The Man in Lower Ten
3. Across The Aisle
No solution offering itself, I went back to my berth. The snorer across had apparently
strangled, or turned over, and so after a time I dropped asleep, to be awakened by the
morning sunlight across my face.
I felt for my watch, yawning prodigiously. I reached under the pillow and failed to find it,
but something scratched the back of my hand. I sat up irritably and nursed the wound,
which was bleeding a little. Still drowsy, I felt more cautiously for what I supposed had
been my scarf pin, but there was nothing there. Wide awake now, I reached for my
traveling-bag, on the chance that I had put my watch in there. I had drawn the satchel to
me and had my hand on the lock before I realized that it was not my own!
Mine was of alligator hide. I had killed the beast in Florida, after the expenditure of
enough money to have bought a house and enough energy to have built one. The bag I
held in my hand was a black one, sealskin, I think. The staggering thought of what the
loss of my bag meant to me put my finger on the bell and kept it there until the porter
"Did you ring, sir?" he asked, poking his head through the curtains obsequiously.
McKnight objects that nobody can poke his head through a curtain and be obsequious.
But Pullman porters can and do.
"No," I snapped. "It rang itself. What in thunder do you mean by exchanging my valise
for this one? You'll have to find it if you waken the entire car to do it. There are
important papers in that grip."
"Porter," called a feminine voice from an upper berth near-by. "Porter, am I to dangle
here all day?"
"Let her dangle," I said savagely. "You find that bag of mine.
The porter frowned. Then he looked at me with injured dignity. "I brought in your
overcoat, sir. You carried your own valise."
The fellow was right! In an excess of caution I had refused to relinquish my alligator bag,
and had turned over my other traps to the porter. It was clear enough then. I was simply a
victim of the usual sleeping-car robbery. I was in a lather of perspiration by that time: the
lady down the car was still dangling and talking about it: still nearer a feminine voice was
giving quick orders in French, presumably to a maid. The porter was on his knees,
looking under the berth.