The porter from the next car came in and whispered to him. The conductor rose unhappily.
“Next car’s caught the disease,” he grumbled. “Doctor, a woman back there has got mumps or bubonic plague, or something. Will you come back?”
The strange porter stood aside.
“Lady about the middle of the car,” he said, “in black, sir, with queer-looking hair—sort of copper color, I think, sir.”
THE WOMAN IN THE NEXT CAR
With the departure of the conductor and the doctor, the group around lower ten broke up, to re-form in smaller knots through the car. The porter remained on guard. With something of relief I sank into a seat. I wanted to think, to try to remember the details of the previous night. But my inquisitive acquaintance had other intentions. He came up and sat down beside me. Like the conductor, he had taken notes of the dead man’s belongings, his name, address, clothing and the general circumstances of the crime. Now with his little note-book open before him, he prepared to enjoy the minor sensation of the robbery.
“And now for the second victim,” he began cheerfully. “What is your name and address, please?” I eyed him with suspicion.
“I have lost everything but my name and address,” I parried. “What do you want them for? Publication?”
“Oh, no; dear, no!” he said, shocked at my misapprehension. “Merely for my own enlightenment. I like to gather data of this kind and draw my own conclusions. Most interesting and engrossing. Once or twice I have forestalled the results of police investigation—but entirely for my own amusement.”
I nodded tolerantly. Most of us have hobbies; I knew a man once who carried his handkerchief up his sleeve and had a mania for old colored prints cut out of Godey’s Lady’s Book.
“I use that inductive method originated by Poe and followed since with such success by Conan Doyle. Have you ever read Gaboriau? Ah, you have missed a treat, indeed. And now, to get down to business, what is the name of our escaped thief and probable murderer?”
“How on earth do I know?” I demanded impatiently. “He didn’t write it in blood anywhere, did he?”
The little man looked hurt and disappointed.
“Do you mean to say,” he asked, “that the pockets of those clothes are entirely empty?” The pockets! In the excitement I had forgotten entirely the sealskin grip which the porter now sat at my feet, and I had not investigated the pockets at all. With the inquisitive man’s pencil taking note of everything that I found, I emptied them on the opposite seat.
Upper left-hand waist-coat, two lead pencils and a fountain pen; lower right waist-coat, match-box and a small stamp book; right-hand pocket coat, pair of gray suede gloves, new, size seven and a half; left-hand pocket, gun-metal cigarette case studded with pearls, half-full of Egyptian cigarettes. The trousers pockets contained a gold penknife, a small amount of money in bills and change, and a handkerchief with the initial “S” on it.