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The Case of the Silent Partner

Erle Stanley Gardner

Chapter 1
Mildreth Faulkner, seated at her desk in the glass-enclosed office of the Faulkner Flo er Shops, selected a !lue crayon of e"actly the light shade# Cle$er at sketching, she used crayons to help her $isuali%e &ust ho flo er groupings ould appear# 'o , ith a rough sketoh of the Ellsorth dining roo( at her left, she as trying to get so(ething that ould go nicely ith the dull green candles Mrs# Ells orth intended to use for illu(ination# So(eone tapped on the glass, and she looked up to see )arry Pea$is# She pushed her sketches to one side and nodded for hi( to co(e in# Pea$is accepted the in$itation as he did e$erything else, ithout any out ard indication of hat his thoughts (ight !e, ithout any change in pace# * !ig-!oned (an of hard (uscle, his shoulders and hands sho ed the effects of hard toil on a far( in his early youth# 'o that he had achie$ed ealth and a $irtual (onopoly on the city+s retail flo er !usiness, he ent to great pains to fit into the role of successful !usiness(an# )is suits ere ell tailored, and his nails carefully (anicured and polished, striking a note of incongruity ith the la!or-t isted fingers# ,-orkin+ kinda late./ he asked Mildreth# She s(iled# ,0 nearly al ays ork late# 0f it isn+t one thing, it+s another# 1eports on the payroll, inco(e ta", esti(ates, and a hundred things# *nyho , it+s only se$en o+clock#/ ,2ou+$e !een ha$ing it pretty hard since your sister+s heart ent !ad,

ha$en+t you./ ,3h, 0+( getting along all right#/ ,)o is she./ ,Carlotta./ ,2es#/ ,She+s a lot !etter#/ ,Glad to hear it#/ ,She+s still in !ed (ost of the ti(e, !ut she+s i(pro$ing e$ery day#/ ,2ou ha$e three stores, ha$en+t you./ ,2es,/ she said, kno ing that he as thoroughly fa(iliar, not only ith the stores and their locations !ut generally ith the a(ount of !usiness they did# ,4h huh,/ Pea$is said# ,-ell, 0 sort of thought it (ight !e a good plan to in$est a little (oney ith you girls#/ ,-hat do you (ean./ ,So(e stock in your corporation#/ Mildreth Faulkner s(iled and shook her head# ,Thanks, Mr# Pea$is, !ut e+re getting along all right# This is a $ery s(all, $ery dose corporation#/ ,Perhaps it ain+t as close as you think it is#/ ,Close enough,/ she s(iled# ,Carlotta and 0 ha$e all of the stock !et een us#/ )is grayish-green eyes t inkled out at her fro( under shaggy !ro s# ,2ou) ha$e to think again#/ She fro ned for a (o(ent, then laughed# ,3h, that+s right# There+s a certificate of fi$e shares hich as gi$en Corinne 5ell hen e incorporated6 e needed three on the !oard of directors# That stock as &ust to 7ualify her as a director#/ ,4h huh,/ Pea$is said, pulling a folded stock certificate fro( his pocket# ,-ell, Corinne 5ell (arried one of (y (en, you kno , and6 ell, 0 took o$er the stock# 2ou can transfer this certificate on the !ooks, and issue (e a ne one#/ Mildreth Faulkner fro ned as she turned the certificate o$er in her hands# ,1eckon you) find it all in order,/ Pea$is said, ,endorse(ent all okay an+ e$erything#/ She put the stock certificate do n on the desk, looked up at hi( frankly# ,8ook here, Mr# Pea$is, 0 don+t like this# 0t isn+t fair# 0 don+t kno &ust hat you ha$e in (ind# 2ou+re a co(petitor# -e don+t ant you

snooping in our !usiness# Corinne shouldn+t ha$e sold that stock# 0 suppose she couldn+t $ery ell ha$e helped herself under the circu(stances, !ut 0 &ust ant you to kno here e stand#/ Pea$is said, ,0 kno 6!usiness is !usiness# 2ou o$erlooked a !et on that stock, and 0 didn+t# 0 like you# 0 ant you to like (e# 9ut any ti(e you (ake a !usiness (istake an+ 0 can cash in on it, 0 ai( to do it# That+s !usiness# 2ou kno e could ork out a deal on the rest of that stock# 2ou could stay on here and (anage the !usiness# 0+d take fifty-one per cent and # # # / She shook her head# ,2ou could (ake &ust as (uch (oney as you+re doing no ,/ he said, ,and ha$e unli(ited capital !ack of you for e"pansion# 0+d (ake a good partner#/ ,'o, thank you# -e+re doing fine as it is#/ ,-ell, &ust enter the stock transfer of those fi$e shares#/ ,:ust what are you trying to do./ she asked# ,'othing,/ he said, ith a guilelessness hich as patently assu(ed# ,0 on+t interfere ith your ork# 0+ll !e sort of a silent partner# Go ahead and (ake a lot of (oney# 'o that 0 ha$e an interest, 0 like to see the e"ecuti$es orkin+ late#/ )e chuckled and raised his gaunt fra(e fro( the chair# Mildreth, atching hi( lu(!er do n the aisle of the flo er shop, kne that Ms keen eyes, under those shaggy !ro s, (issed no detail# For so(e (inutes she sat in deep thought, then, putting a ay her sketches, said to 8ois Carling, ho as on duty at the front of the shop, ,Close up at nine-thirty, 8ois# 0 on+t !e !ack#/ She paused for a (o(ent to sur$ey herself in the full-length (irror near the front of the store# *t thirty-t o, she had the figure of t entyt o, and the e"perience ac7uired through se$en years of !uilding up a re(unerati$e !usiness had (ade her alert (entally and physically, gi$en her a certain aura of dyna(ic efficiency hich kept her (uscles hard, fir(, and free of e"cess flesh# 3nly a orker could ha$e had her alert efficiency and tri( lines# 8ois Carling atched her out of the door, her eyes so(e hat !itter and slightly istful# 8ois Carling represented dyna(ic youth, the e"plosi$e forces of ne ine# Mildreth Faulkner had the (ature indi$iduality of a $intage ine# 0t as, perhaps, only natural that 8ois Carling, possessed only of !eauty, i(patient of the ,slo -!ut-sure/ recipe for success, should ask herself the 7uestion, ,-hat+s she got that 0 ha$en+t./6

only 8ois asked it not as a 7uery hich carried its o n ans er, !ut as a groping atte(pt to define personality# 9ut !ecause (atters philosophical ere far re(o$ed fro( 8ois Carling+s (ental en$iron(ent, she opened a dra er in the counter, took out a !o" of candy hich had !een slipped her !y )arry Pea$is as he ca(e in, and !it into a chocolate# There as a telephone !ooth in the front of the garage here Mildreth Faulkner kept her car# -hile she as aiting for an attendant to !ring it do n, she acted on an i(pulse, and looked up the nu(!er of Perry Mason, the la yer# There as an office nu(!er, and !elo it a notation, ,*fter office hours, call Glen ood ;-<=>?#/ Mildreth Faulkner dialed the nu(!er, found that it as a telephone ser$ice hich (ade a specialty of handling and sorting telephone calls for professional (en# She e"plained that she ished to (ake an appoint(ent ith Mr# Mason on a (atter of i(portant !usiness, and asked if it ould !e possi!le to see hi( that e$ening# The o(an ho as taking the call asked Mildreth for the nu(!er of the phone fro( hich she as calling, told her to hang up, and she+d !e called !ack ithin a couple of (inutes# Mildreth sa the attendant !ringing her car up, opened the door of the telephone !ooth to (otion hi( that she ould !e out in a (inute# )e nodded, s ung the car off to the left !y the gasoline pu(ps, and Mildreth stepped !ack into the !ooth &ust as the phone rang# She picked up the recei$er and said, ,)ello#/ ,0s this Miss Faulkner./ ,2es#/ ,This is 5ella Street, Miss Faulkner, Mr# Mason+s secretary# Could you tell (e so(ething of the nature of your !usiness./ ,2es# 0 ha$e the Faulkner Flo er Shops# 0t+s a corporation# 0 ha$e a !usiness co(petitor ho+s (anaged to !uy a fe shares of stock, the only ones not controlled !y (y fa(ily# 0 think he+s going to (ake trou!le# 0 ant to kno hat to do a!out it#/ ,-on+t an appoint(ent to(orro !e all right./ ,0 presu(e so# 06 ell, to tell you the truth, 0 acted on i(pulse in calling &ust no # 0+$e !een orried e$er since 0 learned a!out the transaction a fe (inutes ago#/ ,-ill ten-thirty to(orro (orning !e con$enient./ ,2es#/ ,@ery ell, Mr# Mason ill see you then# Good night#/ ,Good night,/ Mildreth Faulkner said, and, feeling so(e hat relie$ed,

got into her car, and dro$e at once to Carlotta+s house out on Cher$is 1oad# Cher$is 1oad ound around the contours near the su((it of the (ountains hich looked do n on )olly ood fro( the north# Carlotta and 9o! li$ed in a stucco hillside house hich glea(ed hite !y day, !ut no appeared as a grayish o!long of (ysterious shado s, silhouetted against the t inkling cluster of city lights hich lay far !elo # Mildreth inserted her latchkey, clicked !ack the lock, and entered the li$ing roo( here 9o! 8a ley as spra led out in a chair reading a ne spaper# * s(all, leather-!acked (e(orandu( !ook as in his left hand# * pencil as !ehind his right ear# )e looked up, fro ning at the interruption, then, as he sa Mildreth, (anaged a s(ile of elco(e# She noticed that he hastily sho$ed the note!ook into the side pocket of his coat# ,)ello, Millie# 0 didn+t hear you dri$e up#/ ,-here+s Carla./ ,4pstairs#/ ,*sleep./ ,'o# She+s lying there reading#/ ,0+ll go up for a fe (inutes,/ Mildreth said# ,2ou aren+t going out, are you, 9o!./ ,'o# Gosh, no# -hat ga$e you that idea./ ,0 ant to see you#/ ,3kay#/ She paused in the door ay, turned, and said, ,-hen you+re figuring the race horses, 9o!, don+t think you ha$e to fall all o$er yourself putting things out of sight &ust !ecause 0 happen to alk in unannounced#/ For a (o(ent he flushed, then laughed, and said, so(e hat sheepishly, ,2ou startled (e, that+s all#/ Mildreth cli(!ed the stairs to here her sister lay in !ed# Pillo s propped against her !ack ele$ated her shoulders to a co(forta!le position# * rose-shaded reading la(p, fastened to the head of the !ed, thre light o$er her left shoulder to the pages of the !ook she as reading# She turned the shade of the light do n so that the roo( as filled ith a soft, rosy glo , and said, ,0+d a!out gi$en you up, Millie#/ ,0 as detained# )o +s e$erything today./ ,Getting !etter day !y day, in e$ery ay,/ Carlotta said ith a s(ile# She as older than Mildreth, and her flesh had a !luish- hite appearance# -hile she asn+t fat, the tissues see(ed soft and flaccid# ,)o +s the heart./

,Fine# The doctor said today that 0 can dri$e (y car ithin a couple of eeks# 0t certainly ill see( good to get out# 0+ll !et (y little coupe has forgotten ho to run#/ ,5on+t !e in a hurry,/ Mildreth cautioned# ,Take it easy, particularly hen you start (o$ing around#/ ,That+s hat the doctor said#/ ,r-hat+s the !ook./ ,3ne of the ne ones that+s supposed to ha$e a deep social significance# 0 can+t see it#/ ,-hy not try so(ething lighter./ ,'o# 0 like these# The other stories get (e e"cited, and 0 ha$e difficulty sleeping# *nother ten pages of this, and 111 drop off to sleep ithout ha$ing to take a hypnotic#/ Mildreth laughed, a lo , rippling laugh# ,-ell, 0+( sorry 0 as late# 0 &ust ran in to see ho you ere getting along# 0+ll run do n and talk to 9o! for a little hile and !e on (y ay#/ ,Poor 9o!,/ Carlotta said softly# ,0+( afraid it+s !een pretty hard for hi(, ha$ing an in$alid for a ife# )e+s !een &ust si(ply splendid, Millie#/ ,That+s fine#/ ,2ou don+t # # # you ne$er ha$e really ar(ed up to 9o!, ha$e you, Millie./ She raised her eye!ro s# ,8et+s not talk a!out that no # -e+ll get along all right#/ Carlotta+s eyes ere istful# ,)e feels it, Millie# 0 ish you+d try and get !etter ac7uainted ith hi(#/ ,0 ill,/ Millie pro(ised, her lips s(iling !ut her eyes purposeful# ,0+ll go do n and !egin right no # 2ou take it easy, Carla, and !e sure not to o$erdo as you start getting !etter#/ Carlotta atched Mildreth through the door# ,0t (ust !e splendid to !e so $i!rantly healthy# 0 ish you could gi$e (e so(e of your health for a!out an hour#/ ,0 ish 0 could gi$e it to you for longer than that, Carla, !ut you+ll !e all right no # 2ou+re o$er the orst of it#/ ,0 think so# 0 kno 0+( lots !etter no than 0 as#/ Carlotta picked up her !ook# Mildreth gently closed the door and alked 7uietly do n the stairs# 9o! 8a ley folded the ne spaper# The pencil as no longer !ehind his ear# ,5rink, Millie./ he asked# ,'o, thanks#/ She sat do n in the chair opposite hi(, accepted one of

his cigarettes, leaned for ard for his (atch, sat !ack, and looked at hi( steadily# ,5on+t you think it (ight !e a good plan if e all three sat do n and had a !usiness chat./ ,'ot yet, Millie#/ ,-hy./ ,Carla shouldn+t !e !othered ith !usiness right no # 0+$e talked ith the doctor a!out it, and he says she+s doing fine, !ut it+s largely !ecause she+s accusto(ed herself to ashing her hands of !usiness# -hy, hat+s rong./ ,)arry Pea$is as in tonight#/ ,That !ig clodA -hat does he ant./ ,)e ants to !uy the !usiness6a controlling interest in it#/ ,)e ould# Tell hi( to go peddle his papers#/ ,0 did, !ut it see(s he+s a stockholder no #/ ,* stockholderA/ 9o! e"clai(ed, and she sa s ift alar( on his face# ,-hy, ho the de$il could he # # # , )e hastily a$erted his eyes# ,Corinne 5ell# 2ou re(e(!er she (arried a (an ho orks for Pea$is# 0 suppose her hus!and got her to turn o$er the stock# 0 should ha$e picked up that stock !efore she left# To tell you the truth, 0+d entirely forgotten a!out it# 0t+s such a s(all !lock and # # # / 9o! see(ed positi$ely relie$ed# )e laughed# ,-hat can he do ith that. 0t+s only fi$e shares# That+s a drop in the !ucket# Tell hi( to go to hell6put on assess(ents and free%e hi( out#/ She shook her head# ,)arry Pea$is on+t !e pushed around# )e ants so(ething # # # # 0+( &ust a little afraid of hi(# )e (ay !e entitled to look o$er our !ooks# Perhaps that+s hat he ants# 0 don+t kno # 0+( going to see a la yer in the (orning#/ ,Good idea# -ho( are you going to see./ ,Perry Mason#/ ,)e doesn+t handle that stuff# 0t takes a (urder case to get hi( e$en interested#/ She said, ,0f he gets enough for it, he+ll !e interested# This needs so(eone ho can do (ore than &ust look in a la !ook and tell you hat the la is# 0t needs a lot of legal ingenuity#/ ,-ell, he+s the !ird to handle Pea$is all right if you can get hi( to handle it,/ 9o! 8a ley ad(itted, ,!ut you+re (aking a (ountain out of a (olehill#/ ,0 thought it ould !e a good plan to take up all of the stock certificates and the stock !ook# )e+ll ant to see the(#/

,3h, you don+t ha$e to do that,/ 9o! said hastily# ,-ell, he (ight ask for the(#/ 9o!+s $oice as harsh ith ner$ous i(patience# ,Gosh, Millie, 0+$e got an i(portant appoint(ent in the (orning, and that stock+s in the safety deposit !o"# Tell you hat you do# 0f he ants to see the stock, 0 can take it in to hi( later on# 0 don+t think he+ll ant to# 0 ha$e an appoint(ent ith an insurance co(pany ad&uster in the (orning6confounded nuisance# 0 could cancel it, of course, if 0 had to, !ut 0+$e had a lot of trou!le getting hi( on the &o!#/ ,-hat as the accident, 9o!. 2ou ne$er did tell (e anything a!out it# 0 learned of it fro( Carla#/ ,3h, &ust one of those cases of here so(e guy co(es do n the street, crocked to the eye!ro s# 0 asn+t e$en in the car# 0 had it parked at the cur!# 0 don+t kno ho in the orld he (anaged to s(ash it up the ay he did# )e (ust ha$e skidded into it fro( the side#/ ,5id you get his nu(!er./ ,'o# 0 tell you 0 asn+t there# The car as parked# * couple of people ho sa it told (e a!out it, !ut they ere too du(! to get his license nu(!er#/ Mildreth said, ,-ell, 0 guess 0+( not really going to need the stock, although 0+d like to ha$e it# Couldn+t you get do n to the safety deposit !o", 9o!, and # # # / ,*!solutely not, Millie# 0+$e got t o or three appoint(ents in the (orning# 0 &ust can+t cancel the( no , !ut if he needs the stock, F01 !ring it in later# 2ou can get in touch ith (e# 2ou don+t need to ha$e it there hen you+re talking ith hi(# 5on+t !e sillyA 'e"t eek ould !e okay#/ ,-ell, 0 guess it+s all right,/ she said, and there as a note of eary de&ection in her $oice# ,2ou+re orking too hard, Millie# Can+t you take it a little easier./ ,3h, 0+( all right# 9usiness is pretty good, and there+s 7uite a !it of detail ork # # # # -ell, 0+ll run along, 9o!#/ ,8ea$e a (essage for (e if you ant that stock,/ he said# ,0 could pick it up day after to(orro 6!ut 0 can+t i(agine hy he+d ant to see the certificate#/ ,8ook, 9o!, can+t you get into that !o" and # # # / ,8ord, noA/ he interrupted, raising his $oice# ,2ou+re getting to !e an old o(an# Stop that da(ned orrying#/ ,9o! # # # the stock+s there, isn+t it. 0t+s all right. 2ou # # # / )e got up out of the chair# ,For Christ+s sake, 7uit naggingA 5on+t 0

ha$e enough on (y (ind ithout you running around yapping a!out your da(ned stock. 0 kno you don+t like (e# 2ou ne$er did# 2ou !roke your fool neck trying-to poison Carla+s (ind against (e# 'o # # # / ,Stop itA/ she interrupted# ,2ou+re like a school!oy # # # # *nd you+re shouting# 2ou don+t ant Carla to think e+re 7uarreling, do you./ )e sat do n earily# ,3h, hell, hat+s the use. # # # 0f Mason ants to see that stock, tell hi( to ring me up# 2ou gi$e (e the illies# 0f you don+t ant to 7uarrel, get the hell out of here#/ She stalked ordlessly into the door, out into the e$ening# Gliding along Cher$is 1oad, Mildreth Faulkner as entirely o!li$ious to the char( of the clear, star-lit night# -hy had 9o! !een so gli! ith detailed e"planations of that auto(o!ile accident. -hy as it so i(portant to (eet the insurance ad&uster. -hy had he had so (uch trou!le getting ihi( on the &o!. -hy did the idea of producing that stock thro hi( in such a panic. She had !een tactless a!out it# She didn+t trust hi(# For eeks no she+d !een trying to find so(e legiti(ate e"cuse for getting that stock certificate out of his hands# Carla had endorsed all her securities, turned the( o$er to 9o! # # # # 3f course it as a!surd to dou!t his loyalty to Carla, yet she couldn+t help !eing uneasy, and that story a!out the accident, ith the front of the car s(ashed in# ,0 suppose 0+( an a ful heel,/ Mildreth said to herself, ,!ut unfortunately 0 kno (y !rother-in-la altogether too ell#/ So she dro$e to the Traffic 5epart(ent at police head7uarters, (ade in7uiries as to hether there had !een any report on the accident, found that 9o!+s 9uick sedan had !een in a collision ith another car, that 9o! had !een in the rong# * telephone call to the (an ho had !een dri$ing the other car elicited the infor(ation that 9o! had not !een alone in the 9uick at the ti(e of the accident# * !lond young o(an, rather attracti$e, had !een in the front seat ith hi(# The (an had taken her na(e as a itness# :ust a (inute, and he+d # # # )ere it as# Esther 5il(eyer# The address she+d gi$en hi( as the Golden )orn nightclu!# )e !elie$ed she+d said she orked there, !ut he couldn+t !e certain# The (an ho as dri$ing the car6Mr# 8a ley6had !een $ery nice# The accident as all his fault, and he as going to settle# There+d !een another (an in the !ack# 'o, the settle(ent hadn+t !een (ade yet, !ut Mr# 8a ley as to call at ele$en o+clock to(orro (orning# -ould you (ind telling (e ho you are, Ma+a(. She said, 7uickly, ,F( ith the -ork(an+s Co(pensation Fund# -e

understood Miss 5il(eyer as in&ured#/ )er infor(ant said, ,0 as the only one that as hurt# 0 got shaken up pretty !adly# There as another (an in the car ith 8a ley# 2ou could use hi( as a itness if you had to# )is na(e as # # # ait a (inute# )ere it is# Sindler Coll#/ ,)ad they !een drinking./ Mildreth asked# ,'o, !ut they ere going plenty fast#/ Mildreth said, ,Thank you,/ and hung up# -hy did 9o! go to such ela!orate (eans to (ystify e$eryone concerning the traffic accident. The car as insured, and the insurance co(pany ould take charge # # # # 9ut the insurance co(pany 7uite o!$iously hadn+t# 9o! as (eeting the other party at ele$en o+clock in the (orning to (ake an ad&ust(ent# *pparently, the insurance co(pany kne nothing hate$er a!out the accident# Mildreth Faulkner anted to get !ack to that floral design, !ut right no she felt so(ething else as (ore i(portant# E$idently 9o! had no intention of e"plaining the presence of the nightclu! hostess in his car#

Chapter B
*n e"pression of !itter disillusion on Esther 5il(eyer+s features (ade her see( suddenly old# *ll a!out her as the gaiety of the nightclu!, a forced, hectic hilarity hich needed the constant flo of alcohol to keep it at the high le$el hich ould declare di$idends for the (anage(ent# The orchestra ground out (elodies ith s inging rhyth(# * (aster of cere(onies radiated synthetic enthusias( as he announced the nu(!ers of a floorsho through a (icrophone# -aiters, (o$ing !ack and forth a(ong the ta!les, carefully follo ed instructions that food (ust not !e !rought too soon after cocktails# Those ho had drunk too (uch ere !eing ser$ed atered drinksC those ho see(ed ,sourpuss/ ere ha$ing a special $isit fro( the head aiter ith the $irtues of the ine list e"tolled# For those ho ere properly $ouched for, there as a (ore 7uiet !ut sinister acti$ity in the thickly carpeted suite of roo(s a!o$e the nightclu!# The (anage(ent as e"tre(ely careful a!out the list of patrons ho ere per(itted to pass through the door (arked Pri$ate in the rear of the hat-check roo(, cli(! the flight of stairs to the roo(s here the hir of

the roulette heel (ingled ith the hu( of ell-(odulated con$ersation# 3n the lo er floor the (anage(ent encouraged laughter and drinking# 3n the upper floor, all this as changed# The (anage(ent let it !e kno n that it (uch preferred to ha$e the patrons of the ta!les in for(al e$ening attire# E$ery here the su!tle suggestion of 7uiet refine(ent as i(pressed upon those ho ooed the Goddess of Fortune# Thick carpets (uffled the sound of footfalls# )ea$y drapes, su!dued indirect lighting, and a dra ing-roo( at(osphere of su(ptuous richness encouraged ell-!red 7uiet# * (an ho has lost (ore than he can afford in a place here alcoholic !e$erages flo freely and there is !oisterous e"cite(ent, is 7uite apt to (ake hat is kno n, in the parlance of the ga(e, as a ,!eef#/ * (an ho feels &ust a little out of his ele(ent, ho is forced to don for(al attire, ho is surrounded !y e"ternal e$idences of ealth, ill !e inclined to accept his losses ith dignity and (ake a 7uiet e"it# 'ot until he has di$ested hi(self of his for(al attire, and seen his en$iron(ent in the pitiless glare of daylight, ill re(orse and self-conde(nation (ake hi( reali%e that a loss is a loss# Then he is 7uite apt to reali%e that taking losses ,like a gentle(an/ is a racket fostered !y those ho profit6!ut !y then it is too late# Esther 5ihneyer didn+t understand the full significance of the psychology, !ut she kne enough to reali%e that hen she as called on to perfor( in the nightclu! as a part of the floorsho or to pinch-hit for so(e entertainer ho hadn+t sho n up, she as e"pected to s ay her !ody in syncopated rhyth(, to (ake a direct personal appeal to the audience, get the( out of the(sel$es and ,in the (ood#/ 3n those occasions hen she (o$ed a(ong the ta!les on the upper floor, she co(ported herself in the dignified (anner of a lady# )ere there as no loud laughter, no s aying of the shoulders, no s inging of the hips# *s a rule, o(en regarded Esther 5il(eyer ith cool suspicion# Men could al ays !e counted on to gi$e her a second look, to (ake a play for her hene$er she ga$e the( the least encourage(ent# Esther understood (en ith the fa(iliarity hich engendered conte(pt# She reali%ed that she kne o(en hardly at all# Esther 5il(eyer, her thoughts carefully (asked, sat at a ta!le alone, toying ith a glass hich contained ginger ale and charged ater, designed to (ake it appear to the uninitiated as a cha(pagne cocktail# )a!it t isted her lips into a (echanical half s(ile# *t sharp $ariance ith

the i(plied in$itation of her attracti$e appearance as her (ood of !lack depression# )o (any hours had she sat like this aiting for suckers. *l ays it as the sa(e story# Men ould drift past# Those ho ere ith their i$es ould look at her en$iously, (ake a (ental resolution to co(e !ack so(e other night hen they ere alone# Men ho ere unescorted ould try any one of the fi$e standard !rands of pick-up techni7ue hich Esther had learned to kno and to classify &ust as a chess player can tell hat opening his opponent is going to use as soon as the first pa n is ad$anced on the !oard# -ell, she thought, it ser$ed her right# She could ha$e (ade so(ething of her life# 0nstead, she+d dropped into this, capitali%ing on her appearance, on her youth# Men fell for her# She let the( !uy her drinks# 0f they ere interested only in pa ing, she ould casually look at her atch, (ention that her hus!and ould &oin her in ten or fifteen (inutesC or tip a ink to one of the aiters, and !e su((oned to the telephone, returning after a fe (inutes ith the sa(e (essage# 0f the (en had (oney to spend, she encouraged the( to spend it, and if they see(ed to !e &ust the proper type, she ould (ake tentati$e references to the acti$ities hich ent on upstairs# 0f the (an still see(ed interested, she arranged for a card and ould escort hi( up to the roulette ta!le# The croupiers could place a (an in the first fe playsC the plunger, the cautious (an, the tight ad, the seasoned ga(!ler, and, occasionally, !est of all, the (an ho hated to lose, ho ould figure that the ga(e o ed hi( (oney after the fe losses# There as a code syste( of signals !et een Esther 5il(eyer and the croupier# 0f the sheep had lots of ool to !e cut, she stayed around and super$ised the shearing# 3ther ise, she ould drift !ack to the nightclu!, looking for (ore prospects# She looked up as Mildreth Faulkner approached her ta!le# Mildreth (et her eyes and s(iled# Esther 5il(eyer !raced herself# 5id this ha$e to co(e no , on top of e$erything else. Pro!a!ly so(e o(an hose hus!and had !roken do n and told a!out (eeting the !londe at the nightclu!, the $isit upstairs to the ga(!ling place, the resulting loss of (oney# She hated (en like that, (en ho ere eager for ad$enture, then ran hi(pering ho(e, ho confessed ith a great sho of repentance, shed crocodile tears, !erated the(sel$es6and ho pro(ptly repeated the e"perience at the first a$ail-

a!le opportunity# Mildreth pulled out a chair and sat do n# ,)ello,/ she said# 3ne of the aiters ho$ered cautiously in the distance, aiting for a signal fro( Esther 5il(eyer# The place didn+t encourage scenes# ,Good e$ening,/ Esther 5il(eyer said ith chilling for(ality# Mildreth sighed# ,0 sa you sitting here alone,/ she said, ,and 0+( alone# -hat+s (ore, 0+( lonely, and 0+( co(pletely, a!solutely, and entirely ashed up ith (en# 0 sat do n and tried a cocktail, and three (en s(irked at (e !efore 0+d finished# )o a!out letting (e !uy you a drink, and then 0+ll go./ Esther 5il(eyer felt a surge of relief# 0t asn+t a !eef then after all# She !eckoned to the aiter# ,*nother cha(pagne cocktail./ Mildreth asked# The !londe nodded# ,Make it t o,/ Mildreth said# ,Take this one a ay,/ Esther told the aiter# ,0t+s stale,/ and ith a laugh at Mildreth, ,0 as !rooding too (uch to drink, 0 guess#/ 0t as a situation hich called for a little tact# Esther couldn+t (ake any profita!le connections sitting there ith Mildreth Faulkner at her ta!le# 3n the other hand, there as no har( in letting Mildreth !uy one drink# Esther looked at her atch# ,My !oy friend,/ she said, ,is late#/ ,3h, you ha$e a date# 0 should ha$e kno n it# -ell, 0 on+t detain you#/ ,0t+s all right# Sit do n# -e+$e loads of ti(e for that drink# )e keeps (e aiting lots of ti(es # # # da(n hi(A/ Mildreth said, ,)a$en+t 0 (et you so(e here !efore. 2our face is fa(iliar#/ Esther 5il(eyer shook her head# ,0 don+t think so# 0 don+t re(e(!er you#/ ,0 sa you so(e here # # # # 3h, ait a (inute# -eren+t you in an auto(o!ile accident, a 9uick sedan. 2es, you ere# 0 re(e(!er no # 0 re(e(!er seeing you in the car#/ ,5id you see that s(ash./ ,2es# 0 as alking along the street# 0f your !oy friend as the one ho as dri$ing that car, he+s orth aiting for#/ ,)i(./ Esther 5il(eyer asked conte(ptuously# ,)e+s good looking, !ut he+s a sap# The other one as (y !oy friend# )is na(e+s Sindler# )e certainly is good looking, and he kno s it, da(n hi(# -hat do you do, or

is it any of (y !usiness./ ,3h, 0 ha$e a little !usiness of (y o n, running so(e stores# 0 ha$e three of the(#/ Esther 5il(eyer said istfully, ,God, it (ust !e nice to !e in !usiness for yourself and !e independent, if 0+d started in orking and got so(e real !usiness e"perience, 0 (ight ha$e had so(ething to look for ard to instead of this racket/ ,1acket./ Mildreth asked# ,0+( a hostess#/ ,3h, 0 see#/ ,'o, you don+t# 2ou couldn+t unless you+d tried it 0t+s a lousy !usiness#/ ,-hy don+t you lea$e it and get into so(ething else./ ,)o can 0. 0 don+t kno shorthand or typing, ha$en+t any !usiness e"perience, and a( da(ned if 0+ll go out and scru! floors and do houseork for so(e o(an ho ants to keep her hands pretty so she can aste the afternoon playing !ridge#/ ,There are lots of &o!s open to a o(an ho has a pleasing personality and good looks#/ ,2eah, 0 kno # 2ou see the ant ads in the paper e$ery once in a hile# 0 follo ed up a couple of those leads# That+s a orse racket than this#/ Mildreth studied her and noticed the !itterness, the first faint lines a!out the eyes and lips# ,0 didn+t (ean that,/ she said# ,There are &o!s that are on the s7uare# 0 hire girls e$ery once in a hile, girls ho are attracti$e, pleasing, are a!le to keep their te(pers, and kno ho to handle the pu!lic#/ There as sudden hope in Esther 5il(eyer+s eyes as she looked up at the o(an across the ta!le, then the hope faded# ,2eah, 0 kno ,/ she said# ,So(e people !uy tickets on the s eepstakes and get their pictures in the paper# 0t happens e$ery little hile#/ ,That+s a !eautiful go n you ha$e,/ Mildreth said# ,like it./ ,@ery (uch#/ ,0t isn+t so e"pensi$e# -hen you+re in this ga(e, you ha$e to keep looking ell, !ut you don+t ha$e a fortune to thro a ay on clothes# *fter a hile, you learn ho to shop#/ ,*n orchid corsage ould go onderfully ell ith that color#/ ,2es, pro!a!ly it ould# )o e$er, people don+t send (e corsages $ery often, and 0+( not !uying any orchids#/

,0+$e got so(e 0+( going to send o$er for you,/ Mildreth said# ,2ou ha$e./ ,2es# So(e orchids 0 ordered for a custo(er ho ca(e do n ith the flu and couldn+t use the(# *re you going to !e here for a hile. 0f you are, 0) send the( up#/ ,That+ll !e s ell# Thanks a (illion # # # # 2ou+re sure it ouldn+t !other you./ ,'ot at all# 0+ll !e glad to# -hat na(e do 0 put on the(./ ,Esther#/ ,Si(ply Esther./ ,They kno (e here# -ell, you could (ake it Esther 5il(eyer# -hat+s your na(e./ ,Mildreth#/ ,That+s a pretty na(e#/ ,Thanks#/ The aiter !rought their drinks# ,)ere+s luck,/ Mildreth said o$er the ri( of the glass# ,0+( going to need it#/ *!ruptly Mildreth said, ,)o !adly do you ant to get out of here, Esther./ ,2ou (ean out of this racket./ ,2es#/ ,Plenty !ad# 3h, 0+ll gi$e you the lo -do n# 0+$e played it for hat it as orth# 0+$e !een at it fi$e years# 0 sit up nearly all night, drinking too (uch, s(oking too D D (uch, and not getting enough fresh air# 0+( !eginning to sho it# That+s hen it hurts#/ Mildreth nodded# ,2ou look at other people and you can see that they are sho ing signs of age, !ut you &ust don+t think that could e$er happen to you# Then, all of a sudden, the !oy friend thro s you o$er for so(eone a little younger # # # # 'utsA 0+d chuck this racket in a (inute if 0 could get a decent opportunity#/ ,2ou see( pretty !itter a!out it#/ Esther 5il(eyer sipped her cocktail# ,Eno hy./ ,'o#/ ,My !oy ifriend, the one you sa (e riding ith in the car, is friendly ith the !oss# 8ately, he+s picked up so(eone else# )e tried to keep (e fro( finding out a!out it, !ut 0 finally took a tu(!le &ust this afternoon# )e+s trying to get this ne girl into my &o!, and ease (e out of the

picture# ,They think 0 don+t kno a!out it# 0+( sitting here orking hile they+re going around !ehind (y !ack# Sindler Coil+s out ith her right no # )ar$ey 8ynk, one of the (en ho runs the place, has gone out to a little ca!in he has in 8ilac Canyon# 9y one or t o o+clock in the (orning, it) all !e fi"ed up# Can you !la(e (e for feeling !itter./ Mildreth Faulkner shook her head# ,Sho (e a chance to (ake an honest li$ing so that 0 can !eat e( to the punch, and 0+d alk out of here so fast it ould (ake your head s i(,/ Esther said $ehe(ently# ,)o ould you like to ork in a flo er shop./ ,Gosh, that ould !e s ell# 0s that hat you do./ ,2es# 0 run the Faulkner Flo er Shops#/ Esther 5il(eyer had !een raising her glass to her lips# She lo ered it again to the ta!le# ,Then you+re6you+re 9o!+s sister-in-la # 2ou kne hi( all the ti(e # # # that accident#/ Mildreth (et her eyes and said, ,2es# 0 ca(e here to try and find out so(ething a!out hat as going on# 0 intended to try and pu(p you, !ut after 0 sa you, 0 reali%ed that you eren+t an ene(y of (ine6&ust a o(an trying to get along in the orld#/ ,Then you ere stringing (e along a!out that offer./ ,5on+t !e silly, Esther#/ ,)o do 0 kno it isn+t &ust a sche(e to try and pu(p (e./ ,9ecause, you goose, 0 told you (y na(e# 3ther ise, 0+d ha$e handed you a line and tried to get hat 0 could#/ Esther 5il(eyer fu(!led ith a cigarette# ,2es,/ she ad(itted, ,that+s right#/ ,5o you ant to ork for (e./ ,-hat do 0 ha$e to do in order to get the &o!./ ,:ust gi$e the !usiness the !est that+s in you, try and get along ith the custo(ers, !uild up good ill and # # # / ,'o, 0 (ean ho (uch do 0 ha$e to tell you./ ,'ot a thing unless you ant to#/ Esther 5il(eyer thought that o$er for a fe seconds, then said, ,'o, that ouldn+t ork# 0+$e !een (i"ed up in gi$ing you a dou!le cross# 0 could ne$er ork for you unless 0 told you the hole thing and you said it as all right after you kne hat had happened#/ ,5o you ant to do that./ ,0+( not particularly cra%y a!out doing it, !ut it+s the only ay 0 could

e$er go to ork for you#/ ,-ell, if you ant to do it, you can ha$e the &o!# 2ou can ha$e it ithout that#/ ,'o# 0+d co(e clean#/ ,5o you kno here 8ynk is right no ./ Mildreth asked a!ruptly# ,2es, at his ca!in aiting for that little trollop to # # # / ,9ut do you kno here the ca!in is./ ,Sure,/ she said, and laughed !itterly# ,0+$e !een there# *ll of the girls ho orked here ent there#/ Mildreth said, ,0 ha$e to go telephone# -hile 0+( gone, (ake a note of the address of the ca!in and gi$e it to (e, ill you./ Esther nodded# Mildreth ent o$er to the telephone !ooth and once (ore put in a call for Mason+s night nu(!er# ,0 think you can get hi( at his office if you call right no ,/ she as ad$ised# ,)e said he as going to !e there for a couple of hours, and that as only a!out an hour ago#/ Mildreth dialed Mason+s office, heard 5ella Street+s $oice on the other end of the line# ,This is Miss Faulkner again, Miss Street 0+( in a $ery precarious position# 0 have to see Mr# Mason tonight#/ ,Tonight./ ,2es#/ ,0+( sorry# Mr# Mason is orking on an i(portant !rief right no , and on+t finish the dictation until (idnight# )e si(ply can+t see anyone#/ ,Could he see (e after (idnight./ ,0+( afraid not# )e has to sleep, you kno #/ ,8isten, this is very i(portant# 0+( illing to pay any a(ount ithin reason# 0+( afraid that to(orro (orning (ay !e too late#/ ,-hy. -hat+s the (atter./ ,0+$e &ust learned that (y sister, ho+s an in$alid, has turned o$er all of her securities to her hus!and# *pparently he+s put those up as security on so(e ga(!ling de!ts# *(ong these securities is a !lock of stock in the flo er stores 0 operate, 0Fll kno a lot (ore a!out it !y (idnight, and # # # 3h, couldn+t you please persuade Mr# Mason # # # / ,:ust a (inute,/ 5ella Street said# ,0) see hat 0 can do#/ She ca(e !ack on the line after a thirty-second inter$al# ,Mr# Mason on+t finish dictating until around (idnight, then he+ll go out for a cup of coffee# 0f you ant to !e here at one o+clock, he+ll (eet you#/

,Thank you ever so (uchA 'o listen, 0+( orking on a itness# )er na(e is Esther 5il(eyer# Please (ake a note of that# F( going to try and get her to co(e in# 0f she does, please hold her there and !e nice to her# She kno s all the facts# 0 dou!t if 0 can get any here ithout her#/ 5ella Street said, ,0+ll ha$e to !ill you for this appoint(ent hether you keep it or not# 0f you+ll gi$e (e your na(e and address # # # / ,Mildreth Faulkner# 0 run #the Faulkner Flo er Shops# My address is <1G -hiteley Pines 5ri$e# 0 ha$e a telephone# 0f you ish, 0 can send you so(e (oney !efore (idnight#/ ,That on+t !e necessary,/ 5ella Street said# ,Mr# Mason ill see you at one o+clock#/ Mildreth Faulkner hung up the telephone# )er face as resolute as she alked !ack to the ta!le here Esther 5il(eyer slipped her a folded piece of paper# She said, ,-hat ti(e do you get off ork here, Esther./ ,3h, 0 can lea$e any ti(e after one o+clock#/ ,0 ant you to do so(ething#/ ,-hat./ ,Go to the office of Perry Mason# )e+s (y la yer#/ ,-hen./ ,*t one o+clock#/ ,2ou (ean Perry Mason, the la yer ho sol$ed the Tidings (urder case./ ,That+s the one#/ ,Gosh, he+s6he+s a big shot# 0 al ays said that if 0 e$er co((itted a (urder, 0 as going to hold up a !ank at the sa(e ti(e and get enough (oney to ha$e Mr# Mason get (e off#/ She laughed# Mildreth said, ,Then ho a!out (eeting (e at Mr# Mason+s office at one o+clock./ ,)e on+t !e at his office then#/ ,2es, 0+$e (ade an appoint(ent#/ ,-hy do you ant me there./ ,9ecause 0 ant to get 9o! 8a ley out of (y !usiness# 0ll need your help to do that6and if you+re going to !e orking for (e, you on+t need to (ind hat any of these people think#/ ,3kay, 0+ll do that little thing# 8isten, it (ay !e a!out fi$e or ten (inutes after one#/ ,*ll right, and 0+( going to send you so(e orchids#/ ,3h, don+t !other#/

