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The Bacteriological Detective
by [?]

“Why should you wonder–at least what other reasons have you for wondering?”

“Oh, I can’t express them. Maybe after all it’s only a woman’s silly intuition. But often I have thought in the past few days about this illness of my guardian. It was so queer. He was always so careful. And you know the rich don’t often have typhoid.”

“You have no reason to suppose that it was not typhoid fever of which he died?”

She hesitated. “No,” she replied, “but if you had known Mr. Bisbee you would think it strange, too. He had a horror of infectious and contagious diseases. His apartment and his country home were models. No sanitarium could have been more punctilious. He lived what one of his friends called an antiseptic life. Maybe I am foolish, but it keeps getting closer and closer to me now, and–well, I wish you’d look into the case. Please set my mind at rest and assure me that nothing is wrong, that it is all natural.”

“I will help you, Miss Bisbee. To-morrow night I want to take a trip quietly to Bisbee Hall. You will see that it is all right, that I have the proper letters so I can investigate thoroughly.”

I shall never forget the mute and eloquent thanks with which she said good night after Kennedy’s promise.

Kennedy sat with his eyes shaded under his hand for fully an hour after she had left. Then he suddenly jumped up. “Walter,” he said, “let us go over to Dr. Bell’s. I know the head nurse there. We may possibly learn something.”

As we sat in the waiting-room with its thick Oriental rugs and handsome mahogany furniture, I found myself going back to our conversation of the early evening. “By Jove, Kennedy, you were right,” I exclaimed. “If there is anything in this germ-plot idea of hers it is indeed the height of the dramatic–it is diabolical. No ordinary mortal would ever be capable of it.”

Just then the head nurse came in, a large woman breathing of germlessness and cheerfulness in her spotless uniform. We were shown every courtesy. There was, in fact, nothing to conceal. The visit set at rest my last suspicion that perhaps Jim Bisbee had been poisoned by a drug. The charts of his temperature and the sincerity of the nurse were absolutely convincing. It had really been typhoid, and there was nothing to be gained by pursuing that inquiry further.

Back at the apartment, Craig began packing his suitcase with the few things he would need for a journey. “I’m going out to Bisbee Hall to-morrow for a few days, Walter, and if you could find it convenient to come along I should like to have your assistance.”

“To tell you the truth, Craig, I am afraid to go,” I said.

“You needn’t be. I’m going down to the army post on Governor’s Island first to be vaccinated against typhoid. Then I am going to wait a few hours till it takes effect before going. It’s the only place in the city where one can be inoculated against it, so far as I know. While three inoculations are really best, I understand that one is sufficient for ordinary protection, and that is all we shall need, if any.”

“You’re sure of it?”

“Almost positive.”

“Very well, Craig. I’ll go.”

Down at the army post the next morning we had no difficulty in being inoculated against the disease. The work of immunising our army was going on at that time, and several thousands of soldiers in various parts of the country had already been vaccinated, with the best of results. “Do many civilians come over to be vaccinated?” asked Craig of Major Carroll, the surgeon in charge.

“Not many, for very few have heard of it,” he replied.

“I suppose you keep a record of them.”

“Only their names–we can’t follow them up outside the army, to see how it works. Still, when they come to us as you and Mr. Jameson have done we are perfectly willing to vaccinate them. The Army Medical Corps takes the position that if it is good for the army it is good for civil life, and as long as only a few civilians apply we are perfectly willing to do it for a fee covering the cost.”