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VI. Blue Fires
"Cabs for comfort; cars for company," was an apothegm which Average Jones had
evolved from experience. A professed student of life, he maintained, must keep in touch
with life at every feasible angle. No experience should come amiss to a detective; he
should be a pundit of all knowledge. A detective he now frankly considered himself; and
the real drudgery of his unique profession of Ad-Visor was supportable only because of
the compensating thrill of the occasional chase, the radiance of the Adventure of Life
glinting from time to time across his path.
There were few places, Average Jones held, where human nature in the rough can be
studied to better advantage than in the stifling tunnels of the subway or the close-
packed sardine boxes of the metropolitan surface lines. It was in pursuance of this
theory that he encountered the Westerner, on Third avenue car. By custom, Average
Jones picked out the most interesting or unusual human being in any assembly where
he found himself, for study and analysis. This man was peculiar in that he alone was not
perspiring in the sodden August humidity. The clear-browned skin and the rangy
strength of the figure gave him a certain distinction. He held in his sinewy hands a
doubly folded newspaper. Presently it slipped from his hold to the seat beside him. He
stared at the window opposite with harassed and unseeing eyes. Abruptly he rose and
went out on the platform. Average Jones picked up the paper. In the middle of the
column to which it was folded was a marked advertisement:
ARE you in an embarrassing position? Anything,
anywhere, any time, regardless of nature or location.
Everybody's friend. Consultation at all hours.
Suite 152, Owl Building, Brooklyn.
The car was nearing Brooklyn Bridge. Average Jones saw his man drop lightly off. He
followed and at the bridge entrance caught him up.
"You've left your paper," he said.
The stranger whirled quickly. "Right," he said. "Thanks. Perhaps you can tell me where
the Owl Building is."
"Are you going there?"
"I wouldn't."
A slight wrinkle of surprise appeared on the man's tanned forehead.