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The Super-Toxin
by [?]

“I’ve got to make good in this Delaney case, Kennedy,” appealed our old friend, Dr. Leslie, the coroner, one evening when he had dropped unexpectedly into the laboratory, looking particularly fagged and discouraged.

“You know,” he added, “they’ve been investigating my office–and now, here comes a case which, I must confess, completely baffles us again.”

“Delaney,” mused Craig. “Let me see. That’s the rich Texas rancher who has been blazing a trail through the white lights of Broadway–with that Baroness Von Dorf and—-“

“And other war brokers,” interrupted Leslie.

“War brokers?” queried Craig.

“Yes. That’s what they call them. They’re a new class–people with something to sell to or with commissions to buy for belligerent governments. In Delaney’s case it was fifty thousand or so head of cattle and horses, controlled by a syndicate of which he was the promoter. That’s why he came to New York, you know,–to sell them at a high price to any European power. The syndicate stands to make a small fortune.”

“I understand,” nodded Kennedy, interested.

“Just as though there wasn’t mystery enough about Delaney’s sudden death,” Leslie hurried on, “here’s a letter that came to him today–too late.”

Kennedy took the note Leslie handed him. It was postmarked “Washington,” and read:


I intended writing to you sooner but haven’t felt well enough since I came here. The strangest thing about it is that the doctors I have consulted seem to be unable to tell me definitely what is the matter.

I can tell you I have been badly frightened. I seemed to have a lot of little boils on my face and new ones kept coming. I felt weak and chilly and had headaches that almost drove me crazy. Perhaps the thing, whatever it is, has made me insane, but I cannot help wondering whether there may not be something back of it all. Do you suppose someone could have poisoned me, hoping to ruin my beauty, on which, to a great measure, depends my success in my mission to America during the war?

Since I came here I have been wondering, too, how you are. If there should be anything in my suspicions, perhaps it would be safest for you to leave New York. There is nothing more I can say, but if you feel the least bit unwell, do not disregard this warning.

If you will meet me here, we can arrange the deal with those I represent at almost any price you name.

Try hard to get here.
As ever,

Craig looked up quickly. “Have you communicated with the Baroness?” he asked.

Dr. Leslie leaned forward in his chair. “The fact is,” he replied slowly, “the woman who calls herself the Baroness Von Dorf has suddenly disappeared, even in Washington. We can find no trace of her whatever. Indeed, the embassy down there does not even admit that she is a war buyer. Oh, the newspapers haven’t got the whole Delaney story–yet. But when they do get it”–he paused and glanced significantly at me–“there’s going to be some sensation.”

I recalled now that there had been an air of mystery surrounding the sudden death of Daley Delaney the day before. At least one of the papers had called it “the purple death”–whatever that might mean. I had thought it due to the wild career of the ranchman, perhaps a plain case of apoplexy, around which the bright young reporters had woven a slender thread of romance. Kennedy, however, thought otherwise.

“The purple death,” he ruminated, turning the case over in his mind. “Have you any idea what the papers mean by that?”

“Why, it’s one of the most grewsome things you ever heard of,” went on Leslie eagerly, encouraged. “In some incomprehensible way the hand of fate seems to have suddenly descended on the whole Delaney entourage. First his Japanese servant fell a victim to this ‘purple death,’ as they call it.