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First published in Pearson's Weekly, 20 Feb 1897
in the series "The Adventures of Mr. Juggins"
Reprinted in Short Stories, Mar 1918

Collected in: Paul Beck, The Rule of Thumb Detective,
C. Arthur Pearson, London, 1898

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2023-10-25

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"Paul Beck, The Rule of Thumb Detective,"
with "The Dog and the Doctor"



M. McDonnell Bodkin

Irish barrister and author of detective and mystery stories Bodkin was appointed a judge in County Clare and also served as a Nationalist member of Parliament. His native country and years in the courtroom are recalled in the autobiographical Recollections of an Irish Judge (1914).

Bodkin's witty stories, collected in Dora Myrl, the Lady Detective (1900) and Paul Beck, the Rule of Thumb Detective (1898), have been unjustly neglected.

Beck, his first detective (when he first appeared in print in Pearson's Magazine in 1897, he was named "Alfred Juggins"), claims to be not very bright, saying, "I just go by the rule of thumb, and muddle and puzzle out my cases as best I can."

...In The Capture of Paul Beck (1909) he and Dora begin on opposite sides in a case, but in the end they are married. They have a son who solves a crime at his university in Young Beck, a Chip Off the Old Block (1911).

Other Bodkin books are The Quests of Paul Beck (1908), Pigeon Blood Rubies (1915), and Guilty or Not Guilty? (1929).

Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, Steinbrunner & Penzler, 1976.



THERE was a funeral passing through the streets as Mr. Beck came riding on his bicycle down the steep hill that overhangs the pretty little village of Ballyduff. He was on his way from the more fashionable watering-place, Mount Eagle, where he had just spent a fortnight with pleasure and profit. The funeral roused his curiosity at once. It was a curious funeral, especially for Ireland, for only three persons took part in the melancholy procession down the street. On an outside car closest to the hearse sat a rubicund, good-humoured, middle-aged gentleman, resplendent in white linen scarf and hatband, whom Mr. Beck at once guessed, and guessed rightly, to be the local medical practitioner. A certain smug satisfaction showed on his features through the demure affectation of grief which the occasion prescribed.

Next, but yet not close, to the doctor walked as handsome a young fellow as Mr. Beck had ever set eyes on, and Mr. Beck was a fair judge of a good figure of a man or a woman. He was clean built and active-looking, with crisp, curling dark hair, and blue-black Irish eyes. Unlike the doctor, he wore none of "the trappings and the suits of woe." But there was upon his face a cloud of sadness and discontent which, however suitable to the occasion, seemed foreign to the man.

The procession closed with a stout, elderly woman. Though the glorious autumn sunshine was hot in the throbbing air, and on the dry, white road, she wore a plaid woollen shawl over her head, and a heavy blue cloth cloak over her shoulders. She fingered her beads devoutly as she walked, but her eyes were all the time fixed with a pitying look on the well-set head and broad, straight shoulders of the young man in front of her.

Mr. Beck crept down the hill, back-pedalling steadily, and reached the foot as the funeral moved into the graveyard. He set his machine against the gatepost, leant comfortably beside it and waited patiently till the brief function which gives man back to the earth was over.

He had a good look at the two male mourners as they passed out, turning off, without speaking to each other, in different directions. The woman waited to say "a mouthful" prayer over the newly-made grave. When at last she came out Mr. Beck addressed her.

"Beg pardon, ma'am," he said, with that good-natured simplicity of manner which always impressed strangers so favourably, "but I am a stranger in the town, and perhaps you would be kind enough to direct me to the best hotel?"


"Perhaps you would be kind enough to direct me to the best hotel?"

"Well, then, bad is the best of them," she answered civilly. "There's Boylan's public-house, that was three weeks ago. It's a 'high-class hotel' it is now, it you plaze. High-class, inagh! 'Throth, there is nothing high-class about it, I'm thinkin', barring the bills; and there's——"

"A very quiet place is all that I want."

"You'll be stayen' some time?"

"A fortnight, I expect."

"Well, then, if that's the way with you maybe I could do for you meself. There's the two rooms that he lived in," she jerked her thumb in the direction of the churchyard, "goin' on thirty years. They're clane and daycint anyhow, though it's meself that sez it that shouldn't say it, and not too dear in the rent."