,0t isn+t any !other# 0 really do ha$e so(e orchids that ere left o$er on an order# They+d go fine ith that dress, and 0+( going to send the( up#/ Esther 5il(eyer leaned to ard Mildreth# ,8isten,/ she said, ,if you talk ith 8ynk, atch your step# *nd don+t (ention that 0 spilled anything# 0 s ore 0+d ne$er rat, !ut you caught (e hen 0 as pretty lo and that offer of a &o!6 ell, that+s one of the fe ti(es anyone e$er offered to gi$e (e a !reak# )o did you kno a!out 8a ley getting (ilked dry and a!out (e./ ,0 tried to get hi( to !ring up so(e securities # # # 3h, ell, ne$er (ind# 'o you+ll ha$e to forget all a!out this, Esther# 2ou (ustn+t e$er (ention to anyone that 0 as talking to you#/ ,0+ll say# *nd don+t you let on to 8ynk that 0 kno he has the skids greased for (e# 0 ant hi( to think 0+( alking out under (y o n po er# )e on+t ant $isitors tonight, either# 2ou) ha$e to atch your step ith hi(# *nd as for Sindler Coll and that !a!y-faced little !itch he+s !ringing in # # # / She !linked her eyes again, then forced a laugh, and said, ,3h, ell, hat do 0 care./ Mildreth looked at her atch# ,2ou don+t# 0+ll ha$e to !e (o$ing no # 0 ha$e lots to do !et een no and one o+clock# 0 ant to see 8ynk#/ ,-atch 8ynk,/ Esther said# ,)e+s !ad if you try to cro d hi(# )e has a nasty te(per# 0f he isn+t ready to talk turkey, don+t cro d hi(6and don+t threaten hi( ith Perry Mason#/ Mildreth s(iled# ,Thanks# 0+ll !e tactful#/ Suddenly Esther called her !ack# ,8isten, 0 ant to play fair ith you# -hen 0 ork for anyone, 0 gi$e the( all 0 ha$e, !ut # # # / ,2es./ Mildreth pro(pted# ,8ook, 8ynk thinks he+s going to dou!le-cross (e on so(e pri$ate stuff, !ut 0+( going to see that 0 don+t get gypped here#/ Mildreth said, ,Fair enough, !ut let (e return your o n ad$iceH 9e careful and atch 8ynk#/ Esther s(iled# That s(ile changed her hole face# ,5on+t think 0 don+t kno ho dangerous a ga(e 0+( playing6and don+t think 8ynk on+t suspect (e, !ut F$e got a ay around all that # # # # 'utsA -hat do you care a!out my grief. See you at one o+clock6perhaps &ust a shade later#/

Chapter =
*t ele$en-thirty, Perry Mason unlocked the door of his pri$ate office, held it open for 5ella Street# ,'o need for you to ait, 5ella,/ he said# ,That !rief took less ti(e than 0 thought it ould# 0+ll sit around and read the ad$ance decisions until one#/ ,0 ant to ait#/ Mason hung up his hat and coat# ,There+s nothing you can do# 0+ll talk ith her and # # # / ,'o,/ she interrupted# ,0 ha$e to stay no # 0 &ust had a cup of coffee# That (eans 0 can+t sleep for an hour and a half#/ Mason stretched hi(self in his s i$el chair# )is (otions held none of the a k ardness characteristic of (any tall (en ho ha$e long !ones and rangy figures# *nd (any a itness, (isled !y Mason+s casual (anner, fa!ricating a story on the itness stand ith e$ery assurance that his pre$arications ere co(pletely concealed, suddenly found hi(self facing a pair of granite-hard eyes, and reali%ed only too late the sa$age !elligerency ith hich Mason could !ear do n on a per&urer, the rapier-like thrusts of his agile (ind# 9ut, for the (ost part, it pleased Mason to assu(e a good-natured, easy-going attitude of careless infor(ality# )e disliked the con$entional ays of doing things, and this dislike sho ed in his (anner and his handling of la suits# 5ella Street, his secretary, had learned to kno his $arious (oods# 9et een the( e"isted that rare co(panionship hich is the outgro th of t o congenial people de$oting the(sel$es to a co((on cause# -hen the going got rough, they ere a!le to function ith the perfect co-ordination of a ell-trained foot!all tea(# Mason tilted his s i$el chair !ack, and crossed his ankles on the corner of the desk# ,2ou should ha$e let her call during office hours,/ 5ella said# ,2ou+$e had a hard day, and then ith all that dictation on top of it # # # / Mason disposed of her co((ent ith a gesture# ,'ot this case# She sounds as though she+s in real trou!le#/ ,-hy, ho do you kno . 2ou didn+t e$en listen o$er the telephone#/ ,0 sa your face,/ he said# ,-ell, she did i(press (e, !ut e$en so, 0 don+t see hy it ouldn+t keep until to(orro #/

,* la yer is $ery (uch like a doctor,/ Mason pointed out# ,* doctor de$otes his life to easing a person+s !ody# * la yer de$otes his to easing their (inds# The (achinery of &ustice is $ery apt to get out of gear if it isn+t kept ell oiled and running s(oothly# 8a yers are the engineers#/ Mason took a cigarette, offered 5ella Street one, and they lit the( fro( the sa(e (atch# Mason, tired fro( the hard day, settled !ack in his chair and rela"ed in the lu"ury of co(plete silence# *fter so(e fi$e (inutes, he said (usingly, ,3ne of the first things a professional (an has to learn is that the person ho (akes the (ost urgent de(ands on his ti(e is usually the one ho doesn+t intend to pay# 9ut 0 don+t think this ill !e one of those cases#/ ,2ou (ean that+s a general rule./ 5ella Street asked# ,*!solutely# The (an ho e"pects to pay a la yer for his ti(e ants to get off as cheaply as possi!le# Therefore, he ne$er calls on the la yer for e"traordinary ser$ices unless it+s a!solutely necessary# The (an ho doesn+t intend to pay doesn+t gi$e a hoot a!out the si%e of the !ill# Therefore, he+s perfectly illing to call the la yer at all hours of the night, ask hi( to gi$e up a golf ga(e on Saturday afternoons, or co(e to the office on Sundays# 0t+s al ays the sa(e#/ ,-ell, if she+s like that,/ 5ella Street said, , e+ll &ust send her a !ill for fi$e hundred dollars#/ Mason said, ,8et+s try to get her on the phone, tell her 0 finished ith (y !rief earlier than 0 e"pected, and that if she ants to ad$ance the appoint(ent !y an hour, it+ll !e all right ith us#/ The telephone rang, &ust as Mason finished talking# 5ella picked up the recei$er, said, ,)ello # # # # 2es, this is Mr# Mason+s office # # # # Can+t you speak (ore clearly. # # # -ho is it. # # # -hat+s that na(e./ She turned to Perry Mason and cupped her hand o$er the (outhpiece# ,She+s drunk,/ she said# ,The Faulkner o(an./ Mason asked# ,'o# Esther 5il(eyer#/ ,3h, yes,/ Mason said# ,The itness# 8et (e talk ith her#/ 5ella handed hi( the phone# Mason said, ,)ello# -hat is it, Miss 5il(eyer./ The $oice that ca(e to hi( o$er the telephone as so thick that it as ith difficulty he could understand hat she as saying# ,Pro(ised co(e your office # # # Can+t # # # Poisoned#/ ,-hat+s that./ Mason asked sharply#

,Poisoned,/ the $oice said earily# ,They got (e#/ Mason+s eyes glinted# ,-hat+s that. 2ou+re poisoned./ ,Thash right#/ ,2ou+re not drunk./ ,'ot tonight # # # # Thought 0 as s(art # # # # They got (e first#/ ,-here are you./ The ords ca(e ith an effort, interspersed ith inter$als of hea$y !reathing# ,*part(ent # # # 9o" of candy # # # ate # # # sick # # # Can+t # # # Can+t # # # Please send help # # # Get police # # # Get # # # Get # # # , The con$ersation ter(inated in a crash as though the telephone had !een dropped to the floor# Mason said, ,)ello# )ello,/ and heard nothing# Then, after a (o(ent, the recei$er clicked into place at the other end of the line# 5ella had dashed fro( the office the (inute Mason said, ,Poisoned,/ to plug in on the s itch!oard and ask the e"change operator to trace the call, !ut she as too late# The recei$er had !een hung up at the other end !efore 5ella had finished e"plaining hat as anted# She aited at the s itch!oard long enough to learn that there as no possi!ility of tracing the call, then ca(e !ack to Mason+s pri$ate office# ,-hat as it./ she asked# ,She says so(eone sent her a !o" of candy, that she ate the candy, and as poisoned# She certainly sounds sick or drunk# 'o the 7uestion is, hat+s her address, here is she. See if there+s a 5il(eyer listed in the telephone !ook#/ 5ella thu(!ed through the pages of the telephone !ook# ,'o, there isn+t#/ Mason looked at his atch# ,That Faulkner o(an should kno here she is# See if you can get her on the phone#/ Mildreth Faulkner as listed at her residence address, and the Faulkner Flo er Shops ere listed# 5ella finally got a response on the residence phone# * so(e hat sleepy high-pitched $oice said, ,)ello# -hat is it./ ,0s this Miss Mildreth Faulkner+s residence./ ,2es# -hat do you ant./ ,0 ant to speak ith Miss Faulkner# 0t+s $ery i(portant#/ ,She ain+t here#/ ,5o you kno here 0 can reach her./ ,'o#/ ,-hen do you e"pect her in./

,0 don+t kno # She don+t tell (e hen she+s co(ing in, and 0 don+t ask her#/ ,-ait a (inute,/ 5ella said# ,5on+t hang up# 5o you kno a Miss 5il(eyer6Esther 5il(eyer./ ,'o#/ ,0t+s $ery i(portant e find out her address#/ ,-ell, 0 don+t kno # *nd don+t ring (e up at this hour of the night to ask foolish 7uestions#/ The recei$er !anged indignantly# 5ella shook her head at Mason# Mason said, ,Miss Faulkner isn+t due until one./ ,'o#/ ,-e+$e got to locate that 5il(eyer o(an# That call sounded genuine to (e#/ )e pushed the papers he had !een using in dictating his !rief to one side and said, ,Police head7uarters, 5ella#/ * (o(ent later, hen she had head7uarters on the line, Mason said, ,This is Perry Mason# 0 had a call a fe (inutes ago fro( an Esther 5il(eyer# She said that she as at an apart(ent# 0 presu(e it+s an apart(ent here she li$es, !ut she didn+t say so# 0 don+t kno the address# 0 don+t kno anything a!out her, e"cept that 0 had an appoint(ent ith her for one o+clock this (orning# She as to !e at (y office# She+s a itness in connection ith so(e (atter# 0 don+t kno &ust hat it is# ,'o get this straight# She said o$er the telephone that so(eone had sent iher a !o" of poisoned candy# She sounded $ery ill# )er speech as thick, and apparently she either fell o$er or the telephone slipped fro( her hand as she as talking# Then the recei$er as dropped !ack into place# She see(ed to think she+d !een poisoned to keep her fro( talking#/ ,2ou can+t gi$e us an address./ ,'o#/ ,-ell, e+ll try and look her up# -e+ll see if she+s registered as a $oter# That+s a!out all e can do#/ Mason said, ,Call !ack and let (e kno if you find anything, ill you./ ,3kay, !ut if e ha$en+t got an address, there+s nothing e can do-here are you./ ,0+( at (y office#/ ,2ou+ll !e there until e call./ ,2es#/ ,3kay, e+ll call !ack#/

Mason hung up the telephone, pushed !ack his chair, got to his feet, and stood ith his hands pushed do n deep into his trousers pockets# ,This thing+s goofy, 5el-la,/ he said# ,0 don+t think the police are going to do anything# 3f course, they (ay find her in the $oters+ register # # # # Miss Faulkner didn+t say hat she as a itness to./ ,'o#/ Think !ack on that con$ersation# See if you can # # # / ,-ait a (inute,/ 5ella said# ,She as calling fro( a nightclu! so(ehere# 0 could hear the sound of an orchestra# 0t # # # -ait a (inute no # 0 re(e(!er hearing the !ackground of (usic# 0t as # # # Chief, 0) !et it as )aualeo(a+s )a aiians# 0 could get the !ackground of )a aiian (usic, and they ere playing an 0sland song that 0 heard a couple of eeks ago hen they ere on the radio#/ ,-ell, it+s a lead,/ Mason said# ,)o could e go a!out finding out here they+re playing./ She said, ,0 think 0 can find out 0+ll go out and play tunes on the s itch!oard# See if you can think of any other ay of getting the address#/ 5ella ent out to the s itch!oard# Mason hooked his thu(!s through the ar(holes of his $est, and paced the floor, his head dropped for ard in thought# 5ella ca(e running into the office ithin little (ore than a (inute# ,Got it, Chief,/ she said# ,)er address./ ,0 think e can get it#/ ,-hat is it./ ,The )a aiians are at the Golden )orn# That+s a nightclu!# 0 rang up the clu! and asked if they kne an Esther 5il(eyer# The hat-check girl said she did# She said that Esther 5il(eyer had !een there this e$ening, !ut had left early, saying she had a headache# 0 asked her if she kne a Miss Faulkner, and she said she didn+t# 0 asked ho e could find Miss 5il(eyer+s address, and she said she didn+t kno , that she thought Mr# 8ynk, one of the proprietors, kne here she li$ed, !ut Mr# 8ynk is out tonight, and couldn+t !e reached#/ ,2ou told her it as i(portant./ ,2es, 0 told her it as a (atter of life and death#/ Mason said# ,3kay, 5ella# Get (e police head7uarters# See if you can get # # # 8et+s see # # # / lieutenant Tragg./ she asked# ,2es, they+$e &ust put hi( on )o(icide, and he+s a li$e ire#/

,-eren+t you responsi!le for )olco(!+s transfer./ she asked as she put in the call# * s(ile t isted the corners of his (outh# ,)olco(! as responsi!le for that hi(self,/ he said# ,* da(ned, opinionated, o!stinate # # # / ,)ere+s 8ieutenant Tragg on the line#/ Mason said, ,)ello, 8ieutenant# This is Perry Mason#/ ,-ell, ell, this is a surpriseA 5on+t tell (e you+$e disco$ered another corpse#/ ,0 (ay ha$e at that#/ 8ieutenant Tragg+s $oice !eca(e crisply !usinesslike# ,-hat is it./ Mason said, ,0 had an appoint(ent for one o+clock ith an Esther 5il(eyer# She+s a itness in a case# 0 don+t kno e"actly hat it is# 0+$e ne$er (et her# She rang up a!out ten (inutes ago, and could !arely talk o$er the telephone# She said she+d !een poisoned# So(eone had sent her poisoned candy# She certainly sounded a!out ready to pass out# E$idently the telephone either slipped fro( her hands and fell, or she keeled o$er hile she as talking to (e# Then the recei$er as hung up !efore 0 could trace the call#/ ,2ou don+t kno here she is./ Mason said, ,0+( co(ing to that# 5ella Street, (y secretary, did so(e fast thinking and so(e good detecti$e ork# 0 on+t take ti(e to tell you a!out it, !ut the result is that she got a lead into the Golden )orn# That+s a nightclu!# Esther 5il(eyer is kno n there, and as there this e$ening, !ut apparently the underlings don+t kno her address# 8ynk, ho runs the place, does, !ut he+s out# That+s the story in a nutshell# -hat do you say./ ,Sounds like 7uite a !it of s(oke,/ 8ieutenant Tragg said# ,There (ay !e so(e fire# 9ut e ha$en+t a heck of a lot to go on#/ ,-e), don+t say 0 didn+t tell you,/ Mason said# ,0f so(eone finds her !ody to(orro (orning, and # # # / ,-ait a (inute,/ Tragg interrupted# ,)old your horses# -here are you no ./ ,*t the office#/ ,-ant to take a run around to the Golden )orn./ ,5o you./ ,2es#/ ,3kay#/ ,0+ll !e !y for you in a!out fi$e (inutes,/ Tragg said# ,0f you can !e aiting do n on the side alk, it+ll sa$e that (uch ti(e#/ ,Think e can do anything !y telephone./

,0 dou!t it,/ Tragg said# ,0t on+t take o$er a fe (inutes to get there# 9e all ready to &u(p in hen you hear the siren, !ecause 0+ll cut her loose#/ Mason said, ,111 !e do n there,/ hung up the telephone, ran to the coat closet, and gra!!ed his hat and coat# ,3kay, 5ella,/ he said, ,you hold do n the office# 0 (ay call in a little later#/ 0t took a (inute or t o for the ele$ator to get up to Mason+s floor# The night atch(an dropped hi( to the street le$el, and Mason had less than a (inute to ait at the cur! !efore he heard the screa( of a siren, sa the !lood-red glare of a spotlight, and then 8ieutenant Tragg as skidding a police sedan in close to the cur!# Mason &erked the door open and &u(ped in# Tragg accelerated the car into such s ift speed that Mason+s head as &erked !ack as the (achine lurched for ard# 8ieutenant Tragg said nothing, !ut concentrated on dri$ing traffic# )e as a!out Mason+s age# )is features stood out in sharply etched lines# )is forehead as high, his eyes keen and thoughtful, an entirely different type fro( Sergeant )olco(!# Mason, studying the profile as the car screa(ed through the streets, reali%ed that this (an could !e a $ery dangerous antagonist indeed# ,)ang on,/ Tragg arned as the car screa(ed in a turn# )e as, Mason sa , en&oying the e"cite(ent of tearing through traffic ith siren screa(ing and (otor roaring, !ut, ith it all, the (an as as cool and detached as a surgeon perfor(ing a delicate operation# )is face sho ed co(plete concentration and an entire lack of ner$ousness# Tragg slid to a stop in front of the Golden )orn# The t o (en de!ouched fro( the car and ran across the side alk# * !ig door(an, resplendent ith unifor(, !arred their ay# ,-hat+s it all a!out./ he asked, his dra l a conte(ptuous challenge to their haste# Tragg pro(ptly shouldered hi( to one side# The door(an hesitated a (o(ent as though de!ating hether to try to detain the officer, then dashed for a speaking tu!e !uilt into the all# )e histled-three ti(es sharply# Tragg led the ay into the nightclu!# ,The hat-check girl kno s so(ething,/ Mason said# Tragg (o$ed o$er to the counter, sho ed her his star# ,Esther 5il(eyer,/ he said# ,-here can e find her./ ,Gosh, Mister, 0 don+t kno # So(eone as asking o$er the telephone a hile !ack#/ ,2ou kno her./

,2es#/ ,5oes she ork here./ ,-ell, in a ay# She hangs out here#/ ,Gets a co((ission on !usiness she de$elops./ ,0 ouldn+t kno #/ ,-ho ould./ ,Mr# Magard or Mr# 8ynk#/ ,-here are they./ ,Mr# 8ynk is out tonight, and 0 don+t kno here Magard is# 0 tried to locate hi( after the young o(an telephoned, !ut 0 couldn+t find hi(#/ ,This place supposed to run ithout anyone in charge./ ,3rdinarily, one or the other of the( is here# Tonight it &ust happens they+re !oth out#/ ,-ho else ould kno . The cashier. So(e of the aiters./ She shook her head# ,0 don+t think so# 0+$e (ade in7uiries# 0 tell you ho 0 think ould#/ ,-ho./ ,Sindler Coll#/ ,-ho+s he./ ,)er !oy friend#/ ,8i$ing ith her./ The hat-check girl shifted her eyes# ,Co(e on, sister# 5on+t !e coy# 2ou heard hat 0 said#/ ,'o, 0 don+t think so#/ ,-here do e find Coll./ ,0 think the cashier has his address# )e cashes a check here once in a hile#/ 8ieutenant Tragg said, ,Thanks# 2ou+$e got a good head on your shoulders, sister, as ell as a pretty one# Co(e on, Mason#/ They skirted the dance floor, and pushed past the cro ded couples (o$ing slo ly to the rhyth( of the (usic# Tragg asked directions fro( a aiter, and alked on to find the cashier in a cage !et een the dining roo( and the nightclu!# Tragg sho ed her his star# ,2ou kno a Sindler Coll./ She stared at hi(, hesitating, apparently de!ating on a course of action# ,Co(e on,/ Tragg said# ,8ook ali$e# 5o you kno hi(./ ,2-y-y-yes#/ ,-here can e find hi(./ ,0 don+t kno # -hat+s he done./ ,'othing, so far as 0 kno #/

,-hat do you ant hi( for./ ,8isten, sister, 0 ha$en+t got ti(e to gi$e you a !unch of history# 0 ant Coll, and 0 ant hi( fast# -hat+s his address./ ,)e+s at the E$erglade *part(ents#/ ,-hat apart(ent./ ,:ust a (inute#/ She opened a dra er and took out an address !ook# )er fingers tre(!led ner$ously as she turned the pages# ,5on+t happen to ha$e the address of Esther 5il(eyer in there, do you./ ,'o# The hat-check girl as asking a fe (inutes ago# -hat+s the (atter./ ,'othing,/ Tragg said, ,&ust gi$e us Coil+s address, and (ake it snappy#/ ,0t+s on the second floor, E$erglade *part(ents, BIG#/ ,Got a telephone./ ,0 don+t kno # 0 ha$en+t his nu(!er here#/ ,2ou kno hi( hen you see hi(, do you./ ,3h, yes#/ ,)e hasn+t !een in here tonight./ ,'o#/ ,-ould you ha$e seen hi( if he had !een./ ,2es#/ ,5o you usually see the custo(ers that co(e in here./ ,-ell # # # 'ot all of the(, !ut # # # / ,0 see# Coil+s so(eone in particular, eh./ ,-ell, he drops in once in a hile,/ she said, her cheeks sho ing color !eneath the patches of rouge# Tragg said to Mason, ,-ell, e+ll try Coll at the E$erglade *part(ents # # # # 8isten, sister, ho+s running this place./ ,T o (en, partners, Clint Magard and )ar$ey :# 8ynk#/ ,Eno here either of the( are./ ,'o# 8ynk has a little ca!in so(e here# )e goes there for rela"ation#/ ,1ela"ation, eh./ 8ieutenant Tragg said, glancing at Mason# ,-here is it./ ,0 ouldn+t kno # 0t+s up in 8ilac Canyon so(e here # # # # *nd Mr# Magard isn+t in right at present#/ ,2ou don+t kno here Magard is./ ,'o# )e should !e in any (inute#/

,-hen he co(es in, ha$e hi( call police head7uarters and ask for Sergeant Mahoney# )a$e hi( tell the sergeant all he kno s a!out Esther 5il(eyer6don+t forget# 0ll call !ack in a little hile# -hat nu(!er do 0 call./ ,0t+s E"change =->I # # # / ,-rite it do n,/ Tragg said# She scri!!led the nu(!er on a piece of paper# ,3kay, 0+ll call you !ack# )a$e Magard call head7uarters#/ Tragg nodded to Mason# *s they alked out, Mason said, ,0+$e ne$er !efore fully appreciated the handicap of !eing (erely a pri$ate citi%en#/ ,Getting sarcastic./ Tragg asked# ,'o, (erely (aking an o!ser$ation#/ ,2ou ha$e to handle e( like that or they+ll start s apping gossip ith you and you+ll ne$er get any here# People see( to forget e ha$e e(ergency calls pouring in in a steady strea(# -e ha$en+t ti(e to dillydally, or let other people take the lead# 2ou ha$e to keep e( on the defensi$e to e$er get any here#/ They s7uee%ed past the dance floor, and on the stairs leading to the side alk Tragg asked, ,Eno anything a!out this &oint, Mason./ ,'o# -hy./ ,0 ha$e an idea it+s a phony# So(e day 0+ll knock it o$er#/ ,-hy./ ,That door(an# 0n the first place, he+s a professional pug#/ ,)o do you kno ./ ,The ay he handled hi(self# 'otice the ay he s ings his left shoulder for ard hen he thinks there+s going to !e trou!le# )e (ade a di$e for a telephone hen e started in# Ga$e a signal hich had !een agreed on in ad$ance to arn of a police raid# 'otice the cauliflo er ear6 his left#/ The !ig door(an regarded the( ith cold hostility as they ca(e out# Tragg, alking past hi( to ard the car, suddenly hirled and &a!!ed an e"tended forefinger into the (an+s chest# ,2ou+re !ig,/ he said# ,2ou+re tough# *nd you+re fatA 2ou+re not as fast as you used to !e# -hat+s (ore, you+re du(!# 0 didn+t kno there as anything rong ith the &oint until you tipped (e off to the lay# 2ou (ight tell your !oss that -hen 0 knock the place o$er, he+ll ha$e you to thank # # # # 0f you don+t tell hi(, 0 ill# 'e"t ti(e you see (e, salute# Good nightA/ )e strode on past to the car, lea$ing the !ig (an in his resplendent

unifor( staring ith !e ildered eyes and a (outh that sagged slo ly open# Tragg laughed as he snapped on the ignition# ,:ust gi$ing hi( so(ething to think a!out,/ he said, and spun the car in the (iddle of the !lock, roaring into speed as he kicked on the s itch hich sent noise pouring fro( the siren on the front of the car# The E$erglade *part(ents had originally !een designed for a clerk, a s itch!oard operator, and ele$ator !oys# The pinch of the econo(ic shoe had con$erted it into auto(atic ele$ators, and a lo!!y used purely for purposes of orna(ent 8ieutenant Tragg pressed his thu(! against the !utton opposite Sindler Coil+s na(e on the outside of the !ig glass door through hich could !e seen a part of the lo!!y# ,'o luck./ Mason asked after se$eral (o(ents# ,'o dice,/ Tragg said, and pushed the !utton (arked Manager# *t the third ring, an indignant o(an in nightgo n, slippers, and ki(ono pushed open the door of one of the lo er apart(ents, and ca(e shuffling across the lo!!y to the door# For a long (o(ent, she stood staring at the( through the plate glass, then, opening the door a crack, she asked, ,-hat is it./ Tragg said, ,-e ant Sindler Coll#/ )er face darkened ith indignation# ,-ell, of all the ner$eA # # # There+s his !ell# Go on and ring itA # # # / ,)e doesn+t ans er#/ ,-ell, 0+( not his keeperA/ She started to sla( the door# Tragg pulled !ack his coat and ga$e her a gli(pse of his !adge# ,Take it easy, Ma+a(# -e ha$e to find hi(# This is i(portant#/ ,-ell, 0 ha$en+t the faintest idea here he is# 0+( running a respecta!le place here, and # # # / ,Sure, you are, Ma+a(,/ Tragg said soothingly, ,and you ouldn+t ant to get in !ad !y refusing to co-operate ith the police hen they anted a little so(ething# The ay things are no , the place has a nice reputation, and e ha$e you (arked as a la -a!iding citi%en ho+s on the side of la and order#/ )er e"pression softened# ,-ell, 0 a(#/ ,Sure, you are# 3h, e keep the places pretty ell pegged, and kno hat goes on# -e kno ho( e can depend on, and ho( e can+t# *nd lots of ti(es !anks and (ortgage co(panies that are looking for apart(ent-house (anagers gi$e us a ring and ask us hat sort of a record

the party had in the last &o!# 2ou+d !e surprised ho careful the !igger people are to get (anagers ho are friendly ith the police#/ ,-ell, 0 can understand that,/ she said# The hostility had left her $oice# She see(ed so eager to i(press the( that she as all !ut si(pering# ,The ay things are no , people can+t !e too careful 'o , if there+s anything 0 can do for you6anything#/ ,-e+d like to find out so(ething a!out Coll6not a!out his ha!its, !ut here e could locate hi(# 5o you kno anything a!out hi(, ho his friends are, or anything of that sort./ ,'o, 0 don+t# 0 can+t gi$e you a !it of help on that# )e+s a 7uiet chap, !ut 0 kno he+s $ery popular# There are 7uite a fe people co(e to call on hi(#/ ,Men or o(en./ ,Mostly # # # ell, some o(en# -e don+t !other our tenants as long as they+re 7uiet#/ ,5o you kno an Esther 5il(eyer./ ,'o, 0 don+t/ Tragg said, ,-e ha$e to get Coll as soon as he co(es in# -ould you (ind dressing and aiting here in the lo!!y until you see hi( co(e in. Then call police head7uarters, ask for 8ieutenant Tragg# That+s (e# 0f 0+( not in, get Sergeant Mahoney on the line, and hell tell you hat to do#/ ,0+ll !e glad to,/ she said# ,0t) only take (e a (inute#/ Gathering her ro!e a!out her, she shuffled rapidly across the lo!!y to $anish through the door of her apart(ent# Tragg turned to Mason and grinned# ,5oesn+t it feel pretty strange to you to !e co-operating ith the police./ Mason+s ans er as pro(pt# ,'o# The strange thing is to feel that the police are co-operating ith (e#/ Tragg thre !ack his head and laughed, then, after a (o(ent, said, ,-ell, tell (e a!out the case, Mason#/ ,-hat case./ ,5idn+t you say Esther 5il(eyer as a itness./ ,3h, yes# 0t+s a ci$il case, and 0 can+t gi$e you details ithout (y client+s consent# 0+ll say this (uch# * Mildreth Faulkner, ho o ns the Faulkner Flo er Shops, rang up and (ade an appoint(ent for one o+clock#/ ,*fternoon./ Tragg asked# ,'o, (orning# First, she called for an appoint(ent at one-thirty in the

(orning# Then she rang up again, $ery (uch e"cited, and said she si(ply had to see (e so(eti(e tonight# 0 as orking on a !rief# My secretary told her 0 ouldn+t !e finished !efore so(eti(e after (idnight, and e offered her a one o+clock appoint(ent, thinking that ould (ake her !ack out# She gra!!ed at it and told (e to !e on the atch for an Esther 5il(eyer ho as an i(portant itness# 0 gathered that she ouldn+t ha$e (uch of a case ithout 5il(eyer+s testi(ony#/ Then it+s a fair inference that so(eone kne a!out it, and poisoned 5il(eyer to keep her fro( talking#/ Mason nodded# Tragg said, ,8et+s start orking fro( the other end,-then# Find out fro( Mildreth Faulkner ho the ad$erse parties are# -e+ll start putting scre s on the(#/ ,-e can+t get Miss Faulkner# 5ella Street, (y secretary, has !een trying to get her# She+s up in the office still trying#/ Tragg &erked his head to ard a telephone !ooth# ,Gi$e her a ring#/ Mason entered the telephone !ooth and called his office# Tragg stood ith his ar( e"tended, the hand resting on the edge of the folding door of the telephone !ooth, his eight propped against the ar(# ,)ello, 5ella,/ Mason said# ,*nything ne ./ ,)a$en+t !een a!le to get a thing,/ she said# ,0 find there are three !ranches of the Faulkner Flo er Shops, each ith a separate phone# 0+$e !een calling the( in turn#/ ,'o ans er./ ,'o ans er#/ ,-ell, e+$e got a lead on a (an !y the na(e of Coll, !ut e can+t locate hi(# 0 left ord that Magard, 8ynk+s partner, as to call as soon as he ca(e in#/ ,0+ll keep one of the trunk lines free for inco(ing calls, and use the other one for (y o n calls#/ Mason said, ,0f you get an address, call police head7uarters direct#/ ,Tell her to ask for Sergeant Mahoney,/ Tragg said# ,*sk for Sergeant Mahoney,/ Mason ent on# ,Tell hi( to rush so(e radio officers out to her apart(ent, and !reak in-the door if they ha$e to#/ Mason hung up# ,Suppose there+s any use calling the Golden )orn./ he asked# ,*fter all, Magard (ight not ha$e telephoned#/ ,9etter let (e do it,/ Tragg said# )e aited for Mason to e(erge fro( the !ooth, then Tragg entered and dialed the Golden )orn# Mason, standing outside the telephone

!ooth, looked do n and sa so(ething hite under the !ench on hich the telephone rested# )e stooped do n and picked it up# ,-hat you got there./ Tragg asked# ,)andkerchief,/ Mason said# ,-o(an+s handkerchief# 0+ll gi$e it to the (anager# There+s an initial on it # # # # The letter 5+ # # # / 8ieutenant Tragg+s ar( e(erged fro( the telephone !ooth, !eckoning Mason frantically# The la yer hurried o$er# Tragg, ith his hand o$er the (outhpiece, said, ,Magard ca(e in &ust no 6according to hat the girl says# )e (ay ha$e !een there so(e ti(e, and decided not to !other ith a call# 0+( ha$ing her put hi( on # # # # )ello, Magard# This is 8ieutenant Tragg of head7uarters# 0 left ord for you to call head7uarters# -hy didn+t you do it. # # # -ell, it+s funny you got in just as 0 as telephoning#/ There as an inter$al during hich the recei$er (ade noises hile 8ieutenant Tragg inked at Mason# ,-ell,/ the officer interrupted a!ruptly, ,ne$er (ind all the e"planations# 0 ant to kno here Esther 5il(eyer li$es# She has an apart(ent so(e here, and 0 ant to get there right a ay # # # # -hat+s that. # # # -ell, get the safe open and look it up#/ Tragg again pushed his hand o$er the (outhpiece# ,0 know he+s co$ering up so(ething no ,/ he said# ,)e as pouring e"planations and apologies into the telephone# That+s a sure sign# 0 think e+re on the right track # # # #/ )e &erked his hand a ay, said, ,2es# )ello# 0sn+t she orking for you. # # # -ell, here can you find out. # # # 2ou+re sure a!out that. # # # 'o , listen, this is i(portant, and 0 don+t ant any run-around # # # # *ll right, all right, you ha$en+t any idea # # # 'o , ait a (inute# 5oes she ha$e a social security nu(!er. # # # 0 see # # # # 'o listen, 0 (ay ant to get you again# 5on+t lea$e the place ithout lea$ing a telephone nu(!er here you can !e called#/ )e hung up the telephone, turned to Mason, and said, ,That+s da(ned strange#/ ,)e doesn+t kno here she li$es./ ,'o# )e says she clai(s a girl can !e a hostess in a nightclu!, and keep her self-respect only as long as no one kno s her ho(e address# Sounds goofy to (e#/ ,Me too,/ Mason said# ,*ny ay, that+s his story# )e says she+d ne$er gi$e it to the(, that she orks on a co((ission !asis, so he doesn+t consider her an e(ployee#/ The door fro( the (anager+s apart(ent opened# The (anager,

earing a house dress, ca(e to ard the(# )er face, hich had !een gi$en a generous application of rouge so(e hat une$enly applied, as decorated in the unchanging s(ile of one ho has (ade a practice of ingratiating herself ith strangers# She said, ,0 # # # , and turned to ard the door# The (en follo ed her ga%e# Through the plate glass they sa a sli(aisted young (an run up the porch stairs, and &a! a key into the lock of the door# The (anager had ti(e to say, ,This is Coll no ,/ !efore the door opened# Tragg aited until the (an as ell on his ay to ard the ele$ator, noticing the half-running pace, the e"cited tension hich see(ed to grip hi(# ,Puttin+ out a fire./ Tragg asked# The (an apparently sa the( for the first ti(e, &erked to a standing stop, and stared# The (anager said, ingratiatingly, ,Mr# Coll, this is # # # / ,8et (e handle it,/ Tragg interrupted, stepping for ard and &erking !ack the lapel of his coat so that Coll could see his star# Coil+s reaction as instantaneous# )e half turned !ack to ard the !ig plate-glass door, as though a!out to run# 9y an effort, he caught hi(self and turned a hite face to Tragg# Tragg as o(inously silent, atching Coil+s countenance !egin to t itch# Coll took a deep !reath# Mason could see the hands clenched into fists# ,-ell, hat is it./ he asked# Tragg took his ti(e a!out ans ering# 9oth (en studied CollH * s(allfooned, sli(-hipped indi$idual hose coat as hea$ily padded at the shoulders# The e$en tan of his face indicated that he ha!itually ent ithout a hat and as (uch in the open# )is hair, !lack and glossy, a$ed !ack fro( his forehead ith a rippling regularity that suggested the touch of a professional hairdresser# 5espite his fi$e feet ten inches, the (an eighed not (uch (ore than a hundred and thirty pounds# Tragg+s $oice had the rasping !elligerence of a police officer dealing ith a la $iolator# ,-hat+s the hurry./ he asked# ,0 anted to get to !ed#/ ,2ou certainly ere stea(ed up a!out it#/ ,0 # # # / The lips cla(ped into a thin line of silence# Tragg said, ,-e ant so(e infor(ation#/ ,-hat do you ant./ ,2ou kno an Esther 5il(eyer./

,-hat a!out her./ ,-e+re trying to locate her# -e got a lead to you#/ ,That+s # # # that+s all you ant./ ,1ight no ,/ Tragg said# The look of relief on Coil+s face as al(ost co(ic# )e said, ,5il(eyer # # # Esther 5il(eyer # # # # )ostess at a nightclu!, isn+t she./ ,That+s right#/ Coll took a note!ook fro( his pocket, started to thu(! the pages, !ut, see(ingly reali%ing Tragg+s interest in the shaking hand hich held the note!ook, he a!ruptly closed it, put it !ack in his pocket, and said, ,0 re(e(!er no # The Molay *r(s *part(ents#/ ,-hat+s the apart(ent nu(!er./ Coll fro ned as though concentrating# ,Three-t enty-eight#/ ,-hen did you see her last./ ,-hy # # # hy, 0 don+t kno offhand#/ ,* eek ago, an hour ago./ ,3h, pro!a!ly yesterday so(eti(e# She+s at the Golden )orn# 0 drop in there once in a hile#/ ,3kay,/ Tragg said, ,go on to !ed,/ and to the (anager, ,-e shan+t need you any (ore# Thanks for your co-operation # # # # The Molay *r(s is on :efferson Street, isn+t it, Co)./ ,0 !elie$e so, yes#/ Tragg nodded to Mason# ,Co(e on, let+s go#/ The Molay *r(s *part(ents as a little alk-up# )ere again they encountered a locked door, a series of (ail!o"es and call !ells# -hen there as no ans er at Esther 5il(eyer+s !ell, Tragg again su((oned the (anager, ordered her to follo the( up to the apart(ent ith a passkey# They cli(!ed t o flights of stairs and alked do n a narro , thinly carpeted corridor, redolent ith stale s(ells, and the dank e(anations hich fill a poorly $entilated place here people are sleeping# Three-t enty-eight as on the southeast corner# * light sho ed o$er the transo(# Tragg knocked, recei$ed no ans er, and said to the (anager, ,3kay, open it up#/ She hesitated a (o(ent, then inserted a passkey# The door clicked !ack# The figure of a !lond o(an, dressed in a t eed skirt and &acket, light oolen stockings and ru!!er-soled gold shoes, lay spra led near the door# The telephone had !een knocked fro( a s(all spindly-legged stand to the floor# * !o" of chocolate crea(s as open on the ta!le, and so(e rap-

ping paper in hich the !o" had e$idently !een tied folded itself loosely around the edges of the !o"# The co$er lay slightly to one side# 3n the co$er as a chocolate-s(udged card, saying, ,These ill (ake you feel !etter,/ and signed ith the initials, ,M#F#/ The chocolates ere cradled in little paper cups# * !lank space in the upper tray furnished the sole clue as to the nu(!er hich had !een eaten# Mason, (aking a s ift sur$ey, esti(ated that eight or ten ere (issing fro( the top layer of the !o"# The lo er layer see(ed untouched# Tragg !ent o$er the o(an, felt her pulse, said to the (anager of the apart(ent, ,Go do nstairs# Call Sergeant Mahoney at head7uarters# Tell hi( 8ieutenant Tragg has found the 5il(eyer girl and the candy, that she+s e$idently !een poisoned# Tell hi( to rush out fingerprint (en and an a(!ulance#/ Mason dropped to one knee to look do n on the unconscious figure# ,Should e straighten her out./ he asked# Tragg felt her pulse again# The face as slightly congested# )er !reathing as slo and see(ed la!ored# The skin as ar( to the touch# Mason said, ,8ooks (ore like a drug than an acti$e poison# Perhaps e can !ring her out of it#/ ,-e can try,/ Tragg said# ,Get her o$er on her !ack# 3kay# See if you can find so(e to els, hot and cold# -e+ll start ith the cold#/ Mason turned cold ater into the ash!o l, sopped a !ath to el, rung it out, and tossed it to Tragg# Tragg sponged off the o(an+s face and neck, and started gently slapping her in the face ith the cold to el# *fter a (o(ent, he raised her !louse, pulled do n the top of her skirt, and applied the cold to els directly to the !are skin o$er the pit of her sto(ach# There as no slightest sign of returning consciousness# ,-ant a hot one no ./ Mason asked# ,2es, let+s try that#/ Mason turned on the hot ater, found a clean !ath to el in the lo er dra er of a ca!inet, and got it stea(ing hot# )e tossed it to Tragg, recei$ed in return the cold to el, and held that under the cold tap in the !athtu!# For fi$e (inutes Tragg orked alternately ith hot and cold to els# ,'o use,/ he said# ,That a(!ulance should !e here#/ )e looked at the telephone and said, ,0 don+t ant to touch that# 9e careful a!out touching things, Mason, particularly that candy or the rapping paper#/

