By James Warner Bellah (1899-1976).
Short story (12 pages).
Found in Argosy Weekly, December 10, 1932.
"Torn scraps of paper, a burned towel—such were the clews that led Steward Archie Simms to the heart of a shipboard mystery."When he sneaks a smoke "agynst regulytions," a Cockney ship's cabin attendant unintentionally burns down an attempt at extortion. . . . This one's an instance of an unsuspecting sleuth solving a once-in-a-lifetime case. A few excerpts:
. . . Strange things, liners. Small worlds in themselves, moving in well defined orbits, gathering the threads of many lives and knotting them loosely, for a week, into a new entity that, however insignificant, remains in the mind. . . .
. . . It came with the suddenness of a knife in the ribs—a loud banging as of doubled fists beating frantically on the panels of a cabin door—the sharp bark of a revolver shot—a woman's scream and a man's voice frenzied with anger, shouting. . . .
. . . "A—a steward can't help but see some things, 'e can't, beggin' your pardons. It ayn't necessarily snoopin', it ayn't. They just 'appens natural like. I seen some things to-dye." . . .Resources:
- James Warner Bellah is remembered nowadays primarily for his Western fiction and movie work on such films as Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; go HERE for the Wikipedia article about him, HERE for the IMDb filmography, and HERE for his FictionMags listing.
Category: The accidental Sherlock