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The Vacuum Bottle
by [?]

Fortunately, Dean Allison was at the Club, as we hoped, having just arrived by the train that left New York at the close of the banking day. Someone told us, however, that Wyndham had probably decided to remain in town over night.

Allison was perhaps a little older than I had imagined, rather a grave young man who seemed to take his club responsibilities on the Council very seriously.

“I’d like to talk to you about this Evans case,” began Craig when we had been introduced.

“Glad to tell you all I know,” he responded cordially. “It isn’t much, I’m afraid. It’s terrible–terrible. We don’t know what to think. My sister is all broken up by it, poor girl.”

He led the way over to a corner, in a sort of bow window, and we sat down on the hard leather cushions.

“No, there isn’t much I can say,” he resumed. “You see, one of the recreations of the younger set at the Club is boxing–that’s about all there was to it–not the amateurish thing one usually sees, but real scientific boxing.

“Fraser had adopted the so-called Fitzsimmons shift–you know, the right foot forward, while the left hand shoots out from somewhere near the hip, plunging at close range into the pit of the stomach.”

Allison rose to illustrate it. “Irving, on the other hand, had been advocating the Jeffries crouch as the only safeguard to meet it,–like that.”

He threw himself into position and went on, “The bout had been arranged, accordingly, and it was some bout, too. Most of us here are fond of boxing to keep fit.

“Well, at last Fraser got under his guard, I suppose you’d call it. He landed. For an instant, Irving stood up straight, his hands helplessly extended. Most of us thought he was fooling and Fraser jumped back, laughing at the way his contention had worked out. Then, slowly, struggling as if against the inevitable, Irving bent forward and toppled over on his face.

“That’s where we woke up. We rushed forward and picked him up, apparently unconscious, and carried him to the locker-room. There was a good deal of excitement. Someone telephoned for a doctor, but couldn’t seem to find one at home.”

“Did you see anything peculiar take place in the locker-room?” asked Kennedy, following keenly.

“Anything peculiar?”

“Yes–anyone near him, perhaps–another blow–while he was unconscious.”

“No–and I think I would have seen anything that was out of the way. I was there almost all the time–until someone told me my sister was upstairs and suggested that I was the best one to break the news to her.”

“I’d like to look over the gymnasium and locker-room,” suggested Craig.

Dean Allison led the way downstairs quickly. Craig did not spend more than a minute in the gymnasium, but the locker-room he examined carefully.

It was a long room. Each locker bore the name of its owner and he hastily ran his eye over them, getting their location.

I don’t know that even he had, yet, any idea that he would find anything, but it was just his habit to go over the ground of a tragedy, in hope of picking up some clew.

He looked over the floor very carefully, now and then bending down as if to discover spots. Once he paused a moment, then continued his measured tread down the long row of lockers until he came to a door at the other end of the room. We went out and Kennedy looked about closely.

“Oh,–about Benson, the steward,” he said, looking up quickly and stroking his chin as if an idea had occurred to him. “Is there anyone here who might know something about him–his habits, associates,–that sort of thing?”

“Why–yes,” considered Allison slowly, “the chef might know. Wait, I’ll call him.”

As Allison disappeared in the direction of what was evidently the kitchen, we stood outside by the door, waiting.

Kennedy’s eye traveled back and forth about us and finally fell on a row of rubbish barrels a few feet away. He moved over to them.