So You Won’t Talk

Damon Runyon

May 1937

It is along about two o’clock of a nippy Tuesday morning, and I am sitting in Mindy’s restaurant on Broadway with Regret, the horse player, speaking of this and that, when who comes in but Ambrose Hammer, the newspaper scribe, and what is he carrying in one hand but a big bird cage, and what is in this bird cage but a green parrot.

Well, if anybody sits around Mindy’s restaurant long enough, they are bound to see some interesting and unusual scenes, but this is undoubtedly the first time that anybody cold sober ever witnesses a green parrot in there, and Mindy himself is by no means enthusiastic about this spectacle.

In fact, as Ambrose Hammer places the cage on our table and then sits down beside me, Mindy approaches us, and says to Ambrose:

“Horse players, yes,” Mindy says. “Wrong betters, yes. Dogs and songwriters and actors, yes. But parrots,” Mindy says, “no. Take it away,” he says.

But Ambrose Hammer pays no attention to Mindy and starts ordering a few delicacies of the season from Schmalz, the waiter, and Mindy finally sticks his finger in the cage to scratch the parrot’s head, and goes cootch-cootch-cootch, and the next thing anybody knows, Mindy is sucking his finger and yelling bloody murder, as it seems the parrot starts munching on the finger as if it is a pretzel.

Mindy is quite vexed indeed, and he says he will go out and borrow a Betsy off of Officer Gloon and blow the parrot’s brains out, and he also says that if anybody will make it worth his while, he may blow Ambrose Hammer’s brains out, too.

“If you commit such a deed,” Ambrose says, “you will be arrested. I mean, blowing this parrot’s brains out. This parrot is a material witness in a murder case.”

Well, this statement puts a different phase on the matter, and Mindy goes away speaking to himself, but it is plain to be seen, that his feelings are hurt as well as his finger, and personally, if I am Ambrose Hammer, I will not eat anything in Mindy’s again unless I have somebodv taste it first.

Naturally, I am very curious to know where Ambrose Hammer gets the parrot, as he is not such a character as makes a practice of associating with the birds and beasts of the forest, but of course I do not ask any questions, as the best you can get from asking questions along Broadway is a reputation for asking questions.

And of course I am wondering what Ambrose Hammer means by saying this parrot is a material witness in a murder case, although I know that Ambrose is always mixing himself up in murder cases, even when they are really none of his put-in. In fact, Ambrose’s hobby is murder cases.

He is a short, pudgy character, of maybe thirty, with a round face and googly eyes, and he is what is called a dramatic critic on one of the morning blatters, and his dodge is to observe new plays such as people are always putting on in the theaters and to tell his readers what he thinks of these plays, although generally what Ambrose Hammer really thinks of them is unfit for publication.

In fact, Ambrose claims the new plays are what drive him to an interest in murder for relief. So he is always looking into crimes of this nature, especially if they are mysterious cases, and trying to solve these mysteries, and between doing this and telling what he thinks of the new plays. Ambrose finds his time occupied no little, and quite some.

He is a well-known character along Broadway, because he is always in and out, and up and down, and around and about, but to tell the truth, Ambrose is not so popular with the citizens around Mindy’s, because they figure that a character who likes to solve murder mysteries must have a slight touch of copper in him which will cause him to start investigating other mysteries at any minute.

Furthermore, there is a strong knock out on Ambrose in many quarters because he is in love with Miss Dawn Astra, a very beautiful young Judy who is playing the part of a strip dancer in a musical show at the Summer Garden, and it is well known to one and all that Miss Dawn Astra is the sweet pea of a character by the name of Julius Smung, until Ambrose comes into her life, and that Julius’s heart is slowly breaking over her.

This Julius Smung is a sterling young character of maybe twenty-two, who is in the taxicab business as a driver. He is the son of the late Wingy Smung, who has his taxi stand in front of Mindy’s from 1922 down to the night in 1936 that he is checking up the pockets of a sailor in Central Park to see if the sailor has the right change for his taxi fare, and the sailor wakes up and strikes Wingy on the head with Wingy’s own jack handle, producing concussion of the brain.

Well, when Wingy passes away, leaving behind him many sorrowing friends, his son Julius takes his old stand, and naturally all who know Wingy in life are anxious to see his son carry on his name, so they throw all the taxicab business they can to him, and Julius gets along very nicely.

