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him on sight. Last time it was my best 'I don't know about no coat, Mr. trowel. . . . Oh, over in Brookins, I Boynton. I don't know what you're suppose. You know what law enforce talking about. Mr. Thornley, he come ment amounts to over there. ... out an' said somethin', but I did n't Yes, she's worse than he is.
know He came back laughing to the porch. The sentence went unfinished. Boyn
'Now there's a question, Helen, that ton, facing the speaker from the other Magna Carta did n't settle. When it side of the pile of bricks, had turned comes to a town like this, ninety per his eyes away in a sort of vicarious cent of it law-abiding, home-owning shame at his protestations. As the professionals, having to stagger along words broke off, he was conscious of with neighbors like the Parkers — something, he hardly knew what — You young people staying to lunch? a kind of concussion, a sense of violent
disturbance to which there was yet II
attached no movement. The man in
front of him flung up his hands with a They were near the end of the meal choking grunt and crumpled forward. when Mrs. Boynton, who was facing Instinctively, Boynton caught at him the open door, motioned through it. as he fell, but he broke through his
‘Look, Edward! It's both of them.' hold, a dead weight, and dropped
Outside, the two Parkers, the official across the bricks. On Boynton's hands derelicts of West Brookins, were coming and his cuffs, blood had Aicked itself waveringly along the pavement, arm in in sickening red blots. The still sunny arm. Three or four small boys derided lane, with its signs of peaceable labor, safely from a distance.
was suddenly a place of horror. It was the boys Boynton saw first. And then at once the stillness was He got up instantly.
broken. Mrs. Parker rushed round the ‘Oh, come, we can't have that! Why, end of the hedge. She threw herself on he's a man as old as I am! She's going the thing on the ground, howling and round to the back, Cara. You head her wailing, pulling at it, grotesque, unoff and I'll go down and speak to him.' human. Mrs. Boynton had run out too,
Parker had turned in behind the and Helen and her friends, and two hedge with which the Boyntons were men from the street, and Boynton replacing a partly torn down brick wall. knew that he must have cried out, Behind it, he was out of sight from the though he had not meant to do so. house, and remembering the three girls The two men dragged Mrs. Parker at the table, Boynton hurried, with the up and bent over the body. They charitable purpose of saving him the babbled together of a doctor, though embarrassment of an audience. all of them knew in advance that the
'Where's that coat, Parker?' he de thing on the ground was dead. Nothing manded as he came into hearing. living could have had that look. In What coat, Mr. Boynton?'
the press and sudden confusion Mrs.
with exasperation, ‘you know what coat as well as I do. Have n't you just come from Thornley's? Did n't he tell you I said I'd finish you if you came near this place again without bringing it back? If you have n't it –
definite intention. She caught hold of Boynton's sleeve.
Come into the house. They 'll look out for things. You have to get — to get this off you.'
She would have accompanied him
I have to haver be down Bo Oh yes, I'mnd I was wondeTooking
h his foot he
tro Might as well say turned round,
into the bathroom, but he stopped her ing - a judge long since retired at the door. 'I have to have a minute was filling one of the porch chairs. to pull myself together. I'll be down Boynton greeted him briefly. directly. What on earth was it that ‘Oh yes, I'm working, but I heard happened to him!'
you out here, and I was wondering — Inside, he turned on all the taps. Cara, I suppose somebody's looking It seemed to him he could never get out for Mrs. Parker? She would n't water enough on his hands. When his have many friends to fall back on.' hands were clean he pulled off his “They took her to the hospital.' cuffs and let them drop on the floor, “That 's good. If you think one of and scrubbed his fingers again after us ought to go over – touching them. He could not bear 'I don't.' Mrs. Boynton flushed to put the befouled things into the crimson as she spoke. “I've heard laundry hamper, but with his foot he from her. Edward, she — she's --' pushed them out of sight behind the ‘Might as well say it, Cara,' the
judge advised. He turned round, By the time he came downstairs, laughing. the knot of people in the lane had “You ought to know, Boynton, disappeared. Mrs. Boynton was sitting you 're hovering on the edge of the on the porch, and Helen, with scared, gallows. I was telling Cara just before reddened eyes, was leaning against you came out. Mrs. Parker — her knees. Boynton had recovered Mrs. Boynton cut in on the sentence. enough to be paternal and sooth. “She says she heard you say, “I told ing. He sat on the steps for a few you I'd finish you if you came on minutes, talking over the grotesque my place,” and then —' tragedy.
