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HE LOOKED like one of those Men of Distinction you see in the whiskey ads, but he was worried and it showed around his eyes and in the creases that ran from his nose to the corners of his mouth, even if it didn't show in his voice. That has something to do with breeding and background, I'm told. I wouldn't know.

"Mr. Keogh," he said in a flat voice, "I have reason to believe my daughter killed a man last night. You were recommended to me by an associate as resourceful and discreet, and I want you to—"

I stood and reached for my hat. "No," I said.

"I tell you—"

I shook my head. "I said no, and I'm getting out of here before you ten the rest of it, because you'll only be sorry you spilled it, and you'll get to worrying what I'll do about it, and I think you have enough on your And that goes for me too, in spades."

I started for the door, but he stopped me again. He was a whale of a desk slapper.

"Mr. Keogh," he said harshly, "it my daughter has committed a crime, I shall be the first to insist she stand trial for it. I will not attempt to hide it from the police. I will not. . . ."

He went on for quite a while in this civic-minded strain, but it drew me back to the chair beside the desk, even if I wasn't convinced.

"You know, Mr. Rutherford," I said when he ran down, "this wouldn't sound so much like the speech, you gave the Kiwanis boys last ,week if you had called the police before you got me in. Maybe I'm fat and forty and look dumb, but I'm sales-proof. Why didn't you call the police?"

"Because, man, I'm not sure! I merely said I had reason—"

"Okay, okay. Who'd she shoot?"

"I don't know."

"Where did it happen?"

"I don't know."

"Wow! Maybe you know how or why it happened?"


"Brother," I said, "you don't want a detective, you want a crystal gazer. Didn't she spill anything?"

"My daughter is in no condition to talk. She was hysterical when she came in at five this morning, and the doctor I summoned said she is temporarily deranged because of shock." He had a tight rein on himself, but it was too tight and his hands were beginning to shake. "But there was blood on her dress—and not her own blood—and there was a fired revolver in her purse. That's all I know."

He closed his eyes and his bands lay limply on the desk before him. I felt sorry for him, but not too sorry, because I didn't trust him. I still thought he was trying to get me to pull back the neck his daughter didn't have sense enough not to stick out.

"And where do I come in?" I asked, just to be talking.

He took a deep breath. "Somewhere, perhaps, a man is lying dead with six bullets in him. I want you to find that man before the police do."

"And then?"

"I want you to protect my daughter's interests."

I stood up again and this time put my hat on. "Ah hell," I said, "maybe you didn't hear me the first time."

But he went right on talking in a monotone, as if I hadn't spoken at all. "I want you to find anything that can be used in her defense if she goes to trial. I want you to get there first because the police won't be interested in defending a—a murderer, and they will overlook the things that may save her life."

I TOOK my hat off again. It was an old hat and could stand it.

"Why are you so sure they'll connect her with it at all?" I asked.

"Because she went out last night wearing a sable cape and returned without it."

"And if it hadn't been for the cape, would you still have called me?"

You could have cut throats with the look he gave me, but he didn't answer. We were finished playing games and now it was take it or leave it, so I took it

"I'm going to soak you for this." I gave it to him straight. "I'll cost you five grand, win, lose or draw, in advance—and I still don't like it."

"Cash or check?" he snapped.


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