Morrell sided with me, but it was no use.
“Now don’t take it hard, Professor,” Jake tapped. “I ain’t saying you lied. I just say you get to dreaming and figuring in the jacket without knowing you’re doing it. I know you believe what you say, and that you think it happened; but it don’t buy nothing with me. You figure it, but you don’t know you figure it—that is something you know all the time, though you don’t know you know it until you get into them dreamy, woozy states.”
“Hold on, Jake,” I tapped. “You know I have never seen you with my own eyes. Is that right?”
“I got to take your word for it, Professor. You might have seen me and not known it was me.”
“The point is,” I continued, “not having seen you with your clothes off, nevertheless I am able to tell you about that scar above your right elbow, and that scar on your right ankle.”
“Oh, shucks,” was his reply. “You’ll find all that in my prison description and along with my mug in the rogues’ gallery. They is thousands of chiefs of police and detectives know all that stuff.”
“I never heard of it,” I assured him.
“You don’t remember that you ever heard of it,” he corrected. “But you must have just the same. Though you have forgotten about it, the information is in your brain all right, stored away for reference, only you’ve forgot where it is stored. You’ve got to get woozy in order to remember.”
“Did you ever forget a man’s name you used to know as well as your own brother’s? I have. There was a little juror that convicted me in Oakland the time I got handed my fifty-years. And one day I found I’d forgotten his name. Why, bo, I lay here for weeks puzzling for it. Now, just because I could not dig it out of my memory box was no sign it was not there. It was mislaid, that was all. And to prove it, one day, when I was not even thinking about it, it popped right out of my brain to the tip of my tongue. ‘Stacy,’ I said right out loud. ‘Joseph Stacy.’ That was it. Get my drive?
“You only tell me about them scars what thousands of men know. I don’t know how you got the information, I guess you don’t know yourself. That ain’t my lookout. But there she is. Telling me what many knows buys nothing with me. You got to deliver a whole lot more than that to make me swallow the rest of your whoppers.”
Hamilton’s Law of Parsimony in the weighing of evidence! So intrinsically was this slum-bred convict a scientist, that he had worked out Hamilton’s law and rigidly applied it.
And yet—and the incident is delicious—Jake Oppenheimer was intellectually honest. That night, as I was dozing off, he called me with the customary signal.
“Say, Professor, you said you saw me wiggling my loose tooth. That has got my goat. That is the one thing I can’t figure out any way you could know. It only went loose three days ago, and I ain’t whispered it to a soul.”