The Man in Lower Ten
21. Mc Knight's Theory
I confess I was staggered. The people at the surrounding tables, after glancing curiously
in my direction, looked away again.
I got my hat and went out in a very uncomfortable frame of mind. That she would inform
the police at once of what she knew I never doubted, unless possibly she would give a
day or two's grace in the hope that I would change my mind.
I reviewed the situation as I waited for a car. Two passed me going in the opposite
direction, and on the first one I saw Bronson, his hat over his eyes, his arms folded,
looking moodily ahead. Was it imagination? or was the small man huddled in the corner
of the rear seat Hotchkiss?
As the car rolled on I found myself smiling. The alert little man was for all the world like
a terrier, ever on the scent, and scouring about in every direction.
I found McKnight at the Incubator, with his coat off, working with enthusiasm and a
manicure file over the horn of his auto.
"It's the worst horn I ever ran across," he groaned, without looking up, as I came in. "The
blankety-blank thing won't blow."
He punched it savagely, finally eliciting a faint throaty croak.
"Sounds like croup," I suggested. "My sister-in-law uses camphor and goose greese for it;
or how about a spice poultice?"
But McKnight never sees any jokes but his own. He flung the horn clattering into a
corner, and collapsed sulkily into a chair.
"Now," I said, "if you're through manicuring that horn, I'll tell you about my talk with the
lady in black."
"What's wrong?" asked McKnight languidly. "Police watching her, too?"
"Not exactly. The fact is, Rich, there's the mischief to pay."
Stogie came in, bringing a few additions to our comfort. When he went out I told my
"You must remember," I said, "that I had seen this woman before the morning of the
wreck. She was buying her Pullman ticket when I did. Then the next morning, when the
murder was discovered, she grew hysterical, and I gave her some whisky. The third and