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A Point of Testimony

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
Bert Bayliss was the funniest detective you ever saw. He wasn’t the least like Vidocq, Lecoq or Sherlock, either in personality or mentality. And perhaps the chief difference lay in the fact that he possessed a sense of humor, and that not merely an appreciative sense, either. He had an original wit and a spontaneous repartee that made it well-nigh impossible for him to be serious. Not quite, though, for he had his thinking moments; and when he did think, he did it so deeply yet rapidly that he accomplished wonders. And so he was a detective. Partly because it pleased his sense of humor to pursue a calling so incongruous with his birth and station, and partly because he couldn’t help it, having been born one. He was a private detective, but none the less a professional; and he accepted cases only when they seemed especially difficult or in some way unusual. As is often the case with those possessed of a strong sense of humor, Bayliss had no very intimate friends. A proneness to fun always seems to preclude close friendships, and fortunately precludes also the desire for them. But as every real detective needs a Dr. Watson as a sort of mind-servant, Bert Bayliss invented one, and his Harris (he chose the name in sincere flattery of Sairey Gamp) proved competent and satisfactory. To Harris Bayliss propounded his questions and expounded his theories, and being merely a figment of Bayliss’ brain, Harris was always able to give intelligent replies. Physically, too, young Bayliss was far from the regulation type of the prevalent detective of fiction. No aquiline nose was his, no sinister eyebrows, no expression of omniscience and inscrutability. Instead, he was a stalwart, large-framed young man, with a merry, even debonair face, and a genial, magnetic glance. He was a man who inspired confidence by his frankness, and whose twinkling eyes seemed to see the funny side of everything. Though having no close friendships, Bayliss had a wide circle of acquaintances, and was in frequent demand as a week-end visitor or a dinner guest. Wherefore, not being an early riser, the telephone at his bedside frequently buzzed many times before he was up of a morning. Every time that bell gave its rasping whir Bayliss felt an involuntary hope that it might be a call to an interesting case of detective work, and he was distinctly disappointed if it proved to be a mere social message. One morning just before nine o’clock the bell wakened him from a light doze, and taking the receiver, he heard the voice of his old friend Martin Hopkins talking to him.