Mason nodded, shut off the ater in the !athroo(# Tragg got to his feet# Mason alked o$er to peer in the aste-!asket# Then he opened the door of the clothes closet, and looked inside# There ere half a do%en e"pensi$e-looking e$ening go ns ith shoes to (atch# 9y co(parison, the clothes for dayti(e ear see(ed so(e hat sha!!y and fe in nu(!er# Tragg said i(patiently, ,0 don+t kno hether she got the call through to Mahoney or not# 0 guess e+d !etter go do n and # # # , )e !roke off as a siren sounded# ,This,/ he said, , ill !e it -e+ll let the( take the responsi!ility#/ Mason said, ,3ne thing 0 ant, Tragg# 0 ant to get (y o n doctor orking on this#/ ,-hy./ ,2our e(ergency surgeons are all right, !ut she on+t get the co(plete care, particularly on follo -up treat(ent in an e(ergency hospital, that she ill under (y doctor# 0 ant this o(an taken to the )astings Me(orial )ospital, put in a pri$ate roo(, and 0 ant 5r# -ilhnont to co-operate ith hate$er doctor is called in#/ ,-ilhnont, eh./ ,2es#/ ,-ho+s paying for it./ ,0 a(#/ ,-hy./ ,9ecause 0+( interested#/ 8ieutenant Tragg indicated the note on the card# ,0 noticed the initials M#F#+ on that card,/ he said# ,-e)./ ,Mildreth Faulkner#/ Mason said, ,'uts# * person ouldn+t send another a !o" of poisoned candy, and then put a card in ith the candy for the police to find#/ ,2ou can+t al ays tell,/ Tragg said# ,1ules don+t (ean anything e"cept on a general !asis# *nd e$en then, they don+t (ean anything hen you+re dealing ith cri(es of o(en#/ Mason said, ,*nd, therefore, you think 0 don+t ant her to die si(ply !ecause 0+( protecting the poisoner# * person ho isn+t e$en a client, ho( 0 don+t kno and ha$en+t seenC !ut ith ho( 0 ha$e an appoint(ent in # # # , he glanced at his rist atch, ,e"actly fifteen (inutes#/ Tragg laughed and said, ,-ell, hen you put it that ay, it does sound goofy# 0 guess there+s no o!&ection to taking her to the )astings Me(orial

)ospital6if you can get 5r# -ill(ont on the &o!#/ ,0 can try,/ Mason said# ,0 think there+s a telephone in the (anager+s apart(ent/ )e alked rapidly to ard the stairs, (et t o hite-gar!ed (en carrying a stretcher in the corridor# ,5o n at the end of the corridor, !oys,/ Mason said# ,-ait for (e at the door of the apart(ent house# 0) tell you here to take her#/

Chapter >
Perry Mason latchkeyed the door of his pri$ate office# 5ella Street as sitting o$er !y a corner of the desk, Mason+s desk telephone pulled o$er close to her# ,)ello,/ Mason said# ,0+( a!out ten (inutes late# )eard anything fro( our client./ ,'o#/ Mason said, ,0 guess it as a stand-up after all# That cures (e of night appoint(ents at the office#/ ,)o is Esther 5il(eyer./ 5ella asked# ,She+s at the )astings Me(orial )ospital# 0 got hold of 5r# -ill(ont on the telephone# )e+s rushing right out to (eet her hen she+s unloaded fro( the a(!ulance# 8ooks like so(e drug, !ut it+s too early to tell# So(eti(es a drug hich ill induce sleep is gi$en to co$er the effects of so(e other poison# )o e$er, 0+d say e got her in ti(e, and she+ll pull through#/ ,5id you,/ she asked, ,thro a scare into Magard./ ,0+ll say e did6that is, 8ieutenant Tragg did#/ ,)e sounded thoroughly su!dued#/ ,5id he ring up./ ,2es# )e called, said that he understood you had !een at the Golden )orn ith an officer looking for infor(ation, said he+d gi$en the officer the infor(ation he anted, and in7uired if there as anything else he could do for you#/ Mason chuckled# ,-hat did you tell hi(./ ,0 thanked hi( and told hi( it ould !e all right#/ Mason looked at his atch# ,-ell, 0 guess e+ll !e on our ay and charge this to e"perience # # # # -ait a (inute# )ere+s so(eone co(ing#/ They could hear the rapid click-clack # # # click-clack # # # click-clack of

heels in the corridor# Mason opened the door# Mildreth Faulkner said, ,Thank you so (uch for aiting, Mr# Mason# 0+( sorry 0 as late# 0 &ust couldn+t (ake it any sooner#/ Mason looked her o$er carefully, said, ,Co(e in# Miss Faulkner, (y secretary, Miss Street# This chair please# 2ou+re !reathless and e"cited# )o a!out a cigarette./ ,'o, Jthanks# 0 ha$e to ork fast, Mr# Mason#/ ,-hat+s rong./ She said, ,0t+s a long story# 0 hardly kno here to !egin#/ ,-ell, !egin right in the (iddle,/ Mason said, ,and keep (o$ing#/ She laughed# ,0t+s this ayH My sister Carlotta and 0 started the Faulkner Flo er Shops# That as !efore Carla as (arried# -e each had half of the stock e"cept a s(all !lock of fi$e shares hich e ga$e to one of our e(ployees to 7ualify her so there+d !e three on the !oard of directors# ,)arry Pea$is is a !ig co(petitor# )e controls the !ulk of the retail flo er !usiness here# 0+$e al ays liked hi(# )e+s rather nai$e in so(e respects, !ut a shre d !usiness(an, hard-!oiled, occasionally so(e hat tactless, and ith a great deal of nati$e a!ility#/ ,-here does he co(e into the picture./ Mason asked# ,)e (anaged to pick up the fi$e shares of stock hich had !een gi$en to our e(ployee#/ Mason fro ned# ,-hy. 5oes he ant to pry into your !usiness./ ,0 thought so at the ti(e# -hen he handed o$er the stock for transfer, he &oked a!out !eing a silent partner, !ut 0 think there+s so(ething far (ore sinister !ack of it#/ ,Go ahead#/ ,My sister (arried a little o$er a year ago6a!out eighteen (onths ago#/ ,-ho( did she (arry./ ,1o!ert C# 8a ley#/ ,-hat does he do./ Mason asked# She (ade a little gesture hich as (ore e"pressi$e than ords, and said, ,)e (anages (y sister+s (oney#/ ,0s that enough to keep hi( !usy./ ,0t as hen there as (ore of it#/ Mason s(iled# ,0 take it things ha$en+t gone so ell under his (anage(ent#/

,'o#/ ,-hat does your sister say to that./ She said, ,Carla de$eloped heart trou!le a!out a year ago# She didn+t go to a doctor as soon as she should ha$e# She kept on in a (ad round of acti$ity, and !y the ti(e she had to gi$e in to it, she as pretty far gone# The doctor says it ill take a long ti(e !efore he can !ring her !ack to nor(al# 0n the (eanti(e, she isn+t to !e e"cited, or orried#/ ,She kno s the true state of her finances./ Mason asked# Mildreth Faulkner said, ith feeling, ,0 hope to God she does#/ ,9ut you+$e ne$er asked her./ ,-e don+t talk a!out her hus!and,/ she said# ,0 ne$er did like hi(# Carla thought 0 as pre&udiced#/ ,She lo$es hi(./ ,Cra%y a!out hi(# )e+s s(art enough to keep her that ay# * little flattery and those little attentions hich o(en cra$e are all that+s necessary# 2ou kno ho it is ith a (an hen the ife has the (oney# 0t+s a sha(e (ore (en can+t learn that lesson, !ut it see(s that only the ones ho are in a position to profit financially e$er do it#/ ,0 take it you didn+t appro$e of the (atch in the first place#/ ,0 certainly did not# 0 al ays thought 9o! as a eak sister, a fortune hunter, and a fourflusher#/ ,*nd 0 take it he kno s that./ ,)e does# 3h, e+$e tried to !e ci$ili%ed a!out the thing# -e+$e gotten along all right# 3ccasionally, !efore Carla+s heart got !ad, e+d go on eek-end trips together, and 9o! ould !e so nice to (e that !utter ouldn+t (elt in his (outh# Then Carla ould look at (e as (uch as to say, Can+t you see ho perfectly s ell he is, Mil-)e.+ / ,*nd hat ould you do./ Mason asked# She said, ,0+d try to !e &ust as oily and s(ooth as he as, !ut 0 as !urning up inside# 0 don+t (ind a (an ho+s frankly on the (ake, !ut 0 do hate (ealy-(outhed hypocrisy#/ Mason said, ,-ell, that+s the !ackground# -hat co(es ne"t./ ,9o! has Carla+s co(plete confidence# -hen her heart ent !ad, 9o! started (anaging all of her affairs# -hen she+d ask 7uestions, he told her it as no ti(e to !other ith !usiness details, that things ere going si(ply grand#/ ,*nd you didn+t !elie$e that./ ,0 kne it asn+t true#/ ,)o ./

,-ell, a!out a eek ago, 9o! as in an auto(o!ile accident# 'o one ould ha$e thought anything of it if it hadn+t !een for the ay he started (aking gli! e"planations# -hen you get to kno 9o!, he+s like an open !ook# 0f he+s going to lie, he+ll rehearse it so carefully that the pieces all fit together so s(oothly that6 ell, it+s &ust too good to !e true# 0t+s like a gilded lily or a painted rose#/ ,So he lied a!out the auto(o!ile accident./ ,2es # # # hen 0 asked hi( a!out it#/ ,*nd you started checking up on hi(./ She flushed slightly, and said, ,-hen Pea$is ca(e in and asked to ha$e that stock transferred on the !ooks of the corporation, 0 !egan to do a lot of thinking# 0 reali%ed suddenly that if so(eone controlled that fi$e shares of stock and then could get Carla+s !lock of stock, he+d ha$e co(plete control of the corporation# 0 suppose it as $ery foolish of us, !ut e ne$er thought of anything like that !ecause it as all a fa(ily affair# 0+d e$en forgotten a!out those fi$e shares of stock, !ecause e &ust ent ahead ith the !usiness and did hat e anted# -e ne$er do ha$e a directorsK (eeting, and there hasn+t !een a stockholders+ (eeting for three years# -ell, any ay, that fi$e shares of stock represent the !alance of po er#/ ,0 presu(e,/ Mason said, ,you+re leading up to telling (e that your !rother-in-la has (anaged to get control of the stock your sister held#/ ,That+s e"actly it, only it+s orse than that# 9o! e$idently has !een plunging pretty hea$ily# Carla has unli(ited confidence in hi(# She ga$e hi( a co(plete po er of attorney, and endorsed all of her securities in !lank hen she got sick# The doctor said she asn+t to !e !othered ith !usiness affairs# 0 al ays did think that 9o! had a finger in that pie so(ehere, and got the doctor to say that# 0t ould ha$e !een rather easy to do, telling the doctor that Carla orried a lot a!out !usiness#/ Mason nodded# ,*ny idea here the stock is./ he asked# She said, ,0t+s apparently in the hands of a (an !y the na(e of 8ynk ho is one of the o ners of the Golden )orn# The girl ith ho( (y !rother-in-la as riding at the ti(e of the accident is a gla(our girl ho acts as decoy for6She+s supposed to !e here# She+s the one 0 telephoned a!out# 0+( e"pecting her any (inute#/ Mason said, ,She isn+t co(ing#/ ,-hat do you (ean./ ,So(eone sent her a !o" of poisoned candy# She rang (e up a!out ele$en-thirty, and could hardly talk# She apparently collapsed hile she

as talking o$er the telephone#/ ,Sent her poisoned candyA/ Mildreth Faulkner e"clai(ed# Mason nodded# ,9ut ho on earth could ha$e done that./ Mason said, ,There as a card on the candy !o"# 0t said, These ill (ake you feel !etter,+ and as signed si(ply ith the initials M#F#+ 5o you kno anything a!out that./ She looked at hi(, her eyes getting round# ,-hy, Mr# Mason6That card6-hy, L sent itA/ ,-ith the candy./ Mason asked# ,Good hea$ens, noA 4nderstand, Mr# Mason, 0 started doing a little detecti$e ork# That auto(o!ile accident as (y clue# 0 reali%ed after Pea$is called on (e hat an a ful fi" 0+d !e in if 9o! had done so(ething ith that stock# 0 kne Carla had endorsed it and gi$en hi( a po er of attorney#/ ,9ut 0 thought it as 8ynk ho had the stock#/ ,0 think Pea$is either put hi( up to it, or 8ynk is in touch ith Pea$is#/ ,0 see# Tell (e a!out that card#/ ,-ell, as soon as 9o! started talking a!out the accident ith all those gli! e"planations, 0 reali%ed at once that if there as anything rong, that auto(o!ile accident ould ha$e so(ething to do ith it# 0 kne that there as so(ething a!out that accident he didn+t ant (e to find out# So 0 in$estigated# 0 could do that $ery easily !ecause the other party had reported it to the Traffic 5epart(ent# 0t see(s that at the ti(e of the accident, 9o! had &ust left the Golden )orn and had a (an na(ed Sindler Coll, ho 0 think is a ga(!ler, and Esther 5il(eyer in the car ith hi(# ,0 don+t think 9o! ould deli!erately surrender the stock in order to get (oney to ga(!le, !ut 0 think they+d persuaded hi( his credit as good, and he+d plunged pretty deeply and had so(e !ad luck# They+d gi$en hi( so(ething that as supposed to !e a sure thing, and he anted to collect a lot of innings !efore he had to pay out his losses#/ ,*ll right, hat a!out the card./ She laughed# ,0 do see( to !e getting all in$ol$ed in e"planations, don+t 0. -ell, any ay, 0 ent to the Golden )orn and (anaged to get ac7uainted ith Esther 5il(eyer# She as feeling pretty lo tonight# 0 gathered that she and Sindler Coll had !een6 ell, pretty s eet on each other, and apparently he+d # # # / Mason said, ,*ll right# )o a!out the card./

She said, ,0 sent her so(e orchids#/ ,-hen./ ,-hen 0 left# She as feeling !lue, and 0 told her 0 as in the flo er !usiness#/ ,She told you a!out the stock./ Mason asked# ,'ot a!out the stock, !ut generally hat as going on#/ ,-ould Pea$is surrender that stock if you threatened to sue./ ,'ot Pea$is,/ she said# ,-hen he once gets his hands on anything, he hangs on until the last ditch# -e (ight get the stock !ack, !ut e+d ha$e fi$e years of litigation doing it6and e (ight as ell sell hi( control of the co(pany as do that# 9ut tell (e, Mr# Mason, ho did it happen that you thought my card as in the candy. That card as on the orchids#/ Mason said, ,So(eone got it fro( the orchids and put it in the candy# )o did you send the orchids./ ,9y -estern 4nion (essenger#/ ,-ere they rapped./ ,2es, they ere in a !o"#/ ,*!out the si%e of a candy !o"./ ,2es#/ ,-here did you send it./ ,To the Golden )orn#/ ,*nd it as addressed to her./ ,2es#/ ,)o ./ ,-hat do you (ean./ ,Pencil, pen and ink, type riting, or # # # / ,3h, pen and ink# 0 rote her na(e on the outside of the !o"6that is, on the rapper, you kno #/ ,The !o" as a!out the si%e of a three-pound candy !o"./ ,0 guess it as#/ ,So(eone,/ Mason said, ,could $ery readily ha$e taken that !o" at the Golden )orn, pro(ised to take it to Esther 5il(eyer, then taken out the orchids and put in the drugged candy#/ ,0 suppose so#/ Mason said, ,That could ha$e !een done all the (ore readily in case the person ho recei$ed it as in a position of so(e responsi!ility#/ Mildreth Faulkner studied the tips of her glo$ed fingers# She said, ,0 re(e(!er telling the !oy he didn+t need to (ake a personal deli$ery, !ut to !e certain they ould reach her0 can+t i(agine # # # /

,)e pro!a!ly deli$ered e( to the door(an,/ Mason said# ,The door(an+s rather officious#/ ,That (ay ha$e happened#/ ,)o (uch is that stock of yours orth./ Mason asked# ,* great deal6(ore than the real intrinsic $alue# 2ou kno ho it is# 0 ha$e three shops# They+re all (aking (oney# 0+( (y o n !oss# 0 control the !usiness policies# 0+( (aking a good li$ing out of the !usiness, and the !usiness is !uilding up all the ti(e# That+s orth a great deal (ore to (e than the !ook $alue of the stock# 0n other ords, e$ery thousand dollars+ inco(e that 0+( (aking out of the place on a setup like that, 0 figure is the e7ui$alent of a t enty-fi$e thousand dollar capital in$est(ent# 9ut, of course, 0 couldn+t sell out on that !asis#/ Mason said, ,0 may ha$e to pay out a little (oney# )o high can 0 go./ She said, ithout hesitation, ,Go to ten thousand dollars if you ha$e to#/ ,9ut not (ore than that./ ,'-n-no# -ell, not ithout consulting (e any ay#/ Mason said, ,0 don+t think 0+ll ha$e to pay out a cent# 0f 0 do, it on+t !e $ery (uch, !ut6 ell, 0+ll do the !est 0 can# ,5ella, call up the Golden )orn# See if Magard ill gi$e us the address of 8ynk+s hide-out#/ Mildreth Faulkner opened her purse, took out a folded slip of paper, hesitated, started to put it !ack, reali%ed the la yer+s eyes ere on her, and said, ,0 ha$e it here6the address of the 8ilac Canyon ca!in#/ ,-here+d you get it./ ,Fro( Esther 5il(eyer6!ut don+t gi$e her a ay#/ ,*ll right, 0 on+t# 5ella, you take a ta"i ho(e and get so(e sleep# 0+ll call you in an hour or an hour and a half, Miss Faulkner#/ Mason alked o$er to the hat closet, put on his hat and coat, grinned cheerfully at his orried client# ,'o , take it easy,/ he said, ,and don+t orry# Things are going to !e all right# Those (en are running a ga(!ling place in connection ith the Golden )orn, and there are half a do%en eak points in their ar(or# 3ne of the( is Mr# Magard, Mr# 8ynk+s partner# 0 as at the Golden )orn ith 8ieutenant Tragg of the )o(icide S7uad# The door(an started getting officious, and Tragg put hi( in his place# 9y the ti(e Magard got !ack, he kne that the police had !een there# )ell fall all o$er hi(self trying to s7uare things up#/ Mildreth Faulkner said, getting to her feet, ,0 feel !etter no than 0

ha$e at any ti(e in the last fe hours# This thing hit (e an a ful !lo #/ ,-ell, e+ll do the !est e can,/ Mason pro(ised# ,2ou+re6you+re so thoroughly capa!le,/ she said ith a little laugh# ,0 feel that e$erything is all settled right no # 2ou+re going out to the Golden )orn personally./ ,'o, 0+( going to lilac Canyon, if 8ynk hasn+t returned to the Golden )orn#/ ,-ell, no (atter hat happens, in, lose, or a dra , you+ll call (e &ust as soon as # # # ell, call (e !y three o+clock any ay# 0+ll !e aiting#/ Mason said, reassuringly, ,Sure, 0+ll call you# Close up the shop, 5ella, and put out the lights# 0+( on (y ay#/

Chapter ?
The road up 8ilac Canyon ound like a sinuous snake, t isting and turning# Side roads (eandered off the (ain high ay, follo ing the contours of the steep hillsides to secluded little ca!ins, places al(ost ithin a stone+s thro of the city, yet still distinctly rural and rustic# *t one ti(e, !efore the city had entered upon its pheno(enal spurt of gro th, 8ilac Canyon had !een the hinterland# 0t as de$oted to eekend ca!ins, little hideouts, places here city d ellers could spend 7uiet Saturday afternoons and Sundays# Then the city had e"panded# 8ilac Canyon as still too precipitous, too !rushy, and too rural to lend itself to real estate su!di$ision, !ut the lots ere pounced upon !y those ho ished relati$ely cheap hillside property ithin co((uting distance of the (etropolitan district# Mason had so(e trou!le as he threaded his ay along the inding pa$e(ent of the (ain road, locating the na(es of the roads hich turned off# E$entually, ho e$er, he found *corn 5ri$e and turned off, follo ing the road along the contours until he rounded the shoulder of a (ountain fro( hich he could look do n on the $alley, and see the long lighted lines hich (arked the location of !oule$ardsC in the distance the !right !lotches of the su!ur!an cities# Mason slo ed do n, looking for house nu(!ers, !ut the houses ere !ack fro( the road ay, cro ded up or do n on the hillside, screened here$er possi!le !y the scru! oak hich as nati$e to the hillside# *!ruptly Mason sa the red light of a car parked ahead# :ust !eyond as another car, and !eyond that still a third# 4p fro( the road to the

right, as a s(all ca!in ith lights a!la%e# * group of (en gathered on a porch hich stretched fro( the front around to the side of the house# They ere s(oking, and the little pin points of red light (ade !y the tips of their cigarettes glo ed into alternate spurts of !rilliance like stationary fireflies# The front door of the house as open# *cross the illu(inated o!long, (en (o$ed !ack and forth, (en ho kept their hats on# 0t (ight ha$e !een a )olly ood party, !ut there as no hilarity, no sounds of (erri(ent e(anating fro( the lighted !uilding# Mason s ung his car so that the headlights fell on the license plate of one of the parked cars# )e sa that it held an ,E/ ithin a dia(ond, the sign of a police car# *!ruptly, Mason changed his course and dro$e on past the group of parked auto(o!iles# Three hundred yards !eyond, the road ended in a pa$ed circle hich ga$e Mason !arely enough roo( to turn around# )eaded !ack to ard to n, he ran his car in close to the cur! here there as a straight stretch free of parked auto(o!iles# )e s itched out the lights, turned off the ignition, and cli(!ed the t o flights of stairs hich led fro( the street, up the steep decli$ity to the porch# 3ne of the (en seated on the porch recogni%ed hi(, ca(e for ard, took his ar(, pushed hi( slightly to one side# ,)o a!out it, Mr# Mason. Got a story for us./ ,3n hat./ Mason asked# ,3n the (urder# )o do you co(e in on it. *re you retained, and, if so, !y ho(. -hat+s it all a!out./ Mason said, ,0 think you are one up on (e#/ ,3n hat./ ,3n the (urder#/ ,2ou didn+t kno a!out it./ ,'o#/ ,Then hat are you doing here./ ,0 anted to get in touch ith 8ieutenant Tragg,/ Mason said# ,0 tried to reach hi( at head7uarters# They told (e 0+d find hi( here# They didn+t say hat as rong# 2ou say a (an as killed./ ,2es# Shot in the !ack ith a thirty-t o cali!er re$ol$er#/ ,5o they kno ho did it./ ,'o#/

,-ho as it./ ,)ar$ey :# 8ynk is the na(e#/ ,8ynk,/ Mason said, ,(eans nothing to (e# -hat did he do./ ,9ig ti(e stuff# 3ne of the o ners of the Golden )orn, a nightclu!# There+s an upstairs a!o$e that nightclu!#/ ,1oo(s./ Mason asked# ,1oulette, craps, stud poker#/ ,-hat as this place. * lo$e nest./ ,'o one kno s6yet#/ ,2ou say he as one of the o ners# -ho+s the other./ ,dint Magard#/ ,)as he !een ad$ised./ The ne spaper (an laughed# )e said, ,The police ha$e ad$ised hi(, and e$ery ne spaper in to n has sent a (an to ask hi( for a state(ent#/ ,-hy all the co((otion./ Mason asked# ,8ooks like a s ell story# There+s a o(an in the case so(e here# * o(an+s o$ernight !ag and so(e stuff are in there# Po der spilled on the dresser, a cigarette end ith lipstick on it # # # Tragg has a couple of leads he+s orking on# )a$e an idea e can (ake it a nice, &uicy scandal-killing !efore e get done# S eet young thing fighting to sa$e her honor, finally pointing a gun# 8ynk gra!!ed her# There as a struggle# She has no recollection of pulling the trigger# She heard an e"plosion# 8ynk fell !ack ard# 5a%ed, she dropped the gun and ran, afraid to tell anyone !ecause # # # )ell, 0 should go ahead and outline a perfect defense for you# 2ou+ll pro!a!ly !e the attorney representing her and get ten thousand dollars for thinking up the stuff 0+( gi$ing you for nothing#/ Mason chuckled# ,-ell,/ he said, ,if Tragg is as !usy as all this, 0 on+t !other hi(# 0+ll catch hi( so(e other ti(e#/ ,-ant (e to tell hi( you+re here./ ,'o# 5on+t tell hi( anything a!out (y !eing here# 0 ha$e so(ething to take up ith hi( and don+t ant to tip (y hand# 0+d prefer to alk in on hi( ithout ha$ing hi( kno 0+( looking for hi(#/ ,Figure on pulling a little surprise./ the reporter asked# ,'ot e"actly, !ut there+s no reason hy he should aste a lot of ti(e speculating o$er hy 0 ant to see hi( and hat 0 ant to see hi( a!out#/ ,So(ething to that# *nd you can+t gi$e us a story./ ,'o#/ ,*nything in hat you ant to see Tragg a!out./ ,'othing you+d care to pu!lish#/

,2ou don+t kno hether you+re going to get in on this case./ Mason laughed# ,0 didn+t e$en kno there as a case# 0+$e ne$er seen 8ynk in (y life, and had no idea he+d !een killed#/ )e turned !ack to ard the stairs# ,-ell, so-long# 0 # # # / * (an+s for( loo(ed in the door ay of the house, cast a shado along the porch# 8ieutenant Tragg said, ,-ell, dust the hole da(n thing for fingerprints and6-here+s that photographer. 0 ant a photograph of # # # / )e stopped (idsentence as he sa Perry Mason half ay do n the steps# ,)ey, your he shouted# Mason paused and looked !ack# ,-hat the de$il are you doing out here./ ,Co(e do n to the car,/ Mason in$ited# ,'o# 0+( too !usy# Talk right here # # # / Mason &erked his thu(! to ard the cluster of lighted cigarettes hich (arked the little group of reporters# Tragg said, ,2ou (ay !e right at that#/ )e follo ed Mason do n the stairs to here the la yer had-the car parked# ,3kay,/ Tragg said, , hat did you ant to see 8ynk a!out./ Mason s(iled ruefully# ,To tell you the truth, 0 thought 0+d steal a (arch on you, !ut 0 see you !eat (e to it#/ ,)o do you (ean, steal a (arch./ ,-ell, 0 anted to kno (ore a!out Esther 5il(eyer, ho her friends ere, anted to get a line on anyone she+d !een going ith, anted to find out hether her folks ere li$ing, hether she had (uch (ail#/ ,2ou thought 8ynk could tell you./ ,2es, 0 had an idea he could#/ ,-hat ga$e you that idea./ Mason said e$asi$ely, ,0 don+t kno #/ ,-hy didn+t you talk ith Magard. )e as at the office here the infor(ation ould !e (ore readily a$aila!le#/ Mason said, ,0 as going to talk ith the( !oth#/ Tragg regarded hi( thoughtfully# ,)olco(!,/ he announced at length, ,al ays clai(ed you played dirty pool, Mason# 0 could ne$er see it that ay# 0 figured that you ere on one side, )olco(! on the other# 0t as a fair fight# 2ou (o$ed a little faster than )olco(! could follo # *t ti(es, your hands ere 7uicker than the eye6)olco(!+s eye, any ay#/

,-e)./ Mason asked# ,1ight no , 0 can appreciate &ust a!out ho Sergeant )olco(! felt# 2ou aren+t strong on gi$ing out infor(ation, are you./ ,0 can+t afford to !e#/ ,-hy./ ,0 protect (y clients#/ ,2eah# 0 ant to talk ith you a!out that client# -hat do you kno a!out her, and hat did she say hen she ca(e in./ ,Ca(e in here./ Mason asked# ,2our office# 5idu+t you say you had a one o+clock appoint(ent./ ,3h, that,/ Mason said, as though &ust placing hat Tragg as talking a!out# ,That as a (inor (atter# -ell, 0 don+t suppose she+d o!&ect if 0 told you, 8ieutenant, !ut # # # -ell, as a la yer, 0 can+t tell you a!out her affairs#/ Tragg said, ,2our appoint(ent as for one o+clock#/ ,That+s right#/ ,8et+s say that took t enty or t enty-fi$e (inutes # # # #/ )e looked at his atch thoughtfully# ,2ou hot-footed it out here and didn+t aste a great deal of ti(e doing it# )o +d you get this address./ ,)o ,/ Mason asked, ,did you kno 8ynk had !een (urdered./ ,)o ,/ Tragg countered, ,did you./ ,* ne spaper (an told (e#/ ,)ead7uarters told (e# 0 as ordered to get out here#/ ,9ut don+t you kno ho the (urder as disco$ered./ ,'o# So(eone rang up head7uarters, said to rush a car out here right a ay#/ ,Man or o(an./ ,-o(an#/ ,*nd they sent the car out./ ,2es# She pretended to !e telephoning fro( this ca!in, said there as a pro ler on the outside#/ ,-here do you get that pretended stuff./ Mason asked# ,That pro!a!ly as 8ynk+s little play(ate# There as a pro ler#/ ,8ynk had !een dead 7uite a hile !efore that call ca(e in,/ Tragg said dryly# ,-hy are you so sure of that./ ,The doc+s ord, not (ine# Coagulation of !lood, rigor (ortis, and a lot of technical stuff# They fi" the ti(e of death as right around (idnight, and they aren+t going to !e a hell of a long ay off# 0t+s a good thing e

got here hen e did# To(orro (orning they+d ha$e had to fi" the ti(e of death so(e here !et een ten o+clock and one o+clock# The ay it is no , they can split it do n al(ost to a fe (inutes one ay or another# Figure it (idnight on the nose, and you on+t (iss it far#/ Mason said, ,2ou ha$en+t anything ne on that 5il(eyer case, ha$e you./ ,'o# 0 had to drop that to ork on this# 0 understand she+s going to !e all right# 2ou+re sure you didn+t ha$e an idea that perhaps 8ynk asn+t in the !est of health./ ,*nd ca(e out here to disco$er the corpse./ Mason asked# ,'o, thanks# 0+$e had (y share of that#/ Tragg studied the la yer for a (o(ent, then scratched his hair o$er his left ear# ,2ou see your client and !eat it out here# * guy ould al(ost think Esther 5il(eyer as one of your itnesses, 8ynk another, and that it+s open season on the itnesses in that case of yours# 8ooks like so(eone doesn+t ant you to in that case#/ Mason said, ,0f you find any angle on this that ties in ith the 5il(eyer case, ill you let (e kno ./ ,0 suppose you+ll let me kno hat you find#/ Mason said, ,-ell, there+s no har( in trying# See you later#/ ,2ou ill at that,/ Tragg assured hi( gri(ly# Mason as careful to start his car in a leisurely (anner, nor did he step on the throttle until he as a good half (ile fro( the (ountain ca!in# *n all-night restaurant on the !oule$ard had a telephone, and Mason called the )astings Me(orial )ospital to ask for 5r# -ill(ont# Mason had a ait of (ore than a (inute !efore he heard 5r# -ill(ont+s $oice on the line# ,Mason talking, 5octor# -hat did you find ith Esther 5il(eyer./ ,She+ll pu) through#/ ,The candy as poisoned./ ,2es# E$ery piece had !een ta(pered ith#/ ,-hat as the poison./ ,:udging fro( the patient+s sy(pto(s,/ 5r# -ill(ont said, ,and fro( the !est guess 0 can (ake fro( tests e+$e carried out, it+s one of the !ar!ituric deri$ati$es, pro!a!ly $eronal# The drug has a (ildly acrid taste hich is pretty ell disguised in the !itters eet chocolates# ,0t+s a hypnotic, !ut there+s a ide range !et een the (edicinal and the lethal dose# The official dose is fi$e to ten grains# That+s usually suffi-

cient to !ring on sleep# 5eath has occurred after a dose of si"ty grains, !ut, on the other hand, there+s !een a reco$ery after a dose of three hundred and si"ty grains# There ha$e !een nu(erous reco$eries ith around t o hundred grains# -e ha$en+t !een a!le to analy%e the candy definitely, !ut, &udging fro( taste and other factors, there+s pro!a!ly fi$e to se$en grains in the centers of each of the chocolates# She e$idently ate the( slo ly enough so there as an inter$al !et een the first ten or t enty grains and the rest of the ingestion, hich ga$e the drug a chance to ork !efore she+d eaten enough to !ring a!out a fatal result#/ ,2ou+re sure that+s hat it is./ Mason asked# ,Pretty sure, !oth fro( an e"a(ination of the candy and fro( the condition of the patient# )er face is congested, respiration+s slo and stertorous# There are no refle"es# The pupil is so(e hat dilated# There+s a te(perature rise of a little o$er one degree# Personally, 0+d say $eronal, and 0+d figure a!out fi$e grains to a candy center# That ould (ake a!out fifty grains she+d taken# That (akes a reco$ery al(ost certain#/ Mason said, ,*ll right, keep on the &o!# See that she has the $ery !est of care# Eeep a special nurse on duty all the ti(e# -atch her diet# 0 ant to !e da(n certain that no one slips her any (ore poison#/ ,That+s all taken care of,/ 5r# -ill(ont said dryly# ,-hen ill she !e conscious./ ,'ot for so(e ti(e# -e+$e cleaned out her sto(ach, (ade a lu(!ar puncture, and drained off so(e of the fluid# That ill e"pedite things a lot, !ut she has enough of the drug in her syste( so she+ll !e sleeping for 7uite so(e ti(e# 0 don+t think it+s ad$isa!le to try to hurry that any#/ ,8et (e kno hen she akes up,/ Mason said, ,and !e sure to fi" things there so nothing else happens#/ ,2ou think so(ething+s going to./ 5r# -ill(ont asked# ,0 don+t kno # She as co(ing to (y office to gi$e (e so(e infor(ation# She+s a itness# 0 don+t kno hat she kno s# So(eone e$idently ent to so(e pains to see that 0 didn+t find out#/ ,Gi$e her another-t enty-four hours, and she can tell,/ 5r# -ill(ont said# Mason said thoughtfully, ,0t (ay !e that hoe$er sent her that drugged candy didn+t ant to kill her, !ut si(ply anted to keep her fro( telling (e hat she kno s for t enty-four hours# 0n other ords, it (ay !e too late then to do any good#/ ,-ell, nothing else is going to happen to her,/ 5r# -ill(ont pro(ised# ,'o $isitors are to !e ad(itted ithout (y per(ission# 0 ha$e three

nurses orking on the &o! in shifts6and all of the( ha$e red hair#/ ,3kay, 5octor# 0+( lea$ing it up to you#/ Mason hung up the telephone and (ade ti(e to Mildreth Faulkner+s house on -hiteley Pines 5ri$e# )ere also he as on a steep slope o$erlooking the city# The house as on the slope !elo the road, one story on the street, three stories on-the !ack# Mason touched the !ell gently, and Mildreth Faulkner opened the door al(ost at once# ,-hat,/ she asked, ,did you find out./ Mason said, ,She+s going to pull through all right# So(e drug, apparently $eronal# 2ou certainly are up in the air here#/ She laughed ner$ously, leading the ay into the li$ing roo(# ,2es, 0 !ought this house a!out si" (onths ago, after Carla got sick# 0 anted to !e near her#/ ,*nd are you./ ,2es# She li$es on Cher$is 1oad# That+s o$er around the shoulder of the hill#/ ,)o far./ ,3h, not (ore than fi$e (inutes+ alk# 0+d say a!out63h, 0 don+t kno # Perhaps a 7uarter of a (ile#/ ,:ust a hop, skip, and a &u(p in a car./ ,That+s right# Tell (e, hy as she poisoned. 3r as it an o$erdose of sleeping (edicine./ ,'o# She as poisoned# That is, the candy as poisoned# The che(ist for the )o(icide S7uad says that e$ery piece has !een ta(pered ith# They ha$en+t (ade a co(plete analysis yet#/ Mildreth Faulkner alked o$er to the grid o$er a floor heater, and said, ,Sit do n# 0+( cold#/ Mason dropped into a chair, and atched her as she stood o$er the grille, the upco(ing draft of hot air agitating her skirt# ,-hat+s the (atter./ he asked# ,5id you get chilled./ ,0 guess so# 0t+s !een a strain# -ell, go ahead and tell (e a!out it# -hat+s the use of stalling. 0 suppose it+s !ad ne s#/ )e nodded# ,0 as afraid of that# 8ynk isn+t the sort ho ill scare easily#/ ,-hat (ade you think it as !ad ne s./ ,2ou+d ha$e told (e hen you first ca(e here if it had !een all good# )o a!out a drink. -ant one./ ,* short one,/ Mason said#

She opened a little parlor !ar, !rought out Scotch, ice cu!es, and soda# ,1ather neat gadget that,/ Mason co((ented# ,2es, it+s really a little electric refrigerator, (akes its o n ice, keeps the charged ater cold# -ell, hat did 8ynk say. )e hasn+t turned the stock o$er to Pea$is already, has he./ ,0 don+t kno #/ ,-ouldn+t he tell you./ ,)e asn+t a!le to talk,/ Mason said# ,-asn+t a!le to. 2ou (ean he as drunk./ She as pouring hiskey fro( the !ottle, and her hand tre(!led enough so that the neck of the !ottle chattered against the ri( of the glass# Mason aited until she had finished ith the hiskey, and had reached for the !ottle of charged ater# ,8ynk,/ he said, , as (urdered, a!out (idnight#/ For a (o(ent, it see(ed that the ords (eant nothing to her# She continued to trickle charged ater fro( the siphon into the glass, then suddenly she ga$e a con$ulsi$e start, depressed the le$er, and s7uirted li7uid up o$er the ri( of the glass# ,2ou (ean65id 0 hear you right. 5eadA/ ,Murdered#/ ,*t (idnight./ ,2es#/ ,-ho # # # ho did it./ ,They don+t kno # )e as shot in the !ack ith a thirty-t o cali!er re$ol$er#/ She put do n the !ottle of charged ater, !rought his drink o$er to hi(# ,-here does that lea$e (e./ ,3ut on a li(! perhaps,/ Mason said# ,*t (idnight./ ,That+s right#/ ,-ell, any ay, 0 ha$e an ali!i#/ She laughed ner$ously# ,-hat is it./ Mason asked# ,*re you serious./ ,-eren+t you./ ,'o#/ ,-ell, let+s !e serious then# -here ere you./ ,-hy,/ she said, ,0 as # # # -hy, ho utterly a!surdA 'othing could ha$e suited (e less than to ha$e anything happen to hi( !efore 06 e got that stock#/ She paused in front of the little !ar, then took out a !ottle of cognac#

,Scotch is all right,/ she said, ,as a socia!le !e$erage, !ut 0+( cold and this has !een a shock to (e# 0+( going to ha$e a good &olt of !randy# 5o you ant to &oin (e./ ,'o,/ Mason said, ,and 0 don+t think you+re going to ha$e any !randy#/ She had !een a!out to pour the li7uor# 'o she hirled to stare at hi(# ,2ou don+t think Im going to./ ,'o#/ ,-hy not./ ,9ecause,/ Mason said, ,if you take a s ig of !randy, and then that Scotch, in a!out t enty (inutes or half an hour, you+re going to !e &ust a little arped in your &udg(ent# 2ou+ll think you can get a ay ith things that you can+t#/ ,-hat in the orld are you talking a!out./ ,-here,/ Mason asked, ,is the fur coat that you had on hen you ca(e to the office./ ,-hy, in the coat closet#/ ,There in the hall./ ,2es#/ Mason put do n his drink, got up, and alked across to the door she had indicated# )e opened the hall closet, and took do n the hanger hich held the sil$er fo" coat she had orn to his office# Suddenly she ran to ard hi(# ,'o, noA Put that !ack# 2ou can+t # # # / Mason slid his hand do n in the right-hand side pocket of the coat and !rought out a thirty-t o cali!er re$ol$er# ,0 thought,/ he said, ,there as so(ething hea$y in your pocket hen you ca(e to the office#/ *s though his disco$ery had depri$ed her of the po er to (o$e, she stood (otionless and silent# Mason !roke open the gun, sa that one shell had !een fired# )e s(elled of the !arrel, closed the gun, hung up the fur coat in the closet, carefully closed the door, alked across to his chair, and dropped into it# )e placed the gun on a ta!oret !y the side of the chair, picked up his drink, and said to Mildreth Faulkner, ,)ere+s ho #/ She alked !ack to the place here she had left her Scotch and soda, ithout once taking her eyes fro( hi(# Then she (o$ed o$er to stand o$er the floor heater# ,Can 0 # # # Can 0 drink this./ ,Sure,/ Mason said# ,Go ahead# That ill do you good# :ust don+t o$erdo it#/

She drained a good half of the glass, kept atching hi( ith ide, frightened eyes# ,0t is rather cool for this ti(e of year,/ Mason said# ,0+$e noticed hen the days are ar( and dry, there+s usually a ind in fro( the desert, and that (akes the nights cool off rapidly# 2our fur coat should ha$e kept you ar(#/ She said, ,0 got frightfully c-c-cold# 0+( ha$ing a ner$ous ch-ch-chill right no #/ ,The hiskey ill ar( you up,/ Mason said casually# ,)o long ha$e you had the gun./ ,T o years#/ ,Got a per(it for it./ ,2es#/ ,9uy it here in the city./ ,2es#/ ,5o you kno hat !allistics e"perts are a!le to do ith !ullets./ ,'o# -hat./ ,E$ery !ullet fired fro( a gun !ears an un(istaka!le identification hich can !e i(printed on it only !y that one eapon#/ ,*re you trying to tell (e that as6as (y la yer so you can arn (e # # # / ,0+( not your la yer#/ ,2ou+re not. -hy, 0 thought # # # / )e shook his head# ,'ot on this case#/ ,-hy not./ ,0 don+t kno enough a!out it# 0 don+t go around selling (yself# My !rains aren+t a co((odity like a (otor car hich anyone can !uy ho has the price# * person can !uy a !ulletproof car and use it to help hold up a !ank, !ut he can+t !uy (y kno ledge of la to use in co((itting a cri(e#/ ,Mr# Mason, you aren+t serious. 2ou don+t think 0 killed hi(./ ,0 don+t kno # E$en if yon did, it (ight !e &ustifia!le ho(icide# *ll that 0+( telling you is that 0+( not going to represent you until 0 kno the facts#/ ,2ou (ean # # # / Mason looked at his rist atch i(patiently and said, ,0 (ean the police ill !e here al(ost any (inute# 0f 0+( going to represent you, 0 should kno it !efore then# 0f there are any eak spots in your story, a little rehearsal ouldn+t hurt any# Go ahead#/