He is a good-looking young character and quite energetic, and he is most courteous to one and all, except maybe sailors, consequently public sentiment is on his side when Ambrose Hammer moves in on him with Miss Dawn Astra, especially as Miss Dawn Astra is Julius Smung’s sweet pea since they are children together over on Tenth Avenue.

Their romance is regarded as one of the most beautiful little romances ever seen in this town. In fact there is some talk that Julius Smung and Miss Dawn Astra will one day get married, although it is agreed along Broadway that this may be carrying romance a little too far.

Then Ambrose Hammer observes Miss Dawn Astra playing the part of a strip dancer, and it is undoubtedly love at first sight on Ambrose’s part, and he expresses his love by giving Miss Dawn Astra better write-ups in the blatter he works for than he ever gives Miss Katharine Cornell, or even Mr. Noel Coward. In fact, to read what Ambrose Hammer says about Miss Dawn Astra, you will think that she is a wonderful artist indeed, and maybe she is, at that.

Naturally, Miss Dawn Astra reciprocates Ambrose Hammer’s love, because all the time she is Julius Smung’s sweet pea, the best she ever gets is a free taxi ride now and then, and Julius seldom speaks of her as an artist. To tell the truth, Julius is always beefing about her playing the part of a strip dancer, as he claims it takes her too long to get her clothes back on when he is waiting outside the Summer Garden for her, and the chances are Ambrose Hammer is a pleasant change to Miss Dawn Astra as Ambrose does not care if she never gets her clothes on.

Anyway, Miss Dawn Astra starts going around and about with Ambrose Hammer, and Julius Smung is so downcast over this matter that he scarcely knows what he is doing. In fact, inside of three weeks, he runs through traffic lights twice on Fifth Avenue, and once he almost drives his taxi off the Queensboro Bridge with three passengers in it, although it comes out afterward that Julius thinks the passengers may be newspaper scribes, and nobody has the heart to blame him for this incident.

There is much severe criticism of Ambrose Hammer among the citizens around Mindy’s restaurant, as they feel he is away out of line in moving in on Julius Smung’s sweet pea, when any one of a hundred other Judys in this town will do him just as well and cause no suffering to anybody, but Ambrose pays no attention to this criticism.

Ambrose says he is very much in love with Miss Dawn Astra, and he says that, besides, taxicab drivers get enough of the best of it in this town as it is, although it is no secret that Ambrose never gets into a taxi after he moves in on Julius Smung without first taking a good look at the driver to make sure that he is not Julius.

Well, by the time it takes me to explain all this, Miss Dawn Astra comes into Mindy’s, and I can see at once that Ambrose Hammer is not to blame for being in love with her, and neither is Julius Smung, for she is undoubtedly very choice indeed. She is one of these tall, limber Judys, with a nice expression in her eyes and a figure such as is bound to make anybody dearly love to see Miss Dawn Astra play the part of a strip dancer.

Naturally, the first thing that attracts Miss Dawn Astra’s attention when she sits down at the table with us is the parrot in the cage, and she says to Ambrose:

“Why, Ambrose,” she says, “where does the parrot come from?”

“This parrot is a material witness,” Ambrose says. “Through this parrot I will solve the mystery of the murder of the late Mr. Grafton Wilton.”

Well, at this, Miss Dawn Astra seems to turn a trifle pale around the gills, and she lets out a small gasp, and says:

“Grafton Wilton,” she says, “Murdered?” she says. “When, and where, and how?”

“Just a few hours ago,” Ambrose says. “In his apartment on Park Avenue. With a blunt instrument. This parrot is in the room at the time. I arrive ten minutes after the police. There is a small leopard there, too, also a raccoon and a couple of monkeys and several dogs.

“The officers leave one of their number to take care of these creatures,” Ambrose says. “He is glad to let me remove the parrot, because he does not care for birds. He does not realize the importance of this parrot. In fact,” Ambrose says, “this officer is in favor of me removing all the livestock except the monkeys, which he plans to take home to his children, but,” Ambrose says, “this parrot is all I require.”

Well, I am somewhat surprised to hear this statement, as I am acquainted with Grafton Wilton, and in fact, he is well known to one and all along Broadway as a young character who likes to go about spending the money his papa makes out of manufacturing soap back down the years.

This Grafton Wilton is by no means an odious character, but he is considered somewhat unusual in many respects, and in fact if his family does not happen to have about twenty million dollars, there is no doubt but what Grafton will be placed under observation long ago. But, of course, nobody in this town is going to place anybody with a piece of twenty million under observation.

