I was myself again in a second, and by the light from the hall I led the way back to the tragedy I had stumbled on. Bronson still sat at the table, his elbows propped on it, his cigarette still lighted, burning a hole in the cloth. Partly under the table lay Mrs. Conway face down. The dog stood over her and wagged his tail.
McKnight pointed silently to a large copper ashtray, filled with ashes and charred bits of paper.
“The notes, probably,” he said ruefully. “He got them after all, and burned them before her. It was more than she could stand. Stabbed him first and then herself.”
Hotchkiss got up and took off his hat. “They are dead,” he announced solemnly, and took his note-book out of his hatband.
McKnight and I did the only thing we could think of—drove Hotchkiss and the dog out of the room, and closed and locked the door. “It’s a matter for the police,” McKnight asserted. “I suppose you’ve got an officer tied to you somewhere, Lawrence? You usually have.”
We left Hotchkiss in charge and went down-stairs. It was McKnight who first saw Johnson, leaning against a park railing across the street, and called him over. We told him in a few words what we had found, and he grinned at me cheerfully.
“After while, in a few weeks or months, Mr. Blakeley,” he said, “when you get tired of monkeying around with the blood-stain and finger-print specialist up-stairs, you come to me. I’ve had that fellow you want under surveillance for ten days!”
At ten minutes before two the following day, Monday, I arrived at my office. I had spent the morning putting my affairs in shape, and in a trip to the stable. The afternoon would see me either a free man or a prisoner for an indefinite length of time, and, in spite of Johnson’s promise to produce Sullivan, I was more prepared for the latter than the former.
Blobs was watching for me outside the door, and it was clear that he was in a state of excitement bordering on delirium. He did nothing, however, save to tip me a wink that meant “As man to man, I’m for you.” I was too much engrossed either to reprove him or return the courtesy, but I heard him follow me down the hall to the small room where we keep outgrown lawbooks, typewriter supplies and, incidentally, our wraps. I was wondering vaguely if I would ever hang my hat on its nail again, when the door closed behind me. It shut firmly, without any particular amount of sound, and I was left in the dark. I groped my way to it, irritably, to find it locked on the outside. I shook it frantically, and was rewarded by a sibilant whisper through the keyhole.
“Keep quiet,” Blobs was saying huskily. “You’re in deadly peril. The police are waiting in your office, three of ’em. I’m goin’ to lock the whole bunch in and throw the key out of the window.”