Murder in the Gunroom
Murder in the Gunroom, by Henry Beam Piper
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MURDER IN THE GUNROOM By H. BEAM PIPER
NEW YORK Alfred A. Knopf 1953 FIRST EDITION
TO Colonel Henry W. Shoemaker an old and valued friend, who was promised this d edication, with an entirely different novel in mind, twenty-two years ago.
PREFACE The Lane Fleming collection of early pistols and revolvers was one of the best in the country. When Fleming was found dead on the floor of his locked gunroom, a Confederate-made Colt-type percussion .36 revolver in his hand, the coroner's verdict was "death by accident." But Gladys Fleming had her doubts. Enough at an y rate to engage Colonel Jefferson Davis Rand--better known just as Jeff--privat e detective and a pistol-collector himself, to catalogue, appraise, and negotiat
e the sale of her late husband's collection. There were a number of people who had wanted the collection. The question was: had anyone wanted it badly enough to kill Fleming? And if so, how had he done it ? Here is a mystery, told against the fascinating background of old guns and gun -collecting, which is rapid-fire without being hysterical, exciting without losi ng its contact with reason, and which introduces a personable and intelligent ne w private detective. It is a story that will keep your nerves on a hair trigger even if you don't know the difference between a cased pair of Paterson .34's and a Texas .40 with a ramming-lever. CHAPTER 1 It was hard to judge Jeff Rand's age from his appearance; he was certainly over thirty and considerably under fifty. He looked hard and fit, like a man who cou ld be a serviceable friend or a particularly unpleasant enemy. Women instinctive ly suspected that he would make a most satisfying lover. One might have taken hi m for a successful lawyer (he had studied law, years ago), or a military officer in mufti (he still had a Reserve colonelcy, and used the title occasionally, to impress people who he thought needed impressing), or a prosperous businessman, as he usually thought of himself. Most of all, he looked like King Charles II of England anachronistically clad in a Brooks Brothers suit. At the moment, he was looking rather like King Charles II being bothered by one of his mistresses who wanted a peerage for her husband. "But, Mrs. Fleming," he was expostulating. "There surely must be somebody else. ... After all, you'll have to admit that this isn't the sort of work this agency handles." The would-be client released a series of smoke-rings and watched them float up toward the air-outlet at the office ceiling. It spoke well for Rand's ability to subordinate esthetic to business considerations that he was trying to give her a courteous and humane brush-off. She made even the Petty and Varga girls seem c redible. Her color-scheme was blue and gold; blue eyes, and a blue tailored outf it that would have looked severe on a less curvate figure, and a charmingly absu rd little blue hat perched on a mass of golden hair. If Rand had been Charles II , she could have walked out of there with a duchess's coronet, and Nell Gwyn wou ld have been back selling oranges. "Why isn't it?" she countered. "Your door's marked Tri-State Detective Agency, Jefferson Davis Rand, Investigation and Protection. Well, I want to know how muc h the collection's worth, and who'll pay the closest to it. That's investigation , isn't it? And I want protection from being swindled. And don't tell me you can 't do it. You're a pistol-collector, yourself; you have one of the best small co llections in the state. And you're a recognized authority on early pistols; I've read some of your articles in the Rifleman. If you can't handle this, I don't k now who can." Rand's frown deepened. He wondered how much Gladys Fleming knew about the princ iples of General Semantics. Even if she didn't know anything, she was still edgi ng him into an untenable position. He hastily shifted from the attempt to identi fy his business with the label, "private detective agency." "Well, here, Mrs. Fleming," he explained. "My business, including armed-guard a nd protected-delivery service, and general investigation and protection work, re quires some personal supervision, but none of it demands my exclusive attention. Now, if you wanted some routine investigation made, I could turn it over to my staff, maybe put two or three men to work on it. But there's nothing about this business of yours that I could delegate to anybody; I'd have to do it all myself
, at the expense of neglecting the rest of my business. Now, I could do what you want done, but it would cost you three or four times what you'd gain by retaini ng me." "Well, let me decide that, Colonel," she replied. "How much would you have to h ave?" "Well, this collection of your late husband's consists of some twenty-five hund red pistols and revolvers, all types and periods," Rand said. "You want me to ca talogue it, appraise each item, issue lists, and negotiate with prospective buye rs. The cataloguing and appraisal alone would take from a week to ten days, and it would be a couple more weeks until a satisfactory sale could be arranged. Why , say five thousand dollars; a thousand as a retainer and the rest on completion ." That, he thought, would settle that. He was expecting an indignant outcry, and hardened his heart, like Pharaoh. Instead, Gladys Fleming nodded equably. "That seems reasonable enough, Colonel Rand, considering that you'd have to be staying with us at Rosemont, away from your office," she agreed. "I'll give you a check for the thousand now, with a letter of authorization." Rand nodded in return. Being thoroughly conscious of the fact that he could onl y know a thin film of the events on the surface of any situation, he was not eas ily surprised. "Very well," he said. "You've hired an arms-expert. I'll be in Rosemont some ti me tomorrow afternoon. Now, who are these prospective purchasers you mentioned, and just how prospective, in terms of United States currency, are they?" "Well, for one, there's Arnold Rivers; he's offering ten thousand for the colle ction. I suppose you know of him; he has an antique-arms business at Rosemont." "I've done some business with him," Rand admitted. "Who else?" "There's a commission-dealer named Carl Gwinnett, who wants to handle the colle ction for us, for twenty per cent. I'm told that that isn't an unusually exorbit ant commission, but I'm not exactly crazy about the idea." "You shouldn't be, if you want your money in a hurry," Rand told her. "He'd tak e at least five years to get everything sold. He wouldn't dump the whole collect ion on the market at once, upset prices, and spoil his future business. You know , two thousand five hundred pistols of the sort Mr. Fleming had, coming on the m arket in a lot, could do just that. The old-arms market isn't so large that it c ouldn't be easily saturated." "That's what I'd been thinking.... And then, there are some private collectors, mostly friends of Lane's--Mr. Fleming's--who are talking about forming a pool t o buy the collection for distribution among themselves," she continued. "That's more like it," Rand approved. "If they can raise enough money among the m, that is. They won't want the stuff for resale, and they may pay something res embling a decent price. Who are they?" "Well, Stephen Gresham appears to be the leading spirit," she said. "The corpor ation lawyer, you know. Then, there is a Mr. Trehearne, and a Mr. MacBride, and Philip Cabot, and one or two others." "I know Gresham and Cabot," Rand said. "They're both friends of mine, and I hav e an account with Cabot, Joyner & Teale, Cabot's brokerage firm. I've correspond
if Geraldine objects first. of being the biggest crook in the ol d-gun racket.
. on the grounds that he is something he calls a businessman. my dear Colonel. Nelda supports him in this. now. Fleming had been killed in a firearms accident. Fred Dunmore. "Actually." she told him. and started cleaning it at once. Nelda Dunmore and Geraldine Varcek." Rand considered. when it was evident that she was not going to conti nue. would they also be my clients?" "Good Lord. one way or another. Look. has been insisting that we let h im handle the sale of the pistols. already. the girls have a horror of the collection al most--but not quite--as strong as their desire to get the best possible price fo r it. Fred is an awful innocent." "Yes. there. if your stepdaughters are co-owners. Outside his own line." she continued. Fleming and I were married in 1941. simply delighted with it.36 revolver.. "That. If Nelda gives you any argument." "Yes. You're the sole owner. That would be smart. But here . what's my status? What authority. lighting a fresh cigarette." She crossed to the desk and sat down in Rand's cha ir while she wrote out the check and a short letter of authorization. He'd broug ht it home with him. our attorney. Fred Dunmore is accustomed to dealing with a lot of yes-men at the plant. You understand. once he finds out what you want to do. the collection is part of the residue of the estat e.. It was Fred who got this ten-thousand -dollar offer from Rivers. then she r eturned to her own seat.. no. your stepdaughters. I'd heard that Mr. among collectors. And Humphrey Goode. That coll ection has him talking to himself. Lane had some trouble with him. it won't be as hard as it looks. Nelda's husband. there may be a slight divergence of opinio n. before Fred and Anton get back from the plant. his first wife d ied fifteen years before." "Arnold Rivers. yo u shouldn't have any trouble shouting him down. he has what amounts to a pathological phobia about firearm s of any sort. Anton Varcek won't be interested .. For instance." she continued. "Because of the manner of Mr. you can count on Geraldine to take your side as a matter of p rinciple. and I've never trusted this man Rivers." Rand mentioned." Gladys Fleming agreed.. You see. last N ovember. Personally. if you come out to our happy h ome in the early afternoon. I think I'll talk to Good e.. Mr. Fleming's death. "There's another thing.ed with MacBride. the other one may pull a Gromyko on us. "It was with one of his collection-pieces. a Confederate-made Colt-type percussion . who's executor of the estate. Nelda will help you steam-roll her into li ne. just before . "After all." She paused. is where you earn you r fee. left equally to myself and my two stepdaughters. picking her words carefully. "One he'd bought just that day. first. if any. he specializes in Colts. have I to do any negotiating?" Gladys Fleming laughed musically. "Of course . "Of c ourse. He could hardly wait until dinner was over to get back to work on it. "has the reputation. a reputation he seems determined to live up--or down--to. w ill welcome you with open arms." Rand said." "You and whoever else sides with me will be a majority. I think Rivers is playing him for a sucke r. no!" That amused her considerably more than it did Rand. "We may just run into a li ttle trouble. we ou ght to ram through some sort of agreement with Geraldine and Nelda. but . I take it?" "Well. but beyond that. "they're just as interested in selling the collection for the best possible price. he's responsible for selling the collection.." the widow replied." "Well.
my own first idea was of a door slamming." she explained. Goode lives next door to us. pounding on a door. and found Anton. and the s ervants--Walters. He had a revolver in his right hand. he was d ead. F red was shivering in his bathrobe. "It must have been about 7:47 or 7:48. about two hundred yards away. and he had nothing on under it." She continued: "We had so mething of an argument about what to do. Dr. Then somebody. At about half-past. standing outside the gunroom door. Nelda went out somewhere in the coupé. because the program had changed and the first commercial was just over. T hen. "For a minute or so. or a little after. Yardman. in a bathrobe. I always knew something like this wou ld happen. While I was gone. the cook--had joined us. Fred Dunmore was having a bath." she replied. the uproar had penetrated to the rear of the house. in his rubber lab-apron. about an hour later. When the doctor came. and we were listening t o it. Anton was explaining that he had hear d a shot and that nobody in the gunroom answered. and Fred." "Was it the revolver he'd brought home with him?" Rand asked.' "Well."We'd finished dinner about seven. when we heard a loud noise from somewhere upstai rs. and I didn't touch it. He said: 'You'd better not come in. we heard Anton. and Geraldine and I had taken our coffee into the east parlor. that's all I could swear to. and Mrs. Lane's shot himself with one of those damned pistols. The door was locked. they wanted no part of the pol ice. You can imagine how horrible that was for her. called an undertaker. "He showed me this Confederate revolver when he ca me home. You see. working on his new revolver. "I don't know. to go down to the library and up the spiral. and I was trying to g et her quieted down. Nelda got home early. Fred and Anton both howled that proposal down. and then Fred called Humphrey Goode. Anton had gone up to his laboratory. and the others followed me. shot through the forehead. I'm not sure who. offered to call th e police. After a while. in the upstairs hall. blocking it. and his mind seems to run naturally to due process of la w. Of course. So Anton went downstairs and we stood waiting in the hall. he had his tools and polish and oil and rags on it. and then went back to the gunroom. the butler. I simply elbowed him out of the way and went in. there's a Yale lock on it. he said he'd just jumped out of the bathtub. "the library is directly under the gunroom. rather imp atiently. Walters. Geraldine told him. and there's a spiral stairway connec ting the two rooms. Anton opened the gunroom door fro m the inside. but nobody ever used it. in the atti c--he's one of these fortunates whose work is also his hobby. ou r lawyer. and an oily rag in his left. he's a biochemist and dietitian--and Lane was in the gunroom. lying on the floor. and stood in the doorway. but it was dirty and dusty. Geraldine put on the radio. on the floor. She was just coming in while they were carrying Lane ou t in a basket. about five minutes later. It was about t he same size and design. Horder. and when he arri ved. Geraldine was going into hysterics. but it's too late to do anything.. He'd been sitting on one of these old cobblers' benches of the sort that us ed to be all the thing for cocktail-tables. on the second floor. There's been an accident. it was days before she was over the shock. It was past eleven when he arrived. and for onc e. we just stood there.. the butler. So she'll be just as glad as anybody to see the last of
. and bar efooted. He's English. We found Lane inside. they all went into a huddle and decided that it was an obvious accident and that no inquest would be necessary. He'd fallen off it to one side and was lying beside it. so he arriv ed almost at once. By this time. At the same time. And I didn't look cl osely at the one he had in his hand when he was . it seems that Anton ha d called our family doctor. Neither of us thought of a shot. and shouting: 'Lane! Lane! Are you all right?' We ran up the front stai rway. he called the coroner. and that in its elf was unusual. I took her to her room and gave her a couple of sleeping-pi lls.
he and Kathie had kept the Tri-S tate Agency in something better than a state of suspended animation while Rand h ad been in the Army. don't you get it. Come on in. five thousand dollars for appraising a collection they've been offered te n for. I met him. I was listening in on the extension in the file-room. baffled expression of a middle-aged book-keeper with a wife and four c hildren on fifty dollars a week. In the meantime. when he wanted it to. had no wife. or Dave." Kathie said." Through the recital. "If that makes sense. the door from the reception-office opened and his secretary.. he drew three times that much. it must have been dreadful. Behind her came Dave Ritter. retracting herself into the chair lately vacated by Gladys Fleming. say around two. appropriating Rand's lighter and sharing the flame with Kathie. built on the generous lines of a Renaissance goddess. to include her ostensible reason for telling the story. "one of the reasons why this agency never made any m oney while you were away was that I never had the unadulterated insolence to ask the kind of fees you do. at the end. whoever's out there. Kathie. There had been one or two inclusions of inferential matter in the guise of description. whi ch went well with her flaming red hair. you can look for me tomorrow. and also Kathie's lover. that an old ha nd with guns like Mr. snapping off a switch. but that was to be looked for and discounted. Actually. too. And she had remembered. now . During the war. and a fair. was she talking to relieve her mind. his thin face could assume t he weary. "Odd. and was at your home to see his collection. She had blue eyes. long shaggy-dog story about exactly what happened and wh
. "You know. His hair. had ever employed a model so strikingly Hibernia n.. It was one of his professional assets that nobody ever noticed him . Rand had sat silently." "Yes. He was five or six years older than his employer." CHAPTER 2 After ushering his client out the hall door and closing it behind her." he said. none of th e Renaissance masters. not even in a crowd of one.. Kathleen Mavourneen?" Ritter asked. indulging in any masochistic self-harrowing. and slightly built. once or twice. caref ully detailed. neither. As he str aightened. however. toying with the ivory-handled Itali an Fascist dagger-of-honor that was doing duty as a letter-opener on his desk. He was Rand's assistant." he sympathized. He impressed me as knowing firearms pretty thoroughly. Kathie O 'Grady. Rand tur ned and said: "All right. highly-colored complexion. a couple of years ago. Fleming would have an accident like that. Good reporting. You heard that big.. Ritter fumbled a Camel out of his shirt pocket and made a beeline for the desk. but otherwise the narration had been a piece of straight reporting. neither callous nor emotional. Well. "Yes. though.the pistol-collection." Then he went to his desk and reached under it. She was a handsome woman." "Ah. G ladys Fleming wasn't. Once or twice there ha d been a small catch in her voice. entered. he was sure. "She doesn't care ab out the pistols. and a good deal of gold costume-jewelry. she wore green. admitted to no children.. was an indeterminate mous y gray-brown. fighting a stubborn rearguard action against baldness. loading a cigarette into an eight-inch amber holder. I could hear Kathie damn near faint when you said five grand. and also Gresham and Arnold Rivers. Jeff. he thought. I'll see Goode. she wants Jeff to find out who fixed up that accident for Flemi ng. and she only has a third-interest.
is Tip available?" "Oh. And I know enough about L ane Fleming to know how much experience he had with old arms. hello. Exploring the whys and wherefores of that quote accident unquote is the other. A clear. he would have first taken off the caps. thinking that would stop h er. She thinks Lane Fleming was murdered. "Look. Professor." She buzzed another phone. on the face of what she told me. "A Colt -type percussion revolver. Jeff." Rand began. "You heard what he was supposed to have shot himself with. and I su spect that Mrs. going over the collection. in the first thirty seconds.. I'll be up directly. and I can't believe that he 'd bring that thing home and start working on it without seeing the caps on the nipples and the charges in the chambers. and then taken it apart and drawn th e charges. "If that accident had been the McCoy. She expects me to find evidence to tha t effect while I'm at Rosemont. I hope you got all that rec orded. And then. I think she'd have bough t it at that price just as cheerfully. Now what sort of malfeasance have you committed?" "Nothing. that t here's something sour about the accident." he said. I simply couldn't have handled that collection business for anythin g like a reasonable fee. at school." Ritter said. and more than half an hour later. Rheba. And she says he started working on it as soon as he got home--presuma bly around five--and then took time out for dinner." she announced. and then went back to work o n it. "I just want a little inform ation." Rand replied. And if it had be en. I'll see." "All right. Are you busy?. Jeff. You know what they're like. but I'll work on that line until and unless I find out differe ntly. he had the revolver in his right hand. I hope both of you noticed that little touch. herself. so do I. as you did. She has a hunch. I got just as far in Arithmetic. I can't believe th at he'd buy a pistol without carefully examining it. so I told her five thousand. she as good as told me that wa s what it was. and probably nothing much better. Now I'm sorry I didn't say ten thousand. I'm not excluding oth er possibilities."
." "You think that's how it is?" Kathie asked. "Jeff Rand o n the line. Wel l.." "Hello. "wants two jobs done on one fee. Fleming got at least as far as long division. When it didn't. "Carter Tipton's law-office. In a moment. I knew she had something else in mind. if it had been loaded. Just a sec. "Hello. good afternoon. Kathie. Getting the pistol-coll ection sold is one job. when they found him. "Our client. expound. and an oily rag in his left. so far--cross my fingers. For reaso ns I stated." He replaced the phone and turned to his disciples. it was all told for a purpose." Ran d blew a Bronx cheer." Rand had picked up the outside phone and was dialing. slightly Harvard-accented male voice took over. it would have happen ed in the first five minutes after he started working on that pistol. a girl's voi ce answered. and when she went int o all that detail about the death of her husband.ere everybody was supposed to have been at the time. Okay. No. there was a shot and he was killed. Five thousand should cover both jobs.
and the n." Rand said. then grinned ruefully. "I'll b e back. when he had finished. honey. while I'm gone." He rose. was another one. he wore gold-rimmed glasses." "When we're all through. "Exactly. I generally have it in my left hand. When he brought home that revolver. the length of time he spent cleaning it woul d justify such an inference. I dismissed the thought. Ritter looked at him blankly for a half-second. or filthy with gummed oil and dirt."Yeah. and cleaned everything carefully. before hanging it on the wall. He would have taken it apart. And I would further assume that the killer wasn't particularly familiar with the subj ect of firearms. "For two reasons. Even if Mrs." Kathie objected. and he was so freshly barbered.
. that if it had been suicide. care and maintenance of." "But you use oily rags on guns. "Either surface-rusted. Fleming wouldn't want it poked into. and then faked evidence intended to indicate an accident. manicured. he was bumped off. almost at once. she'd be more than willing to let it ride as an accident. and then put it together again. and Rand did all h is investigating and witness-chasing. they compared books to see who o wed whom how much. nobody noticed the switch. "Wonder what happened to the one he was really cl eaning." He s hook his head." "Well. His dark." he admitted. F leming hadn't mentioned that point. "Yes." Ritter finished. "I have. tw o. valeted and scrubbed as to give the impress ion that he had been born in cellophane and just unwrapped." Rand said." * * * * * Carter Tipton had his law-office on the floor above the Tri-State Detective Age ncy. if there ever were any. He handled all Rand's not infrequent legal involvements. the only inference I can draw is that somebody murdered Flem ing." Rand told her. I assume the revolver he was fo und holding. And. Tipton was about five years Rand's junior. Mrs. and clean with my right. very briefly. He would certainly not have surface-oiled it befo re removing the charges. have you thought that it might just be suicide?" Kathie asked. conservatively cut clothes fi tted him as though they had been sprayed on." "That I may possibly find out. When I clean a gat. as Fleming did. "Damn. often enough. antique. down to the smallest screw." "And with all the hollering and whooping and hysterics-throwing. annually." Ritter told her. didn't know it was loaded!' I doubt if he'd even expect people to believe that it had been an accident. He leaned back in hi s chair and waved his visitor to a seat. "The general incompetence with which this murder was committed gives me plenty of room to hope that it may still be lying around somewhere. wou ld want his self-shooting to be taken for an accident. "I've seen both of you. And why do you use an oily rag?" Rand inquired. I never thought of that." Ritter said. He was frequently described as New Belfast's leading youn ger attorney and most eligible bachelor. I doubt if a man who prided himself on his gun-knowledge. "Okay. all rig ht. I'm damn sure I wouldn't want my friends to go around saying: 'What a dope. presumably the one with which he was killed. in a little. think it over. he would have gone over the surface with an oiled rag. it was in neglected condition. One. "No. and had been in th e Navy during the war.
We unanimously voted not to try it again. As to what she wants. the popularity of which is reflected in a steadily rising divorce-rate." "I'll bear that in mind." "So you think some irate and dyspeptic husband went to the source of his woes?" Rand inquired. next. "she won't commit herself." "I'll file it in the burn-box. independently. that this Stephen Gresham you mentioned is Mill-Pack's attorne y. is at 75 now. my client is Mrs." he finished. than I ha ve." "Yes. Gladys Fleming. that's how Lane Fleming first met her. Or maybe she thinks somebody may be fixing up an accident for her. if there's any smell of something dead in the woodpile. and Premix. "I must say. Which one of them wa nts you to frame what on which other one?" "That'll do for a good. but with five grand for sweetening. was on the air for Premix for a couple of years. didn't Pre mix want to merge?"
." Tipton continued . negotiator. as the foods indus try goes. and wants me to see. and Mill-Pack is offering a two-for-one-share exc hange. "Why. Or. I might add. You know about this Premix Company. I deplore these clients who hire you to do one thing and expect you to do anoth er. Or any combination thereof. but this is the first whiff of mu rder I've caught. "What was the matter. Premix is only Little Business. sti r. not exactly. for what it's worth. So sweet." Rand commented. Personally. "Yes. Fixit. that one of the really big fellows. National Milling & Packaging. and she wants a pist ol-totin' gent in the house for a while. Maybe she isn't sure in her own mind. and ready-mixed ice-cream and pudding powders. including half an hour of tear-jerking dram a on a national hookup during soap-opera time. in fact. which would be a little less than four-for-one in value." He hesitated slightly. even with me. for an experiment. par 50. but they have something very sweet. par 100. I've heard rumors of suicide. and more obligations to the police. don't you?" "Vaguely. a little. "So you see. I'm not greatly surprised . They manufacture ready-mixed pancake flour." He told the young lawyer about his recent interview and subsequent conclusions. has been going to rather extr eme lengths to effect a merger. You know. once." Tipton sai d. I can take them. and this dehydrated vegetable soup--pour on hot water. out at Rosemont?" Rand be gan. "Naturally. Mill-Pack." Rand promised. Your client. "The Premix-Foods Flemings?" Tipton asked. simplified description. "They advertise very extensively."Tip. is quoted at around 145. got some of the soup... all this is not being shouted from the housetops. "Fact is. Lane Fleming's death was very convenient to a number of people. it's a minor infraction of ethics for me to mention it to you.. he has been trying to put over this merger for Mill-Pack. Maybe she t hinks I have more official status." Rand said. "Well. do you know anything about this Fleming family." "They put out quite a line of such godsends to the neophyte in the kitchen. the former Gladys Fa rrand. Buck. You see. and serve--don't they? My colored boy. to start with. too. she may think that hav ing a private detective called in may throw a scare into somebody. and general Mr. getting out his pipe and tobacco.
"It'll be a novel reversal of order for you to be billing me for an investigati on.. In spite of the age d ifference. "His two sons-in-law." Rand amended. he was opposed in principle to concentration of business ownership." Rand grimaced. his kid brother.. who doubles as board chairman. was in favor of this merge r?" "Just about everybody but Fleming. All the Ne w York banking crowd who are interested in Premix.." Rand said. Then. that is. try and do anything about it. " That would do for a murder-motive. Nelda is the nymphomaniac sister. and took on some si delines. all of them resent the way she married herself into a thi rd-interest in the estate. So business got better and better." "Do that. And all the two-share tinymit es. And fina lly.' he picked up a refugee Czech chemist and foods-expert named Anton Varcek." "Anything short of retiring Fleming to the graveyard. Humphrey Goode." Tipton told him. when she was twenty-five and he was fifty-five. temporary alliances get formed. as distinct from the company?" "Well." Rand considered. "Em
. how about the family. Such as. and Lane Flem ing peddled it off a spring wagon. Just who. They incorporated in the early twentie s. at least. They each have a corner of the mantle of Lane Fleming in one hand and a dirk in the other. I don't know who inherits Fleming's voting interest. You're going to have yourself a nice. or. Lane Fleming hired an advertising agency to promote his products. and he was afraid that if he relinqu ished control. Then. All the directors. Nelda and Geraldine hate each other like Greeks and Trojans. Then. who whipped up a lot of new products. "You mentioned suicide rumors." Tipton replied. who are first and second vice presidents. He clai med it made business more vulnerable to government control and eventual socializ ation. there's your client. His fa ther started mixing pancake flour back before the First World War.. there are two daug hters by a previous marriage." "I'm looking forward to it... and Varcek is Production. They worked up a nice little local trade. Premix was his baby. a lot of his old retainers would be turned out to grass. From time to time. th e company attorney. like Bill Nye's Puritans digging clams in the winter to get strength to hoe corn in the summer to get strength to dig clams in the winter. and their resp ective husbands. I understand it was a fairly happy marriage. Fred Dunmore and Varcek. pleasant little stay in the country. In the comp any. very nicely. Now. and they're that much easier for the planned-e conomy boys to grab. they are the usual bodyless voices that float about. And since he held fifty-two per cent of the common stock himself. and who's been spreading them?" "Oh.. and built up a national distribution. after the old man died."Lane Fleming didn't. mainly against Gladys. he was one of these old-model paternalistic employers. Gladys Fleming. and they made more mone y to spend on advertising to get more money to buy more advertising to make more money. Dunmore is Sales. and G eraldine is the dipsomaniac." "I'm not sure he didn't have something there. "So Premix became a sort of symbol of achievement to Fleming. She married Lane Fleming about ten years ago. but I can find out for you by this time tomorrow. and then. They all live together. on the Premix side. Chamberlain's 'Peace in our time. Nelda Dunmore and Geraldine Varcek... Tip. and bill me for what you think finding out is worth. in a big house at Rosemont. What were Fleming's objection s to the merger?" "Mainly sentimental. during the late Mr. and finally a state-wide wholesale business. "We get all our corporate eggs in a few baskets.
I thought I ought to talk to you. The story is always approximately the sa me: That Lane Fleming saw his company drifting reefward. Fleming is satisfied that it was an accident. "There have been rumors--utterly without foundation. and performed seppuku. Fleming was accidentall y killed by the discharge of an old revolver he was cleaning." "Did my secretary tell you I was making an investigation?" Rand demanded incred ulously. and the family made a few alterations and are passing it off as an accide nt." Rand said. myself. "There is nothing whatever for y ou to find out that is not already public knowledge. Fleming killed hi mself. short and chunky." he lectured. The families of suicides have been known to do that." "That's correct. I dismiss the whole thing as a rather less than subtle bit of market-manipulation chicanery. He looked even more narrowly at Rand. she informed me that you had been retained by Mrs. to interrogate the surviving ex-defenders. She never expressed any other belief to me. was unwilling to surviv e the shipwreck. "Well.anating. "As far a s I know. "That could be so. of
. but you'll do nobody an y good in this matter. of course not!" Goode exclaimed. Then he runs into all this mias ma of suicide rumors. you're wasting yo ur time and Mrs. and starts investigating. Tipton nodded. "Mrs. Mrs. Rand. Fleming to employ you." The wrinkles moved up Goode's brow like a battalion advancing in platoon front. his suspicion compounded with bewildermen t. "Say somebody dislikes the l ooks of that accident. "Mr. It's all in having th e guns and armor to smash through with. "Why should I investigate the death of Lane Fleming?" Rand continued." CHAPTER 3 Humphrey Goode was sixty-ish. and promptly shrugs the whole thing off. Mr. first of all. Gladys Fleming. and you may do a great deal of harm. Regular defense-in-depth system. I've jeeped through a couple. with a fringe of white hair aro und a bald crown." Rand added. and smelled of dusty books. the suicide line is back of it. and he peered suspiciou sly at Rand through a pair of thick-lensed. "when your secretary called to make this appoi ntment. I don't know what foolish feminine impulse led Mrs. His office was dark. The family are supposed to have faked up the accident afterward. "Mr. I suspect. to cover the defects in camouflaging a murder as an acciden t. from sources interested in shaking out the less sophisticate d small shareholders before the merger. Rand. Fl eming wants me to look after some interests of hers." he began accusingly." "Or a smoke screen. too. black-ribboned glasses. His wide mou th curved downward at the corners in an expression that was probably intended to be stern and succeeded only in being pompous. if you're investigating the death of Lane Fleming. and as you're executor of h er late husband's estate. if the accident line is penetrated. we've seen defenses in depth penetrated with monotonous regularity. Fleming's money." Rand slowly packed tobacco into his pipe and lit it. "She doesn't usually make mistakes of that sort. His brow was corrugated with wrinkles." "Yes." he agreed. in the last few years. Do you think it was anything else?" "Why. "That's just what I was telling you. I-" He took a fresh start." Goode's eyes narrowed behind the thick glasses.
Fleming thinks that expert advice is urgently needed in disposing of that collection. Rand began to suspect that Goode might be just another such self-righteous. by giving these rumors fresh curren cy." He stopped there. to bring you in to scotc h them." he said. he must have owned between four and five thousand different pistols and revolvers. I have a collection of my own. I had thought that perhaps Mrs. egotistical windb ag." Goode was looking at Rand as though the latter had just torn off a mask." Rand parried. "Now understand. replacement of inferior items. The twenty-five hundred left to his heirs represent the result of a s ystematic policy of discriminating purchase. and understand market conditions. but it seems a little unusual for a private dete ctive also to be an authority on antique firearms. she realized that you could h ardly describe yourself as an antique-arms expert. Fleming was killed. Mrs. nothing of the sort!" Rand told him. Fleming employ you?" "Well. I have no mercenary m otive for undervaluing the collection. I was afraid that such a step might. or connected with any museum. particularly pistols. Fleming was an authority on antique firearms. defeat its intended purpose. Mr. and he was a manufacturer of foodstuffs. circulated for the purpose of undermining public confidenc e in Premix Foods. and decided. as you know. Fleming committed suicide. "Surely Mrs. carefully picking his words to fit what he estimated to be Goode's probable semantic reactions. Goode was looking at him sideways. It was not a facial contortion that impresse d Rand favorably.?" "Mrs. and the question is simply not involved in what Mrs. and general improvement. It happens that I am an exper t in antique firearms. Mississippi. now he was going to have to find himself a new set of verbal l abels and identifications." "Well?" Goode was completely out of his depth by now. Fleming does n't think. not being a dealer. reveal ing another and entirely different set of features underneath. is an extremely valuable ass et. I know arms-values. Rand.. Furt hermore. He was still a bit resentful. "Well. Rand grinned inwardly." "Mr. At one time or a nother. but he was evidently having trouble adjusting to it.. "My own business does not occupy all
. Fleming wants me to do. Mr. That's all there is to it. Incorporated. on her own responsibility." Rand replied. The change seemed to be a welcome one. however." the lawyer demanded. carefully staying inside Goode's Aristotelian system of categories and verbal identifications. "She has the utmost confidence in yo ur ability and integrity. it was too reminiscent of a high-school principal under whom h e had suffered. were usually quite unscrupulous. I may say. "did Mrs. Such men could be dangerous. sucking in one corner of h is mouth and pushing out the other. opinionated. Fleming h as retained me as a firearms-expert. "I'm not in the least interested in h ow Mr. in Vicksburg. now the joint property of Mrs. that alters the situation considerably. Fleming might h ave heard them. in connection with the collection." Rand began." "Oh. Fleming spent the better part of his life gathering it. with noticea bly less hostility. like that. They are.course--that Mr. I'm not trying to be offensive. and were almos t always unpleasant to deal with. "Then why. people had no right to confuse him by jumping about from one category to another. I am the author of a number of articles on the subject. as an attorney. years ago. It's one of the largest and most famous collections of its kind in the country. "the Fleming pistol-collection. nothing but ma licious fabrications. and I am recognized as somet hing of an authority. Fleming and her two stepdaughters.
Rand. and a huge pistol in either hand. Fleming took this step. I understand he made the offer to Fred Dunmore. "Here. or with the editor of th e American Rifleman. "What did he burn F leming with?" "Here. Fleming. I realized that it was worth a great deal of money. with ball-pommels the size of oranges. I'll show you. Finally. whoever made them used metric measurements. Mr. Rand. At a rough guess. that man is a no torious swindler! Mr. I doubt if they were made before 1920.. Rand. any more than his did. they were a good two feet in over-all length. To the trigger-guards were attache d tags marked Fleming vs. Rand. Rivers. I will say this. stocks. there isn't the slightest difference between them.. Rand examined each pistol separately. the meta l-work was lavishly engraved and gold-inlaid. "Where did you hear that?" "From Mrs. first with one edge and then with the other." Rand answered. What do you make of these?" Rand took the pistols and looked at them. Mr. now that I understand your purpose. barrels and mountings. you should be free from mercenary bias. The stocks were so covered with ivory inlay that the wood showed only in tiny interstices. Ask me that after I've spent a day or so going over it. or how it could be sold to the best advantage. I must say that I am quite glad that Mrs. But if there's any doubt in your mind as to my qualifications." he chuck led. "Arnold Rivers? Has he had the impudence to try to buy the collection?" he dema nded. and also to secure his indictmen t on criminal charges of fraud?" "I didn't know that. "Why. he was back. and I'll be able to give you an estimate. gobbling i n surprised indignation. at the State Museum. being a sort of non-professional expert. "These things are the mos t complete fakes I ever saw--locks. They were wheel locks. but I haven't the vaguest id ea how much. do you know that only a week before his death. The whole job must have been miked in ten-th ousandths. You'll f ind pairs of English dueling pistols as early as 1775 that are almost indistingu
. Mr." That produced an unexpected effect. and I doubt if an interest in the history and de velopment of deadly weapons is any more incongruous in a criminologist than in a n industrialist.." he said. I was perplexed about how to deal with that collection. and long steel belt-hooks. Mr. how much do you think it ought to bring?" Rand shook his head." "I see. "Frankly.'" Goode said. They're suppo sed to be late sixteenth-century. "I only saw it twice. "We'll just test your firearms knowledge. F leming instructed me to bring suit against him. and what's more." Goode nodded. isn't it?" "I believe the colloquial term is 'racket. but I'm not surprised. the last time two years ago. I'm damned. In a moment. then compared them." Goode rose from his seat and went to a rank of steel fil ing-cabinets behind the desk. he took a si x-inch rule from his pocket and made measurements. you can check with Colonel Taylor.my time. taking off his glasses and polishing them on an outsize white handkerchief. "And as you point out. As far as I can see or measure. with a large manila enve lope under his arm. That's his business. apparently six teenth-century South German. though: It's probably worth a lot more than the ten thousand dollars Arnold Rivers has offered for it." He nodded again. Goode straightened in his chair. laying them on the desk. "Well. exce pt on some of the decorative inlay.
Goode. is s till an undistributed asset. "I am assuming that her interests are identical with those of the other heirs. and I don't care when they were made. Mr. However. "Now." Goode produced a short. and found. "As you'll see by that." he said." "That was rather my impression. fabrications." Goode gave a hacking chuckle. that's what I came to see you about." "Take them home and hang them over the mantel. They just didn't h ave the measuring instruments.ishable. He placed them in my hands. Mr. However. recently liquidated West Coast collection--"but I'd never hoped to see an example like th is. I expect some trouble. Rand. Fleming." Goode was peering at the ivory inlay on the underbelly of the stock. They are. to do closer work. Is that correct?" "Yes. what had you int ended doing about the collection?" "Well. but I realize that this is true only to a very limited extent. It' s my understanding that relations between the three ladies are not the most plea sant. I don't want anything to do wit h them. Mrs. Fleming had been inclined to take the view that R ivers had been equally victimized with himself. of course. "You'll do as an arms-expert. Now. croaking laugh. either or both of whom are sure to accuse me of having been b
. I advised them that action against Rivers would cost the estate more than they could hope to recover in damages. Varcek. and swore that he'd drive Rivers out of business." He picked up one of the pistols and examined it. he was in a fearful rage about it. Dunmore a nd/or Mrs. "And you'd win the piggy-bank. Fleming bought them. "Mr. There were a lot of papers accompanying them--I have them here--purporti ng to show that they had been sold by some Austrian nobleman." Rand got out Gladys Fleming's letter of authorization and hande d it to Goode. it simpl y never existed. an anti-Nazi refug ee. Rand. and as none of the heirs was interested."--he named a famous. and as he was the sole witness to the fact of the sale." "I thought so. in whose family they had been since the reign of Maximilian II. Flem ing. I feel that you should know that all three hate each other poisonously. Dunmore and Mrs. It seems that after Mr. I'll do just that. he took them apart. before I could start action. if nobody else wants them. At first. " he commented. Mr. although in the physical possession of Mrs. The collection.. when these things were supposed to have been made. I'd bet all Wall Street to Junior's pigg y-bank that I'd find that the screws were machine-threaded and the working-parts interchanged.. I looked up the family in the Almanach de Gotha. and the proceed s would be turned over to you for distribution to Mrs.." Rand advised. and that the working-parts were interchangeable from one pistol to the other. "I think. it i s you who are officially responsible for selling the collection. I did nothing about it. I've heard about fakes like these. a gunsm ith was working fine when he was working in sixteenth-inches. Varcek. instructing me to bring suit and also start criminal ac tion. at that time. he altered his opinion. As I understand it. "If I'm going to have anything to do with selling the collection. Fleming." he said. Mr. Mr. Now. "They are beautiful. just as you say. that the screw-threads had been mac hine-cut." he said. "Now there's a cautious understatement. when Rivers refused to take back the pistols and refund the purchase price. and only by. I was retained by. I don't kno w what to do about these. from Mrs. In fact. Fleming was killed in that accident. but in 1575. Rand. I won't bother t aking these things apart. but if I did. Mrs.
" "Yes.. But if I ha d to. You will. under the circumstances. "did I understa nd you to say that you had heard some of these silly rumors to the effect that L ane Fleming had committed suicide?" "Oh." Goode favored the detective with a saurian smile. Fleming's?" "Yes. But I'm going to have trouble convincing them of that. nobody wants the responsibility of starting a panic. and buckled the old Sam Br owne at the same hole. I'll get a letter of authorization made out for you. " "Well. and to negot iate with prospective purchasers. that was why I came here. Just because there was some talk of retrenchment." he continued. he rose from behind his desk and advance d. until recently. "You're not a lawyer. "Would you rather carry my authorization than Mr s. That. I'll have your authorization to ac t for me made out immediately. too. hello. in 1935.. shortly befo re Mr. people will hear of Mrs. I hope you will make a prompt denial. Fleming's death ." "Mr. pumping up a fine show of indignation. is not the case.." He pressed a button on his desk. "And now. Mr. if you hear any talk like that.rought into this by Mrs. but he could have still worn his Worl d War I uniform without anything giving at the seams. . Mr. smiling cordially. I'm chairman of the bo ard of directors. And by the way.. "I understand that. indeed. to list and appraise the collection. Fleming's having retained you." CHAPTER 4 Stephen Gresham was in his early sixties. just as I did at first." Goode agreed. though I never pra cticed.. Rand. "Why.." "You seem to have had quite an eventful career. As Rand entered. Rand?" he asked. for one r eason. with a queer c ombination of envy and disapproval. You will not be obligated in any way by authorizing me to act as your age nt--I'm getting my fee from Mrs. "The Premix Company is in the best possible financial condition. Rand . "A ce rtain type of sensation-loving mind.I. and it's hurting Premix on the market. Fleming to help her defraud the others. and w ill assume. that you are making some kind of an investig ation. of course . Fleming--but I would be obligated to represent her only as far as her interests did not improperly conflict with those of the o ther heirs. I am a member of the Bar in the State of Mississippi. would show that." "Oh. "Instead of opening a law-office. "And now. I ought to know. that's what's always heard. and then opened a private agency a couple of years later. None of them is taking these rumors seriously. "Well. Goode.. Jeff!" he greeted the detective. there is not one scintilla of truth in any of these scurrilous stori es!" Goode declared. a glance at its books. I went into the F." Goode remarked. "My armed-guard and armored-car service brings me into contact with a lot of the local financial crowd. and that's what I want made clear. you were an officer in the Army Intelligence. too.. they will all profit equally by my participation in this. I could go home tomorrow and hang out my shingle." Rand admitted." Rand shrugged. which God forbid." Goode gloomed. grasping his hand heartily. "You
. of course.B. or at its la st financial statement. but people are talking." Rand comfo rted him.. To tell the truth. no responsible person pays any attention to that sort of talk. even a m inor one. Mr .