,0 don+t ant you to represent (e#/ ,2ou don+t./ ,'o# 0 ant you to represent Carlotta, (y sister#/ ,-hat+s she got to do ith it./ Mildreth as silent for se$eral seconds, then said, 7uickly, ,8isten, Mr# Mason, if you+re Carlotta+s la yer, and 0 tell you the hole story, they can+t e$er (ake you tell, can they./ Mason said, ,*nything you tell (e, goes no farther#/ ,9ut is it legal. 0f 0 tell you so(ething, and you+re Carla+s attorney # # # / ,8egality !e da(ned,/ Mason said# ,5on+t stand there and 7ui!!le# 0f 0+( going to do anything, 0 ha$e to kno hat the hell it+s all a!out#/ ,-ell,/ she said, ,the story is si(ple# 0 ran o$er to see Carla and 9o! tonight# 0 had a talk ith 9o!, and told hi( 0 anted to get that stock in the (orning, that Pea$is had sho n up ith the fi$e shares# *nd 9o! as so casual a!out the hole thing, !ut had so (any reasons hy he &ust couldn+t get (e that stock, that 0 !eca(e suspicious and6 ell, 0+( not certain# 0 think perhaps Carla as listening fro( the head of the stairs#/ ,Go ahead,/ Mason said# ,Make it snappy#/ ,-ell, you kno hat (ust ha$e happened# 9o! had pledged that stock# )e had to get it !ack &ust to sho (e any ay# )e (ust ha$e rushed out to see 8ynk#/ ,-hat (akes you think he did./ ,0 # # # this gun#/ ,-hat a!out it./ ,-ell, 0 got to thinking things o$er and decided to ha$e another talk ith 9o! after hat 0+d learned fro( Esther 5il(eyer# 0 thought it ould si(plify (atters a lot if 0 could alk into your office and tell you &ust hat the situation as, and # # # / ,'e$er (ind hat you thought# -hat did you do? ,0 ent out to see 9o!#/ ,-hat did he say./ ,'othing# )e asn+t there#/ ,-here as Carla./ ,She asn+t there#/ ,Perhaps they !oth ent out#/ ,'o, no# 2ou don+t understand# Carla has !een confined to the house for (onths# She+s !een in !ed for (ore than t o (onths# 'o she+s getting around the house a !it, and occasionally she goes for a ride#/

,Perhaps 9o! took her for a ride#/ ,'o# )er o n car+s gone#/ ,2ou think she dro$e it./ ,0+( sure she did# 'o one else e$er dri$es it#/ Mason said, ,9o! ent so(e place# 2ou think he ent to see 8ynk# 'o here do you think your sister ent./ ,0 think she follo ed hi(#/ ,2ou think 9o! killed 8ynk./ ,0 think Carla # # # 0 don+t kno hat did happen#/ ,*ll right, here did you get the gun./ ,-ell, hen 0 ent there the second ti(e and found they ere gone, 0 looked around so(e# 0 found this gun on Carla+s dresser#/ ,0 thought you said it as your gun#/ ,0t is, !ut 0 let Carla ha$e it t o (onths ago# She as left in die house alone 7uite a !it, and 0 anted her to ha$e so(e protection#/ ,9o! as going out./ ,2es# 2ou couldn+t e"pect hi( to gi$e up e$erything and !eco(e &ust a stay-at-ho(e !ecause Carla as an in$alid# 'o one e"pected that, and6 ell, yon kno ho it is# 0 suppose he # # # ell, he # # # / ,Played around./ Mason asked# ,2es#/ ,-as the gun on the dresser hen you ere there earlier in the e$ening./ ,'o# *nd6 ell, a fe of Carla+s things ere gone# 0 didn+t notice the( right at first, !ut 0 got to looking around and so(e of her (edicines and a fe of her clothes ere gone#/ ,-hat do you think happened./ Mason asked# -ords poured out in hysterical rapidity# ,0 think that she follo ed 9o! out to 8ynk+s place# 0 think 9o! had (y gun and killed hi(# 0 think Carla kno s it# Good )ea$ens, 0 ish 0 kne here she asA 0+( orried a!solutely sick a!out her# 0t as !ad enough for her to get out of !ed and dri$e her car, !ut the shock of finding out a!out 9o!, of kno ing a!out the (urder, of # # # it+s a ful#/ ,Then you think she ca(e !ack to the house./ Mason asked# ,2es#/ ,*!out hen./ ,0 don+t kno # 0 left there a!out 7uarter to one# That+s hy 0 as a little late getting to your office for the one o+clock appoint(ent# 0 arri$ed a!out t enty (inutes to one, and asted a good fi$e (inutes looking

around and trying to find hat had happened# Then 0 decided to rush to your office# Then you told (e a!out Esther 5il(eyer !eing drugged and 6and you said you ere going out to see 8ynk, and 0 thought6 ell, 0 tried to persuade (yself it as all right#/ ,Then you had an idea 8ynk as dead !efore 0 ent out there./ ,-ell, 0 didn+t kno # 0 kne the gun had !een used#/ ,)o did you kno that./ ,9ecause 0 looked at it, and found an e(pty shell in it#/ ,Then,/ Mason said, ,you got your fingerprints all o$er the gun./ ,2es, 0 guess so#/ ,*nd slipped it in the pocket of your coat./ ,2es#/ ,'o you say you think 9o! killed hi(./ ,That+s right#/ ,*nd that Carla kne a!out it./ ,2es#/ ,*nd that Carla ca(e ho(e and packed up so(e things and left./ ,2es#/ ,5o you think 9o! ca(e !ack ith her./ ,'o# 0 think 9o! (ust ha$e &ust kept right on going# 2ou kno , 0 don+t think 9o! ould ha$e ner$e enough to face anything like that# 0 think he+d kill a (an and then run a ay#/ ,Then,/ Mason said dryly, ,if e are to follo your reasoning to its logical conclusion, after 9o! killed hi(, Carlotta got the gun ith hich the (urder as co((itted#/ She !it her lip and turned a ay so that he couldn+t see her face# ,0s that right./ Mason asked# She said, ,0 g-g-guess so#/ ,That isn+t logical,/ Mason said# ,2ou kno it#/ ,-ell, hat is logical./ ,0 don+t kno , !ut 0 ant to find out here 0 stand# 2ou ant (e to represent your sister./ ,That+s right#/ ,9ut not you./ ,'o# 0 can take care of (yself#/ Mason said, ,5on+t !e too sure# 0f that+s the (urder eapon, it+s in your possession# 0t has your fingerprints on it#/ ,0 tell you 0 can take care of (yself# They can+t pin anything on (e# 0+( strong and healthy# They can 7uestion (e, and it on+t hurt (e#

They can+t pro$e a thing#/ ,-here ere you at (idnight./ ,0 as # # # 0 as at (y store in the office trying to figure things out so 0 could see &ust ho (uch (oney 0 could raise in case e had to !uy that stock#/ ,*nd you ant (e to represent your sister./ ,2es, please# 0 ant you to stand !ack of her#/ Mason said, ,'o one needs to kno anything a!out her ha$ing gone out# 0f her hus!and killed hi(, that on+t in$ol$e her#/ ,2ou don+t understand# 0f you kne a!out her condition, if you could see her# This (ust ha$e !een a terri!le strain# 0f they should start 7uestioning her, or the ne spaper (en should get after her and ask her 7uestions a!out 9o! and a!out here she as, and a!out ho she got the gun and those things6 ell, it ould undo all the good that her treat(ent has acco(plished# She+d either die, or her heart ould !e so !ad it ne$er ould get !etter#/ Mason said, ,-ho+s going to pay (e for representing her./ ,0 a(#/ ,0f 0+( representing her, 0+ll !e representing her alone#/ ,3f course#/ ,)er interests ould co(e first#/ ,That+s hat 0 ant#/ ,0f yours get in the ay, you+d !e in the position of an ad$erse party# 0+d s(ash you &ust as 7uickly as 0 ould a total stranger#/ ,That+s the ay 0 ant you to do#/ ,5id you e$er hear of the paraffin test./ Mason asked a!ruptly# ,The paraffin test. -hat are you talking a!out./ ,For telling hether a person has fired a gun recently./ ,-hat+s paraffin got to do ith that./ ,-hene$er a gun+s fired, an in$isi!le spray of po der particles !ackfire, and i(!ed the(sel$es in the skin of a person+s hand# They+re (icroscopic particles, in$isi!le to the naked eye, !ut they always fly !ack and are i(!edded in the skin# ,The Scientific Cri(e 5etection 9ureau has orked out a ne techni7ue for telling hether a person has fired a gun# They pour (elted paraffin o$er the suspect+s hands, reinforce it ith a thin layer of cotton, and then co$er it ith a"# *fter the paraffin has &ust a!out set, the hole thing is rolled !ack fro( the hand# The little !its of po der hich !uried the(sel$es in the skin of the hand are caught !y the paraffin and adhere to

it hen the (old is taken fro( the hand# * che(ical reagent is poured on the paraffin# That reacts on the nitrates in the po der so that it !rings a!out a che(ical change that (akes the specks $isi!le to the naked eye#/ ,0 see,/ she said, her $oice holding a slight 7ua$er# Mason said, ,0f Carlotta didnt fire that gun, it ould !e a lot !etter for her to go to the police right no and tell the( her story, hate$er it is# Then, !efore it+s too late, the police could su!&ect her hands to a paraffin test and pro$e that she didn+t fire the gun# That ould clear her#/ ,9ut # # # !ut # # # suppose she did./ ,0n that e$ent,/ Mason said, , ith one shot fired out of the gun, ith the police a!le to pro$e that the gun had !een in her possession, ith a paraffin test sho ing that she had recently fired the gun, and ith the !allistics e"perts sho ing that the !ullet hich killed )ar$ey 8ynk ca(e fro( that gun, your sister ould !e headed for the gas cha(!er at San Muentin# ,*nd,/ Mason ent on dryly, ,the fact that )ar$ey :# 8ynk as shot in the !ack isn+t going to help a self-defense plea any#/ Mildreth Faulkner slo ly alked across to here the gun reposed on the ta!oret !y Mason+s chair# ,0 suppose 0 shouldn+t ha$e got my fingerprints on it#/ ,That+s right,/ Mason said# ,Couldn+t e ipe-the( off./ ,0 couldn+t#/ She gra!!ed up the gun, crossed o$er to her purse, took out a handkerchief, and started scru!!ing $igorously a ay at the (etal# Mason sat cal(ly at ease, sipping his Scotch and soda, atching her frantic (otions# ,Careful ith that gun,/ he arned# ,2ou ha$e your finger inside the trigger guard#/ * siren sounded close at hand, rising to a screa(, then fading to a lo , (oaning sound as a car pulled up at the cur! outside# Mason said, ,4nless 0+( greatly (istaken, that ill !e 8ieutenant *rthur Tragg of the )o(icide S7uad, and hen he finds that gun a!solutely de$oid of fingerprints, he+ll # # # ,8ook out # # # #/ Mason &u(ped up fro( the chair, lunged to ard her, gra!!ed for her rist6and as too late# The re$ol$er roared into noise# The !ullet, sailing through a plateglass indo , sent tinkling frag(ents of glass dropping to the ce(ent

porch# 0n the inter$al of startled silence hich follo ed, the door!ell rang insistently# Enuckles pounded on the panels# 8ieutenant Tragg called, ,This is the police# 3pen up, or 0+ll s(ash the door in#/ ,That,/ Mason said cal(ly, ,is the pay-off#/ )e alked !ack to his chair, settled do n in the cushions, picked up the drink, and fit a fresh cigarette# ,0t+s your party no #/ Mildreth Faulkner stood staring at the gun# ,Good )ea$ensA 0 had no idea it as going off# My handkerchief caught on the ha((er and pulled it !ack# My finger as on the trigger, and # # # / ,9etter let 8ieutenant Tragg in,/ Mason interrupted# ,0 think he+s getting ready to s(ash in a indo #/ She stooped and slid the gun along the floor under a da$enport at the corner of the roo(# Mason tolerantly shook his head at her# ,'aughty, naughtyA 8ieutenant Tragg on+t like that#/ She ent rapidly through the door to the reception hall ay, started to run the last fe steps, and opened the door# ,-hat is it./ she asked# ,-ho did the shooting &ust no ./ 8ieutenant Tragg asked, pushing his ay into the hall ay# ,*nd is that Perry Mason+s car out there. 0s he here./ ,2es, he+s here#/ ,-ho did the shooting./ ,-hy # # # er # # # as there shooting./ ,5idn+t you hear the shot./ ,-hy, no# 0 can+t say that 0 did# 0 heard so(ething that sounded like a !ackfire#/ 8ieutenant Tragg (ade a sound hich as (id ay !et een a sniff and a snort, and alked on into the li$ing roo(# ,-ell, Mason,/ he said, ,you certainly get around#/ ,Tra$el,/ Mason told hi(, ,is !roadening# *s you dou!tless kno , this is Miss Faulkner# 8ieutenant Tragg, Miss Faulkner# 2ou+ll find that Miss Faulkner has e"cellent taste in Scotch hiskey, and, for your further infor(ation, Im not representing her#/ Tragg stood staring do n at Mason# ,2ou+re not representing her./ ,'o#/ ,Then hat the de$il are you doing here./ Mason said, ,Paying a social call and sipping a $ery delightful hiskey and soda#/

,2ou fired that shot./ ,'o#/ The lieutenant+s eyes (o$ed rapidly around the roo(# )e sa the hole in the plate-glass indo , and alked across to e"a(ine it# ,For )ea$en sakes,/ Mildreth e"clai(ed# ,0t+s a !ullet hole in the glassA Then it was a shot# So(eone (ust ha$e shot at (e, Mr# Mason#/ ,Through the indo ./ Tragg asked# ,2es#/ ,2ou didn+t hear it./ ,'o# 0 heard your car co(ing up# That is, 0 guess it as your car, and 0 thought there as a !ackfire# 0 had no idea it as a shot#/ ,0 see,/ Tragg o!ser$ed cal(ly# ,Then so(eone (ust ha$e shot at you fro( outside#/ ,2es#/ ,-ell, let+s see# )ere+s a hole in the drapes, and here+s a hole in the glass# That gi$es us the line taken !y the !ullet# 'o , sighting along that line, you can see that6)ere# Pull that drape to one side# 'o you can see (y car parked at the cur!# The line runs &ust in front of the car#/ ,That+s right, it does#/ ,Then so(eone (ust ha$e stood directly in front of (y car and fired the shot# )e (ust ha$e !een standing on stilts so(e fifteen feet high#/ ,2ou didn+t shoot, did you./ she asked# Tragg ignored the 7uestion# ,Further(ore,/ he said, ,!y the ti(e you+$e had as (uch e"perience ith !ullets as 0 ha$e, you+ll !e a!le to tell the direction in hich they+re going hen they go through glass# *nd there+s the odor of s(okeless po der in the roo(# 0+( afraid, Miss Faulkner, that 0) ha$e to look around#/ ,2ou can+t# 0 for!id you to do it#/ ,-ell, 0+( going to &ust the sa(e#/ ,)e can+t do it ithout a arrant, can he, Mr# Mason./ Tragg said, ,Mason isn+t representing you#/ ,0 kno , !ut he can tell (e that#/ Mason sipped his Scotch and soda, puffed placidly at his cigarette, and said nothing# 8ieutenant Tragg said, ,2ou kno , Miss Faulkner, e+re going to 7uit playing horse right no , and get do n to !rass tacks# 0f you+ll tell (e ho fired that shot and hat as done ith die gun, 0 on+t take you do n to police head7uarters, ha$e you searched, and ha$e detecti$es co(e out and go through the house # # # # ,-ait a (inute# 2ou (ust ha$e !een standing a!out here# 2ou heard

(e co(ing in the car# 2ou (ust ha$e fired that shot &ust as 0 as !ringing (y car to a stop# 'o , figuring the angle of that shot # # # 0 as ringing the door!ell# -ell, the natural place for you to ha$e concealed the gun ould ha$e !een under the cushions of this da$enport#/ )e cal(ly alked o$er to the da$enport and started raising the cushions# ,2ou can+t do that,/ she said, gra!!ing his ar(# Tragg pushed her to one side# ,5on+t act up, sister,/ he arned, ,or 0+ll ha$e the place cra ling ith cops inside of t enty (inutes#/ ,9ut you can+t# 2ou # # # 3h ## Tragg dropped to his knees, placed his head do n close to the floor, peered under the da$enport, and said, ,3h-ohA/ Mason heard the grind of a car (otor co(ing up the steep incline of a cross street# )e carefully pinched out his cigarette, dropped it in the ash tray, stretched, ya ned, and said, ,-ell, if the lieutenant ill pardon (e # # # / ,The lieutenant on+t pardon you,/ Tragg said, sliding his left ar( under the da$enport# ,Meaning you+re going to try to hold (e./ Mason asked# ,Meaning 0+( going to find out hat you ha$e to say a!out this !efore you go any here,/ Tragg said# The car as co(ing closer no # Mason said, ,Sergeant )olco(! ne$er liked to ha$e (e present hen he as trying to get a state(ent fro( a suspect# )e al ays thought that 0 as a distur!ing influence# Funny thing a!out (e that ay# -hen 0+( in the roo(, 0 si(ply can+t keep fro( ad$ising a person a!out constitutional rights, arning a!out traps, and so forth#/ Tragg said, ,2ou in# Get the hell out of here#/ Mason s(iled reassuringly at Mildreth Faulkner# ,9e seeing you# 5on+t !other to let (e out# 0 kno the ay#/ *s Mason turned fro( the li$ing roo( into the corridor, 8ieutenant Tragg said, ,*ll right, Miss Faulkner# Tell (e a!out the gun# -hy did you fire it./ ,0t as an accident#/ Mason opened the front door# ,-ere you perhaps taking a shot at Mason, or as he trying to take the gun a ay fro( you, or # # # / Mason gently closed the door !ehind hi(, and stepped out to the porch#

* coupe had stopped &ust !ehind Tragg+s sedan# * o(an as getting out of it# Mason held up his hand, (otioning for her to stop, and alked rapidly to ard the car# The o(an said, in a rather flat $oice, ,-hat+s the (atter. -hat+s # # # / ,2ou Mrs# 8a ley./ Mason asked in an undertone# ,2es# 0+( Mildreth Faulkner+s sister# -hat+s # # # / Mason said, ,Get in your car, turn around, and dri$e !ack do n the road until 0 catch up ith you# Make it snappy# 9e 7uiet a!out it# The police are in there, and # # # / She caught her !reath# ,2ou+re Perry Mason, the la yer./ ,2es# 2our sister ants (e to represent you#/ ,To represent me? For )ea$en sakes, hat for./ ,0 don+t kno ,/ Mason said, ,!ut unless you ant to !e dragged do n to police head7uarters hile they try to find out, you+d !etter turn that car around and get started#/ )e alked o$er to his o n car, s itched on the engine, (ade an e"cessi$e a(ount of noise, !acking, turning, clashing gears, and racing his (otor# -hen Carlotta 8a ley had her car safely turned around and as headed !ack do n the grade, Mason snapped his car into gear, ran rapidly along !ehind her, and, so(e t o hundred yards fro( the house, dro$e up alongside, and signaled her to stop# ,-ere you,/ he asked, ,going ho(e./ ,-hy, 0 # # # you see, 0 # # # / Mason said, ,5on+t go ho(e# Go to the Clear(ount )otel, register as Mrs# Charles N# 5unkurk of San 5iego# 9e sure you spell it 5-u-n-k-u-rk# Go to your roo(, get into !ed and stay there# 5on+t go out, don+t read the papers, don+t listen to the radio# Si(ply stay there until 0 co(e to see you, and that on+t !e until so(eti(e to(orro 6or rather later on today#/ ,2ou (ean 111 ha$e to ait there # # # / ,2es,/ Mason said# ,0 don+t ant to attract attention !y co(ing in to call on you at three or four o+clock in the (orning# 0 ha$e so(e ork to do !et een no and the ti(e 0 see you#/ ,*nd you don+t ant to talk ith (e no 6to ask (e any 7uestions, to # # # / ,0 do not,/ Mason interrupted# ,0 ha$e (ore i(portant things to do right no , and 0 ant to get you under co$er#/ ,0 # # # (y hus!and # # # /

,Forget hi(,/ Mason said, ,and get started for the Clear(ount )otel# 2ou kno here it is./ ,2es#/ ,-ell, get going# 8ieutenant Tragg isn+t a fool# )e+s all e"cited no a!out finding a gun in Mildreth+s possession, !ut it on+t !e long !efore he reali%es that 0 (ade an a ful lot of noise !acking (y car and turning around#/ -ithout another ord, Carlotta 8a ley slipped her car into gear and shot ahead#

Chapter ;
8eft alone ith Mildreth Faulkner, Tragg aited until the sound of Mason+s car had died a ay in the distance, atched her eyes fight !ack the e"pression of panic and !eco(e defiant# There as nothing of the 7uitter a!out her# She stood, ith her chin up, fighting for control# E"cite(ent !rought added sparkle to her eyes, color to her cheeks# She as, Tragg ad(itted, a !eautiful o(an, 7uite e$idently accusto(ed to (asculine deference6and she as trapped# 0t re(ained only for hi( to close the &a s of that trap# 9ecause he had her so thoroughly in his po er, and !ecause she as so nai$ely una are of the danger of dealing ith an e"perienced police detecti$e, he hesitated for a (o(ent, then, putting ad(iration of her courage aside, he said a!ruptly, ,Miss Faulkner, 0+( going to ask you t o 7uestions# The ans ers to those t o 7uestions ill deter(ine our hole future relationship# 0f you tell (e the truth, 0 (ay !e a!le to help you#/ ,-hat are they./ she asked, in a $oice hich as as harsh and strained as the crackle of static on a radio# ,First, did you send Esther 5il(eyer the poisoned candy./ ,'o#/ ,Second, did you kill )ar$ey 8ynk./ ,'o#/ Tragg helped hi(self to a chair, (ade hi(self at ease# ,@ery ell, 0+( taking you at your ord# 0f you had killed 8ynk or sent Esther 5il(eyer the poisoned candy, 0 ould ha$e !een the first to ad$ise you to stand on your constitutional rights and not ans er (y 7uestions#/ * note of conte(pt crept into her $oice# ,0n other ords, if you+d

asked (e if 0 sent Esther 5il(eyer the poisoned candy, and 0+d said, 2es,+ you+d ha$e !een $ery (agnani(ous, and said, 'o , Miss Faulkner, since you+$e told (e the truth, 0 ad$ise you not to ans er any 7uestions !ecause you (ight incri(inate yourself#+/ )e grinned# ,)ardly# 0 didn+t e"pect you ould ad(it it if you had !een guilty# 'ot in so (any ords# 9ut 0 could ha$e told fro( your (anner#/ ,5o you (ean to say that you can ask a person a 7uestion like that, and tell fro( the (anner in hich the reply is gi$en hether the ans er is true./ ,'ot all the ti(e, !ut 0 can get a pretty good idea#/ ,Then,/ she said, still ith that note of conte(pt in her $oice, ,ha$ing ascertained that 0 didn+t co((it either cri(e, you ha$e done your duty, and there+s no need to aste any (ore of your $alua!le ti(e here#/ ,'ot so fast# 0n the first place, 0 didn+t say that 0 had decided you eren+t guilty# 0n the second place, if you aren+t guilty, you (ay ha$e so(e infor(ation hich ill !e of $alue#/ ,3h, so you ha$en+t cleared (e yet./ ,'o#/ ,0 thought you said you had#/ ,'o# 0 said that if you had !een guilty, 0 ould ha$e !een the first to ad$ise you not to ans er 7uestions# 'o 0+( going to e"plain that a little, Miss Faulkner# 0f you are guilty, don+t ans er (y 7uestions !ecause, if you are guilty, Im going to trap you! ,-ell, 0+( not guilty# *nd e$en if 0 ere, 0 don+t think you could trap (e into ad(itting it#/ ,0 think 0 could,/ he said# ,Say, nine ti(es out of ten#/ )er silence as significant# ,'o re(e(!er, Miss Faulkner, if you are guilty, please don+t ans er these 7uestions# Si(ply say that you on+t ans er the(#/ ,0+( not guilty#/ ,*ll right, ith that understanding, you can ans er 7uestions, !ut re(e(!er, 0+$e arned you#/ She said hotly, ,Since se$en o+clock tonight 0+$e !een faced ith a $ery difficult and trying !usiness situation# 0+( endea$oring to e"tricate (yself fro( a difficulty6and 0+( not going to tell you hat that difficulty is or hat 0 did ith (y ti(e# 0 don+t ha$e to# 0 don+t # # # / ,*ll right, all right,/ he interrupted# ,8et it go at that Can you tell (e anything at all of the nature of your !usiness difficulty./

,'o#/ ,-as it perhaps !ecause your !rother-in-la had turned o$er stock in your co(pany to Coll as security for a ga(!ling de!t, and Coll, in turn, had turned it o$er to 8ynk, and )arry Pea$is, your co(petitor # # # / )e stopped at the e"pression on her face# ,)o did you kno that./ she asked# ,*s it happens, 0 learned it fro( Mr# Magard, Mr# 8ynk+s partner#/ ,Then he as in on it./ ,'o# )e told (e that he learned of it only this afternoon# )e and 8ynk had ords a!out it# Magard told 8ynk he+d !uy hi( out, or 8ynk could !e the one to do the !uying, !ut the partnership as finished#/ ,)o did Magard find out a!out it./ ,)e !egan putting t o and t o together, and finally called for a sho do n ith 8ynk and forced 8ynk to tell hi(#/ ,0 see no reason for (e to say anything#/ ,-hy./ ,)o do 0 kno you aren+t trying to trap (e. 2ou+$e !een good enough to arn (e that you intended to#/ ,The point is ell taken,/ he said# ,'o , 0+( going to ask you to help (e unco$er so(e of the facts#/ ,-hat./ ,5id you kno Sindler Coll./ ,'o#/ ,2ou+$e heard your !rother-in-la speak of hi(./ ,2es#/ ,-hat did 8a ley say a!out hi(./ ,)e said that he anted to !ring Coll up to the house so(e night hen (y sister got !etter#/ ,2our sister is an in$alid./ ,That+s right6te(porarily#/ ,5id Mr# 8a ley (ention anything a!out !etting or horse racing in connection ith Mr# Coll./ ,'o# )e &ust said that he thought e+d like Coll#/ ,-hat did you say./ ,0 said nothing#/ ,5o 0 understand that you and your !rother-in-la don+t get along $ery ell./ ,3h, he+s all right, !ut6 ell, you+re asking (e hat 0 said, and that+s hat 0 said6nothing#/

,*nd your sister./ ,0+$e forgotten# 0 think Carla said it ould !e $ery nice#/ ,'o ,/ Tragg said, ,0+( going to gi$e you a fe ords, Miss Faulkner, and 0 ant you to !e thoroughly rela"ed and at ease and tell (e hat each ord calls to your (ind#/ ,*nother trap./ she asked# )e raised his eye!ro s slightly# ,My dear young o(an, 0 told you that if you ere guilty, 0 as going to trap you# The ay you keep harping on the su!&ect leads (e to !elie$e that you are6oh, ell, skip it#/ She said, ,:ust !ecause you+re a police officer ho co(es !arging in here at t o-thirty in the (orning, 0 suppose that if 0+( not guilty, 0+( to sit up all night and play charades ith you#/ ,)ardly that# 0+ll take only a fe (inutes (ore of your ti(e# Please re(e(!er, Miss Faulkner, that hat 0+( trying to do is to unco$er the facts# 0f you+re afraid to ha$e (e learn the truth, don+t co-operate# 0f there+s no reason hy you ish to keep (e fro( learning the truth, your co-operation ill !e appreciated#/ ,2ou+$e said all that !efore#/ ,So 0 ha$e#/ ,Go ahead# -hat are the ords. 0 suppose this is one of those association tests#/ ,'ot e"actly,/ Tragg said# ,The association test calls for a lot of psychological stuff, holding a stop atch on a person to see ho long it takes to ans er# 0+ll !e frank ith you, Miss Faulkner# 0t+s a trick hich is so(eti(es used !y psychologists# * lot of innocent ords are gi$en until the a$erage reaction ti(e of the itness is noted# Then ords are gi$en hich (ight !ring up a guilty train of thought# The person naturally ants to guard against !etraying hi(self, and therefore his reaction ti(e is a little longer on all these ords#/ ,0 see,/ she said, ,!ut 0+( fairly ell infor(ed# 2ou don+t need to e"plain ele(ental psychology to (e#/ ,That (akes it easier then for (e to e"plain e"actly hat 0 do ant# 0 ant you to try and gi$e (e one ord hich is called to your (ind !y the ords 0 ill gi$e you#/ ,@ery ell#/ ,*nd 0 ant you to gi$e (e that ord ithout any delay hate$er# 0n other ords, the (inute 0 speak of a ord, you co(e !ack fast ith the ord hich you think of#/ ,@ery ell, go ahead#/

,)o(e,/ Tragg said# ,1un,/ she snapped !ack at hi( ith a slight glitter of (alicious triu(ph in her eyes# ,Flo er#/ ,Custo(er,/ she snapped, !efore the ord as hardly out of his (outh# ,3rchid#/ ,Corsage#/ ,Faster,/ he said# ,Co(e !ack at (e &ust as fast as you can#/ ,*ren+t 0 doing all right./ ,:ust a little faster if you can#/ ,Go ahead#/ ,Coupe#/ ,Sister,/ she said, her $oice slightly higher pitched# ,Gun#/ ,*ccident,/ she al(ost shouted triu(phantly# Tragg+s e"pression didn+t change# ,Stock#/ ,Transfer#/ ,Co(petitor#/ ,Pea$is#/ ,Police#/ ,2ou#/ ,Paraffin#/ ,Test#/ 8ieutenant Tragg settled !ack in his chair and s(iled at her# ,0 told you 0+d trap you, Miss Faulkner,/ he said 7uietly# ,'o hadn+t you !etter sit do n and tell (e a!out it#/ ,0 # # # 0 don+t kno hat you (ean#/ ,3h, yes, you do# 2ou kno of the paraffin test for deter(ining hether a person has fired a gun# Mr# Mason told you a!out it# 0t+s fresh in your (ind# 2ou ere so an"ious to gi$e the right ans er hen 0 ca(e to the gun part, hich you ere s(art enough to kno 0 as leading up to, that you let do n the !ars of your $igilance &ust a !it after that, and alked into the trap on that paraffin test#/ ,5oes a person ha$e to !e guilty of (urder to kno a!out that./ ,'o,/ he said, ,!ut hen a o(an has a gun in her possession hich has pro!a!ly !een used to co((it a (urder, hen 0 find a noted cri(inal attorney closeted ith her at t o-thirty in the (orning, and hen, as soon as a police car dri$es up, she discharges the re$ol$er, and hen the

first ord hich co(es into her (ind in connection ith paraffin is the ord test,+ then 0 ha$e pretty good reason to !elie$e that the la yer told her a!out the paraffin test, that she is a o(an of intelligence, and reali%es that the only ay to protect herself is not !y trying to get the po der out of her hand, !ut !y ha$ing a perfectly legiti(ate e"cuse for sho ing po der in her hand# ,2ou see, Miss Faulkner, if a police(an ere asked hat ord he associated ith paraffin, he (ight $ery ell say test,+ !ut for a o(an ho is in the !usiness of selling flo ers to the pu!lic to associate paraffin ith the nitrate test6 ell, it+s &ust a little too (uch#/ ,So you think 0 killed hi(./ ,0 don+t kno # 0 do kno that that gun hich you tried to conceal under the da$enport has recently !een fired t ice# 0 kno that the second shot as fired deli!erately# 0 kno that Perry Mason as here talking to you shortly !efore that shot as fired# 0t+s a fair inference that he arned you that if you had fired that re$ol$er recently, the paraffin test ould furnish proof# *nd you ere sufficiently ingenious to kno hat to do# ,0 thought for a (o(ent that it (ight ha$e !een Mason+s idea, !ut the adroit (anner in hich you anticipated the si(ple traps hich 0 set for you, and the s iftness of your (ental reactions con$inces (e that you+re a $ery cle$er o(an, Miss Faulkner, and that you thought it up yourself#/ She said, ,0+( not going to (ake any state(ent# 2ou+re !eing unfair# 0 suppose no you+ll arrest (e#/ ,'o# 0+( not (aking an arrest right no # First, 0+( going to check this gun for fingerprints# 0+( going to co(pare a test !ullet fired through the !arrel of this gun ith the fatal !ullet hich killed 8ynk#/ ,2ou+$e already said it+s the (urder eapon#/ ,0 think it is# 2ou see, a !allistics e"pert found the !ullet hich had gone co(pletely through 8ynk+s !ody# )e as a!le to tell (e the cali!er, the (ake of shell, and certain other facts a!out the a((unition# 0 find this eapon in your possession loaded ith e"actly that sa(e a((unition# Now, perhaps you+ll tell (e here you got the gun#/ ,*t a sporting goods store#/ ,'o# 0 (ean tonight#/ ,-hy6 hy couldn+t 0 ha$e had it ith (e all the ti(e./ Tragg said, ,Miss Faulkner, you+re trying to protect so(eone, either so(eone you lo$e, or so(eone to ho( you feel o!ligated#/ ,-hy not (yself./ ,3r,/ he ad(itted, ,perhaps yourself#/

,-e4./ she asked# *!ruptly, 8ieutenant Tragg got to his feet# ,2ou+re a $ery intelligent and a $ery cle$er o(an# 0+$e got &ust a!out all the infor(ation out of you 0+( going to get, at least for the present# 0+( taking that gun ith (e# 9y the ti(e 0 talk to you again, 0+ll kno a lot (ore than 0 do no #/ ,0 suppose,/ she said sarcastically, ,that in addition to (y !usiness orries, 0 can look for ard to regular $isits fro( the police#/ ,Miss Faulkner, 111 see you &ust once (ore# *t the end of that ne"t inter$ie , 0+ll either e"onerate you or arrest you for first-degree (urder#/ For a (o(ent her eyes a$ered# )e said 7uietly, ,God kno s 0 hated to do this# 0 arned you6not once !ut se$eral ti(es#/ She as silent# ,0 don+t suppose,/ Tragg said, ,there+s any chance of getting you to look on (e as a hu(an !eing# *fter all, 0+( only trying to find a killer# 0f you didn+t kill hi(, you shouldn+t fear (e# 0 don+t suppose there+s any chance that e could !e6 ell, friends./ She said haughtily, ,0 a( inclined to pick (y friends for reasons other than that they happen to ha$e !een gi$en e(ploy(ent on the police force#/ )e turned to ard the door ithout another ord# )er eyes ere frightened as she atched hi(, carrying the gun !y a string looped through the trigger guard, 7uietly open the front door# ,Good night, 8ieutenant,/ she said as he passed o$er the threshold# )e closed the door !ehind hi( ithout a ord# She stood there for a (o(ent until she sa his car dri$e a ay, then she dashed to the telephone and frantically dialed the nu(!er of Carlotta+s residence# There as no ans er#

Chapter O
Mason sha(elessly used the prestige resulting fro( his association ith 8ieutenant Tragg# The (anager of the apart(ent house, su((oned once (ore to the door in the s(all hours of the (orning, stro$e to conceal her natural irritation# ,3h, yes,/ she said# ,The police again#/ Mason s(iled# ,-ell, m not# That is, 0+( not calling in an official capacity, although 0+( trying to sol$e the case#/

)e acted as though there could !e no possi!le dou!t of his elco(e, and, entering the lo!!y of the apart(ent house, said, ,0 ant to go up to see Coll for a (inute, and 0 don+t ant hi( to kno 0+( on the ay# 2ou (ight get (e a key# Then 0 on+t ha$e to !other you#/ )er face as s ollen ith sleep, her hair stringy, her skin still greasy ith (ake-up, !ut she s(iled coyly# ,* key6to Coil+s apart(ent. 0+( afraid # # # / ,:ust the outer door,/ Mason said hastily# ,3h, that ill !e easy# 0 ha$e 7uite a fe e"tras# :ust a (o(ent and 0+ll get one#/ *s she alked into her o n apart(ent, shuffling along in heelless slippers, Mason closed the door of the apart(ent house, and consulted his atch# )e as fully con-scions of the rapidity ith hich the precious (inutes ere ticking across the dial# She returned ith the key# ,Thank you,/ Mason said, taking the key# ,0+ll run up and see if he+s in no # -hat+s that apart(ent nu(!er./ ,T o hundred and nine#/ ,3h, yes# *nd thank you $ery (uch# 0+( 7uite certain e on+t ha$e to !other you !ut once (ore#/ ,3nce (ore./ she asked# ,2es,/ Mason said ith a s(ile# ,0 think (y associate, 8ieutenant Tragg, ill !e here shortly# 0+( afraid that e+$e pretty ell disrupted your !eauty sleep#/ ,3h, that+s all right,/ she said, ith synthetic s eetness# ,0 don+t (ind at all# 0t+s a pleasure to co-operate ith the police6particularly hen they+re so nice a!out it#/ She as getting ider a ake e$ery (inute, and 7uite e$idently en&oying her role of unofficial assistant to the police# Minutes ere too precious to indulge her so Mason (erely s(iled his thanks and took the ele$ator to the second floor# )e found t o hundred and nine ithout difficulty# * light as co(ing through the transo(# Mason tapped gently on the door, and al(ost instantly heard the sound of a chair !eing pushed !ack and of feet on the carpet# Coll opened the door# 0t as 7uite e$ident he had !een e"pecting so(eone else# The sight of Mason disconcerted hi(# ,-hat do you ant./ he de(anded# ,0 ga$e you her address# 0t+s the only one 0 ha$e#/

,0 ant to ask you so(e 7uestions#/ ,-ell, this is a hell of a ti(e to !e doing it# -ho let you in the front door. -ho are you. *re you a dick, too./ ,The na(e is Mason# 0+( a la yer#/ 0nstantly, the (an+s face !eca(e a!solutely $oid of e"pression# 0t as as though he had !een a!le to shift a le$er hich thre out a clutch so(e here in his (ental processes and di$orced his features fro( any (ental reaction# The look of annoyance $anished, lea$ing hi( like a gra$en i(age# ,2es./ he asked tonelessly# The la yer as tall enough to look o$er Coil+s shoulder to gli(pse a part of the apart(ent through the half-open door# *s far as he could see, there as no one else in the apart(ent# Mason said, ,0t+s going to !e rather incon$enient asking 7uestions here in the hall ay#/ ,*nd it+s going to !e rather incon$enient ha$ing you in (y apart(ent at this hour# Suppose you let it go until around noon#/ ,These 7uestions on+t ait,/ Mason said# ,5o you kno ho killed 8ynk./ The eyes narro ed for a (o(ent, then slo ly idened# They ere so dark that, in the light hich ca(e fro( the hall ay, it as i(possi!le to see any line of de(arcation !et een pupil and iris# ,-hat is this, a gag./ ,2ou didn+t kno that 8ynk as dead./ ,*nd 0 don+t kno it no #/ ,)e as (urdered, killed a!out (idnight#/ Coll, his eyes still ide, said, ,-hat+s your interest in it, Mr# Mason./ Mason ent on s(oothly, ,0 a( pri(arily interested in finding out ho poisoned Miss 5il(eyer#/ ,Poisoned her./ ,That+s right#/ Coll said, ,*re you cra%y, or is this your idea of a &oke./ ,'either# Miss 5il(eyer+s at the )astings Me(orial )ospital right no #/ Mason, studying the e"pression of fro%en surprise hich as on Coil+s face, added a (elodra(atic e(!ellish(ent# ,)o$ering !et een life and death#/ ,)o 6ho did it happen./ ,So(eone shot hi( ith a thirty-t o cali!er re$ol$er6in the !ack#/ ,'o, no# Esther#/