"Can I see them now?"

"You can just; it's straight home I'm goin'."

Wheeling his bicycle with the knapsack on the handlebars and a fishing-rod gripped in the patent spring lamp bracket Mr. Beck went slowly down the quiet street beside the woman whose tongue went more quickly than her feet.

"The rooms are a bit disturbed at the present time," she went on, "be rayson of the quare sickness that was on the old man; nothing catching, you need not be afraid of that; but rampageous like when the fit tuck him. Howsomever I'll have them nice and tidy for you within the hour. That was a quare funeral," she rambled off in a new direction.

Mr. Beck nodded assent.


Mr. Beck nodded assent.

"Aye, bedad, and a quare death, and a quare man that died. Most like you never heerd tell of ould Michael Feely in your travels? Well, that was the name the desaysed went by, and a mane ould miser he was, and no mistake. The Lord forgive me for spaking ill of the dead. Rest his soul in peace.

"Rich is it! Throth, rich is no word for it. He was rotten with money, no less. It's a gombeen man he was at the start, then he took to land grabbin', as we call it in these parts. He bought up the whole countryside chape, accordin' as 'The Quality' came to the wall, doublin' the rents on the unfortunate crayturs of tenants. He had four big houses of his own in the long run with domains forninst them. But he stuck to the chape lodgin's wid myself all the time, and he had more talk over a fardin' than the likes of you or me would have over a pound.

"'Widow Muldoon,' he says to myself oftentimes, 'there's a fine take on the mackerel this mornin', ma'am.' It's watchin' them he'd be from his room window in the say below. 'It's chape and plinty they should be. I think I'll use wan for breakfast,' sez he, 'but don't give more than a halfpenny, ma'am, for the best of them. It's three-haypens you sed you gave for the last, and that's wilful waste, Mrs. Muldoon.' Waste, waste, waste—that was the word that was always in his mouth. It's small use his money will be to him where he's gone."

By this time they had reached Mrs. Muldoon's neatly-kept cottage, standing well in from the edge of the cliff, with its back to the town and its face to the sea. There was a small garden in front and a large garden behind, both full of old-fashioned, gay-coloured, sweet-smelling flowers.

"A very desirable resting-place," Mr. Beck thought, as he followed Mrs. Muldoon.

The furniture in the pretty little parlour was, as she said, "a good deal disordered." There was a chair and a china vase lying broken on the floor.

"I'll put things to rights while you say 'knife,'" said Mrs. Muldoon apologetically. "Sure, I've not a minnit I could call me own for the last week. In his last tantrums he broke them things there on the floor. It wasn't the drink; don't think it. He was a sober man always, I'll say that for him. He hadn't the heart to get drunk. Throth, it was quite contrariwise with him in the long run. The very sight of drink of any kind or description, even the innocent cowld wather, put him beyant himself at wanst. Even the cowld wind comen in from the say used to prey on him. He'd got the dog's dizaze with the quare furrin' name—'High-for-Toby,' I think they call it."


"Aye, just. His own little dogeen, Jack, bit him goin' on six weeks ago. But it's botherin' you I am with me ould talk, and it's a bit to ait and a sup to drink you'd like, I'm thinkin', aither your drive in the quare-looking wheelbarrow."

"Sit down, Mrs. Muldoon," said Mr. Beck, very kindly. "You have more reason to be tired yourself than I have. I assure you I am quite interested in your story."

He spoke the truth, for Mr. Beck loved a dish of gossip as well as any old maid of them all.

Mrs. Muldoon's heart quite warmed at once to the good-natured stranger.

"In one minnit, sir, if it's plazin' to ye," she said, as she walked to the door.

"Mary," she called over the kitchen stairs, "get a chop and a cup of tay ready at wanst." Then to Mr. Beck—"Maybe it's a pint of stout or a drop of whisky you'd like better than the tay, sir? There's a rale good drop of that same in the house."

"I'd much prefer the tea, thank you, if you'll join me in a cup. So the old man died of hydrophobia, you were saying?"

Mrs. Muldoon loosened the cloak from her shoulders and took the shawl from her head, stroked her hair with either palm, and settled down in an easy-chair for a real good "gosther."