"We wer e neighbors of his. we all know pretty much what's in the collection. for instance. as soon as possible. you can have the collection for any kind of an overbid that doesn't l ook too suspiciously nominal. "I wonder if I could meet your group. Pi erre was a Marine captain. so when I've heard from everybod y. "Worst thing they could do. if you wish. who's worth abou t a half-million in industrial shares. I'll give you a nd your friends the best break I can in fairness to my clients. taking a very righteous view of such an arrangement. "And not necessarily on account of Rivers.." Rand told him." Gresham said. But we aren't anxious t o make any premature offers. "I hate doing this to you. I understand that you and som e others are forming a pool to buy the Lane Fleming collection. and why don't you come out to Rosemont to see us? Dot and Irene were wondering what had become of you. Humphrey Goode isn't competent to handle that. What we wer e all afraid of was a public auction at some sales-gallery. What have you been doing. we're very serious about it." "Well. Joyner & Teale. at ab out twenty thousand a year. You can look us up. " "I'm afraid I've been neglecting too many of my old friends lately. Karen has a little general-antique business i n Rosemont. say tomorrow evening? I wa nt to be in a position to assure the Fleming family and Humphrey Goode that you' re all serious and responsible. or anything like that." Rand shook his head. I'm not obliged to call for sealed bids. I'll give you a chance to bid against the highest offer in hand. and Adam Trehearne. Besides myself. I appreciate that. invalided home after being wounded on Peleliu. if he'd call me a crook. Why. of Cabot. I'd take that as a complime nt. he wri tes science-fiction for the pulps.. of course not. we won't mention this outside. who's vice president in charge of construction and maintenance for Edison-Public Power & Light. in a group. but I'd like to talk to your associates. You see. "I think you're entirely within y our rights. "Want in on it? I'm sure the others would b e glad to have you in with us. Jeff." Rand said. I suppose your crowd wouldn't want to make an off er until I have everything listed. "Been busy as the devil. but naturally. "and I think we're all re sponsible. If you want to top it. We're going to need all the money we can scrape t ogether. for the next week or so. "Tell you what. Fact is. Karen Lawrence. We don't want to offer more than we have to. I should have known they'd get somebody like you in to sell the collection for them." Gresham replied. the Fleming estate has just employed me to expertiz e the collection and handle the sale for them. Of course. and Colin MacBride. so can I." "Yes. and Pierre Jarrett and his fiancée. I can imagine Arnold R ivers. but you know how it is." Rand got his pipe lit and drawin g properly. Remember the big sales in the twenties?. They intend using their share of the collection." Rand thought for a moment." Gresham said." Rand admit ted. and at the same time. it was business that finally brought me around here. staying at the Fleming place. " "No. here." "I'm afraid you will.haven't been around for months." "Well. Stephen. at that. sitting down and getting his pipe out. I'm going to be in Rosemont. plus such culls and
. we don't want to underbid and see the collection sold elsewhere. whom you know. of course. a collection like that would g o for peanuts at auction." "Yes!" Gresham became enthusiastic." "Why. and collectors are a gregarious lot. with this damned Rivers bidding against us. there is Philip Cabo t." "Oh. working on the collec tion.
You remember. wouldn't you say?" "I'd say made in Japan." "I notice that Rivers isn't advertising in the American Rifleman any more. that he had gotten it from a family that had owned it ever since it was made. about 1920. The collector who bou ght this spurious flintlock spotted what had been done. . "Just how much more of that sort of thing do you think I'm going to have to w eed out of the collection." "Rivers claimed. in original condition? He got that one in 1924. all models and most variants. A Hall flintlock br eech-loader." Gresham said. an Elisha Collier flintlock revolver. late percussion Ken tuck by sawing off the breech-end of the barrel.." Gresham said. that's right. And anything else you can think of.. And every imaginable kind of flintlock--over a hundred U. a pair of Forsythe detonatorlock pistols. Jeff! Twenty-five wheel locks! Ten snaphaunces. "About two years ago.. "They're all. who does all his fraudulent conversions for him. right after I got back from Germany. "Aren't they the damnedest ever seen. and to the postal authorities. Gresham asked him how recently he had se en the Fleming collection." "Yes. would be all right. We didn't have time to see everything.duplicates as the rest of us can consign to them. while you were still occupying Germany. with a general-antique sideline. at the old Walpole Galleries. Martials. and shortening the fore-end to fit. and--he got this sinc e the last time you saw the collection--a real Rappahannock Forge flintlock. one evening in March. that's a collection to end collections. Lane was a careful buyer. North types." Rand mentioned. "Rivers sold a rifle to a collector down in Virginia. I'll call a meeting at my place tomorrow evening. about three years ago.S. we wen t there together. and showed letters signed 'D. he must have let himself get hypnotized by all that ivory and gold. Oh. which Karen can manage while Pierre's writing. And seven Paterson Colts. about the time arms-collecting was just getting out of the family-heirloom stage." Rand replied. You k now. that had been made out of a fine. Remember that bi g Whitneyville Walker. a couple of Virginia Manufactory models. rethreading it for the breech-p lug." "By the way. I have an example of Umholtz's craftsmanship. Humphrey Goode showed me a pair of big ball-butt wheel locks. and squawked to the Rifl e Association. about 1870 or '80. though?" he ask ed. "No. a knight and a huntsman? Did you notic e that they had slant eyes?" He stopped laughing. Boone' and 'Davy Crocke
. and fitting the lock with a flint hammer and a pan-and -frizzen assembly. before I can offer it for sale?" he asked. and lifted his membership c ard for good measure. one Elmer Umholtz. Gresham shook his head. to go into the arms business. Rivers has a gunsmith ove r at Kingsville. "Made in Germany. If he h adn't been killed just when he was. including a couple of cased sets. early flintlock Kentuck. the National Rifle Association stopped his ad. there were a coup le of small human figures on each pistol." Ran d observed. and all that documentation on crested notepaper. They were Lane Fleming's one false step. "Remember. A fine . Gresham laughed heartily. drilling a new vent. Ordinarily.. he'd have run Rivers out of the old-arms bus iness. including the 1818 Springfield. and looked at Gresham seriousl y. myself. all th e S. Fleming's death was an undeserved stroke of luck for Arnold Rivers. Rand agreed. And about a hundred and fifty Colts.. at the Fr ed Hines sale. all covered with ivory inlay. "My G od. Tell you what. say at eigh t thirty. That suit you?" That. I suppose.
but you'd have given him a lot of dirty publicity. I'm going to beat it out of that dirty little swindler's hide. "The story is that Fleming found it hanging back of the counter at some roadsid e lunch-stand. "Rivers sold it to. You know. you know." T he lawyer muttered obscenely. He could afford litigation like that. he made one of these mythical heavy ." Gres ham replied. one of those imitation Colt Navy Models that were made in the South during the Civil War. "I really don't know."--he named a moving-picture bigshot--"for twenty-five hundred dollars." Gresham replied. when he made the real Walker Colt. and he was plenty burned up." "This fellow who bought it. but what could he do? Rivers was dug in behi nd this innocent-purchase-and-sale-in-good-faith Maginot Line of his." "Why. That's all Fleming wa s expecting to do about those wheel locks. an ugly look appearing on his face. You know. along with a lot of other old pistols. "You might not have gotten an ything. Umholt z is a really fine gunsmith.44 six-shooters of the sort Colt was supposed to have turned out at Paterson in 1839 for Colonel W alker's Texas Rangers--you know. a couple of y ears ago--Mexican-Mauser action.A. traded a . now. he claimed to have gotten it in trade from some wayfaring collector. Rivers must have sold about ten of them. that bastard took me. Then he inquired. Johnson barrel. idly: "What so rt of a pistol was it that Lane Fleming is supposed to have shot himself with?" Gresham frowned. "It was supposed to ha ve been loaded at the time. but the N." Rand said. and if I don't get it in cash." Rand nodded. You know." He shook his head.S. Umho ltz made the stock and fitted a scope-sight--it's a beautiful little rifle. did he see Belden and Haven's Colt book. His story was that he picked it up in Mexico. yes! This fellow Umholtz was practically turning them out on an assem bly-line. I ha te to see him prostitute his talents the way he does by making these fake antiqu es for Rivers. "Oh Lord. chambered for . so Rivers doesn't advertise in the Rifleman any more.36." "Wasn't there some talk about Whitneyville Walker Colts that had been made out of 1848 Model Colt Dragoons?" Rand asked.38-special to some halfbreed goat-her der for it. the model he couldn't find any of in 1847. That story you find in Sawyer's book. I can't." Rand told him. at hom e." Gresham replied. I had him build a deer-rifle for Dot. when it came out in 1940?" "Yes. He was familiar with the type. You could find plenty of other collectors who'd hold you r coat while you were doing it. Jeff.R.300 Savage. I didn't see it. and went off while Fleming was working on it. took a slightly dimmer view of the transaction. "He convinced Uncle Whiskers.tt' to prove it?" "No. "I wouldn't blame you. North & Ch eney Navy flintlock 1799 Model that had been made out of a French 1777 Model. that story's been absolutely disproved. for a while. Lane Fleming would know a lo
. once. and talked the proprietor into letting it go for a few dollars." "Not till Umholtz made one. "Why didn't you sue hell out of him?" Rand asked. just one-tenth as badly." Gresham continued. I want my mone y. in 1938. It's supposed to have b een a Confederate Leech & Rigdon . "I can't believe that." "I'm not Fleming. "There never was any such revolver. with a fake U.
refreshing his memory of the place. he looked around. It would be a great deal better for all concerned if i t were left at that. For a moment. The room. There was a smoke-gray Plymouth coupé parked in front of it. towar d that end. in effect. why?" Rand demanded. and on the right. if you go about it right. An apathetically persistent rain sogged th e seedling-dotted old fields on either side. but the fact is that I believe Fleming was about to lose control of the Premix Company. Rand stood with his back to the car. and depended for its support u pon a population scattered over a five-mile radius at estates and country homes. but certain influences were at work. It was one of the many commuters' villages strung out for fifty miles alo ng the railroad lines radiating from New Belfast. And our coroner. They were set high. a porch formed a contin uation under a deck roof. extending thirty feet toward the road. uniform with the rest of the bui ldings. green-roofed railroad station which stood on its passenger-platform like a captain in front o f four platoons of gray-walled. and the f amily faked the accident and fixed the authorities. until he came to a red brick pseudo-Co lonial house on the right. a movie theater. which acquired a double pitch and became a gable roof where the ell pr ojected forward. There were four gas stations. He pulled to the side of the road and got out. "I never heard of Fleming having any troub les worth killing himself over. I believe he deliberately shot himself." Gresham lowered his voice. Rand saw a black-lettered white sig n: Antiques. The mournful hoot of a distant locomotive whistle was the only sound to pierce the silence. it was dominated by a gray-walled. inside the company. Fine Antique and Modern Firearms for the Discriminating Collector. out in Scott County. looking at the gallows-like sign t hat proclaimed this to be the business-place of Arnold Rivers. The police never made any in vestigation. it was. A Fibber McGee door-chime clanged as Rand entered." He inspected the tip of his cigar and knocked off the ash into the tray at his elbow. Closing the door behind him. and a hi gh ceiling of unbroken dirty gray gave no promise of clearing. Although connected to the house by a s hed roof. well. Mellon period. It's been written off as such. "Jeff. it was handled by the coroner alone." CHAPTER 5 Rand drove slowly through Rosemont. turnin g up the collar of his trench coat. doubly unpleasant after the recent unseasonable warmth. a separate building. Over the door of one of the smaller stores. green-roofed houses and stores aligned along as many converging roads. and a Woolworth store with a red front that made it look like some painted hussy who had wandered into a Quaker Meeting. There was a post office. an ell had been built at right angle s." he said. Obviously a planned community. at the left. "Lane Fleming's death is on record as accidental. The house faced the road with a long side. is eminently fixable. s o don't quote me. and the pine-woods beyond. an excessive quantity of aluminum trimming dated it somewhere in the mid dle Andrew W. the next day. was lighted b y an almost continuous row of casement windows on the right. a pitiful little nonenti ty with a tremendous inferiority complex. and another on the left for as far as the ell extended beyond the house. with its own front door and its own door-path. This is in confidence. Its floor-level was about four feet lower than that of t he parent structure. "I have. The air was raw and damp. a good
. Jeff. some twenty feet wide and fifty long.aded revolver when he saw one. I'm not supposed to talk about this." "But good Lord. sources of inside information. he continued along Rout e 19 for a mile or so beyond the village. Instead of turning onto the road to the Fleming estate.
and picked it up. "Is Mr. Mr.. Mr. the sloping roof was supported by bare timber rafters. holding long-guns and swords. a dealer can sell just so many of such top-drawer rarities before the fi nger of suspicion begins leveling itself in his direction. however. He didn't exactly harmonize with all th e lethal array around him. He'll be finished before long." "So I see. "Surprising how many collectors think all Confederate revolvers had brass frame s. now?" There was a whole table devoted to Colts. The cylinder of one 1851 Navy bore seria l numbers that looked as though they had been altered to conform to the numbers on other parts of the weapon. a cellarette. "That isn't a real Colt. that's the one with the brass frame. aft er all. or Gordon. His costume ran to pastel shades. Rand. however. Have you ever been here before?" "Not for some time. Where the ell joined the house under th e shed roof. "When I was here last. a low cocktail-table. there was a young fellow named Jordan. or would you like to just look about?" "Mostly look about. under the windows. I have a Griswold & Grier." he greeted. and a short flight of steps to a landing and a door out of the dwelling. General-pistol collector. with lovely.. and Arnold Rivers had long ago passed that point. Rivers got it sometime in late December or early
. Rand saw something that interested him. and advanced to meet him. That's an unusual ly fine specimen. but the n aval-battle and stagecoach-holdup engravings on the cylinders were far from clea r--in one case. Racks lined the walls. No spurious Whitneyville Walkers. "Oh. and. and the Spiller & Burr. he had large and soulful blue eyes and prettily dimpled cheeks. was a brass four-pounder on a ship's carriage. and his longish blond h air was carefully disordered into a windblown effect. a Leech & Rigdon.. a big desk." Cecil Gillis said. Rivers is having luncheon. laid asi de a magazine. He was before my time. stood beside it. or something like that. muzzle tilted upward.. there was a fireplace." "The Griswold & Grier. Many of the Colts." The present functionary introduced himself as Ceci l Gillis. too." the exquisite Mr.five feet from lower sill to floor. As Rand went toward the rear. completely obliterated. perfect bluing that was considerably darker than that a pplied at the Colt factory during the 'fifties and 'sixties of the last century." Rand said. There were several of the commoner percussion model s. "Is there anything in particular you're inter ested in." "Oh. in the far cor ner. "Have you many Colts . and some furniture--a davenport. Gillis told him. he would have looked more at home presiding over an e stablishment devoted to ladies' items. were entirely correct." Rand told him. good afternoon. a young man rose from one of the chairs. a Philippine latanka .. because of the Griswold & Grier. "In a small way.. but no Leech & Rigdon. The silver plating on backstraps and trigger-guards was perfect. and there was no ceiling. Young Gillis wanted to kn ow if Rand was a collector. if you care to w ait. the pistols and daggers and other small items were displayed on a number of long tables. and all were in reasonably good condition. Rand gave his name and shook hands with him. "It's a Confederat e copy. Rivers in?" "Mr." Rand said. In the middle of the room. glaring at the front door. three or four deep chairs facing the fire.
Andrew Strahan. "You bought a Highlander. '41. from a gentleman in Charleston. "I thought I knew you. Maybe he was. By Alexander Murdoch. it's supposed to have been a family heirloom. and came down the s teps. I would have thought it h ad been in a collection. As he did. The conversation passed from Confederate revolvers to the arm s of the Civil War in general. "Mr." the clerk replied. he shifted the cigarette-holder t o his left hand and extended his right. until he found the card he want ed." Rand said. he decided that this custo mer knew pistols. handing the revolver to you ng Gillis. the young fellow really knew arms. but from the way it's been cared for. and probably knew values. Gillis got some heavy paper out of a closet and packaged it. His mouth still had the old curve of supercilious insolence. and placed him in the pay-dirt b racket. He made a few notes on it. he must have recognized Rand. Rivers got it like this." he said. of Doune. It's been some years sin ce you've been around here. he had lost weight. decided that he was not soliciting magazine subscriptions or selling Fuller brushes. "Nice cle an condition. clean it up yourself?" "Why. and they were discussing the changes in tactics o ccasioned by the introduction of the revolver and the repeating carbine when the door from the house opened and Arnold Rivers appeared on the landing. no. with the air of one conferring a benefaction. if you please. He looked older than when Rand had last seen him. weren't you?" Rivers thought for a moment. "I'll take it. however. isn't it?" he asked. then hunted th rough a card-file in the top drawer of the desk. laying aside his coat and hat. As I said. I understand.January. That was characteristic of Arnold Rivers's busine ss methods." Rand followed him to the rear." Rand replied. Never particularly robust. from some remarks Rand had let drop. and he was still smoking with the six-inch carved ivory cigarette-holder which Rand remembered. His hair was thinner on top a nd grayer at the temples. in letter-code ." He dug out his billfold and extracted three twenties. and his face was thinner and more hollow-cheeked. wasn't it?" "No. I believe it had been ca rried during the Civil War by a member of the former owner's family. at that. from his twenty-dollar Stetson past his Burbe rry trench coat to his English hand-sewn shoes." "I've been a lot of places in the meantime. "Why. Rivers want for this?" he asked.
. Mr. it was marked. He had already appraised Rand. with three different prices. In spite of his effeminate appearance and over-refined manner. prices had jumped like the very devil since the war. He looked his visitor over carefully from the doorway. Rand. Mr. "How much does Mr. then. and was still holding it and the sixty dollars wh en he rejoined Rand by the fire. "Shall I wrap it for you?" "Yes." Rand looked at the tag tied to the trigger-guard. Rand decided. Rand. of Edzel. "You were here last in October. that is sixty dollars. The clerk mentally decoded the three prices and vacillated for a moment over th em.
Rand let out more smoke. a few days ago.. it hasn't been sold yet. "This is Arnold Rivers. Mr. Verral . carrying it out the door at the rear. picked up the phone and spoke into it." Gillis interjected. No." Rivers's face lit with the beatific smile of a cat at a promising mouse-hole. Verral. the only rep lacement is the small spring inside the patchbox.. a gentleman in Chicago got the Murdoch. yes indeed." Rivers told Rand. "The inscription was the cla n slogan of the Camerons.. the F. and nodded. Fleming. long distance from Milwaukee. Cecil Gillis answered it. it's really first-rate. "When Cecil comes back. Yes. has just ordered 6288. whose address we have. the Leech & Rigdon . as though anything selling for less than a h undred dollars was so much garbage. I've been receiving calls ever since. I think you'll like it.. Rand.. might I ask. looking up from the drawer in which he was filing the card on the Leech & Rigdon. I' ll have him get you a copy. Th is--is London! The telephone sputtered for a moment.. " Ah. the rifling is excelle nt." Rivers's eyes narrowed. He came around the desk. She employed an arms-expert." Gillis went to one of the racks under the windows and selected a long flintlock rifle." he said. Mr. I'll ship it at once. "She didn't. No. saw how much Rand had be en taken for. Mr. Good-by. excuse me.. not at all. Of course it's an original f lintlock. Rand just bought 6524. "I understand you've offered to buy th e Lane Fleming collection.. Of course." He crossed to the desk. Quite well. certainly. naturally. Mr." Rand commented. "That's right! I sold both of those pistols at abou t the same time. Mr. "From Mrs.. Fleming think it in order to employ a dete ctive in a matter like that?" he wanted to know. something like: Sons of the hound. handin g Rivers the card and the money. Zorger flintlock Kentuck. On approval." The telephone rang. "A nice item." He hung up and turned to his hireling. For ten thousand dollars. "Ah.... I'd know who was offering how much. Rivers. Do you wish me to ship it to you?." Rand released a puff of pipe smoke and watched it draw dow nward into the fireplace.Rivers snapped his fingers. in Milwaukee. Did you ever get anybody to translate the Gaelic ins cription on the barrel?" "You've a memory like Jim Farley. loading another cigarette into his holder. Verral.. "And just why. Rand. I thank you. Mr." "Mr.." "Where did you hear that?" Rivers demanded.." he faintly praised. did Mrs. Mr.. The Strahan had a starpierced lobe on the hammer. "I issued a list. and then s aid: "For you." Rand flattered. I didn't list it as re-altered. did I?. "I've been retained to handle the sale of that collect ion.36. "Cecil. Rivers. much as Edward Murrow used to say. this is the tw elfth long-distance call since Tuesday. Will you please attend to it?" "Right away. "Considering the condition in which Confeder ate arms are usually found. come and get flesh! I won't attempt the original. listened for a moment. fairly licking his chops. Rivers looked at both.. And you?.." "Business must be good. a Colonel Je
. and as I' m the only party making any serious offer to buy those pistols. who is a well-known contributor to the Ameri can Rifleman and the Infantry Journal and Antiques and the old Gun Report.S. how much more than that do you think Gresham and his crowd will offer?" "I haven't talked price with them. " Although he just managed not to show it. "What do you think it' s really worth?" Rand shrugged. anyhow?" "I haven't talked price with them. I though t Fred Dunmore was handling the collection. he reflected.C." Rivers reported. "I'm willing to go as high as twenty-five thousand for that collection. I'm not nuts enough to expect anything like that in a lump sum . I believe?" "Then you're not making an investigation?" "What in the world is there to investigate?" Rand asked.
.R. yet. too. Rand. a nyhow." "Well. though. you get their offer. do you?" "Well. "I'm just selling a lo t of old pistols for the Fleming estate. you certainly don't expect them to be able to handle anything like this.." Rivers forced a laugh. "Well. I wanted to know what there was to investigate. let's not mention ten thousand dollars in this connection any more ." "Well. those people!" Rivers scoffed. U. and I'll top it. "And aren't you forgetting Stephen Gresham and his friends?" "Oh. A lot more than ten thousand dollars. "It probably has a dealer's piece-by-piece list-value of around seventy thousand. What d o you expect to get out of them." "Well." Rand repeated. "Some of them have good lis tings in Dun & Bradstreet's. That's on the order of Lawyer Marks bidding seventy-five cents for Uncle Tom. A good ca se. but please. Rand! That was just an opening offer.A. as soon as I can. Rand was really surprised. or any of the other relativ es-in-law?" he asked. "Now." Riv ers frowned." Rivers declared. "I mean to. "Mr. "You see anything in that about Fred Dunmore. the banks speak well of them. they won't go that high." He got out Goode's letter of au thorization and handed it to Rivers. yet." He grimaced. I'm glad to know what the situation really is. Mr.fferson Davis Rand. I am. so do I. "I thought you were making some kind of an investigation. You'v e read some of his articles." "Do you consider ten thousand dollars to be a serious offer?" Rand asked." "I thought Fred Dunmore was doing that. I didn't understand." Rand replied. could be made of that for the actuality of miracles." "So did Fred. Even a cons ciousness of abstracting had not prepared him for the shock of hearing Arnold Ri vers raise his own offer to something resembling an acceptable figure. it's only good for laughs. who read it through twice before handing it back. You're both wrong. "I can top any offer that crowd makes. O.
" he replied. It should not have been sold.. sir. "Now you're being unreasonable." CHAPTER 6 The Fleming butler--Walters. "I have a special fondness for Confederate arms. "You see. Rand favored him with a display of pained surprise." He got Rand's sixty dollars out of his pocket as though he expected it to catch fire. I should hear from everybody who's interested in a few weeks. I 'm willing to pay anything up to twenty-five thousand for the Fleming collection . Well. and the other was with Barksdale. Rivers laughed ruefully..." Rivers conceded. "I thought. Colonel Rand. and circularize the ol d-arms trade. I want this revolver you sold me.. "Mr. "Don't forget. picking up his trench coat." He slipped into the coat and put on his hat. now. he was watching Rand ne rvously." he protested. I'm dreadfully sorry. Mr.." Ran d gave him a look of supercilious insolence that was at least a two hundred per cent improvement on Rivers at his most insolent.. Mr. Rivers cleared his throat. too. at present. Rivers had risen. "but I'll have to return your money and take back that revolver. and then picked up the package con taining the Confederate revolver. soon. and you accepted payment and were satisfied with the transaction.. You can be sure I'll keep your offer in mind. O ne of my grandfathers was in Mosby's Rangers. Rand remembered Gladys Fleming having called him-became apologetic upon learning who the visitor was." Rand shook his head. Rand. we have no chauffeur." he added. "I shoul d apologize for trying to renege on a sale. just follow the driveway around. The sale's been ma de. "Well. sir? The garage is under the house. who would pay me at least eighty f or that item. "I'll see you later. I just remembered a customer of mine who specializes in Confederate arms. myself. "Why. but I'm afraid I must put you to some inconvenience." he began. It was probably the first time he had ever been on th e receiving end of that routine. now." He followed Rand to the door. "Well! That's something like it. I can't do that. Would you object to putting up your own car. and held it o ut." he said. You certainly can 't find fault with an offer like that. but. at the rear. I hope to see you agai n. and I don't drive ve ry well. I'll give you seventy-five dollars' credit on anything else in the shop. to tell the truth."
." "Well. you're entirely within your rights." he admitted." he said. but. "Look here. I'll go through the house and meet you there for the luggage." Rivers seemed distressed. "I bought this revolver in good faith. Rand. shaking hands with him.He rose. I don't kn ow how long it's going to take me to get a list prepared. Rand. "You know. to say nothing of about a dozen great-uncles and so on. myself. "Forgive me. I'll begin to acquir e a poor idea of your business methods before long. When Rand tucked the package under his arm and began drawing on his glo ves. I'm dreadfully sorry to put you to the trouble. and he didn't like it.." "I don't want anything else in the shop.
and the one on the left was the library. economic considerations aside. sir. Rand told him to forget the protocol and lead the way. the servant went to the rear of the car and took ou t the Gladstone and the B-4 bag Rand had brought with him. but she had evidently laid a good found ation for a first-class jag. now. Walters explained. and a sand-colored Packard station-wagon. almost as though h e were making some indecent and criminal proposal. and there was a third door. He seem ed to be still suffering from the ignominy of admitting a house-guest through an y but the main portal. came forward as Rand entered the par lor. "Bags in the luggage-compartment. The two other women in the big parlor remained motionles s." Gladys said.
. stretching to the front of the house. "And Mrs. "If you don't mind entering the house from the rear. and I'd better lea rn the layout of the garage now." The blonde--Geraldine--smiled shyly at him. in the short black skirt and the tight white sweater. I expect to be in and out with the car while I'm here. or drive straight in and back out. a big maroon Packard sedan. which pas sed under an arch to extend to the front door." She was the brunette with the ful l bust and hips." he told the butler. She wasn't exactly blotto. clos ed. There was a door on either side. standing in it and coughing delicately. that's all right. before announcing that Colonel Rand was here. about midway to the arch under the front stairway. a highball in her hand. "Just as soon do it." "You may back in." Rand comforted him. Rand put his Lincoln in on the left of the sedan. Rand didn't wo nder that they resented Gladys so bitterly." Rand returned to his car."Oh." She indicat ed a very pale blonde who sat slumped in a deep chair beside a low cocktail-tabl e. was waiting for him. An open door from this gave access to a lon ger hall. They would be the sisters. "This is Mrs. jockeyed a little. Geraldine Varcek and Nelda Dunmore. where he had placed the Leech & Rigdon revolver . Walters. was locked. who was s tanding by the fireplace." the butler suggested. myself. he put down the bags. it isn't locked. sir. the one on the right was the dining-room. her hand extended. there. standing sid e by side. There were already two cars in the garage. we can go up those st eps. and backed in. Having what amounted to a conditioned reflex to park hi s car so that he could get it out as fast as possible. making sure that the glove-compartment. As he got out. Emerging into the front hallway. which probably led to the servants' domain. driving around the house. a nyhow. The butler picked up the bags and conducted him up a short flight of concrete steps to a landing and a d oor opening into a short hall above. it was only two thirty in the afternoon. took Rand's hat and coat and laid them on top of the luggage. Colonel Rand. wearing a pale blue frock. Rand followed his guide through the open door and into the long hall. Gladys Fleming. After all. "H'lo. and then went to an open doorway on the ri ght. and delicately tinted rose-petal lips that seemed to be trying not to laugh at some private joke. "One way's about as easy as the other." the butler told him. he cut over to the right. A row of doors opened out o f the basement garage. Varcek. and through the rear hall. who must have gone through the house on the doub le. Dunmore. She had big blue eyes. girls seldom enthuse over a stepmother so near their own age who is so much more beau tiful. "Good afternoon.
this afternoon. this afternoon." Rand said. There has been no inventory of any sort made. The full. too. I'll circularize dealers and o ther possible buyers and ask for offers. at all. "Fred has talked to one dealer. "And I can tell you now that twenty-five thousand dollars is just what he will pay for it. on th e side?" "Oh." "What's ridiculous about them?" Geraldine demanded. then turned to Gladys. which is not at all i mprobable. in her present con dition. "I told you. unquote. in Macy's basement!" Geraldine hooted. but he finally admitted that he was willing to pay up to twenty-five thousand dollars for the collection.. "Maybe he can find out why Fred never talked to Stephen Gresham. As soon as I get an itemized list. "Colonel Rand. to catch the ruddy light on her more interesting curves and bulg es--there was a bimbo just made to be leered at. Geraldine. and Fred's thinking we'd accept it. shut up!" Nelda howled." "Mr. "Mr." "What?" Nelda fairly screamed. "I have his authorization to handle al l the details. and if he buys it. "How much is Rivers slipping Fred.The other sister--Nelda--didn't say anything. Mrs. How much is Fred getting out of Rivers. dark-red lips." "Is that all?" Nelda demanded angrily of Gladys. too. Rivers is offering us ten thousand dollars. what's been done. Her hands opened and closed spasmodically: she w as using a dark-red nail-tint that made Rand think of blood-dripping talons. yesterday. are the only ridiculous things about it. Arnold Rivers told me. Then she decided to take direct not ice of Rand's presence. I'm sorry to say that. "He seemed a b it upset about my being brought into this. "I think Rivers's o ffering ten thousand dollars for the collection. you're crazy!" "Ten thousand dollars.." he said." Gladys replied. go back to your bottle!" Nelda cried. dumping another two ounces of whiskey into her glass and freshening it with the siphon. Arnold Rivers."
. but when my sist er begins making these ridiculous accusations . "I had a talk w ith Goode." "That's rather what I told Rivers. Fleming?" Rand asked. It's bad enough for my stepmot her to bring an outsider into what's obviously a family matter." Geraldine continued. that's exactly what it's going to cost him." Nelda retorted. my sister doesn't know what she's saying. anyhow?" "My God. Rand doubted that she ordinarily gave men the hostile eye. unless I can find somebody who's willing to pay more. and I quote: I'm willing to pay up to twenty-five thousand dollars for that collection." Rand put in. or Carl Gwinnett. for a collection that ought to sell for five times that. for the record. "You're too drunk to know what you'r e talking about!" "They tell me Colonel Rand is a detective. "I don't see why you had to bring this Colonel What's-his-name into it. Rand gave them a general good-afternoon. You think he can get us a better offer? If you do. yesterday afternoon. the way she draped it against the side of the fireplace. the lush figure. She merely stood and stared at Ra nd distrustfully. "Why Fred's done all that alre ady!" "Is that correct. or any body else except this Rivers. and she probably resented it li ke hell if she weren't.
there was apparently nothing stupid about her. then turned to Nelda. Then her glance fell on the bottle and siphon on the table beside Geraldine's chair... Wait till she gets Fred alone . either. "Now I hope you see why I thought it wise to bring in somebody who knows something about old arms. and want your money in a hurry." A dirty look. even?" she wanted to know." As s he spoke." he finished. Gladys. particularly handsome six-foot ers who were broad across the shoulders and narrow at the hips and resembled Kin g Charles II." Gladys suggested. Nelda had to fall in a couple of paces rear of center. too. let's go up to the gunroom. I'd hate to be in his spot." "My God." Nelda left the fireplace and advanced toward Rand." she said. his conversation with the dealer." Gladys pointed. "Did Rivers actually tell you he'd pay twenty-five?" Rand gave. explained what she had thought... "And twenty-five G ain't hay. "He can make a nice profit on the collec tion. "You say you're acting on Humphre y Goode's authority?" "That's right. The double doorway into the hall was just wide enough for Rand and his two flankers to pass through. took his othe r arm. for distribution according to the terms of your father's will. aghast. as she was accustomed to look at men. Nelda evidently saw." Gladys said. not too steadily. "I see..." She seemed greatly relieved. if you're a dealer with an established business." she sa id. "I had no idea Father's pistols were worth anywhere near that muc h." Rand got ou t Goode's letter and handed it to Nelda. "Well.. and took Rand's left arm. aim ed at Gladys. She was probably wondering if Rand was equal to Old Rowley in anot her important respect. "And that's your room." "That's why I was against turning the collection over to Gwinnett on a commissi on basis. I'll negotiate the sale. while Colonel Rand's looking at the pistols.. and want to take five or six years to make your profit. "There's the gunroom. She read it carefully. Nelda was barely successful in suppressing a look of murderous anger. no. "A nd he can afford it. "I didn't understand .
. ten tho usand sounded like a fairly generous headwaiter's tip. "Certainly. "It would take him five years to get everything sold. "If you aren't. her glass still in her hand. I thought.. but the money will be paid directly to him." She frowned. now. and customers all over the country.. seeing Nelda moving in on the detective's right. Rand thought. I don't suppose Fred did. do you mean the pistols are worth more than that.. and was n't able to come up into line until they were in the hall upstairs. Geraldin e?" Geraldine rose. brother!" Gladys smiled quickly at Rand. as nearly verbatim as possible." Rand replied. "Colonel. Walters came out of the doorway she had indicated. "And Fred w as going to take a miserable ten thousand dollars!" The way she said it."H'ray!" Geraldine waved her glass and toasted Rand with it. "We can have our drink up there. she was looking at Rand. and she changed the subject b y inquiring if Colonel Rand mightn't like a drink. over there. I owe you an apolo gy. Coming with us. at that figure.
and a number of chairs. In the corner farthest from the desk." "I wonder if you could spare him to help me a little? I'll need somebody who kn ows his way around here. Walters was always in here. the cream of a lifetime's collecting. did anybody help Mr. were set. Rand was still looking at them when the butler brought in the drinks. hundreds and hundreds of them. after a few minutes.. "I may even be able to find somebody who'll top Rivers 's offer. CHAPTER 7 When Walters entered. what do you think of them. Rand and Gladys did most of the talking. talking about the collectio n. going over the pistols. I'm going to see Stephen Gresham and his associates this evening . he went out. at first. Rand he ard her speaking to him at the foot of the main stairway." "Oh. "Well. Each would contain a pistol or pair of pistols. but even so. sir. Between. On both ends." Gladys agreed. Fleming keep this stuff clean? The room seems dry. When they went out. on pairs of these strips. or in the afternoons till close to dinner-time.. upon which many flat rectangular boxes of hardwood rested--some walnut. There wa s a long table in the middle of the room. Colonel Rand?" Gladys asked. Rows of pi stols were hung. Geraldine. Horizontal white-painted boards had been fixed to the walls about four feet from the floor. with clea ning and loading tools. and on the long inside wall. by the spiral stairs to the library. when Glad ys told the servant that that would be all. Rand tasted his whiskey and looked around. rather reluctantly. Are you going to start work today?" "I'll have to. The butler received his instructions an d went down the stairway. he saw the head of the spiral stairway from the library below. The only books in the room were in a small case over the workbench. and back of it a short workbench and tool-cabinet. There was a desk in one corner. Rand had his pipe lit and was walking slowly around the r
. and similar boards had been placed five feet above them. There was a brief discussion of drinks. but don't be disappointed if I don't." Nelda said. and I'll want to know what I'm talking about. It was much as he remembered it from his visit of two years before. as wide as a lath but twice as thick. they'd need an occasional wiping-off. By the way. mentioned by Gladys Fleming. with screwhoo ks at grip and muzzle." he said. its top covered with green baize. and where the bath was. the pis tols hung. some quartered oak. There were ashstands and a couple of cocktail-tables." They spent about fifteen minutes over their drinks." he reported. "It's one of the finest collections in the country. retired into her pr ivate world and only roused herself when her sister and stepmother were about to leave. There were about a hundred such vertical rows of pistols. some rosewoo d. na rrow vertical strips." "Why. Then he looked at the walls. "He isn't very busy in the mornings. in spite of Nelda's best efforts to monopolize the conversation. Gladys promised to send Walters up directly."Your bags are unpacked. lately.. they were all arms-books. and the old maple cobbler's bench on which Lane Fleming had died. Then he told Rand where he would fi nd his things. "He's bee n in here every day. of course. Rand broke up the feminine formation around him and us hered the ladies ahead of him into the gunroom. the barrels horizontal.
and they are now the personal property of Mrs. He had a remarkable memory for his pist ols. Fleming. By the way. I understand that she intends selling at least some o f them. too. flintlock and percus sion. sir.. did Mr. After them came the other types of percussion revolvers." "Well. too. Fleming wants to sell mos t of that. I've s een him. of foreign governments. himself. Then.S. "Mrs. he could have named and described any or all of his own modest collection of two hundred-odd pistols and revolvers. any collector who was a serious arms-stud ent--could do that. with two rows of the regulation pistols. in the room formerly occupied by Mr." he said. downstairs. and the collection of Colts on the right. when he got back to New Belfast. It would be a big help to Carter Tip ton. and it would have helped me quite a bit. or all the rim-fire Smith & Wesson tip-back types. and Rand decided that it would make sense to the dealers and museums to whom he intended sending lists. only relatively true. Fleming keep any sort of record of his collection? A book." Rand nodded. or all the Allen pepperboxes. on her own account. I never saw or heard of anything of the sort. Roughly. Any collector--at least. and the lat er metallic-cartridge types. There is also a wall-case containing a number of modern pistols and revolvers. or a card-index. Martials." Rand turned." He made up his mind to compile such a record ." "Oh. I believe Mrs. the pisto ls seemed to have been classified by type in vertical rows. "I beg your pardon. when it came time to settle his own estate. with a large number of pistols of general ty pes added. placed on the left. He would save time by listing them as they were hung on the walls. Or else. in this room?. Then.. I'll talk to her about it. primed cartridge-s hells. he could enumerate all the pistols of a certain typ e. Fleming knew everything in this room." Walters broke in. percussion caps--but they are not part of the collection. from the arms student's point of view. and chronologically from top to bottom in each row. say. but they are not part of the collection. there is a quantity of ammunition and ammuniti on-components in that closet under the workbench--cartridges. sir. Fleming." Rand said. I may want to buy some of the ammunition for myself. This was. There was a collection of U. either. black and smokeless powder. "If he did. and the most recent ones on t he right. the earliest pieces were on the extreme left. sir. on the short north wall of the room. cartridge-primers. Fleming said that you wanted me. cont aining the ammunition collection--examples of every type of fixed-pistol ammunit ion--and the collection of bullet-molds and powder flasks and wheel lock spanner s and assorted cleaning and loading accessories. of course. at the south end. all the Philadelphia Deringers. At the moment. from wheel lock to percussion. about midway on the long east wall. and a man on whom the Reaper ha
." Walters was positive. "So I only need to bother with what's on the walls.oom. particularly if he were a good visualizer and kept his stuff in some systematic order. For instance. Then he hedged. sir. there were some thi rty-odd all-metal pistols. laying out the work ahead of him. It was an arrangement which made sense. behind him. Mr. All that stuff would have to be listed. here?" "Yes. and several rifles and shotguns. or anything like that?" "Why no. there were the cases between the windows on the west wall. yes. although it was not out of the ordinary otherwise. The collection seemed to consist of a number of intensely specialized small groups. close his eyes as though trying to visualize and then give a perfect description of any pistol in the collection. "Is this the whole thing? What's on the walls. "I was hoping he'd kept a record. when somebody would ask him about something. "A great many collectors do.
then shrugged. but this one was in simply appalling conditio n. ei ght seventeenth-century French. with sharply dropped grips. Walters show ed him which desk drawers contained paper and other things. meaning to make a general list and roug h approximation of value for use in talking to Gresham's friends that evening. five Fre nch and Italian sixteenth-century pistols. Stephen Gresham had mentioned an Elisha Collier flintlock revolver. There was a big army pistol. "And how about writing materials? And is there a typewriter available?" There was: a cased portable was on the floor beside the workbench. There was. The other is a n extension. I t wasn't there. maculated with yellow-surface-rust. It was impossible to shrug off a thing like that." the butler continued. There was a piece cracked out of the fore-end. Rand k ept his eyes open for similar incongruities. Rand noted them dow n. h e started on the left of the collection. There were many such interlopers among the U. in the upper right-hand desk drawer. picking up a note-pad and pencil. all of which p re-dated 1700. it doesn't connect with any other in the house. these things looked like a pair of Dogpatchers in the Waldorf's Starlight Room. There was no Hall breech-loader. Rand contemplated t hem with distaste. t he ramrod was missing.95 bargain-
. The vertical row next to it seemed to be all snaphaunces.38 Colt Detective Special." Rand thanked him for the information. it revolved freely if sluggishly.S.. then he looked sharply at one of them. the outside phone has a regular bell. Italian and Flemish pistols. Rand noti ced. three Saxon pistols. but there was a dilapidated old Ketlan d. a pair of the sort of weapons hastily thrown together by native craftsmen or imported ready-m ade from Belgium for bazaar sale to gullible tourists. a pair and one single. "And these phones. Twenty-five wheel locks: four heavy South German dags.. It was nothing out of the ordinary. They weren't hard to find. The metal was rough with rust. they might have had some sentimenta l significance. a pair of French petronels. among some exceptionally fine flintlocks. a French 1777 and a French 1773. he saw one of those big Belgian navy pistols. among a row of fine multi-shot flintlocks. and was about to pass on. T omorrow he would begin on the detailed list for use in soliciting outside offers . Then. a long Flemish weapon of about 1640. Among the fine examples o f seventeenth-century Brescian gunmaking above and below it. either. and when Rand touched the wheel. The re were two others almost like it. both the trigger-guard a nd the butt-cap were loose. two singles and a pair. a pair of small pocket or sash pistol s. grimy with hardened dus t and gummed oil. and an extremely long seventeenth-century Dutch p istol with an ivory-covered stock and a carved ivory Venus-head for a pommel.s scored as many near-misses as on Jeff Rand should begin to think of such thing s. It should be hanging about where this post-Napoleonic German thi ng was. of Central European ori gin and in abominable condition. of the sort once advertised far and wide by a certain old-army-goods dealer for $6. the type used by the Royalist cavalry in the English Civil War. A few rows farther on. and apparently no attempt had been made to cle an it in a couple of centuries.95. From then on. as was the front ramrod-thimble. the brasswork green with c orrosion. as wheel locks go. "This one is a priva te outside phone. but among them Rand s aw a pair of Turkish flintlocks. betraying a broken spring or chain. It has a buzzer. say souvenirs of a pleasantly remembered trip to the Levant. a couple more $6. This was a particularly repulsive specimen of its breed. indicating them. Mult i-shot . Martials: an English ounce-ba ll cavalry pistol. After all. Not even good Turkish flintlocks. circa 1800. a loaded .
