From Tavender we drove over to Wayton. Luce’s description had fit Henderson all right, but while we were at it, we thought we might as well check up to make sure that he had been coming from Wayton.

We spent exactly twenty-five minutes in Wayton; ten of them finding Hammersmith, the grocer with whom Henderson had said he dined and played pool; five minutes finding the proprietor of the pool room; and ten verifying Henderson’s story… .

“What do you think of it now, Mac?” I asked, as we rolled back toward Sacramento.

Mac’s too lazy to express an opinion, or even form one, unless he’s driven to it; but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth listening to, if you can get them.

“There ain’t a hell of a lot to think,” he said cheerfully. “Henderson is out of it, if he ever was in it. There’s nothing to show that anybody but the Coonses and Thornburgh were there when the fire started — but there may have been a regiment there. Them Coonses ain’t too honest-looking, maybe, but they ain’t killers, or I miss my guess. But the fact remains that they’re the only bet we got so far. Maybe we ought to try to get a line on them.”

“All right,” I agreed. “Soon as we get back to town, I’ll get a wire off to our Seattle office asking them to interview Mrs. Comerford, and see what she can tell about them. Then I’m going to catch a train for San Francisco and see Thornburgh’s niece in the morning.”

Next morning, at the address McClump had given me…