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The Man in Lower Ten

18. A New World
Hotchkiss jotted down the bits of telegram and rose.
"Well," he said, "we've done something. We've found where the murderer left the train,
we know what day he went to Baltimore, and, most important of all, we have a motive for
the crime.
"It seems the irony of fate," said McKnight, getting up, "that a man should kill another
man for certain papers he is supposed to be carrying, find he hasn't got them after all,
decide to throw suspicion on another man by changing berths and getting out, bag and
baggage, and then, by the merest fluke of chance, take with him, in the valise he changed
for his own, the very notes he was after. It was a bit of luck for him."
"Then why," put in Hotchkiss doubtfully, "why did he collapse when he heard of the
wreck? And what about the telephone message the station agent sent? You remember
they tried to countermand it, and with some excitement."
"We will ask him those questions when we get him," McKnight said. We were on the
unrailed front porch by that time, and Hotchkiss had put away his notebook. The mother
of the twins followed us to the steps.
"Dear me," she exclaimed volubly, "and to think I was forgetting to tell you! I put the
young man to bed with a spice poultice on his ankle: my mother always was a firm
believer in spice poultices. It's wonderful what they will do in croup! And then I took the
children and went down to see the wreck. It was Sunday, and the mister had gone to
church; hasn't missed a day since he took the pledge nine years ago. And on the way I
met two people, a man and a woman. They looked half dead, so I sent them right here for
breakfast and some soap and water. I always say soap is better than liquor after a shock."
Hotchkiss was listening absently: McKnight was whistling under his breath, staring down
across the field to where a break in the woods showed a half dozen telegraph poles, the
line of the railroad.
"It must have been twelve o'clock when we got back; I wanted the children to see
everything, because it isn't likely they'll ever see another wreck like that. Rows of - "
"About twelve o'clock," I broke in, "and what then?"
"The young man up-stairs was awake," she went on, "and hammering at his door like all
possessed. And it was locked on the outside!" She paused to enjoy her sensation.
"I would like to see that lock," Hotchkiss said promptly, but for some reason the woman
demurred.
 
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