"And shure, it's the truth I was sayin', and the cantankerous little dog that bit him was the wan crayture in the wide varsal world the old man was good to. He fed the little baste with his own hands, and never let it out of his sight night or day. It's the way of the world all over, as I was saying to Mrs. Mullarkey.

"I mind well, sir, the beginnin' of the whole trubble, better than three months ago. It was in May last that Dr. Kilkaddy called in. He's a near cousin of the ould man's, but in no ways like him in his going ways. The docthor is a fine, laughy man as you'd meet in a day's walk, with the kind word always in his mouth for rich and simple. When he seen the ould man with the dogeen on his knee and him not muzzled accordin' to law, the docthor was greatly put about at the time. For he's great skill intirely in the dog's dizaze—high—for—what's its name?"


"Thank you, sir. Be the same token the docthor cured a young man that nearly got it by sending him out to pasture in Paris, all as one as they put out the horses to grass when they are gone in the legs, and bring them back fresher than ever.

"The docthor wint over himself, every step of the way to put him on the pasture. There was 'nother young man they say afther, that he cured from gettin' it be stickin' pins and needles in him, but I never heard the rights of that story yet.

"Be that as it may, the docthor put up his two hands in front of him all as wan as the priest givin' his blessin' when he seen the ould man pettin' the dogeen.

"'Me dear sir,' he said, 'how can you be so rash to endanger your precious life with that dog unmuzzled and the raw pays prevailin',' sez he. What he brought the 'raw pays' into it for, myself does not know, but that's the word that was out of him.

"'Don't vex me, docthor,' sed the other, snapping him up pretty sharp, 'don't vex me, you'd best not this night of all. Jack and myself are good friends, and I won't have a word sed agin him. Bedad, I'm thinkin' the dogeen is about the only good friend I've got.'

"'Me dear sir,' the docthor began, shocked like, 'I'm sure I——'

"But me own man cut him short again.

"'Don't mind passin' compliments, Docthor,' he sed, 'bekase they're not wanted at present, and waste is the devil and all. I must lave me money some time to some wan, worse luck,' sez he, 'and you're the man,' sez he, 'for want of a bether. You need not thank me the laste taste in the world,' sez he. 'It's that young blackguard, Malachy Kirwan, you have to thank for'—savin' your presins, that was the expression he made use of. 'Nothin' would plaze the omadawn,' sez he, 'but he must go join the Laygue, and the divvil resave the penny of my honest hard-earned money that'll go to wan of the crew that's deludherin' the people, and puttin' them agin payin' their lawful debts,' sez he.

"With that, me dear, the docthor began argufyin' with him in Malachy's regard. But it was all as one rubbin' a cat the wrong way. The more he argued the more outrageous the ould man was agin' Malachy, spittin' curses out of him like fury."

"This Malachy is——"

"Shure, I thought I tould you that. It's stupid I'm gettin'. Malachy is the ould man's nephew right enough. His own sisther's son, no less, and as daycint a boy as ever stepped in shoe-leather is the same Malachy, and the best-lookin' to the back of that. It was he that managed the ould man's bizness for years back, and it was a settled thing he was to have every halfpenny when the ould man wint. He was well liked be the people, and done his best to make things azy wid the uncle. The ould man—God forgive him—was main hard on the tenants. He used always be sayin' that Malachy had 'a foolish drop in him' when he'd try to get time for a tenant or that. But it was not until Malachy joined the Laygue that the ould man became rale bitther agin' him all out."

"This Malachy is a young man?"

"Young, bedad, and handsome. Shure you needn't take my word for it. You seen him at the funeral walking betune the docthor and myself. He had some words, I heard tell, with the docthor, who trated him most polite. But the best of us has our tempers, and small blame to him to be flabbergasted—left widout a farthin', and him goin' to be married and all. Throth you wouldn't know him for the same Malachy that always had the kind word and the smile for every craythure he met."

"You were going to tell me how the old man got hydrophobia?"

