok one of those things, those beans that Kennedy has been talking about," he answered, pointing at the bean Kennedy was still holding in his hand. "Where did you get it?" "In Africa, of course," he hastened. "Where else?" "Have you any more?" demanded Doyle. "Yes—I think so," came back quickly. "I may have used the last one, though—or rather two, that is. You see, I must have dropped one and lost it. Then I must have forgotten about it in the excitement—that one Kennedy has." "I see," nodded Doyle. "Always there is some loophole you people leave open

, some place where the cleverest of you fall down and get caught." Shattuck suppressed a quick retort that was on his lips. "As I faced him," he went on, "I told him that I would not kill him outright. I would give him an equal chance. I am a sportsman. I told him [277] what the thing was, of the duels I had seen in Africa, of the chance that each took. At the very point of the gun I forced him to take the bean that was lying on the desk and cut it in half with my knife. Then I took back the knife and pointed to the two parts that lay on the desk before him.

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eck himself. "You forgot abo

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ut the two glasses on the desk." "Oh yes—the glasses—on the desk. There were two glasses—I got two glasses. I fi

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lled them with water. I placed one before him, the other before myself. 'Choose!' I ordered him, pointing to the halve

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s of the bean before him. "One thing I can say. Vail Wilford was not yellow. He saw that I had him—that there was

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no escape. He looked from the gun to me, then at the halves of the bean. Outside there was silence. No place, you know

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, is more deserted than down-town late at night after business hours. If he shouted, he knew that I would fire—also i

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f he moved. I gave him sixty seconds to choose which half he would take. At the point of the gun he chose. "'Now,'

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I said to him, taking the remaining half myself, 'put it in your mouth, chew it, swallow it. If you spit out so much as a fragment I will fire instantly.' "And I give him credit. He was a sportsman and a gentleman through it all. I watched him chew it, and when he started I reached over and [278] took my half. I began to chew that, myself. Then, together, we drank the wa

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ter from the glasses, so that we would have to swallow the parts of the bean. Though I had him in my power, I did not take advantage of him." Honora gasped at the picture Shattuck was drawing. The recital was deeply affecting to her. I saw her leaning forward, and her rapidly rising and falling breast told the suppressed emotion under which she la

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bored. "All right," hurried Doyle, to whom the dramatic quality of the tale had little appeal. "But what about the note? You forget to tell us about the suicide note." "Oh yes," exclaimed Shattuck, "so I did—about the note. I made him write it before we ate the bean—while I had him cov

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ered. I made him sit down at his own typewriter and I dictated it to him—one for myself, the other for him—to be used in case either survived." "You made him write one for you?" "Yes." "What did you do with it?" "I destroyed it afterward—of course." Doyle was forced to accept the answer. "And you were alone?" "Absolutely alone with him. Let me tell i

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t—listen to me—will you? We ate the halves of the bean. I still kept the gun on him. I was taking no chances. The minutes passed as I stood over him—five—ten. [279] "On which of us would the thing take effect first? It was a terrible wait. I will admit it. But it was the ordeal. We wer

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e just primitive men. Besides," he added, still keeping his glance from the face of Honora, who was leaning forward, her lustrous eyes trying to catch his, "I was playing for a big stake—it was death or what is really more than life to me." He paused just a fraction

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d. In myself I waited for the same symptoms to appear. And I began to feel them, too. I was dizzy—with a burning thirst—but—alive! Still, I kept the gun leveled at him—the best I could, for my hand shook. "He did not know that, could not see it. Consciousness was fast going from him. But I was determined. I would live. I saw that I might have the—the woman—I would give my life for. Perhaps it was wil

l-power that saved me. But—they cannot say I did not give him a fair chance for the woman and the life that he did not deserve!" Breathlessly now we were all listening. Honora was trembling. Doctor Lathrop bent forward, nervously pulling his beard, his eyes riveted on the speaker. Only Doyle seemed to take the thing as a matter of course. [280] "And Honora Wilford?" Doyle interjected. "What was she doing at—" "No—no—no,

