Bates files: The railway mystery!
What makes trains a better way to travel than any other?” Alfred Bates, the famous detective asks his friend Inspector Davis, as they sit in their railway compartment.
“No idea,” Inspector Davis replies, without even thinking about an answer.
“You meet more characters in a train than in any other mode of travelling,” Bates replies to his friend.
“How come?” Davis asks Bates as he gets settled in his berth. “There are more people in a plane than in a railway compartment.”
“True,” Bates concurs. “But in a train, people move about and you get to learn a lot about them.”
“Bates, why are you obsessed with learning about people?” Davis puts another question. “The trick may work with your son, but not with me.”
“Don’t underestimate the power of observation my friend,” Bates hits back. “Look at this guy, the one who just passed our door. What can you tell me about him?”
“Nothing,” Davis replies. “I didn’t have the time to observe him. Did you?”
“You insult my intelligence,” Bates says. “Of course I did.”
“And what did you find out?”
“First of all, the man was in his 40s, father of a young boy who is travelling with him. His accommodations are not as good as
ours but he is happy with them,” Bates completes his analysis.
“How did you know that?” a shocked Davis asks.
“Simple!” Bates begins to explain. “The man was carrying a toy soldier in his hand, which means he bought it from the station.
Since he was carrying it in his hand and it wasn’t in a box, he wanted to show it to his son who is — therefore — travelling with
him.”“His age and accommodations?” Davis continues to question.
“A man in his 20s can hardly be a father of a 10-year-old who plays with toy soldiers. Since his hair had more black and less
white, I deduced he was in his 40s. A well-to-do man would hardly buy something from a station; hence his accommodations
were not as good as ours,” Bates finishes. “Observe the next one.”
“Just did,” Inspector Davis says with pride.
“I hope you found out something!” Bates asks his proud companion.
“Nothing except that he is not a happy man and was angry at something,” Davis says.
“Very good,” Bates commends his friend. “You missed a couple of points though.”
“I doubt…” the inspector disagrees. “Enlighten me.”
“It was visible that he was angry from the frown on his face,” Bates tells Davis. “But what you missed was that the man was a
salesman and didn’t have a ticket on him, hence he was running in the corridor.”
“I don’t buy it!” Davis says as he gives up.
“The case he was carrying was smaller than a suitcase and bigger than a briefcase,” Bates explains. “It could hold papers but not
clothes. Hence he was not a passenger, just a passer-by.”“You are just too much,” Davis compliments his friend in his own way.
“I know,” Bates says as he prepares to lie down. “Let’s order something to eat.”
“Allow me,” Davis says as he gets ready to stand in the corridor for the vendor. “Otherwise you will say that the vendor is a
married man, with a caring wife and is likely to retire in a couple of years.”
“Good going, Davis!” Bates compliments his friend in his own way. “You are a natural, just be like this and you will soon master
the art of deduction.”