"Thrue for you, sir. My wits went wool-gatherin', for I always had a soft corner for Malachy Kirwan. I told you, didn't I, it was his own dogeen Jack that bit him? I mind well the first quare turn the brute took. This was the way of it. The next day but one when the docthor called, he found the ould man nursin' the dog as before. The docthor sed nothin' agin' it good or bad that time. But when he was goin' away he called the dog to himself, and Jack come waggin' his tail while the docthor patted him. But all of a suddin', the brute let a mad kind of whelp out of him and snapped at the docthor's hand, and then ran away cryin' to himself into a corner.

"Nothin' more come of it at the time; but betther nor a month after that I noticed the dogeen goin' more and more astray in his mind. I was out in the garden gatherin' some new pays one hot day, whin I heard a great screamin' and roarin' in ould Mihaul's room. I ran in, you may be shure, as quick as me legs could carry me, and a purty sight met me eyes when I opened the room door. There in wan corner of the room was the little dog Jackeen, with the foam droppin' from his mouth, and the old man had him by the scruff of the neck, lambastin' him with a slipper. With half an eye I seen what had happened. The ould man was badly bit on the hand and on the lip, and the blood was just droppin' from him like rain on the brute that had done it.

"With that, me dear, I stuck me head through the lobby window and roared 'millia murther' down the street.

"The first man that heard me was the docthor himself, who lives near hand, and he came chasing up the street as fast as his legs could carry him. I had the door open for him on the minute, and he went upstairs like a lamplighter to the old man's room.

"The next moment the life was tuck out of me be the shot of a gun in the room. What was it but me bowld docthor that shot the dog clane and clever with a revolver he chanced by the dent of good luck to have in his pocket. I never knew that he carried the like before.

"When I seen the dog was dead all out I tuck him on the shovel and buried him beyont in the corner of the garden near the big gooseberry bush. You can see the spot from the back window.

"Dr. Kilkaddy was as sore and sorry a man as ever I knew when he seen what had happened. The ould man wanted to make light of it. But nothing would serve the other but to send hot-foot for Dr. Molloy, that has the best name of any docthor in the countryside. 'I'll be answerable for the fee, me dear sir,' said our own docthor, quietin' the ould miser.

"Well, the docthors done their best, no doubt; but there's small use in docthors if the death is on a body."

"Did they send him over to Pasteur, in Paris?"

"Dr. Molloy was for it at first; but the ould man said he was 'hanged if he'd waste his money that ways.' Dr. Kilkaddy sed no word, good or bad."

"After that?"

"Bedad, afther that he did pretty well for a bit, and the cuts healed up fine. But afther another while the red marks of them began to get itchy and sore with him; then all of a surddint the madness seized hould of him terrible hard. It would melt the heart of a stone to see the state he was in. For the most part he was lyin' on his bed moanin' and groanin' like a sick cow. Then wanst in a while he'd make an effort to stagger to the window; but the sight of the say and the cool wind in from it drove him mad intirely. The way he'd howl and rampage was like a lost sowl, the Lord betune us and harm. Dr. Kilkaddy is a strong man be nature and must have seen a dale of quare sights in his time. But I've seen him as white as that blind and the tears rollin' down his cheeks at the sight of the ould man when the fit was hard on him.

"To make a long story short, me dear, the ould man died three days ago, lavin' the docthor everything he had in the world. He gave directions in his will the funeral was to be chape and quiet, and the neighbours were willin' enough to indulge him in that anyways.


"To make a long story short, the ould man died three days ago."

"But there now, I hear Maria's step on the stairs, and I only hope the things will be to your likin'."

She bustled about briskly, like the kindly housewife she was. "You must ate it while it's hot," she said to Mr. Beck, and Mr. Beck was nothing loth. The chop was done to a turn, the tea strong and well flavoured. He ate and drank with a relish. Nothing ever disturbed his healthy appetite. Mrs. Muldoon was persuaded without much difficulty to join him in a cup of tea, and under its influence grew quite plaintive about the disappointment of Malachy Kirwan and his sweetheart Mary Cassidy, "the purtiest colleen in the whole countryside and as good-hearted as she was good-lookin', God bless her. It's hard to know what to say at all," she concluded, after she had talked a good hour without a check. "The docthor is a fine civil-spoken man, no doubt. But it's hard on the young people; there's no denyin' that."

MR. BECK slept like a top in his room facing the open sea, and woke with the fresh, healthy smack of the brine on his tongue and in his nostrils.

