“Yes, sir,” said the Lizard. “You see, it was like this: Murray there sent for me and tells me that he’s got a job for me. He wants me to go and crack a safe at the International Machine Company’s plant. He said there was a fellow on the inside helping him, that there wouldn’t be any watchman there that night and that in the safe I was to crack was some books and papers that was to be destroyed, and on top of it was three or four thousand dollars in pay-roll money that I was to have as my pay for the job. Murray told me that the guy on the inside who wanted the job done had been working some kind of a pay-roll graft and he wanted the records destroyed, and he also wanted to get rid of the guy that was hep to what he had been doin’. All that I had to do with it was go and crack the safe and get the records, which I was to throw in the river, and keep the money for myself, but the frame-up on the other guy was to send him a phony message that would get him at the plant after I got through, and then notify the police so they could catch him there in the room with the cracked safe.
“I didn’t know who they were framin’ this job on. If I had I wouldn’t have had nothin’ to do with it.
“Well, I goes to the plant and finds a window in the basement open just as they tells me it will be, but when I gets on the first floor just before I go up-stairs to the office, which is on the second floor, I heard some one walking around up-stairs. I hid in the hallway while he came down. He stopped at the front door and lighted a cigarette and then he went on out, and I went up-stairs to finish the job.
“When I gets in Compton’s office where the safe is I flashes my light and the first thing I sees is Compton’s body on the floor beside his desk. That kind of stuff ain’t in my line, so I beats it out without crackin’ the safe. That’s all I know about it until I sees the papers, and then for a while I was afraid to say anything because this guy O’Donnell has it in for me, and I know enough about police methods to know that they could frame up a good case of murder against me. But after a while Miss Hudson finds me and puts it up to me straight that this guy Torrance hasn’t got no friends except me and her.
“Of course she didn’t know how much I knew, but I did, and it’s been worryin’ me ever since. I was waiting, though, hopin’ that something would turn up so that he would be acquitted, but I been watchin’ the papers close, and I seen yesterday that there wasn’t much chance, so here I am.”
“You say that a man came down from Mr. Compton’s office just before you went up? What time was that?”
“It was about ten o’clock, about half an hour before the cops finds Torrance there.”
“And then you went upstairs and found Mr. Compton dead?”
“You say this man that came downstairs stopped and lighted a cigarette before he left the building. Did you see his face?”