The train that pulled into Ogaunee, Michigan, at 9:15 Friday morning was in no hurry. It settled to a stop and let go with deep metallic sighs, as if it would undo its iron stays and rest awhile.

A tall man in a gray overcoat swung aboard, went down the plushy day coach to a seat along about the middle, laid his coat in the rack, and sat down, settling back with such sudden ease that he seemed to have been there for some time, with the lazy dust rising and falling around him in parallel bands of spring simshine.

A sticky face rose over the seat top ahead Unblinking eyes looked at htm with the insulting stare of a child. The tall man met the infant's eye rudely. In a moment the child's head fell toward its mother's ear and the tongue came out coyly to wrap itself around the edge of a lolly pop in an ecstasy of embarrassment. MacDougal Duff relented and gave die baby the regulation adult smile. Only the youngest and most unspoiled could keep that look for long when met in kind. This one's clouds of glory were shredding thin already. And mine, thought DuflE ruefully, are strictly synthetic.

He was bound for Pinebend, a few hours away, where there was an Oneida reservation. Duff was interested in Indians, this trip. He had been rambling through northern Wisconsin and in and out of the Upper Peninsula, collecting impressions for Duff's History of America, a most unorthodox work which woxild take him, he cheerfully hoped, the rest of his life to write, between murder cases. Ogaunee was a central place to stay.

The train woke with a jerk. Movement on the platform caught his eye. On the dreary boards between him and the shabby littie wooden depot with its gingerbread eaves stood a girl in a gray flannel suit with a green scarf at her throat and no hat on her dark hair. She seemed to be screaming his name.

Did he hear it or read her lips?

'Professor Duff! Oh, Professor Duff! Please! Mr. Duff!'

For a moment his stare was blank with surprise. Then he smiled and lifted his hand.

Whatever the girl was after, it was more than a friendly wave. Her face kept its trouble. She continued to implore him as the train began to move. She even ran along a few steps as if her urgency couldn't let it go. Then she gave up and stood still, and the train chugged around a sweep of track and wiped out Duffs view of her.


She had been in one of his classes. So many had. History 2b. Some time ago. Front row. Therefore beginning with A, B, or C. Probably not A. Too far from the right. Nice ankles, he remembered. Hence the front row or he couldn't have remembered the ankles. Miss B., then. Or C. An intelligent face. He'd enjoyed lecturing to it. Responsive. Sense of humor. Irish in her, he'd thought. Not pretty, not quite, but with a flare of spirit that was just as good. Dark hair, blue eyes. Brody? Small chin, wide mouth. Brogan? Brannigan? Skin tight over the cheekbones. A neat foot. Neat round slim body.

Cassidy, was it? Corcoran?

Ah, well, when he remembered her name he would telephone back from Pinebend. Ask Susan. Perhaps the girl was broke and stranded. If so, Susan would take her in.

The train humped itself across a swamp. Inside, dust motes shifted in the dry air. Duff gave his ticket to be punched. The conductor put the pasteboard in Duffs hatband and gave the child a playful swipe with his hand. Duff looked out the window and played his game with the scenery. When those black stumps had been trees, the ground beneath sunless and spongy, a trail would have wound just there, through that Uttle notch, skirted that water, been wary of that marshy margin. Wild birds would have come down there, and the wild man hidden in those reeds. . . . The girl's name was Brennan.

Maybe she knew that MacDougal Duff had retired from teaching and had become, for his bread, a solver of murder cases.

Murder? Duff looked out at the little hills.

The girl in a gray suit and a green felt hat came out on one of the stone stoops and closed the door gendy behind her. She looked at her watch nervously. Caught without its humanity, at two minutes of six, Thursday morning, the South Side Chicago street looked clean and bare in the thin light of dawn.

At six, exactly, a big gray sedan nosed around the corner and came softly along. It was the last word in beautiful American cars. The last for a long time, thought the girl as she walked down the steps with her suitcase.

Tlie chaufeur said, 'Good morning. Miss Brennan. You're pretty prompt.'

'So are you, Fred.'

He put her suitcase in the back and let the door fall shut. 'Itll be three-quarters of an hour before we pick up the boss. Want to sit up front?'

The chaufeur was twenty-seven or twenty-eight, rather short, thick-shouldered and stocky. He had muscular wrists and lean hands. It occurred to the girl that if the car had been a horse, he'd have been a centaur. They moved toward the lake and turned north on the outer drive. It was soft going.

Alice Brennan stuffed her fists into her jacket pockets and watched the whitecaps. The lake and the city seemed to suffer a diminution in size. They fell into place on a mental map that had to be smaller scale than usual, to include distance. She recognized the change, the familiar feeling called 'getting an early start,' the uprooting and relaxing of the mind and the projection of the mind's eye forward along a chosen route. 'This is the last trip, I guess,' she murmured.

'First and last for this baby,' Fred said, patting the wheel. 'Four hundred miles.' This was score. 'Well, 111 be glad to see her get a little dust on her tail, anyhow.'

The girl smiled.

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