Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/154

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stand. If you’ve come down with any idea of cross examining me——”

“Oh, tell it your own way, Ed,” the younger brother agreed, resignedly, and Boynton ran rapidly through the narrative of Parker’s death. When he had finished, Charlie came back to his chair and sat down in the circle of light from the lamp, leaning his arms on the table.

‘And you still don’t think you’re in a hole—after telling me all that?”

“I know I’m not.”

“You said you’d kill him and said it in the presence of witnesses and repeated it over the telephone. Then you were alone with him when he dropped dead; his blood was all over you, and the widow——-”

“Well, do you believe I did it?”

“That’s not the question.”

“It’s exactly the question. I tell you, Charlie, you couldn’t get any intelligent man in West Brookins—no, nor in Brookins, either, though it’s not a place I’m fond of—to believe a thing like that. Not any more than you'd believe it yourself. The evidence wouldn’t matter; they’d know it wasn’t true.”

“You couldn’t get a change of venue?”

“There isn’t any question of ‘venue.’ You talk as though I’d been held——”

His audience seemed not to hear. ‘“T never lived in this particular town, of course, but most of them How big a place is it?”

“Three thousand, I believe—West Brookins, that is. Brookins is larger.”

“That’s about what I thought. See here; I knew exactly how you’d treat the thing—that’s why I came down; but we’ve got to take it seriously. It is serious! Any lawyer’d tell you so. This business of being a valued old resident that you seem to be depending on to keep you out of trouble—”

“And that will!”

“Sure of it?”

"Of course I’m sure of it.”

The questioner drew in a deep breath. “Well—maybe! But where do you get it, Ed?”

“I don’t know what you mean."