It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница

“Pipe down, you pessimistic devil!” I said sharply, and began to edge up the cliff face. There were foot and handholds, and if the cliff hadn’t been perpendicular it would have been fairly easy to climb. But, as it was, I was conscious that one slip would finish the climb and me. I’d fall straight out and away from the cliff face. There would be no sliding or grabbing to save myself.

When I had climbed about fifty feet I paused to get my breath back. I couldn’t look down. The slightest attempt to lean away from the cliff It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница face would upset my balance, and I’d fall.

“How are you getting on?” I panted, pressing myself against the surface of the cliff and staring up into the star-studded sky.

“As well as can be expected,” Kerman said with a groan. “I’m surprised I’m still alive. Do you think this is dangerous or am I just imagining it?”

I shifted my grip on a knob of rock and hauled myself up another couple of feet.

“It’s only dangerous if you fall; then probably it’s fatal,” I said.

We kept moving. Once I heard It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница a sudden rumble of fall-ling rock and Kerman catch his breath sharply. My hair stood on end.

“Keep your eye on some of these rocks,” he gasped. “One of them’s just come away in my hand.”

“I’ll watch it.”

About a quarter-way up I came suddenly and unexpectedly to a four-foot ledge and I hoisted myself up on it, leaned my back against the cliff face and tried to get my breath back. I felt cold sweat on my neck and back. If I had known it was going to be this It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница bad I would have tried the gates. It was too late now. It might be just possible to climb up, but quite impossible to climb down.

Kerman joined me on the ledge. His face was glistening with sweat, and his legs seemed shaky.

“This has cooled me off mountain climbing,” he panted. “One time I was sucker enough to imagine it’d be fun. Think we’ll get over the bulge?”

“We’ll damn well have to,” I said, staring up into the darkness. “There’s no other way now but to keep going. Imagine trying to climb down!”

I sent It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница the beam of the flashlight searching the cliff face again. To our left and above us was a four-foot-wide crevice that went up beside the bulge.

“See that?” I said. “If we got our feet and shoulders against the sides of that opening we might work our way up past the bulge.”

Kerman drew in a deep breath.

“The ideas you get,” he said. “It can’t be done.”

“I think it can,” I said, staring at the walls of the crevice. “And I’m going to try.”

“Don’t be a fool!” Alarm jumped into It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница his voice. “You’ll slip.”

“If you want to try the bulge, try it. This is my way.”

I swung off the ledge, groped for a foothold, edged my hand along the cliff face until I got a grip and started up again. It was slow and difficult work. The hazy moonlight didn’t help me much, and most of the time I had to feel for handholds. As my head and shoulders came level with the bottom of the crevice the knob of rock on which I was standing gave under me. I felt it shift It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница a split second before it went and I threw myself forward, clawing at the rock bed of the crevice in a frantic effort to get a hold. My fingers hooked into a ridge of rock and there I hung.

“Take it easy!” Kerman bawled, as hysterical as an old lady with her dress on fire. “Hang on! I’m right with you!”

“Stay where you are,” I panted. “I’ll only take you down with me.”

I tried to get a foothold, but the toes of my shoes scraped against the cliff face and trod on air. Then I It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница tried to draw myself up, pulling the whole of my weight with my fingertips, but that couldn’t be done. I managed to raise myself a couple of inches and that’s as far as I got.

Something touched my foot.

“Take it easy,” Kerman implored below me. He guided my foot on to his shoulder. “Now, give me your weight and push up.”

“I’ll push you down, you fool!” I panted.

“Come on!” His voice shook. “I’ve got a good grip. Slowly and steadily. Don’t do anything suddenly.”

There was nothing else to do. Very cautiously It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница I transferred the weight of my body on to his shoulder, then transferred my finger grip to another ridge where I had a better hold.



“I’m heaving,” I panted. “Right?”

“Yeah,” Kerman said, and I felt him brace himself.

I heaved with my arms and shoulders and slid up and on to the floor of the crevice. I lay there, panting until Kerman’s head appeared above the ledge, then I crawled forward and pulled him up beside me. We flopped down, side by side, not saying anything.

After a while I got unsteadily to my feet.

