The Adventures of Jimmie Dale
I.3. The Mother Lode
It was the following evening, and they had dined together again at the St. James
Club--Jimmie Dale, and Carruthers of the MORNING NEWS- ARGUS. From
Clayton and a discussion of the Metzer murder, the conversation had turned, not
illogically, upon the physiognomy of criminals in general. Jimmie Dale, lazily
ensconced now in a lounging chair in one of the club's private library rooms,
flicked a minute speck of cigar ash from the sleeve of his dinner jacket, and
smiled whimsically across the table at his friend.
"Oh, I dare say there's a lot in physiognomy, Carruthers," he drawled. "Never
studied the thing, you know--that is, from the standpoint of crime. Personally, I've
only got one prejudice: I distrust, on principle, the man who wears a perennial
and pompous smirk--which isn't, of course, strictly speaking, physiognomy at all.
You see, a man can't help his eyes being beady or his nose pronounced, but
pomposity and a smirk, now--" Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders.
Carruthers laughed--and then glanced ludicrously at Jimmie Dale, as the door,
ajar, was pushed open, and a man entered.
"Speaking of angels," murmured Jimmie Dale--and sat up in his chair. "Hello,
Markel!" he observed casually, "You've met Carruthers, of the NEWS-ARGUS,
Markel was fat and important; he had beady black eyes, fastidiously trimmed
whiskers--and a pronounced smirk.
Markel blew his nose vigorously, coughed asthmatically, and held out his hand.
"Of course, certainly," said he effusively. "I've met Carruthers several times--used
his sheet more than once to advertise a new bond flotation."
The dominant note in Markel's voice was an ingratiating and unpleasant whine,
and Carruthers nodded, not very cordially--and shook hands.