The Man in Lower Ten
19. At The Table Next
McKnight and Hotchkiss were sauntering slowly down the road as I caught up with them.
As usual, the little man was busy with some abstruse mental problem.
"The idea is this," he was saying, his brows knitted in thought, "if a left-handed man,
standing in the position of the man in the picture, should jump from a car, would he be
likely to sprain his right ankle? When a right-handed man prepares for a leap of that kind,
my theory is that he would hold on with his right hand, and alight at the proper time, on
his right foot. Of course - "
"I imagine, although I don't know," interrupted McKnight, "that a man either
ambidextrous or one-armed, jumping from the Washington Flier, would be more likely to
land on his head."
"Anyhow," I interposed, "what difference does it make whether Sullivan used one hand
or the other? One pair of handcuffs will put both hands out of commission.
As usual when one of his pet theories was attacked, Hotchkiss looked aggrieved.
"My dear sir," he expostulated, "don't you understand what bearing this has on the case?
How was the murdered man lying when he was found?"
"On his back," I said promptly, "head toward the engine."
"Very well," he retorted, "and what then? Your heart lies under your fifth intercostal
space, and to reach it a right-handed blow would have struck either down or directly in.
"But, gentleman, the point of entrance for the stiletto was below the heart, striking up! As
Harrington lay with his head toward the engine, a person in the aisle must have used the
McKnight's eyes sought mine and he winked at me solemnly as I unostentatiously
transferred the hat I was carrying to my right hand. Long training has largely
counterbalanced heredity in my case, but I still pitch ball, play tennis and carve with my
left hand. But Hotchkiss was too busy with his theories to notice me.
We were only just in time for our train back to Baltimore, but McKnight took advantage
of a second's delay to shake the station agent warmly by the hand.
"I want to express my admiration for you," he said beamingly. "Ability of your order is
thrown away here. You should have been a city policeman, my friend."
The agent looked a trifle uncertain.