“We’re having It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница quite a night,” I said, leaning against the crevice wall.

Kerman squinted up at me.

“Yeah,” he said. “Will I get a medal for that?”

“I’ll buy you a drink instead,” I said, drew in a deep breath, dug my shoulders into the wall and got my feet up against the opposite wall. By pressing hard with my shoulders and feet I managed to maintain a sitting position between the two walls.

“Is that the way you’re going to travel?” Kerman asked, horrified.

“Yeah—it’s an old Swiss custom.”

“Have I got to do that It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница, too?”

“Unless you want to stay where you are for the rest of your days.” I said heartlessly.

“There’s no other way.”

I began to edge myself upwards. The sharp rocks dug into my shoulder-blades, and it was slow work, but I made progress. So long as the muscles in my legs didn’t turn sour on me I would get to the top. But if they did, it would be a quick drop and a rocky landing.

I kept moving. I’d rather go up this way than attempt the bulge. A third of the It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница way up I had to stop and rest. My legs felt as if I had been running for a hundred miles, and the muscles in my thighs were fluttering.

“How are you doing, pal?” Kerman called, shining his flash up at me.

“Well, I’m still in one piece,” I said dubiously. “Wait until I get to the top before you try it.”

“Take your time. I’m in no hurry.”

I stared again. It was slow work, and my shoulders began to ache. I kept looking up at the star-studded sky. It seemed to be coming It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница closer; maybe that was just wishful thinking, but it inspired me to keep on. I kept on, my breath hissing through clenched teeth, my legs stiffening, my shoulders bruised. Up and up; inch by inch, knowing there was no going back. I had to get up there or fall.

The crevice began to narrow, and I knew then I was passing the bulge. The going became harder. My knees were being slowly forced towards my chin. I was getting less leverage. Then suddenly I stopped. I could go no farther. Above me the crevice had narrowed down to about It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница three feet. Bracing myself, I got out the flashlight and sent the beam along the wall and above me. A scrubby bush grew out of the rock within reach. To my right was a narrow shelf: the top of the bulge.

I put the flash back into my pocket, reached for the bush. I got a grip on it close to where it grew out of the cliff and pulled gently. It held. I transferred some of my weight to it. It still held. Then drawing in a deep breath I relaxed the pressure of my feet against the It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница wall and swung into space. It was quite a moment. The bush bent, but it was well rooted. I swung to and fro, feeling sweat like ice-water running down my spine, then I swung myself towards the ledge and with my free hand groped for a hold. My fingers dipped into a crack: not enough to hold me, but just enough to steady me. I hung there, pressing my body against the wall of the crevice, my feet treading air, my right hand clutching the bush, my left hand dug into the narrow crack in the ledge. One It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница false move now, and I would go down. I was scared all right. I’ve been in some panics in my life, but none like this one.

Very cautiously I began to lever down with my right hand and pull with my left. I moved up slowly. My head and shoulders came up above the ledge. I began to lean forward as my chest touched the edge of the ledge. I hung like that, nearly done, my heart pounding, blood singing in my ears. After a while I collected enough strength to climb another couple of inches. I dragged up one knee It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница and rested it on the ledge. Then, with a frantic effort, I heaved forward and was on the ledge, flat on my back, aware of nothing but the pounding of my heart and the rasping of my breath.

“Vic!”

Kerman’s voice floated up the funnel of the crevice.

I made a croaking noise and crawled to the edge.

“Are you all right, Vic?”

His voice sounded miles away: a faint whisper out of the darkness. Looking down I saw a pin-point of light waving to and fro. I had no idea I had climbed so It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница far, and seeing that light made me dizzy.

“Yeah,” I shouted back. “Give me a minute.”

After a while I got my breath and nerve back.

“You can’t do it, Jack,” I shouted down to him. “You’ll have to wait until I can get a rope. It’s too tricky. Don’t try it.”

“Where will you get the rope from?”

“I don’t know. I’ll find something. You wait there.”

I turned around and sent the beam of the flashlight into the darkness. I was only about thirty feet below the cliff head. The rest It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница of the way was easy.

“I’m going now,” I shouted down to him. “Hang on until I get a rope.”

