The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story

Author: Chester K. Steele

Chapter XV Poor Fishing

"Have a drink, Colonel?"


"I said - Here, boy! A Scotch high and a mint julep."

Colonel Ashley, roused from his reverie as he sat in his club, gazing out on the busy, fashionable, hurrying, jostling, worried, happy, sad, and otherwise throngs that swept past the big Fifth avenue windows, shifted himself in the comfortable leather chair, and looked at his cigar. It had gone out, and he decided that it was not worth relighting.

"Cigars, too!" ordered Bruce Garrigan.

"Oh, were you speaking to me?" and the colonel seemed wholly awake now.

"Not only to you, but in your interests," went on Garrigan, with a smile. "Hope I didn’t disturb your nap, but - "

"Oh, no," the colonel hastened to assure his companion with his usual affability. "I had finished sleeping."

"So I inferred. Do you know how many hours, minutes and seconds the average human being has passed in sleep when he reacnes tne age of forty-five years?" and Garrigan smiled quizzically.

"No, sir," answered Colonel Ashley, "I do not."

"Neither do I," confessed Mr. Garrigan as he sank down in a chair beside the colonel and accepted the glass from a tray which the much-buttoned club attendant held out to him. "I don’t know, and I don’t much care."

Then, when cigars were glowing and the smoke arose in graceful clouds, an aroma as of incense shrouding the two as they gazed out on the afternoon throngs, Garrigan remarked:

"I didn’t know you were here. In fact, I didn’t know you were a member of this club."

"You wouldn’t know it if my attendance here were needed to prove it," said the colonel with a smile. "I don’t get here very often, but I had to run up on some business, and I found this the most convenient stopping place."

"Are you going back to Lakeside?"

"Oh, yes!" There was prompt decision in the answer.

"Then you haven’t finished that unfortunate affair? You haven’t found out what caused the death of Mr. Carwell?"

"Oh, yes, I know what killed him."

"But not who?"]

"Not yet."

"Do you hold to the suicide theory?"

"I don’t hold to anything, my dear Mr. Garrigan," answered the colonel, who was in a sufficiently mellow mood to be amused by the rather vapid talk of his host - for such he had constituted himself on the ordering of the drinks and cigars. "That is I haven’t such a hold on any theory that I can’t let go and take a new one if occasion warrants it."

"I see. And so you came up to get away from the rather gruesome atmosphere down there?"

"Not exactly. I came up on business - I have a business in New York you know, in spite of the fact that I am here," and the colonel smiled as he looked about the room where were gathered men of wealth and leisure, who did not seem to have a care or worry in the world.

"Oh, yes, I know that," agreed Garrigan. "Well, has your trip been satisfactory?"

"I can’t say that it has. In fact it’s pretty poor fishing around here, and I’m thinking of going back. I want to hear the click of the reel and the music of the brook. I wasn’t cut out for a city man, and the longer I stay here the worse I hate the place, even if I do have a business here."

"Then you don’t care for - this," and Garrigan waved his hand at the congestion of automobiles and stages which had come to a halt opposite the big windows of the exclusive and fashionable club.

It was four in the afternoon, just when traffic both of automobiles and pedestrians is at its height on the avenue. Of horse-drawn equipages they were so few as to be a novelty.

"I care so little for it that I am going back to-night," the detective responded.

"Then you have found what you came looking for?"

"I told you the fishing was very poor," said the colonel with a smile. "My friend Mr. Walton, were he alive now, would never forgive me for deserting the place I left to come here. When did you come up?"

"Last night. They insisted I had to put in an appearance at the office merely to take away the salary that’s heen accumulating for me - said it cluttered up the place. So I obliged. Do you know how many automobiles pass this window every twenty-four hours?" Garrigan asked suddenly.

"I do not."

"Neither do I. It would be interesting to know, however. I think I shall count them, when I have nothing else to do. I understand there is a checking or tabulating machine made for such purposes. But perhaps I am keeping you from - "

"You are merely keeping me from ordering another portion of liquid refreshment," interrupted the colonel with a smile. "Boy!"

And once again there was diffused the aroma of mint and the more pronounced odor of the Scotch.

"Yes, it’s pretty poor fishing," mused the colonel, when Garrigan had gone off to engage in a game of billiards with some insistent friends, whose advent the detective was thankful for, as he wanted to be alone. He was gregarious by nature, but there were times when he had to be alone, and it was because of this trait in his nature that he had taken up with the rod and reel, becoming a disciple of Izaak Walton.

