The Thirty-Nine Steps
There was a tray of drinks on a table beside him, from which he filled himself a stiff whisky-and-soda. He drank it off in three gulps, and cracked the glass as he set it down.
'Pardon,' he said, 'I'm a bit rattled tonight. You see, I happen at this moment to be dead.'
I sat down in an armchair and lit my pipe.
'What does it feel like?' I asked. I was pretty certain that I had to deal with a madman.
A smile flickered over his drawn face. 'I'm not mad - yet. Say, Sir, I've been watching you, and I reckon you're a cool customer. I reckon, too, you're an honest man, and not afraid of playing a bold hand. I'm going to confide in you. I need help worse than any man ever needed it, and I want to know if I can count you in.'
'Get on with your yarn,' I said, 'and I'll tell you.'
He seemed to brace himself for a great effort, and then started on the queerest rigmarole. I didn't get hold of it at first, and I had to stop and ask him questions. But here is the gis