I practically walked up the next thirty feet, and came up right beside the ornate swimming-pool. Above me was the house. A solitary light burned in one of the windows.

I set off towards it.

IV

The verandah, when I got there, was deserted, and the swing lounging chair looked invitingly comfortable. I would have liked to have stretched out on it and taken a twelve-hour nap.

A standard lamp with a yellow and blue parchment shade was It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница alight in the big lounge. The casement doors leading from the lounge to the verandah stood open.

I paused at the head of the verandah steps at the sound of a voice: a woman’s voice, out of tune with the still, summer night, the scent of flowers and the big yellow moon. The voice was loud and shrill. Maybe it was angry, too, and the edges of it were a little frayed with suppressed hysteria.

“Oh, shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” The voice was saying. “Come quickly. You’ve talked enough. Just shut up and come It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница!”

I could see her in there, kneeling on one of the big settees, holding the telephone in a small, tight-clenched fist. Her back was turned to me. The light from the lamp fell directly on her beautifully-shaped head and picked out the tints in her raven-black hair. She was wearing a pair of high-waisted, bottle-green slacks and a silk shirt of the same colour, and made the kind of picture Varga likes to draw. She was his type: long legged, small hipped, high breasted, and as alive and as quick as mercury.

She said, “Do stop It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница it! Why go on and on? Just come. That’s all you have to do,” and she slammed down the receiver.

I didn’t think the situation called for stealth or super-refined cunning, and I wasn’t in the mood to play pretty. I was leg-weary and bruised and still short of breath, and my temper was as touchy as the filed trigger of a heist man’s rod. So I moved into the room without bothering to tread quietly. My footfalls across the parquet floor sounded like miniature explosions.

I saw her back stiffen It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница. Her head turned slowly. She looked over her shoulder at me. Her big black eyes opened wide. There was a pause in which you could have counted a slow ten. She didn’t recognize me. She saw what looked like an overgrown sailor in tattered white ducks with a rip in one trousers knee, a shirt any laundry would have returned with a note of complaint and a face that had more dirt on it than freckles.

“Hello,” I said quietly. “Remember me? Your pal, Malloy.”

She remembered me then. She drew in a deep breath, pushed herself off It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница the settee and stood firmly on her small, well-shaped feet.

“How did you get here?” she asked, her face and voice were as expressionless as the ruffles on her shirt.

“I climbed the cliff. You should try it sometime when you run out of excitement,” I said, moving into the room. “It’s good for the figure, too; not that there’s anything wrong with yours.”

She bent her thumb and stared at it; then she bit it tentatively.

“You haven’t seen it yet,” she said.

“Is the operative word in that sentence ‘yet’?” I asked It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница, looking at her.

“It could be. It depends on you.”

“Does it?” I sat down. “Shall we have a drink? I’m not quite the man I was. You’ll find my reflexes act better on whisky.”

She moved across the lounge to the cellaret.

“Is it true about the cliff?” she asked. “No one has ever climbed it before.”

“Leander swam the Hellespont, and Hero wasn’t half as good looking as you,” I said lightly.

“You mean you really climbed it?” She came back with a long tumbler full of whisky and ice. It looked a lot more It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница tempting than she did; but I didn’t tell her so.

“I climbed it,” I said, and took the glass. “To your dark and lovely eyes, and the figure I haven’t seen—yet.”

She stood by and watched me drink a third of it. Then she lit a cigarette with a hand that was as steady as the cliff we were talking about, took it from her red, sensual mouth and gave it to me.

Our fingers touched. Her skin felt feverish.

“Is your sister here?” I asked, and set the whisky carefully on the coffee table at It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница my side.

She inspected her thumb again thoughtfully, then looked at me out of the corners of her eyes.

“Janet’s dead. She died two years ago,” she said.

“I’ve made a lot of discoveries since you told me that,” I said. “I know the girl your mother kept a prisoner in the sanatorium for something like two years is your sister, Janet. Shall I tell you just how much I do know?”

She made a little grimace and sat down.

“You can if you want to,” she said.