Fleming would have that revolver. It went on like that." he replied. Goode lives nearby. to call him for cocktails. The rain-soaked lawn of the Fleming residence ended about a hundred yards to the west. there was no trouble of any sort about that. sir. And so unexpected. yes indeed. "I've thou ght about it a great deal. sir. without knowing that it was loaded. somewhat smaller than the Fleming place. to tell the truth. a miserable altered S. "Oh. "Must be comforting to know your lawyer's so handy. His stor y closely paralleled that of Gladys Fleming. sir. Dunmore had something like that in mind when he called Mr. that Mr." "Well. That just isn't possible. sir. Over here.C. I was glad to see him. I mus t say. there was some awful junk. an orchard was beginning to break into leaf.counter specials. Dunmore pointed out that the doctor would be obliged to notify either the coroner or the police. Model. if he'd had one. Varcek called the doctor immediately." He didn't seem averse to talking about it. over his shoulder. Fleming was k illed accidentally?" The servant looked at him seriously. about a dozen of the best pistols which Rand remembered having seen from two years ago w ere gone. he said: "Mr. I'm not. the family solicitor. "A great loss to all of us. "Mr. "I believe Mr. North 1816. The way these pistols were arranged." Rand looked out the window. Goode. "And what do you think. and another led from the orchard to the rear of the house from whi ch Rand looked. You can see his house from these windows. Yardman
. Walters? Are you satisfied. to the butler. when I came up here at quarter of seven. sir!" Walters seemed relieved that Rand had broken the silence . what happened?" Rand asked. A path led down from it to the orchard. so he called Mr. yes. and went on at some length. "You had rather a shocking experience here. Goode. and the Whitneyville Walker was absent. in your own mind. You see. and he spotted at least twenty items which the late Lane Fleming would n't have hung in his backyard privy. Rand thought. Fleming's death. as the good stuff had moved out. and I just can't believe that Mr. that was to be expected. "No. The fa ct is. I take it?" "Oh. since it happened. the absence of one from its hooks would have been instantly obvious." he said. he was here in about ten minutes. And I ca n't understand how he would have shot himself while removing the charges. "Did the coroner or the doctor choke on call ing it an accident?" "Oh no. beyond it.44 and a Belgian imitation of a Webley R. sir. Well. then. Among the Colts. and start working on it. and beyond the orchard and another lawn stood a half-timbered Tudorstyle house. these disreputable changelings had moved in. sir. sir. Fleming had shot himself deliberately. Dr. That was about twenty minutes aft er the shot.I. Goode arrived directly. including a big Spanish hinge-frame . So." Somebody else doesn't like the smell of that accident. "Then Mr." Rand said. if you'll pardon me. There weren't as many Paterson Colts as Gresham had s poken of." he commented. I had been afraid that the authorities might claim that Mr. in Mr. Mr." The butler thought for a moment. sir. he ha d the whole thing apart and spread out in front of him. Aloud.
"Mrs. Mrs. yes. You could probably get more for the deducting your commission. That was all there was to it. I see that. it's too valu able to let some damned county-seat politician walk off with. now." Gladys told him. and d on't want the collection peddled off piecemeal?. if s collection. "Which one was it?" he asked. send him up. and the doctor wrote out the certificate. sir. compact-looking man of forty-odd entered the gunr oom." "Well. even after collection belongs to made. but Mr. he has no business keeping it." Rand invited. "What would you consider a reasonable o ffer." "That's right. taking i t away. as it were. If that revolver's what I'm told it is." "And hasn't returned it yet? Well. Mr. Fl eming tells me you're handling the sale of the collection for the estate. "And if I find that he's disposed of it. spoke into it." Rand looked at the section of pistol-rack devoted to Colts. All right. Fleming tells me you're interested." "Yes. "Do you want to talk to him?" "Why.. the commission-dealer I told you about is here." A thought occurre d to him. sir."
. sir." "Yes. than I'll be able to. but it wasn't my place to say anything about it. or you. at least till the present incumbent gets out of jail. myself. Mrs. and belongs to the estate. "The coroner took it away with him. in a lump sum. to the rear of the house. Mrs. It's part of the collection."
"Yes. "You're Colonel Rand? Enjoyed your articles in the Rifleman. I offered to sell the collection for her on a commission basi s.. Mr. and the coroner decided that there would be no need for any i nquest. I'll make it mine. Gwinnett. Fleming. "For you. Originally. and in through the gar age. Dunmore was out with the coupé. Goode was here already. He'd come over by that path you saw. since Mrs. and has to be sold before any division can be your proposition. consider a reasonabl e offer?" "Sit down. we're just taking bids." A few minutes later. which was open. They all talked it over for a while. shifting a brief case to his left hand and extending his right. a short.called the coroner." "Colonel Rand. how much would the estate. yourself? We're not asking any specific price. that you and the other ladies want cash." The buzzer of the extension phone went off like an annoyed rattlesnake. Rand advanc ed to meet him and shook hands with him. but the the estate. Gwinnett. "Oh it's not here. as soon as he arrived. but she didn't seem to care for the idea. Fleming herself might have been interested in he'd been sole owner. and neither do the other ladies. If I may say so. and handed it to Rand. this county's going to need a new coroner. Well. Walters scooped it up. I'll talk to him. Carl Gwinnett." Walters replied." "Yes. Do I understand. listened for a moment. I thought it was a bit high-handed of him. Th ey all want spot cash." he said.
He'll make some fantastic offer. I'll cer tainly bear you in mind. and quite a few had values expressible in three figures. to date?" "Well. I'm afraid I couldn't tell you." Gwinnett said. as yet. when a pistol-colle ction with an average value of six dollars." Rand admitted. within thirty days of date." He opened his brief case and extra cted a sheet of paper. we haven't heard from everybody. or solicited offers. "Colonel Rand!" he protested. and paying off on it is another. when everybody's been bluffed o ut. I doubt if I could raise that much." "You can show that to Arnold Rivers. There had been a time. "Well. there wasn't a pistol in the Fleming collection that wasn't worth at least twenty dollars. even at that price. how much have you been offered. your offer is duly received and filed. Lane Fleming had kept his collection clean of the two-dollar items which dragged down so many collectors' average va lues. He wa s almost visibly wrestling with mental arithmetic. "Well. who makes a regular habit o f it. But one gentleman has expressed a will ingness to pay up to twenty-five thousand dollars. "Making a big offer to scare away competition is one thing. I'll stand back o f it. Fact is." he said. in its entirety. "You certainly don't take an offer like that seriously?" "I think it was made seriously. "A respectable profit could be m ade on the collection. here. he'll start making objections and finding faults. "Might I ask who's making this offer?" "You might. would you?" "I think I can guess." Gwinnett pursued. and before long he'll be d own to about a quarter of his original price. "You can file this." Gwinnett's face expressed polite skepticism. For one thing. I've seen that happen before. there's one dealer. had been something unusual. don't hold your head in a tub of water till you get it. not far from here. over his signature. "This is better than an unwitnessed verbal statement that somebody is willing to pay twenty-five thousand. and then. "I'll bet you don't have this twenty-five thousand dollar offer on paper. Except for the two-dozen-odd mysterious interlopers. arms values had incr eased sharply in the meantime. "See how m uch he's willing to commit himself to. you k now. fol ding the sheet and putting it in his pocket. particularly one as large as the Fle ming collection. For another. except locally." Rand replied. handing it to Rand." "The practice isn't unknown. You wouldn't want me to publish you r own offer broadcast. we haven't put out a list. If I'm right. and at the same time trying t o keep any hint of his notion of the collection's real value out of his face." Rand looked at the typed and signed statement to the effect that Carl Gwinnett agreed to pay the sum of fifteen thousand dollars for the Lane Fleming pistol-co llection. if you want to." CHAPTER 8 Pre-dinner cocktails in the library seemed to be a sort of household rite--a se
. That was an average of si x dollars a pistol. over a signature. Mr." Gwinnett's eyes shifted over the rows of horizontal barrels on the walls." Gwinnett advised." Rand told him. "Well. In fact. Gwinnett. not too long ago."Well.
As Rand followed Walters down the spiral from the gunroom. he probably radiated an aura of synthetic good-fellowship. was Fred Dunmore's. they all crossed the hall to the dining-room. and had thought that Muss olini was doing a splendid job in Italy. It lasted from six forty-five to seven. one-eighty. Bringing in an outsider will only give him the impression that we lack confidence in him. and that Prohibition was here to stay. Colonel Rand doesn't have any confidence in Rivers at all. where hostilities began almos t before the soup was cool enough to taste." Nelda retorted. never let him think we know what a God-damned c rook he is!" Dunmore evidently didn't think that worth dignifying with an answer. to t hat Medical Association meeting. At that time he had probably belonged to the Y." "Well. that H.M. everybody sipped Manhattans and kep t quiet and listened to the radio newscast. At company sales meetings. "Oh. Rivers's feelings like that. L. too bad!" Geraldine slashed at him. "We mustn't ever hurt dear Mr. Then the news commentator greeted them out of the radio. decorated with octagonal rimless glasses.lf-imposed Truce of Bacchus before the resumption of hostilities in the dining-r oom. the radio commercial was just starting. and everybody absorbed the day's news along with their Manhattans." Rand confirmed. If he did." Dunmore told her. "Rivers has made us a fair offer. five feet eight. "That's right. he's reading a paper about the new diabetic rat ion. The only new face. he was disappointed. to Rand. To this he added the Rotarian button on the lapel.. "Well?" Nelda demanded. but never. he got around to admitting that he's willing to pay up to twenty-five thousand. "In fact.. After the broadc ast." "You were talking to Arnold Rivers. won't that be just too. Colonel Rand was talking to Rivers. Let him have the collection for half what it's worth.C. give the collection away?" "You don't understand. "What did you want us to do. pinkly-shaven face. this afternoon. "You've probably heard somebody say w hat the collection's worth. impatiently." He broke off as Rand approached and was introduced by Gladys. we can expect more than that from Rivers. Mencken ought to be deported to Russia. as a matter of principle. the face of the type that used to be labeled "Bab bitt. you know. who can sell it item by item. an entirely unremarkable face." Dunmore huffed. who handed both m en their cocktails. Stephen Gresham and his friends can top that out of one pocket."
." "We can expect a lot more than ten thousand dollars. and the s mall gold globule on the watch chain that testified that. "He had to go to Louisburg. when his age and weigh t had been considerably less." The corner of Rand's mind that handled such data subconsciously filed his description: forty-five to fifty. "I told him his ten thousand dollar offer was a joke. Doubtless he expected Nelda to launch a counter-offensive. It was a smooth." Dunmore told her. "I don't see why you women had to do this. about the collection?" Dunm ore demanded of Rand. Dunmore had played on somebody's basketball team. hair brown and t hinning.A. and he doesn't care who knows it. t his afternoon.. You can't expect . and you never stopped to realize that it's only wort h that to a dealer. and Geraldine was asking Dunmore where Anton was. eyes blue. Finally.
aside from the actual profit." "He didn't raise his offer. Fleming's collection as a 'hobby' and therefore something no t to be taken seriously. And." "And you believed that?" Nelda demanded. moved slightly. "And you think Gresham and his friends will offer enough to force him to pay th e full amount?" Rand laughed and told him to stop being naïve." Geraldine wa s generous enough to concede. "There's a l imit to what I've got to take from you." He stopped short. If he handles them right. When he told me he was willing to go as high as twenty-fiv e thousand. his conversation wit h the arms-dealer. "does anybody know anything about a record Mr. I doubt if you realize how valuable those pistols are. Then Walters came in with the meat cours e. I hav en't the least doubt that he can raise the money. I threw it out and told him to make one that could be taken seriously. "After he's bluffed Gresham's crowd out. and what 's more. When he had finished. "By the way. "He's done that. Unless somebody offers more." Rand tossed into the conversational vacuum that followed his exit ." Dunmore seemed to be following Gwinnett's line of thought. he barely knows which end the bul let comes out at. as closely as he could. Maybe he hated being proved wrong in front of the w omen of the family." "But maybe he's just bluffing.. th at neither he nor any other dealer could hope to handle that collection profitab ly at more than ten thousand. "How much did Rivers actually tell you he'd pay? Twenty-five thousand. Rand suspected that she had kicked her husband painfully under the table. himself.. as long as he sticks to pancake flour. he can double his money on the pistols in side of five years. I do. which isn't impossi ble. You p robably defined Mr. as advertising. "Now. he fixed the price. beside him. he knows it. look here!" he shouted. "Rivers told me personally. and firing ceased until the butler had retired. "Did Arnold Rivers actually tell you h e'd pay twenty-five thousand dollars for the collection?" he asked.. "I can't bel ieve that he'd raise his own offer like that. or that he's willing to pay it . please stop talking about that ten thousand dollars!" Geraldine interrup ted. Fleming kept of his collection?
. the prestige of hand ling this collection would be worth a good deal to Rivers. maybe he'll go back to his original ten thousand offer. Ten thousand was probably his idea of what we'd think the pist ols were worth. and his words ended in something that sounded like a smothered moan. "And you think he's actually willing to pay that much?" "Yes. as Nelda. "And you're a business man? My God!" "He's probably a good one. Dunmore was frowning in puzzled displea sure." Dunmore ignored that and turned to Rand." Rand repeated."I don't believe it!" Dunmore exclaimed angrily." "Fred. "But about guns. like he did Colonel Rand?" Dunmore turned in his chair angrily." Dunmore was still frowning.
" "It was a gray ledger. and he's crooked as a wagon-load of blacksnakes." Gladys said. Rand went to his room for a few moments. "We'll talk about it when I see you.. A lot of this stuff has been here for quite a while. no." Rand dismissed Geraldine with a shrug. when you get back. and shipping personnel are in the A. She just blurts out the first thin g that comes into her so-called mind.F. I don't know what this count ry's coming to!" He glared angrily through his octagonal glasses for a moment. the meal ended." Dunmore replied promptly. of L.. like an inventory?" "Oh. "Well. they're fighting each other. now. Maybe you n ever realized just how much money Fleming put into this collection." Rand said. and if they aren't fighting the company. and you couldn't see his." "Why. And before that . you do!" Nelda told him impatiently.. evidently grateful for the change of subject.." He hung up and turned to Rand. I want you to know that I'm just as glad as anybody if you can get a bet ter price out of him than I could. He' s a smart operator. then went to the gunroom to get the notes he had made. naturally yo u wouldn't realize how much could be gotten out of it again. Dunmore was anxious to avoid any further reference to the sum of ten thousand dollars. As far as selling the collection is concerned. when Gladys induced Rand to talk about his m ilitary experiences." "Oh. "You mean. and the diners drifted away from the table.. sales. Now they have some damn kind of a jurisdictional dispute. Colonel. Finally. with a black leather back.O." "Not necessarily. so am I. Well. Fred Dunmore was using the private phone as he entered. "Look here." he said. you ju st let Rivers sell you a bill of something you hadn't gotten a good look at. this evening?" Dunmore asked." "Well." The rest of the dinner passed in relative tranquillity. if you find four cars in the garage. "Well.." Rand told him. The conversation procee ded in fairly safe channels.. "He kept it in the little bookcase over the workbench in the gunroom. I hope you aren't taking anythi ng that sister-in-law of mine said seriously. The women seemed to have erected a temporary tripartite Entente-more-or-less-Cordiale. "I know she was talking through a highball glass. say about eleven." he was saying. and antiques of any kind tend to increase in v alue. of course.. Geraldin e and Nelda aimed halfhearted feline swipes at one another.. he lapsed into preoccupied silence. only yesterday she was accusing Glady s of bringing you into this to help her gyp the rest of us. "You going to see Gresham and his friends.." "I'll look for it. Yes.. never mind about that... "More God-damned union trouble." Dunmore smiled ruefully. why.. Be seeing you . I just didn't u nderstand the situation... more out of custom t han present and active rancor. and our warehouse. until you explained it. "I guess he's just a better poker player than I am. He could see your hand. "You know that big gray book Fa ther kept all his pistols entered in.I. "It's enough to make a saint lose his religion! Our factory-hands are organized in the C. T hen his voice took on an ingratiating note. Several times. Fred. counting the station-wa
. "Sure it's still there? It would be a big help t o me. forget it. can't say I do.
Running his car outside and down to the highway. You're Dot." she replied." "Sure I do. and. an over-age dizzy blonde who was still livi ng in the Flaming Youth era of the twenties." He measured wi th his hand. Scott Fitzgerald c haracter was a harmless and amusing foible. honestly.. Entering Rosemont. punctuated by bursts of absolutely felonious speed whenever he found an unobstructed straightaway. he was turning into the crushed-limestone drive that led up to the buff-brick Gresham house. "I'll bet you don't remember me. insisting upon remaining an F. who g ave him a smile that seemed to start on the bridge of her nose and lift her whol e face up after it. and it was no more than right that s omebody should try to keep the bright banner of Jazz Age innocence flying in a g rim and sullen world.h. by now. you were in pigtails. what I'm going to do. too. a cute little redhead in a red-striped dress. She held out her hand to him. lock up after you've put your own car away. he l iked her very much. rising. of course.." Dot said. speeding again when he was clear of the village. this fall. If you find only three. with gray eyes that looked startlingly light against the dark brown of his fac e. "Come on in. He wasn't using a cane..gon. After all. Beside him was a sl ender girl. shared the flame of his lighter w ith mother and daughter. "Here's Colonel Rand!" Rand remembered Irene Gresham. or something. You must be old enough to vote. Daddy hasn't gotten back from town yet. He accepted a cigarette.. the last time I saw you." CHAPTER 9 Rand found another car." Rand said. She was an extremely good egg. so ." "I will. She broke off. you get handsomer every year. a smoke-gray Plymouth coupé. and wait for the others there. standing on the left of his Lincoln when he went down to the garage. She w
. honestly. And you were only about so high. last one in locks up. A few minutes later. "The last time I was here. "At least. then yo u'll know that Anton Varcek's still out. but he walked with a slight limp. I think you are. He called and said he'd be delayed till about nine." In the hall she took his hat and coat and guided him toward the parlor o n the right." They went out to meet the newcomers. and it seems as if it's always her night off. Jeff really is a Southerner.. A girl met him at the door. "Dot. and submitted to being gushed over. almost as tall as he was. You know. he slowed and went through the und erpass at the railroad tracks... The man was a few inches shorter than Rand . "That's Pierre and Karen. he settled down to his regular style of driving--a barely legal fifty m. doesn't he look just like Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind? But then. Mother!" she called. you were away at school." The doorbell interrupted this slight non sequitur.p. Jeff. Jeff. ". That's the wa y we do here. so leave it open for him.. a man's and a girl's. I'm just going to see who it is. you're the first one here. Voices sounded in the hall. "Let's all go up in the gunroom. with dark brown hair and brown eyes. "Sit still. "Oh." She hurried out of the room. "Colonel Rand!" she exclaimed. we're down to only one servant now. I don't know." Irene Gresham rattled on.
too. "The fact that it came from th e Sawyer collection adds more value to it than this Mayflower business. any time. right now. "Nice condition. or play-room. "He didn't lose a th ing on that deal. and Europe was full of muskets like this then. "It easily could have." He handed the weapon back. "Real European matchlock. Looks like North Italian. and the situation wasn't helped any by the fact that the collection was about thirty per cent long-arms. The Mayflower Compa ny bought their muskets in Holland. this one's new since you were here. picking a long musket from one of the racks and handing it to Rand. "How do you like this one?" Rand took it and whistled appreciatively. There were windows o n both long sides." Rand said. Stephen only paid a hundred dollars for it. till the o thers come." "That was practically stealing. "came over on the Mayflower. "Well. I think. and sold off about a dozen cull s and duplicates. she'd have to let the others in. and there were only three ownership changes between the last owner and the Mayflower Company. no." Rand said." They reached the head of the stairs and started down the hall to the gunroom. the girls detached themselves for nose-powdering. I wouldn't be afraid to fire this with a full charge. only yesterday I saw a pair of pistols with a wonderful three-hundred-and-fifty-year documented histor
. say 1575 to about 1600." and then Dot suggested going up to the gunroom. away from the walls. Past own ership by a recognized authority like Sawyer is a real guarantee of quality and authenticity. left over from the w ars of the Holy Roman Empire and the French religious wars. Things were pretty badly crowded. it's worth that. from some seventeenth-century forerunner of Bannerman's." the former Marine said. I suppose all their muskets were obsolete types for the period." Pierre a greed. and low-heeled walking-shoes." "Oh. Stephen Gresham's gunroom had originally b een something else--a nursery. "Have you seen this collection before?" Pierre Jarrett inquired as he and Rand went upstairs together. Even without the history." "Who buys history. the newcomers shook hands with Rand and were advised that the style of address was "Jeff. documented or otherwise--hell. which considerably reduced the available wall-space. Irene Gresham went into the introductions." "I should say not! I'd give him two hundred for it." "Really. that's a real Mayflower arm. "I'll show you what's new. Unlike the room at the Fleming home." Pierre informed him. or party-room. "Here. too." rather than "Colonel Rand . anyhow?" Rand wanted to know. He carried the musket to the light and examined it closely." "That musket. or just a gag?" Rand asked.ore a rust-brown sweater and a brown skirt. From the Far West Hobby Shop. i n the wing that projected out over the garage." "Yes. I never saw that. "Stephen had just gotten a cased dueling set by Wilkinson. Stephen has the documentation for it. Along the way. then. It came from the Charles Winthrop Sawyer collection. Irene Gresham said she'd stay downstairs." Pierre said. he's gotten a lot of new stuff since then. "About two years ago. most of the rifles and musket s were in circular barracks-racks. But history.
" "Yes. The owner thought that the patent-dates on Colt s were model-dates. about the same idea Lane Fleming had. But he'd sooner have a typical Pilgrim musket that never was within five thousand miles of Plymouth Rock than a non-typical arm brought over as a personal weapon by one of the Mayflower Company. and three miguelet-locks and an Italian snaphaunce. Arms that either influenced fighting te chniques. I picked up a lovely little rifled flintlock pistol. once. special emphasis on British arms after 1700 and American arms after 1800. and I'll show you a collection that's either full of junk or else cost three ti mes what it's worth." "I see. " "Those wheel locks Fleming bought from Arnold Rivers?" Pierre asked. "God. including a few World War II arms. or don't you specialize?" "Pistols. once. Whoever had owned it before me had pasted a slip of paper on the underside of th e stock. collects pistols and a few long-arms in wheel lock. And about twenty Colts." "Oh. or were developed to meet special combat conditions. the pistols were made about twenty years ago. and nine times out of ten I'll show you a collector who doesn't know guns. wasn 't that a crime! I'll bet Rivers bought himself a big drink when Lane Fleming wa s killed. Only not a word of it was true." Rand said. with a lot of c rap. and the model-dates on French military arms were dates of fa brication.. and a number of mid-eighteenth-century types. so he can be sure it's an example of the type they used. What I'm interested in is the evolution of the pistol. from Chinese matchlocks to tomm
. flint lock to automatic. I hate to see a collection all foul ed up with tags hung on things!" he said. usual ly on the stock. And Adam Trehearne. From what you say . you're mainly interested in the way firearms were designed and made. to 1700. And Philip Cabot collects U. mostly erroneous. "You show me a collection that's full of known-history arms. proto-flintl ock and early flintlock.S. and after I get it off. Martials. "God. full-length curly-maple stock.. I have a couple of wheel locks ." Pierre wrinkled his nose disgustedly. I saw on e such collection. typed on it. between the trigger-guard and the lower ramrod thimble. "Or stuck over with gummed labels. But with Stephen. who'll b e here shortly. to start with. and some late flintlocks and percussion types." Rand said.." Pierre said. and also enemy and Allied Army weapons from all our wars. every item had its history neatly written out on a tag and hung onto the trigger-guard. there's a job getting the wood under it rubbed up to the same color as the rest of the stock. he can prove that this indiv idual musket was brought over by the Pilgrims. should become interested in so distinctively American a type. And you show me a collector who blows money on history. Fleming was all set to hang Rivers's scalp in his wigwam. Odd how a Scot. As you probably know. I try to get the best possible specimens of the most important types." "What do you collect. the history does count for something. Once in a while I get something with a label pasted on it. he collects arms-types that figured in American history. Well. none of us are really interested in the individual history of collection w eapons. Then I have a few early flintlocks. tha t's even worse." "And I collect anything I can sell at a profit. It took me six months to remove the last tra ces of where that thing had been stuck on. and so on through percussion revolvers and early cartridge types to some modern arms. I'm inter ested in the conditions under which they were used. who's only been in t his country twenty years. "I collect personal combat-arms. And Colin MacBride collects nothing but Colts. really a Kentucky rifle in pistol form.y. firearms and edge-weapons. "A merican.
and wheel locks were expensive. "Dot not only knows everything in the collection. "Some chaps have all the luck." "That's only because I'm crazy enough to want to marry one. coming into the room with Dot Gresham. then glanced at the musket in Pierr e's hands. "Look on the barrel. Mr. who had made the introductions. Trehearne was somewhat shorter. grasping characters . and male voices. she knows it b y name. all right. they think it looks lousy." he commented. his sandy mustache. a dog-lock. Trehearne took th e matchlock out of Pierre's hands and looked at it wistfully. You'll find a hundred wheel locks for every matchlock. unscrupulous. and yet there must have been a hundred matchlocks made for every wheel lock. and if anything's battered up a little. show Colonel Rand Hester Prynne. black hair. stamped on the bre ech was the big "A" of the Company of Workmen Armorers of London. Colin MacBride was a six-foot black Highlander.. "That's right. had respected the detective's presen t civilian status. They shook hands with Rand. Pierre grinned. or rather." Gresham's daughter said. "Naturally." "Hester coming up. the only gener al-antique dealer I've ever seen who doesn't hate the sight of a gun-collector." the girl dealer re plied. but I'm interested in anything that'll shoot." she told him. Those things are scarce. He grasped the heavy piece. "They don't give a hoot who se grandfather owned what. "Oh. "Adam and Colin. Ran d?" Pierre. they got better c are. black eyes." The gun was a flintlock. "That's Hester Prynne." She expressed a doubt that the average gun-collector would pay more than ten cents to see his Lord and Savior riding to hounds on a Bren-carrier. Both men were past fifty. it was a perm anent fixture of his weather-beaten face." Karen Lawrence interjected." "Yes. And they've never heard of infla tion." "What were you looking at?" Dot asked Rand. was clipped to micr ometric exactness. beginning to turn gray at the edges. instinctive way in which t he girl had handled it. the seventeent h-century gunmakers' guild. Priscilla. "On top. back in 1911." There were footsteps in the hall outside. sure enough." he nodded.. "Karen is practically a unique specimen herself. Dot. "Of all the miserly." "Matchlocks were cheap. they don't th ink it looks quaint. from under which a stubb y pipe jutted. He spoke with the faintest trace of Highland accent. the first American girl to make her letter." Pierre recognized them before they entered. and a black weeping-willow mustache. they think arms ought still to sell for the sort of prices they brought at the old Mark Field sale. Except when he emptied it of ashes and refilled it. and fa ir. "Or don't you collect long-arms?" "I don't collect them. approving of the easy. "What do you think of it. too." Karen laughed. That's a g ood one. catching another musket out of the same rack from which Pierre had gotten the matchlock and passing it over to Ran d.y-guns." MacBride suggested. who set Hester back in her place. right at th e breech."
they all sat down. It wa s nine five. or the Hall?" "Why. then somebody's been weeding out the collection since." Irene said. but never a s tockbroker. scholarly face. Hester Prynne. with premat urely white hair and a thin. MacBride voted for Jamaica rum. "I suppose you've gone over the collection already. "Let's get the business over first." "Yes. "I believe that by the last quarter of the seventeenth century. "And if Fleming still had them two days before he was kill ed. retaining the o riginal stock and even the original lock-plate." Rand said. My God. Doing it very cleverl y."It would take a Scot to think of that. Rand shook his head. Trehearne and Cabot favored b randy and soda." Before they returned. Stephen Gresham came in. things Lane Fleming wouldn't have all owed in the house." Gresham suggested. was past middle age. And then. "Come on. most of the matchlocks that were lying around had been scr apped." "And can you tell me if the big Whitneyville Colt was still there." Rand stole a glance at his wrist-watch." Trehearne added. and first of all. or the Collier flintlock. Irene Gresham ushered in Philip Cabot. let's rustle up the drinks. you take a Scot who collects guns. he might have been a professor. a great many matchlo cks went into the West African slave and ivory trade. "Now. he was wishing Stephen Gresham would put in an appearance. "Or the Rappahannock Forge. Well. Irene Gresham wanted to know what everybody wanted to drink. of course . I found about two dozen pieces of the most utter trash. aren't they there now?" Gresham demanded. and the barrels used in making flintlocks. According to Hollywood type-casting . lighting a cigar. evidently they all knew it almost as well as their own. too. and how conspicuous a mi ssing pistol would be. "You know how that stuff's arranged. when he gets here. "And Stephen'll want rye and soda. too. and Pierre and the girls wanted Bacardi and Coca-Cola. then?" Rand asked. He. "So have I. MacBride and Trehearne joined Pierre and the girls in showing him Gresham's col lection. "Well. gi rls. cou ld easily have started her career as a matchlock... I want to know something. and I seem to recall having seen Spanish and French miguelet muskets that looked as though they had been altered directly from matchlock. "No. when I was going over the collection." he said. A few minutes later the women returned. I see everybody's here. or a judge. When was the last that any of you saw it?" Gresham and Pierre had been in Fleming's gunroom just two days before the fatal "accident. It was just ni ne twenty-two."
. and you have something!" "That's only part of it. Jeff?" "Yes. After a while. all hanging where some really good item ought to have been. carrying bottles and g lasses." he added. come to think of it. over there. or a Boston Brahmin. when the flurry of drink-mixing had subsided. Rand wanted Bourbo n and plain water." Karen said. and were promptly ruined b y the natives. where's Karen?" Pierre told him.
"The only thing.. just as it stands. and a list of the real rarities which Gresham had mentioned the day before. "All that good stuff was there the last time I saw the collection. h e's a little too anxious to buy the collection. and then he'll buy what's left of the collection for a song. Pierre?" "I had the Hall pistol in my hands. interp olating comments on the condition. twenty would be about our limit." Rand brought him up to date. does anybody need a chaser to swallow that?" Trehearne countered. that would be presuming that he knows the collection has been robbed. I'm going to try to catch the thief. had bought the stolen pistols. "I'd call that a nominal bid. to keep Pierre and me out of the arms business. "What do you say. At the sam e time. their dream of est ablishing themselves in the arms business had blown up in their faces. "In the meantim e." Trehearne broke in to ask how many English dog-locks there were. he's talking through his hat!" Cabot declared. "I'll have a complete. followed by a gust of exclamations." "Well." Pierre said." Cabot said." "Well. "We c anna go over that!" "I'm afraid not." Trehearne suggested. for somebody who's just skimmed off the cream." Rand said. "And with th e best items gone . "No." "Think Rivers might have gotten the pistols?" Gresham asked. himself.." Karen Lawrence shook her head." Rand amended. "And the only way he'd know that would be if he. "Guid Lorrd!" The Scots accent fairly curdled on Colin MacBride's tongue. "He just hopes we'll lose i nterest. "I'm b loody sure I don't. "Rivers's o ffer is now twenty-five thousand." Gresham agreed.He took a paper from his pocket and read off a list of the dubious items. This e
. and then offer to take what's left for about five thousand." "Maybe he knows the collection's been robbed. "Oh. Pierre and Karen were looking at each other in blank misery. itemized list in a few days. "And I remember looking at th e Rappahannock Forge. which were now missing." "Ten thousand dollars isn't much in the way of anxiety." He shrugged. "That would let him out. to avoid suspicion. he'd pay twenty-five thousand for the colle ction. I'd like a couple of you to look at the collection and help me decide what's missing." There was a stunned hush." "The dope's changed a little on that." C abot pointed out. and then get at the fence through him. "He's the crookede st dealer I know of. He'd accuse you or the Fleming estate of holding out the be st pieces. later." "He's the crookedest dealer anybody knows of. and if the sna phaunce Highlander and the big all-steel wheel lock were still there." Gresham sai d. Cabot was inquiring about the Springfield 1818 and the Virginia Manufact ory pistols.
and all the later revo lvers and automatics. Haiman Brother s. of course. myself. but it's going to take the devil's own time. and. for a few years." "Well. if this be treason make the most of it.." The ex-Marine rose and held out his hand to Rand. and I've gotten a few: that Nambu. left shortly. You have your clients' interests to look out for. why don't you stop at my place and see what's new? You're staying at the Flemings'. right now. Griswold & Grier. Spiller & Burr--there it was: Leech & Rigdon. too." Rand was looking at the Confederate revolvers. Gresham tried.
. and with the reputation he 's made for himself. He tapped it on the cylinder with a finger. Jeff." She stubbed out her cigarette and finished her drink.nd of the state couldn't support another arms-dealer. my house is along your way.. "He can get away with faking. b ut the dumbest jury in the world would know what receiving stolen goods was. Philip Cabot rose a nd announced that he. I'd like to see you people get the collection. For a while they discussed the personal and comm ercial iniquities of Arnold Rivers. and half an hour later. he'd be the one to go under." he said. "but I hope Rivers d oesn't go through with it. to inject more life into the part y with another round of drinks. the Luge rs and Mausers and Steyers of the first World War.S." "Oh. Confederate revolvers. a couple of Spanish revolvers of 1898. "If you'r e not sleepy. "You haven't seen my collection since before the war." Rand said. and send him up for about three-to-five. who had come togethe r in the latter's car. and the Polish Radom. the P-'38 and the Canadian Browning. not very successfully. and the Italian Glisenti. There were al l but a few of the U. Like Rand's own ." They went out and got into their cars. slippi ng the Confederate revolver under his trouser-band. Dance Brothers & Park." Dorothy and Irene Gresham accompanied Pierre and Karen downstairs. there were British pistols of the Revolution and 1812. It was strictly a collector's collection. "Don't get the idea. Cabot's combination library and gunroom was on the first floor. He was pulling down his vest to cover the butt as he went up the walk and joined his friend at the front doo r. In addition. about a mile on the other side of the railroad. Jeff. and the pistols of all our al lies. and t hat Japanese Model-14. beginning with the French weapons of the Revolution. Tucker & Sherrod. "If you don't mind. I hope nobody starts another war. I think I'll go home. Maybe I can catch him with the hot-goods on him. "Wasn't it one of those things that killed Lane Fleming?" he asked. Pierre. and I' d hate to see a lot of nice pistols like that get into the hands of a damned swi ndler like Rivers. a fair representation of secondary types. took the Leech & Rigdon out of the glove-box. his collection was hung on racks over low bookcases on either side of the room . Rand parked be side the road. most of the revolvers of the Civil War. After they h ad gone. intensely specialized.." "I'm not feeling very festive. "I have a want-ad running in the Rifleman. regulation single-shot pistols. and that Tokarev. was leaving." Karen despaired. Trehearne and MacBride. and he knows it." Cabot said. Rand kept Cabot's taillight in sight unt il the broker swung into his drive and put his car in the garage. that anybody here holds this ag ainst you. he's too smart for that. "I'm having the devil's own time filling in for this last war. and got out. ti ll I can get caught up on the last one.
and then waved to me with this r evolver in his hand. I saw that revolver. What the devil. Just as I was getting into my car." Cabot replied. I knew him too well ever to believe that." Rand considered. The highest known serial number for a Leech & Rigdon is 1393. Cabot checked the number. It was a Thursday. "And I can see traces of partly dissolved rust. outside. and I'd come halfway out from town before I rem embered that I hadn't bought a copy of Time. It was empty. "Yes." "That's idiotic!" Cabot's voice was openly scornful. "You know how much Premix meant to him." Rand agreed. "Is this it?" he asked. do you think all this didn't-know-it-was-loaded routine might be an elaborate suicide b uild-up. Fl eming was saying that he was glad it would be on the inside.36 revolver from his pants-leg and gave it a quick glance. where did you ever hea r a yarn like that?" "Quote. "Hoppe's Number Nine. this one was 1234. as though his confidence in his f riend's intelligence had been betrayed. Jeff?" "It probably hasn't been fired since Appomattox. "It absolutely was not loaded. usually well-informed sources. He blew his horn at me. either before or after the fact?" "Absolutely not!" There was a trace of impatience in Cabot's voice." He shook his head. "Lane Flemi ng wasn't the man to commit suicide." Cabot hesitated. that time. "I thought that Fleming might have loaded it. so I stopped at Biddle's drugstore." Rand pulled the ." "I heard a rumor that he was about to lose control of his company. Had it in my hands." "So it wasn't an accident. I remember the serials. meaning to target it--he had a pistol range b ack of his house--but the chambers are clean." "Then how the hell did he get shot?" Rand wanted to know. and I went to see them later. where the road from Rosemont jo ins Route 22. in the village." He carried the revolver to the desk and held it u nder the light. unquote. this i s how it was. I always look at serials on Confederate arms. but they were all trash. they were unusually ill-informed. "Take my wo rd for it. "Why. this thing wasn't fired at all!" he exclaimed. Lane Flemi ng drove up and saw me. if you saw it again?" Rand asked. particularly as it was a better specimen than mine. " "Would you know it. the number was 1234. He handed it to Cabot. so it wouldn't show when he hung it on the wall."Leech & Rigdon? So I'm told. "Philip. wh
. and Fleming had talked it out of this fellow for ten dollars. He was di sgustingly gleeful about it. "Yes. There had been some other pistols with it. Jeff." He sniffed at it." "Well. "Good Lord. there's absolutely nothing in it." Rand mentio ned." he said. and there wa s rust in the chambers. and it wasn't suicide. And I remember this bruise on the left grip. The Leech & Rigdon had been the only decent thin g there. and no traces o f fouling. and he told me he'd found it hanging back of the counter at a barbecue-stand. not four hours before Fleming was shot. and he seemed a littl e angry that Rand should believe such a story. looked it over carefull y. now. "That I couldn't say. I'm only telling you how he didn't get shot. "Philip. for one. Here. "Jeff. I went over and looked at it.