He had a swim before his breakfast, and after breakfast he set out for a ride on his bicycle, with the curious story of the day before still feeling its way blindly about his brain. The country was wonderfully fresh, and the air clear and radiant with autumnal sunshine. He bowled along all day, up hill and down dale, over smooth switchback roads that cyclists love. The sun was at his back, and his shadow lay long before him on the white road when at last he came sailing easily down the long, steep decline that overhung the town.

A short way down the hill a dog suddenly raced across his track.


A short way down the hill a dog suddenly raced across his track.

He wrenched the handle-bar sharply, it came away in his hand, and he was almost jerked from his seat as the machine flew down the decline, zigzagging like a swallow. But he settled himself evenly in the saddle and steadied the machine by his weight, with his feet pressed firmly on the leaping pedals. While the road ran straight he was safe. But half-way down it curved sharply inland, and at the outer curve the cliffs fell away sheer down to the wrinkled sea a hundred feet below. He could catch the gleam of the water through the line of scattered rocks, as the bicycle tore straight down upon them, the wheels leaping from the ground. He felt he could never turn that sharp curve safely, steering by his weight alone. But it was the last chance for life, and he nerved himself for the trial.

Even that last hope left him when the figure of a man started up suddenly from amongst the rocks, right in the track of the rushing bicycle. The rider yelled at him, but the man stood stupidly stock still, heading him off from the one chance of safety. Mr. Beck made ready to fling himself from the saddle as they struck. But the man leaped aside, and as the machine flashed past he grasped the frame with one hand and the saddle-bar with the other, leaning forward to steady himself against the shock.

With a short, fierce strain, in which every muscle in his young frame had a part, he brought the bicycle to a dead halt, right on the verge of the rocks. Mr. Beck slipped off his machine in a second, and turned to thank his deliverer. Something in that splendid figure—head bent and body braced against the incline like the statue of a young Greek athlete—struck him as familiar.

The next moment the bright, blue-black eyes were raised frankly to his own, the white teeth showed in a pleasant smile, and he recognised Malachy Kirwan at a glance.

"I was over but for you, sir," was all Mr. Beck said, but he managed to put a good deal of feeling into that one curt sentence.

"It was a pretty close shave," the young man answered in a very pleasant voice with a mellow touch of the brogue in it. "Allow me, sir. I ride myself." In an instant he fitted the handle-bar, which hung on by the brake rod, back in the upright socket and jammed the treacherous nut tight with the wrench.

"Thank you," said Mr. Beck, "but I don't think I'll mount again just now."

THEY walked down the hill together and in five minutes Malachy Kirwan was talking of his private affairs as freely as though his chance companion were a lifelong friend. There was a benign simplicity and sympathy about Mr. Beck when he chose that coaxed out the shyest secrets.

Malachy Kirwan, as was natural, did not think as highly of Dr. Kilkaddy as did the widow Muldoon. It was Dr. Kilkaddy that first encouraged him to join the League, he said, and it was the doctor who had the news of his joining secretly conveyed to his uncle.

"But there's no use crying over spilt milk," he went on, "or bothering as to how it got spilt. I start for America in a week. I've enough to take me there and give me a start in a small way in the New World, and my girl will wait."

Here the open-hearted young fellow launched out into praise of his sweetheart, Molly Cassidy, to all of which Mr. Beck listened with most flattering attention.


The open-hearted young fellow launched out into praise of his sweetheart

They parted like old friends at Mrs. Muldoon's door. Mr. Beck made him promise to dine with him the next day but one. "I've been to America," he said, "and I can give you some letters that may help—if you go there."

"If I go!" said the other, smiling rather dismally; "when I go, you mean."

"Well, 'when' you go, if that pleases you, but I like my own word 'if' the better of the two. Five is the hour, remember."

MR. BECK did not go out again that evening. After dinner he sat smoking at the open window till bedtime, gazing vacantly over the broad sea. Next morning he walked a little lame when he came to breakfast, and Mrs. Muldoon was quick to notice it.

"I've strained my ankle, I'm afraid, ma'am," said Mr. Beck, and thereupon he told her of the bicycle adventure, to which she listened with many a "musha now" and "glory be to the Lord."

"The blessing of God on me brave boy that stopped the runaway before it leapt into the say!" was her final prayer.