This Grafton Wilton is quite a nature lover, and he is fond of walking into spots leading a wild animal of some description on a chain, or with a baboon sitting on his shoulder, and once he appears in the 9-9 Club carrying a young skunk in his arms, which creates some ado among the customers.

In fact, many citizens are inclined to censure Grafton for the skunk, but the way I look at it, a character who spends his money the way he does is entitled to come around with a boa constrictor in his pockets if he feels like it.

I am really somewhat depressed to hear of Grafton Wilton being murdered, and I am sitting there wondering who will replace him in the community, when all of a sudden Miss Dawn Astra says:

“I hate parrots,” she says.

“So do I,” I say. “Ambrose,” I say, “why do you not bring us the leopard? I am very fond of leopards.”

“Anyway,” Miss Dawn Astra says, “how can a parrot be a material witness to anything, especially such a thing as a murder?”

“Look,” Ambrose says. “Whoever kills Grafton Wilton must be on very friendly terms with him, because every indication is that Grafton and the murderer sit around the apartment all evening, eating and drinking. And,” Ambrose says, “anybody knows that Grafton is always a very solitary character, and he seldom has anybody around him under any circumstances. So it is a cinch he is not entertaining a stranger in his apartment for hours.

“Grafton has two servants,” Ambrose says. “A butler, and his wife. He permits them to take the day off to go to Jersey to visit relatives. Grafton and his visitor wait on themselves. A private elevator that the passenger operates runs to Grafton’s apartment. No one around the building sees the visitor arrive or depart.

“In the course of the evening,” Ambrose says, “the visitor strikes Grafton down with a terrific blow from some blunt instrument, and leaves him on the floor, dead. The deceased has two black eyes and a badly lacerated nose. The servants find the body when they arrive home late tonight. The weapon is missing. There are no strange fingerprints anywhere around the apartment.”

“It sounds like a very mysterious mystery, to be sure,” I say. “Maybe it is a stickup, and Grafton Wilton resists.”

“No,” Ambrose says, “there is no chance that robbery is the motive. There is a large sum of money in Grafton’s pockets, and thousands of dollars’ worth of valuables scattered around, and nothing is touched.”

“But where does the parrot come in?” Miss Dawn Astra says.

“Well,” Ambrose says, “if the murderer is well known to Grafton Wilton, the chances are his name is frequently mentioned by Grafton during the evening, in the presence of this parrot. Maybe it is Sam. Maybe it is Bill or Frank or Joe. It is bound to be the name of some male character,” Ambrose says, “because no female can possibly strike such a powerful blow as causes the death of Grafton Wilton.

“Now then,” Ambrose says, “parrots pick up names very quickly and the chances are this parrot will speak the name he hears so often in the apartment, and then we will have a clue to the murderer.

Maybe Grafton Wilton makes an outcry when he is struck down, such as ‘Oh, Henry,’ or ‘Oh, George.’ This is bound to impress the name on the parrot’s mind,” Ambrose says.

Naturally, after hearing Ambrose’s statement, the parrot becomes of more interest to me, and I examine the bird in the cage closely, but as far as I can see, it is like any other green parrot in the world, except that it strikes me as rather stupid.

It just sits there on the perch in the cage, rolling its eyes this way and that and now and then going awk-awk-awk, as parrots will do, in a low tone of voice, and of course, nobody can make anything of these subdued remarks. Sometimes the parrot closes its eyes and seems to be sleeping, but it is only playing possum, and anytime anybody gets close to the cage it opens its eyes, and makes ready for another finger, and it is plain to be seen that this is really a most sinister fowl.

“The poor thing is sleepy,” Ambrose says. “I will now take it home with me. I must never let it out of my sight or hearing,” he says, “as it may utter the name at any moment out of a clear sky, and I must be present when this comes off.”

“But you promised to take me to the Ossified Club,” Miss Dawn Astra says.

“Tut-tut,” Ambrose says. “Tut-tut-tut,” he says. “My goodness, how can you think of frivolity when I have a big murder mystery to solve? Besides, I cannot go to the Ossified Club unless I take the parrot, and I am sure it will be greatly bored there. Come to think of it,” Ambrose says, “I will be greatly bored myself. You run along home, and I will see you some other night.”

Personally, I feel that Ambrose speaks rather crisply to Miss Dawn Astra, and I can see that she is somewhat offended as she departs, and I am by no means surprised the next day when Regret, the horse player, tells me that he sees somebody that looks very much like Miss Dawn Astra riding on the front seat of Julius Smung’s taxicab as the sun is coming up over Fiftieth Street.