,3h, Miss 5il(eyer# -hy, so(eone sent her a !o" of poisoned candy# 'o hat 0 ant to find out is hen that candy as recei$ed# -as it after she left here, or did she ha$e it ith her hen she as here./ Coil+s eyes ceased to sho surprise# ,-hat do you (ean,/ he asked, ,when she was here? Mason said, ,-e kno she as here earlier in the e$ening#/ ,*!out hat ti(e./ ,0 can+t gi$e you the e"act ti(e# 0t as !efore ele$en-thirty and after ten o+clock# -e hoped you could help us on that#/ *nd Mason, ith the air of a (an producing credentials, took fro( his pocket the handkerchief hich he had found in the telephone !ooth# Coll stretched forth his hand (echanically, picked up the handkerchief, looked at it# ,That+s her handkerchief, isn+t it./ ,)o should 0 kno ./ ,9ut you do kno , don+t you./ ,'o#/ Mason raised skeptical eye!ro s# ,That is,/ Coll said, ,0+( not going to identify it# 0t looks like the ay she e(!roiders her initials on so(e of her things# 0 don+t (anage her ardro!e, you kno #/ ,0 understand,/ Mason said# )e heard the (etallic click of the s itch on the auto(atic ele$ator# The lighted cage (ade noise as it slid do n the shaft# Coll looked o$er Mason+s shoulder, said hurriedly, ,-ell, 0+( sorry 0 can+t help you any (ore than-that# 0f you+ll e"cuse (e, Mr# Mason, 0 think 0+ll get to !ed# 0+( not feeling 7uite (yself, and # # # / ,3h, certainly,/ Mason o!ser$ed# ,0+( sorry that 0 !othered you# 0 can assure you 0 only did it !ecause it as i(perati$e # # # / ,That+s all right,/ Coll interrupted hastily# ,0 understand# Good night, Mr# Mason#/ Mason said, ,:ust one (ore thing# 5o 0 understand you don+t kno hether Miss 5il(eyer as here tonight./ ,That+s right#/ ,Then you eren+t here in your apart(ent./ ,'ot all the ti(e# 8ook here, 0+( not going to !e 7uestioned on (y o n personal affairs#/ ,-hen as the last ti(e you sa Miss 5il(eyer./ ,0 don+t kno # # # # 0 can+t !e !othered ith all that stuff no , Mr#

Mason# 0 tell you 0 can+t help you# 0 don+t ha$e any idea ho sent her poisoned candy# 'o , if you) e"cuse (e, Mr# Mason # # # / )e (ade an atte(pt to close the door, !ut Mason+s shoulder !locked hi(# Coll said, ith cold anger, ,Mason, 0 don+t ant to get tough a!out this, !ut Im going to bed! )e put force against the door# ,-hy, certainly,/ Mason said, a!ruptly ithdra ing his shoulder and letting the door sla( shut# Mason alked rapidly do n the corridor# The ele$ator as rattling up ard in the shaft# 0nstead of standing in front of the ele$ator, Mason alked so(e t enty feet !eyond, to stand in the di(ly lit hall ay, flattened against the all# The ele$ator ca(e to a stop# The doors slid s(oothly open# * short, chunky (an in full dress ith dark o$ercoat and silk hat stepped out into the corridor ith the rapidity of a (an going so(e place in a hurry# )e turned to the right, alking 7uickly do n the corridor, looking at the nu(!ers on the doors# )e stopped at the far end of the corridor, looked !ack o$er his shoulder, then tapped on Coil+s door# *s the door opened, light strea(ed out to gi$e Mason a good $ie of the (an+s face# )e had the thick neck and hea$y features hich go ith !road shoulders and a !eefy !uild# Mason heard Coll say, ,Co(e in#/

Chapter <
Mason tapped at the door of Mrs# 5unkurk+s roo( in the Clear(ount )otel and ent in# Morning sun, strea(ing through lace curtains, splashed pale orange on the counterpane# Through the open indo s drifted the (uffled sounds of distant traffic# -ithin the roo(, the la!ored !reathing of the o(an on the !ed do(inated all other sounds# Mason said, ,Good (orning, Mrs# 8a ley#/ She (anaged to s(ile# ,)o are you feeling./ ,'ot # # # not good#/ ,2ou ha$e so(e (edicine./ ,2es#/ ,So(e that you took fro( the house./

She nodded# ,*nd so(e clothes./ ,* fe #/ Talking as e$idently an effort# She had held up ell under the e"cite(ent of the night !efore, !ut no reaction had set in# There ere dark circles under her eyes# The lids ere a !luish gray# )er lips ere distinctly !lue# ,5id you sleep./ Mason asked# She shook her head# Mason said, ,0+( going to get you a doctor#/ ,'o, no# 0+(60+ll !e all right#/ ,0 ha$e one 0 can trust#/ ,)e+ll kno ho 0 a(#/ ,Certainly he ill# 2ou+re Mrs# Charles 5unkurk of San 5iego# 2ou+re here to consult (e on a $ery i(portant (atter# The e"cite(ent has under(ined your health#/ Mason crossed o$er to the telephone and called 5r# -ill(ont+s office# )e found the doctor as at the hospital, and left ord for hi( to call Mrs# 5unkurk+s roo( at the hotel# Then he ent !ack toK talk ith Mrs# 8a ley# ,Feel up to telling (e hat happened./ he asked# She said, ,0 had a shock#/ Mason+s nod as sy(pathetic# ,5on+t talk any (ore than you ha$e to# 0 can tell you (ost of it# There are only one or t o details 0 need to ha$e you fill in#/ ,-hat are they./ Mason said, ,2our sister ca(e to your house last night# She said enough to (ake it see( your hus!and had !een in so(e rather serious difficulties# )e raised his $oice in an angry denial, and you heard hi(, got out of !ed, and started do nstairs#/ ,'o,/ she said# ,0 as ea$esdropping# Millie and 9o! ne$er did get along# 0 al ays felt that she # # # / ,0 kno ,/ Mason interrupted# ,*ny ay, you heard enough to (ake you deter(ined you ere going to learn (ore# -hen your hus!and ent out, you follo ed hi(#/ She started to say so(ething, then checked herself# Mason said, ,8ynk as (urdered up in 8ilac Canyon# 2our sister kno s so(ething hich (akes her think you did it#/ ,That 0 killed 8ynk./ ,2es#/

,She ouldn+t think that#/ ,Either that, or there+s so(e !it of e$idence hich (akes her think the police ill arrest you#/ The o(an on the !ed said nothing, !ut stared past Mason ith a look of al(ost drea(y a!straction# ,Can you tell (e hat it is./ Mason asked# ,'o#/ ,5id you kill 8ynk./ ,'o#/ Mason said, ,8ynk had so(e stock hich he as holding as collateral security6stock in the Faulkner Flo er Shops#/ ,'o, that+s a (istake# )e didn+t ha$e that#/ ,)e didn+t./ ,'o#/ ,-ho does ha$e it./ ,0 do#/ ,-here./ Mason asked# ,*s it happens,/ she said, ,0 ha$e it ith (e#/ Mason pursed his lips in a silent histle# ,So that+s it, he said after a (o(ent ,-hat is./ ,2ou got that stock fro( 8ynk#/ ,5on+t !e silly# 0 had it all the ti(e#/ ,1e(e(!er,/ Mason ent on, ,8ynk had a partner# Clint Magard put scre s on 8ynk yesterday afternoon, and found out e$erything that had !een going on#/ ,0 don+t see hat that has to do ith (e#/ ,* great deal# Magard kno s that 8ynk had that stock ith hi( last night hen he ent to 8ilac Canyon#/ ,)e+s (istaken, Mr# Mason#/ )e said, ,0+( afraid 0 can+t help you, Mrs# 8a ley# 0 don+t defend (urderers# 0f 0 handle a case, 0 ant so(e assurance that (y client is innocent#/ She stirred uneasily on the !ed# Mason said, ,0+( sorry# 0+( not going to put you to any (ore strain# 0+d like to help you, !ut the ay things are no , 0 can+t#/ She sighed, closed her eyes, interlaced her fingers, and said earily, ,0+ll tell you # # # ho it happened#/ ,Cut out all the tri((ings, &ust gi$e (e the !are facts#/

,*fter Millie left, 0 anted to ask 9o! so(e 7uestions, !ut 0 didn+t ant hi( to kno 0+d !een listening# 0 ent !ack to (y roo( and dressed# 0 heard 9o! (o$ing around do nstairs# )e did so(e telephoning# )e talked ith a friend of his na(ed Coll, and he kept dialing so(e nu(!er that didn+t ans er# *!out ele$en-thirty, 0 heard hi( go out# 0 hesitated for a hile, ondering hether 0 dared# Then 0 decided to take a chance# My coupe as in the garage# 0 didn+t turn the lights on# 0 pulled out !efore he+d gone t o !locks and (anaged to follo hi(#/ ,-here./ Mason asked# ,8ilac Canyon#/ ,2ou follo ed hi(./ Mason asked# ,-ithout any difficulty# )e as co(pletely engrossed# 0 didn+t ha$e any trou!le until he got up to 8ilac Canyon# Then the road t isted and turned so (uch 0 couldn+t see hich ay he turned#/ ,So you lost hi(./ Mason asked, keeping his eyes and $oice ithout e"pression# ,0 kne fro( hat 0+d o$erheard of his con$ersation o$er the phone that a (an na(ed 8ynk had a place up at 8ilac Canyon#/ ,So you ent to 8ynk+s place./ Mason asked# ,2es#/ ,)o did you find it./ ,0 (ade in7uiries#/ ,-here./ ,There+s a little store and ser$ice station, &ust a neigh!orhood affair, do n !y the foot of the grade# 0 re(e(!ered ha$ing passed that# 8ights ere on and a lot of cars in front# They ere ha$ing a !irthday cele!ration for the (an that runs it# 3f course, 0 didn+t kno that at the ti(e# 0 &ust kne the lights ere on # # # # They told (e hen 0 ent in # # # # 0 asked hi( if they kne here Mr# 8ynk+s place as0 asked indirectly#/ ,They told you./ ,2es# 3ne of the guests kne #/ ,*nd you ent up there./ ,2es#/ ,'o appro"i(ately ho (uch of an inter$al had elapsed fro( the ti(e you lost sight of your hus!and until you arri$ed at 8ynk+s ca!in./ ,Ten (inutes#/ ,*ll right, go ahead#/ ,0 ent to the ca!in and knocked# There as no ans er# The door as slightly a&ar6open perhaps an inch#/

,2ou ent in./ Mason asked# ,2es#/ ,*nd hat did you find./ ,2ou kno hat 0 found6a (an60 suppose it as 8ynk6slu(ped o$er against a ta!le# )e as dead6shot#/ ,-hat did you do./ She indicated that she anted to rest# For (ore than a (inute she lay ith her eyes closed, !reathing hea$ily# *t length she said, ,The shock should ha$e killed (e, !ut, strangely enough, 0 didn+t ha$e any shock6 not then # # # # For so(e reason, 0 as as detached as though 0 had !een atching a (ystery play on the screen#/ ,2ou eren+t frightened./ ,0 see(ed to !e ithout any e(otion hate$er# My feelings ere co(pletely nu(!ed# The shock6that is, the e(otional shock6ca(e later#/ ,Go ahead,/ Mason said# ,0 kne , of course, that 9o! had !een out there, that they+d had a 7uarrel, and 9o! had shot hi(#/ ,)o did you kno that./ ,For one thing,/ she said, ,(y gun6that is, Millie+s gun, the one that she ga$e (e6 as on the floor#/ ,)o did you kno it as that sa(e gun./ ,9ecause there+s a little corner chipped off of the (other-of-pearl handle#/ ,-here as the gun./ ,8ying on the floor#/ ,-hat did you do./ ,Picked it up#/ ,-ere you earing glo$es./ Mason asked# ,'o#/ ,Then you got your fingerprints all o$er it./ ,0 suppose so#/ ,2ou didn+t think of that at the ti(e./ ,'o#/ ,Then hy did you pick up the gun. 5id you think you (ight ha$e to defend yourself./ ,'o, of course not# 0 thought it as e$idence 9o! had left# 0 as protecting hi(# 0 # # # lo$e hi(# 0+( his ife#/ ,*ll right, you picked up the gun# -hat did you do ith it./

,Put it # # # in the pocket of (y coat#/ ,*nd then hat./ ,There ere papers on the ta!le,/ she said# ,2ou looked through those papers./ ,'o, 0 didn+t# 9ut so(ething caught (y eye# The stock in the Faulkner Flo er Shops#/ ,)o did that happen to catch your eye./ ,0t+s distincti$e, the lithography on the stock certificate# 0 sa this stock certificate, picked it up6sa hat it as#/ ,*nd hat did you do ith that./ ,0 put it in (y purse#/ ,Then hat./ ,Then,/ she said, ,0 alked out#/ ,5id you lea$e the door a&ar !ehind you./ ,'o, 0 didn+t# There as a spring lock on the door# 0 pulled the door shut#/ ,Get your hands on the doorkno!./ ,2es, of course#/ ,*nd no glo$es./ ,'o#/ ,Then hat./ ,0 got in (y coupe and dro$e a ay#/ ,-here./ ,0 ent directly ho(e# 0 reali%ed, of course, hat 9o! had done# 0 anted to hear his side of it#/ ,Then hat./ ,0 aited for a hile, and 9o! didn+t sho up, and then 0 got in a panic# 0 !egan to reali%e hat a horri!le thing it all as6the nu(!ing effect of the shock had orn off and left (e ith the reali%ation of hat it (eant# My heart got !ad# 0 took so(e of (y (edicine# 0t helped a little#/ ,Then hat did you do./ ,0 felt that 0 si(ply had to see 9o!# 0t as the (ost a ful feeling 0+$e e$er had in (y life to reali%e that the (an 0 lo$e6the (an 0 (arried6and then seeing that !ody # # # 0 guess that as the first ti(e it really struck (e 6the force of it# 9o! as a (urderer#/ She again closed her eyes and lay for a (inute or t o si(ply resting# ,5id you go any here in search of your hus!and./ Mason asked after a hile# ,'o# 0 reali%ed he asn+t the sort to face things like that# 0 kne he+d

run a ay# 0 felt 0+d ne$er see hi( again# 0 kne 0 didn+t ant to, and yet 0 kne that 0 lo$ed hi(#/ ,-hat did you do./ ,0 needed so(eone in ho( to confide# There as only one person#/ ,2our sister./ ,2es#/ ,5id you see her./ ,'o# 0 kne 0 couldn+t stay in that house !y (yself# 0 thre &ust a fe things into an o$ernight !ag, got in (y car, and dro$e !y Millie+s house# She asn+t ho(e# )er car asn+t in the garage# 0 kne she orked 7uite fre7uently at the office in the 9road ay shop6you kno , the Faulkner Flo er Shops, the 9road ay 9ranch#/ ,So you ent there./ ,2es#/ ,*nd she asn+t there./ ,'o#/ ,Then hat./ ,Then as hen the reaction set in#/ ,-hat did you do./ ,0 as pretty sick for a hile# 0 ent into the lo!!y of a hotel and sat do n# 0 (ay ha$e !een unconscious# * !ell!oy asked (e if 0 anted so(e ater, and asked (e if 0 as ill# 0 told hi( that 0+d o$erta"ed (y heart a little, and if he+d let (e stay there for a fe (inutes, 0+d !e all right#/ ,2ou finally got to feeling !etter./ ,2es#/ ,So the net result of hat happened is that you picked up the gun ith hich the (urder had !een co((itted, carried it to your house and left it on the dresser of your roo( ith your fingerprints all o$er it./ ,0+( afraid so, yes#/ Mason said, ,2our hus!and see(s to ha$e skipped out#/ ,2es# )e ould#/ ,-here,/ Mason asked, ,is that stock./ ,2ou (ean the Faulkner Flo er Shops certificate./ ,2es#/ ,0n (y !ag#/ Mason handed her the !ag# ,0+( going to take charge of that#/ She opened her hand!ag, ga$e hi( the folded stock certificate# The telephone rang# Mason said, ,That+s pro!a!ly 5r# -ill(ont,/ and picked up the telephone# )e said, ,)ello,/ and heard 5r# -ill(ont

say, ,-hat is it this ti(e./ Mason said, ,*nother patient, 5octor#/ ,@iolence./ ,'o# 0 ant you to co(e to the Clear(ount )otel in a rush# 0+ll !e aiting for you in the lo!!y# Can you do it./ ,*n e(ergency case./ ,0n a ay#/ ,0+ll !e right o$er#/ ,)o +s Miss 5il(eyer./ ,Still sleeping#/ ,Can+t you hurry that up a !it./ ,0 can, !ut 0+( not going to# Too (any people are going to pounce do n on her as soon as she regains consciousness# 0+( going to see she stays 7uiet &ust as long as she can# -here did you say you ere. The Clear-(ount )otel./ ,2et# That+s a little hotel on # # # / ,0 kno here it is# 0+ll !e there in a!out ten (inutes#/ Mason crossed o$er to the riting desk, took out an en$elope, fitted the stock certificate into it, addressed the en$elope to hi(self at his office address, and took so(e sta(ps fro( his !illfold# Mrs# 8a ley atched hi( silently# ,The doctor,/ Mason e"plained, , ill !e here in a!out ten (inutes# 0+ll go do n to the lo!!y and (eet hi(# -hat ha$e you done ith your car./ ,0 ga$e it to the hotel people to put in the garage#/ ,2ou ha$e a clai( check./ ,2es#/ ,Gi$e it to (e# 0+( going to do so(ething ith your car# 0 don+t ant you to ask any 7uestions#/ She ga$e hi( the clai( check# ,2ou kno , Mr# Mason, 0+( !eginning to feel !etter# Telling you has lightened the !urden# 2ou+re $ery co(petent and reassuring# There+s one thing you don+t need to orry a!out#/ ,-hat+s that./ ,*!out my connection ith it#/ ,-hy./ She said, ,9o! ouldn+t ha$e enough courage to face the (usic, !ut he ouldn+t let (e get the !la(e# )e+ll rite the police a letter or so(ething, and tell the(, and then he+ll # # # / ,Then he+ll hat./ Mason asked as her $oice faded#

,Then he+ll !e a fugiti$e#/ ,-hat+s he going to do for (oney. 5o you ha$e a &oint account./ ,)e has (y po er of attorney# Co(e to think of it, (ost of (y inco(e has !een going into his account# 0 don+t kno # 0 ha$en+t !othered ith !usiness# The doctor told (e 0 (ustn+t e$en think of it# 0 put it all onto 9o!+s shoulders#/ ,-hat+s the status of your finances./ ,0 don+t kno , Mr# Mason # # # # *fter hat Millie inti(ated a!out 9o! and the horses60 &ust don+t kno #/ ,2ou ha$e enough (oney to pay your !ill here./ ,3h, yes# 0 ha$e a hundred dollars or so in cash, and a !ook of tra$elers+ checks#/ ,The tra$elers+ checks are ith you./ ,2es# 0 al ays keep the( in (y purse#/ ,)o (any do you ha$e left./ ,*l(ost a thousand dollars60 think it+s e"actly nine hundred and t enty# 0 ha$e so(e t enty-dollar checks, so(e fifty-dollar checks, and so(e hundred-dollar checks#/ Mason said, ,0+( going to take the( off your hands#/ )e alked o$er to the riting desk, took out a sheet of hotel stationery, tore off the top of the sheet, and rote, ,For $alue recei$ed, 0 here!y sell, transfer, set o$er, and assign to 5ella Street the tra$elers+ checks hereinafter descri!ed and the funds e$idenced there!y# 0 here!y e(po er the said 5ella Street as (y agent to sign (y na(e to the said checks, cash the(, and turn o$er the (oney to Perry Mason# 0 here!y appoint the said 5ella Street as (y agent and attorney-in-fact to cash each and all of said checks at such ti(e, place and (anner as (ay see( e"pedient#/ Mason took the paper o$er to her, said, ,1ead it, sign it, and then put do n in your hand riting the description of the tra$elers+ checks, the nu(!ers, and a(ounts# 2ou (ention that the docu(ent is !eing e"ecuted for a $alua!le consideration# 2ou+ll ant so(e (oney here to tide you o$er# 2ou can+t cash checks as Carlotta 8a ley hile you+re registered as Mrs# 5unkurk# )ere+s so(e cash no , and 0+ll gi$e you (ore as you need it#/ Mason opened his allet and counted out three hundred dollars in ten-dollar !ills# ,0+( afraid 0 don+t understand# 0 don+t need so (uch (oney in cash, and if you+re going to !e (y la yer, you+ll need a fee# 2ou can take those

checks as a retainer, and # # # / ,2our sister said she as going to take care of (y fee# That can ait# 1ight no , 0 ha$e a definite plan# 0 need these checks to put that plan in operation# 0 ant a receipt for the three hundred dollars hich 0 ha$e paid you#/ 3nce (ore he ent o$er to the hotel riting desk, and dre up a receipt hich he handed to Mrs# 8a ley# ,'o then,/ Mason said, taking his fountain pen fro( his pocket, ,don+t try to understand hat 0+( doing# 5on+t ask 7uestions !ecause 0 on+t tell you# 0+( taking you on faith# 2ou+ll ha$e to take (e the sa(e ay#/ ,9ut, Mr# Mason, hy can+t 0 si(ply tell (y story. -hy can+t 0 # # # / Mason interrupted her, ,Circu(stantial e$idence is fre7uently the (ost con$incing per&urer that e$er took the itness stand# 2ou+$e stuck your head into a noose# 2ou ere protecting 9o!# 0t see(s entirely natural to you# 0t on+t see( so natural to so(eone else# 2ou+re o$erlooking the (ost da(ning !it of e$idence in the entire case#/ ,-hat+s that./ ,2ou stopped at that ser$ice station and neigh!orhood store# There as a party going on# 2ou asked for directions to 8ynk+s ca!in# So(eone kne the ay and told you# 4nder the circu(stances, a hole flock of itnesses can identify you# 2ou ere e"cited, la!oring under a great strain, your heart as !othering you, and your appearance (ust ha$e !een rather conspicuous#/ ,2ou (ean that they+ll think 0 did it./ ,They+ll !e so certain a!out it,/ Mason said gri(ly, ,that unless 0 can do so(ething to get the( on the trail of the (urderer, they+ll 7uit orking on the case &ust as soon as they unco$er that !it of e$idence#/ She closed her eyes and thought for a (o(ent, then said, ,-ell, hy not. *fter all, Mr# Mason, 0+( not kidding (yself# This heart condition has !een !ad# -hat happened last night hasn+t (ade it any !etter# 9o! is 6 ell, he ants to li$e, and hat he did, he did for (e# 0 can ne$er forgi$e hi( for doing it, !ut 0 can understand why he did it# -hy not &ust let (e take the responsi!ility./ Mason said, ,-ell find out (ore a!out that heart of yours in a fe (inutes# 'o you sit !ack and rela"# 8ist the nu(!ers on those tra$elers+ checks, rite the( on the po er of attorney, and then sign !oth of these docu(ents# -hile you+re doing that, 0) go do n to the lo!!y and ait for 5r# -ill(ont# -hen 0 co(e !ack ith hi(, hand (e the docu(ents and the tra$elers+ checks# 5on+t let 5r# -ill(ont kno hat they are#

Si(ply hand (e the papers and the checks all folded up together#/ )e got up and stood looking do n at her, his s(ile reassuring# ,0t isn+t going to !e as !ad as it see(s,/ he said, ,&ust getting things straightened out# 2ou+ll find 5r# -ill(ont $ery co(petent#/ )e stepped out into the corridor, pulled the door closed, and ent do n to the lo!!y# )e had !een there less than t o (inutes hen 5r# -ill(ont arri$ed# ,-hat is it this ti(e./ ,-o(an ho needs a careful check-up#/ ,-ho is she./ ,The na(e,/ Mason said, ,is Mrs# Charles N# 5unkurk# She+s fro( San 5iego#/ ,-hat do you ant (e to do./ ,There are se$eral things 0 ant you to do# First, 0 ant you to confine your 7uestions to !are essentials# 5on+t ask her a!out herself#/ 5r# -ill(ont shot hi( a keen glance# ,That+s rather a large order,/ he said# ,0 think you+ll reali%e it+s reasona!le hen you see her#/ ,2ou (ean 0+( not to ask here she fi$es, hether she+s (arried, or anything./ ,That+s right# 0f you ask her any personal 7uestions, it ill call up a series of (e(ories hich ill result in a ner$ous shock# 0f you feel she can stand it, go ahead# 9ut it+s your responsi!ility#/ ,*ll right# -hat else./ ,Make a co(plete e"a(ination# -hen you finish, tell (e e"actly hat you find# 0 don+t ant you to shade it one ay or another#/ ,-hat do you (ean./ Mason said, ,0f that o(an can stand the shock of !eing dragged to the district attorney+s office, inter$ie ed, perhaps arrested, 0 ant to play the ga(e that ay# 0f she can+t, 0+$e got to play it an entirely different ay#/ ,*ll right,/ 5r# -ill(ont said, ,let+s take a look at her# -hat is it. )er ner$es./ ,)er heart#/ ,That,/ 5r# -ill(ont said ith relief in his $oice, ,should si(plify (atters a lot# 0 as afraid you ere &ust (aking (e the goat for a hideout#/ ,'o, this is on the s7uare#/ ,*ll right, let+s take a look at her#/

They ent up to Mrs# 8a ley+s roo(# Mason introduced 5r# -ill(ont# ,'o then,/ he said, ,5r# -ill(ont is going to prescri!e for you# )ell only ask 7uestions hich are a!solutely necessary#/ 5r# -ill(ont !o ed and s(iled# Mason nodded, turned to ard the door# ,0+ll !e aiting in the lo!!y, 5octor#/ 0t as t enty-fi$e (inutes later that 5r# -ill(ont alked o$er to sit do n !eside Mason# )e took a cigar fro( his pocket, clipped off the end, and lit it# ,Fll try to gi$e you the picture as clearly as 0 can ithout using technical ter(s# The a$erage (an thinks of heart disease as so(ething $ery serious hich ill pro$e speedily fatal# *s a (atter of fact, the heart is an organ# 0t+s co(posed of (uscles, ner$es, $al$es, arteries, and a heart lining# *ny one of these parts is su!&ect to derange(ent, and hen that happens, e ha$e a condition kno n as heart disease, or a eak heart# ,'o , ithout going into details, 0 can tell you thisH That o(an+s heart sho s e$ery e$idence of ha$ing !een !adly i(paired# 0 ould say that she had an endocarditis, that she had (ade a partial reco$ery, that she had !een su!&ected to a ner$ous shock hich had thro n an unusual strain on her heart, that she has, therefore, suffered a te(porary set !ack, that ith proper care and treat(ent she ill gain !ack the ground she has lost# 0 ould say she as on the (end#/ ,)o a!out su!&ecting her to the strain of appearing !efore the district attorney, or perhaps # # # / 5r# -ill(ont shook his head# ,2ou keep that o(an right there in that hotel !edroo(,/ he said# ,Eeep her 7uiet# )a$e her (eals !rought in# Eeep her cheerful# Eeep her fro( orrying# Gi$e her the proper (edicine, and, inside of a fe days, she+ll !e !ack out# *s a (atter of fact, Perry, 0 didn+t in7uire as to hat had happened# 0 can tell she+s had so(e shock, !ut, in the end, the result (ay !e !eneficial#/ ,-hat do you (ean !y that./ ,There+s a (ental condition in$ol$ed# There nearly al ays is in cardiac cases# This o(an as trying to keep a stiff upper lip, !ut she+d !een arned so (uch a!out e"cite(ent and shock and i(pressed ith the necessity for keeping 7uiet that she+d resigned herself to in$alidis(# She as trying to !e !ra$e, !ut su!consciously she felt she+d ne$er !e any !etter# The fact that she as a!le to stand hat she+s recently !een through has pro$en a surprise# 0t ill !e !eneficial6if she gets proper care no #/

Mason said, ,That+s all 0 anted to kno # She stays here#/ ,-ho is she./ 5r# -ilhnont asked# Mason said, ,Make no (istake a!out that, 5octor# She+s Mrs# Charles N# 5unkurk of San 5iego#/ 5r# -ill(ont nodded# ,-hat ha$e you learned a!out Esther 5il(eyer./ Mason asked# ,0t as $eronal all right,/ 5r# -ill(ont said# ,Fi$e grains to a candy center#/ ,Fingerprints./ ,'one#/ ,*ny other clues./ ,'one that 0 kno of#/ ,-hen ill she ake up./ ,Perhaps tonight, perhaps to(orro (orning, perhaps not until to(orro night# 0+( not going to hurry it any# She+s co(ing out of it nicely# She+s ha$ing no hat you (ight call a nor(al sleep#/ Mason said, ,0 guess that+s a!out as good a &o! as you can do for her# 0+d like to talk ith her, !ut 0+d pro!a!ly !e tra(pled to death in the rush# 0 suppose the police and the 5#*#+s office are ca(ping on the doorstep#/ ,-orse than that,/ 5r# -ill(ont said# ,They think the patient should !e restored to consciousness, that heroic (eans should !e used, and # # # / ,*nd you do not, 0 take it./ Mason interrupted# ,0,/ 5r# -ill(ont said, regarding hi( ith t inkling eyes, !definitely do not#/ Mason said, ,0+ll alk do n the street a ay ith you#/ ,0 ha$e (y car here# 0+ll gi$e you a lift#/ ,'o, 0+( going only a short distance#/ ,0 ha$e a couple of prescriptions for her#/ ,Gi$e the( to (e# 0+ll pay for the( and ha$e the( sent up#/ Mason took the prescriptions, strolled out of the lo!!y, atched 5r# -ill(ont into his auto(o!ile, and then ent to the garage here he surrendered the clai( check, got Mrs# 8a ley+s coupe and dro$e it do n to the !usiness district# )e found a parking place, carefully polished the steering heel, the handles on the door, the gear shift le$er, and the !ack of the rear $ie (irror ith his handkerchief# )e locked up the car and alked a ay# *fter t o !locks, he dropped the ignition key through a steel grating in the side alk#

Chapter G
0t as after ten hen Perry Mason opened the door of his pri$ate office# )e hung up his hat and coat, said, ,)ello,/ to 5ella Street, and she !rought in the (ail# ,Sit do n a hile, 5ella# 8et the (ail go# 0+( in a &a(#/ ,-hat is it./ ,0 don+t kno ho !ad it+s going to !e# 2ou+$e seen the papers./ ,2es# 0s it a!out 8ynk+s (urder./ ,0t+s connected ith that#/ ,Mildreth Faulkner./ ,'o, her sister, Carlotta 8a ley#/ ,The paper doesn+t say anything a!out her#/ ,The police aren+t ready to do anything a!out her yet# For one thing, they think they ha$e a !etter case against Mildreth Faulkner, and, for another thing, there+s a lot they don+t kno a!out Carlotta yet#/ ,-ill they find out./ ,2es#/ ,-hen./ ,Pro!a!ly today#/ ,0 thought you ere representing Miss Faulkner#/ ,'o# 0 don+t ant her case, and 0 don+t think she ants (e#/ ,-hy doesn+t she ant you./ ,9ecause she ants (e to represent her sister, and she+s s(art enough to kno that if 0+( representing her sister, 0 can+t ha$e any strings tied to it#/ ,5oes the sister kno that./ ,'o#/ ,-hy are you in a &a( o$er it./ Mason offered her his cigarettes# She shook her head# )e took one, scraped a (atch on the sole of his shoe, lit up, and sat for a (o(ent ga%ing at the fla(e of the (atch !efore he e"tinguished it# Then he said, ,She could !e guilty#/ ,-ho./ ,Either one of the(, Carlotta or Mildreth#/ ,2ou (ean of the (urder./ ,2es#/ ,-e)./ she asked#

)e said, ,0+$e al ays tried to represent clients ho ere innocent# 0+$e !een lucky# 0+$e taken chances# 0+$e played hunches, and the hunches ha$e panned out# Circu(stantial e$idence can !e !lack against a client, and 0+ll see so(ething in his de(eanor, so(e little (anneris(, the ay he ans ers a 7uestion or so(ething, hich (akes (e !elie$e he+s innocent# 0+ll take the case, and it ill ork out# 0+( not infalli!le# My percentage should run a!out fifty-fifty# So far 0+$e al ays !een on the !lack side of the ledger# That+s luck# 'o 0 ha$e a feeling things (ay turn, and the de!its (ay catch up ith (e#/ ,)o (uch difference ould it (ake./ she asked# ,0 don+t kno ,/ Mason said frankly# ,0 do kno that a la yer can+t si(ply sit !ack and refuse to take any case unless he thinks his client is innocent# * client is entitled to legal representation# 0t takes the unani(ous $erdict of t el$e &urors to find a person guilty# 0t isn+t fair for a la yer to turn hi(self into a &ury, eigh the e$idence, and say, 'o, 0 on+t handle your case !ecause 0 think you+re guilty#+ That ould depri$e an accused person of a fair trial#/ She atched hi( ith solicitous eyes# ,*re you histling in the dark to keep your courage up./ )e grinned at her# ,2es#/ ,0 thought so#/ Mason said, ,The hell of it is she+s got a eak heart# She+s !een through a lot, and the pu(p has gone !ad# 0t ill take a long spell of rest, (edicine, and recuperation !efore it gets !ack into any sort of shape# ,0f she+s accused of cri(e, taken !efore a grand &ury, interrogated !y the district attorney, or e$en hounded !y ne spaper reporters, she+s not going to (ake it#/ ,Make hat./ ,She+ll kick off#/ ,3h#/ *fter a (o(ent, Mason said, ,That+s the sa(e as a death penalty# 0f you kno a person ill die as the result of !eing accused6 ell, you &ust can+t do it, that+s all#/ ,-hat+s the alternati$e./ she asked# Mason ru!!ed his fingers along the angle of his &a # ,That,/ he said, ,is the tough part of it# The la doesn+t recogni%e a situation such as this# 0 could pro!a!ly go to court and get an order putting her in a sanitariu( under a doctor+s care ith no $isitors per(itted until the doctor said so# 9ut the doctor ould !e so(eone appointed !y the court# )e ould !e

(ore or less su!&ect to influence !y the district attorney# The (ain thing is that the (inute 0 go to court 0 ha$e to pro$e (y case# 0 can !ring in a doctor ho testifies to hat he found# The district attorney ould ant his doctor to check on (ine# The &udge ould pro!a!ly ant to see her personally# She+d ha$e to kno so(ething of the nature of the proceedings# She+d kno they ere going to charge her ith (urder hen she got ell enough to # # # 'o, 0 can+t go ahead that ay# 0 can+t let that hang o$er her head#/ ,-here does that lea$e you./ 5ella Street asked# Mason said, ,0+$e got to take the la into (y o n hands# 0+$e got to fi" it so they can+t find her#/ ,0sn+t that a pretty large order if they really ant her./ Mason said, ,That+s hat !others (e# There+s only one ay to really keep the( fro( doing it6and at the sa(e ti(e acco(plish so(ething else 0 ant#/ ,-hat+s the so(ething else./ ,0 ant the police to get 1o!ert 8a ley#/ ,*ren+t they looking for hi(./ ,'ot $ery hard# So far, he+s &ust a (issing itness ho skipped out to sa$e his o n !acon, and the police can pro$e e$erything they ant !y other itnesses#/ ,So hat are you going to do./ Mason grinned# ,0+$e already done it,/ he said# ,0+( &ust looking !ack to see the thing in its proper perspecti$e6like cli(!ing a (ountain# 2ou keep looking !ack to see ho far you+$e cli(!ed#/ ,3r ho far you ha$e to fall./ she asked# ,9oth,/ he ad(itted# There ere se$eral seconds of silence, then 5ella said a!ruptly, ,-ell, you+$e done it# -hy orry a!out it./ ,That isn+t hat 0+( orrying a!out#/ ,-hat./ )e said, ,0+$e got to drag you into it#/ ,)o ./ )e said, ,0 hate to do it# 0 don+t see any other ay out# 0f you follo instructions and don+t ask any 7uestions, 0 can keep you in the clear, !ut # # # / ,0 don+t ant to !e kept in the clear,/ she said i(patiently# ,)o (any ti(es (ust 0 tell you that 0+( part of the organi%ation. 0f you take chances, 0 ant to take chances#/

)e shook his head# ,'o dice, 5ella#/ ,-hat do you ant (e to do./ ,:ust follo instructions and not ask any 7uestions#/ ,-hat are the instructions./ ,0 ha$e a !ook of tra$elers+ checks# The na(e on those checks is Carlotta 8a ley# Practice that signature until you+re pretty good at it6 not too good, !ecause 0 ant so(eone to get suspiciousC !ut 0 don+t ant it to happen until after you+$e cashed so(e of the checks#/ )er eyes ere alert# *n"ious to (iss no detail of his instructions, she sat perfectly (otionless, atching and listening# Mason said, ,2ou+ll need to (ake a !uild-up on the first checks# Go ho(e and put on your glad rags# Go to a pa n shop, get so(e secondhand luggage, ha$e the initials C#8#+ put on it# Go to a hotel, say you don+t kno hether you+re going to get a roo( or !e ith friends, that you+ll kno in half an hour# Go o$er to the cashier+s indo , say you+d like to cash a check for a hundred dollars, !ut that you can get along ith a s(aller check if they+d prefer# 2ou on+t ha$e (uch trou!le there# E"plain that you+re aiting to see a!out getting a roo(# ,Then go o$er to the telephone, and tell the clerk you+re going to !e staying ith friends, and go out# 5o that at a couple of hotels# Then go to a depart(ent store, !uy a little stuff, and cash a s(all tra$elers+ check in pay(ent# *ll of that is going to !e easy#/ ,-hat+s the hard part./ ,2ou+d pro!a!ly !etter do it in a depart(ent store,/ Mason said# ,3rder a!out fi$e dollars+ orth of (erchandise and try to cash a hundred-dollar check# The cashier ill !e tactful !ut suspicious# She+ll ask to see your dri$ing license or so(e identification# 2ou look in your purse, then get in a panic, and say you left your coin purse together ith your dri$ing license in the ladies+ restroo(# Tell the cashier you+ll !e !ack# 'o get this# *s you lea$e, call !ack o$er your shoulder, There+s o$er three hundred dollars in that coin purse#+ / ,Then hat./ ,Then duck out, and don+t co(e !ack# Get out and stay out#/ ,The tra$elers+ check./ ,2ou lea$e that ith the cashier#/ ,*nd don+t try to clai( it./ ,'o# That+s here the catch co(es in#/ ,)o so./ ,The cashier ill onder hy you don+t co(e !ack# She+ll also onder

hy you+re trying to cash a hundred-dollar tra$elers+ check for a fi$edollar purchase if you had three hundred dollars in your coin purse# The cashier ill start looking at the signatures a little (ore closely# Then the cashier ill call the police#/ ,*ll right,/ 5ella said# ,-hen do 0 start./ ,'o #/ She alked o$er to the coat closet, put on hat and coat, paused to po der her face, and touch up her lips in front of the (irror# ,3kay, Chief# Gi$e (e the checks#/ Mason s(iled# ,2ou ha$en+t asked (e hether you ere going to &ail#/ ,This isn+t (y day to ask 7uestions#/ Mason got to his feet, slid his ar( around her aist, and alked to the door ith her# ,0 hate to do this, 5ella# 0f there+d !een anyone else 0 could trust # # # / ,0+d ha$e hated you the rest of (y life,/ she said# ,0f things don+t go &ust right, call (e, and 0+ll # # # / ,-hat ill you do./ ,Get you out#/ ,0n order to do that you+d ha$e to gi$e a ay your plan of ca(paign#/ )e shook his head# ,0f you get pinched, (y plan of ca(paign is all finished # # # and so a( 0#/ ,Then 0 on+t get pinched#/ ,1ing (e up and let (e kno ho things are co(ing# 0+ll !e an"ious#/ ,5on+t orry#/ )e patted her shoulder# ,Good girl#/ )er eyes ere elo7uent as she flashed hi( a 7uick s(ile, then slipped out into the corridor# Mason stood listening to the sound of her heels on the tiled corridor# )e as fro ning and thoughtful# 'ot until after the ele$ator door had clanged shut, did he alk !ack to his desk# *t ele$en-thirty-fi$e )arry Pea$is called, and Mason told the receptionist to !ring hi( in# The la yer studied the tall, lu(!ering figure of the florist as Pea$is ca(e (arching across the office, his (anner indicating a dogged deter(ination# ,)o are you, Mr# Pea$is./ Mason said, and shook hands# Pea$is had !een freshly sha$ed, (assaged, and (anicured# )is suit sho ed a despairing effort on the part of the tailor to (ask the toil- orn slouch of the shoulders# )is si"-dollar tie and fifteen-dollar custo(-(ade shirt see(ed incongruous against the eather-checked skin of his neck# )is po erful, gnarled fingers circled Mason+s hand and gripped6hard#

Mason said, ,Sit do n#/ There as that in Pea$is+ (anner hich indicated a scorn of diplo(acy and hypocrisy# ,2ou kno ho 0 a(,/ he said, and it as not so (uch a 7uestion as a state(ent# Mason said, ,2es#/ ,2ou kno hat 0 ant#/ *gain Mason said, ,2es#/ ,5o 0 get it./ Mason+s lips softened into a s(ile# ,'o#/ ,0 think 0 do#/ ,0 think you don+t#/ Pea$is took a cigar fro( his pocket, e"tracted a knife fro( his $est pocket, carefully clipped off the end of the cigar, then raised the eyes under his shaggy iron-gray !ro s, and said to Mason, ,-ant one./ ,'o, thanks, 0+ll stay ith the cigarettes#/ Pea$is lit the cigar# )e said, ,5on+t think 0+( (aking the (istake of underesti(ating you#/ ,Thanks#/ ,*nd don+t (ake the (istake of underesti(ating (e#/ ,0 on+t#/ ,Try not to# -hen 0 ant so(ething 0 get it# 0+( a slo - anter# 0 don+t see so(ething, say all at once, T ant that,+ and try to get it# 0f 0 ant so(ething, 0 look it o$er for a good long ti(e !efore 0 decide 0 really ant it# -hen 0 decide 0 ant it, 0 get it#/ ,*nd right no you ant the Faulkner Flo er Shops./ ,0 don+t ant Mildreth Faulkner out#/ ,2ou ant her to stay in and ork for you./ ,'ot for (e# For the corporation#/ ,9ut you ant to control the corporation./ ,2es#/ Mason said, ,-hen Mrs# 8a ley got sick, you had her hus!and pretty ell si%ed up# 2ou kne you could play on his eakness, didn+t you./ ,0 don+t ha$e to ans er that 7uestion#/ ,2ou don+t# That+s right# 0t (ight sa$e ti(e if you did#/ ,0+$e got lots of ti(e#/ ,0 suppose that you kne Sindler Coll6or as it the !lond lure, Esther 5il(eyer, that you had for a point of contact./ Pea$is said, ,Go to hell#/ Mason picked up the telephone, said to the girl at the s itch!oard,