And Mr. Beck in his heart said "Amen."

"But sure it's not out on the whirligig you're goin' ag'in?"

"No, ma'am; I don't feel up to it. I think I'll try a little fishing this morning. Mr. Kirwan tells me there's a nice trout stream close by. If you will lend me a spade I will try if I cannot get some red worms or blackheads in the garden."

"Shure I'll get a gossoon to dig them. Don't you attempt the like, and the foot so bad with you."

But Mr. Beck insisted on digging the worms for himself, and it chanced that he chose the quiet corner near the big gooseberry bush which Mrs. Muldoon had pointed out as the grave of the dog Jack.

In a dozen strokes of the spade he came on the remains of the dog. He drew the repulsive, foul-smelling carcass from the ground, and examined it with curious care and interest, even taking a strong magnifying glass from his waistcoat pocket for the purpose. Then he threw it back into the hole, covered it up, and walked back to the house very lame indeed.


He examined it with curious care and interest.

"I knew the diggin' would prey on your ankle," said Mrs. Muldoon anxiously, when she saw him.

"I'm afraid you're right, ma'am. It's a worse sprain than I thought."

"I'd see the docthor about it at wanst, if I was you," said Mrs. Muldoon; "there is no knowing what it might turn to. There was a cousin of an aunt's husband of my own that got a stiff joint out of a thing of the kind be the dint of neglect. There is Dr. Kilkaddy, now, that can't be bet for cleverness."

"Does he live far from here?"

"No more nor a stone's throw. You can see the place from the window; the green door with the brass knocker, forninst the post-office. Shure, you couldn't miss it with your eyes shut."

Yes; Dr. Kilkaddy was at home, Mr. Beck was told when he knocked. Would the gentleman kindly step into the surgery? The doctor would be down in a moment.

Mr. Beck kindly stepped into the surgery. The room was as much laboratory as surgery. There were jars and glass test-tubes littered about, and a gas-stove in a corner and a powerful microscope in a prominent place on the table.

On the corner of the same table lay the doctor's silver lancet-case. Mr. Beck picked it up, opened it, and began fiddling with the lancets. He slid the tiny blades from their tortoise-shell sheaths and examined the points curiously. Then he put the lancets back into their case and dropped the case abstractedly into his waistcoat pocket.

A moment after Dr. Kilkaddy came into the room. The doctor was a tall, portly person, with a pale blue eye and somewhat heavy jowl, but figure and face were somehow suggestive of good-nature and good-humour.

"Well, sir," he said a little pompously to Mr. Beck, "what can I do for you?"

It was noticed that the doctor's urbanity had gone down at least fifty per cent. since the death of Mr. Feely. But no one yet had ever succeeded in being uncivil to Mr. Beck. It is useless and tiresome work beating an air cushion.

"I have come to consult you professionally, Doctor," he said blandly.

"My dear sir, I'm very sorry indeed, but I have practically given up business since——"

"Oh, this is a special case in your own line, Doctor. I'm afraid I'm threatened with hydrophobia, and I understand you have made a special study of the disease."

He had struck the right note. The doctor grew interested at once. The absorbing interest of the specialist in his own pet subject irresistibly asserted itself.

"Sit down, my dear sir," he said. "As you say, this is indeed most urgent. I trust most sincerely you are mistaken." But there was enthusiasm in his voice rather than sympathy or regret.

"When were you bitten?" he went on.

"About two months ago."

"What did you do at the time—cauterised?"



"No. Just tied it up in my handkerchief, and it healed up in no time."

"That's bad," said the doctor. "Let me see it."

Mr. Beck bared a forearm brawny as a blacksmith's. On the fleshy part, midway between the wrist and the elbow, was the white cicatrice of a double row of strong teeth.

The marks were made by the teeth of the notorious burglar Bulstrode whom Mr. Beck had caught and handcuffed single-handed. But Mr. Beck did not mention this fact; perhaps his modesty prevented him. The doctor examined the marks through a powerful magnifying glass, but they kept their own secret.


The doctor examined the marks through a powerful magnifying glass.

"Mad?" he asked.

"Very," said Mr. Beck.

The doctor was silent for a minute. He looked grave; Mr. Beck looked uneasy.