she was not there, I tell you. No one but Wilford and I was there!" Shattuck had burst forth with the first words in quick staccato, slowing up the assertion until at the end he was speaking slowly and warily. I had an impression that he was not so certain of himself that he could trust himself to get excited. Once I caught sight of Kennedy. He was saying nothing at all. But

he was not idle. Taking advantage of the rapt attention of the little audience, he had stolen softly behind them. I saw him looking carefully at the various indicators of the arrangements on the wrists and noting them carefully. Was Shattuck telling the truth about what happened—or was he coloring it to save himself? "But about the atropin—in one glass and nothing in the other?" shot out Kennedy, suddenly. It was as though

a bombshell had exploded. "Oh yes—yes," he faltered, "the atropin—of course, of course. In his glass, also, I—I—" Shattuck stopped. What was the matter? Did he realize that he was getting hopelessly tangled? "It is a pretty story, this, about your duel, as you call it," interrupted Doyle. "But it was not atropin that killed him. It was physostigmine. Atropin is the antidote. Didn't you know that,

when you planned this ordeal you speak about? Besides, the traces of atropin were not in the glass [281] that was found nearest the body. They were in the other." For a moment Shattuck stared helplessly. Was he, after all, just a murderer? Had he framed this duel by poison, preparing safety for himself, death for Wilford? "Come now, Shattuck," exclaimed Doyle, adopting that confidential manner that worked so well often with und

erworld characters, but seemed so out of place here, "did you—honestly—fight such a duel? Didn't you really force Mr. Wilford to eat that bean? And weren't you protecting yourself? Aren't there motives enough that we know for you to have wanted him out of the way?" Before Shattuck could reply, there was a sudden exclamation from some one beside me. A figure in a filmy dress da

rted between Doyle and Shattuck. "No—no—wait!" We were all on our feet in an instant at this sudden interruption at such a tense moment. It was Honora, no longer the stately creature of dignity we had seen, no longer the passive person submitting to the tests of Kennedy's psychology, suppressing the emotions that lay in her heart. Her whole being seemed to be transformed. It was as though a new spirit had been instilled sud

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denly into her. She faced us, and as I looked into her burning eyes I saw that what had been the mere statue of a woman, as we had first known her, had become a throbbing soul of life and passion. Shattuck saw the change. In spite of the terrible [282] situation, his face kindled. It was worth it, if only for the brief moments, to feel that he had aroused in her that which he sa

w. "Wait," she repeated, "let me tell." Doyle was about to interrupt, but Kennedy, who had not for a moment, even at this crisis, forgotten to glance quickly at one of the instrument dials after another, pulled him back and silenced him without a spoken word. "You say there was a woman there?" she swept on, taking up the story, as though seizing it from Shattuck. "There wa

s a woman there. It was I. I was with him." The thing came as another thunderbolt, as it were, before the reverberation of the first had ceased echoing. Not one of us but realized what it meant. Honora had cast reputation, all, to the winds, to save him! She looked about at us, and never have I seen a woman more appealing, not even in any of the great moments of great case

s in court which it has been my fortune to have witnessed and to have written. Cynic though I am, and knowing, as I thought at the moment, the purpose of it all, to save the man she loved, I could not resist the appeal. Nor was it directed at me. So marvelous was she that she took in the whole group, at once appealing to each, as if a sudden power had become hers. Quickly she po

ured forth her story, as though she, too, feared interruption. "It is all true—all that he has told," she cried. [283] "I saw it all—heard it. But there is more—more that he will not tell. He has not told the whole story. Listen." It seemed as if she realized for the first time the power of an emotional woman. And her very instinct told her how to play upon us. "I knew

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the Calabar bean," she explained. "I need not tell Professor Kennedy that. Of course, as he knows, I had seen them in my father's laboratory, at his shop. And so, when I knew what it was that was taking place—what was I to do?" She paused, as though her intuition told her that the playing up of a dramatic moment would cover a multitude of questions that might otherwise come awkwardly flocking and demanding an answer as to

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