“Some of it is guess-work. Perhaps you’ll It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница help me as I go along?” I said, settling farther down in the chair. “Janet was your father’s favourite. Both you and your mother knew he was going to leave her the bulk of his money. Janet fell in love with Sherrill, who also knew she was coming into the money. Sherrill was quite a dashing type, and dashing types appeal to you. You and he had an affair on the side, but Janet found out and broke the engagement.

There was a quarrel between you two. One of you grabbed a shot-gun. Your father came in at the It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница wrong moment. Did you shoot him or was it Janet?”

She lit a cigarette, dropped the match into an ashtray before saying, “Does it matter? I did if you must know.”

“There was a nurse staying in the house at the time: Anona Freedlander. Why was she there?”

“My mother wasn’t quite right in the head,” she said casually. “She didn’t think I was, either. She persuaded father I wanted looking after, and she sent Nurse Freedlander to spy on me.”

“Nurse Freedlander wanted to call the police when you shot your father?”

She It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница nodded and smiled. The smile didn’t reach the expressionless, coal-black eyes.

“Mother said they would put me away in a home if it came out I had shot him. Nurse Freedlander made herself a nuisance. Mother got her back to the sanatorium and locked her up. It was the only way to keep her quiet. Then Janet insisted on me being locked up, too, and mother had to agree. She sent me here. This is her house. Janet thought I was in the sanatorium. She found out I wasn’t, but she didn’t know where I was. I It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница think that’s why she wrote to you. She was going to ask you to find me. Then Nurse Freedlander had a heart attack and died. This was too good a chance to miss. Mother and Douglas carried her body to Crestways. Mother told Janet I wanted to see her, and she went over to the sanatorium. She was locked up in Nurse Freedlander’s room, and Nurse Freedlander was put in Janet’s bed. It was quite a bright idea, wasn’t it? I called Dr. Bewley who lived near by. It didn’t occur to him that the It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница dead woman wasn’t Janet, and he signed the death certificate. It was easy after that. The Trustees didn’t suspect anything, and I came into all the money.” She leaned forward to tap cigarette-ash into the ashtray, went on in the same flat, disinterested voice, “It was true what I told you about Douglas. The little rat turned on me and tried to blackmail me and made me buy the Dream Skip. Janet’s maid blackmailed me, too. She knew Janet hadn’t died. Then you came along. I thought if I told you some of It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница the story it might scare Douglas off, but it didn’t. He wanted to kill you, but I wouldn’t let him. It was my idea you should go to the sanatorium. I didn’t think you would get Janet away. As soon as I found out where she was I got Sherrill’s men to bring her here.”

“Was it your idea to shoot Nurse Freedlander’s father?”

She made a little grimace of disgust.

“What else could I do? If he told you she had a bad heart I knew you would guess what had happened It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница. I got in a panic. I thought if we could silence him and get her papers from the police we might be able to carry on. But it does seem rather hopeless.”

“Janet’s here then?”

She shrugged.

“Yes, she’s here.”

“And you’re trying to make up your mind what to do with her?”

“Yes.”

“Any ideas?”

“Perhaps.”

I finished my drink. I needed it.

“You shot Sherrill, didn’t you, and set fire to the ship?”

“You have found out a lot.”

“Didn’t you?”

“Oh, yes. I knew he would let me down if the police caught It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница him. He was a nuisance, anyway. It was quite fun to set fire to the ship. I’ve always hated it. Did it burn well?”

I said it burned very well.

We sat for some moments looking at each other.

“I’m wondering about you,” she said suddenly. “Couldn’t we team up together? It seems so senseless to give all that money to a lot of stuffy old scientists. There must be nearly two million left.”

“How should we team up?”

She bit her thumb while she thought about how we should team up.

“You see, she It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница’s my sister. I can’t keep her here for long. If they find out she’s alive I shall lose the money. It would be better if she died.”

I didn’t say anything to that.

“I’ve been in there three or four times with a gun,” she said, after a long pause. “But every time I start to pull the trigger something stops me.” She stared at me, said, “I would give you half the money.”

I stubbed out my cigarette.

“Are you suggesting I should do it?”

This time the meaningless smile did It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница reach her eyes.

“Think what you could do with all that money.”

“I’m thinking, but I haven’t got it yet.”

“Oh, I’d give it to you. I’ll give you a cheque now.”

