The Old Man in the Corner HTML version

XXXIV. The Mysterious Death In Percy Street
Miss Polly Burton had had many an argument with Mr. Richard Frobisher about that old
man in the corner, who seemed far more interesting and deucedly more mysterious than
any of the crimes over which he philosophised.
Dick thought, moreover, that Miss Polly spent more of her leisure time now in that
A.B.C. shop than she had done in his own company before, and told her so, with that
delightful air of sheepish sulkiness which the male creature invariably wears when he
feels jealous and won't admit it.
Polly liked Dick to be jealous, but she liked that old scarecrow in the A.B.C. shop very
much too, and though she made sundry vague promises from time to time to Mr. Richard
Frobisher, she nevertheless drifted back instinctively day after day to the tea-shop in
Norfolk Street, Strand, and stayed there sipping coffee for as long as the man in the
corner chose to talk.
On this particular afternoon she went to the A.B.C. shop with a fixed purpose, that of
making him give her his views of Mrs. Owen's mysterious death in Percy Street.
The facts had interested and puzzled her. She had had countless arguments with Mr.
Richard Frobisher as to the three great possible solutions of the puzzle--"Accident,
Suicide, Murder?"
"Undoubtedly neither accident nor suicide," he said dryly.
Polly was not aware that she had spoken. What an uncanny habit that creature had of
reading her thoughts!
"You incline to the idea, then, that Mrs. Owen was murdered. Do you know by whom?"
He laughed, and drew forth the piece of string he always fidgeted with when unravelling
some mystery.
"You would like to know who murdered that old woman?" he asked at last.
"I would like to hear your views on the subject," Polly replied.
"I have no views," he said dryly. "No one can know who murdered the woman, since no
one ever saw the person who did it. No one can give the faintest description of the
mysterious man who alone could have committed that clever deed, and the police are
playing a game of blind man's buff."
"But you must have formed some theory of your own," she persisted.