“Hush,” McKnight protested. “If word gets to Mrs. Klopton that Mr. Blakeley was wrecked, or robbed, or whatever it was, with a button missing and a hole in one sock, she’ll retire to the Old Ladies’ Home. I’ve heard her threaten it.”
Mr. Hotchkiss was without a sense of humor. He regarded McKnight gravely and went on:
“I’ve been up in the room where the man lay while he was unable to get away, and there is nothing there. But I found what may be a possible clue in the dust heap.
“Mrs. Carter tells me that in unpacking his grip the other day she took out of the coat of the pajamas some pieces of a telegram. As I figure it, the pajamas were his own. He probably had them on when he effected the exchange.”
I nodded assent. All I had retained of my own clothing was the suit of pajamas I was wearing and my bath-robe.
“Therefore the telegram was his, not yours. I have pieces here, but some are missing. I am not discouraged, however.”
He spread out some bits of yellow paper, and we bent over them curiously. It was something like this:
with p- Get-
We spelled it out slowly.
“Now,” Hotchkiss announced, “I make it something like this: The ‘p.-’ is one of two things, pistol—you remember the little pearl-handled affair belonging to the murdered man—or it is pocket-book. I am inclined to the latter view, as the pocket-book had been disturbed and the pistol had not.”
I took the piece of paper from the table and scrawled four words on it.
“Now,” I said, rearranging them, “it happens, Mr. Hotchkiss, that I found one of these pieces of the telegram on the train. I thought it had been dropped by some one else, you see, but that’s immaterial. Arranged this way it almost makes sense. Fill out that ‘p.-’ with the rest of the word, as I imagine it, and it makes ‘papers,’ and add this scrap and you have:
“‘Man with papers (in) lower ten, car seven. Get (them).’
McKnight slapped Hotchkiss on the back. “You’re a trump,” he said. “Br- is Bronson, of course. It’s almost too easy. You see, Mr. Blakeley here engaged lower ten, but found it occupied by the man who was later murdered there. The man who did the thing was a friend of Bronson’s, evidently, and in trying to get the papers we have the motive for the crime.”
“There are still some things to be explained.” Mr. Hotchkiss wiped his glasses and put them on. “For one thing, Mr. Blakeley, I am puzzled by that bit of chain.”
I did not glance at McKnight. I felt that the hand, with which I was gathering up the bits of torn paper were shaking. It seemed to me that this astute little man was going to drag in the girl in spite of me.
A NEW WORLD