The Breaking Point
Louis Bassett had left for Norada the day after David's sudden illness, but ten
days later found him only as far as Chicago, and laid up in his hotel with a
sprained knee. It was not until the day Nina went back to the little house in the
Ridgely Road, having learned the first lesson of married life, that men must not
only be captured but also held, that he was able to resume his journey.
He had chafed wretchedly under the delay. It was true that nothing in the way of
a story had broken yet. The Tribune had carried a photograph of the cabin where
Clark had according to the Donaldson woman spent the winter following the
murder, and there were the usual reports that he had been seen recently in spots
as diverse as Seattle and New Orleans. But when the following Sunday brought
nothing further he surmised that the pack, having lost the scent, had been called
He confirmed this before starting West by visiting some of the offices of the
leading papers and looking up old friends. The Clark story was dead for the time.
They had run a lot of pictures of him, however, and some one might turn him up
eventually, but a scent was pretty cold in ten years. The place had changed, too.
Oil had been discovered five years ago, and the old settlers had, a good many of
them, cashed in and moved away. The town had grown like all oil towns.
Bassett was fairly content. He took the night train out of Chicago and spent the
next day crossing Nebraska, fertile, rich and interesting. On the afternoon of the
second day he left the train and took a branch line toward the mountains and
Norada, and from that time on he became an urbane, interested and generally
cigar-smoking interrogation point.
"Railroad been here long?" he asked the conductor.
"Norada must have been pretty isolated before that."
"Thirty miles in a coach or a Ford car."
"I was reading the other day," said Bassett, "about the Judson Clark case. Have
a cigar? Got time to sit down?"
"You a newspaper man?"
"Oil well supplies," said Bassett easily. "Well, in this article it seemed some
woman or other had made a confession. It sounded fishy to me."