I don't give a damn. "My God. I suppose.. Well. "Quote. And I advise you to adopt a similar attitude. "If so mebody wants me to look into it. "I have ab out two thousand with you. "For obvious reasons. and recover them. You'll make a little less than four-for-one o n it. the merger's going through." Cabot said." Rand stated. At a little past one." he added.. at the time of Lane Fleming's death. I don't know. there's still some lying around. and by the spiral stairway to the gunroom. shall we say. are you investigating Lane Flemi ng's death?" "I was retained to sell the collection. It's all cut and dried and in the bag now. he recalled. haven't I?" He did a moment's mental arithmetic. dead or alive. "Now. this damned thing's worrying me." Rand lied. Better let me pick you up a little Premix . n ow that Lane Fleming's opposition has been. unquote." Rand grinned. to the variety of pistols developed and used by the opposing nations in World War II. Then he went up into the house. The garage had been open. usually well-informed sources. And I'll probably come up with Fleming' s murderer. But I was not retained to investigate the death of Lane Fle ming." "Jeff. liquidated?" Cabot's head jerked up. "I see. Do you really think Lane Fleming was murdered by somebody who want ed to see this merger consummated and who knew that that was an impossibility as long as Fleming was alive?" "Philip. through the library. and pays me my possibly exaggerated idea of wha t constitutes fair compensation. he left Cab ot's home and returned to the Fleming residence. but I simply can't. The gray Plymouth was in the space from which Rand had driven earlier in the evening." he told the broker. Rand promised to mail Cabot a duplicate copy of his list of the letter-code symbols used by the Nazis to in dicate the factories manufacturing arms for them. The Packard sedan had not been moved. Not the sources m entioned above. he looked at Rand in shocked surprise. and a black Chrysle r Imperial had been run in on the left of the Plymouth. And furthermore. then got out his checkbook.?" he began. But until then. and jail the thief and the fence. writing a re ceipt and exchanging it for Rand's check. and the difficulties ahead of Cabot in as sembling even a fairly representative group of them." Cabot told him. then. when the Premix stockholders meet." "I don't see how you did hear about it. made sure that the Leech & Rigdon was locked in his glove-box. I'll hav e to find out who's been stealing those pistols. And I do not do work for which I am not paid. I will. and closed and locked the garage doors. as well as copies of some old wartime Intelligence dope on enemy small-arms. it's being kept pretty well under the hat. "Jeff. but that's just a formality. The
.at is the prognosis on this merger of Premix and National Milling & Packaging. "Pick me up about a hundred shares. with mendacious l iteralness. you know. It won't be official until the sixtee nth of May. "I've been meaning to get in on this ever since I heard about it. He put his own car in on the right of the station-wagon. but t he station-wagon was facing in the opposite direction." "I'd had that in mind when I asked you about the merger." Rand said. "I've been trying to ignore it. you don't think." They changed the subject. There were four cars in the garage. it is simply no epidermis off my scro tum.
already at the tabl e." "Something about heredity?" Rand wanted to know. "No. Varcek laughed again. for me. he had a smooth-shaven. he'll be down in a minute. he inquired where the others were." Rand told him. for instance. My own work. He wondered how much deeper the resemblance went." Nelda urged. I have a collection of my own. Gla dys waved him to a vacant seat at her right and summoned the maid who had been s erving breakfast. The latter rose as Rand entered. and Rand puzzled for a moment. Of course he had seen a face like that hundreds o f times." "Tell Colonel Rand what you're working on now. and tried not to let it prejudice him. I'm a lily-pure amateur. he found Gladys. must be Anton Varcek. M y business is operating a private detective agency. Colonel Rand would be no more interes ted than I would be in his pistols. "Yes. Anybody who knew the habits of the Fleming household cou ld have slipped up to the gunroom. I can understand that. Nelda greeted him with a trowelful of sweetness and a dash of bedroom-bait. and Gladys and Geraldine were in the parlor." Varcek winced slightly at this. "Or was until I took this job. once in pre-war Berlin. After Rand had indicated his preference of fruit and found out what else there was to eat. I am not trying to re-create Frankenstein's mon ster. CHAPTER 10 When Rand came down to breakfast the next morning. and shifted the subject by inquiring if Rand we re a professional antiques-expert. "You are not making any sort of detective investigation?" "That's right. Rand was thinking of how narrowly Arnold Rivers had escaped a disastrous lawsuit and criminal action by the death of Lane Fleming. with more amusement. He was about Rand's own age and height. and. then turned to Rand. Rudolf Hess. tight-mouthed f ace. while Varcek was in his lab.availability of such an easy means of undetected ingress and egress threw the s uspect field wide open. Dunmore was in t he bathroom." he said. "It is a series of experiments having to do with the chemical nature of life. I am working with fruit flies. and a man whom he decided." he objected. First time I ever handled anything like this." "But you are here only as an arms-expert?" Varcek inquired. she never eats with her breakfast. "Oh. "This is practically a paid vacation. The fact is." Nelda told him. adorned with bushy eyebrows. by elimination. "So! One says: 'Fruit flies. A nother perfunctory chuckle. its living d ouble.' It is practically a standard response. in newsreels and news-photos. Fred's still dressing. it's a real pleasure to be workin g at something I really enjoy. Nelda. As he crossed the hall to his own room. "No. and I'm supposed to be something of an authority. Varcek gave a small mirthless laugh. each of which was almost as heavy as Rand's mu stache. "And Ge raldine won't. "Oh. Onl
.' and im mediately another thinks: 'Heredity." Rand assured him. I would continue with my research even if I were independently wealthy and any sort of w ork were unnecessary. then nodded mentally." Varcek nodded. and bowed jerkily as Gladys verified the gue ss with an introduction. for a change. It was a face that seemed tantalizingly familiar.
yes. the dingy sky showed broken spots li ke bits of bluing on a badly-rusted piece of steel. "It's always better to take a small l oss stopping competition than to let it get too big for you. pulled the door shut after him. The door of the shop was unlocked. the better. and Varcek and Dunmore left for the Premix plant.. soon we put it on the market." Dunmore approved. "Yes. "Anton's just as keen about that dol lar as the rest of us. After a few mi nutes in the gunroom. went down to the garage." Breakfast finally ended. But t his other." Varcek shrugged. for diab etics to carry when traveling." Varcek commented.y. and the lights were out." Rand menti oned. And even if they could go over twenty-five.. on the floor.." "How soon do you think the pistols will be sold?" Gladys asked." "Fred Dunmore mentioned a packaged diabetic ration you'd developed. in competition with him. that is my own private work. "Oh. I don't know what he's cooking up. how did you make out with Gresham and his friends?" "I didn't. Colonel. He's afraid to let them get the collection.. and was using his
. You save a damn-sig ht bigger loss later. in this case. and make lots of money. If I find that I am on the right track. adjusting his eyes to the dar kness within and wondering where everybody was. continuing to explain what h ad to be done first.." Dunmore had come in while Varcek was speaking and had seated himself beside his wife. or wherever proper food may be unobtainable. he was wondering just how he was going to go about what he wanted to do. As he got out of his car in front of Arnold Rivers's red-brick house. he saw two feet in tan shoes. "I never liked those things.. Then. then decided to wait until his suspicions were better verified. "Oh. in about a month. up there in the attic. After all . Something like an Army field-ration. toes up. That is for the company." he said. I thin k Rivers would raise them. and speaking about that dollar. and opened with a slow clanging of the doorchime.. I shall work with mice. "Well. "Don't let him kid you. I'm glad of that. Pierre Ja rrett and Karen Lawrence intended using their share of it to go into the old-arm s business. and af ter what happened . in the path of light that fell inward from the open door. I use fruit flie s because of their extreme adaptability. Riv ers's offer has them stopped. I am investigating the effect of diet changes. They'd expected to pay about twenty thousand for the collection. but the interior was dark." Rand said. next. going over Lane Fleming's arms-books on the shelf over the workbench without finding any trace of the book in which he had catalogued his collection. and took out his c ar. that's smart. at the end of tweed-trousered legs. but I'll give ten-to-one we'll be selling it in twenty-five-cent packages insid e a year. For a moment Rand stood in the doorway." "Uh-huh. and selling plenty of them. at the outside. All the shades had been pulled. The sooner they can be sold. Rand debated for a moment the wisdom of speaking to Gladys about the missing pistols . An ins tant later he stepped inside. Oh. he got his hat and coat. It had stopped raining for the time being.
Beside the one in which the weapon remained. Bending over. It had been typewritten:
. his muscles had already begun to stiffen in rigor mortis. Someone had been here with Rivers for some time. For a seemi ngly long time he stood and stared at the grotesquely transfixed body of Arnold Rivers. a British short model LeeEnfield. His coat was stained with blood and gashed in several places. The first blow. a glass bowl containing wate r that had evidently melted from ice-cubes. looking about. between the Lee-Enfield and one of the Arisakas there was a vacancy. two glasses. Rand c ould see the imprint of the Mauser butt-plate on Rivers's jaw. and had dropped it and flung up his arms instinctively .G. Yet. he saw the shape on the floor. on the butt-plate itself were traces of blood. a long German infantry rifle of the f irst World War. Rivers's carved ivory cigarette-holder was lying beside the body. It had doubtless been sold to Rivers by some ret urned soldier. On the low table was a fifth of Haig & Haig. his assailant had reversed his weapon and driven the bayonet into h is chest. That last blow could have only bee n inspired by pure anger and hatred. There was no evidence of any great struggle. In the ashtray were a number of River's cigarette butts. a siphon. crushed at th e end as though it had been stepped on. Rand examined the dead man's wounds. and the lower part of the face was disfigured by what looked like a butt-blow. Rivers had been unaware of his visitor's murderous intentions. There was no cigar-butt. The fire on the hearth had burned out and the ashes were cold. probably whil e he was on the floor. Under the back of Rand's hand. When they finally lit. there were three stab-wounds in the chest. he picked this up and looked at it. all holder-crimped. A half-smoked cigarette had been in it. and a quantity of ash. the inverted rifle above it. drinking and smoking. arms outflung. not three feet beyond the radius of the door. apparently. even while the rifle was being taken from the rack. had been fatal--it could have been any of th e three stabs in the chest--but the killer had given him two more. a Mexican Mauser. Rand disco vered that what had been burned had been a number of cards. In a rack beside the door were a number of other bolt-action mili tary rifles--a Krag. the long-familiar Gewehr '98 in its most recent modification. the attack which had ended the arms-dealer's life must have come as a complete surpr ise. managed to escape the flames with nothing more than a charred edge. one of which had. a considerable amount of paper--no. however. about six inches by four. Thereupon. The dead man lay on his back. plant at Karlsruhe. he had stood over his victim and pinned the body to the floor. bearing the eagle and encircl ed swastika of the Third Reich and the code-letters lza--the symbol of the Mause rwerke A. some of it cigar-ash. driven into his ch est by a downward blow. too. The rifle. Rand strolled back through the shop. and an ashtray. grasping the rifle in both hands. a regulation German infantry weapon. it. was crushed. He had probably been holding the cigarette-holder in his hand when the butt -blow had been delivered. and no band or cellophane wrapper . and then the darkness was broken by the flickering of fluorescent tubes. in a pool of blood that was almost dried and gave the room a sickly-sweet butchersh op odor.pen-light to find the electric switch. Improvising tweezers from a pipe-cleaner. Poking gently with the point of a sword he took from a rack. somehow. a couple of Arisakas. For a second or so after he snapped it nothing happened. a Greek Mannlicher. All had fixed bayonets. the bayonet of a short German service Mauser pinned him to the floor like a specimen on a naturalist's card. They were not al l wood-ashes. no doubt. Rivers's cheek was cold. Then. the de aler and another man had sat by the fire. was a Nazi product. cardboard--had been burned the re also.
I found Rivers lying dead on the floor. we'll be right along. he gave himself seven mi nutes and went around the room rapidly. RLss. along with 48 51. followed him. Aarvo. To this had been added. Taken in trade. London. Marked: Wilson. "Well. he checked. The driver. Sergeant Ignatius Loyola McKenna--customarily known and addressed as Mick--pile d out almost before it had stopped. "I am calling from Arnold Rivers's an tique-arms shop on Route 19. looking only at pistols." a voice singsonged out of the receiver. cal. blue-eyed Finn with a corporal's chevrons. just inside the door . side hammer with pan a ttached to barrel. Queen Anne type. and walked in. Sil ver masque butt-cap.. He had been killed with a Mauser rifle--not shot. mister. "You stick around. St. McKenna was h alfway up the drive before he recognized Rand.A. a pool of blood on the floor i s almost completely dried. do. Picking up the phone in an awkward. Replacement. Ten twenty-two. OSss. You haven't touched anything. "State Police. Minories. Jaysus-me-beads!" He turned suddenly to the corporal. abt . steel barrel and frame. Corporal Kavaalen. Going over to the desk. beginning to stiffen.. 44. in pen: Sold. about a mile and a half east of Rosemont. "My name is Rand. OSss. Louis. and two privates got out from behind. Kingsley. He doubted very strongly if that would have been burned while its owner was still alive. Rand laid the card on the cocktail-table. the drawer from which he had seen Cecil Gillis get the card for the Leech & Rigdon had been clea ned out. have you?" "Not around the body. How long will it take you to get here?" "About ten minutes. found the front door o pen." he identified himself. 4852.4850: English Screw-Barrel F/L Pocket Pistol. yo u said his name was Grant!"
. At least." "That's a good report. 4853. He saw nothing that might have come from the Fleming collection. from V." the corporal approved. he used a pencil from his pocket to dial a number with which he was familiar. 4-1/2" barrel. go ahead--Hey! Did you say homicide?" the other voice asked sharply. a stocky. 9-1/4" O. I am repo rting a homicide. a number that meant the sam e thing on any telephone exchange in the state. he knew what had gone into the fire: Arnold Rivers's card-index purchase and sales record. The body is cold. and b ayoneted. Finally. NLss. R. hallmarked for 1723. along with the drinking equipment. unnatural manner. I'll tell Sergeant McKenna right away. draggin g after them a box about the size and shape of an Army footlocker. "My God. Mo. cost. LSss. I called at his shop a few minutes ago. 12/20/'42. "Wh o?" "Rivers himself. for Kentuck #2538. 3/21/'38. just as a white State Police car was pulling up at the end of the walk." Rand hung up and glanced at his watch. Mail order. App. Sparling." "Yeah. he opened the front d oor. clubbed with the butt. Then he stopped short.
the two privates set down their box outside a nd followed." He gave the body a brief scrutiny. he went back to that desk and got all the cards Rivers used to record
. then at McKenna. "Now. After he'd finish ed Rivers. Tri-State Agency." McKenna and the corporal entered.. The shades were all drawn. I rather like the idea that the man who sat back there drinking and smoking with Rivers was the killer. over there. who s moked cigars. "No. "That's right. or at least sociable." Rand said. the second and third probably while Rivers was down. "Want to confess now." "Think he left right after he killed Rivers?" Rand shook his head." He gestured toward t he Finn. They all drew up in a semicircle around the late Arnold Rivers and looked at him critically. and he doesn't seem to have bot hered checking on that. They sat back there by the fire for some time. then turned to Rand." Rand recognized the singsong accent he had hea rd on the phone. and a flock of witnesses to back it up. "Lights on when you got here?" he asked. "but it' s also an assumption without anything to support it. smoking and drinking. "Rivers had a visitor. that was just the first part of it. he could have left. And he doesn't generally make messes l ike this. somebody gave him a good job!" "Somebody's been seeing too many war-movies. Well. "You looked a round. probably from that rack. but the deadlatch on the door wasn't set. He sighed resignedly. or because this con ference was something clandestine. "Aarvo. and killed Rivers. this is the notorio us Jefferson Davis Rand. where is it?" "Right inside. Rivers's visitor got up to leave." McKenna nodded and reassured his corporal. Then he swung it up and slammed down with it. what do you make of it?" "Last night. to avoid being overrun by the two pr ivates with the equipment-box. terms. of course. of course. "And Privates Skinner and Jam eson. "Jesus!" Kavaalen pronounced the J-sound as though it were Zh." McKenna nodded. "Corporal Aarvo Kavaalen. "No. and clipped him on the jaw with the butt." he introduced. it's always self-defense. gesturing them in. Mick!" he reproved. "Say. "Now. Aarvo. or do you i nsist on a third degree with all the trimmings?" Kavaalen looked wide-eyed at Rand. That's a possibility. and left it sticking through Rivers and in the floor. If so. Then he gave him the point three times. and somebody else could have come here lat er. He and Rivers were on friendly. been admitted. "Careful." Rand reconstructed.." McKenna got a cigarette out of hi s tunic pocket and lit it in Rand's pipe-bowl. in New Belfast. "You know him?" "Know him?" McKenna stepped aside quickly. it's just i nside the doorway. Rand laughed. when Jeff Rand kills anybody. A man. Rivers must have gone with him to the door and was about to open it when thi s fellow picked up that rifle."That's what I thought he said. he gave all his syllables an equally-accented intonation. sometime. I put them on when I came in." Rand stepped backward. Finally.. "You know I never kill anybody unless I have a clear case of self-defense. The killer must have turned them off when he left. I don't know whether that was standard procedure. and then back at Rand.
bought a pistol from Rivers. I found the fireplace full of ashes. All right if we pull out the bayonet for a close-up of his chest?" "Sure. Now. "Want to bet it hasn't be en wiped clean. a fter they've raided it. An English flintlock pocket-pistol. Jeff?" he asked. "Even the tiny tots wipe off the cookie-jar." McKenna said. too?" "Huh-unh. Fact is. and most of them are well-known. McKenna picked up the card Rand had found by the edges and look ed at it. then Kavaalen called out: "Hey. "Rivers made it out for one of his pistols." "Think he might have stolen something. then. and covered up by burning the cards?" Mc Kenna asked. "I see one of them's been emptied out. then he follo wed Rand back through the shop. But I am not guessing about the destruction of the record-file." he commented. He look ed at the ashtray. what he absolutely had to get for it. I'm only guessing. respecti vely. A flash-bulb lit the front of the shop briefly. He sold it in 1942 for his middle price." Rand smiled slightly. Mick. up front. and bent over and sniffed at each of the two glasses. I am further guessing that the cards which the kil ler wanted to suppress were in the 'sold' file. unique specimens that would be unsa leable because every collector would know where it came from." There was another flash by the door. you and the boys start taking pictures. and he had to croak Rivers to get it. and the most he thought the traffic would stand." Rand agreed. Those three at the end are. but I think he took out a card or cards in which he had some interest.his transactions on--an individual card for every item. in the fireplace. or at least most of them. t he letters are Rivers's private price-code. Better chalkline it. and t hen burned the rest of the cards for a cover-up?" "That's the way it looks to me. suppose you show me these things you found. now.. Of course. when he gets here. found one c ard that had escaped unburned--you can be sure that one wasn't important--and fo und the drawer where the record-system was kept empty. and Rivers didn't have any single item that was worth a murder. He destroyed the lot of them. "Just because I can't think of an
." he told the corporal. "I was here yesterday. b ack in 1938. That's how I noticed this card-index system." he said. I can show you one almost like it.. no old firearm is. and then dumped the rest in the fire to prevent anybody from being able to determine whi ch ones he was interested in. back at the rear . He tested the temperature of the water in the ice-bowl with his finger. but I can't see where any quantity of arms have been remo ved. Rand shook his head again. The numbers are reference-numbers. what he thought was a reasonable pri ce. first." "We can check possible thefts with Rivers's clerk. There are only a very few old arms that are worth over a thousa nd dollars. " He turned back to Rand. Corporal Kavaalen said somethin g to the others. here. "You think. while I was here. I didn't look at everyth ing. "Now. you'll move things jerking that bayonet out. "What in hell's this all about. in trade for a Kentucky rifle. we got two of the stiffs. Aar vo. that maybe some card in that file wo uld have gotten somebody in trouble. He'd gotten it and three others.
doesn't mean that there aren't any others. and tried to cover up by replaci ng them with some junk that Lane Fleming wouldn't have allowed inside his house." he began. and now the book has vanished. and the family were making out it was an accident. as an aid to cerebration. He has cons tant access to the gunroom. from Rivers. that seemed to be his substitu te for head-scratching. "All right." McKenna nodded. this mo rning. "Rivers wants to buy the Fleming collecti on. if he'd been on the level. For my money. give. But why were you back here bright and ear ly this morning? You working on Rivers for somebody? If so. at the time. "I wouldn't put it past him." "Hell.." "Hey! You think he might have been selling modern arms to criminals. of course.. But the reason I came here. "I haven't found an y positive proof. but--" He told McKenna about his purchase. I caught him in a lie about a book Fleming kept a re cord of his collection in." He went on to tell McKenna about Rivers's expu lsion from membership in the National Rifle Association. he'd have run Rivers o ut of business. That was the reason I saw him yesterday. he's the only one in th e house who knows enough about arms to know what was worth stealing. about a week before Fleming was killed. "You said you were here yesterday. "For sure?" Another flash lit the front of the shop. is that I find that somebody has stolen about two dozen of the best pisto ls out of the collection since Fleming's death. and bought a pistol. Whoever was higrading the collection had to have an outlet for his stuff." "You know that?" McKenna inquired. You really think Flemi ng could have been bumped?" "Yes. "Nothing you co uld take to a jury. though. "And I know that he sol d a pair of pistols to Lane Fleming. he would have spotted what was going o n. it's the butler. I don't mean legitimate restorations . tha t were outright fakes. but I figured he'd pulled the Dut ch. A crooked dealer is the answer to bo th. I know about that collection of yours. "For damn good and sure. and squawked about it. though. We never were called in. but mighty good grounds for suspicion. the whole thing was handled through the coroner's office. I mean fraudulent alterations." Rand understated. And furthermore. I didn't know that!" McKenna seemed worried. Jeff. of the
. Now that Fleming's dead." "That's a damn good circumstantial case." Rand considered. "There was very little that I wo uld put past that fellow. Rand nodded. without re porting the sale?" McKenna asked. long ago. I think he could have been bumped. and he knew too much about gats to pull a Russ Columbo on hims elf." Rand told him what he was working on. "Fleming used to target-sho ot with our gang. and Arnold Rivers was definitely crooked. I'd been wondering if that mightn't have been w hy Fleming had that sour-looking accident. I didn't like that accident. until this morning. If he'd lived." McKenna rubbed the butt of his . and m ost important.38 reflectively. the fact is.. Fleming was going to sue the ears off Rivers about that. But I wouldn't think he'd be stupid enough to carry a record of such sales in his own file. I can show you half a dozen firearms in this shop that have been altered to increase their value. and he had to have a source of supply for the junk he was infilt rating into the collection as replacements.y other possibility. You thi nk Rivers could have been the fence?" "He could have been.
in a place l ike this. for a minute. Well. I wouldn't. he tried to get that revolver back from me. How's that?" The flare of another flash-bulb made distorted shadows dance over the walls.. now. when the family gets you in to work on the collection. "That would hang together. "The outside doors are all locked. then. I'd had a suspicion that Rivers might have sneaked into the Fleming house. except the revolver I bought yesterday. last night." While Rand was talking to McKenna. let's skip Fleming. and I can't raise anybody. where another photo -flash glared for an instant. i n jail. You might take a chance on selling something that had gotten mixed in with your legitimate stuff. He knows you're no ordi nary arms-expert." "See!" McKenna pounced. Private Jameson wandered back through the sh op. So he gets scared. and an agency man moved in and started poking around. "You think this bu tler. And if I were a butler who'd been robbing a valuable collectio n. The motive. you're an agency dick. The State Policeman went up the steps and tried the door." Rand agreed.. realizes that you're going to s pot what's been going on. and he wen t through." Rand pointed out the flight of steps beside the fireplace. "Until I walked in here not half an hour ago and found Rivers dead on the flo or. n ot twenty minutes after I'd paid him sixty for it." Rand supplied. And while Rivers may not keep a record of the stuff he got from Jeeves. "Look.revolver that had been later identified as the one brought home by Fleming on t he day of his death. That all hangs together. While he may not keep a record of what he bought from Walters. or whatever his name is. "Chances are Mrs. And you say he could've sold the stuff he stole to Rivers. and kills Rivers off before you can get to him. Offered me seventy-five dol lars' worth of credit on anything else in the shop if I'd give it back to him. yesterday. would have been to sto p a lawsuit that would have put Rivers out of business and. So he comes over here. of course. at the Fleming place. Rivers'll talk. "And don't suggest that Rivers got conscience-stri cken and killed himself. Aside from the technical difficulties of pinning himsel f to the floor after he was dead. "I saw Rivers come o ut of the house that way. but I'll add this: As soon as Rivers found out I was working for the Fleming family. is there any way into the house from here?" he asked. They have a
. I might get in a panic and do something extreme." McKenna said. too." he said." he continue d. not inconceivably. that explanation's out. it opened. "She's away a lot. the chances are he does keep a record of the stuff Walters got from him. and will probably suspect him." "Well." McKenna suggested. so the card-file goes into the fire. Jeeves. "Walters. Rivers is away. or whatever his name is--" "Walters. I haven't found anyth ing here. If you catch up with Rivers. suppose you had a lot of hot stuff. Sarge. "I still don't know how Rivers got hold of it. but would you want to sell it right back to where it had been stolen from?" "No. "Hey. was robbing the collection. that came from the Fleming pla ce. s hot Fleming with another revolver. left it in Fleming's hand and carried away th e one Fleming had been working on. to use for replacements." He looked toward the front of the shop. "Of course. But now . Rivers had no conscien ce to be stricken with.
past the white chalked outl ine that marked the original position of the body. It may be that the two matt ers are related. "He had eight C's i n his billfold. Tell you what. Maybe one or another of us may run across something about that accident of Flem ing's. "Well. is this damn rifle ever lousy with prints. Rivers has all these guns. "A nice clas sy murder like this." "You want to stick around till this clerk of Rivers's gets here?" McKenna asked . swell!" McKenna enthused." "Migawd. I'd just as soon not be seen taking too much of an interest in this right now. Sarge. with ink-bla ckened fingertips. And the clerk doesn't get here till about the same time." CHAPTER 11 Mick McKenna had put his finger right on the sore spot. I just may find somebody who'll make it worth my time to get interested in this killing. I'd just as soon not have my name mentioned at all in connection w ith this. of course. and nobody to pay you to work on it." Rand said." McKenna chuckled. and Skinner was working on the rifle with an ins ufflator.."
. anyhow." Rand mentally substituted " public benefactor. "Yeah. he does a big cash business. "Maybe we can pass the case off on the War Cr imes Commission." McKenna accompanied Rand to the front door." he said. he al ways has a couple of hundred to a thousand on him--it's a wonder somebody hasn't made a try at this place long ago. sensational murder and no money in it for the Tri-State Agency. "He should be here in about an hour and a half. Fact is.. "That must hurt hell out of you. For "villain..and stick-up hazard. we keep an eye on it. Anonymo us Tip. which may or may not mean anything. while I'm at it. and we'll check up here and see if we c an find any of the stuff that was stolen." Kavaalen said. say you check up on this butler at the Fleming place for us. Jeff.." "Swell. I haven't made any formal report on that." "No. there are some points of similarity. We can get together and compare notes. Obv iously." Skinner complained." Rand admitted. and everybody else's who's been fooling with it around here . yet. I'll be glad to help you. but she doesn't generally get here before noon. We have this place marked up as a bad burglary. somebody who could best clear hims elf by unmasking the real villain. You can charge the discovery of the body up to our old friend. The body itself. a nice. can't you?" "Sure." "Suits me. And. It did hurt Rand like h ell. "I feel like an undertaker watching a man being swall owed by a shark. Jeff." "It does. we can't say it was robbery.colored girl who comes in by the day. too. Prefera bly some innocent victim of unjust suspicion. and half the Wehrmacht." "You seem to know a lot about this household. "A lot of Rivers's. and I don't want any of that kind o f publicity while I'm trying to sell the collection. out of the way.. Corporal Kavaalen was going through the dead man's pockets. and I'll be glad for any help you can give me on recovering those pistols. lay to one side. somebody would have to be persuaded to finance an investigation. because I'm not sure exactly what's missing..
He used to be a missionary. Miss Lawrence? What I told you. rather indifferently smoke-cured. I tell you. A whole young crocodile. Danakil. "Now. Miss Lawrence. t he Reverend Sourbaw. as though she h ad counted on him to rid her of the man with the packages. It was an infant crocodile. if you do. Miss Lawrence?" "Ooooooh! What in heaven's name is that thing?" she demanded. but the wor kmanship was low-grade. Look at that scabbard. about fifty years ago. and sheathed it with caution. How about that-there little amethyst bottle. "See. "That-there's a sword. and probably attributable to some even more barbarous pe ople. I would give you seven dollars for that. that-there item is unique!" "It's revolting! It's the most repulsive object that's ever been brought into t his shop. suddenly. brung it from Af rica. or something like that. Miss Lawrence. a sallow-faced. It was an African sword. When new. it must have given its wearer a really distinctive aroma. it's yours. head. I got that-there from Hen Sourbaw. himself. dark object. you'll need abo ut a gallon of anti-tetanus shots. an' all. all righ t. which is saying quite a lot.. She tossed him a look of comic reproach. just you look at this-here. with a visitor. now!" He displayed some long. "Ain't this-here an interestin' item.. "Y'would? Well. h e went up the steps to the door.." "God forbid!" she exclaimed. untidy-looking man of indeterminate age who was opening newspaper-wrapped packages on a table-top. He drew the blade gingerly. "All my customers are heavy drinkers. read the name "Karen Lawrence" on th e window. will you please come here and look at this thing?" Rand laid down the Merril carbine he had been examining and walked over beside Karen. now. Miss Lawrence. Rand told her he'd just look aroun d till she was through. Colonel Rand! If you don't have a hangove r this morning. or Somali. A real African native sword. I wouldn't w ant to answer for what might happen if some of them saw that thing. the sword simply went in between the creature's jaws and extended the length of the body a nd into the tail. The man--whom Rand judged to be some rural free-lance antique-prospector-extended the object of the girl's repugnance. a real African na tive sword. that used to preach at Hemlock Gap Church. The design looked Berber. Rand thought. an' th
. well. with a plain iron hilt and cross-guard. An' how about them-there salt-cellars." she grudged. undoin g another package. I think this-here is re al quaint! Just look." "Y'think it might be poisoned?" the man with the dirty neck and the month-old h aircut inquired eagerly." "Oh. narrow. made out of real crocodile-skin. now. entering to the jangling of a spring-mounted co wbell. The girl dealer was inside. Karen greeted Rand by name and military rank.. Crossing the sidewalk. Passing the little antique shop he slowed. and then pulled over to the curb and got out. then.He was running over a list of possible suspects as he entered Rosemont. "Here's something I know you'll want. even for Africa. Either end of a moldy-green leather thong had been fastened to the two front paws for a shoulder-baldric.. backed. The scabbard was what was really surprising." he commented. then?" "Well . I can make you an awful good price on that-there item." the man was enthusing. holding it out to her. his uncle.. if you liked that kind of sur prises. feet. in his younger days.. "East African. looked at it. over at Feltonville. "Be d amn good and careful not to scratch yourself on that..
they haven't. Rivers inte nds carrying on the business. she found a pac k of cigarettes. hoping to badger so mething out of him about those pistols that are missing from the Fleming collect ion. and he looked all right. I gave th e shop a once-over-lightly before the cops arrived. Around midnight. being killed like that. unless Mrs." She tried to take a puff from her cigarette and found that she had broken it in her fingers." "For God's sake!" The shock was genuine." She stopped just short of adding: "even Riv ers. any m ore. "When did it happen?" She tried to make the question sound casual. and found the body. "Ne ver a dull moment.. either. if he has an alibi for last night!" "Think he might need one?" Rand asked. "But that's dreadful!" She really meant that. would be my guess. Colonel. "Oh." Karen's eyes widened.at-there knife-box?" Rand wandered back to examining firearms. after buying the knife-bo x. now you see why girls leave home and start antique shops. who is?" he countered. she continued: "But I can't say I'm really very sorry he's dead.. but the surprise looked genuine. Karen got rid of the man with the antiques.. The shock was pro bably a concession to good taste. but he d
. now." Rand conceded. Eventually. "It's a terrible thing to happen to anybody. Cecil Gillis. too.. "Cecil Gillis!" she exclaimed softly. Some time last night. I went to see him this morning. "Well. "I just stopped in to give you some good news. A mos t unpleasantly thorough job. You won't need to consider that offer of Arnold Rivers's. I might think that had something to do with it. "Have the police any idea--? " "Not the foggiest. He isn't talking any more. When he had gone. one of the ten awfullest. Of course. even shocked. now. "That I couldn't say. and couldn't find anything. Wasn't that sword the awfullest thing you ever saw. though. "I wonder. some person or persons unknown gave him a butt-and-bayonet job with a German Mauser out of a rack in his shop." "Outside of maybe his wife.. "You saw him again thi s morning? What did he say?" "He didn't say anything. yes.. If some of the Fleming pistols turn up at his place. Fact is. I notified the State Police. and he smiled." "He. I saw him a few days ago. "When did he die? It must have been very sudden. "Of course I only saw him once. though ?" "Well. but--" "It was very sudden. and just came from there. He is no longer interested in the Fleming collection. He's about due for induction into the Army of the Unemployed. he's been having trouble with his lungs. So far." Instead. She lit a new one from the mangled butt." An idea occurred to him. offered it to Rand and lit one for herself." "He isn't?" An eager. They might be able to fix a no-earlier time. You mean he's dead?" She was surprised. he isn't e ven breathing any more. and the gunsmith who made his fake Walker Colts and North & Cheney flintlocks. happy light danced up in her eyes." she said. either.
" It would also. like a pistol or a dagger. interest in the female of his species." "Look here. I found the body this morning. the news of this killing will be out before evening. under some circumstances. Well. now?" "I wouldn't know why not. he's hard up for a good usable suspect. went into a phone-booth and dialed the number of Stephen Gresham's office in New Belfast.. that's the story." "I won't." Rand denied piously. while waiting for it. Maybe two motives. "There's been a new development in the Fleming business. Of course. "He does a lot of swimming. but." Rand admitted. "Maybe you think Cecil is a--you know--one of those boys. Rand thought. nobody ever saw Cecil leave the Rivers place in the evenings.. he wasn't quite up to his wife's requirements in another important respect." He moved his car down the street to the Rosemont Inn. And by the way. I wouldn't know. where there' s smoke. "I'll mention it to Mi ck McKenna. and Rivers might have caught him. I'd call it a nuisance-abatement project. They call it murder. any more. or mention that I was in here to tell you about it. Rivers's offer was pretty high.. som etime last night." Rand corrected." he said. "I never kid about Those Who Have Passed On. he isn't. there aren't many oth er dealers who would be able to duplicate it. "Wel l. Do you think there may be a chance t hat we can get the collection. though." "Such as?" Rand prompted. I can't seem to see young Gillis doing a messy job like this was. Then he ordered lunch. when I went to see him. And he has a motive. I'm glad you told me. And while Arnold Rivers may have been a good provide r from a financial standpoint. and he's one of the few people around here who can beat me at tennis. but in the meantime I wish you wouldn't mention it to anybody.." "Ha! So he backed out?" "He was shoved out. and. and even slightly wolfish. He takes a perfectly normal. but of course. where he went into the co mbination bar and grill and had a Bourbon-and-water at the bar. when the lawyer an swered." He had decided to follow the same line as with Karen Lawrence. then." she euphemized. or going to all that manual labor when he could have used something neat." "That would be a perfectly satisfactory motive. Cecil isn't quite the languishing flower he looks. there may be nothing more than somebody with a stogie.idn't strike me as a possible candidate. there may be a regular conflagration. and not ified the State Police. furnish an explanation for the burning of Rivers's record-cards. with caref
. personally. on buying trips and so on. Then he reci ted the already hackneyed description of what had happened to Rivers. and when he was. they're just prejudi ced." "That would also be a good enough motive.. "You needn't worry about Arnold Rivers's offer. are you kidding?" Gresham demanded. "I'd hoped to catch you before you left for lunch. don't take any Czechoslov akian Stiegel." Karen told him.. "On the sharp end of a Mauser bayonet." "Well. And Rivers was away a lot. At least. "And the other?" "Cecil might have been doing funny things with the books.
but with the road relatively free from traffic he was able to cut that to fifte en. Rand. "Well. he left a tip beside the ashtray. sorting out the inferences from the descriptions. including the letter Humphrey Goode had given him. He wore an Elks watchcharm. Now. "So I called copper. "Look here. after all. at my home. with some bewilder ment. You had no right to impound that revolver. rather needlessly. here in your office. he knew exactly where to spend them. Maybe Arnol d Rivers hadn't died in vain. Mr. Sergean t McKenna's up a stump about it. It's killed one man." Rand estimated that this situation called for a modified version of his hard-bo iled act.ul attention to all the gruesome details." he replied. I see. now. in the first place. Mr. about two thirty this afternoon? I want to talk to you about this. I'll have to have that." Rand said." Rand assured him that he would be on hand. already. yes. and the other statements which had been made to him by differ ent people about the death of Lane Fleming. This looked like what he had been angling for. for the estate. Yes. and sat sipping it slowly and smoking his pipe. and the gossip he had gotten f rom Carter Tipton. "Good. Goode w ill get a court order for it. He sat down and ate with a good appetite. to sell with the rest of the weapons. then swore softly. and the conclusions he had reached a bout the theft of the pistols. and you're holding it
. one Jason Kirchner." Gresham was silent for a moment. Jeff! This is going to raise all kinds of hell!" He was silent for a m oment. you removed it from the Fleming home illegally in the second place. "You're working for Mr. paid his check and went out. and the killing of Arnold Rivers. and the descriptive statements of others from the things he himself had observed. When his glass was empty and his pipe burne d out." "Well. Parking his car in front of the courthouse. He had two hours until his meeting with Stephen Gresham. Goode?" he asked. After f inishing. The coroner. he fo und his lunch waiting for him. I understand you have an item from that collection. "You think you can show cause why that revolver shouldn't be turned over to the Fleming estate?" he demanded. Mr. The county seat was a normal twenty minutes' drive from Rosemont. If I'm to get full value for the collection. was an inoffensive-looking little fellow with a Caspar Milquetoast mustache and an underslung jaw. Fleming shot himself. where it might kill somebody else. "Why. going over the story Gladys Fleming had told him. if I don't get it. When he returned to his table. and a Knights of Pythias lapel-pin. Regardless of its u npleasant associations. "The pistol with which Mr. since you had no intention of holding any formal inquest. what can I do for you?" "Why. for the he irs. Fleming's pistols. directly. Rand. I can make it. can you see me. that pistol is a valuable collector's item. I don't know as I ought to let it get out. handl ing the sale of Mr. then." Rand smiled happily. and looking in all directions for a suspect. he went inside." Kirchner started to argue. he had another drink. "My God. "Yes. See you there. look here. an Odd Fellows ring. That must be interes ting work. "that revolver's a dangerous weapon. right away. and one of t he assets of the estate. He looked at Rand's cr edentials.
there was no way in God's world. "Oh my.. due to inadvertence of the decease d. Death by accident. I've been bothered a lot about that pistol. it can stand the other five.." he added m enacingly. I'm responsible to Mr. then. That revolver is too valuable an asset to ignore." Rand said." Humphrey Goode must pull considerable weight around the courthouse. Fleming committed su icide . but . but Kirchner was shrinking away from it as though it might jump at his throat. would you mind if I called Mr. However. I'll draw the charges. I so certified it. of course. with the round barrel and the so-cal led "creeping" ramming-lever. outside to wn. as the hammer was down on a fired chamber. "Certainly not. that's not your worry. of course." The coroner went away. he shook his head negligently.. "He was here. by all means. for instance ." "It'll be a lot safer after I've emptied it into the first claybank. of whic h the revolver you're holding is a part.. A court order might not be all we could get.illegally now... He approached." "Well. in which it could be discharged. decidedly. and my clerk showed it to him. Goode on the phone?" Rand did. or was murdered. he doesn't sell anything but guns and swords and that sort of thing. that revolver's still loaded.. short of t hrowing the thing into a furnace. horrified." "Yes?" Rand succeeded in being negligent about it. right now." "Well. I'm responsible for that collection. yes! The newspaper people wanted to take pictures of me holding it. Kirchner." "Oh. carrying a revolver in bot h hands.." "Well. You see. making inquiries about it. pure and simple. that's all right. Ran d surmised. he laid it gently on his desk. Goode for the collection. "It was an accident. either.. back of the hammer and through the loading-aperture in front of the cylinder. Somebody had wound a piece of wire around it." "Oh. In a few minutes he was back. af ter warning Rand again that it was loaded. I don't have any intention of exceeding my authority. or." Kirchn er disclaimed hastily. "I thought it might be safer that way. It was a . As Mr." Kirch ner met him halfway. and then. I t stood one shot. there was an antique-dealer who was here trying to buy it. I really shouldn't have taken the attitude I did." Kirchner said. I knew it was all right. Mr. "Sorry I had to be a little short with you. "you have no right to hold that revolver. Goode's wishes. "I put the wire on. "And I certainly wouldn't want to go against Mr. lately. You certainly realize that. "But you realize. and this gun's part of it. Evidently Goode had given him the green light. "After I talked to Mr." Rand told him." "Who was that--Arnold Rivers?" "Why yes! Do you know him? He has an antique-shop on the other side of Rosemont . fire them out." the coroner said. Goode. handling the weapon with a caution that would have been excessive for a Mills grenade. my heavens. no!" Kirchner cried. go ahead and call him. Goode's agent. a
. and I want i t. if you have any reason to suspect that Mr. bu t you know how it is.36 Colt. better. "Now." "Oh. one of the 1860 series.
put the letter in his pocket. because of the accident.36-caliber percussion revolver. as he pulled to a stop i n Stephen Gresham's driveway. the murder was ou t. and caliber. Kirchner. as I can. on the butt. Rand thanked him profusely. Fleming killed himself with ? Put in how you found it in his hand." It was probably worth about thirty-five. "Oh. of Scott County. says. I'm supposed to get a s much money for these pistols. he typed out t he letter himself. The first shot kicked up dirt a little over the can--Rand never could be sure just how high any percussion Colt was sighted--and the other four hit the can. wondering how much trouble he was goin g to have with District Attorney Charles P. Farnsworth." He picked up the Colt and show ed Kirchner the serials. Goode's agent. model. looked twice at the revolver to make sure of the number. "See. As he had expected. in time for the two fifteen ne ws-broadcast from the New Belfast station. Farnsworth.." Kirchner would be more than willing to oblige Mr. set it against an embankment. and even slammed his s eal down on it. He carried the revolver back to th e car and put it into the glove-box with the Leech & Rigdon. and no conside ration of personal prominence will be allowed to deter us from clearing up this dastardly crime.. Fleming being such a prominent man. for the heirs. he got up as high as sixty dollars. prepared to name.. with weary bitterness. justifies. and if th e investigation. you know. and in front of the trigger-guard. he looked it over carefully. Unwinding the wire Kirchner had wrapped around the revolve r. and st uck the Colt down his pants-leg. and then fifteen. No effort will be spared. they wi ll be apprehended and formally charged. vouching for this as the pistol Mr.nd then he started making offers for it--first ten dollars. "What do you know! I never thought of that. h ere it is: 2444. and mention the serial numbers.. CHAPTER 12
. signed it.'" Rand swore again. took Rand's word for the make. and Mr. at that!" he exclaimed.. After starting the car. now under way and making excellent progress. whom we are not. I suppose it's worth a couple of hundred. the daily budget of strikes and Congressional investigations and internationa l turmoil was enlivened by a more or less imaginative account of what had alread y been christened the "Rosemont Bayonet Murder. Look. as the newscaster continued: "District Attorney Charles P. he picked up an empty beer-can from the ditch." Rand resigned himself to the in evitable influx of reporters. so that w hoever buys it will know it's the same revolver. Mr. yes. Rand was intrigued by this second inst ance of an un-Rivers-like willingness to spare no expense to get possession of a . "Say. who has taken charge of the investigation. that would make it worth more. as yet.. stepped back about thirty feet and began firing. I suppose he thought he could get a lot of money for it. How would you like to g ive me a letter. "Did he have it in his hands?" he asked. Rand allowed himself to be struck by an idea." Kirchner suggested. Then he swore. an d then twenty. and we quote: 'There is strong evidence implicating certain prominent persons. About two miles from the county seat Rand stopped his car on a deserted stretch of road and got out. he snapped on the radio.
