The Old Man in the Corner HTML version

V. A Night's Adventure
"Now I must tell you," continued the man in the corner, "that after I had read the account
of the double robbery, which appeared in the early afternoon papers, I set to work and
had a good think--yes!" he added with a smile, noting Polly's look at the bit of string, on
which he was still at work, "yes! aided by this small adjunct to continued thought--I made
notes as to how I should proceed to discover the clever thief, who had carried off a small
fortune in a single night. Of course, my methods are not those of a London detective; he
has his own way of going to work. The one who was conducting this case questioned the
unfortunate jeweller very closely about his servants and his household generally.
"'I have three servants,' explained Mr. Shipman, two of whom have been with me for
many years; one, the housemaid, is a fairly new comer--she has been here about six
months. She came recommended by a friend, and bore an excellent character. She and the
parlourmaid room together. The cook, who knew me when I was a schoolboy, sleeps
alone; all three servants sleep on the floor above. I locked the jewels up in the safe which
stands in the dressing-room. My keys and watch I placed, as usual, beside my bed. As a
rule, I am a fairly light sleeper.
"'I cannot understand how it could have happened--but--you had better come up and have
a look at the safe. The key must have been abstracted from my bedside, the safe opened,
and the keys replaced--all while I was fast asleep. Though I had no occasion to look into
the safe until just now, I should have discovered my loss before going to business, for I
intended to take the diamonds away with me--'
"The detective and the inspector went up to have a look at the safe. The lock had in no
way been tampered with--it had been opened with its own key. The detective spoke of
chloroform, but Mr. Shipman declared that when he woke in the morning at about half-
past seven there was no smell of chloroform in the room. However, the proceedings of
the daring thief certainly pointed to the use of an anaesthetic. An examination of the
premises brought to light the fact that the burglar had, as in Mr. Knopf's house, used the
glass-panelled door from the garden as a means of entrance, but in this instance he had
carefully cut out the pane of glass with a diamond, slipped the bolts, turned the key, and
walked in.
"'Which among your servants knew that you had the diamonds in your house last night,
Mr. Shipman?' asked the detective.
"'Not one, I should say,' replied the jeweller, 'though, perhaps, the parlourmaid, whilst
waiting at table, may have heard me and Mr. Knopf discussing our bargain.'
"'Would you object to my searching all your servants' boxes?'
"'Certainly not. They would not object, either, I am sure. They are perfectly honest.'