,Get (e the 5rake 5etecti$e *gency# 0 ant to talk ith Paul 5rake#/ -hile he aited, Mason glanced across at his $isitor# Pea$is sat ith an a!solutely e"pressionless face# )e (ight not ha$e heard, or, if he had, failed to appreciate the significance of the call# )e puffed thoughtfully at the cigar, his deep-set eyes of glacial !lue glittering frostily fro( !eneath the !ushy eye!ro s# *fter a fe (o(ents, the s itch!oard operator said, ,)ere+s Mr# 5rake,/ and Mason heard Paul 5rake+s $oice on the other end of the line# ,)ello, Paul# This is Perry# 0 ha$e a &o! for you#/ ,Thought you (ight ha$e,/ 5rake said# ,0 read a!out 8ynk+s (urder in the paper and ondered if you ere going to get (i"ed up in it#/ Mason said, ,* (an !y the na(e of )arry Pea$is, a florist, controls a large part of the retail flo er shops in the city# )e+s !een trying to get a controlling interest in the Faulkner Flo er Shops# There are three of the(# 0t+s a closed corporation# 3ne of the principal stockholders got sick, turned the stock o$er to her hus!and# Pea$is sa a chance to get that stock# 0 don+t kno hether he kne 8ynk, or hether he kne so(e people ho kne 8ynk# T o people (ay ha$e figured in the deal, a Sindler Coll, ho li$es in the E$erglade *part(ents in t o hundred and nine, and an Esther 5il(eyer, ho+s in the Molay *r(s *part(ents# So(eone sent the 5il(eyer girl a !o" of poisoned candy last night6filled ith $eronal# She ate so(e of the chocolate crea(s, and passed out# She+s in the hospital no under the care of 5r# -ill(ont# She pro!a!ly on+t ake up for another t el$e hours# 0ncidentally, )ar$ey 8ynk had a partner, Clint Magard# 0 don+t kno hether Magard as in on it or not#/ ,3kay,/ 5rake said# ,Got those na(es./ ,2es#/ Mason said, ,Get !usy# Find out hether Pea$is kne Sindler Coll or Esther 5il(eyer# 3r he (ay ha$e !een orking through 8ynk# *ny ay, in$estigate Pea$is and find out his connection ith it#/ Pea$is s(oked in stony silence# ,*nything else./ 5rake asked# ,2es,/ Mason said# ,Get hat dope you can on Pea$is# 0f there are any eak points in his ar(or, 0 ant to kno the(# Put a !unch of (en on it, and get results#/ ,Starting no ./ 5rake asked# ,0((ediately,/ Mason said, and hung up# Mason pushed the phone a ay fro( hi( and settled !ack, tilting his

s i$el chair to a reclining position# )arry Pea$is crossed his legs, knocked ashes fro( the end of his cigar, and said to Mason, ,@ery dra(atic# 0t (ight !other so(e people# 5oesn+t !other (e# 0t isn+t going to get you any here#/ ,0t+s &ust routine,/ Mason said# ,0+d ne$er forgi$e (yself if 0 o$erlooked it#/ Pea$is said, ithout reproach, ,2ou (ust think 0+( a da(n fool#/ Mason said, ,0+ll tell you (ore a!out that hen 0 get 5rake+s report#/ ,-hen you get ready to 7uit kidding and act gro nup, 0+ll talk,/ Pea$is said# ,*ll right, act gro n-up#/ Pea$is said, ,Money ill do lots of things#/ ,0t ifi for a fact#/ ,2ou ha$e (oney, and 0 ha$e (oney# -e can !oth spend it#/ ,-hat are you leading up to./ ,0t (ight !e !etter if e sa$ed it#/ ,-hy./ ,2ou could use your (oney to !etter ad$antage# So could 0# 2ou+$e hired detecti$es# 0 can hire detecti$es# 0 can hire &ust as (any and &ust as good ones as you can#/ ,-e)./ ,0f 0 ha$e to put it in ords of one sylla!le, 0 can sho that Mildreth Faulkner ent out to call on 8ynk# She found the door slightly open# She ent in and found the !ody# She found that certificate of stock# She figured that 8ynk ca(e !y it rongfully# She picked it up and ent out# 'o then, !y the ti(e 0+$e finished pro$ing that, here is that going to lea$e Mildreth Faulkner./ ,0t+s your party,/ Mason said# ,Go ahead and ser$e the refresh(ents#/ ,*ll right# 0 ill# 0t lea$es her in &ail# 0t lea$es her charged ith (urder, and it+s going to take a da(n sight s(arter (an than 0 a(, a da(n sight s(arter (an than you are, to get her off# That isn+t going to do either of us any good# The reason 0+( interested in the Faulkner Flo er Shops is !ecause they+re (oney-(akers, and !ecause 0 ant Mildreth Faulkner orking for (e#/ ,-hy./ Mason asked curiously# Pea$is (et his eyes then, and said slo ly, ,That+s another one of the things 0 ant#/ Mason stared thoughtfully at the !lotter# ,2ou get (y point,/ Pea$is said#

,2es#/ ,-hat are you going to do a!out it./ ,0 don+t kno #/ ,-hen ill you kno ./ ,0 can+t e$en tell you that#/ Pea$is got to his feet# ,*ll right,/ he said, ,0+( a !usiness(an, and you+re a !usiness(an#/ ,3ne 7uestion,/ Mason said# ,-hat./ ,5oes Mildreth Faulkner kno hat it is you ant./ The !luish-green eyes (et Mason+s ith the force of a physical i(pact# ,'o,/ he said, ,and she isn+t to kno until Im ready to tell her# 0 tell her at (y o n ti(e and in (y o n ay# -hat 0 told you as si(ply to e"plain (y position#/ ,Thanks for dropping in,/ Mason said# ,My telephone nu(!er+s in the !ook,/ Pea$is re(arked# )e started for the door, turned, and stared steadily at Mason# ,0+( not so da(n certain,/ he o!ser$ed cal(ly and i(personally, ,!ut hat you and 0 are going to ha$e trou!le# 0f e do, it isn+t going to !e like any other fight you e$er had# Good (orning#/ ,Good (orning,/ Mason said# *t t el$e-thirty-fi$e 5ella Street telephoned# ,)ello, Chief# 0+( in a telephone !ooth at the hotel# :ust cashed one of the hundred-dollar checks#/ ,*ny difficulty./ ,'o#/ Mason said, ,0+( ha$ing (y lunch sent in here# 0+ll !e at the end of the telephone# 0f you ha$e any trou!le, call (e# 0 on+t lea$e the office under any circu(stances until 0 hear that you+re finished# Try and clean it all up !y three o+clock#/ ,)o (any do 0 cash./ ,Four or fi$e, then try to let so(eone get suspicious#/ ,3kay# 0+ll keep you posted#/ Mason telephoned a restaurant to send up sand iches and coffee# *t one-thirty 5ella Street telephoned again# ,T o depart(ent stores, t enty !ucks each# 3kay# 0+( ready to try for a !ig one no #/ ,Go ahead# 0+ll !e right here#/ Mason called the s itch!oard operator and said, ,0 on+t see any client this afternoon# Eeep (y line open# 0+( e"pecting 5ella Street to

call in# 0t (ay !e i(portant# 0 don+t ant her call to run into a !usy signal#/ )e hung up and lit a cigarette, s(oked four puffs, and thre it a ay# Thirty seconds later, he lit another one# )e got up and !egan pacing the office floor# Fro( ti(e to ti(e, he looked at his rist atch# There as a ti(id knock at the door of the outer office, and the s itch!oard operator opened the door and eased herself into the roo(# ,Mr# Clint Magard is out there,/ she said# ,)e says he has to see you, that it+s i(portant, that # # # / ,0 on+t see hi(# Get !ack to the s itch!oard#/ She !acked out of the roo(# * (o(ent later, she returned# ,)e said 0 as to gi$e you this note#/ She ran across the office, dropped the note into Mason+s pal(, and dashed !ack# Mason readH 2ou ha$e a duty to your client# 0f you don+t see (e right no , it ill !e &ust too !ad for that client# Think it o$er# Mason cru(pled the note into a !all, thre it do n into the aste!asket, picked up the telephone and said, ,)e+s called the inning nu(!er# Send hi( in#/ Magard as hea$y-set, !ald-headed, ith a fringe of red hair around his ears and the !ack of his head# )e ore spectacles and had a triple chin# Mason recogni%ed hi( at once as the (an in e$ening clothes he had seen going into Sindler Coil+s apart(ent# ,Sit do n,/ Mason said# ,Start talking# 0+$e got so(ething on (y (ind# 0 didn+t ant to !e distur!ed# 0+( ner$ous as hell, and 0+( apt to !e irrita!le# 0f hat you ha$e to say ill keep, it had !etter keep#/ ,0t on+t keep#/ ,*ll right then, spill it#/ Magard said, ,0 presu(e you think 0+( a heel#/ Mason said, ,0t+s a te(ptation to ans er that 7uestion in detail# That+s not an auspicious !eginning#/ Magard+s face as as fat and placid as a full (oon on a su((er e$ening# ,0 kno ho you feel,/ he said# ,-hat did you ant to tell (e./ ,0 ant you to kno here 0 stand#/ ,0 don+t gi$e a da(n here yon stand#/

,2our client+s interests # # # / ,Go ahead,/ Mason interrupted# ,8ynk and 0 are partners in the Golden )orn#/ ,2ou (ean you ere#/ ,*ll right, e ere# -e didn+t get along too ell together# 0 didn+t ha$e enough (oney to !uy hi( out at the price he anted, and 0 ouldn+t sell# 0t+s a good !usiness# 0 had no idea 8ynk as playing around ith this stuff on the side#/ ,-hat stuff./ ,Sindler Coll, Esther 5il(eyer, crooked horse racing, a sort of glorified tout ser$ice#/ ,9ut you ere friendly ith Sindler Coll./ ,0 ne$er sa hi( in (y life until last night6that is, this (orning6 hen 0 called on hi( at his re7uest#/ ,-hy./ ,That+s hat 0 anted to talk ith you a!out#/ ,0+( listening#/ ,Coll thought e should get together# )e said you+d !e representing the (urderer, that you+d try to get her off, and # # # / ,-hy do you say her? -hy not him? ,9ecause 0 think it as a o(an#/ ,-hat (akes you think so./ ,0 ha$e (y reasons#/ ,*ll right, Coll sent for you# )e thought that 0 as going to !e representing the (urderer# So hat./ ,That you+d !e cle$er as the $ery de$il and ould !e trying to get your client off#/ ,That+s natural#/ ,That in order to do it you+d pin the (urder on so(eone else# Coll said that he+d long !een interested in the ay you tried cases# )e said you ne$er tried the( !y si(ply trying to pro$e your client innocent# 2ou al ays tried to pin it on so(eone else# )e said that it happened too often# )e figured you fra(ed so(eone, and then sta(peded a &ury#/ ,*nd he called you at that hour of the (orning to tell you that./ ,'o, to suggest that e take steps to see that e ere protected#/ ,0n other ords, that 0 couldn+t pin the (urder on you or hi(#/ ,That+s right#/ Mason said, ,0t+s an idea at that# Thanks for gi$ing it to (e#/ ,2ou+re elco(e,/ Magard said, and s(iled a little#

,So you had this conference,/ Mason said, ,then you co(e to (e# -hy./ ,9ecause 0 thought you should kno hat Coll as doing# )e anted (e to gi$e hi( an ali!i, and then he+d gi$e (e one# -e+d s ear e ere together#/ ,*nd you decided not to play !all ith hi(./ ,That+s right#/ ,-hy./ ,9ecause,/ and this ti(e Magard+s s(ile as $ery (uch in e$idence, ,L happen to ha$e an ali!i#/ ,*nd Coll doesn+t./ ,'ot one that he thinks ould stand up#/ ,-ill yours stand up./ ,*!solutely#/ ,-hy did you co(e to (e./ ,9ecause 0 ant so(ething#/ ,-hat./ ,0+( not a fool, Mr# Mason# 0 kno that hen you start fighting, you rip things ide open# 0 kno that 8ynk as (i"ed up in a !unch of stuff# 0t isn+t going to look good, no (atter ho it+s dressed up# 9ut you can6 ell, you can (ake it look like hell#/ ,*nd you ant (e to pull (y punches./ ,'o# 9ut if you can get your client ac7uitted ithout (aking a stink a!out (y !usiness, 0+ll appreciate it#/ ,0+( not (aking any pro(ises#/ ,0 didn+t e"pect you to#/ ,-on+t the police close you up any ay./ Magard+s triple chin rippled as his )ps t isted into such a !road s(ile that the pouches of fat on his cheeks pushed his eyes al(ost closed# ,2ou lea$e that to (e, Mr# Mason#/ ,0 intend to,/ Mason said# ,-hat+s your proposition./ ,0+( interested in helping you get your client off before trial" ,So there on+t !e any pu!licity./ ,That+s right#/ ,-hat do you ant in return./ ,0 ant you to go easy ith the ne spapers# 0f there+s a preli(inary hearing, 0 ant you to lea$e the Golden )orn out of it &ust as (uch as you can#/ ,'o dice,/ Mason said#

,-ait a (inute,/ Magard ent on, holding up a pudgy forefinger# ,There+s one 7ualifying phrase 0 as going to add# 0 ant you to lea$e the Golden )orn out of it as (uch as you can if you find it ill !e to the ad$antage of your client to do so#/ ,That+s different#/ ,0 thought it ould !e#/ Mason said, ,0 on+t ha(string (yself one !it, Magard# 0 on+t (ake any pro(ises# 0 on+t # # # / Magard interrupted hi( !y holding up his hand, (aking a a$ing (otion of the rist as though patting the ords !ack in the la yer+s (outh# ,'o , ait a (inute, Mason# Eeep your shirt on# 0f it+s to the !est ad$antage of your client not to !urn (e up, you on+t do it# That+s right, isn+t it./ ,My client co(es first#/ ,Then the ans er is yes./ ,2es#/ ,*ll right, 0+( going to keep you posted on hat+s going on# 0+( going to gi$e you enough dope so that 0+ll !e $alua!le to you# 0+ll keep co(ing in here and telling you things &ust as fast as 0 find the( out6 as long as you dont throw mud on the #olden $orn% 'o you+re not under any o!ligation to (e hate$er# 2ou can go ahead and thro (ud any ti(e you ant to, but the (inute you do that, you+$e 7uit getting any infor(ation fro( (e#/ ,8et+s !egin no ,/ Mason said# ,-hat do you ant./ ,)o a!out Pea$is. 5id he ork through 8ynk or through Coll./ ,Through Sindler Coll and Esther 5il(eyer# )e kne !oth of the(# )e got the( to ork on 8a ley so they could pick up that stock# )e kne that 8a ley ould ne$er sell it unless he got in a &a(# )e anted the( to get 8a ley in a &a(#/ ,5id they do it./ ,2es#/ ,-hat sort of a &a(./ ,0 don+t kno #/ ,-as the girl (i"ed in it./ ,0 think so#/ ,*nd then hat./ ,-ell, naturally, 8a ley ouldn+t deal directly ith Pea$is# )e+d ha$e gone directly to his ife or to Mildreth Faulkner if he thought Pea$is as (i"ed in it# )e thought he as dealing ith Coil+s e(ployer, 8ynk# )e

needed (oney# )e anted to put up the stock as collateral# 8ynk ouldn+t stand for that# 8ynk told hi( he had to turn o$er the stock a!solutely, !ut, he told hi(, he+d hold the stock for fi$e days, and then let 8a ley !uy it !ack if 8a ley (ade the clean-up he e"pected#/ ,8a ley e"pected to (ake a clean-up./ ,2es#/ ,)o ./ ,3n the horses#/ ,*nd after 8ynk got the stock, he ouldn+t turn it o$er to Pea$is e"cept at a (uch higher price than they+d agreed on./ For a (o(ent, Magard looked startled# ,)o did you kno that./ he asked# ,0+( asking,/ Mason said# ,0 can+t ans er that 7uestion6not yet#/ ,-hy./ Magard ru!!ed his hands together# )is (anner suddenly oo%ed !u!!ly good-nature# ,-ell, Mr# Mason, look at it fro( (y $ie point# 2ou aren+t o!ligated to (e one !it# 2ou+re o!ligated to your client# *s long as you can ser$e your client+s !est interests !y # # # / ,2ou+$e co$ered that already,/ Mason said# ,2ou don+t need to go o$er it again#/ ,-ell,/ Magard said, ,0 &ust anted you to see it fro( (y standpoint# 0+d !e a da(n fool to gi$e you too (uch infor(ation all at once#/ ,-e (ight (ake a deal,/ Mason said# ,'ot you,/ Magard o!ser$ed# ,0 kno you too ell, Mason# 2ou ouldn+t (ake any agree(ent in hich the !est interests of your client didn+t co(e first# 0f you did, you+d !e a da(n fool# 0 don+t ant to do !usiness ith da(ned fools# 0 had one dose of that# That+s enough#/ ,*nd so you intend to dole out the infor(ation./ Mason asked# ,That+s right#/ Mason said, ,0+( going to outs(art you on that, Magard# 0+( going to take the infor(ation you gi$e (e, and take a short cut# 0+ll !e t o paragraphs ahead of you !efore you+$e (ade three $isits to this office# Then 0+ll raise hell ith you &ust on general principles#/ ,That+s a chance 0 ha$e to take,/ Magard said# ,2ou don+t see( $ery (uch alar(ed#/ ,0+( not#/ ,Suppose you tell (e a!out your ali!i#/ Magard chuckled# ,0+$e told that to the police#/

)e got to his feet# ,0+$e told you enough for one inter$ie , Mr# Mason# Good afternoon#/ ,-hen,/ Mason asked, , ill 0 see you again./ ,Perhaps to(orro , perhaps not for a eek# 0 guess that+s hy 0+( a ga(!ler# 0 like to take chances# 0 like to play dangerous ga(es#/ ,2ou+re playing one no ,/ Mason told hi(# Magard+s diaphrag( rippled in a chuckle# ,0 a( at that,/ he o!ser$ed, and !o ed hi(self out of the e"it door# Mason as less ner$ous no # )e s(oked a thoughtful cigarette, sat (otionless in the s i$el chair !ack of his desk, studying the pattern on the carpet# *fter a fe (inutes, he s(iledC the s(ile gre into a chuckle# The telephone rang# )e &u(ped into acti$ity, snaking his long ar( out to pick up the recei$er# ,)ello,/ he said hen the recei$er as half ay to his ear# )e heard 5ella Street+s $oice, high-pitched ith e"cite(ent# ,Chief, 0+$e done it# The cops are looking for (e#/ ,Get up to the office 7uick#/ ,Co(ing,/ she told hi(, and hung up the telephone# )e aited for her, pacing the floor, s(oking ner$ously# -hen he heard her 7uick steps in the corridor, he flung open the door, circled her in his ar(s, held her close to hi(, and patted her shoulder# ,0 shouldn+t ha$e done it,/ he said# 5ella pushed her !ody !ack a little so she had roo( to tilt up her head to look into his eyes# ,Good )ea$ens, hat+s the (atter./ ,0t+s all right for (e to take chances,/ he said, ,!ut 0 didn+t reali%e hat it (eant to (e to ha$e you out on the firing line# 0+ll ne$er do anything like that again, 5ella6not e$er#/ ,Goose,/ she said, s(iling, her lips half parted# )e kissed her tenderly, then hungrily, released her, alked a!ruptly !ack to the desk, said, ,That+s the trou!le ith (e, 5ella# -hen 0 get orking on a case, 0 su!ordinate e$erything to that case# 0 !eco(e hypnoti%ed ith a single purpose# 0 don+t take any heed of conse7uences# 0 only ant results#/ ,That+s a darn good ay to !e,/ she told hi(, taking off the little narro -!ri((ed hat hich perched &auntily on one side of her head, sur$eying her face in the (irror, cal(ly applying a touch of lipstick# ,Tell (e a!out it#/ ,'othing to it,/ she said# ,The hotels ere a cinch# The depart(ent stores ere al(ost as easy# Then 0 tried for the !ig play6and so(ething

ent rong#/ ,-hat./ ,0 don+t kno # 0 said 0 anted to cash a check and pushed the !ook through the indo # The cashier &ust took one look at the checks, then at (e# She (o$ed her right hand $ery casually# 0 sa her shoulder (o$e as she pressed a !utton# She said, *ll right, Mrs# 8a ley, &ust sign your na(e#+/ Mason+s eyes glinted# ,-hat did you do./ ,0 said, 3h, 0+$e forgotten (y fountain pen,+ gra!!ed the !ook of checks, and !eat it# The cashier called out to (e that she had a fountain pen, !ut 0 pretended not to hear# ,0 ent do n in the ele$ator# 0t see(ed to take ages# 3n the (ain floor there as a co((otion# T o (en ere running for the ele$ators# 3ne of the( pulled !ack his coat to sho a star# )e said, 0+( an officer6 get (e up to the cashier+s office, 7uick#+/ Mason said a!ruptly, ,5id you e$er set a grass fire, and ha$e it get a ay fro( you./ ,'o# -hy./ ,0t gi$es you the da(nedest feeling of surprised i(potence# 2ou think you+re going to !urn a little patch of grass# 2ou touch a (atch, and all of a sudden a hole hillside e"plodes into fla(e# 2ou dash (adly around the edges, trying to tra(ple out the fire, and it laughs at you#/ ,-hat,/ she asked, ,does that ha$e to do ith hat happened at the store./ ,)a$e you e$er (et 8ieutenant Tragg./ ,'o#/ ,'ot 7uite as tall as 0 a(,/ Mason said, ,a!out (y age, !lack, a$y hair, ears a gray, dou!le-!reasted suit, has a pro(inent, clean-cut nose ith thin nostrils, and hen he+s e"cited, has a ha!it of tilting his head !ack so that his chin is up and his nostrils # # # / ,That+s ho it as,/ she interrupted# Mason sighed# ,Too fast for (e,/ he said (oodily# ,0 tried to !uild a little fire to s(oke so(eone out into the open, and the fire got a ay fro( (e#/ ,-hat do you (ean./ ,5on+t you see hat 0 as doing, 5ella./ ,Trying to (ake the( think that Carlotta 8a ley had !een ro!!ed./ ,'ot ro!!ed# Murdered#/ )er eyes idened#

,0t+s logical,/ Mason said# ,)er hus!and as held to her !y one !ond 6the !ond of (oney# She lo$ed hi(, !ut to hi( she as (erely a con$enience, a (eal ticket, a source of inco(e# Mildreth al ays had hated hi(# Pro!a!ly he looked on his ife+s sickness as a godsend# *t first, he felt it ould gi$e hi( an opportunity to pro$e hi(self, to sho Mildreth that he could !e a shre d !usiness(an, a careful guardian of his ife+s property, a faithful custodian of her inco(e# *nd things didn+t go so good# Pro!a!ly an initial loss hich couldn+t ha$e !een foreseen, so(ething hich (ight ha$e happened to anyone, !ut hich, !ecause he as lashed !y the kno ledge of Mildreth+s conte(pt, (agnified itself out of all proper proportion in 8a ley+s (ind# ,There as only one thing for hi( to do# )e (ust recoup that loss# )e (ust change it into a profit# Spurred !y the hiplash of his o n i(patience, he didn+t ha$e ti(e to ait for sound in$est(ents# )e had to do so(ething 7uick# )e had to ga(!le# ,Fro( the fact that he ent so far, 0 presu(e that that first desperate chance turned in his fa$or# )e ga(!led and on# 0t as that easy#/ She said, ,9ut you don+t e$en know hi(, Chief#/ ,2es, 0 do# 2ou don+t need to see a (an, look in his face, shake his hand, and hear hi( talk, in order to kno hi(# 2ou can atch the things he does# 2ou can see hi( through the eyes of others#/ ,9ut the eyes of others are distorted !y pre&udice#/ ,2ou (ake allo ances for that pre&udice hen you kno the others# 2ou can then &udge the e"tent of their distortion# That+s the only ay you can sol$e cases, 5el-la# 2ou (ust learn to kno the characters in$ol$ed# 2ou (ust learn to see things through their eyes, and that (eans you must have sympathy and tolerance for crime She nodded# ,)e had on,/ Mason ent on, ,and he as &u!ilant# -hat he didn+t reali%e as that he as like the lion that has tasted (eat# )e could ne$er go !ack# )e could ne$er forget that full-!odied fla$or# )e (ade other losses# )e tried to recoup the( !y ga(!ling, and that ti(e he asn+t so successful#/ ,2ou (ean ga(!ling at the heel./ ,'o, not that6not at first,/ Mason said# ,0t pro!a!ly as a sure-thing tip on the horses# * friend in hose &udg(ent he had learned to ha$e confidence, so(eone ho apparently kne all the inside facts#/ ,Sindler Coll./ she asked# ,Pro!a!ly#/

,*nd then,/ she said, ,0 suppose he as decoyed along # # # / ,)e got in so deep,/ Mason said, ,that there as only one ay out, and that as to plunge# )e plunged and lost, and lost again# Then ca(e the ti(e hen he took stock of the situation# For the first ti(e he really sa the position in hich he+d placed hi(self# *nd then as hen they dangled the real !ait in front of his eyes# Then as hen they had a surething tip, so(ething that as so a!solutely certain that he !eca(e hypnoti%ed ith it# 9ut you can+t ga(!le ithout (oney, and on this sure-thing, lead-pipe cinch hich they dangled in front of his eyes, they de(anded cash# So he had to raise cash, and 8ynk ouldn+t lend hi( any (oney on securities as collateral# )e pointed out that the loan as for a ga(!ling stake, that there could !e too (any co(plications# 0nstead, he offered to !uy the stock outright, that ithin fi$e days 8a ley could !uy it !ack# ,9y that ti(e 8a ley as so co(pletely engrossed ith the possi!ilities of once (ore turning his losses into profits that he didn+t !other to consider the cost of the step he as taking# That+s the difference !et een a good !usiness(an and a !ad !usiness(an# The good !usiness(an ants so(ething and eighs the cost of hat he ants against the utility of the article he desires# That+s the ay Pea$is plays the ga(e# The poor !usiness(an sees so(ething that he ants, and he must ha$e it# The price represents only an o!stacle hich stands !et een hi( and possession#/ ,9ut hat+s that got to do ith 8ieutenant Tragg./ Mason dis(issed it all ith a gesture, s(iled, and said, ,0 get to reconstructing hat 8a ley (ust ha$e done, and ho he (ust ha$e felt, and 0 find it too fascinating # # # # -ell, any ay, 8a ley+s ne"t (o$e, once he found that he had lost out, ould !e6 ell, you can reali%e for yourself#/ ,-hat do you (ean./ she asked# ,Murder,/ Mason said si(ply# ,)e ouldn+t co(e to it all at once# 0t ouldn+t !e the first solution that ould co(e into his (ind, !ut he+d fling hi(self against the !ars of his predica(ent as a caged ani(al ould try out the iron !ars, trying to find a eak point#/ ,*nd so he (urdered 8ynk./ she asked# ,'ot 8ynk,/ Mason said i(patiently, ,6not unless he could ha$e gained !y it, not unless he could ha$e secured that stock#/ ,5idn+t he./ ,0f he had, he+d ha$e gone !ack ho(e# )e+d ha$e aited for his ife ith an air of cal( routine# 'o, if 8a ley had (urdered 8ynk, it as a (urder done either for re$enge or to get the stock !ack# That ould ha$e

!een the purpose of it/ ,9ut the stock has disappeared#/ ,0f 8a ley had (urdered 8ynk for the stock, the stock ould !e (issing,/ Mason said# ,So(eone (urdered 8ynk# The stock is (issing# That doesn+t necessarily (ean 8a ley did it# -e (ust guard against that (ental trap# Perhaps 8a ley did it, perhaps he didn+t# 9ut hat 0+( getting at is that if he didn+t (urder 8ynk, his (ind ould turn elsehere#/ ,2ou (ean his ife./ 5ella Street asked# ,2es#/ ,9ut # # # 0 don+t see # # # / ,)is only out,/ Mason said# ,)is ife still had (oney# There ere other securities# 0f she died, 8a ley ouldn+t ha$e to account to her# )e ouldn+t ha$e to account to Mildreth Faulkner# )er death ouldn+t get hi( !ack the property he+d lost, !ut it ould gi$e hi( the stake for another ga(!le, and, a!o$e all, it ould sa$e his face# -ith a (an of 8a ley+s type, the sa$ing of face is the thing of para(ount i(portance#/ ,9ut they+d certainly suspect hi(# )e !eing the one to profit # # # / ,'o,/ Mason interrupted# ,That+s here the (an could !e dia!olically cle$er# 2ou see, the stage is all rigged# )e could co((it the perfect cri(e# She+s !een struggling ith a eak heart# 5octors ha$e arned her that e"cite(ent (ight pro$e fatal# 0t ould only !e necessary for 8a ley to face her ith so(e terrific shock, so(ething that ould thro a strain on her heart, and the death ould !e due to natural #causes#/ ,2ou think he+d do that6that any (an ould do that to his ife./ Mason said, ,0t+s done e$ery day# -i$es kill hus!ands# )us!ands kill i$es# Mind you, 5ella, it takes a po erful (oti$ation to lead to (urder# That+s hy people don+t usually (urder co(parati$e strangers# The (ore inti(ate the relationship, the (ore de$astating the results hich co(e fro( it# That+s hy, taken !y and large, (ore i$es kill hus!ands than kill strangers# More hus!ands kill i$es than kill persons outside the fa(ily#/ ,0 didn+t kno that as true,/ she said# ,8ook at your ne spapers# -hy, those hus!and- ife killings are so co((on, they aren+t e$en front-page stuff# 4sually there+s no (ystery# They+re dra!, sordid cri(es of e(otional (alad&ust(ent# * hus!and kills a ife and co((its suicide# * o(an kills her children and co((its suicide#/ She nodded#

,*nd so,/ Mason said, ,0 anted to call Tragg+s attention to hat ould pro!a!ly happen ne"t# 0 anted hi( to reali%e that hoe$er killed 8ynk, Carlotta 8a ley as in danger# The !est ay 0 could do that as to (ake hi( think that it had actually happened#/ ,-hy. )e ouldn+t protect a o(an ho as already dead#/ ,0 didn+t ant hi( to protect her,/ Mason said# ,0+$e already done that# 0 anted hi( to turn the police force upside do n to catch 9o! 8a ley, and put hi( !ehind !ars#/ ,*nd that+s the reason you had (e cash the checks./ ,2es#/ ,So that the police ould think 8a ley had so(e fe(ale acco(plice, that he killed his ife and took her tra$elers+ checks, that the acco(plice is going a!out cashing those checks./ ,E"actly#/ ,-ell, it orked all right, didn+t it./ Mason said, ,0t orked, 5ella, too da(ned ell# 8ieutenant Tragg as atching for it# )e+s looking for Carlotta 8a ley, and he+s asked depart(ent stores # # # Good 8ordA/ Mason e"clai(ed# ,-hat a fool 0 as not to ha$e reali%ed itA/ ,-hat, Chief./ Mason said, ,Carlotta 8a ley (ust ha$e an account at that depart(ent store here you tried to cash the check# The cashier pro!a!ly didn+t kno her personally, !ut she kne her signature, and 8ieutenant Tragg kne she had an account there# )e+d told the cashier to notify hi( at once if any ne charges ent on the account#/ 5ella said, ,2es, that ould account for it#/ Mason said, ,Put your hat !ack on, 5ella# 2ou+re going places#/ ,-here./ ,Places# 0 don+t ant 8ieutenant Tragg to co(e alking in and say, Miss Street, ere you, !y any chance, the person ho tried to cash a tra$elers+ check this afternoon !y signing the na(e of Carlotta 8a ley.+ / ,2ou (ean he suspects./ 5ella Street asked# ,'ot yet,/ Mason said, ,!ut he+ll get a detailed description of the o(an ho tried to cash the check, and he+ll co(e to the office to see (e# Then, if he sees you hile the description is fresh in his (ind6he+s too shre d a detecti$e not to tu(!le#/ ,So 0+( to hide out./ 5ella Street asked, picking up her hat again and ad&usting it in front of the (irror# ,'o,/ Mason said# ,-e can+t ha$e that# That looks like flight, and

flight looks like guilt# 'o, 5ella, e+re going to go out to take so(e depositions or ork on a case# 2ou+re going to stay on the &o!# 0+( going to co(e !ack and forth to the office# 0n that ay, you on+t !e a$aila!le, yet your a!sence ill ha$e !een e"plained#/ )er eyes lit up# ,That,/ she said, , on+t !e hard to take# 0 can think of half a do%en places hich ould !e si(ply s ell for a $acation#/ )e nodded and said, ,*nd, !y the ay, 5ella, if the (ail(an deli$ers an en$elope addressed in (y hand riting ith the return address of the Clear(ount )otel, dont open it% 0t (ight !e a lot !etter if you didn+t kno hat as inside of it#/ 5ella Street+s eyes narro ed# ,-ould it,/ she asked, ,!e a certificate of stock./ ,2ou and 8ieutenant Tragg,/ Mason said fir(ly, ,are getting too da(n s(art#/

Chapter 1I
5ella Street, (o$ing ith the s ift rapidity of one ho is accusto(ed to acco(plish(ent, stepped into the outer office to instruct the receptionist# Perry Mason, standing !y his desk, hat and coat on, as scooping legal papers into the !rief case hich he intended to take ith hi(# Suddenly the door fro( the outer office as pushed open# 5ella entered Mason+s office, &erked off her hat, tossed it to the shelf a!o$e the ashstand in the closet, opened her locker, took out a co(! and !rush and started changing her hair# -ith !o!!y pins held in her (outh so that her ords sounded &u(!led, she said, ,)e+s there # # # # 3nly seen (e ith (y hat on &ust for a (inute # # # # Gertie looked to (e hen he asked for you # # # said he had to see you right a ay # # # clai(s he can+t ait # # # 0+ll change (y appearance as (uch as 0 can # # # # -ouldn+t do for (e to skip out now% Mason atched her !rush the curls out of her hair, (ake a part in the (iddle, slick her hair do n on each side# )er fingertips dipped into ater fro( the open tap, s(oothing out the curled ends# ,8ieutenant Tragg./ She nodded, her (outh !ristling ith !o!!y pins# Slo ly, Mason took off his coat, hung it up, carefully placed his hat on a hook &ust !ehind 5ella, said, ,)e on+t ait#/ ,0 kno it,/ she (uttered # # # # ,Told hi( you had a client !ut ould

!e free in t o or three (inutes#/ Mason opened a dra er in his desk, pulled out the papers fro( his !rief case, dropped the( into the dra er, closed it, and kicked the !rief case !ack into the foot- ell under the desk# 5ella s ept the last of the !o!!y pins fro( her lips, looked at herself appraisingly# ,8et+s go,/ Mason said# -ordlessly, she $anished into the outer office, returning ith 8ieutenant Tragg in to # ,)ello, 8ieutenant,/ Mason said casually# Tragg asted no ti(e in preli(inaries# ,Mason,/ he said, ,0 hand it to you#/ ,To (e./ ,2es#/ ,For hat./ ,2ou caught (e napping# The thing i(pressed (e at the ti(e# 0 guess it stuck in (y su!conscious, !ut 0 as too preoccupied to notice it# 2ou dre a red herring across the trail, and 0 ent !arking off on a false scent#/ Mason said, ,Sit do n, 8ieutenant# )a$e a cigarette# My secretary, Miss Street#/ ,)o do you do, Miss Street#/ Tragg took a cigarette, sat do n in the !ig ar(chair, accepted Mason+s (atch, and see(ed so(e hat e(!arrassed# ,0 don+t get you,/ Mason said# ,8ast night hile 0 as all hot and !othered a!out that gun Mildreth Faulkner had, and a!out the ay she+d (anaged to pull the trigger so that a paraffin test ouldn+t gi$e (e any results hich couldn+t !e e"plained, you ent out to your car# 2ou+re a da(n good dri$er, Mason, !ut hen you turned around, you clashed gears, raced the (otor, !acked and t isted#/ ,0 (ust ha$e !een e"cited#/ ,2es# Cra%y like a fo"# *ny ti(e Perry Mason gets so e"cited he fu(!les the !all, it+s a long, cold day# 2ou Pkno hy the chief took )olco(! off )o(icide and put (e on./ ,'o# -hy./ ,)e got tired of ha$ing you alk into court and pull ra!!its out of the hat# 0t as up to (e to (ake a !etter sho ing than )olco(!#/ ,That shouldn+t !e e"ceptionally difficult#/

,'ot if 0+( going to let (y attention get distracted hile you set the stage for your little sleight of hand tricks,/ Tragg said ruefully# ,0 don+t kno hat you+re talking a!out#/ Tragg didn+t e$en !other to look up fro( his cigarette# ,Carlotta 8a ley,/ he said# ,-hat a!out her./ ,She dro$e up to her sister+s house# 2ou heard the car and kne ho it as# 0 as too occupied trying to get so(e da(aging ad(issions out of Mildreth Faulkner# 2ou alked out and stole the hole !ag of tricks right fro( under (y nose#/ ,-hat,/ Mason asked, ,are you inti(ating 0 did./ ,Told Carlotta 8a ley that 0 as in there, that things didn+t look so good for her, that you had (anaged to coach Mildreth Faulkner so she+d dra our fire for a hile# That idea of ha$ing the accidental+ discharge of the gun as a (asterpiece#/ ,-as it the (urder gun./ Mason asked# ,0t as the (urder gun#/ ,5o you kno here she got it or ho she got it./ ,3f course# She got it fro( Carlotta#/ ,0s that hat Miss Faulker says./ ,'aturally not# Miss Faulkner acts (ore guilty than she ould if she ere guilty# She+s doing her &o! too ell# She+s o$eracting# She+s helping her sister !y playing red herring#/ Mason said, ,2ou see( to ha$e rather a high opinion of her intelligence#/ Tragg (et his eyes# ,5a(ned high# She has hat it takes, that o(an#/ ,9ut you don+t think she+s guilty./ ,'o# 'ot no #/ ,-hat+s !rought a!out the sudden change./ ,Sindler Coll#/ ,5on+t let hi( fool you,/ Mason arned# ,)e sent for Magard last night# )e said that if Magard ould gi$e hi( an ali!i, he+d gi$e Magard one# Suggested that they # # # / ,0 kno ,/ Tragg interrupted# ,Magard ouldn+t play !all !ecause he already had an ali!i# Coll is frightened stiff# )e has an idea the police (ight fra(e hi( for the (urder if e can+t turn up a good suspect# 0+( acting as though 0 as toying ith that idea# That (akes hi( ild# )e+s frantically trying to find out ho really did it to sa$e his o n neck#/

,0 ouldn+t trust hi(,/ Mason said# ,0+d figure anything he+d !ring in ould !e a phony#/ ,)e found Mrs# 1ocka ay,/ Tragg said# ,-ho+s she./ ,She and her hus!and run the ser$ice station and grocery store do n near the (outh of 8ilac Canyon#/ ,-hat does she kno ./ ,1ight around (idnight a o(an dro$e up to the place# She see(ed $ery ner$ous, and her lips ere a little !lue# She asked se$eral 7uestions a!out streets, here different streets turned off, and did they kno here a Mr# )orlick li$ed and asn+t there a Mr# S(ith ho had a place that as for sale, right near a ca!in o ned !y Mr# 8ynk./ Tragg stopped talking to study Mason+s face# ,Go ahead,/ Mason said# ,-ell, Mrs# 1ocka ay alked right into the trap all right# She said there as a S(ith li$ing up near the top of the hill, !ut he didn+t li$e any here near Mr# 8ynk+s place, that she didn+t kno any Mr# )orlick, and she hadn+t heard a!out S(ith+s property !eing for sale, that there ere so(e other places around there for sale, !ut she hadn+t heard a!out the S(ith place !eing for sale#/ ,0 suppose,/ Mason said, ,!y the ti(e she gets to court, she+ll s ear this o(an as Carlotta 8a ley#/ Tragg+s s(ile as triu(phant# ,5on+t orry, Mason,/ he said# ,The 1ocka ays ere ha$ing a !irthday party# There ere a do%en guests there# They all got a good look at the o(an# 0t as Carlotta 8a ley all right#/ ,* o(an going out to co((it a (urder ould naturally drop in on a !irthday party and ask directions so they could re(e(!er her after ards,/ Mason said# The s(ile faded fro( Tragg+s face# ,'o then,/ he ad(itted, ,there+s the ru!# That !others (e# 9ut notice that she didn+t alk right in and ask here 8ynk li$ed# She !eat around the !ush and got the infor(ation so skillfully that if Coll hadn+t gi$en (e the tip, they pro!a!ly ne$er ould ha$e reported# 3f course, they (ight ha$e recogni%ed Mrs# 8a ley+s picture in the paper, !ut, ithout that tip, Mrs# 8a ley+s picture (ight ne$er ha$e !een in the paper#/ ,)o did Co) find out a!out it./ ,:ust leg ork#/ ,0 don+t think (uch of it,/ Mason said# ,2ou ouldn+t !e letting Coll