'Why yes. Yes, that 's what I did 'Poor old soul, I wish I had n't say,' Boynton corroborated. He harried him about that coat. He was grasped the other part of the idea always honest enough when he was slowly. 'Do you mean she has the sober. They've taken him to the effrontery — the — the assurance —' morgue, I suppose? — Well, we'd Their guest laughed again, more better get back to work, had n't we reassuringly than before. “She's still little daughter? There's no advantage two thirds over. Wait till we see what to him in our spoiling an afternoon.' she says when she's sober. — Funny
thing is, what was the matter with him? Do you suppose one of those
boys who were following — Inside his study his mind refused to “I have n't the smallest idea. I'd apply itself to work. In spite of him, think he had a fit and struck his head it flashed back again and again to that when he fell, only I saw the blood before minute in the lane. He got up and that. I tried to catch him, and it was walked up and down the room, puz- all over me.' zling. “What happened to him? What 'If I were you, I'd forget about on earth happened to him?' Toward seeing it beforehand,' the ex-judge the middle of the afternoon, when he suggested casually. heard a masculine voice answering He had been gone an hour or two Mrs. Boynton's, he took advantage of and it was nearly dinner time before hearing to stroll out from his seclusion. the force of his suggestion struck home Their next door neighbor, Judge Boll- to Boynton's mind. He commented on
betterne. I supo, taken him
So thirdsly thanaughed assurance the
it indignantly to his wife and daughter 'That's probably what it was,' while they ate.
Boynton agreed. “It has the ring of ‘A man like Bolling, too! That's the Charlie's advice. Well, run along, dear, worst of having anything to do with and I'll get back to writing. Let me the courts, even as far up as he was. know if he favors us with any more I've never had to testify at an in- suggestions.' quest, and naturally I've always kept Inwardly, though, he was pleased. clear of getting on juries or anything Charlie was his younger brother and in of that kind; but as to using any a mild way the black sheep of the subterfuge to get out of testifying — family. That is, he had given up an
By the next morning, though, his irreproachable law practice in Los attention had been diverted to newer Angeles for the sake of criminal practice reasons for indignation. Mrs. Parker in San Francisco, and had added to was still too ill to leave her bed, and that the extra offense of taking a the inquest was being postponed for somewhat holier-than-thou attitude her, but her pre-inquest statements, over the change. as they seeped out by way of hospital 'It'll be good for him,' Boynton attendants and doctors, were volumi. mused, while he glanced over the nous. She had heard the damning notes on his desk. "To come racing words, she had seen the brick picked down and find us all going about our up, the blow struck. She breathed business — It's what I've tried to tell out fire and threatenings, between him about those clients of his he gets relapses into post-alcoholic grief. The so excited over. If a man lives in a news of her accusations was all over decent place and leads a decent life, West Brookins. From early breakfast- he's out of reach of accidents. Now time the Boynton telephone rang with me continually as prelude to messages He let his mind go, house by house, satirical or humorous. Even families down the street. There were people in Brookins, the town to which West he disliked in some of the houses, Brookins was a remote and superior people no doubt who disliked him; but suburb, had heard and added their there was not one house of them all — messages to the nearer ones. Boynton, he knew it perfectly — in which the going out to the box to mail a letter in ravings of Mrs. Parker could meet with the middle of the morning, found Mrs. any reception except indignant inBoynton waiting in the study for him credulity. when he came back.
It was pleasant, though, all the 'I don't know whether you 'll like same, that the telephone kept up its it, Edward; I've just had a 'phone from friendly clamor, that Mrs. Boynton Charlie.'
on the porch was holding what 'If I don't like it, I suppose you amounted to an impromptu recepwon't have had it. What does Charlie tion. Two or three times Boynton have to say? Offer to defend me?' strolled out to add his greetings to his
. 'Something like that. He said he wife's. was coming down as soon as he could “To let you see the villain of the get out of court, and — and to keep piece,' he explained his coming. He you from talking.'
was good-humoredly qualified in his
comments on Mrs. Parker. 'Poor old “That's what it sounded like. The wreck! In her condition no telling 'phone was n't working very well.' what she would see! No, I don't
defend meid he wilejo let you ained his cified in his
"To keep me from itinded like. The wreck. he would see! No,
blame her; the people I do blame are younger brother agreed resignedly, the town authorities. A little more and Boynton ran rapidly through the sense of responsibility on their part ~'. narrative of Parker's death. When he
had finished, Charlie came back to his IV
chair and sat down in the circle of
light from the lamp, leaning his arms Charlie arrived just before dinner, a on the table. smaller man than his brother — hawk ‘And you still don't think you 're nosed, black-haired. Through the meal in a hole — after telling me all that?' they kept chiefly to family topics. “I know I'm not.' Even in the study afterward the new “You said you'd kill him and said it comer fended off discussion until Mrs. in the presence of witnesses and reBoynton, leaning forward in her chair, peated it over the telephone. Then you taxed him directly:
were alone with him when he dropped 'Is it Helen and I that are the diffi- dead; his blood was all over you, and culty, Charlie? Would you rather talk the widow -'. to Edward by himself?'
