and the upper packet quickly slid beneath it, leaving
the cards in precisely the position they occupied
before cutting; For this purpose, the book continued,
the nail of the right little finger is worn very long,
so as to facilitate its being thrust beneath a packet
of cards. Here, I said to myself, is a possible
explanation of one of the peculiarities of my plaster
cast. The long nail on the left little finger
may have served its function at the gaming table.
If so, however, it would seem to indicate that our
man is left-handed, while, as we have already seen,
the writing upon the library slips would indicate
that he is ambidextrous. We need not, therefore,
I reasoned, be surprised if we find that both little
fingers have long nails. I at once acted upon
these thoughts and began a search of the gambling
resorts of this city. In order not to excite
suspicion I played a little in each place, watching
my opportunity to engage the proprietor in conversation.
In every case I followed the same formula.
Did he remember the gentleman who used to come there?
Foreigner,—spoke French, a little under
medium height; had a sort of halt in his walk; bit
his finger nails, etc
. I met
with no encouragement in the down-town places, though
the proprietor of one of the Hayward Place ‘dives’
had an idea such a man had been there, but only once
or twice and he was not sure he could place him.
I then went up to the South End and on Decatur Street
found a man who promptly responded to my inquiries:
’Gad! that’s Henri Cazot fast enough,
in all but the height and gait. Dick there, he’ll
tell you all about him. He owes him a little
debt of honour of about a hundred plunks. He
gave him his note for it, and Dick carries it around
with him, not because he thinks he’ll ever get
it, but he likes the writing. M. Henri Cazot!
eh, Dick?’ and he burst into a coarse laugh.
I turned to Dick for further information. He
had already produced a much-crumpled paper and was
smoothing it out upon the table.
“‘There’s the article,’ he
said, bringing his hand down emphatically upon it.
’The cuss was hard up. Luck had gone agin
him and he had lost every cent he had. Jem Macey
was a-dealin’ and Cazot didn’t seem to
grasp that fact, but kept bettin’ heavy.
You see, young feller, ye ain’t over likely
to win at cards when yer playin’ agin the dealer.
Cazot didn’t know this and I wouldn’t
tell him, for he was rather fly with the cards himself
when he wan’t watched too close. Well,
he struck me for a loan; said his little girl was
hungry and he hadn’t a cent to buy bread.
Gad, but he looked wild though! I always thought
he was more’n half loony. Well, as I had
helped to fleece him I lent him a hundred and took
this here note. That’s the last I ever
see of M. Henri Cazot,’ and he handed the paper
to me. I glanced at the signature. It was
the same hand that had written ‘Weltz’
and ‘Rizzi’ upon the library slips.
There was that unmistakable z and the peculiar r
which had just attracted my attention! It required
considerable effort on my part to so restrain my feelings
as not to appear especially interested in what I had
learned. I think, however, I succeeded, as they
freely answered my questions regarding Cazot and the
daughter of whom he had spoken. They knew nothing
further, they said, than what they had told me.