!e such a (other+s helper on your (urder case that you o$erlooked hi( as a possi!le suspect on the candy# That might !e Coil+s ga(e, you kno #/ ,5on+t orry# 0 don+t ha$e any (ore confidence in Coll than you ha$e# )e+s in the clear on the candy !usiness# That as sent !y so(eone in the Golden )orn#/ ,)o do you figure./ ,The rapping on the !o" as paper they use at the Golden )orn# The address as typed on a sheet of paper of e"actly the sa(e kind they use as stationery# Then the portion hich contained the type riting as cut off and pasted on the rapper ith glue such as they use at the nightclu!# 'o , here+s a significant clue# The glue as $ery hard# 0t had co(pletely set# The che(ist in our cri(e la!oratory says it+s o$er fortyeight hours old# See hat that (eans. -hoe$er sent that candy had !een planning the thing so(e ti(e in ad$ance, then aited for a propitious (o(ent#/ ,-hat deter(ined that (o(ent./ ,-hen Mildreth Faulkner sent those orchids# The card dropped to the floor hen the 5il(eyer girl took the orchids out of the !o"# The poisoner picked up the card, put it in the candy, and called a (essenger#/ Mason thought that o$er# ,Sounds goofy# )a$e you located the (essenger./ ,3h, yes# That as easy# * o(an alked up to the counter of a (essenger ser$ice in the theatrical district during the rush hour, slid the !o" o$er on the counter, and alked out# The !o" had a note pinned on it, please send,+ and a t o-dollar !ill attached# E$idently the poisoner atched through the indo fro( the side alk to see that the !o" as taken !y the sending clerk#/ ,*ny description./ Mason asked# ,'one hate$er# 0t as hile the place as &a((ed ith late e$ening package deli$eries# The clerk re(e(!ers she as a o(an, and that+s all#/ ,3r a (an dressed in a o(an+s clothes./ ,'ot likely# 0 figure it+s a o(an+s cri(e# Poison is a o(an+s eapon, any ay# * (an ill use a gun, knife, or clu!#/ ,Fingerprints./ ,3nly those of Esther 5il(eyer# The poisoner ore glo$es#/ ,2ou+re certain of the identity of the paper ith that at the Golden )orn./ ,*!solutely# -hat+s (ore, the la!el ith the address glued on as type ritten in 8ynk+s o n office# )is type riter rote the address,

!eyond any dou!t#/ Mason fro ned# ,5a(ned strange,/ he said# ,Esther 5il(eyer could ha$e told a!out that card and cleared Miss Faulkner#/ ,2ou forget Esther as supposed to go to sleep and ne$er ake up#/ ,2es# 0 guess that (ust ha$e !een it,/ Mason agreed, !ut his $oice sho ed he as du!ious# ,0t+s a clu(sy cri(e, and yet it isn+t # # # # 8ynk could ha$e done it $ery easily#/ ,-ell,/ Tragg said, ,0 think the (urder is (ore i(portant# This candy as sent !y a o(an ho has access to $arious places in the Golden )orn# She kno s $ery little a!out poisons, hates Esther 5il(eyer, and as there hen the Faulkner orchids ca(e in# The card dropped out# Perhaps Esther didn+t see it# This o(an picked it up# -hen Esther akes up, she+ll !e a!le to gi$e (e the lo -do n# 0n the (eanti(e, 0 ant to get this (urder cleaned up#/ ,-ell, don+t let (e detain you#/ ,2ou+re not,/ Tragg said, s(iling# ,0+( &ust getting ar(ed up ith you# 0 ha$e so(e other 7uestions to ask#/ ,Go right ahead,/ Mason said# ,Take up all of (y ti(e you ant# 0 ha$en+t a thing to do hen you lea$e e"cept (ake out a social security report, a ork(an+s co(pensation insurance report, and dig up so(e infor(ation the go$ern(ent ants on (y inco(e ta"# Then 0 rite the state a!out a social security 7uestion, and it ill !e ti(e to go ho(e# 0 ish so(eone could persuade the go$ern(ent its cut out of (y inco(e ould !e greater if it left (e ith a little ti(e to do so(e ork for (yself#/ Tragg laughed# ,0 figured it out fro( the e$idence 0 had that Mrs# 8a ley as skipping out# 0 decided she hadn+t had sufficient ti(e to pack up (any of her personal !elongings# 0 felt certain that she+d !uy at least so(e articles of clothing !ecause she+d !e afraid to go !ack to the house# ,0 thought she+d either go to her !ank to get a check cashed, or to so(e depart(ent store here she had credit# 0 located her !ank and her depart(ent store early this (orning, and put a (an on the &o! at each place# 'o then, a short ti(e ago a o(an ent into the depart(ent store here Mrs# 8a ley has an account, and instead of !uying so(ething and ha$ing it charged as 0 had anticipated, ent directly to the cashier+s indo to ha$e a tra$elers+ check cashed# The cashier ga$e the prearranged code signal hich as to su((on (y (an to the office# *s it happened, 0 as in the store at the ti(e# 0n so(e ay, the o(an got ise and !eat it# 'o then, Mason, here+s the significant thing# &hat woman

wasnt 'arlotta (awley ,2ou+re certain./ Mason asked, keeping his eyes a ay fro( 5ella Street# ,2es# The signature on the check is a forgery# The o(an+s description doesn+t ans er that of Mrs# 8a ley at all# Mrs# 8a ley is older, has heart trou!le, (o$es slo ly, and is a little fla!!y# This girl as young, attracti$e, fast-(o$ing, 7uick-thinking, alert, and on her toes#/ ,0ndeed,/ Mason (uttered# ,2ou don+t see( (uch interested,/ Tragg said# ,Should 0 !e./ ,2es,/ Tragg said# ,9o! 8a ley (urdered his ife#/ ,0 don+t follo you, 8ieutenant#/ ,)is ife e$idently had a !ook of tra$elers+ checks hich she carried in her purse# 0f she anted to raise (oney for an e(ergency, she+d go cash those checks any here# The fact that they+re in the hands of another o(an ho is signing Mrs# 8a ley+s na(e is a pretty good indication that so(ething has happened to Carlotta 8a ley#/ Mason said, ,That+s a pretty tall deduction fro( one !it of e$idence#/ ,-ell, there+s one other thing#/ ,-hat./ ,*n officer tagged a car for o$erti(e parking this (orning# The officer took a look at the registration certificate# 0t as Carlotta 8a ley+s car#/ ,Find out anything fro( the car./ Mason asked# ,2es# 0 fingerprinted it# 0 found out that so(eone had parked the car and then carefully iped off e$ery fingerprint on it#/ Mason raised his eye!ro s# ,2ou can figure hat that (eans# )hed ne$er ha$e done that#/ ,-hy./ ,0t as her car# 0t as registered in her na(e# There as no reason for her to ru! off her fingerprints# )er na(e as ritten on the registration certificate#/ ,0 see#/ ,9ut, if her hus!and had killed her, taken the !ody out, and du(ped it so(e place, and !rought the car !ack, he+d ha$e iped off his fingerprints# That+s the instincti$e reaction of a guilty (an these days#/ ,2es,/ Mason said thoughtfully, ,there+s an ele(ent of logic there# )o a!out that ali!i of Magard+s. 0s it good./ ,Magard as ith Pea$is fro( right around ele$en o+clock until a!out

fi$e (inutes to t el$e# Pea$is re(e(!ers the ti(e !ecause the appoint(ent as (ade at ten-thirty and as for ele$en o+clock, hich, of course, as rather unusual# They talked until nearly (idnight, then Magard left#/ ,'o one kno s the e"act ti(e./ ,'o# Pea$is re(e(!ers hearing the clock strike (idnight, and thinks it as &ust a!out fi$e (inutes after Magard left#/ ,-hat ti(e did Magard get into the Golden )orn./ ,*round a 7uarter past t el$e#/ ,-hen as the (urder co((itted./ ,:ust a!out (idnight#/ ,*nd Coll./ ,Coll as trying to find 9o! 8a ley# 9o! had telephoned hi( an S 3 S earlier in the e$ening#/ ,5id he find hi(./ ,'o#/ ,-hy not figure he as looking up in 8ilac Canyon./ Tragg said, ,0+( sorry, Mason, !ut you can+t di$ert (y suspicions# There+s too (uch e$idence the other ay# For another thing, if Coll had done it, he+d ha$e had a !etter e"planation of hat he+d done ith Ms ti(e#/ Mason as thoughtful for se$eral seconds, then said, ,0 don+t like hi(, Tragg# 0 figure he had so(ething to do ith that poisoned candy# )e could ha$e had an acco(plice6a o(an# )e+s the sort ho ould ork through a o(an#/ ,0+( not gi$ing hi( a clean !ill of health,/ Tragg said# ,0+( &ust using hi(#/ ,)o long ould it ha$e taken Magard to get to 8ilac Canyon fro( the place here he left Pea$is, and ho long ould it ha$e taken Coll./ ,Fro( Pea$is+ apart(ent to 8ynk+s place, si" and a half (inutes# Fro( Coil+s apart(ent, fifteen (inutes# 0 ti(ed it ith a stop atch#/ ,)o long fro( Pea$is+ apart(ent to the Golden )orn./ ,T enty-one (inutes#/ The telephone rang# 5ella Street said, ,)ello # # # # 2es # # # , glanced at Perry Mason, and said, ,0 think he+ll ant to talk ith you hi(self# )old the line, please#/ She ga$e Mason a significant glance and pushed the telephone o$er to hi(# Mason said, ,)ello,/ and heard Mildreth Faulkner+s $oice, highpitched ith e"cite(ent, saying, ,Mr# Mason, can you co(e at once./

,-hat+s the (atter./ ,0 (ust see you# 0 (ustA 0 (ustA 0+$e heard fro( Carlotta#/ ,2ou ha$e./ ,2es# She telephoned (e# 9o! as ith her # # # and her heart ent !ad hile she as talking on the telephone# 0 heard her gasp, and 0 heard 9o! say, 3h, (y God,+ then he hung up the telephone#/ Mason said cautiously, ,2ou+re certain a!out the identity of the $arious parties./ ,*!solutely# 0+d kno her $oice any here6and his, too#/ ,-here are you no ./ ,*t the 9road ay Flo er Shop#/ ,0+( engaged right at present, !ut 0 can get a ay ithin a fe (inutes if you+ll ait there#/ ,Please hurry,/ she said# ,0 feel certain that you kno here she is#/ ,0+ll do the !est 0 can,/ Mason said# )e hung up the phone, and Tragg got to his feet# ,-ell, there+s no need for (e to interfere ith your ork, Mason#/ Mason said, ,Get your !ook, 5ella#/ ,Sounds like an e(ergency,/ Tragg dra led# ,-e+re going to (ake a ill,/ Mason said, ,and e+re racing against ti(e#/ 5ella alked along the corridor at Mason+s side, her feet !eating a 7uick tattoo on the flagged floor as she stro$e to keep up ith Mason+s long strides# ,Think he suspects./ she asked# ,5a(n hi(, yes,/ Mason said# ,0 tell you the (an+s cle$er#/ ,9ut hat ill e do./ Mason held his thu(! against the ele$ator !utton# ,-e+ll cross that !ridge hen e co(e to it#/ She said, ,0+( certain 0 didn+t lea$e any clues that ould point to you#/ ,0t+s (y fault,/ Mason said# ,0+$e !een dealing ith Sergeant )olco(! so long that 0+d !egun to take the police pretty (uch for granted# Tragg is a fast thinker# 0t occurred to hi( that she (ight use her credit, and he had a (an staked out# 0f you hadn+t !een so 7uick- itted # # # / * red light ca(e on, and the ele$ator slid to a stop# Mason and 5ella entered, and Mason, taking a 7uick glance at the other occupants, arned her to silence ith a glance# ,Suppose he+s got a (an aiting here to shado you./ 5ella asked as they reached the lo!!y#

,Pro!a!ly# )o e$er, it on+t (ake any difference# They+ll !e certain to ha$e so(eone atching Mildreth Faulkner so Tragg ill !e notified the (inute e sho up#/ 8ois Carling, !ehind the counter at the flo er shop, looked at the( curiously as they entered# ,So(ething 0 can do for you./ she asked# ,5id you ish # # # / Mildreth Faulkner ca(e running out of the office to greet the(# 8ois Carling fell !ack to atch the( ith ill-concealed curiosity# Mildreth said, ,Take (e to her at once, Mr# Mason# 2ou (ust#/ Mason said, ,2our line (ay !e tapped# 5ella, go into the drugstore on the corner and telephone the Clear-(ount )otel# *sk to talk ith Mrs# 5unkurk# -hen you get her on the phone, tell her ho you are, ask her if she called her sister recently#/ ,3h, !ut she did,/ Mildreth insisted# ,0+d kno her $oice any here#/ ,:ust check on it,/ Mason said to 5ella Street# She alked rapidly do n the aisle, and out of the door# Mason glanced curiously through the office indo s at the array of potted flo ers# ,:ust at(osphere,/ Mildreth e"plained# ,-e fill our orders fro( # # # / ,)o sound-proof is this glass./ ,0t+s ah right#/ ,0 notice that that girl !ehind the counter see(s to !e taking 7uite an interest in us#/ ,3h, she+s all right6a little curious, that+s all#/ ,She as friendly ith the girl that orked here !efore6the one ho had the fi$e shares of stock./ ,2es#/ ,Seen her since she as (arried./ ,3h, yes# They+re great cronies#/ ,Then she+s pro!a!ly (et Pea$is#/ ,3h, she kne Pea$is long !efore that# Pea$is used to try to pu(p her a!out the !usiness# )e+d !ring her candy, and try a little flattery, !ut he ne$er got $ery far# Pea$is al ays tries to !ri!e the girls ith candy# )e+s crude and nai$e6and dangerous, and that girl is too high-po ered for this &o!6that+s all#/ Mason said, ,0 don+t ant to go to your sister until 0 kno (ore a!out this# 0+( afraid it+s a trap# 8ieutenant Tragg is cle$er#/ ,9ut, good hea$ens, 0 kno (y o n sister+s $oice# 0 heard # # # / She !roke off as )arry Pea$is, acco(panied !y a easel-faced, narro -shouldered (an in a flashy suit, opened the door and started

rapidly to ard the enclosed office# ,That+s Pea$is# )e # # # / ,0 kno ,/ Mason interrupted# Pea$is reached the door of the office, opened it, said, ,0+( sorry to do this, Mildreth#/ )e turned to the little, ner$ous indi$idual at his side# ,That+s her#/ The (an stepped for ard# ,Mildreth Faulkner, as president of the Faulkner Flo er Shops, 0nc#, 0 hand you this co(plaint, su((ons, order to sho cause, preli(inary in&unction and restraining order#/ Mildreth shrank !ack# ,Go ahead and take the(,/ Mason instructed her, and to Pea$is, ,-hat+s the suit./ ,Ci$il suit,/ Pea$is said, atching Mildreth+s face# ,0 don+t ant anyone else to sho up ith that stock certificate !efore 0+$e had a chance to present (y clai(s#/ ,-hat are your clai(s./ Mason asked as Mildreth Faulkner uncertainly e"tended her hand to recei$e the docu(ents hich the !right-eyed, ner$ous (an as holding out to her# The process ser$er said gli!ly, ,*n action to declare a certificate of stock lost or destroyed, and ha$e a ne one issued in its placeC an inde(nity !ond protecting the corporation and the officers thereof against any lia!ility in the e$ent the old certificate, properly endorsed, should !e presentedC a su((ons and order to sho cause returna!le at t o o+clock to(orro afternoon ith the defendant corporation ha$ing the right to ha$e a continuance at its optionC a restraining order pre$enting the corporation fro( transferring the stock in the (eanti(e to anyone e"cept Pea$is# That+s all for no , Miss Faulkner#/ Mildreth Faulkner see(ed da%ed at the !arrage of legal phraseology# ,Sounds co(plicated,/ Mason said to her, ,!ut don+t orry a!out it#/ ,0t+s really si(ple,/ Pea$is e"plained# ,0 o n those shares of stock# So(ething happened to the stock certificate# The (an ho held it for (e as (urdered# The stock certificate see(s to ha$e $anished#/ ,)e as your agent./ Mason asked# ,1ead the papers 0+$e &ust ser$ed#/ Mildreth Faulkner said, ,)arry Pea$is, do you (ean to stand there and ad(it that you hired ga(!lers to entice (y !rother-in-la # # # / ,0 didn+t hire any!ody to entice anyone,/ Pea$is said doggedly# ,0 found out that 8a ley as playing the ponies, running into de!t, and cutting a ide s ath# 0 found out he+d hocked e$erything your sister had

gi$en hi( once !efore in order to get out of a financial &a(# )e+d co(e out on top of the heap that ti(e, and had kept right on ith his ga(!ling# 0 kne that it ould !e only a short ti(e !efore he+d do it again# So(eone as going to !e lucky and get this flo er shop stock# 0 decided it (ight as ell !e (e#/ Mildreth said scornfully, ,That as setting a trap#/ ,*ll right,/ Pea$is said, ,ha$e it your o n ay# 0 (ay ha$e !aited it, !ut he set it hi(self#/ Mason, looking to ard the door, sa 5ella Street returning# ,*ll right, Pea$is, you+$e (ade your ser$ice# -e+ll !e in court and thresh the (atter out there#/ Pea$is said, ,-e (ight !e a!le to ork out so(e sort of a settle(ent#/ ,'o,/ Mildreth Faulkner e"clai(ed indignantly# 5ella Street, standing outside the door, took a note!ook fro( her purse, scri!!led a !rief note, and entered the office# Pea$is said, ,Good afternoon, Miss# 8ooks as though 0+d interrupted a conference#/ ,2ou did,/ Mildreth told hi(# 5ella handed the folded sheet of note!ook paper to Mason# )e opened it and read, ,Mrs# 5unkurk checked out# * (an called for her a!out an hour ago#/ Mason passed the (essage on to Mildreth# She read it, glanced s iftly at Mason, then a$erted her eyes# Pea$is said, ,0+( sorry, Mason, !ut 0 can+t lea$e yet !ecause 0+( not finished#/ ,-hy not./ ,0+( aiting for so(e (ore papers# )ere they co(e no #/ The door of the flo er shop s ung open# 8ieutenant Tragg, acco(panied !y a o(an in the (iddle forties, entered# ,'o,/ Pea$is said, ,(y (istake# 0+( aiting for a (essenger#/ ,-hat are those other papers./ Mason asked# Pea$is s(iled and shook his head# 5ella Street, (o$ing closer to Mason, s7uee%ed his ar(6hard# Mason, feeling the force of those digging fingers, flashed her a s(iling reassuring glance# *t hat he sa on her face, he turned 7uickly to study the o(an ho as !eing escorted into the shop !y 8ieutenant Tragg# She had high cheek!ones, stiff, lackluster, !lack hair, and a rather ide (outh ith thin lips# )er eyes looked out through large-lensed spectacles ith cal( co(petence# ,The cashier./ Mason (u(!led#

,2es#/ ,*ny other door out of here./ Mason asked, (o$ing casually so that he interposed his shoulders !et een 5el-la and the door# Mildreth Faulkner shook her head# Pea$is studied Mason curiously# The office as in the !ack of the store# T o of its sides ere the side and !ack alls of the flo er shop# The other t o sides ere of ood to a height of a!out three feet fro( the floor, the rest !eing co(posed of glass indo s di$ided into panes of a!out ten inches !y t el$e# Tragg+s progress do n the long aisle of the store as utterly de$oid of haste, nor did he see( to pay the slightest attention to the group that as gathered in the office# There as, in the $ery cal(ness of his unhurried approach, the ele(ent of re(orseless pursuit# 'othing Tragg could ha$e done could ha$e !een (ore calculated to upset the ner$es of anyone ho had a guilty conscience than the e$en-paced, o(inous rhyth( of his (arch# )e reached the door of the office, held it open for the o(an# She entered# Tragg said, ,)ello, you see( to ha$e a little gathering here#/ 'o one said anything# Tragg said, ,0 had a (atter 0 anted to take up ith Perry Mason, and 0###/ ,That+s the o(anA/ The startled $oice of the cashier, raised in high-pitched accusation, sho ed that 8ieutenant Tragg had not ad$ised her of hat he e"pected to find# Mason slipped his ar( protectingly around 5ella Street+s shoulders, held her to silence !y the pressure of his hand on her ar(# ,Meaning the o(an ho tried to cash the tra$elers+ check./ he asked con$ersationally# ,8et+s let Miss Street tell a!out that,/ Tragg said# Mason shook his head# ,There+s no need for that#/ Tragg+s face sho ed his irritation# ,That is she,/ the cashier said in a lo er $oice this ti(e, !ut ith the ring of con$iction# ,3f course it is,/ Mason re(arked casually# ,0+( afraid,/ Tragg said, ,that unless Miss Street can e"plain (atters, 0+ll ha$e to arrest her#/ ,3n hat ground./ ,0ntent to defraud and forgery#/

Mason said, ,2ou+d !etter read up on your la !efore you get your fingers !urnt, 8ieutenant#/ Tragg as una!le to keep so(e of the irritation out of his $oice# 0t as plain that he had hoped to get so(e ad(ission directly fro( 5ella Street# ,2ou+re a pretty good la yer, Mason,/ he said# ,0 don+t kno (uch la # 0+( &ust a du(! cop# 0 suppose that there+s a section in so(e la so(e place pro$iding that your secretary can alk into a store, say she+s Carlotta 8a ley, and forge Carlotta 8a ley+s na(e to a check on hich she gets (oney ithout $iolating any la in the orld#/ Mason said cal(ly, ,0n the first place, 5ella didn+t get any (oney# 0n the second place, she didn+t say she as Carlotta 8a ley# She said she had a tra$elers+ check she anted to cash# Get this, Tragg# * tra$elers+ check is different fro( any other check# There isn+t any such thing as a $alid tra$elers+ check issued ithout any funds# The checks are paid for hen they+re purchased, and the (oney re(ains on deposit#/ ,*nd 0 suppose it+s 7uite all right for her to go around signing Carlotta 8a ley+s na(e,/ Tragg said# Mason casually took the folded paper, hich Carlotta 8a ley had signed, fro( his pocket# )e handed it to Tragg# Tragg read it, and for a (o(ent, there as a gri( tightening of the line of his hps# Then an e"pression of triu(ph glittered in his eyes# )e folded the docu(ent and pushed it do n into his pocket# ,*ll right, Mason,/ he said, ,the s ap is satisfactory#/ ,-hat s ap./ ,2ou+$e got 5ella Street out of it at the e"pense of getting yourself in#/ ,0n hat ay./ ,This docu(ent sho s on its face that it+s either a forgery or else you had a contact ith Carlotta 8a ley this (orning#/ ,0 had that contact,/ Mason said# ,The docu(ent as signed then#/ ,2ou reali%e hat that (eans./ ,-hat./ ,2ou+$e !een aiding and a!etting in the co((ission of a felony#/ ,0 don+t think she co((itted any felony#/ ,-ell, she+s a fugiti$e fro( &ustice#/ ,0 asn+t so ad$ised#/ Tragg stro$e to keep his te(per# ,-ell, you+re ad$ised of it no # 0 ant her#/ ,For hat./

,1 think she+s co((itted a felony#/ ,-hat./ ,Murder#/ ,That,/ Mason said, ,is different#/ ,*ll right# 'o , 0+( going to ask you here she is#/ Mason said, 7uite cal(ly, ,0 don+t think she+s guilty, !ut, in $ie of your state(ent, 0 ha$e no recourse e"cept to tell you that last night hile you ere talking ith Mildreth Faulkner, 0 heard a car dri$e up# 0 ent out to the cur!# 0t as Carlotta 8a ley# 0 reali%ed that the condition of her health (ade it i(perati$e that she get i((ediate rest, that the strain of a long 7uestioning (ight pro$e fatal# 0 instructed her to go to the Clear-(ount )otel, register as Mrs# Charles N# 5unkurk of San 5iego and ait for (e, getting as (uch rest as she could in the (eanti(e#/ 8ieutenant Tragg+s eyes sho ed surprised incredulity hich ga$e place to hot anger# ,5a((it, Mason,/ he said, ,is this a story you+re (aking up out of hole cloth in order to put (e off on a false trail. 0f it is, 0+ll s ear out a arrant for you (yself and drag you do n to head7uarters#/ ,2ou on+t drag (e any here,/ Mason said o(inously# ,-here is she no ./ Tragg asked# ,Still at the hotel./ Mason shrugged his shoulders and said, ,0+$e told you all 0 kno # -hen 0 entered this office, so far as I knew, Mrs# 5unkurk as still in the Clear(ount )otel#/ * unifor(ed figure ca(e hurrying through the door of the flo er shop# * (essenger !oy alked rapidly to the office, &erked the door open, and said, ,0s Mr# Pea$is here./ ,)ere,/ Pea$is said ith a grin# The !oy handed hi( so(e folded docu(ents hich Pea$is in turn handed to the process ser$er# The process ser$er said, ,Mr# Mason, 0 hand you here ith a su!poena duces tecum ordering you to appear in court at the ti(e set for the restraining order, and order to sho cause in the case of Pea$is $ersus Faulkner Flo er Shops, 0nc# 2ou+ll note that !y this su!poena you are ordered to !ring into court any stock certificate in your possession or under your control, co$ering stock in the defendant corporation issued to one Carlotta Faulkner ho su!se7uently !eca(e Mrs# 1o!ert 8a ley#/ The anger left Tragg+s face# )e s(iled, and the s(ile !roadened into a grin# )e looked across at Pea$is appro$ingly, then at Mason# ,*nd hat a s eet fi" that lea$es you in, CounselorA/

)e strode o$er to the telephone, dialed a nu(!er, and said, ,This is 8ieutenant Tragg of )o(icide# 0 ant so(e action# Get through to Sergeant Mahoney# Tell hi( to se up the Clear(ount )otel# 5o it fast# Get a couple of radio cars on the &o! first# There+s a Mrs# 5unkurk of San 5iego registered there# 0 ant her, and ant her !ad#/ )e sla((ed up the telephone, said to the cashier, ,That+s all, Miss 'orton# 2ou can return to ork#/ )e ga$e Mason one 7uick glance# For a (o(ent, the triu(ph in his eyes changed to sy(pathy# ,Tough luck,/ he said, ,!ut you asked for it#/ Then he pushed open the door of the glass-enclosed office and all !ut ran do n the long length of the store#

Chapter 11
8ieutenant Tragg and 5etecti$e Copeland sat in the !ack roo( of the drugstore# 9ill Copeland as reading one of the &rue *etective (aga%ines he had filched fro( the ne sstand# *n old-ti(er, Copeland took e$erything in stride# )e fre7uently said, ,0+$e seen e( co(e, and 0+$e seen e( go# 0+$e !een pu!licly praised for catching e(, and gi$en hell for letting e( slip through (y fingers# 0t+s all in the day+s ork, and you can+t ork yourself into a ste o$er it# 2ou gotta take e( as they co(e#/ 8ieutenant Tragg as ner$ous# *t fre7uent inter$als he peered through the s7uare of colored glass hich ena!led the prescription clerk to look out into the !rightly illu(inated store# Tragg carefully studied e$ery custo(er, and !et een ti(es ner$ously paced the floor or stared at the doors as though he could entice his prey si(ply !y $isual concentration# The drug clerk, putting up an order of capsules, said, ,'o need to orry, 8ieutenant# 0 kno hi( personally# 0f he co(es in, it+ll !e for a prescription# 2ou+ll ha$e all the ti(e in the orld#/ 9ill Copeland looked up fro( his (aga%ine, sur$eyed Tragg ith the e"pression of interrupted content(ent ith hich a gra%ing co studies a (o$ing o!&ect# )e see(ed utterly incapa!le of understanding Tragg+s ner$ousness# For the second ti(e ithin fi$e (inutes, Tragg consulted his rist atch# ,-ell, 0 can+t aste ti(e aiting here# *fter all, it+s &ust a hunch#/ Copeland (arked his place in the (aga%ine ith the nail of a stu!!y, thick forefinger# )e said, ,0+ll handle+(, 8ieutenant# Eeep in touch ith a

phone, and you+ll kno it ithin thirty seconds of the ti(e 0 get hi(#/ Tragg said earily, ,0 guess 0+ll ha$e to do that# 0 did ant to # # # , )e !roke off as a (an in a pinstriped, dou!le-!reasted !lue suit alked 7uickly into the store, shook his head at the young o(an ho (o$ed up fro( the cigar counter to ait on hi(, and said, in a $oice plainly audi!le to those in the !ack roo(, ,0 ant the prescription clerk#/ Tragg said to the clerk, ,Take a look at this, ill you./ The clerk looked o$er Tragg+s shoulder, then gently pushed hi( aside in order to get a !etter $ie # ,That+s your (an,/ he said si(ply# Tragg released a long-dra n sigh# Copeland started to close the (aga%ine, then thought !etter of it, and laid it face do n on a corner of the ta!le used for filling prescriptions, lea$ing it spread open at the page he had !een reading# Tragg ga$e his orders 7uickly# ,0+ll slip out the side door# Gi$e hi( his prescription right a ay# 5on+t keep hi( aiting# *s soon as he starts for the door, 9ill, you co(e out fro( !ehind here and start follo ing# 2ou ha$e your car outside# 0 ha$e (ine# 9et een us he shouldn+t get a ay, !ut don+t take any chances# *s soon as e get an idea here he+s headed, 0+ll (o$e on ahead# 0f he sees you, or starts acting as though he as suspicious, toot your horn t ice# *t your signal, 0+ll s ing in front, and e+ll gra! hi( for the pinch#/ Copeland said, ,3kay#/ The drug clerk alked out to the counter, ca(e !ack in a fe (o(ents ith the nu(!er of a prescription# ,This is a refill on a po erful heart sti(ulant# )e+s in a hurry, says it+s $ery urgent#/ Copeland ad&usted his tie, straightened his coat, and patted the !ulge o$er his hip# The prescription clerk said, ,Take that (aga%ine along if you ant, officer,/ and Copeland picked it up 7uickly# )e rolled it up, sho$ed it under his left ar(, holding it cla(ped against his side, and said, ,Thanks#/ 8ieutenant Tragg slipped out of the shipping door into the alley, and alked around to the front of the drugstore, and got in his car# )e had less than t o (inutes to ait# )is (an &u(ped into a 9uick sedan, and stepped on the starter# 9ehind hi(, Copeland, carrying his (aga%ine cla(ped under his ar(, appeared in the door of the drugstore, alked o$er to the cur!, and or(ed his !road shoulders in !ehind the steering heel of a close-coupled coupe# Tragg as the first a ay# 0n the rear-$ie (irro , he sa the 9uick

pull out ne"t, and fro( the (anner in hich the car edged o$er to the left, decided the dri$er as going to (ake a left-hand turn# Tragg ga$e a left-hand signal, and $entured ti(idly into the intersection, aiting for onco(ing traffic to get past# This !rought the car !ehind hi( up close to his !u(per, and he sa his (an hold out a left ar(# 9ehind the 9uick, 9ill Copeland, plugging along in his light coupe, (ade the turn ithout !othering to signal# 9o! 8a ley as in a hurry,# )e kept trying to get ahead of Tragg+s car, and at last Tragg let hi( go, follo ing along closely !ehind# Copeland, taking his cue fro( the changed conditions, tagged along !ehind Tragg+s car# Tragg, atching the (an in the car ahead, sa that he apparently ga$e no thought of !eing follo ed# * do%en !locks do n the street, Tragg had an opportunity to pass again# 8a ley fooled hi( ith an a!rupt righthand turn shortly after that, !ut Tragg, heading on do n the street, sa that Copeland as tagging right along !ehind their 7uarry# Tragg s ung his car to the right at the ne"t intersection, ent to the first cross street, looked up and do n the street, sa no sign of the cars he anted, dro$e another !lock, and sa Copeland+s coupe parked in the (iddle of the !lock# There as no sign of the !lue 9uick# Tragg s ung his car into a sharp turn and dro$e up on the other side of the street, parking his car al(ost directly opposite the coupe# Copeland got out and sauntered across# ,Get hi(./ Tragg asked, trying to keep ner$ousness out of his $oice# Copeland said casually, ,)e+s in there#/ ,-here./ ,That !ungalo # )e s ung his car into the dri$e ay, and dro$e up to the garage# 0 stopped (y car fifty feet !ack and aited to see if he as ise# 0 don+t think he as#/ ,-here+d he go./ ,0nside, through the !ack door#/ 0t as that 7uarter hour after sunset hen cool shado s (erge i(percepti!ly into gathering dusk# )ere and there in the !lock, fights had !een s itched on, !ut there ere no lights sho ing in the indo s of the little !ungalo # Tragg said, ,Take the rear# Enock on the door, and tell hi( you ant to look at the iring# Say you+re fro( a radio station, and there+s a leak so(e here in the neigh!orhood# 0ll go to the front door and ring the !ell hard &ust a!out the ti(e you+re doing the talking# That should !ring hi(

up to the front# )ell pro!a!ly lea$e the !ack door unlocked# 2ou alk in# 0f 0 ha$e any trou!le, gra! hi(, and hen you gra! hi(, (ake a good &o! of it#/ ,3kay,/ Copeland said# Tragg ga$e hi( ten seconds, then alked do n the side alk, cli(!ed the steps to the porch of the dark !ungalo , and listened# )e could hear steps and thought he could hear the ru(!le of $oices in the !ack# Tragg pressed the !ell !utton, aited a second, then pressed it again, long, insistent rings# Steps approached the door# Tragg loosened the gun in his shoulder holster# )e as ad&usting his tie hen the door opened and 9o! 8a ley said, ,-hat do you ant./ ,2ou+$e &ust (o$ed in, ha$en+t you./ ,That+s none of your !usiness#/ ,3h, yes, it is, !rother# 0+( fro( the assessor+s office#/ ,-ell, this place is furnished, and as rented furnished# 0 don+t ant to !e interrupted, and # # # / Tragg looked past 8a ley, sa 9ill Copeland cat-footing do n the corridor, &ust a fe steps a ay# ,0 ha$en+t any ti(e to talk no ,/ 8a ley finished, and started to close lie door# Tragg put out a foot, nodded o$er to Copeland, and said, ,*ll right, 8a ley, you+re under arrest#/ The (an recoiled, then, as Tragg pushed through the door, turned to run# The (aneu$er !rought hi( up against 9ill Copeland+s thick !ulk# Copeland cla(ped his ar(s around 8a ley, holding hi( as in a $ise# ,3kay, 8ieutenant,/ he said ithout e(otion# Tragg slid handcuffs fro( his hip pocket, and, as 9o! struggled to free hi(self, snapped the( a!out his rists# *t the !ite of cold steel on his skin, 9o! 8a ley flung into a ild, hysterical struggling, and Tragg, gra!!ing the chain of the handcuffs, ga$e it a &erk hich !rought a !one-crushing pressure to !ear on his prisoner+s rists# *s 8a ley su!sided, hite-faced ith pain and futile rage, Tragg said, ,8et+s !e reasona!le a!out it, 8a ley# -here+s your ife./ ,0n # # # in the !edroo(#/ ,*ll right,/ Tragg said, let+s go talk ith her#/ ,-hat are you going to say to her./ ,0 ant to ask her so(e 7uestions#/

8a ley as panting fro( his struggle# )is eyes ere sullenly defiant# ,2ou can+t#/ ,-hy not./ ,She # # # she can+t talk ith anyone#/ Tragg thought for a (o(ent, then said, ,0+ll tell you hat Fin going to do ith yon, 8a ley# F( going to gi$e you a !reak#/ 8a ley+s face sho ed sneering dis!elief# ,0+( going to take these !racelets off you,/ Tragg ent on, ,and e+re going into that !edroo(# 2ou+re going to introduce Copeland here and (e as a couple of !uddies of yours you happened to (eet hile you ere gone for the (edicine# 2ou+re going to tell her that 0+( a (an ho can help you out of your scrape, and then you+re going to keep 7uiet, and let (e ask 7uestions#/ ,-hat do 0 get out of it./ ,0) see that you get a s7uare shake, no fra(ing, and no rough stuff#/ ,That+s not enough#/ ,*ll right, 0+$e offered you the easy ay# 0+ll do it the hard ay if 0 ha$e to#/ ,)o +s that./ ,2ou+ll find out# 2ou aren+t in any position to dri$e a !argain#/ 9ill Copeland stooped do n to pick up the detecti$e (aga%ine hich had fallen to the floor hen he circled 8a ley ith his ar(s# 8a ley cursed, launched a sa$age kick at Copeland+s face# Copeland took the kick on his shoulder, started to straighten up, then changed his (ind, picked up the (aga%ine, and dou!led his right fist# Tragg stepped !et een the(# ,'ot no , 9ill# :ust atch hi(# Eeep hi( 7uiet#/ Copeland sighed, let his fist turn into fingers hich !rushed off the shoulder of his coat, and said, ithout rancor, ,3kay, 8ieutenant#/ )e sho$ed 8a ley !ack against the all, hard# Tragg took the package of (edicine fro( 8a ley+s pocket# ,-hat are you going to do./ ,Shut up,/ Copeland said, taking a handful of 8a -ley+s shirt near the collar, and t isting the cloth# The second door Tragg tried opened into a !edroo(# The drapes ere dra n o$er the indo , and it as dark# Tragg stood &ust inside the door aiting for his eyes to ad&ust the(sel$es to the di( light of the roo(# )e could hear the sound of la!ored !reathing# * o(an+s $oice said gaspingly, ,9o!#/

Tragg stepped for ard# ,2our hus!and asked (e to rush this (edicine to you,/ he said# ,-here # # # here+s he./ ,)e had to attend to so(e !usiness hich ca(e up une"pectedly# )e+ll !e along directly, !ut he anted you to ha$e the (edicine right a ay#/ ,2es # # # an e(ergency (edicine # # # # Took all 0 had last night # # # #/ Tragg found a light !y the !edside# )e s itched it on, and un rapped the (edicines# There ere t o of the(, one an a(pule to !e crushed and inhaled, the other in capsule for(# The directions said to take t o and thereafter to take one e$ery thirty (inutes until si" had !een taken, then one e$ery t o hours# Tragg got her a glass of ater fro( the !athroo(, ga$e her the capsules# She s allo ed the( one at a ti(e# )e found a to el in the !athroo(, crushed the a(pule, and held it under her nose# For fi$e (inutes nothing as said# Tragg stood there atching her# She !egan to !reathe easier# She s(iled !ra$ely up at hi(, and her (outh had the fla!!y-lipped look of eakness# She said, ,0t+s a co(plication of $arious trou!les# 0 suppose a lot of ner$es are (i"ed in ith it# 0 feel !etter no # Thank you#/ Tragg helped hi(self to a chair, dre it up !y the !edside# ,0 don+t ant to !other you, Mrs# 8a ley,/ he said# She looked at hi( in so(e surprise# ,0 ha$e to ask you a fe 7uestions# 0 don+t ant you to strain yourself#/ ,-ho are you./ )e said, ,F( trying to get at the truth of hat happened last night# 0 suppose you kno that a arrant has !een issued for your hus!and#/ ,060 didn+t kno #/ ,0f your hus!and is guilty or if you+re guilty,/ Tragg ent on, ,0 don+t ant yon to talk# 0f you+re feeling too eak, 0 don+t ant you to try# 9ut if you can ans er &ust a fe 7uestions, it ill help a lot#/ ,)elp ho./ she asked# ,2our hus!and, if he+s innocent,/ Tragg said# ,2our sister, you#/ She nodded# ,9ut,/ Tragg hastened to assure her, ,don+t (isunderstand (e# 2ou don+t ha$e to ans er (y 7uestions#/ She (o$ed uneasily on the !ed# Fro( the hall ay here Copeland as holding 8a ley, there as the sound of a !rief struggle, a half-articulate cry, then silence#

Tragg thought fast# ,The furniture (en (o$ing in so(e things that your hus!and !ought#/ ,3h,/ she said, and settled !ack against the pillo , her eyes closed# ,)e shouldn+t ha$e !ought anything# )e+s &ust an o$ergro n !oy# Money !urns a hole in his pocket#/ )er face had a crea(y tint to the skin, !ut !eneath that as a faint !luish tinge hich 8ieutenant Tragg had seen !efore# *s her !reathing gre easier, she see(ed to sleep, and Tragg tiptoed fro( the roo( to here Copeland as holding 8a ley# 8a ley+s left eye as s elling shut# ,Take hi( out to the car, 9ill,/ Tragg said# Copeland took a tighter grip on the shirt collar# ,3kay, !uddy,/ he said# ,2ou heard hat the !oss said# 3n your ay#/ There as no (ore resistance left in 8a ley# )e per(itted hi(self to !e taken out to the car 7uietly# Tragg ent !ack to the roo( and sat do n# )e had !een there so(e fifteen (inutes hen Mrs# 8a ley opened her eyes# ,0 feel !etter no # *re you a doctor./ ,'o,/ Tragg said# ,0+( an in$estigator#/ ,2ou (ean a pri$ate detecti$e./ ,0 ork for the people,/ he said# She thought that o$er for a hile# ,2ou (ean the police./ she asked# ,2es#/ She started to struggle up to an upright position# Tragg said, ,Take it easy, Mrs# 8a ley# 0+( only trying to find out the truth#/ ,-hat do you ant to kno ./ )e said, ,)o did it happen that you took that stock certificate fro( the scene of the (urder, Mrs# 8a ley./ )er eyes closed again# ,-hat (urder./ Tragg clenched his hands# )e took a deep !reath, hesitated for a (o(ent, then said, ,-e+$e found that stock certificate in Mr# Mason+s possession# )e says you ga$e it to hi(#/ She opened her eyes6coughed# ,5id he say that./ ,2es#/ ,0t as his o n suggestion#/ ,0 kno # -hy did you take it./ ,0t as (ine#/ ,-as 8ynk dead hen you alked into the house./ ,2es#/ )er eyes opened, then fluttered closed# ,0+( $ery tired,/ she said#