But I can't set any time limit on a job like this. watching the ash form on the end. last evening. I just can't get mixed up in this. can you spare the time from this work you're doing at the Flemings' to i nvestigate this Rivers business?" he asked." "Well--" Rand puffed at the cigar Gresham had given him. "Yes. could dream up against me." The ash was growing on Rand's cigar. Then he came straight to the point. You seem to think you may be suspected of purging Rivers. You believe me?" "I'm inclined to. "Now look. it's to my interest to get a case cleared up as soon as I can. a side from that homemade North & Cheney he sold you. it'll have to be fast. Beyond a hasty greetin g as Rand passed the threshold. I take a lump-sum fee. you'll be in dropped the ash into a tray an of ash he had seen at Rivers's proved that Rivers was alive a the clear." Gresham insisted. But that isn't the point. why anybody would think you' d killed him?" "Great God. I don't know how much work I'll have to do. Cecil Gillis. I didn't kill Arnold Rivers. But I can't afford even to be mentioned in connection with this." "Well. but. when you got here. I'll pay you a thousand down."
"I don't want to have to clear myself. I just want the case cleared up in a hurry. he did not speak until they were seated in the g unroom upstairs. as soon as Rand came up onto th e porch. of co urse. at all. an d he'll tell them all about it. "And how much would an investigation cost me? It's got to be a blitz job. I stopped at his place. As my client. this la-d e-da clerk of his. in tow n. And one other. and. at all. or eve n what kind. We had words." "On your way out from town?" Rand inquired. and I think whoever did it ought to get a medal and a testimonial dinner. about a quarter to nine. I didn't do it. I hated his guts. You know what that would do to me.Gresham must have been waiting inside the door. dammit. The point is that when I was going in. but I did not kill him. for one thing. It looked like the sort shop. "In your law practice." Rand d looked at it curiously. you know what a lying c lient is letting himself in for. leaving me alone with Rivers." Rand replied. Here. He got into his car and drove a way. "But why necessarily you? Rivers had plenty of other e nemies. "Look. he opened it. "But if it can be fter nine twenty. but he couldn't be sure. Just me." "Yes." Gresham told him urgently. yes!" Gresham exclaimed. you wouldn't lie to me. and I decided to stop and have it out with him. and motioned the detective inside." "That does put you back of the eight ball. I want you to see to it that I don 't. But why? Is there any reason. I was sore as hell about the hooking he gave me on that North & Cheney. "Jeff. that I was going to start the same sort of action against him on my own acc ount. and two more when y
. I told him. and I can beat any case that half-assed ex-amb ulance-chaser. they weren't all in his shop. that Lane Fleming's death hadn't pulled his bacon off the f ire. He'll be the first one the police talk to. "I don't work by the day. he took another heavy drag at it. falsely so-called. was coming out. "I don't want anythin g to do with it. The one who killed him. Farnsworth. I'm not worried about being rai lroaded for this. most of them unpleasant. I'm not interested in getting anybody conv icted in court. Stephen." "That sounds like a large order. This Rivers killing has more angles than Nude Descending a Staircase.
Well. I was regimental bayonet-instruction officer. were you smoking a cigar?" Gresham shook his head.. hell .. himself. before I was assigned a company of my own.. smelling of Chanel Number Five. all they have on you is that there was ill-feeling between you and Rivers about that fake North & Cheney. "Before the war. Maybe you h ave something there. did you notice. "Now. either?" "I wouldn't drink that guy's liquor if I were dying of snakebite." Gresham snapped his fingers. I had all the D. because this damned Gillis has prob ably involved me with the police already. I always carried a rifle and bayonet at the front. On the other hand. "No. on it?" "I saw the table. Rivers uses Chanel Number Five. If Cecil thought he could marry the business. you want a magician!" He took another drag at the ci gar. For instance.A. there have been stories about him and Mrs. I say publicly."
. and blew smoke through a circular gun-rack beside him. I don't suppose." "Yes. and are expressing that opinion at the top of their voices to all comers. with Rivers o ut of the way. certainly. "What sort of a char acter is this Farnsworth. back near the fireplace. and a couple of glasses. that could be bad. And during Schicklgruber's war. I was lighting i t when I came in here. a low table with a fifth of Hai g & Haig Pinchbottle. that you had a drink with him. and a siphon. in view of the state of relations bet ween you and Rivers. "You talk to Adam Trehearne.ou have the case completed. so you were. now!" he said. and a book--I think it was Gluckm an's United States Martial Pistols and Revolvers--but no bottle.. I volunteered as bayonet instructor for the local H ome Guard. See. If you remember. and so on. "The worst part of it is the way Rivers was killed." Rand assured him. and then Gillis would come in from the house. "I wish that were all!" he said. anyhow?" he asked. "As a suspect. 's in the state typed and estimated. "God-damn headline-huntin g little egotist! He's running for re-election this year. won't you. "There must be close to a hundred people around here who'd know that." Gresham declared. Gillis isn't exactly in a state of pure sanctity. I threw my cigar away when I got out of the car. I must have killed close to a dozen Krauts just the way Rivers was killed. or g lasses. the smart handicappers are figuring him to run well inside th e money. You'll take the case." "My God!" Rand made a wry face." Rand comment ed. and all of them are probably convinced that you killed Ri vers. Stephen. Rive rs. back in Kaiser Willie's war. but since I got back--" Gresham slandered the county prosecutor's legitimacy. I want you to get the murder cleared up before I can be publicly involved in it. There was an ashtray on it. You don't want a detective. it might be easy to throw a sca re into him. you know. He did business with Rivers--there wasn't much in his line R ivers and Umholtz were able to fake--and different times he's gone to Rivers's s hop and there'd be nobody around. when you were at Rivers's. Mrs. too. Jeff?" "Oh.. "Damned if there haven't. a nd I didn't light another one till I got home. and that you were in Rivers's shop yesterday evening?" Rand's new client grimaced. And after we got to France. and he wouldn 't offer me a drink if he knew I was." "Well.. or siphon." "One way. "Well.
He could have been knocking down on Rivers. Rand starte d in the opposite direction. of course. and Rivers caught him at it. and the cigar-ashes. w ith a box of ammunition and a couple of spare clips. after all . toward Rosemont. "But I doubt if Rivers would sit down and drink with him. something y ou can wear under said livery. Tip was in. "Unless it was young Gillis. And bring a small gun with you. Then Rand used the phone to call his office in New Belfast. and Gresham talked t o Pierre Jarrett. He w orks at home. That . in an untidy brown suit. and there's a good possibility th at the thefts from the collection and the killing of Rivers are related. as Rand got out of his car and came across the road. while accusing him of theft. or shall I give it to you when I see you?" "You have notes? Bring them along. "I want you to come here and get a room at the Rosemont Inn.'s office." he introduced.357 Colt of yours is a little too conspicuo us. Aarvo Kavaalen. "I don't get that." Rand admitted. It was arranged that he should pick Jarrett up with his car an d come to the Flemings'." Gresham agreed. and that reminds me: If you have time this afte rnoon. Tri-St ate Agency. He knows that collection as well as I do. About a half-mile from Gresham's he caught an advancing gleam of white on the h ighway ahead of him and pulled to the side of the road."All right. And I can't seem to find anything around Rivers's place that looks as though it might have been stolen from the Fl eming collection." Rand explained about the drinks.A. I'll have to know that." Gresham was puzzled. Want me to let you have it now. I'll call him now. "And suppose we take Pierre Jarrett along wit h us. and a t hird man. under your own name. I wonder if you'd come along with me to the Flemings' and see just what's missing. "And say. "Hey!" Olsen yelled. then. We can pick him up before we go to the Flemings '. or reasonable facsimile. in any case. while Rand went there directly. Oh. "Hi. he'll spot anything I miss. "This is Gus Olsen. "Wa s Gresham at home?"
. In it were Mick McKenna." "Right.. You'll find a ." Ritter promised. either." They went into Gresham's bedroom. I'll be at Rosemont Inn at five thirty. He went on to tell about the destruction of Rivers's record-cards. I'll be seeing you in a couple of hours. "You just came from where we're going.380 Beretta in the top right-hand drawer of my office desk." "Yes." "I'd thought of that.. investigator for the D. going out and getting in his car. Jeff. "We been lookin' for you! Where you been?" Rand raised an eyebrow at McKenna." McKenna greeted him. where there was a phone. explaining the situation to date. this morning." He parted from Gresham. As Gresham got his ow n car out of the garage and drove off toward Pierre Jarrett's house. waiting until the State Police car drew up and stopped. "I'm going to need some help. and I want you ready to take over. with a lot of dope on the Fleming estate.. a Nordic type. I b elieve there will be a vacancy in the Fleming household tomorrow or the next day . And bring with you a suit of butler's livery. it was the killer." the State Police sergeant surmised. He talked to Dave R itter. I'll see you there about five th irty." he continued. Jeff Rand.
behind the wheel. showin' the Home Guard
." he barked at Kavaalen. "We'll see what Mr. Olsen. He didn't have the drink. he run ahead of us with a tip-off ! Gresham's skipped out. Most Finns can speak Swedish. "Shut up. The corporal's remarks ran to abou t a paragraph. I was there at the time. I can testify to that. I wanted to talk to him. He got home at nine twenty-two. he knew how to use a bayonet." "Now you look here!" Olsen bawled. myself. it's plain as anything. "Yes. "What time was Rivers killed. and so were seven other pe ople. half the time. and he told us that last evening. he tried him and convicted him on the spot. I thought he might account for the cigar-ashes." "Oh. "He and another man are going to help me ch eck up on what's missing from the Fleming collection. he sent Olsen around. how's abou t letting me in on it. says around ten to two. neither. what about Gresham? What 's he supposed to be a suspect for?" "Ah. myself. Why. and he wasn't smoking a cigar in the shop. not go fraternizin' with a lot o f suspects. too. and he left a little after nine. him and Gresham's in it together." "Hey!" Olsen exploded." McKenna advised. "For instance. turned around and began jabbering at Olsen. and the dr ink-fixings on that table. At least. goddammit. and Rand was wishing he could understand it. I seen him. "Shut up before I sling your ass to hell out of this car! I'm talking. obscenity! Is that what it's about?" Rand exclaimed in disgust. now that the international crisis seems to have been averted. "And be sides." McKenna replied wearily." Olsen argued. now!" "What is all this?" Rand wanted to know. in something that sounded like Swedish. You either. the first thing in the morning. them guys only guess. in the back seat. during the war. But when Farnsworth heard about the killing. to find the body!" Kavaalen. I bet that was why he come around. hell. he saw Stephen Gresham drive up and go into the shop. Mick?" "Like he don't know!" Olsen vociferated. we questioned this Cecil Gillis. Gresham had it in for Rivers. Gres ham told me about that. Olsen suspects him of chopping Rivers up. You're supposed to cooperate with us."He was. Olsen seemed t o catch fire from them. and when Olsen heard that Gresham had been there. as he was lea ving Rivers's. shut up!" McKenna bellowed into his face. Silence fell with a heavy thump in the car. "What's he screaming about." He mentioned the approxima te time at which the others had left. "Well. or hasn't th e time been fixed?" "The M." Rand said. Farnsworth has to say ab out this." McKenna said. and I don't want any godd am jaw from you. waving his arms and howling back in the same language. I'll bet he's in it with Gresham!" "Pay no attention. myself. "See. he doesn't even know what teams are playing. too?" Rand asked. "What I told you. He rose in his seat. "He doesn't know what the score is. but Philip Cabot and I stayed till around eleven. winking at him at th e same time.E. now. "He tipped off Gresham so's he could s kip out." Rand named them. "They dribbled away at different times during the evenin g. and must have been downright incendiary. "He could be wrong. And that ain't all. he's gone now.
ten years ago." he began.. "So what? Anybody who's ever had infantry training k nows that butt-stroke-and-lunge. And what happened to this guy who'd hired Jeff was something that oughtn't to happen even to Molotov. and then got Jeff to run down a lot of fake clues he'd plant ed. Hell. I was on the case. Stephen Gresham has just retained me to make an i ndependent investigation. in C. maybe Olsen. a flint lock navy pistol that had been worked over into something else. you say. "You can take car e of that end of it." McKenna said. I don't know why the hell I bother telling you this. he's on e of two things. "I thought of something like that. this guy set fire to his own factory." "Well. "Look. local time. or else he's out of luck. But for the record. "Jeff Rand had a client who was guilty of the crime he hired Jeff to investigate." "You're liable to hear anything on the radio. If you check ed the long-distance calls to Rivers's number last night. Gresham was going to subpoena those record s.. eight o 'clock. I'm satisfied. and that might explain why Gillis was in such a hurry to sic us onto Gre sham. can explain why Gresham threw those record-car ds in the fire.M. If you hadn't lammed out of Sweden when you were sixteen. And this high-brow n girl that works for Rivers says that Gillis and Mrs." "Yeah." he retorted. too. I know about that. to duck conscription. when he brought suit against Rivers.."
. on the radio . One of them. Which appears to have happened." Rand lied. Eastern Standard." "Well.. too. calling at. you might get som ething. Glad you're in with us. to face Olsen. either. And don't a nybody forget it. say." Rand contributed. I ain't satisfied!" Olsen began yelling. including slanders on Bing Crosby 's horses. "That's what I thought. McKenna used a dirty word." McKenna added. after killing Rivers. would get his call in at ten. "I heard. Rivers put out a new price-list to his regular customers. A lot of them. you'd of known it. or his boss.. I am in charge of this investigation. this here private dick is like as not workin' for the very m an that killed Rivers!" McKenna turned slowly in his seat. "It is not that he lacks confidence in the State Police. when I was a kid." he added.. Rivers played all kinds o f games together. when Rivers was away..T. who's in charge of the investigation?" Rand wanted to know. and he saved me from making a jackass out of myself. in the direction of the rear seat. "You know why Olsen says Gresham had it in fo r Rivers? Rivers sold Gresham a fake antique. It was an arson case. "I learned it myself. or in you. neither. "One time. Farnsworth won' t be. if Gresham retained you. where t here's a couple of hours' time-difference.how to do it. Well. That's where I first met Jeff." "Well. myself. He's either innocent. A couple of days ago. and some of them live in the West. If anybody hires Jeff Rand." "Ten to two. in '24 and '25. now. anybody who's ever seen a war-movie. and it happened because Jeff fixed it to happen. "And Mr. if he'd been cheating R ivers and Rivers caught him at it. Why. again. "But I can explain why Cecil Gillis might have destroyed them. order by telephone. in different part s of the country. he was afraid that other parties might get into the ac t and try to make political capital out of it.." "Well." Rand considered. just the way Rivers was killed!" he produced triumphantly.C." Rand said.
Stephen and Pierre are going to help me find out just what's been taken. he heard it. he came close to her. "Murdered? Who was it? How did it. Through the open gunroom door. And the hell's own slew of reporters. and some of his outfit. Pierre put his finger immediately on the shabby and disreputable specimen Rand had first noticed. gesturing for silence with finger on lips. hustling them d own the hall. He closed the door and turned to the others.?" "I haven't time to talk about that right now. as though sending him on some errand to the rear of the house. in a little. CHAPTER 13 Rand found Gladys alone in the library." They exchanged so-longs. out of earshot of the gunroom while they're here. Fleming can't hold the butler off all day. into the library. yet. "Be seeing yo u. we haven't been ab le to. Olsen's voluble protests drifted back as the car rece ded."Yeah. in half an hour. moving off in the direction of Rosemont. "What used to be there was a nice late
." She looked at him in horror." They began at the left. I want to check on that Fleming angle. and I'd like you to keep the servants. with the wheel locks. it must have been moved out a piece at a time. I'll check right away." McKenna said. And if he took a call after nine twenty-two. That may have been why he was ki lled--to prevent him from implicating the thief. Sure." he said. some time between the death of Mr. "Mrs. And Farnsworth. and go around the racks. "There's a perfect hell of a mess.." "I'll probably be around at Rivers's. Rivers." Rand hurried to the front door and admitted Gresham and Pierre. The stuff wasn't all taken at once. and worthless pistols moved in and hung on the racks to replace valuable pistols taken. "Stephen Gresham an d Pierre Jarrett are on their way here. "I can't see how it could have been an outsider. The maid says she went to New York day before yesterday. that would let Gresham out. "You go and head Walters off. and up the spiral to the gunroom. of our gang. "Phew! Is that one a stinker!" he said. and made a U-turn. As she rose to greet him. We're still trying to locate Mrs. Even Farnsworth could figure that out." he whispered. Fleming and the time I saw the collection yesterda y.." he told her. "Somebody murdered Arnold Riv ers last night. I ha ve an idea they might have been sold to Rivers. Let's start over here. when the doorbell rang. I'll be there. and Kavaalen backed. "Aarvo's going back there." "Who's at Rivers's now?" "Skinner and Jameson. later in the day." Corporal Kavaalen said. It se ems that a number of the best pistols have been stolen from the collection. of course. Rand could h ear her speaking to Walters. a nd particularly Walters. Rand returned to his own car and followed." He had left the li brary door purposely open. "We'll have to make it fast." "You think somebody here--the servants?" she asked." he said." "Uh-huh. while Gladys w ent to the foot of the front stairs. "I'll let them i n.
back in the mid-thirties. I want to see if any of this stuff's at Rivers's shop. and his shop's in the barn." "He'd like to prosecute a big corporation lawyer. now. I'll run you home in my car when we're through. you go over the collection. till the heat's off. the cases had been merely rearranged on the table to avoid any conspicuous vac ancies. Fred Hines collection." He handed them a pad of paper and a pencil from the desk. Working ra pidly. "They're filling in for a pair of Lazarino Cominazo snaphaunces that Lane Fleming paid seven hundred for. behind the house. "See that thing?" Pierre asked.25 Webley & Scott automatic wi th his finger." Gresham said. much better than average. where does this fellow Umholtz." "Those Turkish atrocities. but no serious collector would buy any of it at any price. "Note down anything you fin d missing. that's an idea!" Pierre ejaculated. drawing the . Remember the pair of Cominazo flintlocks illustrated in Pollar d's Short History of Firearms? These were even better. in stead of Rivers. and went to the wo rkbench in the corner. "Well. the missing pistols were worth ten to twelve tho usand dollars. Pierre and Gresham had just started on the Colts when he slipped the revolver out of sight and rejoined them. "That thing." "Lane had a lot of stuff from some famous collections. the fabricator of spuri ous Whitneyville Walker Colts. Think you can get any of this stuff back?" "I hope so. "No use you s ticking your head into the lion's mouth. "is the one illustrated in Pollard's book." Rand told them. There had been no attempt to replace the cased items .sixteenth." he told Gresham. "I have so mething else to do. Why. for a few minutes. including four cased se ts." "Well.or early seventeenth-century North Italian pistol. "Make a nice impression on the proleta rian vote in the south end of the county. hang out? I believe he ought to be looked into. It took over a half-hour to finish. The id entical pistol. go there and stay there for a couple of days. just this side of the village. even the old Mark Field collection. when they had gotten completely around the collection. and cleaned it thor oughly before putting it together again." Pierre said. it had been fitted with an English-made silenc er." "Say. even then. Pierre." Pierre said. but I still have Farnsworth to worry about. the stuff that had been moved in to replace them might have a value of two or three hundred. he dismounted it. "Pollard collection. Meeks collection. A real beauty. tapping a small ." "I'll have to check up on him. he has a gunshop at Kingsville. it used to be in the Pollard collection." Gresham pointed out. "He might have bought the pistols. dealer's list value. on Route 22.36 Colt from under his waistband."
. all covered with s teel filigree-work. At a conservative estimate." "You're a member of the Mohawk Club in New Belfast. Worth an ea sy thousand. By the way. He had a big sign along the road. I've talked the State Police temporaril y off your trail. His own c ould rank with any of them. and snaphaunces. that was sold at Libbie Galleries in 1911. and didn't pay a cent too much for. aren't you?" Rand asked Gre sham. Rand looked at it. I won't ask you to come along. Rand had a list of twenty-six missing items. taking off the barrel and cylinder. Sawyer collection." With that he left them scrutinizing the pistols on the wall. if he thought he had any chan ce of getting a conviction. about fifteen miles west of here. you can come with me to Rivers's. But first.
especially in criminal-investigation work. a motle y assemblage of journalists was interviewing and photographing an undersized run t in a tan Chesterfield topcoat and a gray Homburg hat. Pierre and Rand went out through the ga rage and got into Rand's car." Pierre said. caught sight of Rand and his companion as they got out of the
." "Think it might be the Fleming pistols?" "That depends. The District Attorney of Scott County had a mustache which failed miserably to make him look like Tom Dewey. as they coasted down the drive to the highway. and got double-crossed. as they turned onto Route 19 in the village and headed east. he seems to have had a thoroughly Aristotelian outlook. I doubt if the killer was Walters. I find General Semantics helpful in my work. and Cincinnati. Or els e." Rand said. I'll have to see whether any of the Fleming pistols turn up anyw here in Rivers's former possession..Gresham let himself out the front door. In front of the shop. saves a lot of blind-alley chasing. this is a gift from the gods. "I haven't even the start of an idea. he identified individual s with class-labels. or at least those items which were likely to become public knowledge soon. I'd think that he'd been in some kind of a crooked deal with somebody. that is. and cars from papers as f ar distant as Pittsburgh. cars fr om a couple of papers at Louisburg. "There hasn't been a good. And they suggest a great m any more avenues of investigation than would be evident to one whose thinking is limited by intensional. of course. Rivers and somebody else had some secret in common.'" "That sounds like Korzybski. like this. and the other man wanted a monopoly on it and killed Rivers as a security measure. If that's the case. Corporal Kavaalen. categories. Rand spotted a gold-lettered green sedan of the New Belfast Dispatch and Eveni ng Express. And from what I know of him. "You've read Science and Sanity?" Rand nodded. so far. about who could have killed Rivers?" the ex-Marine asked. back about 1936. Farnsworth. He ran briefly over what he k new. Among them . murder story fo r some time. the state capital..' and I can't imagine Rivers sitting down and drinking with a 'butler. You know what a snobbish guy Rivers was. standing in the doo rway of the shop. "From what I've observed at the shop. There aren't any indications that anybo dy else was in the shop afterward. a black coupé bearing the blazonry of the New Belfast Mercury. Oh-oh!" "The Gentlemen of the Press. would be identified with the label 'but ler. instead of verbally a nd of categories. and a habit of thinking structurally and of individual things. verbal. sensational. I've b een rereading it every couple of years since. and from what I know of Rivers's character . "I can us e it in plotting a story. looking ahead as the car approached th e Rivers house and shop..' He w ould only drink with people whom he thought of as his equals. "You have any idea. too. Buffalo. Personally." Pierre said. Walters. people wh om he identified with class-labels of equal social importance to his own labels of 'antiquarian' and 'businessman. or else the other man caught Rivers double-crossing him. whom they were addressin g as Mr. The principles of General Semantic s come in very handy in my business. "Yes." "Yes. a realization that we can only know s omething about a thin film of events on the surface of any given situation." Rand said." A swarm of cars were parked in front and beside the red-brick house. he impressed Rand as the sort of offensive little squirt who compensates for his general insignificance by bad manners and loud-mouthed self-assertion. A consciousness of abstracting. I first read it in the 1933 edition. I've about decided that the man who was drinking with Rivers killed him.
"I found a couple of out-and-out fakes. you look around the shop. which seems to have come to nothing. and a lot of pistols out in the garage." Kavaalen said. there was a long workbench in the garage. she knew his voice." Rand nodded. When h e was certain that the heap of junk-weapons didn't conceal anything of value. as he did. I'm not taking the Fleming butler too seriously as a suspect for the murder. What did you fi nd?" Rand laughed. "Of course. an d a lot of reblued stuff. Pierre was waiting for him by Rivers's desk. Many of them had been partially dismantled for parts. in his room. "We suspected that the butler had stolen them and sold them to Rivers." he said. and a number of long-arms. "He's cooperating with us. "Ser geant McKenna instructed us to give him every consideration. ten fifteen to ten seventeen. "I withheld a theory. and a barrel full of excelsior. but nothing from Fleming's collection. they were. I thought it possible that he might also have killed R
.A. Rivers took the call himself. all we can s ay is that the stuff isn't here." he reported. There was also a large pile of o ld pistols. Besid e Rivers's car. "Mick checked at th e Rosemont exchange. I'll see what this other stuff is." "It seems that a number of valuable pistols were stolen from the collection of the late Lane Fleming. in order to get som ething really good. who Rand was.38 Smith & Wesson. and the dried bloodstains. He shook his head. Rivers could have bought it." Rand assured him. that look like junk to me." Rand said. he returned to the shop. Kavaalen told the D. and about ten or fifteen that had been altered in one way or another. "You find anything except what's here in the shop?" "Only Rivers's own . and stacks of newspapers. and stored it outs ide somewhere. "Pierre." He in troduced Pierre Jarrett. at the chalk outline on the floor. hustling them around the crowd and into the shop befo re anybody could notice and recognize them. to find that Farnsworth had left the press conference in front and crepe-soled up on him from behind. all junk." he replied. and some pistols that probably cont ributed parts to some of the stuff you found." He followed Kavaalen through a door at the rear of the shop. about the telephone. "Have you been withhold ing information from me?" Rand turned. a nd she confirmed it." "What's this about Fleming's butler?" a voice broke in. "I'll show them to you. at times. We got the night long distance operator out of bed. "That was a good tip. all evidently used in preparing arms for shipment. But even so. and explained their mission. "You say this puts Gresham in th e clear?" "Absolutely." He corrected himself. The sort of things a dealer has to buy. now s cuffed by many feet. He gets a lot of long distanc e calls in the evenings." he said softly. shifting to the past tense and glancing. the same one throu gh which Cecil Gillis had carried the Kentucky rifle the afternoon before. as the State Police corporal had said. Rivers got a long-distance call from Topeka last night. and piles of wood and cardboard cartons. "He was at home from nine twenty-two on.car and came to meet them." he added. Rand pawed among the pistols. "I found Rivers's scrap-heap. "Not a thing.
ivers to silence him about the transaction." He shrugged. "None of the stolen it ems have turned up here, so there's nothing to connect the thefts with the death of Rivers." "Good heavens, you certainly didn't suspect a prominent and respected citizen l ike Mr. Rivers of receiving stolen goods?" Farnsworth demanded, aghast. "Who respects him?" Rand hooted. "Rivers was a notorious swindler; he had that reputation among arms-collectors all over the country. He was expelled from memb ership in the National Rifle Association for misrepresentation and fraud. Why, h e even swindled Lane Fleming on a pair of fake pistols, a week or so before Flem ing's death. And the very reason why your man Olsen was inclined to suspect Step hen Gresham was that he had had trouble with Rivers about a crooked deal Rivers had put over on him. Fortunately, Mr. Gresham has since been cleared of any susp icion, but--" "Who says he's been cleared?" Farnsworth snapped. "He's still a suspect." "Sergeant McKenna says so," Corporal Kavaalen declared. "He has been cleared. I guess we just didn't get around to telling you about that." He went on to expla in about the long distance call that had furnished Stephen Gresham's alibi. "And Gresham was at home from nine twenty-two on," Rand added. "There are eight witnesses to that: His wife and daughter; myself; Captain Jarrett, here; and hi s fiancée, Miss Lawrence; Philip Cabot; Adam Trehearne; Colin MacBride." Farnsworth looked bewildered. "Why wasn't I told about that?" he demanded sulki ly. "Sergeant McKenna's been too busy, and I didn't think of it," Kavaalen said ins olently. "I'm not supposed to report to you, anyhow. Why didn't your man Olsen t ell you; he was with us when we checked with the telephone company." Farnsworth tried to ignore that by questioning Pierre about the time of Gresham 's arrival home, then turned to Rand and wanted to know what the latter's intere st in the case was. Rand told him about his work in connection with the Fleming collection, produci ng Humphrey Goode's letter of authorization. Farnsworth seemed impressed in abou t the same way as the coroner, Kirchner, but he was still puzzled. "But I understood that you had been retained by Stephen Gresham, to investigate this murder," he said. "So you did talk to Olsen, after I saw him," Rand pounced. "Odd he didn't menti on this telephone thing.... Why, yes; that's true. My agency handles all sorts o f business. The two operations aren't mutually exclusive; for a while, I even th ought they might be related, but now--" He shrugged. "Well, you believe, now, that Rivers had nothing to do with the pistols you say were stolen from the Fleming collection?" Farnsworth asked. Rand shook his head ambiguously; Farnsworth took that for a negative answer to his question, as he was intended to. "And you say Mr. Gresham has been completely cleared of any sus picion of complicity in this murder?" "Mr. Rand's helping us; we want him to stick around till the case is closed," C orporal Kavaalen threw in, perceiving the drift of Farnsworth's questions. "He a nd Sergeant McKenna have worked together before; he's given us a lot of good tip s."
"You understand," Rand took over, "Mr. Gresham didn't retain me merely to help him clear himself. I don't accept that kind of retainers. I was retained to find the murderer of Arnold Rivers, and I intend to continue working on this case un til I do. I hope that the same friendly spirit of mutual cooperation will exist between your office and my agency as exists between me and the State Police. I c ertainly don't want to have to work at cross purposes with any of the regular la w-enforcement agencies." "Oh, certainly; of course." Farnsworth didn't seem to like the idea, but there was no apparent opening for objection. He and Rand exchanged mendacious complime nts, pledged close cooperation, and did practically everything but draw up and s ign a treaty of alliance. Then Farnsworth and Corporal Kavaalen accompanied Rand and Pierre Jarrett to the front door. Some of the reporters who were ravening outside must have spotted Rand as he ha d entered; they were all waiting for him to come out, and set up a monstrous ulu lation when he appeared in the doorway. With Farnsworth beaming approval, Rand a ssured the Press that he was no more than a mere spectator, that the State Polic e and the efficient District Attorney of Scott County had the situation well in hand, and that an arrest was expected within a matter of hours. Then he and Pier re hurried to his car and drove away. CHAPTER 14 Neither of them spoke for a moment or two. Then, after they had left the crimin ological-journalistic uproar at the Rivers place behind and were approaching the village of Rosemont, Pierre turned to Rand. "You know," he said, "for a disciple of Korzybski, you came pretty close to con fusing orders of abstraction, a couple of times, back there. You showed that Ste phen was at home while Rivers was taking that phone call, a little after ten. Bu t when you talk about clearing him completely, aren't you overlooking the possib ility that he came back to Rivers's after you and Philip Cabot left the Gresham place?" Rand eased the foot-pressure on the gas and spared young Jarrett a side-glance before returning his attention to the road ahead. "Understand," Pierre hastened to add, "I don't believe that Stephen was fool en ough to kill Rivers over that fake North & Cheney, but weren't you producing inf erences that hadn't been abstracted from any descriptive data?" "Pierre, when I'm working on a case like this, any resemblance between my opini ons and the statements I may make is purely due to conscious considerations of p olicy," Rand told him. "I don't want Farnsworth or Mick McKenna going around bit ching this operation up for me. If they feel justified in eliminating Gresham on the strength of that phone call, I'm satisfied, regardless of the semantics inv olved. Right now, the thing that's worrying me is the ease with which I seem to have talked Farnsworth into laying off Gresham. He and Olsen both have single-tr ack minds. They may just dismiss that telephone alibi, such as it is, as mere er ror of the mortal mind, and go right ahead building some kind of a ramshackle ca se against Gresham. Since they picked him for their entry, they won't want to ha ve to scratch him.... Damn, I wish I could think of where Walters could have sol d those pistols!" "Well, if Rivers wasn't involved somehow, why was he killed?" Pierre wondered. "Hey! Maybe Walters sold the pistols to Umholtz! He's just as big a crook as Riv ers was, only not quite so smart." Rand nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe so. And suppose Rivers found out about it, and
tried to declare himself in on it. That stuff would be worth at least ten thous and; I doubt if whoever bought it paid Walters more than two. In the Umholtz-Riv ers income bracket, the difference might be worth killing for." "That's right. And Umholtz was in the infantry, in the other war; he served in the Twenty-eighth Division. He was trained to use a bayonet. And he'd pick that short Mauser; it has about the same weight and balance as a 1903 Springfield." "Well, you know, the killer wouldn't need to have been trained to use a bayonet ," Rand pointed out. "Mick McKenna made that point, this afternoon. There have b een a lot of war-movies that showed bayonet fighting; pretty nearly everybody kn ows about the technique that was used. And against an unarmed and probably unsus pecting victim like Rivers, a great deal of proficiency wouldn't be needed." He slowed the car. "Up this road?" he asked. "Yes. That's my place, over there." Pierre pointed to a white-walled, red-roofed house that lay against a hillside, about a mile ahead, making a vivid spot in the dull grays and greens of the ear ly April landscape. It consisted of a square two-story block, with one-story win gs projecting to give it an L-shaped floorplan. It reminded Rand of farmhouses h e had seen in Sicily during the War. "Come on in and see my stuff, if you have time," Pierre invited, as Rand pulled to a stop in the driveway. "I think I told you what I collect--personal combat arms, both firearms and edge-weapons." They entered the front door, which opened directly into a large parlor, a brigh tly colored, cheerful room. A woman rose from a chair where she had been reading . She was somewhere between forty-five and fifty, but her figure was still trim, and she retained much of what, in her youth, must have been great beauty. "Mother, this is Colonel Rand," Pierre said. "Jeff, my mother." Rand shook hands with her, and said something polite. She gave him a smile of r eal pleasure. "Pierre has been telling me about you, Colonel," she said. There was a faint tr ace of French accent in her voice. "I suppose he brought you here to show you hi s treasures?" "Yes; I collect arms too. Pistols," Rand said. She laughed. "You gun-collectors; you're like women looking at somebody's new h at.... Will you stay for dinner with us, Colonel Rand?" "Why, I'm sorry; I can't. I have a great many things to do, and I'm expected fo r dinner at the Flemings'. I really wish I could, Mrs. Jarrett. Maybe some other time." They chatted for a few minutes, then Pierre guided Rand into one of the wings o f the house. "This is my workshop, too," he said. "Here's where I do my writing." He opened a door and showed Rand into a large room. On one side, the wall was blank; on the other, it was pierced by two small case ment windows. The far end was of windows for its entire width, from within three feet of the floor almost to the ceiling. There were bookcases on either long si de, and on the rear end, and over them hung Pierre's weapons. Rand went slowly a
" Pierre said. "No. W." "Well. which he did." Half an hour later." Rand said. and once.R. when I had nothing better to do. What's this story you're working on?" "Oh." P ierre said. as he finished. you know. what's known to the trade as space-operas. lighted by the wide windows. "Space -Trails. I never got anything that wo uld help me pick a race-winner or spot a rise in the stock market. they were still arguing about a multidimensional universe w hen Rand remembered Dave Ritter. and read the section indicated. "See. Here. and a big dictionary on a stand beside a comfortable swivelchair. plus a few ideas of my own. and tallied very closely with the phraseology used by the radio narrator.. He lo
. you mustn't judge any of these magazines by their names. He was a Quaker. but p receding rather than following the event to which they are related. was a long desk which was really a writer's assembly line. Most of it's stan dardized formula-stuff. I'm working now on one for them.round the room.. I read Dunne 's Experiment with Time some years before the war.. and Other Worlds. isn't it? Based on an effect Du nne observed and described--dreams obviously related to some waking event. the emphasis was upon weapons which ill ustrated techniques of combat. "I see the British Society for Psychical Research checked that case. I recorded dreams for about a month. "The dream was six hours before the race. Parenthetically. about th ree pages in length. the one in this county being no exception. vouches for a story. who should be at the Rosemont Inn by now." Pierre told him. "Well. and Wonder-Stories. "Polydimensional time. p lus a theory of alternate lines of time-sequence for alternate probabilities. What I do for Astonishing is really hard work. and I enjoy it. mags like that. "Science-fiction. I got a few doubtful-to-fair examples. Dunne's time-theories. It seems to be a convention to use hyperbolic names for sciencefiction magazines. Here. "Case Twelve. I do a lot of stories for the pulps. As Pierre had told him the evening before. and two unmistakable Dunne-Effect dreams. At the end of the room. with typewriter. "What are you writing?" Rand asked." He picked up a copy of Tyrrell's Science and Psychical Phenomena and lea fed through it. though.. and most of these showed alterations to suit individual requirements. Very few of the arms were of issue militar y type. My best stuff goes to Astonishing. they're the toughest-minded gang of confirmed skeptics anywh ere in Christendom. reference-books." Rand sat down on the edge of the desk. stacks of not es and manuscripts. here's the situation . They take an attitude toward evidence that might be advantag eously copied by most of the district attorneys I've met.. it must be the McCoy. there's a case on record of a man who had a dream of hearing a radio narration of the English Derby of 1933." "I think so.P. taking everything in." He handed the bo ok to Rand. and violently opposed to betting. if you know what they ar e. I'll be damned!" he said. it's based on Dunne's precognition theories. "Did this fellow cash in on it?" Rand asked. based on J. and got verificati on from a couple of independent witnesses. a heritage from what might be called an earlier and ruder day . If the S. including the announcement that H yperion had won. The idea of anybody passing up a chance like that to enrich himself literally smote him to the vitals.
wouldn't he? At least. isn't that a dandy?" Ritter asked. Dave's coupé was parked inconspicuously beside the red-trimmed roadhouse. saw that it was five forty-five. "I see Gladys and Geraldine and Nelda each get a third of Fleming's Premix stoc k. then. engaged in finishing a bottle of beer." Pierre took him back to the parlor. Trust Dave Ritter. Well. and went out to his car. for Gawdsake. Tipton had neatly and concisely summarized the provisio ns of Lane Fleming's will. they have to sign over their voting-power to the board of directors." Ritter said. including a partnership policy on the lives of Fleming . "But before they can have the certificates transferred to th em. and responsible only to e ach other. Christ only knows who all. to pick some place w here malt beverages were sold. if he had intended committing suicide. "This place is six-deep with reporters. doesn't Goode use the one argument which would utterly disprove them? Or is there some reason why he doesn't want to call attention to the fact that Fleming's death is what make s the merger possible?"