"When did it begin to trouble you?" asked the doctor abruptly.

"A couple of days ago. I had forgotten all about it till a couple of days ago. There is no danger, is there, Doctor?"

"I cannot be sure of that. The disease takes time to develop. You have felt the scar itch and tingle?"

"Yes," answered Mr. Beck promptly, with a look of simple admiration at the doctor's sagacity.

"Then a certain numbness set in, extending up the arm?"

"Just so, Doctor," promptly as before. "Can you stop it going any farther?"

"I can try it at any rate, though you have come to me very late, very late indeed. If the mischief is there we must do our best to counteract it. You have heard of the Pasteur treatment, of course. It is your only chance."

"Then I'll have to go to Paris?"

"No, no. Time is too precious; another day's delay might be fatal. I have studied the treatment carefully in the Pasteur institute in Paris, and I have got a supply of the lymph. Your chance is as good under my care as under Pasteur himself—better, in fact, when the delay is taken into consideration."

"No danger of an overdose of the stuff, Doctor?"

"You might as well ask me is there danger of an overdose of poison which we use every day in medicine. Too strong an injection of the lymph, even to a healthy subject, would undoubtedly mean hydrophobia and certain death. But the imminence of the danger is the best guarantee for the doctor's caution. You need not have the faintest fear on that account, I assure you."

"Must I drink the stuff?"

The doctor laughed outright—the amused laugh of superior knowledge. "Not at all, my dear sir. I perform the inoculation with a hypodermic syringe."

"Or with a lancet?"

"Or with a lancet, as you say," a little surprised at the suggestion. "But that's a clumsier method."

"It's very effective though, sometimes, isn't it, Doctor?"

The doctor looked at him with increased surprise. But Mr. Beck's face was a mask of blank unconsciousness.

"Come, come, my dear sir," said the doctor, a little hastily, "you must leave the treatment entirely in my hands. What I want from you are the symptoms. What day exactly did you experience the first revival of uneasiness in the scars?"

"The day before yesterday when I heard the widow Muldoon speak of the terrible death of the old man Feely in the very rooms where I'm lodging. He died of hydrophobia—didn't he?"

There was an inflection in Mr. Beck's voice that made the doctor look at him again curiously. Mr. Beck's drooping under-lip had tightened, and there was a steely glitter in his blue grey eyes.

"Why, yes. Certainly he died of hydrophobia," said the doctor slowly.

"You did not try the Pasteur treatment on him?"

"My colleague, Dr. Molloy, objected to the experiment. But I really don't see what that has to do with your case."

"Wait a bit, Doctor, wait a bit; you'll see directly. It is that that brought me here as your patient. As I was saying, I heard the ins-and-outs of the old man's death from the widow Muldoon. It gave me the jumps, though I am not naturally nervous. A talkative woman, Doctor, is the widow Muldoon, as I suppose you know, with a very remarkable memory. She told me some curious things about the little dog Jack, for example. You remember the little dog Jack, Doctor?"

The doctor cast one sudden keen glance at Mr. Beck's face in the vain attempt to read his meaning there. His own face had grown yellow. He seemed at the same time frightened and angry.

"I don't understand you, sir," he said sharply. "This is mere foolery. My time is of value, and I must wish you a very good——"

"Not for a moment or two more, Doctor, if you please."

The doctor looked at him again, hesitated for a moment, and then sat down close to his desk with his elbow resting on it.

"Of course," Mr. Beck went on blandly, "you remember the little dog jack that was the beginning of the whole bad business. I suppose he was the beginning, Doctor, wasn't he?"

The doctor didn't answer, and Mr. Beck didn't wait for an answer.

"You don't forget how the little dog ran to you one day to be petted, and ran away yelping without any cause—without any apparent cause. That was a curious thing, wasn't it? Mrs. Muldoon remembered it very well."

"Really, sir, I must——"

"Patience. I'm coming to our own case, the case that brought me here, and you had best hear me out—you really had. I was greatly interested myself in this little dog Jack—so interested that I dug up his body this morning and examined it."

The doctor was listening now intently, with his mouth hanging a little open, and a hunted look in his eyes.