“Well, do you believe I did it?' He gave her his first unqualified 'That's not the question.' smile. “Could I? It's a sort of a 'It's exactly the question. I tell professional prejudice of mine. You you, Charlie, you could n't get any don't mind?'
intelligent man in West Brookins — He got up to open the door for her no, nor in Brookins either, though it's and came back from it to the fireplace, not a place I'm fond of — to believe a where he stood staring down at the thing like that. Not any more than logs.
you'd believe it yourself. The evidence "Well, what do you think, Sherlock?' Boynton challenged him.
was n't true.' 'I think you 're in a hole.'
‘You could n't get a change of ‘Did you actually take it seriously venue?' enough to come down from San Fran. “There is n't any question of cisco on account of this?'
“venue.” You talk as though I'd been 'I did.'
held – Now that,' Boynton commented, His audience seemed not to hear. ‘is what criminal practice does for the 'I never lived in this particular town, mind. I might be in a hole if I were a of course, but most of them — How tramp picked up on Pacific Street — big a place is it?' I admit that; but here in West Brook- "Three thousand, I believe — West ins
Brookins, that is. Brookins is larger.' 'It's exactly that “here in West “That's about what I thought. See Brookins” that worries me — Did here; I knew exactly how you'd treat you really tell the fellow you'd kill the thing — that's why I came down; him?'
but we've got to take it seriously. It “Why, as far as that goes —
is serious! Any lawyer 'd tell you so. ‘Did you or did n't you?'
This business of being a valued old Boynton got up too. “Look here, resident that you seem to be depending I'm not on the witness stand. If on to keep you out of trouble --' you've come down with any idea of 'And that will!' cross examining me —'
'Sure of it?' 'Oh, tell it your own way, Ed,' the “Of course I'm sure of it.' VOL. 134 – NO. 2
The questioner drew in a deep right. If I were where you are, I'd do breath. 'Well — maybe! But where one of two things: either I'd get a do you get it, Ed?'
theory about that killing and I'd work 'I don't know what you mean. it for all it was worth, or else I'd get
"That "first-citizen” stuff? Oh, I'm out. Nobody'd look very far for you.' not trying to hurt your feelings. I'm ‘You mean — go into hiding? trying to find out. What do you do 'It don't matter what you call it. in Brookins — I don't mean the United Go on a visit if you want to. Just get States; I mean right here in West out of the way for a while till there's Brookins — to keep them all so certain time to look around. And do it now about you? Vote once in a while?' while you've the chance to do it.' 'I always vote.'
“If your other clients — : 'I know you do — for President. 'I'm not helping you as a client; I'm Vote in the last town election?' helping you as a brother. I'm scared, 'I don't remember –
Ed. That's the truth. If anything I 'I remember all right — even if I can say can get you away — ' was n't here. You meant to and you 'It can't.'. thought you would and you did n't 'I knew it,' Charlie acknowledged know anything about either of the regretfully. 'I hand it to you as far as candidates, and it looked like rain, and that goes. That French-Revolutionyou sat right here and let 'em elect Charles-the-First stunt is the one you anybody they good and pleased; and first citizens always pull when you get now you'll get tried for murder by into trouble. All right, that's ended — those same good and pleased parties.' though I still hope you change your
Boynton laughed. It was an effort to mind before morning. What about the do it, for he was angry, but he made the widow? Young? Pretty? Well, I effort.
don't know which is worse — that, or 'It's a beautiful peroration, Charlie. old and feeble, prop of her declining It's a pity it's wasted. Even an ex- years removed. You need n't laugh. professor knows that town officials If you'd had as much experience as I don't try for murder.'
have -' 'Any idea who binds you over to the “You've had entirely too much, superior court? Oh, I don't say a police Charlie,' Boynton agreed. This time judge could help it on the evidence, but his laughter was sincere. “You're tryI do say he won't break his heart over ing the case down on Kearney Street. it — not with one of the little high- What you overlook is that, even if and-mighties from West Brookins. If there should be some preliminary unyou think the cheapest skate there is pleasantness — I don't believe there likes being elected and run by the scum will be — still, I have a safe resort. of a town – Know any of the police Nothing can go very far without being judges?
passed on by a jury. I know enough 'I've never had occasion to.
law for that.' 'Or the town marshal? Or the coro 'It's the jury you're depending on?' ner for that matter? Then you don't 'It's precisely that.'
'You think if the widow took the against. If you want my advice — stand and swore to what she'd heard 'I seem to be getting it.'
you say, and cried and had hysterics—' “You're going to get it. You won't 'I think it would n't make the slighttake it, but you're going to get it, all est difference. I've lived here twelve