. with beneficiaries. and Anton Varcek. Tony Ashe and Steve Drake from the Dispatch and Express. They now have the voting-power of a majority of the stock. out here. since he is so worried about these suicide rumors. taking out a couple of cl osely typed sheets and handing them across the table. the AP man from Louisburg. of course." "Yeah. from New Belfast. and inquired about a telepho ne. and Ritter ordered another beer. he felt like Damon Runyon's Twelve-Gun Tweeney." Rand a sked. Rand o rdered Bourbon and plain water. We'll have to suppose Fleming knew that. "The directors are elected by majorit y vote of the stockholders. Now. there must have been considerable i ntramural acrimony on the subject while he was still alive. "I have the stuff Tip left with Kathie. one would suppose so. "Yes. Jo e Rawlings. the bar sounds like the second act of The Front Page. since he oppose d the merger." Rand commented. He was. Opening his glove-box. He found Ritter in the last booth. paying each of the survivors $25. he would have made some oth er arrangement. This damn thin g's going to turn into another Hall-Mills case! Look." "Okay. Dunmore. Evident ly Fleming didn't approve of the feminine touch in business. Rand took out the two percussion revolvers and shoved them under his trench coat. don't come here. Harry Bentz." Ritter advised. that makes the present board self-perpetuating. the boar d is one hundred per cent in favor of the merger with National Milling & Packagi ng. A moment later he was speaking to Ritter.000." Rand hung up. pulling up the belt to hold them in place. According to Tip. I'll try to get the re without letting a couple of reporters hide in the luggage-trunk. he thought. the white-wi th-red-trimmings place with the big Pabst sign out in front. for a rendezvous. from the Mercury. Ritter. see you directly. "why. spent the next few minutes breaking away from Pierre and his moth er. where he dialed the Inn and inquired if a Mr.oked at his watch. "He said this was the whol e business. one on either side. meet me at that beer joint . "Jeff. about two miles on the New Belfast side of Rosemont. and had also listed all Fleming's life insurance poli cies. on Route 19." Rand glanced over them. were registered there y et." "So it does. but that wasn't what I was thinking of. As he went into the roadhouse.
what's the angle on this butler's livery I was supposed to brin g? I brought my tux. But I want to know if this gun was ever in Rivers's shop. I know it was the butler. "Wh ile we're on it. Yes. and gone up from the library to the gunroom." Disencumbering himself of the two percussion revolvers. Then. And I want you ready to step into the vacancy thus created. before you're ready to start buttling. if it's right in the middle of dinner and he only has the roast half served. The way the Flemings leave their garage open as long as any of the ca rs are out. "The Lawrence gi rl was afraid young Jarrett had done it." "Uh-huh. preferably in writing. and when she brought back the drinks. when. The waitress wandered back to see if they wanted anything else. that's the important thing. he c ould have. you're supposed to dig one up fo r him. And Jarrett. and I borrowed a striped vest from the Theatrical Property Exchange. he's been cleaning it out . like scoring thirteen with one throw of a pair of dice. the Colt and the Leech & Rigdon were out of sight. Gillis didn't lose any time putting McKenna and Farnsworth onto Gresham." Ritter pointed out. I'm going to put the arm on this Walter s. Yo u might show your Agency card and claim to be checking up on some stolen pistols that have been recovered. "except where some structural contradictio n is involved. he sold to Lane Fleming. so far. and if so. has been blued like the barrel and cylind er. yes or no. as though he thought Ultimate Verity might be lurking somewhere unde r the suds. take the C olt and show it to Elmer Umholtz. that would be calling attention to the fact that the merger made Fleming 's death necessary. I'm going to be busy as a pup in a fireplug factory with this Rivers thing. he laid them on the table. and I'll need some check ing-upping done inside the Fleming household." Ritter was saying." Rand replied. if he identifies the Leech & Rigdon. as of now . "I'll hav e some work for you. whether he reblued it and replated the back-st rap and trigger-guard. I know that 's been done.380 of yours. though I'm inclined to doubt that. anybody could have sneaked into the house from the garage." He went. too. in meticulous detail. "I want you to take these and show them to this barbecue man. "He was supposed to clean the pistol-collection. everybody who's within a light-year of this Rivers killing i s trying to pin the medal on somebody else. the frame. right away. and if he did it for Rivers. all this is just theory . if either. at length. the first chance he gets. But what makes you think the Fl emings are going to be needing a new butler? You going to poison the one they ha ve?" "The one they have has been exceeding his duties. "Now. Gresha m's the only one who didn't have a pasty ready. to explain about the Rivers murder. Not content with that. "Anything's possible. into his reasons for thinking s o. He poured more beer into his glass. and I brought that Dago . and you can see a few rust-pit s that have been blued over. the bluing is too dark for a Civil War period job. Got the addresses?" Rand furnished them. introduces Umholtz. she gave a small squeak of surprise when she s aw the two big six-shooters on the table." He stared int o his beer. i n spite of his getting killed later?" he asked. That lawsuit and criminal action that Fleming wa
. the cylinder-engraving is almost obliterated. Get from him a positive state ment. "The way I see it. The only question in my mind is whether Rive rs would have known about that. Rand and Ritter repeated their orders." Rand said. and described the modus operandi of the thefts. "Do you think it might be possible that Rivers bumped Fleming off." He went on. we may want him for puncturing Rivers."Well. You want to be careful how you handle him. Get him to tell you. whic h ought to be case-hardened in colors. as to which. but when I'm able to prove it. she sicced you onto Gillis. and Ritter noted them down.
she wouldn't have wanted me poking around. From what I've seen of that household. it's possible that somebody else in that house might have stolen them . The pistols are worth about ten grand. And say he took the Leech & Rigdon away. who seems to have been in plenty of crooked deals with Rivers in the past. we'll have to conclude that Rivers and Fleming were killed by the same person. they were both pretty hard hit by that twenty-five-grand blockbuster Rivers had
. "But that leaves us with the question of who killed Rivers. which is a sort of medium-high-order probability. And I can unde rstand his trying to buy the Colt. that Walters stole the pistols in the first place. at l east not to handle the collection. I've used something like that. "How do you think this would work?" He told Ritter what he had thought of. and so have y ou. and wouldn't have brought me in." "Well. what then?" "Well. and. on the other hand." Ritter reconstructed. he stores them with this Umholtz character . He might keep quiet about the missing pistols if she were the thief. that's good sound murder. two. and why. the best we can do is screen out all the low-order probabilities. "And if he didn't sell them either to Rivers or Umholtz. but possibiliti es exist on different orders of probability. to get it out of circulation." "And. selling it to some collector who'd put it in with a hu ndred or so other pistols would be a good way of disposing of it. that the pistols were sold to Ri vers. with the exception of Gladys Fleming. nobody will know where the y are except Umholtz. And Rivers would sit down and drink with Umholtz. anything's possible. the Rivers killing being a security measure. that Rivers stored them with Umholtz. myself. or Varcek. "It just might work. "You know. because Fleming is dead--and it doesn't matter whether he was murdered o r died of old age--Walters starts robbing the collection. And I don't think Walters would be familiar enough with dick-practice to see what you were doing. i t depends upon two unverified assumptions: One. and I don't believe he fe els any loyalty to anybody else there." "Yes. I think Walters was personally loyal to Lane Fleming. if Dunmore. if he sold them to Umholtz." Rand said. and Umholtz could take that Mauser out of the rack right in front of Rivers and Rivers wouldn't suspect a thing till it was too late." Rand looked regretfully at his empty glass a nd decided against ordering another. Dave. I've told y ou why I think Walters is a good suspect. unless we find that Rivers was killed by Pierre Jarrett. Ritter drank beer slowly and meditativel y.s going to start--and that's been verified from sources independent of Goode--wa s a good sound motive. and she 'd pass it on to me. too. and nobody knows where they are but Rivers a nd Umholtz. Well. Pierre Jarrett's theory is still valid until disproved." "Yes. he'd tell Gladys." Ritter added. But if it turns out that Walters didn't sell the pistols t o Rivers at all. I just thought of something. "Dave. because they are indefinitely numerous. and revise our list when and as new data comes to light." Rand sipped hi s Bourbon. list the high-order probabili ties. He sells the pistols t o Rivers. As I said. after leaving th e Colt in Fleming's hand. and in a couple of years he can get them sold off and have the money all to himself. within structural limits. And if. three." he considered. or either of the girls had done the stealing. "And. she had stolen the pistols herself. at least fifty times. We can't try to consider all the po ssibilities in any case." he sai d. as Rivers doesn't want them around his sh op till they've had time to cool off. She would be glad of anything that could be used against an y of the others. and if Rivers drops dead all of a sudden. Of course. That is. "I've seen that gag work a hundred times: hell. Jarrett and the girl left Gresham's early enough for him to have killed Rivers.
one way or another. Walters. All you have to do is get an identification on the Leech & Rigdon from the barbecue man. Have you told any of the others. The but ler must have been busy with his pre-dinner tasks in the rear. I'd expect there to be a connection. "Wel l. Dinner will be ready in three-quarters of an hour. Rand and Gladys went into the gunroom." She shrugged. we don't want to stir Umholtz up. "Oh. Serve them in about twenty minutes. and then they'll start talking at each ot her through you. Rivers and this young fellow Gillis who works in Rivers's shop?" Gladys laughed. Varcek and Mr. picked a pistol from the wall.. and a crook ed dealer is murdered. ignoring each other. and Mr." "Have you mixed the cocktails? You'd better do that. taking his arm and guiding him away from t he parlor doorway. Geraldine lost Nelda's place-marker out of the Kinsey Report." CHAPTER 15 Parking in the drive. there's nothing like a good murder to shake the skeletons out of the closets. after we've concluded the Walters experiment. If yo u go in. Did you ever hear any stories about Mrs. I'm inclined to. yet?" "Mr. This sixteenth-witted Di strict Attorney you have in this county had the idea he could charge Stephen Gre sham with the killing. Lord.. That was a great blow to al l of us. "So far. or something .." "What started the hostilities this time?" Rand asked. "Stay out of there. "Mainly reaction to Rivers's death. Dave. Until then. at all. they'll start talking to you. I'm counting on you to get them back with as little fuss as possible. Let's go up i n the gunroom." Walters yes-ma'am'd her and started toward the attic stairway. "Is that rearing its ugly head in public. What were you doing all afternoon?" "Trying to keep the rest of our prospects out of jail. and Rand saw Walters approaching d own the hall. And you'd better go up and warn Mr. Varcek is upstairs." she warned him. yet?" "Oh. it was Gladys her self who admitted him. "It was Colonel Rand.. and the air will be full of tomahawks in a jiffy." "There could be. twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of blow.
. a nd carried it with him as he guided Gladys toward the desk in the corner. no! They'd all be sure that I stole them myself. Dunmore is in the library. going up the stairway wit h her. in his labor atory. Rand entered the Fleming house by the front door. ma'am. too.dropped on them. Give me back that Colt. "Nelda and Geraldine are in there. Are Mr. Dunmore here. It was a blow to me. "You think Walters stole them?" she asked.. but I'm not letting it throw me. Varcek not to become involved in a nything messy before dinner. I let him in myself. I had a time talking him out of it. I'm going to let Mic k McKenna handle Umholtz. that's out of the battle zone. Do you think that was why Riv ers was killed? After all.. And I was trying to get a line on where those pistols got to." "Ssssh!" They reached the top of the stairs. and I'm still not sur e how far I succeeded. when a lot of valuable pistols disappear. Rand turned to the left. now?" she asked.
who had entered by the hall door. the superposed-load principle is ancient. it was a good ide a. was reclining in a chair. catching a movemen t at the head of the spiral. bringing a revolver over to the desk.. you can put these back where they belong when you f ind time. in New York. "Brother.
. Fleming didn't collect long-arms. The stories are nume rous." Rand told him. Might this be relevant to Rivers's sudden demise?" "It could be. at roadhouses and so on. but only one barrel." R and shrugged. firing two shots from the same barrel.. Mr." he went on. Gladys was lookin g at him in appreciative if slightly punch-drunk delight. Oh. until he was sure the butler was out of hearing. as though showin g it to Gladys. Dunmore was still radiati ng his synthetic cheerfulness..Not that this particular skeleton was ever exactly hidden. Geraldine. too. "The cocktails are served. would know enough about arms to rob this collection as selectively as it has been robbed. "Bring me that . there was a musket . sipping her drink. yourself included. and somewhat repetitious. I'll bring a couple of my men in from New Belfas t to help me on the Rivers operation. but in actual practice . "We'll be down in a moment. Rand laid down the pistol and escorted Gladys after them. at what they imagined was a safe distance from Rosemont." he said to Gladys.36 Walch revolver. "I wondered why you brought that thing over here with you. as used in the Lindsay pistol and the Wa lch revolver. Dunmore and Geraldine were in the library when they went down. He knows this collection as well as your husband did. and it was said that when Rivers was away over night. in a revolver. Rivers would be seen together.. it might hurt G resham professionally.. and he we nt straight and got it. And. "It pretty nearly has to be somebody inside this house. two charges in each. In theory. You're really sure he's the one?" "I'm not really sure of anything. or he'd have had one. was that a quick shift!. "Actually. veered to the right and went to the mid dle wall. an d I assume he knows values almost as well.. Six chambers. Rand continued talki ng about the superposed-load principle." He broke off abruptly. except of my own existence and eventual extin ction. will you?" "Yes." Walters." Rand told her. It was a percussion weapon with an abnormally long cylinder. If it got out. Did you see what ju st happened. crossing the room. of course. Cecil was never seen to le ave the Rivers place in the evenings. went across the gunroo m and down the spiral. if necessary. The fact is.. The legend is that this man Lindsay's brother w as a soldier. "See. "it has two hammers and two nipples. Cecil and Mrs. here? I asked him for one of the most uncommon arms here." he announced. Gresham has just retained me to investigate the Rivers murder for him. mildl y potted. he was supposed to have been killed by Indians who drew the fire o f the detail he was with and then charged them when their muskets were empty." Rand was keeping one eye on the hall door and the other on the h ead of the spiral stairway. Walter s!" He affected to catch sight of the butler for the first time. "Don't mention outside what I told you about Farnswo rth having this brainstorm about Stephen Gresham." she said. and lifted the pistol in his hand. "This is the same idea . sir." Varcek and the butler... the bullet of the rear charge acted as the breech-plug for the front charge. It embodied t he same principle as the pistol." Walters went out the hall door. there's a six teenth-century wheel lock pistol in the Metropolitan Museum. one on top of the other. presumably to call Varcek. It was loaded with two charges. here.. "Now. That won't interfere to any great extent with the wor k I'm doing here. I don't think anybody else here.
" he told Dunmore.. and he was forced to concede that he had at last found somebody who had a valid reason to mourn th e sudden and violent end of Arnold Rivers. A pall of gloom had settled. handing one to Gladys." "Yes. caught the last part of that. Sticking a sheet of paper into the portable. "Don't say things like that! Maybe they did. before you sta rt accusing them!" "I'm not accusing anybody. on a little unfinished business. I spent the rest of the day getting myself disinvolved from the ensuing uproar. the y talked about the remaining chances of selling the collection. he went up to the gunroom and began compiling his list. but wait till they've bought the collection and paid for it. Dinner finished. he began on the sn aphaunces. yes. and thumbtacked it to the edge of the desk to get over-all and b arrel lengths. all fairly slavering to get their fangs into the Fleming collection." He went on to describ e the manner in which Rivers had met his death." Dunmore growled back at her. Fred!" she shrieked at him. too. "Why. Look here. he be gan on the wheel locks. about which nobo dy was optimistic. "You heard about it. Rand tried to build up morale with pictures of large museums and important dealers. you're working for us. of course. When he had finished the wheel locks. For the most part. to keep him from outb idding them?" Nelda. who had finished his own dinner." "Well. He had begun on the true flintlocks when Walters. don't say it. you didn't get involved in it. if you don't know what you're talking about. we don't want t o be mixed up in anything like this. you don't think some of these other peop le who were after the collection might have killed Rivers. Colonel Rand?" he asked. and I called at his shop this morning. After all. There were a few details I wanted to clear up with him. He fou nd a yardstick. and damn near tripped o ver Rivers's corpse. entering from the hallway. Dunmore. "I don't know enough a bout it to make any accusations. and looked up. I hope you didn't get mixed up in it any mo re than you had to. though?" Dunmore inquired anxiously. at the re quest of the police. there were a few details omitted. Dunmore strolled in. I found him lying dead inside. when recovered. "You say you found Rivers's body yourself. "I went to Arnold River s's place this morning. Rand nodded. leaving spaces to insert the description of the stolen p istols. then did the miguelet-locks. of course. but to little avail. Rand put the but ler to work fetching pistols from the racks." "In that case. you're not taking any part in the investigation? After all. and replacing those he had already listed. All I'm saying is--" "Well. in the main.. "The radio and newspaper account s were accurate enough."Get many of the pistols listed. Colonel?" he hailed Rand. and used a pair of inside calipers and a decimal-inch rule from t he workbench to get calibers. In spite of this start. and if the police knew tha t. we'd be bothered. then. Mr. with jovial condesce nsion. came up to help him. dinner passed in relative quiet. "I m ean. finished what he was typing." Rand poured two cocktails. of course. "No. Horrible business.. "Good God. After a while." his wi fe retorted. let me advise you not to discuss the matter of Rive
"So far." the antique-shop girl d emanded of him: "Colonel Rand. I knew nothing about it until this moment. Who did it? Olsen?" "I don't know what his name was. Then he softened his voice. She's afraid the reporters will be coming out to the house as soon as they hear about it. my presence at Rivers's shop."
The extension phone rang shrilly. Next thing. I had to and replied." Rand took the phone. and turned to Walters. "Did you tell them that?" "Naturally. for which Rand was duly thankf ul. they s eem to have gotten the idea." "They do?" Dunmore asked sharply. and list ened for a moment. "Yes.
. Colonel Rand. Of course. charged Pierre with the murder of Arnold Rivers. Miss Lawrenc e. on my honor. Mrs. Did you have anything to do with Pie rre Jarrett's being arrested?" "What?" Rand barked." "What's happened now?" Dunmore asked sourly." she replied. I'll be there as soon as I can. this morning. "Miss Karen Lawrence. I woul that might give them the idea. for you. The Gestapo gathered up Pierre Jarrett. the police and the District Attorney's office both seem to think that Rivers wa s killed by somebody whom he'd swindled in a business deal." R idea has occurred to them that somebody might rival bidder for the collection or not. that the motive may have been competition for the collection. "Where are you n ow?" "Here at my shop. and took him away. now. and she doesn't want t o talk to them. he's right here. you must tell me the truth. Jarrett is coming here." "That God-damned two-faced Jesuitical bastard!" Rand exploded. "No. He was a State Police sergeant. "Just what I was speaking about. His mother phoned me about it a few minutes ago. Farnsworth will think he has a case against Carl Gwi nnett. "It i s? Good. if account for know if the eliminate a I were you." He hung up. You wish to speak to him?" He handed the phone across the desk to Rand. it peels a thousand or so off the price I'll be able to g et for you people for these pistols. saying nothing. "Is my car still out front?" he asked. Before he had time to say "hello.rs's offer to buy this collection with anybody outside. Walters picked it up. and he'll land in the jug. they know about the collection being for sale. you can count on me for it. If there's anything I can do to hel p you. Miss Lawrence. spoke into it. "He and another State Policeman came to the Jarrett house about half an hour ago . tell the others I have something to attend to . he accepted the statement uncritically. Rand picked up the outside phone and dialed the same number h e had called from the Rivers place that morning. and Rivers's offering to buy it." "All right. "I don't have killed Rivers to dn't say anything." Dunmore didn't try to ask how that would happen. I'll be gone for a while. Walters was staring at Rand in horro r. too. I hope you realize that every time someth ing like this happens." Rand told him.
" "Did they get the number?" Rand asked. "I hope you're not making a mistake. from abo ut ten fifteen until about twelve. "You goi ng to be in. Mick. they knew it. I was checking up on those people who were at Gresham's. now you have your Pig Woman." McKe nna said." Rand said. Oh."
. he llo." he said." "And damn well I know that!" McKenna agreed. and the lights were on inside the shop and the shades w ere drawn." McKenna said. and about when the M. "After all. "A gray 1947 Plymouth coupé. didn't I?" he gloated. they went to b ed about ten this morning. say in a couple of hours? I want to have a talk with you. and they kne w Jarrett collects guns. at the other end of the line. I'd of took that. about twelve. our boys shoot a lot with the Scott County Rifle & Pist ol Club. must have shrugged. and didn't get up till after five. who teaches sixth grade at Thaddeus Stevens School--got home." Rand replied. stayed inside for about twenty minutes . we went over Rivers's place with a fine-tooth c omb. if you are. They all t old me about that.. well. See. I spotted her when I came out of the antique shop. You find out anything about that other matter I was interested in?" "You mean the pistols? Huh-unh. then came out and drove away. "And he and the girl were planning to use thei r end of the collection to go into the arms business." McKenna. What are you using for a motive?" "Rivers was outbidding this crowd Jarrett and the girl were in with. they knew the car. and stayed till this girl who shares the Lawrence girl's apartment--a Miss Dup ont. I'd like to speak to him. So there you are. too. "Why. So I had a talk with Miss Lawrence. over the antique shop. figures Riv ers was getting the business. "But that isn't all. different times. too. l ast evening. "Sort of slipped one over on you.. Mick." "Maybe so. You sure t hose pistols went to Rivers?" "I'm not sure of anything at all.."Is Sergeant McKenna about?. and she told me that young Jarrett went into the apartment with the girl at about quarter past ten. "Or how did they identify the car?" "Oh. and managed to get some of the shrug into his voice. at that. for about four years.. Mick. and we didn't get a thing. It seems our cruise-car crew spotted Jarrett's car standing in Rivers's drive. and there's nothing like a good murder in the neighborhood to make liars out of peo ple." "Uh-huh. She says Jarrett came back in about half an hour ." McKenna chuckled out of the receiver. I suppose she got worried when you started asking questions. so he did just that. and they've all seen Jarrett's car at the range. checking up on the neighbors. after they got married. about eleven. when another girl she rooms with got home fro m a date. so I slipp ed around to see her. so I didn't find o ut about it till after supper. and they all agreed that young Jarrett and the Lawrence girl had le ft the party about ten. his lawy er's going to crucify you. they'd been training Jarrett to overcome resistance with the bayonet. and questioned young Gillis about it. so they didn't think anything of it. Jeff Rand. "Can be. looking at his watch. see. only right across the street from the antique s hop there is one of these old hens like you find in every neighborhood. and she tried to tel l me that Jarrett was with her at her apartment. Just when he was away from the antique-shop. at the time.. "Miss Lawrence shouldn't have lie d to you. the kind that keeps their nose flattened on the window between the curtains. He is? Fine.E. Dave Ritter said this was going to turn into another Hall-Mills case. Ri vers got in the way. Like I say." Rand shrugged.
"I knew Jeff wouldn't stoo p to anything as contemptible as pretending to be Pierre's friend and then getti ng him arrested!" Rand permitted himself a wry inward smile." he told h
. Are y ou working on the Rivers case. which I intend to do. where Mrs. memorizing the position of the pistol relative to the paper under it. All three women regarded him intently. "I talked to McKenna after you calle d me. Jarrett and Dorothy Gresham were. "Your father retained me to make an investigation. "I certainly hoped not. "you must tell me the truth. indicating several he ha d laid aside after listing. as though trying to decide whether he was friend or enemy. If I don't find any more bodies. last evening. McKenna's made a serious tactical error. "Absolutely nothing. Getting ready to toss Pierre to the wolves if her father were in danger. and when she did." he told Walters. "I have never seriously suspected your son of the Rivers murder. he as much as admitted making that arrest to get in ahead of me. he wanted the murderer caught before somebody got around to accusing him. He hastened to reassure her." Mrs. Jarr ett. and laid a long seventeenth-century Flemish fli ntlock on top for a paperweight. smiling faintly at Rand. and if I had. He entered quickly. I hated the thought that you might have betrayed him. "Colonel Rand. The girl was beginning to look suspiciously at Karen and Mrs. The windows were dark." McKenna assured him." CHAPTER 16 It was raining again as Rand parked his car about a hundred yards up the street from Karen Lawrence's antique-shop. I'll be around all evening. He was misl ed by appearances." she began. unbucklin g the belt of his raincoat and taking it off. too?" Rand nodded again. Did you have anything to do with my son's being arrested?" Rand shook his head." he said. but Karen was waitin g inside the door for him. Besides causing an noyance to innocent people. Ra nd suspected. Jarrett." He turned to Karen Lawrence. He pulled the sheet out of the typewriter."Sure. mindful of the All-Seeing Eye acr oss the street. He hoped she would not have an oppor tunity to observe his stooping capabilities before he had finished his various o perations at Rosemont. "Leave the others there. "If we don't have anot her murder. "Pierre likes you." Dorothy Gresham flashed at the others. "Rivers was still alive when your father reached home." "You mean there's a chance Dad might be suspected?" Dot was scared. obviously struggling with herself. "Put those pistols back on the wall. I'm not finished with them yet. Rand nodded. laid it face down on t he other sheets he had finished. Mrs." he told her. I had no idea that McKenna was contemplating arre sting him. turning to Dot Gresham. "After that trouble he had with Rivers about that spuri ous North & Cheney." Rand hung up. her words were almost the same as Karen's when she had spo ken over the phone. I would have advised him against it. I'll be back before too long. and he was afraid I'd break this case before he did. Jarrett relaxed. and followed her to a back room. Colonel. Jarrett spo ke." "I told you. There was a long silence before Mrs.
If Gresham had left home after Rand's departur e with Philip Cabot." "You think he'd defend Pierre?" "Unless I'm badly mistaken. her face." "Has Pierre a lawyer?" Rand asked. "When we came here from Greshams'.er." Rand told them. Where's the telephone? I'll call him now." Karen said. and then sat and talked for a while. It was hard to say where Ca rter Tipton would be at the moment. farther down the road.. and some hot pork sandwiches." She breathed her obvious relief. Pierre calls her Mrs. when he came back. "He will need somebody to look after his interests. There's n othing that can go on around here that she doesn't know about. "No. G2. "I forgot all about that old hag." "Dad would defend him. Pierre isn't going to need any trial defense.
. They must have had something to suspect him about. was growing more and more worried. He was gone about half an hour." "And then." Rand continued. became positively ghastl y. "They only identified it as to model and make. on the other hand. already haggard." Dot suggested. You shouldn't have lied to McKenna." Mrs. the woma n across the street told him about seeing Pierre leave here a little before elev en and come back about half an hour later. Jarrett moaned softly.." "I was afraid of that. Colonel. It was ten minutes to nine. in New Belfast. she didn't know it. he's not a criminal lawyer-" "Carter Tipton. his manservant would probably know. "That's been established. and we'll try to get him out on a writ as soon as possible. "McKenna claims that a car like Pierre's was seen p arked in Rivers's drive about the time Pierre was away from here. Not yet. "Look. "Of course. he had a carton. we made some coffee." "Could Igoe verify that?" "It wouldn't help if he did. So Pierre said he' d go out and get some. Karen. We were just talking about that. He'd gotten them at the same place as t he cigarettes--Art Igoe's lunch-stand." Rand told them." she began." He looked at his watch. Igoe's place isn't a five-minute drive from Rivers 's." "Yes. "He's my lawyer. and then we found out th at we were both out of cigarettes and there weren't any here. while he was away from here?" "He went out for cigarettes. Karen sh owed him the phone and he started to put through a person-to-person call. Karen gasped in fright. He checked up on your story. "They didn't just pull Pierre's name out of a hat. Where did Pierre go. he's gotten m e out of more jams than you could shake a stick at." Karen said. they didn't get the license numb er .
"I thought I made that clear to all of you." Rand informed him. Fleming." "Well. but Rand l eft the garage doors open. does it? Well! When did you find that out. she t urned to face him. you had no objection to his g
. she didn't h ave a glass in her hand. Ne lda had been pacing back and forth like a caged tiger. and ha ve no right to have. looking more than ever like Rudolf Hess. she was smoking. at Rand's entrance. After locating and talking to Tipton and arranging for him to meet Dave Ritter at the Rosemont Inn. or any other business of the Tri-State Agency." she replied. When he entered the Fleming library. Then he turned to Gladys." She turned to the others. relaxed in a chair. "So that concerns the Rivers murder. and Rand wondered whether she thought he was Clyde Beatty or a side of beef. You aren't my client. When he was thr ough. they bro ke off what had evidently been an acrimonious dispute and gave him their undivid ed attention. where he had ta lked at length with Mick McKenna. "As long as the collection is sold to the bes t advantage. for McKenna's approval. or my arm ored-car service. for once. and obtained a promise of cooperation. sticky snow. As for the Rivers murder. you carry my authorization. see here. was smoking. Mrs." Dunmore began. with them was Humphrey Goode." Goode supported him. and the rain had turned to a wet." "And I. He had been compelled to tell the State Police sergeant a number of things he had intended keeping to himself. forming what looked like a bilateral offensive and defensive alliance. while in the employ of this family . He also left his hat and coat in the car. I am informed that. you made use of my authorization to get that revolver from Kirchner--" G oode began." "Well. "Just for the re cord." "You didn't answer my question!" Dunmore yelled at him. Rand suspected that he was mentally kicking himself with hobn ailed boots for his premature act. "Aah!" Rand cried. too. he found the enti re family assembled there. around here. and Varcek. no. Gladys occupied another chair. He also submitted. "I think I have a righ t to know what's being done. en route to the gunroom. "we want to know just exactly for whom you're working. and I'm not answerable to you. "Now. he had gone to the State Police substation. now? When Kirchner called you. Geraldine." "That's correct." Goode piped up. as soon as the detective was inside the r oom. "must protest most strongly against your involvement i n this local murder case. All the Fleming cars were in. "I don't intend to." "No. stood with folded arms in one corner. And I d emand to know where you've been since you left here this evening. th e scheme he had outlined to Dave Ritter. McKenna went so far as to admit that he had been a trifle hasty in arresti ng Pierre Jarrett. I haven't any interest in any other business of your agency. Rand. As he came in.* * * * * It was eleven o'clock before he backed his car into the Fleming garage. you accepted a retainer from another party to investigate the death of Arnold Rivers." "As far as the collection's concerned. yes. Goode and Dunmore sat together on the sofa. do you recall any stipulation to the effect that the busines s of handling this pistol-collection should have the exclusive attention of my a gency? I certainly don't recall anything of the sort. of course not.
you lying old son of a bitch!" she screamed at him." "You know perfectly well. "But are you sure of wha t Goode's been doing?" "Of course. by all sorts of irresponsible persons. would be to his advantage. that you are al so investigating the death of Lane Fleming?" "Well?" Rand asked patiently. My God. "Of course. "Why. you know. Colonel Rand. Rand." Rand told him. making a noise like a chicken choking on a piece
. come off it. "You did! My God. "Is anybody saying that now?" Varcek asked sharply." Goode exploded. Very clever--to start a rumor by denying it. "We all--Colonel Rand inclu ded--know that you started those rumors yourself." "My God. then. "I always wondered about this suicid e talk." Geraldine piped up. "He's buying every share he can get his hands on. twisting his mouth. it's going to be a really good thing. "that I am alluding to these unfound ed and mischievous rumors of suicide.iving me that revolver. at this time. but they couldn't understand how he'd done it. I am buying. Humphrey. anything to turn a dishonest dollar. In a month o r so." Rand lied. "But if Goode keeps on denying it. "Like the late Arnold Rivers's ten-thousand offer. Doctor Goebbels was doing it almost twenty years ago. will it b e before it will be said. they will. he's been going around start ing all these stories about Father committing suicide?" She turned on Goode like an enraged panther." Gladys put in contemptuously. "Or didn't yo u think I knew?" Goode cleared his throat noisily. I can't say I exactly thank you for this. "I'd advise you to buy some. is that true?" Nelda demanded." Varcek broke in amusedly." Varcek explained to her . can't you realize--" "Oh. But scarcely original." "Did you know about it?" Nelda demanded of her husband. I couldn't see why Humphrey was so perturbed about it. Fred. in obvious bewilderment. You have let it be publicly known that you are a private dete ctive. you are a filthy specimen!" "Oh." Goode orated. as though she were watching him juggl e four live hand grenades. then?" Rand watched Goode trying to assimilate that. Anything that low ered the market price of Premix. if you can find any. Say! I wonder if that mightn't be w hat Rivers died of? Raising the price and leaving Fred out in the cold!" Dunmore simply stared at her. "Are you afraid people will start calling that a murder. "You know." She l ooked at Goode as though he had six legs and a hard shell." He turned to Ra nd. He wants to start a selling run on Premix. "You mean. "Not that I know of. which are doing the Premix Company so much harm. "How long." "I know about the merger. We all are. they realized that Rand had pulled some kind of a rabbit out of a hat. "What I mean is that since then you have allowed yourself to become involved in this murder case. working for the Fleming family. What changed your mind for you? Didn't you know that Riv ers was dead. The others were looking b ack and forth from him to Rand. too?" Gladys was looking at him apprehensively. Goode. Mr.
It had formerly been the property of an Obergruppenführer of the S. Nelda and Geraldine would bare their teeth at each oth er. picking up a long bra ss-barreled English flintlock and hefting it. imagining himself opening the door a nd going inside. Then he stood for a time over the old cobbler's bench." She laid down the pistol and slid off the de sk." "It wouldn't work. Any three for the price of two. I have to give Nelda and Geraldine a home. and. like the crash of falling masonry after the whip-crack of a tank-gun. He made his way across the lawn to the orchard. "Let's throw them out into the storm. and I still have some work to do. "I only work here. I sometimes wonder why we don't all come up here." she said. Then he stopped the timing hands and returned to the Fleming ho
. Now and then. but there was nothing of more than comi c interest. he could hear the m going at it. after which he hurried down the spiral and along the rear hall to the garage. cla mmy hands in the dark. pick our weapons. "It never was like this when Lane was around." After she had left the gunroom. Even at the desk. Deo g ratias. and settle things. cold. once in a while. When he was satisfied that he would hear nothing having any bearing on the death of Lane Fleming. it was just a routine parade and guard-mount of the older and more d ependable family skeletons. footsteps in the attic." Rand said to Gladys. a Swiss military watch. Rand went back to his work. At first Rand eavesdropped shamelessly. Oh. Anything you want. through the orchard to the lawn of Humphrey Goode's house. and went on outside." "It's snowing. poltergeists. any remark she made would be followed by outraged shouts from Goode and D unmore. and Nelda will elope with a prize-fighter." she replied. in the far corner of the room.of string. "Well. but now this place has turned into a miniature Iwo Jima. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to take it. He threw the coat over his shoulders like a clo ak. "You know. he could hear Gladys's trained and modulated voice.S. Geraldine'll drink herself to death in a few years. mentally re constructing what had been done after Lane Fleming had been shot. broken while choking the Obergruppenfüh rer to death in an alley in Palermo. break out the ammu nition. Humphrey Goode would rumble somethi ng. where he snatche d his hat and coat from the car. the tumult gradually died out." Rand mentioned. with special emphasis on Humphrey Goode's business a nd professional ethics. apparitions. Rand looked at his watch. in the library. He stood there for a few seconds." "Why don't you have the house haunted? The Tri-State Agency has an excellent ho use-haunting department. and Ra nd had appropriated it to replace his own. He zeroed the timing dials and pressed the start-button. sometimes it would be Fred Dunmore. pleasant dreams." With that. banshees. I'll see you in the morning. I'm developing comba t fatigue. Oh. hammer-and-tongs. Geraldine is so used to polka-dotted dinosaurs and Little Gr een Men from Mars that she wouldn't mind an ordinary ghost. as long as they live. It was a very precise instrument. Us ually. roaring like a bull. he walked past Goode and Dunmore and ascended the spiral stairway to the gunroom. After a while. and two timing di als. "Well. Sometimes it would be Nelda's s trident shrieks that would dominate the bedlam below. "Terms of the will. clanking chains and eldritch scre ams. Rand was still typing when Gladys came up the spiral and perched on the corner of the desk.. with a sweep second hand. sometime. all this isn't my pidgin. and across this to Goode's s ide door. once in a while. and Nelda'd probably try to drag it into bed with her. well." "I can't.
he went into the bathroom in his dressing-gown. he would have been a great deal less alarmed if somebody had taken a shot at him. the firing-pin had not been shortened. when he had gone to bed. was lying on the dresser. It had taken exactly six minutes and twenty-two seconds. he filled the cylinder with 1 58-grain loads. he thought. the weapon had n ot been either fired or cleaned recently. It was. Getting a box of cartridges out of his Gladstone. and then returned to his own room. Rand stood for some time looking at the revolver. the holster was now lying back-up.38 Colt Detective Special. receiving a second and considerably more severe surprise. He left his hat and trench coat in the car and went upstairs. between that time and the present it had managed to flop itself over. but I would like a
. when he had gon e to his room for some notes he had made on the collection. Undressing. he looked at the watch. There was a disc repancy of about thirty thousand in the serial numbers. There was no obstruction in the two-inch barrel. When he went to the bathroom. using nitroglycerin instead of powder. he took the revolver in his dressi ng-gown pocket. Anton Varcek was loitering in the hall when he came out. he had not bothered putting it on when he had go ne to see Rivers the morning before. this one was loaded in only f ive.use. and it was in his holster. His own gun ha d seen hard service. and fell into step with him as they went toward the stairway. when he dressed. and pocketed a handful of spare rounds. in its shoulder-hol ster. The revolver in the holster was not his own. However. I wish you wouldn't mention this to anybody. but that didn't seem likely . He ra ther suspected that it had been accomplished while he had been in the bathroom. It might have happe ned at any time between eight o'clock and twelve. Dumping out the five rounds in the cylinder. the mainspring showed the proper amount of tension. There was a chance that somebody had made up five special hand-l oads for him. all of them disquieting. His gun had been loaded in six chambers with the standard 158-grain loads. There were four or five oth er possibilities. "Colonel Rand. The worst of it was that he c ouldn't be exactly sure when the substitution had been made. with the square Police Positive grip. the revolver Lane Fleming had kept in the drawer of the gunroom desk. Rand noticed something which had escaped his ey e when he had gone to bed the night before. bu t it was not the Detective Special he had brought with him from New Belfast. he gave Rand good-morn ing. he inspected the changeling carefu lly.38-special. In the garage. however. he put on the shoulder-holster. and the mechanism functione d as it should. spent about twenty minutes shaving and taking a shower. with 148-grain mid-range wad-cutter loads. to be sure. as it would not necessitate a switch of revolvers. His own gun was of the second type. this one was of the original issue. this one was in practically new condition. and it had lain there all the previous day. His . Rand crossed the room in the dress-of-nature in which h e slept and looked more closely at it. the next morning. It was. shortly after dinner. CHAPTER 17 When he rose. He knew that he could move more rapidly than the dumpy lawyer. he had been moving over more or less unfamiliar ground. but to balance that. He distinctly remembered having moved it. a . Intrigued by such a remarkable accomplishment in an inanimate object. with the corners rounded off the grip. locking the garage doors behind him.
then went across to the library and up to t he gunroom." "And boy. in a low voice. Fred. I believe you will be i nterested in my conclusions. When I have opportunity to explain my ideas more fully. eating in silence. I was exposed to it. he had had taken th stealthy mur the prospect
He sat down at the desk and started typing. That. no hesitation in admitting to himself. after the pitched battle of the evening before . Geraldin e was absent. Rand broke the tension by offering Humphrey Goode in the role of whipping-boy. In the end. yet." They greeted Gladys. last evening. "I never really studied biology. is something." Rand continued . Would that be possible?" "Yes. As usual. he was badly scared. it's about time to get to work. working. "Of course. Coming. the night before. The pre vious thefts had been masked by substitutions. The pistol-trade which had been imposed on him had disquieted him. and a pleasan t spirit of mutual cordiality prevailed. A second look told Rand what had been taken: the little . in school. he saw what was wrong. Dunmore and Nelda were already at the table. but whoever had helped himself to one of the more recent metallic-cartridge specimens. and I want to cont inue the experiments at the plant laboratory. "Colonel Rand." Varcek took the conversational shift in stride. "After Fred Dunmore has left for the pla nt. It was an atte mpt which was responsible for quite a number of typographical errors. but at that t ime I was preoccupied with the so-called social sciences. I was working on this new egg-powder. I think I know how we'll be able t o cut production costs on it." They reached th e bottom of the stairway. at the same time trying to keep the hall door and the head of the spiral stairway under observation. Bo th of them seemed self-conscious. now. I can't leave. about five per cent. keeping his right hand c
. Varcek. Mr. I'll be in the gunroom all morning. the idea had occurred to me. at least. can we stand that!" Dunmore grunted. As soon as he entered the room above." he agreed. A nton Varcek came in from the hallway. "Understand. wiping his mouth on a napkin. and sat down in an ar mchair. "Well. and a pair of vacant screwhooks disclosed the removal. Whoever at little automatic had had only one thought in mind--noiseless and der. Were you serious when you alluded to the possibility that Lane Fleming had been murdered?" "Well. "But yo u are trained in the scientific method of thought. "I have been thinking over a remark y ou made." the Czech said." he said.25 Webley & Sc ott from the Pollard collection. be seeing you at the plan t. Anton?" "I'm sorry. "Well. with the silencer. last evening." Rand waited until Dunmore had left." he began. he had no sooner made a remark in derogation of the lawyer than Nelda and her h usband broke into a duet of vituperation. Very probably with one Colonel Jefferson Davis Rand in mind as ive corpse. everybody affected to agre e that the whole unpleasant scene had been entirely Goode's fault. Finally Dunmore got up. where Gladys was waiting.private talk with you." Rand understated. approached the desk. "We might as well save gas and both use my car. Finally. hadn't b othered with any such precaution. I have some notes upstairs I have to get in order. and walked with her to the dining-room.
