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|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson||Mark Twain|
The Robber Robbed
|Page 2 of 7||
On Sunday Constable Blake and Pudd'nhead Wilson met on the street, and Tom Driscoll joined them in time to open their conversation for them. He said to Blake: "You are not looking well, Blake; you seem to be annoyed about something. Has anything gone wrong in the detective business? I believe you fairly and justifiably claim to have a pretty good reputation in that line, isn't it so?"-- which made Blake feel good, and look it; but Tom added, "for a country detective"--which made Blake feel the other way, and not only look it, but betray it in his voice.
"Yes, sir, I _have_ got a reputation; and it's as good as anybody's in the profession, too, country or no country."
"Oh, I beg pardon; I didn't mean any offense. What I started out to ask was only about the old woman that raided the town-- the stoop-shouldered old woman, you know, that you said you were going to catch; and I knew you would, too, because you have the reputation of never boasting, and--well, you--you've caught the old woman?"
"Damn the old woman!"
"Why, sho! you don't mean to say you haven't caught her?"
"No, I haven't caught her. If anybody could have caught her, I could; but nobody couldn't, I don't care who he is."
I am sorry, real sorry--for your sake; because, when it gets around that a detective has expressed himself confidently, and then--"
"Don't you worry, that's all--don't you worry; and as for the town, the town needn't worry either. She's my meat--make yourself easy about that. I'm on her track; I've got clues that--"
"That's good! Now if you could get an old veteran detective down from St. Louis to help you find out what the clues mean, and where they lead to, and then--"
"I'm plenty veteran enough myself, and I don't need anybody's help. I'll have her inside of a we--inside of a month. That I'll swear to!"
Tom said carelessly:
"I suppose that will answer--yes, that will answer. But I reckon she is pretty old, and old people don't often outlive the cautious pace of the professional detective when he has got his clues together and is out on his still-hunt."
Blake's dull face flushed under this gibe, but before he could set his retort in order Tom had turned to Wilson, and was saying, with placid indifference of manner and voice:
"Who got the reward, Pudd'nhead?"
Wilson winced slightly, and saw that his own turn was come.
"Why, the reward for the thief, and the other one for the knife."
Wilson answered--and rather uncomfortably, to judge by his hesitating fashion of delivering himself:
"Well, the--well, in face, nobody has claimed it yet."
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|The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
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