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The Theory And The Hound
by [?]

The consul grinned broadly.

“I’ll tell you what you do,” he said, laying down his rifle and slipping on his dingy black alpaca coat. “You come along, Mr. Plunkett, and I’ll take you up to see the boys. If you can tell which one of ’em your description fits better than it does the other you have the advantage of me.”

Bridger conducted the sheriff out and along the hard beach close to which the tiny houses of the village were distributed. Immediately back of the town rose sudden, small, thickly wooded hills. Up one of these, by means of steps cut in the hard clay, the consul led Plunkett. On the very verge of an eminence was perched a two-room wooden cottage with a thatched roof. A Carib woman was washing clothes outside. The consul ushered the sheriff to the door of the room that overlooked the harbour.

Two men were in the room, about to sit down, in their shirt sleeves, to a table spread for dinner. They bore little resemblance one to the other in detail; but the general description given by Plunkett could have been justly applied to either. In height, colour of hair, shape of nose, build and manners each of them tallied with it. They were fair types of jovial, ready-witted, broad-gauged Americans who had gravitated together for companionship in an alien land.

“Hello, Bridger” they called in unison at sight Of the consul. “Come and have dinner with us!” And then they noticed Plunkett at his heels, and came forward with hospitable curiosity.

“Gentlemen,” said the consul, his voice taking on unaccustomed formality, “this is Mr. Plunkett. Mr. Plunkett–Mr. Reeves and Mr. Morgan.”

The cocoanut barons greeted the newcomer joyously. Reeves seemed about an inch taller than Morgan, but his laugh was not quite as loud. Morgan’s eyes were deep brown; Reeves’s were black. Reeves was the host and busied himself with fetching other chairs and calling to the Carib woman for supplemental table ware. It was explained that Morgan lived in a bamboo shack to “loo’ard,” but that every day the two friends dined together. Plunkett stood still during the preparations, looking about mildly with his pale-blue eyes. Bridger looked apologetic and uneasy.

At length two other covers were laid and the company was assigned to places. Reeves and Morgan stood side by side across the table from the visitors. Reeves nodded genially as a signal for all to seat themselves. And then suddenly Plunkett raised his hand with a gesture of authority. He was looking straight between Reeves and Morgan.

“Wade Williams,” he said quietly, “you are under arrest for murder.”

Reeves and Morgan instantly exchanged a quick, bright glance, the quality of which was interrogation, with a seasoning of surprise. Then, simultaneously they turned to the speaker with a puzzled and frank deprecation in their gaze.

“Can’t say that we understand you, Mr. Plunkett,” said Morgan, cheerfully. “Did you say ‘Williams’?”

“What’s the joke, Bridgy?” asked Reeves, turning, to the consul with a smile.

Before Bridger could answer Plunkett spoke again.

“I’ll explain,” he said, quietly. “One of you don’t need any explanation, but this is for the other one. One of you is Wade Williams of Chatham County, Kentucky. You murdered your wife on May 5, two years ago, after ill-treating and abusing her continually for five years. I have the proper papers in my pocket for taking you back with me, and you are going. We will return on the fruit steamer that comes back by this island to-morrow to leave its inspectors. I acknowledge, gentlemen, that I’m not quite sure which one of you is Williams. But Wade Williams goes back to Chatham County to-morrow. I want you to understand that.”

A great sound of merry laughter from Morgan and Reeves went out over the still harbour. Two or three fishermen in the fleet of sloops anchored there looked up at the house of the diablos Americanos on the hill and wondered.