I be lieve that Lane Fleming should be credited with equal caution about firearms. as soon as possible. much interested in church work. emotional.. "You are investigating it as such?" he asked. We have been spared any serious l abor troubles. When Lane Fleming was alive." "And you didn't consider the possibility of suicide?" "No! Absolutely not!" The Czech was emphatic. that was my first thought." Rand said." Rand told him wearily. "I have always feared an accident. "The idea never occurred to me. you came here to tell me what happened on the night of Lane Fleming's death. either deliberately or. with a revolver in his hand .. this family is like a ship without a captain. Varcek flushed. either deliberately or inadve rtently. "Please." Rand pointed out. very improbably. And Mr. and he to her. such scenes as that in the li brary last evening would have been unthinkable. It was my understanding that Mrs. by inadvertence. for instance. Now. "I am appraising and selling this pistol collection." "And since you do not think that he shot himself. there remains the alternative that he was shot by somebody else. much better than that of many men twenty years his junior. He had no family troubles. When I saw him lying dead. His health was excellent. for my own protection I like to know the background of situations in which I am involved." Varcek nodded. But do you think Hump hrey Goode would bring me here to stir up a lot of sleeping dogs that might awak e and grab him by the pants-seat? Or did you think that uproar in the library la st evening was just a prearranged act?" "I had not thought of Humphrey Goode.. I'm just a more or less innocent bystan der. you must not judge by what you have seen since you came here. First thoughts are so often illogical. Fleming's wife was devoted to him.lose to his left coat lapel. "No?" he inquired. "I have a strong dislike for firearms. aside from that. He had no business worries. Fleming wants her money out of the collection. Colonel Rand. t hen or since. "I take it you have begun to doubt that it was an a ccident?" "I would doubt a theory that a skilled chemist would accidentally poison himsel f in his own laboratory. and Mr. he had no reason to wish t o die. w ith so many in the house." Varcek replied. He was deeply religious. And. we n ow have more orders than we have plant capacity to fill. of course." Varcek looked at the pistols on the des k as though they were so many rattlesnakes. pour mysel f a drink from a bottle labeled HNO3 in the belief that it contained vodka. who wants to know whether there is going to be any trouble or not." "Yet you were the first to advance the theory that the shooting had been an acc ident. Now. The company is doing well. Fleming was con sulting with architects about plant expansion. "I am curious about who killed Fleming. Lane Fleming was not the man to do that. Let's agree that it was murder and go on from the re. Fleming brought you here." Rand said. did n't you?"
." Rand raised an eyebrow over that last. "I think the lat ter can be safely disregarded. "To reopen the question of her husband's death and start a murder investi gation wouldn't exactly expedite things. "I would not." "Mrs. we had large Government contracts during the war and no reconversion problems afterward.
and finished cleaning out the cylinder. "You came down here only five minutes after the shot. where it could be checked up on . A little later." Rand nodded. he was scrubbing out the h oles. leave it in Fleming's hand. All the while. "And have undressed and taken a bath. It might have been the murderer." Varcek continued. That was mo st unusual. Now he looked like Rudolf Hess discussing what to do about Ernst Roehm." From there on. he kept on working on this revolv er. while he was waiting?" he inquired. He had it apart. like a test-tube brush. the last flicker o f possibility that Lane Fleming's death had been accidental vanished. The door of this room was open . by the main stairway. The chambers. But first I ha d to take a solution off a Bunsen burner. "You think the murderer locked the door behind him. and he was in his bare f eet and making wet tracks on the floor." Varcek said. the door of this room was closed and locked. the drum. with nothing on but a bathrobe. "Colonel Rand.. set the deadlatch. and called out. Just like the Rivers case. and he remembered what Walters had told him. Here we go again! Rand thought. "about some t echnical problems at the plant. "He was using a small brush. How was he cleaning it?" Rand asked. don't you think that Fred Dunmore could have shot Lane Fleming. and then have gone to his room and waited until I came downstairs?" he asked. is it?" "Cylinder. cross the hall. and take the temperature of it. He was using a solvent that smelled something like banana-oi l. he came back he re immediately after he was through eating. working on the rev olver. o r it might have been Fleming at the murderer's suggestion. everybody putting th e finger on everybody else. If Varcek was te lling the truth. He could visualize the progress Fleming had made. "When I got down here. His hair was wet. and then I decided to come down here. "Lane had been up he re for about an hour before dinner. We had finished dinner at about seven. where the loads go. and also the barrel. and he was cleaning a part of it. Varcek's story tallied closely with what Rand had heard from Gla dys and from Walters. and Lane was inside. For a moment. "I think somebody locked the door.. Dunmore would hav e had to wipe his fingerprints off the revolver. ge
. working on his new revolver. sitting on that old shoemaker's-bench.. "About fifteen minutes later I heard the shot. and I became really worried. "I talked with him for some ten minutes or so. He was beginnin g to put the revolver together when I left him and went up to my laboratory. when I had finished my coffee. when he came out of here?" Varcek asked. In that time. put that oily rag in his other hand. I should say all this took me about five minutes. I debated with mys elf as to what I had heard. sometime. undress. I came upstairs. But why couldn't the murderer have left the gunroom by that stairway?" Varcek looked around furtively and lowered his voice. but I got no answer. and then wash my hands. The round part. because I had been working with p oisonous materials. where I had been heating it. I pounded on the door."Yes. Everybody's story tallied. Then Fred Dunmore came out of the bathroom attached to his room.
and have ing the war. they wouldn't execute both of you to make sure of getting the right one. Of course. carry
." Rand said. neither of you could be convicted . and then have gone down to the library and up the spiral. fascinated. Some of the French Maquis I worked with. Colonel Rand. last evening. with your innocence well established. and who knows what terms National Milling & Packaging may have made with him. "There is no one e lse who could have done it." He rose slowly. and made a demons tration in the hall until you were joined by Dunmore and the ladies. his thought-chain complete. And as long as reasonable doubt exists. "Anybody could hav that way. Humphrey Goode was no less intere sted in the merger than Fred Dunmore or myself. and rather explosive." "But who else could have done it?" "Well. I still have this work here. at that. he is quite familiar with the interior of this house. "The situation here seems to be very delicate. both of you may be innocent. dur could have wiped out the whole family. for one. if I recall. Then. I'd advise you to confess now." Rand said. "Why. contingent upon his s uccess in negotiating the merger?" "I'm not forgetting either of them. I suppose you won't want to. "You know. If yo u did it." Varcek agreed sadly. That's pretty fast work. as you go out. "And you spoke of motive . He nodded several t imes. y.?" Varcek had evidently bet his roll on Dunmore. you are not a comfortable sort of man to have around. that wa
A look of intense concentration settled upon Varcek's face. no more and no less . "Or Fred Dunmore. as she or somebody else was sure to. And then there is your friend Gr esham.. He wondered where his own was. Rand looked in the desk drawer. at the moment. as your theory about Dunmore.38 he had seen there was gone.. he can do the same with the theory I've just out lined.." Rand pointed out. I'll not me ntion this interview." doors were open. Both of you had a motive in this Mill -Pack merger that couldn't have been negotiated while Fleming lived. it'll save everybody. "Yes. "And if Dunmore's accused." he said. yourself included . shot Fleming. Oh. This isn't the Third Reich or the Soviet Union. "That's about as convincing." After Varcek had left him." Varcek looked at him. When the butler arrived. locking the door behind you." "The garage e slipped in al." Rand said. one after the other. either?" "I'd advise you not to talk about it. you.. One or the other of you may be guilty. you could have waited until your wife prompted you. can I?" "You can advance your Dunmore theory to establish reasonable doubt. You could have come down from your lab. on the other hand. or you. From what you must have heard. fake d the suicide. and then gone out." Rand told him. I believe you regard all of us just as I do my fruit flies!" he said at length. and I'll need his help. verifying his assump tion that the . "Naturally. "And I cannot prove otherwise. he was put to work bringing pistols to the desk." "Then who.. a lot of trouble. come through the rear hall to the library and up the spir gone out the same way.t into the bathtub and start bathing. I'd be ob liged to you for sending Walters up here.
. and at the two men who were emerging from the spiral." Walters said ic ily. for replacements. what the State Police sergeant had really said. son. once or twice. "Just stand still. Fleming died. you may get off with second degree murder. that it was the latter.. when he was here to see Mr. at the revolver that had materialized in Ra nd's hand." "At least. wondering if he were going to find a ." Rand told him.. Fleming. he holstered his temporary weapon. Rivers. He was even mor e startled. for your sake. permit me to say that it isn't. "Oh! Don't you know?" McKenna asked. any more t han he needs to read any Riot Act before he can start shooting. and got a li ke number of junk pistols from him. "Good God. but it won't hur t to warn you that anything you say can be used against you." Sergeant McKenna told him. gentlemen!" He looked from Mick McKenna to Corporal Kavaalen to Rand and back again in bewilderment. last evening. when he realized that they wore the uniform of the State Police. you're tagged f or the electric chair. So. you sold him about twenty-five of these pistols.. "What." Rand told him. But I didn't kill Mr. now. taking measurements. and sold them to Arnold Rivers. and you killed him to keep him from turning state's evidence and incriminating you.. you're being arrested for the murder of Arnold Rivers." He took the list Pierre J
. you took out the station-wagon and went to see Rivers. All the while. I saw him. I hope. sir?" he demanded of Rand." "Outside of that. sir.25 Webley & Scott automatic or his own . "You're being arrested." He stepped around the desk and frisked the butler quickly. "I barely knew the g entleman.. a police-offi cer doesn't have to recite any incantation before he makes an arrest." "But . Finally he caught a movement. "If this is your idea of a joke. you knew the game was u p. "All right!" he sang out. whe n I came here and started checking up on the collection. Then he had realized. but out side of that.. "In this country." Walters stammered. "Come on up!" Walters looked. Walters had been expecting to be accused of larcen y. "You stole about twenty-five pistols from th is collection. obviously startled. Then. When he fo und neither.. and was prepared to treat the charge with contempt. and then the bottom seemed to drop suddenly out of him.ing them back to the racks.38-Special. He eased the Detective Spec ial out of its holster and got to his feet.. it seemed. after Mr... and saw what looked like the top of a peak-crowne d gray felt hat between the spindles of the railing. I must insist upon knowing why I am being arrested." "It's no joke. if it was. But if you can't prove that there was no premeditation. aft er a second or so." For a moment the butler retained his professional glacial disdain. "You surely can't mean that!" "We can and we do. What's the meaning of this. Ra nd kept his eye on the head of the spiral stairway. and the like. Or maybe you killed him in a quarrel over the division of the loot. Rand suppressed a smile at this mino r verification of his theory. "Why.
that it includes being yapp ed at by this vulgar bitch. I can prove it!" That Rand had not expected.44 Colt 1860's that nobody had missed. and take these police-officers a nd show them every one of the pistols..
. "Look here. sir." Rand put paper and carbon sheets in the typewriter." Walters expostulated. al ong with the things he would need to take to jail with him. Fences always do that. and show you where he has them hidden in the garret.. There's still a slight matter of larceny. Rivers. "Aren't we ever going to have any luck?" he dema nded. catching sight of Walters. you turn around and rob us! I hope they give you twenty years!" Walters turned to McKenna. "I suppose you have receipts fo r all of them. He signed the triplicate copies willingly." "Dope!" McKenna abused his subordinate. he didn't seem to mind signing himsel f into jail. he typ ed. but that d oesn't involve the electric chair. as long as he thought he was signing himself out of the electric ch air. and then accompany these officers to Gwinnett's place and show them the pistols . why would he kill him?" "He's only said he sold them to Gwinnett. but maybe he did kill him. Gwinnett." "But I did sell them to Mr. Nelda was standing at the foot of it. You take my advice and make a confession now. "Sergeant. you may expect clemency on the theft charge." "But I didn't sell those pistols to Mr. I am willing to accept the penalty of the law for what I have done. but I don't believe." Nelda let out an inarticulate howl of fury and sprang at him. "Maybe he didn't sell Rivers the pistols. "If he didn't sell Rivers the pistols. "You dirty sneak!" she yelled.arrett and Stephen Gresham had compiled out of his pocket and began reading: "It alian wheel lock pistol. When it was finished . nails raking. and now this!" "But he ain't in the clear. he still has every one of them.. but that'll do.. As Walters dictated. of course. Then he turned to Walters. Cor poral Kavaalen caught her wrist before she could claw the prisoner." He finished the list and put i t away. pair Ital ian snaphaunce pistols. Evidently she had been listening to what had been going on upstairs. "After all we've done for you. you're c lear on this murder charge. for the time. If you do that. The book in which Fleming had recorded his pistols he still had. He was afr aid to offer them for sale until after this collection had been broken up and so ld. too. I can take you to his house. I will. Carl Gwinnett... "I sold them to Mr. late sixteenth. the butler listed every pistol which Gresham and Pierre Jarrett had found mi ssing. He said he would get it." Rand pointed out. sir! I'll sign a full confession. "Jarrett out on a writ this morning.or early seventeenth-century. they all went down the spiral stairway into the library. if we find those pistols in Gwinnett's possession. and a cased presentation pair of ." McKenna spat out an obscenity. "Go on!" he jeered. by Lazarino Cominazo. if you get a search warrant. "I think we've missed one or two. he had removed it from the gunroom and was keeping it in his room." "Oh." Kavaalen argued.
d on't waste time looking him up about them." he said softly. There. Walters and the t wo policemen were on the front porch. and their butler may be glad for a chance to pick up a little extra money. "Dammit. I'll have to watch and not call you Jeff. Colonel Rand. I decided on that in case I suffer a lapsus linguæ and call you Dave in front of somebody. to pick up Gwinnett an d the pistols. she knows you' re coming in your own car.. They stink. Ritter stopped behind the white sedan."That's enough." Rand snapped his fingers. you!" he told her. he was briefing h is assistant on what had happened. would you? I'd be eternally grateful!" It was just as easy as that. which you may keep in the garage there. CHAPTER 18 Dave Ritter. "You stop that. as he di
. Shall I call him and find out?" "Oh." The State Police car had pulled up in front of a large three-story frame house with faded and discolored paint and jigsaw scrollwork around the cornices. McKenna and Kavaalen got out.. Rand. As she we nt out. "I won't promise anything. who had been bringing up in the rear. but he came acr oss. Fleming jumped at it. en route to Gwinnett's. had calle d Ritter from the office of the Justice of the Peace while waiting for Walters t o put up bail. "Probably the motive f or Fleming was that merger he was so violently opposed to. "Mrs. after his hearing. for a day or so. Your name is Davies. you'll be safe on the driving time. and he and Rand got out. now. that must be Gwinnett's . kept his eye on the white State Police car ahead. if you show up around three. ov er the week-end. He got young Jarrett sprung on a writ. Rand st ood looking after him for a moment. and the Rivers killin g must have been a security measure of some sort. Now. Gladys entered. "We had to bluff it out of him. but I may be able to dig up somebody for you. I saw the rest of the pistols he has there. Some of my friends are visiting their son. i n a Naval hospital on the West Coast. Suddenly Ritter turned and sprinted around the right side of the house. And I saw Tip this mornin g." she told him. The guy at the drive-in made a positive identificat ion." He thought for a moment.. and started up the path to the front steps. you'd better get it out b efore I go to the Flemings'. You've left N ew Belfast about now. "That Leech & Rigdon's in there. now. then started to follow more slowly." She jerked her arm loose from his grasp and flung out of the library." Rand said. stand ing among a clump of trees beside the road. I never thought of that!" He allowed his bro w to furrow with thought. "He confessed. now. By that time. with W alters between them. "So everything's set. "But what're we going to do. sir. or you'll spend a night in j ail yourself." He nodded toward the glove-box. We're going. Rand." "Yeah. for a butler. who had come away from the Fleming home in the white car. driving his small coupé. Colonel Rand. stepped down from the stairway. "What does t his do to the Rivers and Fleming murders?" "We can look for one man for both jobs." "I'm glad you found the pistols. it's the one he sold Fleming." he concluded. Sold the pistols to Carl Gwinnett.
was dithering in fright. Gwinnett was given a h earing. "For God's sake. we'll go through the house and let them in. "Nice. her eyes stony with hatred. "This is one. Want to see it?" "So you have a search warrant.40-caliber Colt Paterson. Dave. as soon as he saw him." Gwinnett's eyes darted from side to side. if you don't find anything. "Aarvo. the woman followed them downstairs. her arms white with flour. Rand a nd McKenna followed. sir. too. I want to call my lawyer.38-special." Gwinnett said. let him cal l the White House if he wants to. but after hurling bloodthirsty threats of a damage suit for an astronomical figu re. a stick-up?" Nobody bothered to tell him to stop kidding." Walters said. Come on. Rand had a heated argument with an over-zealous Justice of the Peace . and into the front hall.. gentlemen. he had them all assembled." McKenna said. and the . she stood to one side. who wanted to impound the pistols and jackknife-mark them for identification. frisked him. They marched him through the kitch en. The rest of the afternoon was consumed with formalities. arriving at the rear in time to see Gwinnett standing on a boardwalk between the house and the stable-garage behind . at which he was represented by a lawyer straight out of a B-grade gangst er picture.
." As Kavaalen accompanied Gwinnett to the phone. There was a fresh bullet-scar on the boardwalk at his f eet. where a Negro girl. We have a search warrant." Eventually. Gwinnett. "What is this." the woman begged." He turned to Walters. A woman in a faded housedress had just admitted the two off icers and the former Fleming butler. "You goddam rat!" Gwinnett yelled at Walters. During the search of the attic. Gwinnett bringing up the rear. "We're arresting you: receiving stolen goo ds. "I don't know what you're talking about. take him to a phone.. stiff-lipped. he whirle d and ran around the left side of the house. where would he ha ve this stuff stashed?" "In the garret. He picked up one. Gwinnett. Ritter was covering him from the corner of the house with the . and McKenna took the other. As soon as he saw Walters coming up the walk with the police. Rand strolled over to Gwinnett.d. Walters started upstairs. "Now. Jerking out the changeling . a shot slammed in the rear. like the eyes of a trapped animal." "That's your right. "So go ahead and search. I know the way. Still saying noth ing. including the five cased sets. he managed to retain possession of the recovered weapons. and told him to put his hands down .. producing a Springfield 1818 Model flin tlock. while Walters p iled the five flat hardwood cases into his arms like cordwood.380 Beretta. Rand foun d a couple of empty bushel baskets and laid the pistols in them. Carl. he knew what had happened." he complimented. Keep quiet!" "All right. and the Hall." he said. with Mrs. and accessory to larceny. you'll plant something. "I thought of that. watching the ex-butler dig into a pile of p istols. "And here is the Walker Colt." McKenna told him. with his hands raised. about a minute too late . between layers of old newspapers. "Don't make things any worse than the y are.
Ritter left at a little past three, to report for duty in the Fleming household . Rand rode with McKenna and Kavaalen to the State Police substation, where the pistols were transferred to McKenna's personal car, in which they and Rand were to be transported back to the Fleming place. It was five o'clock before Rand had finished telling the sergeant and the corpo ral everything he felt they ought to know. "When we get to the Flemings', I'll give you that revolver I got from the coron er," he finished. "One of your boys can take it to this fellow Umholtz, and get him to identify it. You might also show it to young Gillis, and see what he know s about it. Gillis might even give you a name for who got it from Rivers. I'm no t building any hopes on that, and the reason I'm not is that Gillis is still ali ve. If he knew, I don't think he would be." "Yeah. I can see that," McKenna nodded. "Fact is, I can see everything, now, ex cept one thing. This pistol-switch somebody gave you; what's the idea of that?" "Why, that's because I'm on the spot," Rand told him. "I'm to be killed, and so mebody else is to be killed along with me. The .25 automatic will be used on me, and the .38 will be used on the other fellow, and we'll be found dead about fiv e feet apart, and I'll be holding my own gun, and the other fellow will be holdi ng the .25, and it will look as though we shot it out and scored a double knocko ut. That way, my mouth will be shut about what I've learned since I came here, a nd the man who's supposed to have killed me will take the rap for Fleming and Ri vers both. Nothing to stop an investigation like a couple of corpses who can't t ell their own story and can take the blame for everything." "Zhee-zus!" Kavaalen's eyes widened. "That must be just it!" "Well, you got your nerve about you, I'll say that," McKenna commented. "You si t there and talk about it like it was something that was going to happen to Joe Doakes and Oscar Zilch." He looked at Rand intently. "You want us to keep an eye on you?" Rand leaned over and spat into the brass cuspidor, a gesture of braggadocio he had picked up among the French maquis. "Hell, no! That's the last thing I do want!" he said. "I want him to try it. Yo u realize, don't you, that all this is pure assumption and theory? We don't have a single fact, as it stands, that proves anything. We could go and pick this fe llow up, and he's one of three men, so we could grab all three of them, and even if we found the .25 Webley & Scott and my .38 in his pockets, we couldn't charg e him with anything. Fact is, right now we can't even prove that Lane Fleming's death was anything but the accident it's on the books as being. But let him take a shot at me...." "And then you'll have another nice, clear case of self-defense." McKenna frowne d. "Goddammit, Jeff, you've had to defend yourself too many times, already. This 'll be--well, how many will it be?" "Counting Germans?" Rand grinned. "Hell, I don't know; I can't remember all of them." "One thing," Kavaalen said solemnly, "you never hear of any lawyers springing p eople out of cemeteries on writs." "Look, Jeff," McKenna said, at length. "If it's the way you think, this guy won 't dare kill you instantly, will he? Seems to me, the way the script reads, this
other guy shoots you, and you shoot back and kill him, and then you die. Isn't that it?" Rand nodded. "I'm banking on that. He'll try to give me a fatal but not instant ly fatal wound, and that means he'll have to take time to pick his spot. The rea son I've managed to survive these people against whom I've had to defend myself has been that I just don't give a damn where I shoot a man. A lot of good police officers have gotten themselves killed because they tried to wing somebody and took a second or so longer about shooting than they should have." "Something in that, too," McKenna agreed. "But what I'm getting at is this: I t hink I know a way to give you a little more percentage." He rose. "Wait a minute ; I'll be right back." CHAPTER 19 There was less feuding at dinner that evening than at any previous meal Rand ha d eaten in the Fleming home. In the first place, everybody seemed a little awed in the presence of the new butler, who flitted in and out of the room like a gho st and, when spoken to, answered in a heavy B.B.C. accent. Then, the women, who carried on most of the hostilities, had re-erected their front populaire and wer e sharing a common pleasure in the recovery of the stolen pistols. And finally, there was a distinct possibility that the swift and dramatic justice that had ov ertaken Walters and Gwinnett at Rand's hands was having a sobering effect upon s omebody at that table. Dunmore, Nelda, Varcek, Geraldine and Gladys had been intending to go to a part y that evening, but at the last minute Gladys had pleaded indisposition and tele phoned regrets. The meal over, Rand had gone up to the gunroom, Gladys drifted i nto the small drawing-room off the dining-room, and the others had gone to their rooms to dress. Rand was taking down the junk with which Walters had infiltrated the collection and was listing and hanging up the recovered items when Fred Dunmore, wearing a dressing-gown, strolled in. "I can't get over the idea of Walters being a thief," he sorrowed. "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen his signed confession.... Well, it just goes t o show you...." "He took his medicine standing up," Rand said. "And he helped us recover the pi stols. If I were you, I'd go easy with him." Dunmore shook his head. "I'm not a revengeful man, Colonel Rand," he said, "but if there's one thing I can't forgive, it's a disloyal employee." His mouth clos ed sternly around his cigar. "He'll have to take what's coming to him." He stood by the desk for a moment, looking down at the recovered items and the pile of j unk on the floor. "When did you first suspect him?" "Almost from the first moment I saw this collection." Rand explained the reason ing which had led him to suspect Walters. "The real clincher, to my mind, was th e fact that he knew this collection almost as well as Lane Fleming did, and woul dn't be likely to be deceived by these substitutions any more than Fleming would . Yet he said nothing to anybody; neither to Mrs. Fleming, nor Goode, nor myself . If he weren't guilty himself, I wanted to know his reason for keeping silent. So I put the pressure on him, and he cracked open." "Well, I want you to know how grateful we all are," Dunmore said feelingly. "I' m kicking hell out of myself, now, about the way I objected when Gladys brought you in here. My God, suppose we'd tried to sell the collection ourselves! Anybod
y who'd have been interested in buying would have seen what you saw, and then th ey'd have claimed that we were trying to hold out on them." He hesitated. "You'v e seen how things are here," he continued ruefully. "And that's something else I have to thank you for; I mean, keeping your mouth shut till you got the pistols back. There'd have been a hell of a row; everybody would have blamed everybody else.... How did you get him to confess, though?" Rand told him about the subterfuge of the trumped-up murder charge. Dunmore had evidently never thought of that hoary device; he chuckled appreciatively. "Say, that was smart! No wonder he was so willing to admit everything and help you get them back." He looked at the pistols on the desk and moved one or two of them. "Did you get the one the coroner had? Goode said something--" "Oh, yes; I got that yesterday." Rand turned and went to the workbench, bringin g back the Leech & Rigdon, which he handed to Dunmore. "That's it. I fired out t he other five charges, and cleaned it at the State Police substation." He watche d Dunmore closely, but there seemed to be no reaction. "So that's it." Dunmore looked at it with a show of interest and honest sorrow, and handed it back, then shifted his cigar across his mouth. "Look here, Colone l; I've been wanting to ask you something. Did Gladys just get you to come here to appraise and sell the collection, or are you investigating Lane's death, too? " "Well, now, you're asking me to be disloyal to my employer," Rand objected. "Wh y don't you ask her that? If she wants you to know, she'll tell you." "Dammit, I can't! Suppose she's satisfied that it really was an accident; would I want to start her worrying and imagining things?" "No, I suppose you wouldn't," Rand conceded. "You're not at all satisfied on th at point yourself, are you?" "Well, are you?" Dunmore parried. That sort of fencing could go on indefinitely. Rand determined to stop it. Afte r all, if Dunmore was the murderer of Lane Fleming, he would already know how li ttle Rand was deceived by the fake accident; the Leech & Rigdon had told him tha t already. If he weren't, telling him would do no harm at this point, and might even do some good. "Why, I think Fleming was murdered," Rand told him, as casually as though he we re expressing an opinion on tomorrow's weather. "And I further believe that whoe ver killed Fleming also killed Arnold Rivers. That, by the way, is where I come in. Stephen Gresham has retained me to find the Rivers murderer; to do that, I m ust first learn who killed Lane Fleming. However, I was not retained to investig ate the Fleming murder, and as far as I know from anything she has told me, Glad ys Fleming is quite satisfied that her husband shot himself accidentally." In a universe of ordered abstractions and multiordinal meanings, the literal truth, o n one order of abstraction, was often a black lie on another. "Does that answer your question?" he asked, with open-faced innocence. Dunmore nodded. "Yes, I get it, now. Look here, do you think Anton Varcek could have done it? I know it's a horrible idea, and I want you to understand that I' m not making any accusations, but we always took it for granted that he'd been u p in his lab, and had come downstairs when he heard the shot. But suppose he cam e down and shot Fleming, and then went out in the hall, and made that rumpus out side after locking the door behind him?"
You say that whoever killed Lane also killed this fellow Rivers. stepping out of his P. Where is our client. Unfortunately. that would have been about five minutes before he started hammering on the door!" he exclaimed." He brushed a couple of P aterson Colts to one side and sat down on the edge of the desk. it's probably on account of those stories about him and Mr s. "Man. taking a deep dr ag on the cigarette. "If we hear her coming. "House is clear. what a cat-and -dog show this place is! It's a wonder our client isn't nuts. and started makin g a noise. Dunmore driving. that the murderer doesn't have to be Varcek. "What's the regular law doing. "Both pairs left in the Packard." He stopped short. if Farnsworth' s going after Gillis. and was hanging them back on the wall when Ritter came in. Mick and I have worked together before. now that young Jarrett is ou t?" "I had a long talk with Mick McKenna." After Dunmore had gone out." Ritter fished a cigarette out of his livery and appropriated Rand 's lighter. When last heard from. Rand mopped his face. And another thing. There are on e or two possibilities besides you and Anton Varcek. Or something. "Well. Nelda'll be out of the bathroom by now. on Thursday night. I didn't hear any shot. I'd thought of that. by the way?" "Downstairs. Rivers. and out the same way. At least. we can't get fees from every
. Prostrated with grief. He found an electric fan over the workbench and plugged it in. G. I suppose I had my he ad under the shower. set the deadlatch. Rivers. Farnsworth was beginning to blow his hot b reath on the back of Cecil Gillis's neck. I was able to tell him the facts of life. The garage doors we re open--I'm told that your wife was out at the time--and anybody could have sne aked in the back way. Well. All I heard was Anton pounding on the door and yelling. Mrs. and he shut it off. she is now in a hospital in New York. Maybe we could get a fee out of Mrs. but it made enough noise to cover any sounds of stealthy approach. Jeff." "I'd thought of that. all that stuff would come out if he arrested him. the man who was afraid you were invest igating Fleming's death. Colonel. and the noise of the water kept me from hearing the shot.44 Colt Walker and tried the balance. "And. You know. you can grab this. Rivers had a very convenient breakdow n.. The room seemed insufferably hot." Rand agreed." Rand said." "You haven't seen anything. "Say. when Rivers was killed. now. when she heard the news. this even makes that Colt Magnum of mine feel light!" he said. Wodehouse character." Dunmore's eyes widened. too! " He nodded once or twice. And this case is due to blow up like Hiroshima before then. "Yes. "I suppose so. "For instance. and he'll be a good boy now. "Time enough for him to have fixed things to look like an accident. you ought to have been here last night . "You were taking a bath when you heard the shot ." Ritter picked up the big . to tell the trut h. Man. or anybody else who was in the house at the time. though. without half trying. I want to talk to you about this some more. and won't be b ack until after the funeral. Anton didn't get home till around twelve. up through the library. weren't you?" Dunmore shook his head." his assistant said. taking his cigar from his mouth and pointing it at Rand.. and have gone out in the hall. He ha d finished revising his list to include the recovered pistols for as far as it w as completed. Well."That's possible. "Fortunately." "Yes. the man who started that suicide story!" He looked at R and interrogatively. by God. I got to go. and I can think of one.
" Rand directed. I don't care to go into it o ver the phone. "That way. fine!" Goode was delighted. Goode came out with it. lately. at once." "Oh." He put a hand over the mouthpiece. Goode. Colonel Rand. much better than your coming over here. "That's the stuff. They all came to see him in the gunroom with a common purpos e. was one of the sad things of life to which one must reco ncile oneself. now. "That's what I'm so busy about." he stated." the lawyer said. just out of sight." "Oh. It seems that since Mr. and going through some prefatory huffing a nd puffing. Mr. "There have be en some rather deplorable developments here." "Well. Col onel Rand? And why wasn't I notified before? And are there many valuable items m issing?" "I discovered it as soon as I saw the collection. he has been sy stematically looting the pistol-collection." The private outside phone rang shrilly." "You go let him in. we'll be quite alone. I'm very busy. nor anybody else was notified. Just as Rand had expected. very well. Goode began peddling the same line as Varcek and Dunmore before him. "Oh . "On a s ubject of considerable importance to our." Rand took the phone and named himself into it. After easing himself into a chair." Rand began answering his que stions in order. it's ho t in here!" Ten minutes later. the n picked it up." "Good heavens!" Goode was considerably shaken.body. I won 't have to interrupt my work so much. I think that's really a good idea. withou t any unnecessary publicity? But this other matter. Tip's staying at the Jarrett p lace tonight. I'll see you directly." Ritter was grinning as Rand hung up. at the moment. There's nobody at home now but Mrs. and it's imperative that we discuss it privately." Rand regretted. "When did you discover this." he approved. shall I say. Could you find time to drop over." He mopped his face again. and then you can pound the table and ye ll at them all you want to. "Neither you. mutual clients. of course. "This is the Fleming residence. because I wanted t o get evidence to justify an arrest first. I'm trying to get things straightene d out. putting on his character again. Ritter let it go for several rings. "I would like to talk to you privately. yes indeed. Did Rand believe that Lane Fleming had reall
. sir? When Rand said there wouldn't. everything ha s been recovered. Ritter ushered in Humphrey Goode. "Damn. sir. I thought it would be a good idea to have him within reach for a w hile. Goode. and inquired if there woul d be anything further. I'll tell him you're calling . now. Fleming's death. suppose you come over here. Colonel Rand is right here. he went down the spir al. Walters. getting my list revised. "I got a call from Pierre Jarrett." he finished. "The old Hitler technique. sir. sometime this evening?" "Well. make them come to you. "Show him up here. and then take a plant on that spiral stairway out of the library. but there's no use taking chances. "I hope everything was handled quietly. has be en arrested for larceny. Mr. And nothing is missing. and as she's indisposed. The butler. Flemin g." Rand suggested. and straightening out the collection. "Humphrey Goode." That. I don't think this it.
It was Mick McKenna calling. "This gunsmith. had the grace to blush at that. Mick. and each of them wanted to know if I had any re ason to suspect that the. He showed the man who was to see him the entry in his job-book: make. Then it was sold. But w hat brings you around to discuss that." Without giving Goode a chance to gather his wits. model. and was he investigating Fleming's death. "You can probably imagine why he was killed. after all? "I have always believed that Lane Fleming was murdered. since last evening. so I ought to be grat not market manipulation." "I assumed that. Rand scooped it up at the end of the first ring and named himself into it. Your shenani I had to pay. myself. what's your opinion about Fleming's death? After all. Both had t he impression that you were conducting an investigation under cover of your work on the pistol collection. "Well. Dunmore and Mr.. you did go out of your way to create a false impression that he had committed suici de. We all felt that such rumors would reduce the mar ket quotation. Fleming had?" Rand ask ed. Rivers must have. was actually a case of murder. and board chairman of his company. but he doesn't know who to. too. to our advantage." Rand replied. The case is g etting tighter every minute. it was entirely unethical. "Bu t. and wanted to know whether Mrs. separately." Rand nodded. I am investigating the Rivers murder.." "And you denied it. not exactly. "I hope you haven't put her in any more danger than she is now. by doing so. "How's the whoozis doing?"
. "I admit it. and the Fleming murder may be considered as a part thereof. " Goode looked startled. and so a re Mr. serials and all. Well." he said. gans probably chipped a little off the price eful to you. that leads you to suspect the same thing?" "Well... Umholtz. and I'll admit that. still bewildered by Rand's deliberately cryptic hints and a little frigh tened. Varcek. Varcek or Dunmore express any opinion as to the other day. that's why he's still alive. uh. we checked up on that cap-and-ball six-shooter you left with me. thanks.. "I also believe that his murderer killed Arnold Rivers. Fred Dunmore and Anton Varcek came to m y office. "Colonel Rand! Do you actually mean that. You can ask yourself just how sa fe his principal heir is now. giving them the impression that Mrs." he sai d.?" he began. I'm buying all the Premix stock that's out in small blocks. "You were Lane Fleming's attorney. as well. Did either who might have killed Fleming?"
The outside telephone rang before Goode could answer. "I picked up a hundred shares. refinished it for Rivers last summer. He didn't s ell it himself." Goode. tragedy. of course." "You haven't had any trouble yet?" McKenna asked anxiously. fine! And did you get anything out of young Gillis?" Rand asked. now? Did you learn something. "The gun was in Rivers's shop from the time Umholtz rejuvenated it till around the first of November.y been murdered. Fleming or I had empl oyed you to do so. Well." "Oh. But we're talking about murder." Rand sai d. he pressed on: "Well. But this afternoon.
" Rand brightened. Lane Fleming is dead. too." "But you will admit that it would have a dreadful effect on Premix Foods. "It would probably prevent this merger from being consummated. shaking his head sadl y. "Thanks for that. "But can't I appeal to your sense of fairness? Do you want to inflict serious losses on innocent investors merely to avenge one crime?" "I don't approve of murder. I rather got that impression." he said urgently. "I don't know how much Gladys Fleming is paying you to ra ke all this up." Goode said slowly. But it would cause a scandal that would rock the Premix Company to its very foundations." "Oh." he said. to paraphrase Clause witz. "that you're wrecking a ten-mill ion-dollar corporation. "Least of all. of the State Police. Goode rose.. I'll let you out myself. She blew a smoke-ring at him in greeting as he entered. come!" Rand reproved. "Pardon the interruption. "And which one do you like for the murderer? Or haven't you picked yours. of course. mopping his face again." Goode admitted. I suppose Dunmore and Varcek are each trying to blame the other ." Rand told him." he said. "Serge ant McKenna. as an extension of business by other means. "Well." Good e argued. but he rejected Goode's offer in a man ner which left no room for further discussion. he found Gladys Fleming occupying the chair la tely vacated by the family attorney." he said. At the mo ment. Goode was still gloom y. "That's like talking about starting a hurricane with a palm-leaf fan.. You know." For a moment. To expose his murderer certainly won't. "I made a mistake in trying to bribe you. It's horrible to have to suspect either of them." He accompanied Goode down the front stairway to the door." he said.. but I'll gladly double her fee if you drop it and confine yourse lf to the matter of the collection. One in which you. that was one kind of money Jeff Rand had never be en tempted to take. Yes. he managed to choke down his anger. sorrowfully. yes.
. "I suppose you realize. are a stockholder... Look he re. Then: "Colonel Rand." He got to his feet along with the lawye r. "And the biggest wrecking jobs I ever did before were a couple of petrol dumps and a railroad bridge. somebody might take that as a precedent and bump y ou off to win a lawsuit. yourself. if we let Lane Flemi ng's killer get away with it. "It must have been one or the other. It might even disast rously affect the market as a whole. "No need to call the butler. he stared unseeingly at the litter of high-priced pistols on the d esk." Rand told him. yet?" "You mean." He hung up and turned back to Goode. Ever think of that?" When he returned to the gunroom.. Well. The officer who made the arrest on Walters and Gwinnett. sometime. An offer of that sort invariably made him furious." Even in his colossal avarice."About as you might expect. and nothing either of us can do will bring him back. But I can't think.
and go somewhere . I never was what the soap-operas call being 'in love' with Lane. "But under the circumstances. anyhow? You wanted me to investigate your husband's murder. "It's a question of face. with one thing and another." Gladys s aid." Rand told her. when you were talking to me in my office. And then somebody ki lled him.. a little while ago. How do you like Davies. he won't get awa y with it." she replied. covering Humphrey Goode with a small but particularly evil-looking automatic ." "I ought to be sore at you. You will catch him. Goode's beginning to become unamusing. didn't you?" "I--I hadn't a thing to go on. you'd find something. "I' ve taken a lot of cases on flimsier grounds than this. It w on't help him. by the way. I'm afraid I'm thankful. won't you?" Rand nodded." Rand evaded. "I ought to be indignant with you. Your op's a good egg. I suspected something of the sort from the alacrity with which you produ ced him. "Maybe I should have turned Walte rs over for trial by family court-martial. I thought that if you came here and started working on the collection." Rand chuckled. he's cute. Tomorrow. and finding him squatting on the top of the spir al. There's likely to be some uproar. The fact is. filling my house with spies. You know. in the morning." she sa id. Maybe you'd better be away from home when it does. as though humorin g the vagaries of a child. I think the lid's going to blow off. "Well. "I don't think he will. Lane didn 't have accidents with guns. "I was afraid. you practica lly told me it was murder. I'm glad to be able to spend money to help catch whoever did it. I climbed up and squatted beside him. But you can take my word for it. "What was the idea." She smoked in silence for a moment. We have a rented pew--Lane was quite active in ch urch work--and none of us are willing to let ourselves get squeezed out of it." she said. before Walters was out of the house." she co ntinued." he said. "I don't know whether he'll ever go to trial and be convicted. And if he'd wanted to kill himself. "What did you do?" "Oh. "One of your operatives. just as you'd step on a cockroach. if I came out and t old you what I suspected. He gave me everything a girl who grew up i n a sixteen-dollar apartment over a fruit store could want. he's on his way to bring us some drinks." "You should have taken a chance and told me what you suspected.. Take Nelda and Geraldine with you. instead." "Well. retaining me into a mess like this and telling me n othing. Nelda and Geraldine and I are going to church. isn't he?" "Now what in the world gave you an idea like that?" he asked." Gladys told him. because he got in the way of a busi ness deal. that you'd think it was just another case of feminine dam-foolishness.. But what really convinced me was coming into t he library."Now what was Hump Goode up to?" she wanted to know. even Geraldine manages to drag herself to the Lord's House through an
. he'd have done it and left a note explaining why he had to." she replied. W e all go. "I got there just as y ou were telling Goode what he could do with his bribe. all along. I knew it wasn't an accident. but it'll make me feel a lot better." Rand said. and dismiss it as such. "But he was wonderful to me. "And nobody could be as perfect a stage butler as he is. by the way?" "Oh. "I'm taking too much on myself." "Jeff. But I didn't have a single fact to give you.
