The Old Man in the Corner
XIV. The Edinburgh Mystery
The man in the corner had not enjoyed his lunch. Miss Polly Burton could see that he had
something on his mind, for, even before he began to talk that morning, he was fidgeting
with his bit of string, and setting all her nerves on the jar.
"Have you ever felt real sympathy with a criminal or a thief?" he asked her after a while.
"Only once, I think," she replied, "and then I am not quite sure that the unfortunate
woman who did enlist my sympathies was the criminal you make her out to be."
"You mean the heroine of the York mystery?" he replied blandly. "I know that you tried
very hard that time to discredit the only possible version of that mysterious murder, the
version which is my own. Now, I am equally sure that you have at the present moment no
more notion as to who killed and robbed poor Lady Donaldson in Charlotte Square,
Edinburgh, than the police have themselves, and yet you are fully prepared to pooh-pooh
my arguments, and to disbelieve my version of the mystery. Such is the lady journalist's
"If you have some cock-and-bull story to explain that extraordinary case," she retorted,
"of course I shall disbelieve it. Certainly, if you are going to try and enlist my sympathies
on behalf of Edith Crawford, I can assure you you won't succeed."
"Well, I don't know that that is altogether my intention. I see you are interested in the
case, but I dare say you don't remember all the circumstances. You must forgive me if I
repeat that which you know already. If you have ever been to Edinburgh at all, you will
have heard of Graham's bank, and Mr. Andrew Graham, the present head of the firm, is
undoubtedly one of the most prominent notabilities of 'modern Athens.'"
The man in the corner took two or three photos from his pocket-book and placed them
before the young girl; then, pointing at them with his long bony finger--
"That," he said, "is Mr. Elphinstone Graham, the eldest son, a typical young Scotchman,
as you see, and this is David Graham, the second son."
Polly looked more closely at this last photo, and saw before her a young face, upon which
some lasting sorrow seemed already to have left its mark. The face was delicate and thin,
the features pinched, and the eyes seemed almost unnaturally large and prominent.
"He was deformed," commented the man in the corner in answer to the girl's thoughts,
"and, as such, an object of pity and even of repugnance to most of his friends. There was
also a good deal of talk in Edinburgh society as to his mental condition, his mind,
according to many intimate friends of the Grahams, being at times decidedly unhinged.
Be that as it may, I fancy that his life must have been a very sad one; he had lost his