The Man in Lower Ten
1. I Go To Pittsburg
McKnight is gradually taking over the criminal end of the business. I never liked it, and
since the strange case of the man in lower ten, I have been a bit squeamish. Given a case
like that, where you can build up a network of clues that absolutely incriminate three
entirely different people, only one of whom can be guilty, and your faith in circumstantial
evidence dies of overcrowding. I never see a shivering, white-faced wretch in the
prisoners' dock that I do not hark back with shuddering horror to the strange events on the
Pullman car Ontario, between Washington and Pittsburg, on the night of September
McKnight could tell the story a great deal better than I, although he can not spell three
consecutive words correctly. But, while he has imagination and humor, he is lazy.
"It didn't happen to me, anyhow," he protested, when I put it up to him. "And nobody
cares for second-hand thrills. Besides, you want the unvarnished and ungarnished truth,
and I'm no hand for that. I'm a lawyer."
So am I, although there have been times when my assumption in that particular has been
disputed. I am unmarried, and just old enough to dance with the grown-up little sisters of
the girls I used to know. I am fond of outdoors, prefer horses to the aforesaid grown-up
little sisters, am without sentiment (am crossed out and was substituted.-Ed.) and
completely ruled and frequently routed by my housekeeper, an elderly widow.
In fact, of all the men of my acquaintance, I was probably the most prosaic, the least
adventurous, the one man in a hundred who would be likely to go without a deviation
from the normal through the orderly procession of the seasons, summer suits to winter
flannels, golf to bridge.
So it was a queer freak of the demons of chance to perch on my unsusceptible thirty-year-
old chest, tie me up with a crime, ticket me with a love affair, and start me on that
sensational and not always respectable journey that ended so surprisingly less than three
weeks later in the firm's private office. It had been the most remarkable period of my life.
I would neither give it up nor live it again under any inducement, and yet all that I lost
was some twenty yards off my drive!
It was really McKnight's turn to make the next journey. I had a tournament at Chevy
Chase for Saturday, and a short yacht cruise planned for Sunday, and when a man has
been grinding at statute law for a week, he needs relaxation. But McKnight begged off. It
was not the first time he had shirked that summer in order to run down to Richmond, and
I was surly about it. But this time he had a new excuse. "I wouldn't be able to look after
the business if I did go," he said. He has a sort of wide-eyed frankness that makes one