I didn't find th em. if nothing's happened by the time you get back." she laughed. I'm expecting some action this mornin g. stopping an obje ction. Find anything. and get out of any clea ning-up work till after dinner. "We'll have to wait. a siphon and a couple of bo ttles of beer. "Good morning. When Ritter shook his head. when the women are at church. at ease.alcoholic fog. a bottle of Scotch." "Case Varcek and Dunmore. I hope it'll be over before you're home from church. Not that it makes a who le lot of difference. he continued: "That's probably where they are. It would look funny if we weren't." "Did you look back of the books in the library?" Rand asked. "Yes. T aking the seat he had occupied the evening before. frying sausage and flipping pancakes." "If I'd found them." Ritter broke off suddenly. "Who's out there?" he hissed. carrying a tray on which were a bottle of Bourbon. she hasn't gotten here yet. And don't get the idea that you could help me here. Colonel Rand." "What do you want me to do?" Ritter asked. None of the family is up yet. Will you have yo ur coffee now. sir. then I'd know when the fun was going to start. on Wednesday. "I can stand on my official dignity. giving an un-butler-like hitch at hi s shoulder-holster. "At ease. The blow-off isn't due till this morning. And we'll have to be back in time for dinner. when Rand came down to breakfast the next morning. "Anything new?" Rand shook his head. and a lot of other places." the Perfect Butler greeted him unctuously. he waited until Ritter came o ut of the kitchen through the pantry. Whoever he is. see if either of them is rod-heavy . s ir. or later. of cours e. I want you to talk the g irls into going somewhere with you in the afternoon. sir?" Gladys entered. and I won't have any buttling to do till the wom en get home from church. "I searched Varcek's lab. "I know what I'm talking about. dropping into her chair. The presence of any of you here would onl y delay matters and make it harder for me. after everybody was in bed. wearing the blue tailored outfit she had worn to Rand's office. last night?" Ritter shook his head. CHAPTER 20 The dining-room was empty. the chances are he has them in his room. last night I was safe." Rand jerked a thumb toward the kitchen. "If I may say so." he added. and he'll have to catch me and the fall-guy together. it'd of given me something to watch. when they come in. The maid sleeps out."
. a cigarette in one corner of his mouth. How'd it go last night? You put a dummy under the covers and sleep on the floor?" "No. "Just the cook. and stay away till evening. sir. you're a bit of an early riser." "Well. Premix pancakes. an d I searched the cars in the garage." Then Ritter came in.
that is." Nelda interposed. at once. Ritter coughed delicately. just stop breathing. her hands were trembling. Ritter held her chair and fussed over her." Neither of them mentioned the obvious corollary. "I'm going to put in a quiet morning on the collection." "Watch it!" Ritter warned. "No. You're a big girl. "Oh. he'll convict himself. "I'm not saying that because I'm af raid you might stop a slug yourself. the way I did Walters. ma'am. If nobody gets murdere d or arrested in the meantime. Don't attempt to gulp it. "Don't you remember?" "Oh.
. ma'am. He knows I'm onto him. You and Geraldine a nd Nelda have to be out of the house before he'll feel safe coming out of the gr ass. Lane taught me. Encouraged by Ritter. "Walters could always fix me up." Geraldine looked woebegone. "Now. he wouldn't make a move. It must have been uppermost in Gladys's mind. So he'll try to kill me before I pounce." Nelda came in and sat down." her husband suggested mildly. "Walters. What he doesn't realize is that as long as h e sits tight. instead of going to church?" she ask ed. He set it on the table in front of the sufferer and poured her a cup of coffee. and w hen he does. "Jeff. "My God. for heaven's sake. "Yes. in the morning. He's pretty sure I haven't any real proof . returning shortly with a highball glass fil led with some dark. Nelda was inquiring if Rand wanted to come to church with them." Rand told her." she said. If you'll wait a moment --" He departed on his errand of mercy. "Aren't you?" "More or less. would it help any if I stayed home. Take it gradually. ma'am. you can take your o wn chances. it's quite strong. she managed to down about half of the mixture. just try this. If I hid somewhere with a targe t pistol--" "Absolutely not!" Rand vetoed emphatically. Now what am I going to do?" "You might stop drinking. fix me up something. He realizes that I'm cat-and-mo using him. "Where's Walters?" "Out on bail. quick!" The n she saw Ritter. yet. and in the eighties at timed-and-rapid. "Jeff. he's perfectly safe." Geraldine tasted it and pulled a Gorgon-face. "Who the devil are you?" she demanded. she leaned over and put her hand on Rand's arm. ma'am. that would be better all around. but I've always rawther fawncied myself for an expert on morning-awfter tonics. but he doesn't know how soon I will have. now. do I have a hang over!" she moaned." Rand said . evil-looking potion. that conviction and execution would be almost simultaneous. But if you stayed home. "I'm a pretty fair pistol-shot. if I may suggest. "Begging your pardon.She looked at him seriously. ma'am. He was bringing in her fruit when Varcek and Geraldi ne entered. you're using yourself as murder-bait. I'm one of the boys the chaplain couldn't find in the foxholes. I can stay over ninety at sl ow fire. you did this to me!" she accused. finding out what she wanted to eat.
if you're investigating the death of Mr. "What is it? I feel as though I m ight live. Finally Gladys looked at her watch and called a truce to the skirmishing by announcing that it was time to start for church. throug hout the meal." "Yes?" Goode's voice fairly shook. splendid!" he cheered her on." he identified himself. a few min utes later. "Then you're going to drop the investigation ?" "No. a New York stockbroker. He was standing at the window as the big Packard moved out onto the drive. "Mr. Davies. how can th at be kept in the background?" Goode wanted to know. Would that satisfy you? It would require some very careful manipulatio n on my part. Rand gave it back. When Dunmore came in." "Well. ma'am. and Gladys. more coffee. "Do be careful. and watched the car swing a round the house. Then he turned into the library and we nt up the spiral to the gunroom. Then he mopped his face with a wad of Kleenex and went over to the room-temperature thermostat. The newcomer sat down without a word. Goode. here. Jeff. And now. after all. I've been thinking over our co nversation of last evening. that's wonderful!" She lit a cigarette." Nelda said. In fact. I'm a small. stockholder in Premix." Rand assured her.. Neld a was at the wheel. beside her on the front seat. With a dash of prussic acid adde d. "You r recipe seems to be just what Geraldine needs. ma'am." she whispered. "Don't worry. Poor man: he did himself in in the autumn of 1929. A maid answered.. I will. myself. it's too bad you won't be with us permanently. See here. and your cooperation." "But. I think that the whole question of the death of Lane Fleming might possibly be kept in the ba ckground. Goode." R
. "Now. the two sisters were stalking one another through the jungle. a moment later he was talking to the Fleming lawyer. drink your coffee. But I believe a formula could be evolved which would keep the Premix Company and its affairs out of it.. Gladys brushed against him quickly and gripped his left arm. As you reminded me. Sitting down at the desk. "Why. in the hall. she even managed to smile. and even if I weren't. As she set down the empty cup. "Rand. but without the raw e gg. which I consider a needless embellishment. Fleming. There is a great deal to be said for the position yo u're taking in the matter. of course."Splendid. I can't do that. ma'am. Rand left the room with the lad ies. if purely speculativ e." "A recipe of my own. while the three women went down to the garage. he dialed Humphrey Goode's number on the private outs ide line." Geraldine struggled through with the black draft and drank the second cup of co ffee. and then finish it. That's right. I should hate to be res ponsible for undeserved losses by innocent investors. "The murderer of Lane Fleming is also guilty of the murder of Arnold Rivers. a variant on the old Prairie Oyster. ma'am." That got the bush-fighting off to a good start. turning it down to sixty. Mr. he and Varcek treated one another with silent and hostile suspici on. raised a white-glo ved hand in the thumbs-up salute. blow-g unning poison darts back and forth. I learned it in the househ old of a former employer.
"Are yo u sure?" "I'm not sure of anything. and had been about to have him dismissed from his position with the company. I can hardly guarantee that." Rand nodded." Varcek said. Varcek came over and sat down in an armchair near the desk. where I can reach you at any moment. He was looking more than ever like Rudolf Hess. and sat for almost fifteen minutes pretending to study it. then terminated the call and hung up. the steps toward gunfire were progressing in logical series. Why didn't Fred come to me with t his?" he asked. "I suppose that he killed Rivers in order to prevent the latter from incriminating him. Finally.
. Rudolf Hess on th e morning of the Beer Hall Putsch. he had had a conversation with some unnamed gentleman at the party last evening . a nd to sever his personal connections with him. for one thing. I'll c all you later. "Fred Dunmore tur ned to me and apologized for harboring unjust suspicions of me in the matter of Lane Fleming's death. among other things. now!" Rand gave a good imitation of surprise. but its importan ce is inescapable. Then he transferred the Colt . now. and had been involved with him in a number of dishonest transactions. for the rest of the day." he began. I have my agency license to think of. and Anton Varcek came in. Murder is punished capitally. until you had pointed out to him that the house could hav e been entered from the garage. to misconduct the suit which Lane was bringing a gainst Rivers about a pair of pistols he had bought from Rivers. p icked up one of the sheets on which he had been listing the collection. He had been expecting somebody to give birth to an important devel opment. he said. "What sort of jiggery -pokery was Goode up to?" "Fred said that his informant told him that Lane had proof that Goode had accep ted a bribe from Arnold Rivers. Now. He said that he had been unable to understand who else cou ld have murdered Lane. within the last half hour. now." He listened to Goode babble his gratitude for a while. which could not very gracefull y be itemized--and I will have to have your cooperation. the hall door opened. the death of Fleming might even remain an accident. coveri ng the Czech from his side pocket. been a most im portant development. and the gunroom from the library.and stated. also. "Well?" He smiled encouragingly. "I know that positively. I want you to rema in at home. "There has. It'll cost the Premix Company some money to get this done--I'll have certain expenses. If our man goes to the chair for the death of Ri vers. "Colonel Rand. and had learned that Lane had discovered that Humphrey Goode was deceiving him . Colonel Rand!" Goode's voice shook even more." Rand said. on no matter how many counts.38 to the side pocket of his coat. It seems that G oode was Rivers's attorney. But I feel reas onably safe in saying that I could keep the Premix Company from figuring in the case. Would that satisfy you?" "It most certainly would. Then. keeping his eyes shifting fro m the hall door to the spiral stairway and back again. although the connection had been kept secret. I am at a loss to define its significance." "That's a new angle." "The devil. "What happened?" "After you and the ladies left the dining-room. and one of the peculiarities of capital punishment is that it can be inflicted only once . Rand half rose.
somehow. "Let's go down and talk to him now. See result on floor. almost knocking him down." Rand agreed. "Yes. the burden of suspic ion would lie on me and Fred Dunmore. in the library. then. now. After a glance which assure d him that Fred Dunmore was beyond any further action of any sort. and maybe he thought that people might begin thinking tha t the murder had some connection with the affairs of the company. and the sound of feet desc ending into the library. you've showed me that. He rushed forward. "I couldn't follow him in . that would be both foolish and dangerous. still looking like the Perfect B utler in spite of the ." "That's possible. When he saw mine." Rand got to his feet. just in time to see him coming down. was standing in the hall doorway . He staggered. then swung up the Colt he had drawn from his pocket and bla zed two shots into the stairway. I believe. it happened before he could prevent it. Dave." He thought of his recent conversation with Humphrey Goode. he laid the s quare-butt Detective Special on the floor beside him. You winged him in the right shoulder." the Czech said. "And what's your own attitude?" "Colonel Rand. I suggest that you and I go down a nd have a talk with him. and he had your gat in his left hand. There was a clatter. to get down the steep spiral. also. lay Fred Dunmore. nobody's going to have a chance to bamboozle a jury into acquitt ing him. if you will. midway between the stairway and the door. Rand felt something sledge-hammer him in the chest." "Uh-uh. Except for the fact tha t somebody could have entered the house through the garage. behind him. "War's over!" He managed. "Now. he'd dropped the . Yet. I suppose he was concerned about the possibility of repercussions in the business world." Ritter reported." They walked side by side toward the spiral. "Then he was lying ab out this evidence against Goode. After all. who was following. I cannot allow these facts to be suppressed." Varcek repli ed. I came in. revolver poised." "Well. "You did all right. When I heard you blasting upstairs. of course. do you want me to help you with it?" Rand asked. Jeff!" Ritter's voice called out. almost lost in the click-click of the breech -action." he said.380 Beretta in his hand. The little ." he heard Varcek. followed by three more in quick succession.38 Colt. lifting the stubby revolver clear of his pocket. Ritter. His tan coat and vest were turning dark in several places. if you hadn't been on the job."Eh?" Evidently Varcek hadn't thought of that. "Why.25 Webley & Scot t was lying on the bottom step. so I took a plant in the hall. and then a shot boo med from below. he'd have gotten away. keeping his hand on the . "He came in here and shut the door. say. Maybe you could show him the folly of trying to suppres s any facts concerning Lane's death. I gave him three back for it. Rand keeping on the right and laggi ng behind a little." "Yes.25. On the floor." he repeated. loo
. he thre w one at me and missed. to avoid it. "Fred is downstairs. and cautioned Varcek. Goode is our board chairman. Then he picked up his own revolver and holstered it. A lance of yellow fire jumped out of the shadows of the stairway." The Czech came over and stood beside Rand. "M y own position is too vulnerable. he pushed it aside with his foot." he told Ritter. "You did ju st all right. and there was a soft cough of a silenced pistol. "So it was Fred. It would be helping yourself. in spi te of his vigilance. "Okay. and Rand's own Detective Special was lying a few inches from his left hand.
and Humphrey Goode." Rand enlightened Varcek. "Sure." Ritter leaned forward for the light. If you'd killed Lane Fleming. "I hope you didn't leave your lighter upstairs. While I'm doing it. and why did he shoot at us when we were together?" "Both for the same general reason. " I mean your knowledge of biology and biochemistry. or it could have been overcome." He turned to Ritter." He reached under the latter garment and rummaged. not three weeks ago. Tel
. "He didn't come within a yard of me.king down at the body of his late brother-in-law. "I knew one or the other of you would. I'm damn near stewed alive in it. I'll never wear one again. "With both of us dead." "Think how hot you'd be." Rand explained about the two pistols and th e planned double-killing. right now. in that order. and I'd be a martyr to law-and-order. he hit you! You're wounded !" "Only in the necktie. Right through the necktie. not as long as both of you ate at the same table. holding the flame out to his assistant. ligh ting up the mawster is part of his duties. He held it out to show to Varcek and Ritter. "Why. I'm going upstairs. "Does your grandmother make patchwork quilts? If she does. "I never wore one of the damn things before. "Seven dollars and fifty cents I paid for that tie. as though to evict a small tresp asser. you'd be the murderer. "But why did he tell me that s tory. "the Perfect Butler always has a lighter in good working order. and he scored a twelve-o'clock center on you. and he'd be in the clear. "Then you knew. "Dave." "I'm wearing a bulletproof vest." Rand replied. at the Jarrett place." Ritter grinned at Varcek. Remember that." Rand replied. Mick McKenna loaned it to me yesterday. and Mick McKenna." Ritter remi nded him. if you hadn't been wearing it. Then he burst into a roar of obscene blasphemy. "Dave. since yesterday." "My God!" Varcek stared at Rand unbelievingly. too." Rand glanced down." Rand reassured him. He'd have just died. "I had quite a few reason s for thinking it might be Dunmore. there'd have been no clumsy business of fake accidents. he was holding a battered ." he told Rand. I want to get out of this damne d coat of mail I'm wearing. "Dunmore was a better shot with his right hand than he was with his left. that he would do this?" Varcek asked. an unimpeachably natural death. and if I can he lp it. Rand produced and snapped it." he co ncluded. and one good one for not suspecting you. I want you to call Carter Tipton .25-caliber bulle t." h e lectured. "Didn't you know? Superman. she can have it. "I have a hole in my shirt." Varcek regarded the dead man with more distaste than surprise." he commented. the next time you have a buttling job." "You mean my dislike for firearms?" "That could have been feigned. Ritter holstered the Beretta and g ot out a cigarette. Evidently his ex periences in Hitler's Europe had left him with few illusions about the sanctity of human life or the extent of human perfidy. When he brought out his hand.
There were soft murmurs of. and whitewash brushes slurped suavely. an almost complete bust. and mention was made of "the well known preference of a certai n notorious private detective for the procedure of habeas cadaver.. and emitting stranger noises. The unseen screws of political pressure creaked." and "flagrant white wash. at a range of ten feet." and ".. found it occupied by the State Police.. did receive the aforesaid gunshot-wounds. convergi ng on the Fleming house. then subsided. to contract with the Tri-State A gency for the protection of his payroll deliveries. events transpired through a thickening miasma of r umors. w ho had hitherto resisted Rand's sales pressure. There was a series of pronunciamentos from the office of District Attorney Charles P. loomed out of the murk: ". "Now... being in mortal fear for their several lives. and then the Iron Curtain slammed down . finally. and the hollow thumps of denials.. and the said Frederick Parker Dunmo re. at the hands of the said Jefferson Davis Rand and at the hands of the said Davi d Abercrombie Ritter . the said Jefferson Davis Rand and the said Da vid Abercrombie Ritter.l Goode to get over here as fast as he can. On the whole. or what? And wasn't there something funny about the way Lane F leming got killed. did so act in defense of their several persons. fitfully lit by the glare of newsmen's photo-bulbs. a ll full of high-order abstractions and empty of meaning. or was somebody covering up for somebody . from a journalistic standpoint. of the New Belfast Evening Mercury.. no protracted tri al.. the Mercury exploited this scoop for al l it was worth. deceased. Carter Tipton and Farnsworth. with a 12-gaug e pump-gun. officially attested an d indisputable... journalistic conjectures. wearing a suit of butler's livery and standing in the doorway of the garage. And there was an insistent yammering of bewildered and unanswered questions." The principa l result of this outcry was to persuade an important New Belfast manufacturer. Only one monolithic fact. already pretty well withered on the vin e. tell him we have to consider ways and means of implementing my suggestion to him. which sheet the said Jefferson Davis Rand had once cost th e loss of an expensive libel-suit and exposed in certain journalistic malpractic es verging upon blackmail. hereinbefore enumerated. The Rosemont Bayonet Murder.. Fred D unmore really had killed Arnold Rivers. observed Dave Ritter.
. or had Dunmore been double-crossing Rivers? Som ebody had stolen ten--or was it twenty-five--thousand dollars' worth of old pist ols? Or was it just twenty-five thousand dollars? Or what. last December? The surviving members of the Fleming family issued a few noncommittal statement s through their attorney.. using a 30-power spotting -'scope from the road.. no sensational revelations. if anything." were used. who kept them at bay. this is strictly off the record . Humphrey Goode. and outright fabrications . Farnsworth. There had been no arrest. The terms: "legalized slaughter. bulking with strange shape s. had been stolen? Was somebody being framed for something . talking to Sergean t McKenna.. ". the Rosemont Bayonet Murder was. Then." followed by sibilant whispers. official communiques... no hearing." CHAPTER 21 In the month which followed. The reporters. Mick McKenna gave an outraged squawk or so. whom he recognized." and.. at the other end of the state." The Evening Mercury. hadn't he? Or had he? Arnold Rivers had been double-crossing Dunmore . Harry Bentz. promptly burst into print with an indignant editorial entitled Trial by Pistol. There were the portentous rumblings of prepared statements. the professor of Moral Science at a small theological seminary caught his wife in flagrante delicto with one of the fourth -year students and opened fire upon them. passed quietly into limbo. the said Frederick P arker Dunmore did die. and come up to my room..
Malcolm." Trehearne said. "No need hashing over how we all feel about this. and the mercury column of the thermometer was stretching it self up toward the ninety mark. Mrs. ob viously detached from the bustle of pre-departure preparations. that offer of Kendall's would have had us stopped as dead as Rivers's had. Only Gladys and Rand. gathering up three empty pas teboard cartons and telescoping them together. that was some party!" the Negro chuckled. Shall I go mix the cocktails now?" "Yes. gathered about the five parked cars. and Gladys came over. In the drawing-room. Buck Pendexter. He ex tended his hand to Rand. a streamer of pipe-smoke floating back over his shoulder. then turned to Rand.* * * * * Summer. do that. They were all outside. The trees were in full leaf and invaded by nesting birds. Pierre's mother. Mrs. halted be side him. J eff?" "Oh. carrying a package-filled orange crate. Then. is a prominent personage in New Belfast c olored lodge circles. were standing to one side." He got out his cigarettes. was already a fait accompli . Trehearne. the air was fragrant with flower scents. the day of the blow-up. all I had to do was phone him. "Haven't you got your stuff packed yet. "I notice you're having c ocktails in the drawing-room now. Reuben." Irene Gresham burst out. when the good-by's had been said. not the l east of your capabilities is your knack of finding servant-replacements on short notice. let's go help Jeff pack! You're going to have dinner with us. "Dinner'll be ready in about half an hour. Colin MacBride. and Gladys Fleming. and the gingerbread-brown butler were left. I have some more details to clear up. joined him. Fleming. with Mrs. almost a month before its official opening." Mrs. The new Fleming butle r. one by one the rest of the group converged upon them. offered them. "My general factotum. and the stylish-stout Mrs. with another crate between them. they parted. Jarrett. while his twelve-yearold son. Fleming. in fact."
. and I'm in his way. everyb ody. aren't you." She watched the servant carry the discarded containers around the house." she told him. "You know. I'm having dinner here. my. talking. And Rand had finished helping Adam Trehearne pack the last c ontainer of his share of the Fleming collection into his car. and the promi ses to meet again had been given. One by one the cars moved slowly down the driveway to the road." Rand regretted. was helping Philip C abot carry a big laundry hamper full of newspaper-wrapped pistols to his Cadilla c. Trehearne. Five hundred dollars deader. "When your cook and maid quit on you. a short and somewhat globular Negro with a gingerbread-crust complexion and a n air of affable dignity. was peering into his l uggage-compartment to check the stowage of his own cargo. Jeff?" Gresham asked. "I'll pack my stuff later." Rand said. and he did the rest. His wife and daughter. and snapped his lighter. where the long shadow of the Fleming house fell across t he lawn and driveway. "My. was helping Pierre Jarrett and Karen Lawrence put a co uple of cartons and a tall peach-basket into Pierre's Plymouth. sorry. another black Highlander like his father. If it hadn't been for you. "I see Colin's about ready to leave." Stephen Gresham. standing at the foot of the front steps. "Jeff's been helping everybody else. "Come on. setting do wn his burden.
. "My dear lady." she began. tasting his cocktail.. I imagine Colin MacBride is honing up his sgian-dhu for me because I got th at big Whitneyville Walker Colt.34's. "They'd agreed to tak e your valuation. from some dealer up in Massachusetts. hadn't they? And all that slide-rule and comptometer business. I'll stop imagining I see Fred Dunmore's blood on the library floor. off the dining-r oom.. Adam Trehearne." "The client is entitled to a full report. finally. and there was five thousand from Humphrey Goode." "Why. and hastily de clared the collection sold. Gladys refilled it from the shaker . Of course." "That's all right. The cocktails were waiting when they entered the drawing-room. none of that crowd are millionair es. who's the plutocrat of the bunch. isn't so filthy rich he do esn't know what to do with all his money--what the tax-collectors leave of it--a nd the rest of them have to figure pretty closely. "I'm afraid dinner's going to be a little later than I said." Motioning Rand down on the lounge beside her. with all those people here. So I put four thousand into the pot. "We won't need anything more.40 with the ramming-lever. Fleming. Reu ben. we can wait. my getting into it meant that much less f or everybody else. worth about twenty-nine thousand. But Jeff--four thousand dollars?" she queried. Not that I'm inclined to look askance at an extra five hundred--I c an buy a new hat with my share of that. which I suppose he'll get the Prem ix Company to repay him. I think the division was fair enough. Sh all we go in?" she asked. And I might add." Rand said. m yself. even after taxes--but I would like to kn ow what happened. for pulling the b loodhounds of the D. "Things were kind of stirred up." Gladys said. today. "You know. I got used to what had happened in the gunroom last December. And I seem to recal l that the late unlamented Rivers's offer of twenty-five thousand straight had t hem stopped. And then. bringing the total to five hundred over the Kendall offer. It was a vodka Martini. but five-sixths of a collection is better than no pistols at all. that's only one of many things I'd like to kn ow. ." he confessed. taking Rand's arm."Yes. that five thousand I unblushingly accepted from you was only par t of it. my connection with this business brought that mer ger to my attention. a nd you can't run a detective agency on old pistols. on Saturday. and I picked up a hundred shares of Premix at 73-1/4. "Now. the top offer for the collection was twenty-five thousand five hundred. and very good. "You only got five from me.A. in time. "There was also a fee of three thousand from Stephen Gresham.'s office off his back in the matter of Arnold Rivers. The most they could possibly scratch together was twenty-two thousand. And. and n ow I have two hundred shares of Mill-Pack. but what the hell. The butler poured for them and put the glasses and the shaker on a low tabl e by a lounge." she replied." Rand grinned as he set down his empty glass. you came bounding in wit h Stephen Gresham's certified check for twenty-six thousand. and the Texas ." he apologized. I suppose. I'd say I could afford to tr eat myself to a few old pistols for my collection. Mrs. whi ch I can report for my income tax as capital gains. she handed him a glass and lifted her own. he got the cased pair of Pat erson . for engineering the suppression of a lot of facts he wa nted suppressed. "Just what sort of skulduggery has been going on? As of Frida y.
"Well!" She raised both eyebrows over that. "Don't anybody tell me crime doesn' t pay." "Yes. In my ghoulish way, I generally manage to bear myself in mind, on an oper ation like this. I make no secret of my affection for money." He lifted his glas s and sipped slowly. "Look here, Gladys; are you satisfied with the way this was handled?" She shrugged. "I should be. When I started out as Lane's blood-avenger, I suppo se I expected things to end somewhere out of sight, in a nice, antiseptic deathchamber at the state penitentiary. You must admit that that business in the libr ary was really bringing it home. There's no question that you got the man who ki lled Lane, and if you hadn't, I'd never have been at peace with myself. And I su ppose all that chicanery afterward was necessary, too." "It was, if you wanted that merger to go through, and unless you wanted to see the bottom drop out of your Premix stock," Rand assured her. "If the true facts of Mr. Fleming's death had gotten out, there'd have been a simply hideous stink. The Mill-Pack people would have backed out of that merger like a bear out of an active bee-tree.... You know what the situation really was, don't you?" She shook her head. "I know Mill-Pack wanted to get control of the Premix Compa ny, and Lane refused to go in with them. I don't fully understand his reasons, t hough." "They weren't important; they were mainly verbal, and unrelated to actuality," Rand said. "The important thing is that he did refuse, and Mill-Pack wanted that merger so badly that it could be tasted in every ounce of food they sold. They got Stephen Gresham to negotiate it for them, and he was just on the point of re porting it to be an impossibility when Fred Dunmore came to him with a propositi on. Dunmore said he thought he could persuade or force Mr. Fleming to consent, a nd he wanted a contract guaranteeing him a vice-presidency with Mill-Pack, at fo rty thousand a year, if and when the merger was accomplished. The contract was d uly signed about the first of last November." "Well, good Lord!" Gladys Fleming's eyes widened. "When did you hear about that ?" "I got that out of Gresham, a couple of days after the blow-up, when it was too late to be of any use to me," Rand said. "If I'd known it from the beginning, i t might have saved me some work. Not much, though. Gresham was just as badly sca red about the facts coming out as Goode was. I can't prove collusion between him and Goode, but Gresham was helping spread the suicide story, too." "Nice friends Lane had! But didn't anybody think there was something odd about that accident, immediately after that contract was signed?" "Of course they did, but try and get them to admit it, even to themselves. Nobo dy likes to think that the new vice president of the company murdered his way in to the position. So everybody assumed the attitudes of the three Japanese monkey s, and made respectable noises about what a great loss Mr. Fleming was to the bu siness world, and how lucky Dunmore was that he had that contract." She looked at him inquiringly for a moment. "Jeff, I want you to tell me exactl y how everything happened," she said. "I think I have a right to know." "Yes, you have," he agreed. "I'll tell you the whole thing, what I actually kno w, and what I was forced to guess at:
"When this merger idea first took shape, last summer, Dunmore saw how unalterab ly opposed to it Mr. Fleming was, and he began wishing him out of the way. Some time later, he decided to do something about it. I suppose Anton Varcek gave him the idea, in the first place, with his jabber about the danger of a firearms ac cident. Dunmore decided he'd fix one up for Mr. Fleming. First of all, he'd need a firearm, collector's type and in good working order. It couldn't be one of th e guns in the collection. He'd have to keep it loaded all the time, waiting for an opportunity to use it; he couldn't take a weapon out of the collection, becau se it would be missed, and he couldn't load one and hang it up again, because th at would be discovered. So he had to get one of his own, and he got it from Arno ld Rivers." "You know that? I mean, that's not just a guess?" "I know it. The gun he got from Rivers was a .36 Colt, 1860 Navy-model, serial number 2444," Rand told her. "Rivers had that gun last summer. He had it refinis hed by a gunsmith named Umholtz. After Umholtz refinished it, the gun was in Riv ers's shop until November of last year, when it was sold by Rivers personally. A nd that was the revolver that was found in Lane Fleming's hand, and the one I go t from the coroner, with a letter vouching for the fact that it had been so foun d." He finished his cocktail. Gladys picked up the shaker mechanically and refilled his glass. "Now we have Dunmore with this .36 Colt, loaded with powder, caps and bullets f rom the ammunition supply in the gunroom, waiting for a chance to use it. And al so, he has this Mill-Pack contract in his safe deposit box at the bank. That tak es care of the weapon and the motive; only the opportunity is needed, and that c ame on the 22nd of December, when Mr. Fleming brought home that Confederate Leec h & Rigdon .36 he had just bought. It was just a piece of luck that both revolve rs were alike in caliber and general type, but it wouldn't have made a lot of di fference. Nobody was paying much attention to details, and Dunmore was on the sc ene to misdirect any attention anybody would pay to anything. "Now, we come to the mechanics of the thing; the modus operandi, or, as it is p rofessionally known, the M.O. You remember what happened that evening. Nelda had gone out. You and Geraldine were listening to the radio in the parlor, over the re. Varcek had gone up to his lab. Mr. Fleming was alone in the gunroom, working on his new revolver. And Fred Dunmore said he was going to take a bath. What he did, of course, was to draw a tub full of water, undress, put on his bathrobe a nd slippers, hide the .36 Colt under the bathrobe, and then go across the hall t o the gunroom, where he found Mr. Fleming sitting on that cobbler's bench, putti ng the finishing touches on the Leech & Rigdon. So he fired at close range, wipe d the prints off the Colt with an oily rag, put it in Lane Fleming's right hand, put the rag in his left, grabbed up the Leech & Rigdon, and scuttled back to hi s bathroom, deadlatching and shutting the gunroom door as he went out. This last , of course, was a delaying tactic, to give him time to establish his bathtub al ibi." He lifted the cocktail glass to his lips. These vodka Martinis were strong, and three of them before dinner was leaning way over backward maintaining the tradi tion of the hard-drinking private eye, but Gladys was working on her third, and no client was going to drink him under. "So, in the privacy of his bathroom, he kicked out of his slippers, threw off h is robe, hid the Leech & Rigdon, probably in a space between the tub and the wal l that I found while we were searching the house, the night before the shooting of Dunmore, and jumped into the tub, there to await developments. As soon as he heard Varcek's uproar in the hall, he could emerge, dripping bathwater and innoc
ence, to find out what the fuss was all about.... Do you know anything about som ething called General Semantics?" he asked suddenly. "Yes. Before I married Lane, I went around with a radio ad-writer," she told hi m. "He was a nice boy, but he'd get drunker than a boiled owl about once a month , and weep about his crimes against sanity and meaning. He'd recite long excerpt s from his professional creations, and show how he had been deliberately objecti fying words and identifying them with the things for which they stood, and confu sing orders of abstraction, and juggling multiordinal meanings. He was going to lend me his Koran, a book called Science and Sanity_, and then he took a job wit h an ad agency in Chicago, and I got married, and--" Rand nodded. "Then you realize that the word is not the thing spoken of, and th at the inference is not the description, and that we cannot know 'all' about any thing. Etcetera," he added hastily, like a Papist signing himself with the Cross . "Well, some considerable disregard of these principles seems to have existed i n this case. Dunmore is seen in a bathrobe, his feet bare and making wet tracks on the floor, his hair wet, etcetera. Straightaway, one and all appear to have a ssumed that he was in the tub, splashing soapsuds around, while Lane Fleming was being shot. And Anton Varcek, who can be taken as an example of what S. I. Haya kawa was talking about when he spoke of people behaving like scientists inside b ut not outside their laboratories, saw Lane Fleming dead, with an object labeled 'revolver' in his hand, and, because of his verbal identifications and semantic reactions, immediately included the inference of an accident in his description of what he had seen. That was just an extra dividend of luck for Dunmore; it go t the whole crowd of you thinking in terms of accidental shooting. "Well, from there out, everything would have been a wonderful success for Dunmo re, except for one thing. Arnold Rivers must have heard, somehow, that Lane Flem ing had been shot with a Confederate .36 that he'd bought somewhere that day, an d that the revolver was in the hands of this coroner of yours. So Arnold, with h is big chisel well ground, went to see if he could manage to get it out of the c oroner for a few dollars. And when he saw it, lo! it was the .36 Colt that he'd sold to Dunmore about a month before." Gladys set down her glass. "So!" she said. "Things begin to explain themselves! " "You may say so, indeed," Rand told her. "And what do you suppose Rivers did wi th this little item of information? Why, as nearly as I can reconstruct it, he d id a very foolish thing. He tried to blackmail a man who had committed a murder. He told Fred Dunmore he'd keep his mouth shut about the .36 Colt, if Dunmore wo uld get him the Fleming collection. He wanted that instead of cash, because he c ould get more out of it, in a few years, than Dunmore could ever scrape, and in the meantime, the prestige of handling that collection would go a long way towar d repairing his rather dilapidated reputation. Fred should have bumped him off, right then; it would have been the cheapest and easiest way out, and he'd probab ly be alive and uncaught today if he had. But he was willing to pay ten thousand dollars to save himself the trouble, and that's what he told you Rivers had off ered for the collection. The ten thousand Dunmore told you Rivers was willing to pay was really the ten thousand he was willing to pay, himself, to keep Rivers quiet. "Then I was introduced into the picture, and, as you know, one of my first acts was to go to Rivers's shop and sneer scornfully at Rivers's supposed offer of t en thousand. And, right away, Rivers upped it to twenty-five thousand. You'll re call, no doubt, that Mr. Fleming had a life-insurance policy, one of these partn ership mutual policies, which gave both Dunmore and Varcek exactly twenty-five t housand apiece. I assume that Rivers had found out about that.
Rivers was quite willing to let me have it until he found out that I would be staying at this house." Gladys remarked. and to get rid of it. One would have thought." "I'll bet your conscience bothers you about that. you remember Dunmore's angry incredulity when I told him that Rivers was offering twenty-five thousand instead of ten thousand. the only people who knew were Rivers and Dunmore. sure. verba lly defined as a 'gray Plymouth coupé' in Rivers's drive at the estimated time of the murder. It hasn't been established just how Rivers got the Leech & Rigdon. it's been gnawing hell out of me. who had seen the revolver Mr. Pierre Jarrett has a car of that sort.' so Farnsworth and Mick McKenna and the rest of th em bemused themselves with suspects like Stephen Gresham and Pierre Jarrett. Probably to devise ways and means o f dealing with the Jeff Rand menace. and I knew that if Mr. ever since.38 and that . I assume that Dunmore gave it to Rivers as a so rt of down payment on Rivers's silence. for an ostensible reason.25 automatic. Fleming had bought. "So that night. I walked in on hi m. as he was completing the call. and then he tried to back out of the sale and offered me seventy-five dollars' credit on anything else in the shop. he would sh are in the higher price being paid for the collection. with a bayonet. I'd l ike to check up on what picture-shows Dunmore had been seeing in the week or so before the killing. "But. without knowing what anybody else was offering for the collection. Fleming's death had been murder. River s had in his shop a . and ignored Dunmore. So I showed the gun I'd bought from Rivers to Philip Cabot. in the gunroom." Rand told her cheerfu lly. "Well. The bayonet is defined. as Nelda's husband. He called him on the phon e as soon as he left the table--here I'm speaking by the book. I daresay I signed Arnold Rivers's death-warrant. "Well. that it was peculiar that Rivers would jump his own of fer up. that it wasn't his own money he was being so generous with."
. Dunmore decided to kill Rivers. And there was another incident. But he had evidently assumed that already. that piqued my curiosity. And speaking of confusing orders of abstraction. while I was at Rivers's shop. in some way as circumstances would permit. That was all he needed to tell him that I was onto the murder. so they included the inferent ial idea of Pierre Jarrett's ownership of the car so described. on the face of it. Of course. his reaction becomes quite understandable. and never wil l be. I owe Mick for my life. but my main idea in buyin g it was the possibility that I might use it. right away. I see . right th ere. At that. Fleming had been about to start suit against Rivers over a crooked deal Rivers had put over on him. and both are in the prov erbial class of non-talebearers. though I didn't know it at the time--and arranged to see him that evening. "Oh. and was planning to double-kill me and Anto n Varcek. and he recognized it. if I hadn't been wearing that b ulletproof vest of McKenna's. Mick McKenna and h is merry men pulled a classic in that line. I thought at the time that it was curious that two Confederate arms of the same type and make should show up this far north. to throw a scare into somebody. I'll have to buy him a dri nk. that was after he'd asse mbled my . now. I showed Fred Dunmore the Le ech & Rigdon.36 Leech & Rigdon revolver. They saw Dunmore's automobile. that's about all there is to it. I'll bet anything he'd been to one of these South-Pacific ba nzai-operas. I'd known that Mr. and probably onto him as t he murderer. if I'd return it to him. And here we have some mo re Aristotelian confusion of orders of abstraction. that he would have been glad. and told him it was the gun I'd gotten from the coroner. to square that. verb ally. sometime. as a 'soldier's weapon. there had been a substitution of revolvers. at the time."I thought. Dunmore killed Rivers. But when you realize that Rivers was buying the collection out of Dunmore's pocket. who'd never had an hour's military training in his life. Fleming had brought home the evening he wa s killed. and I had been informed that it was a revolver of that type that Mr. he'd have probably killed me. Well.
" She set down her glass and leaned back comfortably. and he was going to hand in his notice. And she's been talking about going to New York hersel f. how about Walters. so he started higrading the collection. they went into the dining-room." Rand mentioned. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyri ght royalties. Mrs.gutenberg. Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a U nited States copyright in these works. "Peace. but she feels that her own life could be best led away from here. reports. as she puts it. "I suppose he decided. Geraldine went with him. "Oh.
. appeared in the dining-room doorway. Redistribution is subject to the trademar k license. Fleming's death. of course." Gladys nodded. complying with the rules is very easy.org/1/ 7/8/6/17866/ Produced by Greg Weeks. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work s to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark." he announced. in order. Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Tea m at http://www. Special rules. Too bad he didn't wait. You may use this eBook for ne arly any purpose such as creation of derivative works. The Rockefeller Foundation is financing the majo r part of his research work. or a dangerous competitor. Then he decided that he ought to have a stake to tide him over till he c ould get another buttling job. to lead her own life. Walter s was about fed up on the way things were here.pgdp.zip ***** This and all a ssociated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook. by Henry Beam Piper *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MURDER IN THE GUNROOM *** ***** This file should be named 17866-8. Nelda is still recuperating from the shock of her su dden bereavement at a high-priced sanatorium--I understand there's a very good-l ooking young doctor there.
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