“You could always stop the cheque when I had done it, couldn’t you? You could shoot me as you shot Sherrill,” I said, and gave her one of my dumb looks.

“When I say a thing I mean it, and when I make a promise I keep it,” she said patiently.

“And besides, you can have me, too.”

“Can I?” I tried not to It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница sound as unenthusiastic as I felt. “That’s fine.” I stood up. “Where is she?”

She stared at me; her face still expressionless, but far up on her left cheek a nerve began to jump.

“Are you going to do it?”

“I don’t see why not. Give me the gun and tell me where she is.”

“Don’t you want me to write the cheque first?”

I shook my head.

“I trust you,” I said, and hoped I wasn’t over-working the dumb look.

She pointed to a door opposite the casement windows at the far end It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница of the room.

“She’s in there.”

I stood up.

“Then give me the gun. It must be made to look like suicide.”

She nodded.

“Yes; I thought of that. You—you won’t hurt her?”

There was a blank look in her eyes now. Her mind seemed to have wandered off into space.

“The gun,” I said, and snapped my fingers at her.

“Oh, yes.” She shivered, frowned, looked vaguely around the room. “I had it somewhere.”

The nerve was jumping like a frog under her skin. “I think it must be in my bag.”

The bag was lying It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница in one of the armchairs. She moved towards it, but I beat her to it.

“It’s all right,” I said. “I’ll get it. You sit down and take it easy.”

I picked up the bag and slid back the clip.

“Don’t open it, Malloy!”

I turned quickly.

Manfred Willet stood in the open casement doorway. He had an automatic in his hand and it was pointed at me.

V

Maureen cried shrilly. “You fool! Why didn’t you wait? He was going to do it! You stupid, brainless fool!”

Willet’s cold eyes shifted from me to It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница her.

“Of course he wasn’t going to do it,” he said curtly. “He wanted your gun. Now, be quiet, and let me handle this.”

She stiffened and swung round on me. There was a feverish glitter in her dark eyes.

“Weren’t you going to do it?” she demanded. “Weren’t you?”

I shook my head.

“No,” I said, and smiled at her.

“This has gone far enough,” Willet said, and advanced into the room. “Sit down,” he went on to me. “I want to talk to you. And you sit down, too.” This to Maureen.

I It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница sat down, but she didn’t. She stood motionless, staring at Willet, her sharp little teeth gnawing at her thumb.

“Sit down!” he said, and turned the gun on her. “You’re as crazy as your mother. It’s time you were put under control.”

She smiled then, and wandered over to the armchair in which her bag had been lying. She sat down and crossed her lees and went on biting her thumb.

Willet stood in front of the empty fireplace. He held the gun level with his waist and pointing between Maureen and me. There It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница was a gaunt, worried look about his face, and his eyes kept shifting from her to me.

“Where’s Janet?” he asked.

As Maureen didn’t say anything, I jerked my thumb to the door opposite the casement window.

“She says she’s in there.”

“Is she all right?”

“As far as I know.”

He relaxed slightly, but didn’t lower the gun.

“Do you realize there is still a lot of money to be made out of this set-up if you throw in with me?” he said. “We can still get it under control. Where I went wrong It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница was to let her have so much freedom. I didn’t think she was quite so dangerous. I knew she was unbalanced. Her mother was. But I thought they were harmless. I would have acted sooner, but Sherrill blocked me. Now he’s dead it’ll be easy. You are the only obstacle now. Will you take fifty thousand and keep your mouth shut?”

I raised my eyebrows.

“She’s just offered me a million.”

He made an impatient gesture.

“Look, this is a business proposition. Don’t let’s waste time. She hasn’t a million. She It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница wouldn’t have given you anything even if she had anything to give. She’s not in the position to collect the insurance on the Dream Ship. I am.”

“What’s going to happen to her?” I asked, and glanced across at Maureen who gave me a blank empty look from blank, empty eyes.

“I’ll have her put in a home. She has no alternative unless she wants to be handed over to the police and prosecuted for murder,” Willet said, speaking softly and rapidly. “It can all be arranged quietly. Janet isn’t likely to make trouble. I can persuade It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница her to do what I say. She will have the Trust money. You and I will have the insurance on the Dream Ship.”

