Morning brought a marked improvement in Ricori's condition. The deep coma was unchanged, but his

temperature was nearly normal; respiration and heart action quite satisfactory. Braile and I divided duties

so that one of us could be constantly within call of the nurses. The guards were relieved after breakfast

by two others. One of my quiet visitors of the night before made his appearance, looked at Ricori and

received with unfeigned gratification my reassuring reports.

After I had gone to bed the obvious idea had occurred to me that Ricori might have made some

memorandum concerning his quest; I had felt reluctance about going through his pockets, however. Now

seemed to be the opportunity to ascertain whether he had or had not. I suggested to my visitor that he

might wish to examine any papers Ricori had been carrying, adding that we had been interested together

in a certain matter, that he had been on his way to discuss this with me when he had undergone his

seizure; and that he might have carried some notes of interest to me. My visitor agreed; I sent for Ricori's

overcoat and suit and we went through them. There were a few papers, but nothing relating to our


In the breast pocket of his overcoat, however, was a curious object-a piece of thin cord about eight

inches long in which had been tied nine knots, spaced at irregular intervals. They were curious knots too,

not quite like any I could recollect having observed. I studied the cord with an unaccountable but distinct

feeling of uneasiness. I glanced at my visitor and saw a puzzled look in his eyes. And then I remembered

Ricori's superstition, and reflected that the knotted cord was probably a talisman or charm of some sort.

I put it back in the pocket.

When again alone, I took it out and examined it more minutely. The cord was of human hair, tightly

braided-the hair a peculiarly pale ash and unquestionably a woman's. Each knot, I now saw, was tied

differently. Their structure was complex. The difference between them, and their irregular spacing, gave a

vague impression of forming a word or sentence. And, studying the knots, I had the same sensation of

standing before a blank door, vitally important for me to open, that I had felt while watching Peters die.

Obeying some obscure impulse, I did not return the cord to the pocket but threw it into the drawer with

the doll which Nurse Robbins had brought me.

Shortly after three, McCann telephoned me. I was more than glad to hear from him. In the broad light of

day his story of the occurrence in Ricori's car had become incredibly fantastic, all my doubts returning.

I had even begun again to review my unenviable position if he disappeared. Some of this must have

shown in the cordiality of my greeting, for he laughed.

"Thought I'd rode off the range, did you, Doc? You couldn't drive me away. Wait till you see what I got."

I awaited his arrival with impatience. When he appeared he had with him a sturdy, red-faced man who

carried a large paper clothing-bag. I recognized him as a policeman I had encountered now and then on

the Drive, although I had never before seen him out of uniform. I bade the two be seated, and the officer

sat on the edge of a chair, holding the clothes-bag gingerly across his knees. I looked at McCann


"Shevlin," he waved his hand at the officer, "said he knew you, Doc. But I'd have brought him along,


"If I didn't know Dr. Lowell, it's not me that'd be here, McCann me lad," said Shevlin, glumly. "But it's

brains the Doc has got in his head, an' not a cold boiled potato like that damned lootenant."

"Well," said McCann, maliciously, "the Doc'll prescribe for you anyway, Tim."

"'Tis no prescribin' I want, I tell you," Shevlin bellowed, "I seen it wit' me own eyes, I'm tellin' you! An' if

Dr. Lowell tells me I was drunk or crazy I'll tell him t'hell wit' him, like I told the lootenant. An' I'm tellin'

you, too, McCann."

I listened to this with growing amazement.

"Now, Tim, now, Tim," soothed McCann, "I believe you. You don't know how much I want to believe

you-or why, either."

He gave me a quick glance, and I gathered that whatever the reason he had brought the policeman to see

me, he had not spoken to him of Ricori.

"You see, Doc, when I told you about that doll getting up an' jumping out of the car you thought I was

loco. All right, I says to me, maybe it didn't get far. Maybe it was one of them improved mechanical

dolls, but even if it was it has to run down sometime. So I goes hunting for somebody else that might have

seen it. An' this morning I runs into Shevlin here. An' he tells me. Go on, Tim, give the Doc what you

gave me."

Shevlin blinked, shifted the bag cautiously and began. He had the dogged air of repeating a story that he

had told over and over. And to unsympathetic audiences; for as he went on he would look at me

defiantly, or raise his voice belligerently.

"It was one o'clock this mornin'. I am on me beat when I hear somebody yellin' desperate like. 'Help!' he

yells. 'Murder! Take it away!' he yells. I go runnin', an' there standin' on a bench is a guy in his

soup-an'-nuts an' high hat jammed over his ears, an' a-hittin' this way an' that wit' his cane, an' a-dancin'

up an' down an' it's him that's doin' the yellin'.

"I reach over an' tap him on the shins wit' me night-club, an' he looks down an' then flops right in me

arms. I get a whiff of his breath an' I think I see what's the matter wit' him all right. I get him on his feet,

an' I says: 'Come on now, the pink'll soon run off the elephants,' I says. It's this Prohibition hooch that

makes it look so thick,' I says. 'Tell me where you live an' I'll put you in a taxi, or do you want t'go to a

hospital?' I says.

