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He transferred the Camels from his overcoat to a jacket pocket. He wondered, as he did so, if they did not represent an unnecessary note of strain. Mrs. Barrows smoked only Luckies. It was his idea to puff a few puffs on a Camel (after the rubbing-out), stub it out in the ashtray holding her lipstick-stained Luckies, and thus drag a small red herring across the trail.

What does "note of strain" mean?

What's more, may we say "drag a small red herring across the trail" equals "mislead others"? Context

2

1) The sentences

He transferred the Camels from his overcoat to a jacket pocket. He wondered, as he did so, if they did not represent an unnecessary note of strain.

may be paraphrased into

He transferred the Camels from his overcoat to a jacket pocket. He thought that maybe his decision to purchase the Camels was an excessive step - a sign (symptom) of his mental strain caused by the incessant thinking about the crime that he decided to commit.

Or, while on the surface the thought to 'drag a herring across the trail' may have been a clever one, on the other hand it may have been just a burst of unnecessary activity, springing more from his 'wound-up' condition than from cold-headed cunning.

2) You're spot on regarding the red herring bit.

  • 1
    +1 Pardon, what does "springing more from his 'wound-up' condition than from cold-headed cunning." mean? – Juya Feb 22 '14 at 16:58
  • Oh, it's simply my attempt to use complex words. (0: "Wound-up" means 'stressed, nervous'. He is nervous and so takes unnecessary steps: buys the cigarettes. "Springing" means 'originating from something'. – CowperKettle Feb 22 '14 at 17:03
  • Thanks. to tell you the truth that would be gr8 if you rewrote your answer in simpler English just as happened about this sentence so that I could get it better. – Juya Feb 22 '14 at 23:46
  • You may pick some recondite passage from my answer and start a question, others will be happy to shed some light on the issue, or should I say stack and exchange some light. (0: – CowperKettle Feb 23 '14 at 7:36

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