Until dusk began to fall, changing the character of the throngs on the avenue, the colonel lingered in his easy chair before the broad, plate windows. And then, as the electric lights began to sparkle, as had the diamonds on some of the over-dressed women in the afternoon, he arose and started out.

"Will you be dining here, sir?" asked one of tke stewards.

"Mr. Garrigan asked me to inquire, sir, and, if you were, to say that he would appreciate it if you would be his guest."

"Thank him for me, and tell him I can’t stay." And the colonel, tossing aside the cigar which had gone out and been frequently relighted, soon found himself making a part of the avenue’s night throng.

It was a warm summer evening-altogether too warm to be in New York when one had the inclination and means to be elsewhere, but the colonel, in spite of the fact that he had been in a hurry to leave the club, seemed to find no occasion for haste now.

He sauntered along, seemingly without an object, though the rather frequent consultations he made of his watch appeared to indicate otherwise. Finally, he seemed either to have come to a sudden decision or to have noted the demise of the time he was trying to kill, for with a last quick glance at his timepiece he put it back into his pocket, and, turning a corner where there was a taxicab stand, he entered one of the vehicles and gave an order to the chauffeur.

"Columbia College-yes, sir!" and the driver looked rather oddly at the figure of the colonel.

"Wonder what he teaches, and what he’s going up there this time of night for?" was the mental comment of the chauffeur. "Maybe they have evening classes, but this guy looks as though he could give em a post-graduate course in poker."

Colonel Ashley sat back in the corner of the cab, glad of the rather long ride before him. He scarcely moved, save when the sway or jolt of the vehicle tossed him about, and he sat with an unlighted cigar between his teeth.

"Yes," he murmnred once, "pretty poor fishing. I might better have stayed where I was. Well, I’ll go back to-morrow."

Leaving the taxicab, the colonel made his way along the raised plaza on which some of the college buildings front, and turned into the faculty club, where he stayed for some time. When he came out, having told his man to wait, he bore under his arm a package which, even to the casual observer, contained books.

"Pennsylvania station," was the order he gave, and again he sat back in the corner of the cab, scarcely glancing out of the window to note the busy scenes all about him.

It was not until he had purchased his ticket and was about to board the last Jersey Shore train, to take him back to the `scene of the death of Horace Carwell, that Colonel Ashley, as he caught sight of a figure in the crowd ahead of him, seemed galvanized into new life.

For a moment he gazed at a certain man, taking care to keep some women with large hats between the object of his attention and himself. And then, as he made sure of the identity, the colonel murmured:

"Poor fishing did I say? Well, it seems to me it’s getting better."

He looked at his watch, made a rapid calculation that showed him he had about five minutes before the train’s departure, and then he hurried off to his right and down the stairs that led to the lavatories.

It was Colonel Robert Lee Ashley, as Bruce Garrigan had seen him at the Fifth Avenue club, who entered one of the pay compartments where so many in-coming and out-going travelers may, for the modest sum of ten cents, enjoy in the railroad station a freshening up by means of soap, towels and plenty of hot water.

But it was a typical Southern politician, with slouch hat, long frock coat, a moustache and goatee, who emerged from the same private wash-room a little later, carrying a small, black valise.

"I don’t like to do this," said Colonel Ashley, making sure the spirit gum had set, so his moustache and goatee would not come off prematurely, "but I have to. This fishing is getting better, and I don’t want any of the fish to see me."

Then he went down the steps to the train that soon would be whirling him under the Hudson river, along the Jersey meadows, and down to the cool shore. He passed through the string of coaches until he came to one where he found a seat behind a certain man. Into this vantage point the colonel, looking more the part than ever, slumped himself and opened his paper.

"Yes, the fishing is getting better - decidedly better," he mused. "I shouldn’t wonder but what I got a bite soon."


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Chicago: Chester K. Steele, "Chapter XV Poor Fishing," The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story, ed. Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934 and trans. Boswell, Robert Bruce in The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed November 29, 2022,

MLA: Steele, Chester K. "Chapter XV Poor Fishing." The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story, edited by Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934, and translated by Boswell, Robert Bruce, in The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 29 Nov. 2022.

Harvard: Steele, CK, 'Chapter XV Poor Fishing' in The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Golf Course Mystery, Being a Somewhat Different Detective Story, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 29 November 2022, from