The Man in Lower Ten HTML version

22. At The Boarding-House
I had not been home for thirty-six hours, since the morning of the preceding day. Johnson
was not in sight, and I let myself in quietly with my latchkey. It was almost midnight, and
I had hardly settled myself in the library when the bell rang and I was surprised to find
Hotchkiss, much out of breath, in the vestibule.
"Why, come in, Mr. Hotchkiss," I said. "I thought you were going home to go to bed."
"So I was, so I was." He dropped into a chair beside my reading lamp and mopped his
face. "And here it is almost midnight, and I'm wider awake than ever. I've seen Sullivan,
Mr. Blakeley."
"You have!"
"I have," he said impressively.
"You were following Bronson at eight o'clock. Was that when it happened?"
"Something of the sort. When I left you at the door of the restaurant, I turned and almost
ran into a plain clothes man from the central office. I know him pretty well; once or twice
he has taken me with him on interesting bits of work. He knows my hobby."
"You know him, too, probably. It was the man Arnold, the detective whom the state's
attorney has had watching Bronson."
Johnson being otherwise occupied, I had asked for Arnold myself.
I nodded.
"Well, he stopped me at once; said he'd been on the fellow's tracks since early morning
and had had no time for luncheon. Bronson, it seems, isn't eating much these days. I at
once jotted down the fact, because it argued that he was being bothered by the man with
the notes."
"It might point to other things," I suggested. "Indigestion, you know."
Hotchkiss ignored me. "Well, Arnold had some reason for thinking that Bronson would
try to give him the slip that night, so he asked me to stay around the private entrance
there while he ran across the Street and got something to eat. It seemed a fair
presumption that, as he had gone there with a lady, they would dine leisurely, and Arnold
would have plenty of time to get back."
"What about your own dinner?" I asked curiously.