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   Chapter 20 YOU ARE PETER KELLY

Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 4377

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Within a few moments Kent was at the phone.

"I want four, four, four, four. Is that four, four, four, four? Mr. Throgton's house? I want Mr. Throgton. Mr. Throgton speaking? Mr. Throgton, Kent speaking. The Riverside mystery is solved."

Kent waited in silence a moment. Then he heard Throgton's voice-not a note in it disturbed:

"Has anybody found Kelly?"

"Mr. Throgton," said Kent, and he spoke with a strange meaning in his tone, "the story is a long one. Suppose I relate it to you"-he paused, and laid a peculiar emphasis on what followed-"over a game of billiards."

"What the devil do you mean?" answered Throgton.

"Let me come round to your house and tell the story. There are points in it that I can best illustrate over a billiard table. Suppose I challenge you to a fifty point game before I tell my story."

* * * * *

It required no little hardihood to challenge Masterman Throgton at billiards. His reputation at his club as a cool, determined player was surpassed by few. Throgton had been known to run nine, ten, and even twelve at a break. It was not unusual for him to drive his ball clear off the table. His keen eye told him infallibly where each of the three balls was; instinctively he knew which to shoot with.

In Kent, however, he had no mean adversary. The young reporter, though he had never played before, had studied his book to some purpose. His strategy was admirable. Keeping his ball well under the shelter of the cushion, he eluded every stroke of his adversary, and in his turn caused his ball to leap or dart across the table with such speed as to bury itself in the pocket at the side.

The score advanced rapidly, both players standing precisely equal. At the end of the first half-hour it stood at ten all. Throgton, a grim look upon his face, had settled down to work, playing with one knee on the table. Kent, calm but alive with excitement, leaned well forward to his stroke, his eye held within an inch of the ball.

At fifteen they were still even. Throgton with a sudden effort forced a break of three; but Kent rallied and in another twenty minutes they were even again at nineteen all.

But it was soon clear that

Transome Kent had something else in mind than to win the game. Presently his opportunity came. With a masterly stroke, such as few trained players could use, he had potted his adversary's ball. The red ball was left over the very jaws of the pocket. The white was in the centre.

Kent looked into Throgton's face.

The balls were standing in the very same position on the table as on the night of the murder.

"I did that on purpose," said Kent quietly.

"What do you mean?" asked Throgton.

"The position of those balls," said Kent. "Mr. Throgton, come into the library. I have something to say to you. You know already what it is."

They went into the library. Throgton, his hand unsteady, lighted a cigar.

"Well," he said, "what is it?"

"Mr. Throgton," said Kent, "two weeks ago you gave me a mystery to solve. To-night I can give you the solution. Do you want it?"

Throgton's face never moved.

"Well," he said.

"A man's life," Kent went on, "may be played out on a billiard table. A man's soul, Throgton, may be pocketed."

"What devil's foolery is this?" said Throgton. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that your crime is known-plotter, schemer that you are, you are found out-hypocrite, traitor; yes, Masterman Throgton, or rather-let me give you your true name-Peter Kelly, murderer, I denounce you!"

Throgton never flinched. He walked across to where Kent stood, and with his open palm he slapped him over the mouth.

"Transome Kent," he said, "you're a liar."

Then he walked back to his chair and sat down.

"Kent," he continued, "from the first moment of your mock investigation, I knew who you were. Your every step was shadowed, your every movement dogged. Transome Kent-by your true name, Peter Kelly, murderer, I denounce you."

Kent walked quietly across to Throgton and dealt him a fearful blow behind the ear.

"You're a liar," he said, "I am not Peter Kelly."

They sat looking at one another.

At that moment Throgton's servant appeared at the door.

"A gentleman to see you, sir."

"Who?" said Throgton.

"I don't know, sir, he gave his card."

Masterman Throgton took the card.

On it was printed:

PETER KELLY

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