Naturally, all the blatters make quite a fuss over the murder of Grafton Wilton, because it is without doubt one of the best murders for them that takes place in this town in a long time, what with the animals in the apartment, and all this and that, and the police are also somewhat excited about the matter until they discover there is no clue, and as far as they can discover, no motive.

Then the police suggest that maybe Grafton Wilton cools himself off somehow in a fit of despondency, although nobody can see how such a thing is possible, and anyway, nobody will believe that a character with an interest in twenty million is ever despondent.

Well, the next night Ambrose Hammer has to go to a theater to see the opening of another new play, and nothing will do but he must take the parrot in the cage to the theater with him, and as nobody is expecting a dramatic critic to bring a parrot with him to an opening, Ambrose escapes notice going in.

It seems that it is such an opening as always draws the best people, and furthermore it is a very serious play, and Ambrose sets the cage with the parrot in it on the floor between his legs, and everything is all right until the acting begins on the stage. Then all of a sudden the parrot starts going awk-awk-awk in a very loud tone of voice indeed, and flapping its wings and attracting general attention to Ambrose Hammer.

Well, Ambrose tries to soothe the parrot by saying shush-shush to it, but the parrot will not shush, and in fact, it keeps on going awk-awk louder than ever, and presently there are slight complaints from the people around Ambrose, and finally the leading character in the play comes down off the stage and says he can see that Ambrose is trying to give him the bird in a subtle manner, and that he has a notion to punch Ambrose’s nose for him.

The ushers request Ambrose to either check the parrot in the cloakroom or leave the theater, and Ambrose says he will leave. Ambrose says he already sees enough of the play to convince him that it is unworthy of his further attention, and he claims afterward that as he goes up the aisle with the bird cage in his hand he is stopped by ten different theatergoers, male and female, who all whisper to him that they are sorry they do not bring parrots.

This incident attracts some little attention, and it seems that the editor of the blatter that Ambrose works for tells him that it is undignified for a dramatic critic to go to the theater with a parrot, so Ambrose comes into Mindy’s with the parrot again and informs me that I must take charge of the parrot on nights when he has to go to the theater.

Ambrose says he will pay me well for this service, and as I am always willing to pick up a few dibs, I do not object, although personally, I am by no means a parrot fan. Ambrose says I am to keep a notebook, so I can jot down anything the parrot says when it is with me, and when I ask Ambrose what it says to date, Ambrose admits that so far it does not say a thing but awk.

”In fact,” Ambrose says, “I am commencing to wonder if the cat has got its tongue. It is the most noncommittal parrot I ever see in all my life.”

So now I am the custodian of the parrot the next night Ambrose has to go to the theater, and every time the parrot opens its trap, I out with my notebook and jot down its remarks, but I only wind up with four pages of awks, and when I suggest to Ambrose that maybe the murderer’s name is something that begins with awk, such as ’Awkins, he claims that I am nothing but a fool.

I can see Ambrose is somewhat on edge to make a comment of this nature, and I forgive him because I figure it may be because he is not seeing as much of Miss Dawn Astra as formerly as it seems Miss Dawn Astra will not go around with the parrot, and Ambrose will not go around without it, so it is quite a situation.

I run into Miss Dawn Astra in the street a couple of times, and she always asks me if the parrot says anything as yet, and when I tell her nothing but awk, it seems to make her quite happy, so I judge she figures that Ambrose is bound to get tired of listening to nothing but awk and will return to her. I can see that Miss Dawn Astra is looking thin and worried, and thinks I, love is too sacred a proposition to let a parrot disturb it.

Well, the third night I am in charge of the parrot I leave it in my room in the hotel where I reside in West Forty-ninth Street, as I learn from Big Nig, the crap shooter, that a small game is in progress in a garage in Fifty-fourth Street, and the parrot does not act as if it is liable to say anything important in the next hour. But when I return to the room after winning a sawbuck in two passes in the game, I am horrified to find that the parrot is absent.

The cage is still there, but the gate is open, and so is a window in the room, and it is plain to be seen that the parrot manages to unhook the fastening of the gate and make its escape, and personally I will be very much pleased if I do not remember about Ambrose Hammer and think how bad he will feel over losing the parrot.