"He stands there a-holdin' unto me an' a-shakin', an' he says: 'D'ye think I'm drunk?' An' I begins t'tell

him. 'An' how-' when I looks at him, an' he ain't drunk. He might've been drunk, but he ain't drunk now.

An' all t'once he flops down on the bench an' pulls up his pants an' down his socks, an' I sees blood

runnin' from a dozen little holes, an' he says, 'Maybe you'll be tellin' me it's pink elephants done that?'

"I looks at 'em an' feels 'em, an' it's blood all right, as if somebody's been jabbin' a hat-pin in him-"

Involuntarily I stared at McCann. He did not meet my eyes. Imperturbably he was rolling a cigarette.

"An' I says: 'What the hell done it?' An' he says 'The doll done it!'"

A little shiver ran down my back, and I looked again at the gunman. This time he gave me a warning

glance. Shevlin glared up at me.

"'The doll done it!' he tells me," Shevlin shouted. "He tells me the doll done it!"

McCann chuckled and Shevlin turned his glare from me to him. I said hastily:

"I understand, Officer. He told you it was the doll made the wounds. An astonishing assertion, certainly."

"Y'don't believe it, y'mean?" demanded Shevlin, furiously.

"I believe he told you that, yes," I answered. "But go on."

"All right, would y'be sayin' I was drunk too, t'believe it? Fer it's what that potato-brained lootenant did."

"No, no," I assured him hastily. Shevlin settled back, and went on:

"I asks the drunk, 'What's her name?' 'What's whose name?' says he. 'The doll's,' I says. 'I'll bet you she

was a blonde doll,' I says, 'an' wants her picture in the tabloids. The brunettes don't use hatpins,' I says.

'They're all fer the knife.'

"'Officer,' he says, solemn, 'it was a doll. A little man doll. An' when I say doll I mean a doll. I was walkin

along,' he says, 'gettin' the air. I won't deny I'd had some drinks,' he says, 'but nothin' I couldn't carry. I'm

swishin' along wit' me cane, when I drops it by that bush there,' he says, pointin'. 'I reach down to pick it

up,' he says, 'an' there I see a doll. It's a big doll an' it's all huddled up crouchin', as if somebody dropped

it that way. I reaches over t' pick it up. As I touch it, thedoll jumps as if I hit a spring. It jumps right over

me head,' he says. 'I'm surprised,' he says, 'an' considerably startled, an' I'm crouchin' there lookin' where

the doll was when I feel a hell of a pain in the calf of me leg,' he says, 'like I been stabbed. I jump up, an'

there's this doll wit' a big pin in its hand just ready t' jab me again.'

"'Maybe,' says I to the drunk, 'maybe 'twas a midget you seen?' 'Midget hell!' says he, 'it was a doll! An'

it was jabbin' me wit' a hat-pin. It was about two feet high,' he says, 'wit' blue eyes. It was grinnin' at me

in a way that made me blood run cold. An' while I stood there paralyzed, it jabbed me again. I jumped

on the bench,' he says, 'an' it danced around an' around, an' it jumped up an' jabbed me. An' it jumped

down an' up again an' jabbed me. I thought it meant to kill me, an' I yelled like hell,' says the drunk. 'An'

who wouldn't?' he asks me. 'An' then you come,' he says, 'an' the doll ducked into the bushes there. Fer

God's sake, officer, come wit' me till I can get a taxi an' go home,' he says, 'fer I make no bones tellin'

you I'm scared right down to me gizzard!' says he.

"So I take the drunk by the arm," went on Shevlin, "thinkin', poor lad, what this bootleg booze'll make

you see, but still puzzled about how he got them holes in his legs. We come out to the Drive. The drunk is

still a-shakin' an' I'm a-waitin' to hail a taxi, when all of a sudden he lets out a squeal. 'There it goes!

Look, there it goes!'

"I follow his finger, an' sure enough I see somethin' scuttlin' over the sidewalk an' out on the Drive. The

light's none too good, an' I think it's a cat or maybe a dog. Then I see there's a little coupe drawn up

opposite at the curb. The cat or dog, whatever it is, seems to be makin' fer it. The drunk's still yellin' an'

I'm tryin' to see what it is, when down the Drive hell-fer-leather comes a big car. It hits this thing

kersmack an' never stops. He's out of sight before I can raise me whistle. I think I see the thing wriggle

an' I think, still thinkin' it's a cat or dog, 'I'll put you out of your misery,' an' I run over to it wit' me gun. As

I do so the coupe that's been waitin' shoots off hell-fer-leather too. I get over to what the other car hit,

an' I look at it-"

He slipped the bag off his knees, set it down beside him and untied the top.

"An' this is what it was."

Out of the bag he drew a doll, or what remained of it. The automobile had gone across its middle,

crushing it. One leg was missing; the other hung by a thread. Its clothing was torn and begrimed with the

dirt of the roadway. It was a doll-but uncannily did it give the impression of a mutilated pygmy. Its neck

hung limply over its breast.

McCann stepped over and lifted the doll's head, I stared, and stared…with a prickling of the scalp…with

a slowing of the heart beat…

For the face that looked up at me, blue eyes glaring, was the face of Peters!

And on it, like the thinnest of veils, was the shadow of that demonic exultance I had watched spread over

the face of Peters after death had stilled the pulse of his heart!