"I examined him very carefully indeed," Mr. Beck went on smoothly, "and I found three little scars in the skin of the neck, quite close together. Is that a common symptom of hydrophobia, Doctor?"

"Are you drunk or mad?" broke out the doctor in sudden fury.

"Neither," Mr. Beck replied sweetly. "I'm so sorry it I've bored you. But there is just one little thing I'd like to show you before I go."

He took from his waistcoat pocket a little bit of tissue paper and began slowly to unfold it, with the doctor's eyes intent on him all the time.

Then Mr. Beck held the paper out open for him to see. There was a little fragment of sharp steel in it that glittered like a spark of broken glass.

"I found it in one of these little cuts, and polished it up," Mr. Beck went on. "Curious symptom of hydrophobia, wasn't it? But I have a more curious thing still to tell you." He spoke very slowly now, and there was menace in his voice. "That little splinter of steel fits exactly the broken point of one of your lancets."

The doctor's eyes went round furtively to where his lancet-case had lain.

Mr. Beck caught the look and touched his waistcoat pocket.

Then the doctor's right hand dropped carelessly into the half-open drawer of his desk.

"Stop!" snapped out Mr. Beck sharply. "It's no go. I've mine cocked in my coat pocket and my finger on the trigger."

The doctor's hand came out of the drawer empty.

"Lock it!" said Mr. Beck. He locked it.

"Give me the key!" He gave it.

"I suppose it's the same you got to shoot Jack," said Mr. Beck quietly, as he put the key in his pocket. "It was curious how you guessed that Jack might need a revolver bullet about that time. But then I'm not Jack, you see."

"Then who the devil are you and what do you want? Money, of course. I'm a fool to ask. How much?"

"My name is Mr. Beck. I suppose you never heard of Mr. Beck? But I'm a detective by trade. I've puzzled and muddled out a few things in my time, but never anything queerer than this. I don't want money—that is to say, not for myself."

The doctor looked relieved; the man was to be bribed.

"Not for yourself, of course," he answered sneeringly, "for sorrowing widows and helpless orphans. Let's drop that twaddle, if you please, and come to business. Will half the old man's fortune buy your silence?"

"No, I must have it all, every brass farthing, for the rightful owner, Malachy Kirwan. Sit still," he said sternly, as the doctor started from his seat, "sit still and listen to me quietly; you'd best if you want to keep your neck out of the halter. I don't mince matters, you see, and I know that you murdered old Feely as surely and more cruelly than if you put a knife into him. It was a diabolically ingenious murder," Mr. Beck went on, with a touch of professional appreciation. "I don't deny that. But it has come to light, as one might say, of its own accord. I think I've got enough of circumstantial evidence to hang you. I am almost sure I've got enough. But I'm not quite sure. If I was I'd hang you like a dog. But juries are dull sometimes, and the case is a queer one. If by any chance they let you off you could still hold on to the old man's money and lands. Now I've reasons of my own for wishing well to young Kirwan. Execute a deed of grant to him, and I hold my tongue."


The doctor started from his seat.

"A grant of everything?"

"Of everything."

"If I refuse?"

"I'll do my level best to hang you. You can calculate for yourself the chance of my succeeding. It will be a close squeak anyhow. I don't like letting you off. You're too clever to be on the loose. But I fancy you won't try any more games of the kind, knowing that I have my eye on you."

"Give me till to-morrow to think it over."

"Willingly. I think I can guess what the answer will be."

But Mr. Beck could not guess what the answer would be.

NEXT morning all Ballyduff was startled by the news that Dr. Kilkaddy, the clever, popular, lucky Dr. Kilkaddy, had died suddenly. An inquest was held forthwith. On the table at his bedside was found a box labelled "Quinine" with some pills in it. The doctor was known to be in the habit of taking quinine. But analysis proved that there was a fatal dose of morphia in each pill. How the morphia got into the quinine pills was a mystery to every one except Mr. Beck.

"He has taken the shortest way out," Mr. Beck muttered to himself when he heard the news of the doctor's death, "and I'm not sorry."

Malachy Kirwan did not go to America after all. The doctor died without a will and the whole property—real and personal—came to him as heir-at-law and next-of-kin. Mr. Beck had a delightful fortnight at Ballyduff, and he has an invitation to go back there next summer for a wedding.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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