“Just let me get this straight,” I said. “Did you hatch this little plot from the beginning?”

“We needn’t go into that,” he said curtly.

“It was his idea,” Maureen said. “All along it’s been his idea. He’s been gambling with the Trust. Janet found out. It was he who persuaded mother to lock Janet up in the sanatorium. If

it hadn’t been for Douglas, he would have had me locked up, too It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница.”

“Be quiet!” Willet snapped, and his face hardened.

“I guessed it was something like that,” I said. “Someone to do with the Trust had to be in on it. I began to wonder about you when you were reluctant to report to the other Trustees. Then, when Janet was taken from my secretary’s apartment, I knew. No one except you and me and Paula knew Janet was there.”

“What does it matter?” he said impatiently. “If it hadn’t been for Sherrill and this mad woman it would have worked. But I don’t stand for murder. As It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница soon as they started that game I made up my mind to stop her. And she can be stopped. Are you coming in with me? I’ll split the insurance money with you fifty-fifty.”

“Suppose I don’t?”

“I’m ready for a get-away,” he said. “I don’t want to go, but I will if I have to. I’ll have to keep you both here until I collect the insurance. It won’t be easy, but it can be done. But if you’re smart, you’ll come in with me.”

I It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница looked at Maureen.

“Haven’t you anything to say to all this?”

“There’s nothing she can say,” Willet said impatiently.

“She either goes into a home or to jail. She’s too dangerous to be left free.”

I ignored him and said again, “Isn’t there anything you want to say?”

She smiled then, a tight, hard little smile.

“No; but there’s something I’m going to do.”

She must have had the gun wedged down the side of the chair all the time. The shot sounded like a thunderclap. The gun-flash set fire to the loose cover It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница of the chair.

Willet dropped his gun and took two unsteady steps forward, his hands clutching at his chest. I saw him fold at the knees, then I threw myself out of my chair across the narrow space that divided my chair from hers. I clutched her wrist as the gun came round in my direction. It went off and I felt the gun-flash burn the side of my neck. She and I and the chair went crashing to the floor. I wrenched the gun out of her hand, gave her a hard shove, and scrambled to It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница my feet.

“Okay, okay; take it easy,” Mifflin said from the casement windows, and Jack Kerman and he came into the room.

“You all right, Vic?” Kerman asked.

“Yeah; did you hear all that?”

“We heard,” Mifflin said. “Is he hurt bad?” And he started towards Willet.

“Watch her!” I shouted and jumped forward.

Maureen had made a dart towards the casement window. I made a grab at her, but she was too quick. She ran out on to the verandah and down the terrace steps.

“He’s dead,” I heard Mifflin say in disgust as Kerman and I ran It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница out after her.

We reached the first terrace as she reached the fourth. I grabbed Kerman and held him back.

“Let Mifflin go after her if he wants her,” he said.

Mifflin came thudding down the terrace steps to join us.

“Where’s she gone?” he demanded.

I pointed.

She was running well, and already had reached the lowest terrace. Mifflin started after her; then stopped. She ran straight towards the cliff edge, and she was still running when she went over.

For some moments we stood motionless, listening and waiting. But we heard nothing. It was as It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница if the space between the cliff head and the sea had opened up and swallowed her.

“That’s the best way out for her,” I said and turned back to the house. I felt a little sick.

Even if she was crazy, she had been beautiful, and I always feel sorry when something beautiful gets broken.

As we reached the verandah, I asked, “Did you climb the cliff?”

Kerman nodded.

“I came over the bulge,” he said with an exaggerated shudder. “I’m going to dream about that for the rest of my days. Paula’s somewhere around. She’s It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница looking for Janet Crosby.”

“Now we’ll have to explain the set-up to Brandon,” I said as Mifflin came panting up.

“That should be a lot of fun.”

“Smashed herself to pieces,” Mifflin said, glaring at us. “Now, come on, you two smart punks, get in there and talk!”

We went in there and talked.

The End

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Документ It was one of those hot, breathless July mornings, nice if you’re in a swim-suit on the beach with your favourite blonde, but hard to take if you’re shut up in an office as I was. 14 страница