The Man in Lower Ten
20. The Notes And A Bargain
I went back slowly to where the woman sat alone.
She smiled rather oddly as I drew near, and pointed to the chair Bronson had vacated.
"Sit down, Mr. Blakeley," she said, "I am going to take a few minutes of your valuable
"Certainly." I sat down opposite her and glanced at a cuckoo clock on the wall. "I am
sorry, but I have only a few minutes. If you - " She laughed a little, not very pleasantly,
and opening a small black fan covered with spangles, waved it slowly.
"The fact is," she said, "I think we are about to make a bargain."
"A bargain?" I asked incredulously. "You have a second advantage of me. You know my
name" - I paused suggestively and she took the cue.
"I am Mrs. Conway," she said, and flicked a crumb off the table with an over-manicured
The name was scarcely a surprise. I had already surmised that this might be the woman
whom rumor credited as being Bronson's common-law wife. Rumor, I remembered, had
said other things even less pleasant, things which had been brought out at Bronson's
arrest for forgery.
"We met last under less fortunate circumstances," she was saying. "I have been fit for
nothing since that terrible day. And you - you had a broken arm, I think."
"I still have it," I said, with a lame attempt at jocularity; "but to have escaped at all was a
miracle. We have much, indeed, to be thankful for."
"I suppose we have," she said carelessly, "although sometimes I doubt it." She was
looking somberly toward the door through which her late companion had made his exit.
"You sent for me - " I said.
"Yes, I sent for you." She roused herself and sat erect. "Now, Mr. Blakeley, have you
found those papers?"
"The papers? What papers?" I parried. I needed time to think.