The two Royal Canadian Mounted Policemen shook their heads sadly.
"Too bad about old Perkins, eh."
"Yes, a real shame getting locked up like that. He's lucky they didn't throw away the key."
"You're right about that, especially when he told the judge to take the spider plant he had on the bench and shove it. Some judges are very sensitive about that kind of thing."
"What happened to him anyway? He used to be one of the finest officers on the force."
"Oh yes, Perkins always got his man, that was until he came up against Paddon, the mad horticulturist. Paddon was making these highly toxic poisons from plants and selling them on the black market, mostly to women who wanted to get rid of their husbands. He was making a fortune. Anyway, Perkins found out about it but before he could prove anything, Paddon made sure he covered his tracks."
"How'd he do that?"
"That's what was so ingenious. There was never any trace of poison in any of the victims. He found out that Paddon had sold poison to about two hundred people and a hundred and seventy-three of their spouses had died somewhat mysteriously. Pretty good odds, don't you think? But it wasn't enough. Paddon had come up with a formula for a slow acting poison which induced a heart attack. But because it was made from commonly available plants, none of which were toxic by themselves, the body broke it down and by the time the poison did its work, there was no trace of anything unusual."
"So Perkins was left scratching his head?"
"Not quite. Nailing Paddon became an obsession, so he enrolled in a botany class at the university. Every day of the week, he'd take off for a few hours and go to class. Then every night he'd study for hours on end. His wife threatened to leave him but it made no difference. He was determined to catch Paddon at his own game."
"Well, it must have worked."
"Afraid not. Paddon got the last laugh. One of his best customers was Mrs. Perkins. When he found out, he just cracked. Went over to Paddon's and wrecked the place. There were plants everywhere. Anything green was fair game.
"When the police arrived, Perkins was sitting in the middle of a pile of leaves and potting soil trying to shove as much of it into Paddon’s mouth as he could. If the soil hadn't been so dry, he might have eaten more. He ended up just as crazy as Paddon."
“But Paddon is still free. Nothing was ever proven."
"That's right, it was all circumstantial. Perkins was the victim in this case. It only goes to show what happens when you impose Botany on the Mountie.