The Circular Study, by Anna Katherine Green

Chapter 6


A silence more or less surcharged with emotion followed this final appeal. Then, while the various auditors of this remarkable history whispered together and Thomas Adams turned in love and anxiety toward his wife, the inspector handed back to Mr. Gryce the memorandum he had received from him.

It presented the following appearance:


1. Why a woman who was calm enough to stop and arrange her hair during the beginning of an interview should be wrought up to such a pitch of frenzy and exasperation before it was over as to kill with her own hand a man she had evidently had no previous grudge against. (Remember the comb found on the floor of Mr. Adams’s bedroom.)


2. What was the meaning of the following words, written just previous to this interview by the man thus killed: “I return you your daughter. Neither you nor she will ever see me again. Remember Evelyn!”


3. Why was the pronoun “I” used in this communication? What position did Mr. Felix Adams hold toward this young girl qualifying him to make use of such language after her marriage to his brother?


4. And having used it, why did he, upon being attacked by her, attempt to swallow the paper upon which he had written these words, actually dying with it clinched between his teeth?


5. If he was killed in anger and died as monsters do (her own word), why did his face show sorrow rather than hate, and a determination as far as possible removed from the rush of over-whelming emotions likely to follow the reception of a mortal blow from the hand of an unexpected antagonist?


6. Why, if he had strength to seize the above-mentioned paper and convey it to his lips, did he not use that strength in turning on a light calculated to bring him assistance, instead of leaving blazing the crimson glow which, according to the code of signals as now understood by us, means: “Nothing more required just now. Keep away?”


7. What was the meaning of the huge steel plate found between the casings of the doorway, and why did it remain at rest within its socket at this, the culminating, moment of his life?


8. An explanation of how old Poindexter came to appear on the scene so soon after the event. His words as overheard were: “It is Amos’ son, not Amos!” Did he not know whom he was to meet in this house? Was the condition of the man lying before him with a cross on his bosom and a dagger in his heart less of a surprise to him than the personality of the victim?

Not Answered

9. Remember the conclusions we have drawn from Bartow’s pantomime. Mr. Adams was killed by a left-handed thrust. Watch for an acknowledgment that the young woman is left-handed, and do not forget that an explanation is due why for so long a time she held her other arm stretched out behind her.


10. Why did the bird whose chief cry is “Remember Evelyn!” sometimes vary it with “Poor Eva! Lovely Eva! Who would strike Eva?” The story of this tragedy, to be true, must show that Mr. Adams knew his brother’s bride both long and well.


11. If Bartow is, as we think, innocent of all connection with this crime save as witness, why does he show such joy at its result? This may not reasonably be expected to fall within the scope of Thomas Adams’s confession, but it should not be ignored by us. This deaf-and-dumb servitor was driven mad by the fact which caused him joy. Why?2


12. Notice the following schedule. It has been drawn up after repeated experiments with Bartow and the various slides of the strange lamp which cause so many different lights to shine out in Mr. Adams’s study:

White light — Water wanted.
Green light — Overcoat and hat to be brought.
Blue light — Put back books on shelves.
Violet light — Arrange study for the night.
Yellow light — Watch for next light.
Red light — Nothing wanted; stay away.

The last was on at the final scene. Note if this fact can be explained by Mr. Adams’s account of the same.

2 It must be remembered that the scraps of writing in Felix’s hand had not yet been found by the police. The allusions in them to Bartow show him to have been possessed by a jealousy which probably turned to delight when he saw his master smitten down by the object of that master’s love and his own hatred. How he came to recognize in the bride of another man the owner of the name he so often saw hovering on the lips of his master, is a question to be answered by more astute students of the laws of perception than myself. Probably he spent much of his time at the loophole on the stairway, studying his master till he understood his every gesture and expression.

Two paragraphs alone lacked complete explanation. The first, No. 9, was important. The description of the stroke dealt by Mr. Adams’s wife did not account for this peculiar feature in Bartow’s pantomime. Consulting with the inspector, Mr. Gryce finally approached Mr. Adams and inquired if he had strength to enact before them the blow as he had seen it dealt by his wife.

The startled young man looked the question he dared not ask. In common with others, he knew that Bartow had made some characteristic gestures in endeavoring to describe this crime, but he did not know what they were, as this especial bit of information had been carefully held back by the police. He, therefore, did not respond hastily to the suggestion made him, but thought intently for a moment before he thrust out his left hand and caught up some article or other from the inspector’s table and made a lunge with it across his body into an imaginary victim at his right. Then he consulted the faces about him with inexpressible anxiety. He found little encouragement in their aspect.

“You would make your wife out left-handed,” suggested Mr. Gryce. “Now I have been watching her ever since she came into this place, and I have seen no evidence of this.”

“She is not left-handed, but she thrust with her left hand, because her right was fast held in mine. I had seized her instinctively as she bounded forward for the weapon, and the convulsive clutch of our two hands was not loosed till the horror of her act made her faint, and she fell away from me to the floor crying: ‘Tear down the cross and lay it on your brother’s breast. I would at least see him die the death of a Christian.’”

Mr. Gryce glanced at the inspector with an air of great relief. The mystery of the constrained attitude of the right hand which made Bartow’s pantomime so remarkable was now naturally explained, and taking up the blue pencil which the inspector had laid down, he wrote, with a smile, a very decided “answered” across paragraph No. 9.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55