The Old Man in the Corner
VI. All He Knew
"The tramp was missing," continued the man in the corner, "and Mr. Francis Howard
tried to find the missing tramp. Going round to the front, and seeing the lights at No. 26
still in, he called upon Mr. Shipman. The jeweller had had a few friends to dinner, and
was giving them whiskies-and-sodas before saying good night. The servants had just
finished washing up, and were waiting to go to bed; neither they nor Mr. Shipman nor his
guests had seen or heard anything of the suspicious individual.
"Mr. Francis Howard went on to see Mr. Ferdinand Knopf. This gentleman was having
his warm bath, preparatory to going to bed. So Robertson told the detective. However,
Mr. Knopf insisted on talking to Mr. Howard through his bath-room door. Mr. Knopf
thanked him for all the trouble he was taking, and felt sure that he and Mr. Shipman
would soon recover possession of their diamonds, thanks to the persevering detective.
"He! he! he!" laughed the man in the corner. "Poor Mr. Howard. He persevered--but got
no farther; no, nor anyone else, for that matter. Even I might not be able to convict the
thieves if I told all I knew to the police.
"Now, follow my reasoning, point by point," he added eagerly.
"Who knew of the presence of the diamonds in the house of Mr. Shipman and Mr.
Knopf? Firstly," he said, putting up an ugly claw-like finger, "Mr. Shipman, then Mr.
Knopf, then, presumably, the man Robertson."
"And the tramp?" said Polly.
"Leave the tramp alone for the present since he has vanished, and take point number two.
Mr. Shipman was drugged. That was pretty obvious; no man under ordinary
circumstances would, without waking, have his keys abstracted and then replaced at his
own bedside. Mr. Howard suggested that the thief was armed with some anaesthetic; but
how did the thief get into Mr. Shipman's room without waking him from his natural
sleep? Is it not simpler to suppose that the thief had taken the precaution to drug the
jeweller _before_ the latter went to bed?"
"Wait a moment, and take point number three. Though there was every proof that Mr.
Shipman had been in possession of £25,000 worth of goods since Mr. Knopf had a
cheque from him for that amount, there was no proof that in Mr. Knopf's house there was
even an odd stone worth a sovereign.
"And then again," went on the scarecrow, getting more and more excited, "did it ever
strike you, or anybody else, that at _no_ time, while the tramp was in custody, while all