So I hasten at once to a little bird store over in Eighth Avenue, where they have parrots by the peck, and I am fortunate to find the proprietor just closing up for the night and willing to sell me a green parrot for twelve dollars, which takes in the tenner I win in the crap game and my night’s salary from Ambrose Hammer for looking after his parrot.

Personally, I do not see much difference between the parrot I buy and the one that gets away, and the proprietor of the bird store tells me that the new parrot is a pretty good talker when it feels like it and that, to tell the truth, it generally feels like it.

Well, I carry the new parrot back to my room in a little wooden cage that the proprietor says goes with it and put it in the big cage, and then I meet Ambrose Hammer at Mindy’s restaurant and tell him that the parrot says nothing at all worthy of note during the evening.

I am afraid Ambrose may notice that this is not the same old parrot, but he does not even glance at the bird, and I can see that Ambrose is lost in thought, and there is no doubt but what he is thinking of Miss Dawn Astra.

Up to this time the new parrot does not say as much as awk. It is sitting in the little swing in the cage rocking back and forth, and the chances are it is doing some thinking, too, because all of a sudden it lets out a yell and speaks as follows:

“Big heel! Big heel! Big heel!”

Well, at this, three characters at tables in different parts of the room approach Ambrose and wish to know what he means by letting his parrot insult them, and it takes Ambrose several minutes to chill these beefs.

In the meantime, he is trying to think which one of Grafton Wilton’s acquaintances the parrot may have reference to, though he finally comes to the conclusion that there is no use trying to single out anyone, as Grafton Wilton has a great many acquaintances in his life.

But Ambrose is greatly pleased that the parrot at last displays a disposition to talk, and he says it will not be long now before the truth comes out, and that he is glad of it, because he wishes to renew his companionship with Miss Dawn Astra. He no sooner says this than the parrot lets go with a string of language that is by no means pure, and causes Ambrose Hammer himself to blush.

From now on, Ambrose is around and about with the parrot every night, and the parrot talks a blue streak at all times, though it never mentions any names, except bad names. In fact, it mentions so many bad names that the female characters who frequent the restaurants and nightclubs where Ambrose takes the parrot commence complaining to the managements that they may as well stay home and listen to their husbands.

Of course I never tell Ambrose that the parrot he is taking around with him is not the parrot he thinks it is, because the way I look at it, he is getting more out of my parrot than he does out of the original, although I am willing to bet plenty that my parrot does not solve any murder mysteries. But I never consider Ambrose’s theory sound from the beginning, anyway, and the chances are nobody else does, either. In fact, many citizens are commencing to speak of Ambrose Hammer as a cracky, and they do not like to see him come around with his parrot.

Now one night when Ambrose is to go to a theater to witness another new play, and I am to have charge of the parrot for a while, he takes me to dinner with him at the 9-9 Club, which is a restaurant that is patronized by some of the highest-class parties, male and female, in this town.

As usual, Ambrose has the parrot with him in its cage, and although it is plain to be seen that the headwaiter does not welcome the parrot, he does not care to offend Ambrose, so he gives us a nice table against the wall, and as we sit down, Ambrose seems to notice a strange-looking young Judy who is at the next table all by herself.

She is all in black, and she has cold-looking black hair slicked down tight on her head and parted in the middle, and a cold eye, and a cold-looking, dead-white face, and Ambrose seems to think he knows her and half bows to her but she never gives him a blow.

So Ambrose puts the bird cage on the settee between him and the cold-looking Judy and orders our dinner, and we sit there speaking of this and that, but I observe that now and then Ambrose takes a sneak-peek at her as if he is trying to remember who she is.

She pays no attention to him, whatever, and she does not pay any attention to the parrot alongside her, either, although everybody else in the 9-9 Club is looking our way, and, the chances are, making remarks about the parrot.

Well, now what happens but the headwaiter brings a messenger boy over to our table, and this messenger boy has a note which is addressed to Ambrose Hammer, and Ambrose opens this note and reads it and then lets out a low moan and hands the note to me, and I also read it, as follows:

Dear Ambrose:

When you receive this Julius and I will be on our way to South America where we will be married and raise up a family. Ambrose I love Julius and will never be happy with anybody else. We are leaving so suddenly because we are afraid it may come out about Julius calling on Mr. Grafton the night of the murder to demand an apology from him for insulting me which I never tell you about Ambrose because I do not wish you to know about me often going to Mr. Grafton’s place as you are funny that way.

They have a big fight, and Ambrose Julius is sorry he kills Mr. Wilton but it is really an accident as Julius does not know his own strength when he hits anybody.

