“I wish you would let me help you,” I said unsteadily. “Let us make it a bargain: each help the other!”
The girl shook her head with a sad little smile. “I am only as unhappy as I deserve to be,” she said. And when I protested and took a step toward her she retreated, with her hands out before her.
“Why don’t you ask me all the questions you are thinking?” she demanded, with a catch in her voice. “Oh, I know them. Or are you afraid to ask?”
I looked at her, at the lines around her eyes, at the drawn look about her mouth. Then I held out my hand. “Afraid!” I said, as she gave me hers. “There is nothing in God’s green earth I am afraid of, save of trouble for you. To ask questions would be to imply a lack of faith. I ask you nothing. Some day, perhaps, you will come to me yourself and let me help you.”
The next moment I was out in the golden sunshine: the birds were singing carols of joy: I walked dizzily through rainbow-colored clouds, past the twins, cherubs now, swinging on the gate. It was a new world into which I stepped from the Carter farm-house that morning, for—I had kissed her!
AT THE TABLE NEXT
McKnight and Hotchkiss were sauntering slowly down the road as I caught up with them. As usual, the little man was busy with some abstruse mental problem.
“The idea is this,” he was saying, his brows knitted in thought, “if a left-handed man, standing in the position of the man in the picture, should jump from a car, would he be likely to sprain his right ankle? When a right-handed man prepares for a leap of that kind, my theory is that he would hold on with his right hand, and alight at the proper time, on his right foot. Of course—”
“I imagine, although I don’t know,” interrupted McKnight, “that a man either ambidextrous or one-armed, jumping from the Washington Flier, would be more likely to land on his head.”
“Anyhow,” I interposed, “what difference does it make whether Sullivan used one hand or the other? One pair of handcuffs will put both hands out of commission.
As usual when one of his pet theories was attacked, Hotchkiss looked aggrieved.
“My dear sir,” he expostulated, “don’t you understand what bearing this has on the case? How was the murdered man lying when he was found?”
“On his back,” I said promptly, “head toward the engine.”
“Very well,” he retorted, “and what then? Your heart lies under your fifth intercostal space, and to reach it a right-handed blow would have struck either down or directly in.
“But, gentleman, the point of entrance for the stiletto was below the heart, striking up! As Harrington lay with his head toward the engine, a person in the aisle must have used the left hand.”
McKnight’s eyes sought mine and he winked at me solemnly as I unostentatiously transferred the hat I was carrying to my right hand. Long training has largely counterbalanced heredity in my case, but I still pitch ball, play tennis and carve with my left hand. But Hotchkiss was too busy with his theories to notice me.