The Man in Lower Ten HTML version

15. The Cinematograph
On Monday I went out for the first time. I did not go to the office. I wanted to walk. I
thought fresh air and exercise would drive away the blue devils that had me by the throat.
McKnight insisted on a long day in his car, but I refused.
"I don't know why not," he said sulkily. "I can't walk. I haven't walked two consecutive
blocks in three years. Automobiles have made legs mere ornaments - and some not even
that. We could have Johnson out there chasing us over the country at five dollars an
"He can chase us just as well at five miles an hour," I said. "But what gets me, McKnight,
is why I am under surveillance at all. How do the police know I was accused of that
"The young lady who sent the flowers - she isn't likely to talk, is she?"
"No. That is, I didn't say it was a lady." I groaned as I tried to get my splinted arm into a
coat. "Anyhow, she didn't tell," I finished with conviction, and McKnight laughed.
It had rained in the early morning, and Mrs. Klopton predicted more showers. In fact, so
firm was her belief and so determined her eye that I took the umbrella she proffered me.
"Never mind," I said. "We can leave it next door; I have a story to tell you, Richey, and it
requires proper setting."
McKnight was puzzled, but he followed me obediently round to the kitchen entrance of
the empty house. It was unlocked, as I had expected. While we climbed to the upper floor
I retailed the events of the previous night.
"It's the finest thing I ever heard of," McKnight said, staring up at the ladder and the trap.
"What a vaudeville skit it would make! Only you ought not to have put your foot on her
hand. They don't do it in the best circles."
I wheeled on him impatiently.
"You don't understand the situation at all, Richey!" I exclaimed. "What would you say if I
tell you it was the hand of a lady? It was covered with rings."
"A lady!" he repeated. "Why, I'd say it was a darned compromising situation, and that the
less you say of it the better. Look here, Lawrence, I think you dreamed it. You've been in
the house too much. I take it all back: you do need exercise."
"She escaped through this door, I suppose," I said as patiently as I could. "Evidently
down the back staircase. We might as well go down that way."