The Man in Lower Ten HTML version
7. A Fine Gold Chain
The conductor held it out to me, his face sternly accusing.
"Is this another coincidence?" he asked. "Did the man who left you his clothes and the
barred silk handkerchief and the tight shoes leave you the spoil of the murder?"
The men standing around had drawn off a little, and I saw the absolute futility of any
remonstrance. Have you ever seen a fly, who, in these hygienic days, finding no cobwebs
to entangle him, is caught in a sheet of fly paper, finds himself more and more mired, and
is finally quiet with the sticky stillness of despair?
Well, I was the fly. I had seen too much of circumstantial evidence to have any belief that
the establishing of my identity would weigh much against the other incriminating details.
It meant imprisonment and trial, probably, with all the notoriety and loss of practice they
would entail. A man thinks quickly at a time like that. All the probable consequences of
the finding of that pocket-book flashed through my mind as I extended my hand to take
it. Then I drew my arm back.
"I don't want it," I said. "Look inside. Maybe the other man took the money and left the
The conductor opened it, and again there was a curious surging forward of the crowd. To
my intense disappointment the money was still there.
I stood blankly miserable while it was counted out - five one-hundred-dollar bills, six
twenties, and some fives and ones that brought the total to six hundred and fifty dollars.
The little man with the note-book insisted on taking the numbers of the notes, to the
conductor's annoyance. It was immaterial to me: small things had lost their power to
irritate. I was seeing myself in the prisoner's box, going through all the nerve-racking
routine of a trial for murder - the challenging of the jury, the endless cross-examinations,
the alternate hope and fear. I believe I said before that I had no nerves, but for a few
minutes that morning I was as near as a man ever comes to hysteria.
I folded my arms and gave myself a mental shake. I seemed to be the center of a hundred
eyes, expressing every shade of doubt and distrust, but I tried not to flinch. Then some
one created a diversion.
The amateur detective was busy again with the seal-skin bag, investigating the make of
the safety razor and the manufacturer's name on the bronze-green tie. Now, however, he
paused and frowned, as though some pet theory had been upset.
Then from a corner of the bag he drew out and held up for our inspection some three
inches of fine gold chain, one end of which was blackened and stained with blood!