Chapter OnePerry Mason, entering his office, grinned at Della Street and said, "What's in the mail, Della, anything startling?"She indicated the pile of letters on Mason's desk. "Tile usual, people who want.""Want what?""People who want you to make talks; write letters of endorsement, donatesome intimate article for a celebrity auction.""What else is new?" Mason asked.Della Street rolled her eyes in an exaggerated pantomime of passionate interest."If," she said, "you want any efficiency whatever out of Gertie, your romantic receptionist, you had better get Kerry Dutton out of the office.""And who is Kerry Dutton?" Mason asked."He is a youngish gentleman whose clothes are quietly elegant. He has acameo-like profile, brown, wavy hair, steel-gray eyes, a very nice mouth; probably a thirty-six chest and a thirty waist. He is driving Gertie half crazy. She can't take her eyes off him.""What does he want?" Mason asked."That," she said, "is the mystery. The man's card says that he is an investment counselor. He wants to see you about a matter that is very personal andexceedingly urgent."Mason said, "I don't want to make any investments. I don't--""A professional matter," she interrupted.Mason said, "My specialty is murder cases and trial work. What the devilwould I want with an investment counselor?""I intimated as much," Della Street said."He wouldn't tell you what it was all about?""No, only that it was a highly personal matter involving something whichmust be handled in complete confidence and with the greatest of tact."Mason said, "I'll take a look at him, at any rate that will get him awayfrom Gertie's romantic gaze."How old is he, Della?""I would say thirty-one or thirty-two.""And," Mason said, "I suppose his shoes are polished, his nails well manicured, his tie faultless, his appearance impeccable.""Isn't all that supposed to go with an investment counselor?" Della Street asked.Mason suddenly became thoughtful. "Hang it," he said, "I may have been doing the guy an injustice. Show him in, Della, and we'll find Out what he Wants."Della Street nodded, left the office, and a few moments later returned,leading Kerry Dutton into the office."Mr. Dutton, Mr. Mason," she said.Mason met the unflinching gray eyes, gave the man a brief appraisal fromhead to foot, then got up to shake hands. "How are you, Mr. Dutton?" he said."This is a great honor," Dutton said. "I am sorry I had to come withoutan appointment, Mr. Mason, but the matter is one of extreme urgency.""Tell me generally what it's about," Mason invited. "I take it you're consulting me professionally?""Yes, indeed.""My work," Mason said, "is largely in other fields. I doubt that I can help you. You're probably wasting time for both of us.""You defend criminals, don't you?" Dutton asked."Yes.""That's what I want you for."