Ambrose pardon me for taking your parrot but I tell Julius what you say about the parrot speaking the name of the murderer someday and it worries Julius. He says he hears parrots have long memories, and he is afraid it may remember his name although Julius only mentions it once when he is introducing himself to Mr. Wilton to demand the apology.

I tell him he is thinking of elephants but he says it is best to be on the safe side so I take the parrot out of the hotel and you will find your parrot in the bottom of the East River Ambrose and thanks for everything.


PS—Ambrose kindly do not tell it around about Julius killing Mr. Wilton as we do not wish any publicity about this. D.

Well, Ambrose is sitting there as if he is practically stunned, and shaking his head this way and that, and I am feeling very sorry for him indeed, because I can understand what a shock it is to anybody to lose somebody they dearly love without notice.

Furthermore, I can see that presently Ambrose will be seeking explanations about the parrot matter, but for maybe five minutes Ambrose does not say a word, and then he speaks as follows:

“What really hurts,” Ambrose says, “is to see my theory go wrong. Here I am going around thinking it is somebody in Grafton Wilton’s own circle that commits this crime, and the murderer turns out to be nothing but a taxicab driver. Furthermore, I make a laughing-stock of myself thinking a parrot will one day utter the name of the murderer. By the way,” Ambrose says, “what does this note say about the parrot?”

Well, I can see that this is where it all comes out, but just as I am about to hand him the note and start my own story, all of a sudden the parrot in the cage begins speaking in a loud tone of voice as follows:

“Hello, Polly,” the parrot says. “Hello, Pretty Polly.”

Now I often hear the parrot make these remarks and I pay no attention to it, but Ambrose Hammer turns at once to the cold-looking Judy at the table next to him and bows to her most politely, and says to her like this:

“Of course,” he says. “To be sure,” he says. “Pretty Polly. Pretty Polly Oligant,” he says. “I am not certain at first, but now I remember. Well, well, well,” Ambrose says. “Two years in Auburn, if I recall, for trying to put the shake on Grafton Wilton on a phony breach-of-promise matter in 1932, when he is still under age. Strange I forget it for a while,” Ambrose says. “Strange I do not connect you with this thing marked P, that I pick up in the apartment the night of the murder. I think maybe I am protecting some female character of good repute.”

And with this, Ambrose pulls a small gold cigarette case out of his pocket that he never mentions to me before and shows it to her.

“He ruins my life,” the cold-looking Judy says. “The breach-of-promise suit is on the level, no matter what the jury says. How can you beat millions of dollars? There is no justice in this world,” she says.

Her voice is so low that no one around but Ambrose and me can hear her, and her cold eyes have a very strange expression to be sure as she says:

“I kill Grafton Wilton, all right,” she says. “I am glad of it, too. I am just getting ready to go to the police and give myself up, anyway, so I may as well tell you. I am sick and tired of living with this thing hanging over me.”

“I never figure a Judy,” Ambrose says. “I do not see how a female can strike a blow hard enough to kill such a sturdy character as Grafton Wilton.”

“Oh, that,” she says. “I do not strike him a blow. I get into his apartment with a duplicate key that I have made from his lock, and I find him lying on the floor half conscious. I revive him, and he tells me a taxicab driver comes to his apartment and smashes him between the eyes with his fist when he opens the door, and Grafton claims he does not know why. Anyway,” she says, “the blow does not do anything more serious to him than skin his nose a little and give him a couple of black eyes.

“Grafton is glad to see me,” she says. “We sit around talking, and eating and listening to the radio all evening. In fact,” she says, “we have such an enjoyable time that it is five hours later before I have the heart and the opportunity to slip a little cyanide in a glass of wine on him.”

“Well,” I say, “the first thing we must do is to look up Miss Dawn Astra’s address and notify her that she is all wrong about Julius doing the job. Maybe,” I say, “she will feel so relieved that she will return to you, Ambrose.”

“No,” Ambrose says, “I can see that Miss Dawn Astra is not the one for me. If there is anything I cannot stand it is a female character who does not state the truth at all times, and Miss Dawn Astra utters a prevarication in this note when she says my parrot is at the bottom of the East River, for here it is right here in this cage, and a wonderful bird it is, to be sure. Let us all now proceed to the police station, and I will then hasten to the office and write my story of this transaction, and never mind about the new play.”

“Hello, Polly,” the parrot says. “Pretty Polly.”