,Suppose you rest for a fe (inutes,/ Tragg suggested# She said dro sily, ,2ou see( like such a nice (an# Clean-cut# 0+d i(agined the police ere different # # # # 2ou+re # # # nice#/ )e said, ,Take your ti(e, Mrs# 8a ley#/ )is hands clenched until his fingers ached# S eat (ade his skin (oist# 5a(n it, he as only doing his duty# -hen you ere sol$ing cri(es, you had to play the ga(e according to the ay the cards fell# ,* $ery # # # nice # # # gentle(an # # # / the o(an on the !ed (uttered#

Chapter 1B
*s they alked out of Mildreth Faulkner+s flo er shop, 5ella Street said to Mason, ,5o you suppose he kne all the ti(e it as 0 ho tried to cash that check./ Mason said, ,)e e$idently had considered that possi!ility# )e tru(ped (y ace6da(n hi(A/ They got in Mason+s car# Mason started the (otor and sa$agely sla((ed the gear shift !ack# ,9ut how did he kno ./ ,)e put t o and t o together# )e kne 0 as trying to co$er Mrs# 8a ley until the situation clarified itself# )e kne that 0 as trying to drag 9o! 8a ley into it#/ ,Suppose 8a ley ill talk if Tragg finds hi(./ ,)i(./ Mason asked, conte(pt in his $oice# ,3f course, he+ll talk# 0 kno the type# )ell (ake a grandstand a!out hat he+s going to do and hat he+s not going to do# )e+ll tell the( they can !eat hi( up, or drag hi( ith ild horses, !ut that he on+t say a ord# Then he+ll ca$e in, spill e$erything he kno s, and try to pin the cri(e on his ife#/ ,-hy did Mrs# 8a ley lea$e the hotel./ Mason said, ,2ou+re full of 7uestions, aren+t you. # # # , )e slid the car to a stop at a street intersection and (otioned to a ne s!oy ho as selling the late afternoon papers# ,)ere+s here e ans er this one#/ ,2ou (ean she ad$ertised./ ,'o,/ Mason said# ,)e did, the heelA/ ,0 thought you kept all papers a ay fro( her#/ ,0 told her not to read any# 9ut gi$ing instructions to a o(an is so(ething like putting (oney on roulette#/ The signal changed# Mason handed the !oy a 7uarter, gra!!ed the

ne spaper, passed it o$er to 5ella, and said, ,8ook in the ad section under too late to classify#/ Mason dro$e slo ly through traffic hile 5ella Street looked through the ne spaper# ,)ere it is,/ she said# ,-hat does it say./ ,Carla, 0 a( orried sick ith an"iety for you, dearest# Telephone Gray$ie ;-G<>1, and tell (e you are all right# That+s all 0 ant to kno # 0 can face the (usic if only you are all right#/ ,)o +s it signed./ Mason asked# ,)oney!unch#/ ,The Godda(n ratA/ Mason sa a chance to put his car in a parking place at the cur!# )e slid in &ust !eyond a fire plug, and said to 5ella, ,There+s a drugstore on the corner# 1ing up the 5rake 5etecti$e *gency# Tell the( e ant to kno ho has the telephone listed in Gray$ie ;-G<>1#/ ,Couldn+t 0 handle it !y calling the nu(!er of perhaps # # # / ,'o,/ he interrupted# ,5rake speciali%es in that sort of stuff, and kno s ho to go a!out it#/ ,)o long ill it take hi(./ ,'ot o$er a fe (inutes pro!a!ly#/ ,Then do e go to the office./ ,-e do not -e+ll pay Mr# Sindler Coll a $isit#/ 5ella &u(ped out of the car, alked rapidly into the drugstore, and as !ack in a fe (inutes# ,)e+s on the &o!,/ she reported# ,*nd there+s a report ready on the other stuff you anted# 0 took it do n in shorthand#/ ,*ll right, read it to (e as e+re dri$ing along#/ )e started the car# 5ella opened her note!ook, translated the $arious pothooks and slanting lines# ,Pea$is, a tough, t o-fisted go-getter# Got into the flo er !usiness in nineteen-t enty-eight# 9efore that had !een in the li7uor-running !usiness# 0n the li7uor !usiness he had so(e trou!le ith a (an na(ed Frank 8ecklen ho tried to hi&ack so(e of his stuff# 8ecklen ent to the hospital ith t o !ullets in hi(, and ouldn+t talk# )e told police he shot hi(self# Pea$is called to see hi(, hired a special nurse and doctor# 8ecklen is no going under the na(e of Sindler Coll# ,Esther 5il(eyer, t enty-three, a co(e-on girl at a nightclu! and ga(!ling &oint# She+s had a spotted history# -as discharged fro( the 1ocka ay Candy Co(pany for insu!ordination and $iolation of rules6 see(s she ate (ore candy than her ages a(ounted to# -orked for the Ease-*d&ust Shirt Co(pany# The !oss+ ife got &ealous# Then 0r(a

1adine, ho orks at the Golden )orn, (et her# 0r(a had orked at the 1ocka ay Candy Co(pany ith Esther# 0r(a introduced her to 8ynk# 8ynk fell for her, and Esther ent to ork on a percentage !asis# Coll started getting friendly a!out three (onths ago# She fell hard# 8ately Coll has !een cooling off# )e+s supposed to ha$e another fla(e, !ut he+s !eing $ery secreti$e a!out it# 'o one see(s to kno &ust ho she is# ,Paul 5rake said that as all he had to date, !ut he as keeping on the &o!# 5oes any of that help, Chief. That is6(uch./ Mason said, ,0+( da(ned if 0 kno , 5ella# 0t+ll all fit in # # # # That 0r(a 1adine kno s her pretty ell # # # # That+s hy she acted so 7ueerly hen Tragg as 7uestioning her at the Golden )orn# Think she+s pretty strong for Coll, too# )e see(s to !e a riot ith the ladies # # # # -e+ll see hat e+ll see#/ *nd Mason de$oted his attention to the traffic# *t Sindler Coil+s apart(ent house, Mason said, ,2ou+d !etter ait here, 5ella,/ and rang the !ell opposite Coil+s na(e# There as no ans er# *fter a fe (inutes, Mason rang the !ell (arked (anager# The !u%%er signaled the door as open# Mason entered, crossed the lo!!y, turned to the left, and rang the !ell on the door of the (anager+s apart(ent# Mrs# Far(er opened the door and, as she recogni%ed hi(, s(iled effusi$ely# She had e$idently spent so(e ti(e at a !eauty parlor, and her tightly girdled, snappily dressed figure as entirely different fro( the loose(uscled !ody hich had !een rapped in a Tri(ono the night !efore# Mason let her see his surprise# ,2ou look6 wonderful! )er s(ile !arely (issed !eing a si(per# ,2ou+re so nice,/ she said coyly# Mason traded on the prestige of his for(er association ith Tragg# ,5o you kno here Coll is./ ,0 don+t think he+s in#/ ,'either do 0# )e doesn+t ans er#/ ,0 don+t think he+s !een in all day# )e ent out around nine o+clock this (orning#/ ,*lone./ ,'o# So(e (an as ith hi(#/ ,2ou don+t kno here he ent./ ,'o#/ Mason said, ,0+d like to take a look in his apart(ent# 2ou ha$e your passkey./ )e (ade the re7uest sound 7uite casual, and she didn+t e$en hesitate#

Coil+s apart(ent as a typical e"a(ple of the (oderate-priced, furnished, single apart(ent# The roo( had nothing a!out it to reflect the personality of its tenant, nor as there anything in the apart(ent hich ould gi$e a clue as to here Coll (ight ha$e gone# ,Maid ser$ice./ Mason asked# ,2es# )e has a daily (aid ser$ice#/ ,*nd e$idently hasn+t !een in since the (aid cleaned the place up#/ The (anager looked at the cleanly polished e(pty ash trays and nodded# ,S(okes cigarettes./ ,0 !elie$e so, yes#/ Mason noticed a telephone on a stand near the door, and casually noted the nu(!er# 0t as South!rook B->=I># 3nce in the apart(ent, the (anager see(ed to reali%e that the situation (ight pro$e e(!arrassing should Coll return, and that she had carried her cooperation rather far# ,3f course,/ she said hurriedly, ,0 presu(e you &ust anted to look in# 0 ouldn+t ant to ha$e you touch anything#/ ,3h, no,/ Mason assured her# ,Certainly not# 0 thought perhaps he (ight ha$e6 ell, that so(ething (ight ha$e happened to hi(#/ ,0 understand#/ She (ade it a point to hold the door open for hi(, and coughed significantly hen she thought he had re(ained long enough in the apart(ent# Mason took the hint, alked out into the corridor# She pulled the door shut# ,0 suppose,/ she said, ,it on+t !e necessary to (ention anything a!out this to Mr# Coll# )e ouldn+t like it#/ ,2ou don+t need to (ention it to anyone,/ Mason said, ,!ecause 0 on+t#/ 0n the lo!!y, he thanked her again, said, ,0 ha$e a call to (ake,/ and ent into the !ooth# )e dialed the nu(!er of the 5rake 5etecti$e *gency# Paul 5rake had !een called out, !ut his secretary as on the &o!, and said, ,-e ha$e that nu(!er for you, Mr# Mason#/ ,-hat is it./ ,The phone+s listed in the na(e of Esther 5il(eyer in the Molay *r(s *part(ents#/ Mason ga$e a lo histle, then said, ,3kay# Thanks#/ )e hung up and called 5r# -ilhnont at his office# ,-here+s that patient, 5octor./ he asked# ,-hich one, the heart case. 0 ha$en+t seen her since this (orning# 0

didn+t kno you anted # # # / ,'ot that one# The poisoned-candy case, Esther 5il(eyer#/ ,Still in the hospital#/ ,2ou+re certain./ ,2es#/ ,She ouldn+t ha$e left the hospital ithout your kno ing it./ ,*!solutely not#/ Mason said, ,2ou ouldn+t, !y any chance, !e letting so(eone slip so(ething o$er on you, ould you./ ,'ot in that hospital,/ 5r# -ill(ont said positi$ely# ,0t+s run like clock ork# *s far as 0 kno , Miss 5il(eyer is still sleeping# 0 left ord that 0 as to !e notified if there as any change in her condition#/ ,Perhaps you+d !etter call up and $erify the fact that she+s there#/ 5r# -ilhnont said testily, ,0 don+t need to# She+s right there# 0+ll take the responsi!ility for that#/ ,She couldn+t ha$e sneaked out and # # # / ,'ot a chance in the orld # # # # 0+( going out there &ust as soon as 0 finish ith (y office patients# 2ou can call (e then if you ant#/ ,)o soon ill that !e./ ,:ust a (inute,/ 5r# -ill(ont said# ,0+ll see ho (any (ore patients are in the office # # # # 3h, nurse# )o (any ha$e you. # # # T o # # # # )ello, Mason# 0t shouldn+t !e o$er fifteen or t enty (inutes#/ Mason said, ,*ll right, 0 (ay (eet you there#/ )e hung up and re&oined 5ella Street in the car# ,Got the address on that nu(!er, 5ella#/ ,-here./ ,Esther 5il(eyer, Molay *r(s *part(ents#/ ,-hy, 0 thought Miss 5il(eyer as still unconscious # # # #/ ,She is,/ Mason said# ,She+s sleeping it off# 5r# -ill(ont says so#/ ,Then hat does it (ean./ ,0t (eans,/ Mason said, ,that 0+$e !een asleep at the s itch#/ ,0 don+t understand#/ Mason said, ,0t stuck out like a sore thu(!# -e kne that 9o! 8a ley as playing around# -e kne that he+d !een (i"ed up in an auto(o!ile accident, and that Esther 5il(eyer had !een ith hi(# She+s a co(e-on !londe at a nightclu!# She as orking ith 8ynk and Sindler Coll, and they, in turn, ere orking for Pea$is# There as !ig (oney in$ol$ed# Get the sketch. 'aturally, she ouldn+t ha$e !een standoffish ith 9o! 8a ley#/

,2ou (ean he had a key to her apart(ent./ ,Sure, he did,/ Mason said, ,and hen he reali%ed he as in a &a( last night, he naturally went to her apartment% 0t as the logical thing for hi( to do# 0 should ha$e kno n that+s here he+d ha$e !een# )e+s &ust the type ho ould ant so(e o(an to stroke his forehead and co(fort hi( and tell hi( that it as all right, that she+d sacrifice herself for hi( and a lot of that hooey#/ ,2es,/ 5ella Street said thoughtfully, ,e$erything he+s done see(s to fit in ith that type#/ Mason said, ,-ell, he ent to the apart(ent# Esther asn+t there# So he (ade hi(self at ho(e# )e telephoned the ad into the ne spaper, charged it to Esther+s telephone, and sat !ack and aited# Carlotta $iolated (y instructions, got a ne spaper, read it, and looked in the classified ads# She and her hus!and (ay ha$e had so(e understanding like that# 0n case of any e(ergency, they+d co((unicate ith each other that ay# So(e people do# 3r she (ay &ust ha$e looked# *ny ay, she got the telephone nu(!er# She called 9o!#/ ,*nd hat did he do./ ,-ent out and got her#/ ,*nd then hat./ Mason stroked the angle of his chin# ,There+s the ru!# 8et+s go out there and see hat e can find, 5ella#/ They dro$e out to the Molay *r(s# Mason tried the !ell of Esther 5il(eyer+s apart(ent, got no ans er, and called the (anager# )e said, ,2ou+ll re(e(!er (e# 0 as out here last night on that poisoning (atter # # # #/ ,3h, yes,/ she said, s(iling# ,0 ant to get so(e things out of Miss 5il(eyer+s apart(ent, and take the( to her at the hospital# -ould you gi$e (e the passkey please./ ,0 can hardly do that,/ she said, and hesitated, ,!ut 0+ll go up ith you hile you get hat you ant#/ Mason said, ithout letting her hear any change in his $oice, ,That+s fine#/ They alked up the stairs# Mason (anaged to slide in close to the all, so that hen she started to open the door, he as the first into the roo(# There as no one in the apart(ent# ,-hat as it you anted./ the (anager asked# Mason said, ,)er nightgo n, !edroo( slippers, and so(e of her toilet

articles# 0+( rather helpless a!out those things, !ut 0 guess 0 can find the(#/ ,3h, 0+ll !e glad to helpA 0 think there+s a suitcase in the closet# 2es, here it is# 2ou can &ust sit do n if you ish, and 0+ll get the things together# )o is she./ ,2ou+re $ery kind# She+s doing nicely#/ Mason looked around the apart(ent# Police had dusted articles6the telephone, the ta!le, so(e of the doorkno!s6for the purpose of !ringing out latent fingerprints# The ashtrays ere ell filled ith cigarette stu!s# Mason had no (eans of kno ing hether the police had re(ained in the apart(ent for so(e ti(e collecting e$idence, and had left those cigarette ends, or hether they ere indicati$e of a (ore recent occupancy# -hile the (anager as neatly folding gar(ents into the suitcase, Mason (ade a detailed study of the cigarette ends# There ere three of the !etter-kno n !rands# 3ne !rand in$aria!ly had lipstick on the stu!s# The other t o did not# There ere only four stu!s hich Mason found ith lipstick on the(# There ere fifteen of the second !rand, and t enty-t o of the third# Those had e$idently !een consu(ed !y ner$ous s(okers# Seldo( had (ore than half of the cigarette !een s(oked !efore it as ground into the ashtray# ,-as there anything else./ the (anager asked# ,'o, thank you# That+s all# 2ou don+t kno hether anyone+s !een in here today./ ,Today. 'o, 0 don+t suppose so# 'o one said anything to (e#/ ,The police./ ,'o# They finished last night6early this (orning#/ ,Maid ser$ice here./ ,3nce a eek is all# She takes care of her o n apart(ent sa$e for the regular eekly cleaning#/ ,-hen+s that due./ ,'ot until Saturday#/ ,Thank you $ery (uch,/ Mason said# ,0+ll tell Miss 5il(eyer ho helpful you ere#/ )e alked out of the apart(ent house carrying the suitcase, tossed it into his car, and said to 5ella Street, ,-ell, 0 guess 0 go to the hospital#/ 0t as t enty (inutes past fi$e hen he reached the hospital# 5r# -ill(ont as already there# ,Patient still here./ Mason asked# ,The patient,/ 5r# -ilhnont said, ,is still here# She akened a!out

forty (inutes ago, and hile she+s a little groggy, her (ind is clearing up $ery nicely#/ ,5o the police kno ./ ,'ot yet#/ ,0 thought they left instructions they ere to !e notified as soon as # # # / ,They did# 0 left instructions that 0 as to !e notified of the patient+s condition, that no infor(ation as to !e gi$en to anyone else, and that no $isitors ere to !e recei$ed until 0 personally had checked up on the patient+s condition# 0n a hospital, the doctor is !oss#/ ,That,/ Mason said, ,(akes it nice# )o (uch trou!le ould it cause if 0 sneaked in and had an inter$ie !efore the police arri$ed./ ,0t ould cause a lot of trou!le,/ 5r# -ill(ont snapped# ,2ou kno that as ell as 0 do# 0t ould put (e on a spot, and ould (ake trou!le for the hospital# -ithin certain li(itations 0 can counter(and police instructions hen 0 personally assu(e the responsi!ility and the orders are for the good of (y patient#/ Mason s(iled# ,0 appreciate your position and your professional ethics, 5octor# 'o , you kno the (echanics of the hospital, and 0 don+t# )o can 0 get to see Esther 5il(eyer in ad$ance of the police without (aking trou!le for you./ ,2ou+d ha$e to do it ithout (y kno ledge,/ 5r# -ill(ont said pro(ptly# ,*nd ithout the kno ledge of the nurse in charge./ ,That+s right#/ ,*nd, 0 take it, your instructions ha$e !een $ery definite that nothing like that is to happen./ ,That+s 7uite correct#/ Mason lit a cigarette# 5r# -ill(ont said, ,F( going to call the special nurse into the office for the purpose of checking o$er the patient+s chart# The patient is in roo( three-nineteen# Then F( going to send the nurse do n to the dispensary to get a prescription filled# 0t ill !e a prescription that ill take a little ti(e to fill# Sorry 0 can+t let you inter$ie the patient, !ut it+s a!solutely i(possi!le# Step this ay, please#/ )e took Mason+s ar(, escorted hi( o$er to the desk, and said to the o(an in charge, ,There are to !e a!solutely no $isitors for Miss 5il(eyer until after the police ha$e talked ith her, and the police aren+t to talk ith her until 0 gi$e per(ission#/

,That+s (y understanding,/ the o(an said# 5r# -ilhnont turned to Mason# ,F( sorry, Mr# Mason, !ut you see ho it is#/ Mason said, ,Thank you, 5octor# 0 appreciate your position# -ill you tell (e hen 0 can see her./ -ilhnont shook his head in crisp negation# ,0 ha$e nothing hate$er to say a!out that, sir# 0 a( acting (erely as physician# *s soon as it !eco(es ad$isa!le for her to see anyone, 0 ill notify the police# Fro( that point on, unless her health !eco(es affected, 0 ill ha$e a!solutely nothing to say a!out ho sees her# That ill !e entirely in the hands of the authorities# Good e$ening, Mr# Mason#/ ,Good e$ening, 5octor,/ Mason said, and turned a ay# 5r# -ill(ont (arched ith 7uick, springy strides to ard the ele$ator# Mason started to ard the door, de-toured into a telephone !ooth, aited until the attendant at the desk had her !ack turned, took the ele$ator to the third floor, and located Esther 5il(eyer+s roo(# )e alked on past and aited in the corridor until he sa the nurse go out carrying a card fastened to a clip# Then Mason alked do n the hall ay and pushed open the s inging door# Esther 5il(eyer as sitting up in !ed, sipping hot coffee# She looked up at hi( and said, ,)ello#/ ,)o are you feeling./ Mason asked, alking o$er and sitting on the edge of the !ed# ,0 don+t e"actly kno yet# -ho are you./ ,0+( Mason#/ ,Perry Mason./ ,2es#/ ,0 guess 0 o e you one# 2ou sa$ed (y life, 0 understand#/ ,0 did the !est 0 could,/ Mason said# ,5id you ha$e a hard ti(e locating (e./ ,0ll say#/ ,Gosh, that hot coffee tastes good# 0 guess 0+( caught up on (y sleep for 7uite so(e spell no #/ ,*ny idea ho sent you the candy./ Mason asked# She hesitated# ,Go on,/ Mason pro(pted# ,-ell, 0 thought it6you kno , 0+( not accusing any!ody, !ut # # # / ,Go on#/ ,-ell, 0 (et a young o(an ho see(ed $ery (uch on the up-and-

up6a s7uareshooter, you kno #/ ,That as Miss Faulkner./ ,2es, that as Miss Faulkner# She runs the Faulkner Flo er Shops#/ ,0 kno #/ ,-ell, she told (e 0 should ha$e so(e orchids to go ith (y dress and sent the( o$er#/ ,Then hat./ ,0 got fed up ith the hole !usiness and decided to alk out on the &oint# 0 as orking o$er at the Golden )orn# They call (e a hostess, hut, you kno , 0 as supposed to gi$e the !oys the spending urge, and let the (anage(ent cash in#/ Mason nodded# ,-ell, 0 ent on ho(e, and hen 0 had !een there a!out ten (inutes, a (essenger !rought a !o" of candy# 0 opened the candy, and it had e"actly the sa(e sort of card in it that had !een ith the orchids#/ ,The sa(e hand riting./ Mason asked# ,0 didn+t (ake a detailed co(parison, !ut it certainly looked like it, and the initials and e$erything ere the sa(e#/ ,So hat did you do./ She s(iled and said, ,Chocolate crea(s are one of the things 0 a( fondest of# 0 as feeling lo , and 0 ent to to n#/ ,Then hat./ ,0 !egan to feel funny# 0 thought at first it as &ust dro siness, !ut 0 had a one o+clock appoint(ent at your office so 0 kne 0 couldn+t go to sleep# 0f it hadn+t !een for that, 0+d pro!a!ly ha$e drifted off ithout kno ing anything a!out it, !ut, as it as, 0 kept fighting (yself trying to keep a ake# *nd then suddenly 0 reali%ed it asn+t &ust !eing sleepy# Fd !een doped# 0 had an a ful ti(e keeping (yself a ake long enough to talk ith you o$er the telephone# 0 can &ust re(e(!er hearing your $oice# 0 kept trying to talk, and 0+d go to sleep in !et een ords, ake up ith an a ful effort, and then 0+d go off to sleep again# 0t see(ed as though Fd !een talking ith you for ages and ages#/ Mason said, ,'o this is highly i(portant# 0t (ay (ake a lot of difference# -hen you ere talking ith (e, 0 heard a crash# 0t sounded as though you+d fallen out of the chair to the floor#/ ,0 can+t help you on that, Mr# Mason# 0 can+t re(e(!er#/ ,0 understand that, !ut hen e arri$ed at your apart(ent, the telephone as lying on the floor, and the receiver had been put back into place% 'o 0 can+t figure that you+d ha$e put the recei$er !ack#/

,0 don+t think 0 could ha$e#/ ,Then so(eone (ust ha$e !een in your apart(ent, after you !eca(e unconscious and !efore 0 arri$ed#/ ,*nd found (e lying on the floor and gone off and left (e ithout trying to help./ ,2es#/ ,That ould !e strange,/ she said# )er eyes glinted ith sudden anger# ,0t ould# -ho else has a key./ She took a deep !reath# ,'o get (e straight, Mr# Mason# 0+( no tin angel, !ut 0 strut (y stuff at the nightclu!# -hen 0 go to (y apart(ent6 ell, 0+( all finished# That+s the only ay a girl can play (y racket and ha$e any self-respect left# 'o one at the nightclu! e$en kno s here (y apart(ent is# 0r(a 1adine+s one of (y !est friends there# E$en she doesn+t kno # The (en ho run the place don+t kno #/ ,2ou+re certain./ ,*!soQ tely, positi$ely, definitely certain#/ ,1o!ert 8a ley for instance./ ,1o!ert 8a ley,/ she said, ith a gri(ace of distaste, ,a eak-chinned, spineless ise guy# )e+s hat the !oys call half s(art#+ )e thinks he+s so la-de-da he+s a pain in the neck#/ ,)o did you (eet hi(. 5id Pea$is ask you to get in touch ith hi( or # # # / ,Sindler Coll,/ she said# ,2ou+$e kno n Sindler./ ,'ot so $ery long#/ ,-e)./ ,0 as strong for Sindler,/ she said# ,0 liked hi(# )e got tired of (e, and tried to run another &ane in on the !usiness hen it looked as though there as going to !e so(e gra$y# 0 didn+t like that#/ ,0 don+t !la(e you#/ She said, ,2ou+re certainly asking a lot of personal 7uestions,/ finished the coffee, and Mason took the e(pty cup and set it ith the saucer on the ta!le# ,-hat has Sindler said a!out (e./ she asked, after a (o(ent# ,'othing#/ She studied her fingernails# ,2ou+re certain of that./ ,-hy, yes, of course# -hat is there to say./ ,3h, you kno , a (an can shoot off his face so(eti(es# 0 thought

perhaps he+d (ake so(e crack a!out the poison#/ ,'o# )e see(ed $ery solicitous#/ ,)e+s a good egg, at that#/ Mason took the handkerchief he had found in the telephone !ooth fro( his pocket# ,0s this yours./ She looked at it# ,-hy, yes# 5on+t tell (e 0+$e !een lea$ing handkerchiefs around in (en+s apart(ents#/ ,That handkerchief as found in the telephone !ooth at Sindler Coil+s apart(ent house#/ She said, ,0 asn+t going to tell you a!out that#/ ,*!out hat./ ,0 ent around to Sindler+s apart(ent !efore 0 ent ho(e6that is, 0 tried to, !ut6 ell, he ca(e out in the hall ay to (eet (e# )e told (e he as ha$ing a !usiness conference and couldn+t see (e, to co(e !ack later on#/ ,That as right after you left the Golden )orn./ ,2es#/ ,*nd hat did you do./ She said !itterly, ,* !usiness conferenceA )is hair as (ussed, his tie as pulled o$er to one side, and there ere lipstick s(ears on-his (outh#/ ,So hat did you do./ ,0 ent right !ack do nstairs# 0 tried to telephone Miss Faulkner# 0 as illing right then to go out to 9o! 8a ley+s place and spill e$erything# 0 anted to tell her 0+d go to your office and tell you the hole !usiness6e$erything, or do anything else she anted#/ ,5id you get her./ ,'o# There as no ans er at her house, or at the shops#/ ,Then hat./ ,So then 0 ga$e up telephoning and ent to (y apart(ent, and the (essenger ca(e ith the candy, and you kno the rest#/ Mason said, ,0t+ll help a lot if you don+t re(e(!er ha$ing seen (e# 2ou+re not supposed to ha$e $isitors# The police are narro -(inded a!out such things#/ ,3h, the !ulls,/ she re(arked conte(ptuously# ,-ell, don+t orry a!out the(#/ ,2ou+ll tell your story to the( &ust as you told it to (e./ She laughed# ,5on+t !e silly# 0+ll tell the cops nothing# 0 don+t !eef to the cops# 0 handle (y o n grief#/ Mason said, ,Get any ideas a!out Miss Faulkner out of your head# She

anted you as a itness# 0f you+d !een poisoned and died, she+d ha$e !een in a fi"# 2our candy as sent !y so(e other person#/ ,3kay, Mr# Mason# 0f you say so, it+s so#/ Mason said, ,Good girl# )ere+s luck for a speedy reco$ery#/ ,1eco$ery, hellA/ she cried# ,0+( so reco$ered right no , 0+( going to reck this &oint if they don+t let (e out#/ Mason laughed# ,2ou can talk ith 5r# -ill(ont a!out that#/ ,-ho+s he./ ,The doctor 0 got for you#/ )er eyes suddenly !eca(e suspicious# She looked at hi( and looked around the hospital# ,Say,/ she said, ,0 can+t afford to hang around in any pri$ate roo(s in a hospital# 0 should !e in a ard#/ Mason said, ,The roo( and the doctor are on (e#/ ,Say, you+re a hite guyA May!e there+s so(ething 0 can do for you so(e day#/ ,-ho kno s,/ Mason said, and tiptoed out of the roo(#/ Seated in his car, Mason opened the afternoon ne spaper, and read through the classification of ,houses for rent6furnished#/ )e listed fi$e hich ere not too far fro( the Molay *r(s *part(ents# Fro( a telephone !ooth, he started calling the nu(!ers gi$en in the ads, stating in each instance that he as interested in a furnished house, asking !riefly a!out the rent, and so on# -hen he called the third nu(!er, a o(an+s $oice ad$ised hi( rather shortly that the house had !een rented that afternoon, and the phone connection as uncere(oniously se$ered# Mason stopped at the office to pick up 5ella Street# ,-ant to take a ride./ he asked# ,2es# -here./ ,3ut to a furnished house#/ ,To see ho(./ ,Carlotta 8a ley perhaps#/ ,-hy the perhaps./ ,9ecause,/ he said, ,8ieutenant Tragg has had all the police facilities orking for hi(# My only chance as to play a hunch# 0 couldn+t co(pete ith his organi%ation hen it ca(e to follo ing a cold trail# 0 had to &u(p at conclusions and take a short cut#/ ,*nd you think he+s !eaten you to it./ ,0f he hasn+t, it+s his o n fault#/ 5ella sat !eside hi( in the auto(o!ile ithout so (uch as asking a 7uestion until Mason arri$ed at the address of the furnished !ungalo

hich had !een for rent# *n a(!ulance as &ust pulling a ay fro( the door# *head of the a(!ulance, in a police sedan, 8ieutenant Tragg as shifting his car into speed# T o (en sat in the rear seat# Their close-huddled stiffness indicated that one as handcuffed to the other# Mason didn+t e$en !other to stop at the !ungalo # )e kept right on going# ,'o here./ 5ella Street asked# ,Police head7uarters./ ,'o,/ he said, ,dinner#/ ,*ren+t you going to try to get her out./ Mason shook his head# ,The (ore 0 stir things up no , the (ore da(age 0 do# 0f 0+( tugging one ay and 8ieutenant Tragg is pulling the other, ith Mrs# 8a ley in !et een # # # / ,9ut, Chief, couldn+t you keep her fro( talking./ ,-hat a!out./ ,3h, her connection ith6 ell, perhaps hat she said to you, or # # # / ,E$idently,/ Mason said dryly, ,you didn+t notice the e"pression on 8ieutenant Tragg+s face as he ent !y us#/

Chapter 1=
:udge Gros!eck, ho had called court to order, looked o$er the tops of his spectacles at Perry Mason# ,Pea$is $ersus Faulkner Flo er Shops,/ he said# ,3rder to sho cause# Frank 8a!ley of 8a!ley R Cutten for the plaintiff# Perry Mason for the defendant#/ Frank 8a!ley said pro(ptly, ,1eady for the plaintiff,/ and glanced across to here Mason as seated# ,*nd ready for the defendant,/ Mason announced# 8a!ley sho ed surprise# ,2ou (ean you+re ready to go ahead on the order to sho cause./ ,E"actly#/ ,The notice,/ :udge Gros!eck pointed out to Mason, , as rather short# 2ou are entitled to one continuance as of course, Counselor#/ ,Thank you, 2our )onor# 0+( ready#/ 8a!ley slo ly got to his feet# ,2our )onor, this co(es as a distinct surprise# 0t+s al(ost a (atter of routine here the notice gi$en is so short for the defendant to ask for a continuance#/ Mason see(ed co(pletely disinterested#

:udge Gros!eck said sternly, ,)o e$er, Counselor, this is the ti(e heretofore fi"ed for the hearing of the restraining order# The defendant is entitled to one continuance as of course, !ut you are not#/ ,0 understand, 2our )onor, !ut6 ell6@ery ell, 0+ll do the !est 0 can#/ ,)a$e any counter affida$its !een filed./ the &udge asked Mason# ,'o, 2our )onor# 0 ish to call so(e itnesses#/ ,)o long ill it take you to e"a(ine those itnesses./ ,So(e little ti(e#/ ,The court ould (uch prefer to ha$e the (atter NT su!(itted upon affida$its and citation of authorities#/ ,0n $ie of the short ti(e hich as gi$en (e, 2our )onor, it as i(possi!le for (e to prepare affida$its#/ ,0 ill grant you a continuance to ena!le you to prepare counter affida$its#/ ,9ut 0 don+t care for a continuance, unless counsel stipulates the restraining order (ay !e $acated in the (eanti(e#/ Frank 8a!ley &u(ped to his feet, his (anner indicati$e of indignation# :udge Gros!eck a$ed hi( do n to his chair, s(iled, and said, ,@ery ell, Mr# Mason# The court ill hear your itnesses#/ 8a!ley said, ,0+ll stand on (y affida$its and the $erified co(plaint in the case for (y sho ing, e"cept that 0 (ay !ring (atters out on cross-e"a(ination of the itnesses called6and, of course, reser$ing the right to put on re!uttal testi(ony#/ ,@ery ell# Proceed, Mr# Mason#/ Mason said, ,0 ill call the plaintiff, Mr# Pea$is#/ Pea$is slouched for ard, held up his right hand, as s orn, and took the itness chair, here he sat regarding Mason ith cal( hostility# ,2ou+re the plaintiff in this action, Mr# Pea$is, are you not./ ,:ust a (o(ent,/ 8a!ley interposed, &u(ping to his feet !efore Pea$is could ans er the 7uestion# ,9efore any 7uestions are ans ered, 0 feel 0 a( entitled to kno hether Mr# Mason has produced in court the stock certificate in response to the su!poena duces tecum Mason !o ed# ,0 ha$e it here,/ he said# ,That identical stock certificate./ 8a!ley asked ith surprise# ,2es#/ 8a!ley sat do n, looking rather da%ed# * plain-clothes officer, spra led out in the !ack ro of chairs, suddenly straightened, got to his feet, and tiptoed fro( the courtroo(#

:udge Gros!eck regarded Mason ith thoughtful silence# ,*ns er the 7uestion,/ Mason said to Pea$is# ,2es, 0 a(#/ ,2ou ha$e !een trying to !uy an interest in the Faulkner Flo er Shops for so(e ti(e, ha$e you not./ ,0 ha$e#/ ,2ou kne that certain shares of stock ere in the na(e of Carlotta 8a ley./ Pea$is said, ,8et+s sa$e a little ti(e, Mr# Mason# F( a !usiness(an# 0 sa there as an opportunity to get control of the Faulkner Flo er Shops# 0 kne that 0 couldn+t !uy the stock (yself# 0 approached )ar$ey :# 8ynk and told hi( that 0+d pay a certain price for the stock if he could get it#/ ,Mr# 8ynk as a ga(!ler./ ,0 don+t kno , and 0 don+t care# 0 (ade hi( an offer for the stock# )e ad$ised (e that he had it#/ ,*h,/ Mason said, his tone sho ing his interest# ,8et+s ha$e that ans er again, Mr# 1eporter#/ The court reporter read the ans er# Pea$is said hastily, ,That is, 0 told 8ynk to get it for (e# ,'o , let+s get this straight,/ Mason said# ,5id you tell hi( you+d pay a certain price for the stock, or did you tell hi( to get it for you./ ,3!&ected to as inco(petent, irrele$ant, and i((aterial# 0t+s argu(entati$e, a (ere 7uestion of splitting hairs#/ Mason s(iled# ,0t goes to the $ery gist of the action, 2our )onor# 0f Mr# Pea$is hired Mr# 8ynk to get the stock for hi( as his agent, then the (o(ent the stock ca(e into Mr# 8ynk+s possession, the title really $ested in Mr# Pea$is#/ Pea$is nodded $ehe(ently# ,0f, on the other hand,/ Mason ent on, ,Pea$is (erely co((unicated to 8ynk a illingness to pay a certain price for the stock, and 8ynk secured the stock, !ut it as taken fro( his possession !efore he had an opportunity to sell to Mr# Pea$is, then Pea$is had no title# )e hoped to !uy the stock# )e had no $ested interest in it#/ ,That,/ :udge Gros!eck ruled, ,is 7uite apparently the la #/ Pea$is said, ,0+ll gladly ans er that 7uestion# 0 hired Mr# 8ynk as (y agent to get the stock#/ ,5id you gi$e hi( any (oney./ ,-ell, no# 9ut he kne that the (oney ould !e forthco(ing as soon as he had reason to call for it#/

,2ou (ean as soon as he had the stock./ ,-ell6/ Pea$is glanced at his la yer, then glanced hurriedly a ay# ,Can+t you ans er that 7uestion./ Mason asked# ,'o,/ Pea$is said# ,The stock didn+t ha$e anything to do ith the pay(ent of (oney# 0 hired hi( to get the stock# )e as (y agent#/ ,*nd ho did you get in touch ith Mr# 8ynk./ ,3!&ected to,/ 8a!ley said pro(ptly, ,as inco(petent, irrele$ant, and i((aterial# 0t (akes no difference ho the plaintiff (ade his contacts ith Mr# 8ynk# The point is that he (ade the(#/ ,3f course,/ :udge Gros!eck pointed out, ,this (an is an interested party, a hostile itness, a # # # / ,0f the court please,/ Mason interrupted, ,0+ll !e illing to hold the 7uestion in a!eyance# 0 don+t ish to take up the court+s ti(e unduly# 0+ll let Mr# Pea$is step do n, and call another itness# ,0f su!se7uent testi(ony (akes it necessary for (e to e"a(ine Mr# Pea$is on this point, 0 think the court ill appreciate, !y that ti(e, the rele$ancy of the facts sought to !e ascertained#/ ,0 don+t see ho they can !e pertinent,/ 8a!ley insisted# ,-ell, e+ll let the 7uestion re(ain in a!eyance as Mr# Mason has suggested,/ :udge Gros!eck ruled# Mason said, ,Step do n, Mr# Pea$is# Mr# Coll, ill you take the stand please./ Sindler Coll took the oath as a itness ith (anifest reluctance# )e seated hi(self on the itness stand and appeared $ery ill at ease# ,)o long ha$e you kno n Mr# Pea$is./ Mason asked as soon as the itness had gi$en his na(e and address to the court reporter# ,*l(ost ten years#/ ,-hat+s your occupation./ ,0+( a sharpshooter#/ ,-hat do you (ean !y that./ ,-ell, 0 speculate# -here$er 0 see an opportunity to (ake a profit, 0 pounce on it#/ ,*nd Pea$is approached you ith reference to getting this stock./ ,)e did#/ ,*nd you had a con$ersation ith Pea$is as to hat he as ready to do, and then you passed that ord on to Mr# 8ynk, did you not./ ,That+s right#/ ,0n other ords, you acted as the go-!et een./ ,2es, sir#/

,'o , so far as you kno , Mr# Pea$is ne$er (et Mr# 8ynk#/ ,-ell # # # yes, sir, 0 think he did#/ ,3h, he did./ ,2es, sir#/ ,-hen./ ,-ell, that as the night of the tenth#/ ,The night 8ynk as (urdered./ ,-ell, he as (urdered early6no, 0 guess that+s right# 0 guess he as (urdered at (idnight of the tenth#/ ,)o do you fi" the ti(e./ ,3n hat 0+$e read in the papers#/ ,-hen did you last see Mr# 8ynk./ ,3n the afternoon of the tenth#/ ,*!out hat ti(e./ ,*!out three o+clock#/ ,-hat did he tell you./ ,)e said he anted to talk ith Pea$is#/ ,*nd hat did you do./ ,0 got:Pea$is#/ ,5id you sit in on the con$ersation./ ,0 did#/ ,-hat as discussed./ Coll shifted unco(forta!ly in his chair# ,-ell,/ he said, ,8ynk told Pea$is that he could get, or as getting the stock, and for Pea$is to !e there ith his (oney to pick it up#/ ,-hat do you (ean !y there./ Coll said, ,0 didn+t (ean to say that# 0 &ust (eant that )ar$ey anted Pea$is to ha$e the (oney all ready#/ ,0n other ords, ithout the (oney, 8ynk didn+t intend to deli$er the stock./ ,0 don+t kno # 0 # # # / ,0t+s hearsay any ay,/ 8a!ley said# Mason shook his head# ,'o, Counselor, it calls for a conclusion of the itness# 0+ll ithdra it#/ :udge Gros!eck s(iled# ,So,/ Mason said (usingly, ,8ynk told Pea$is to !e there ith the (oney#/ ,That+s right#/ 8a!ley cleared his throat# ,0 a( ondering if the itness understood

that 7uestion#/ ,-e+ll ha$e it read to hi(,/ Mason said# The court reporter read the 7uestion and ans er, and Coll said 7uickly, ,'o, no, that isn+t right# 0 didn+t (ean that# 0 didn+t say that 8ynk told hi( to !e there ith the (oney# That+s a ord that the la yer has put into (y (outh#/ Mason s(iled# ,0n any e$ent, Mr# Coll,/ he said, ,8ynk anted Pea$is to !e out there at 8ilac Canyon ith the (oney, didn+t he. -hether it as to !e gi$en as co(pensation for ser$ices perfor(ed or as the purchase price of stock./ ,0 # # # ell # # # 0 don+t kno hat he anted# 0 can+t re(e(!er e"actly hat was said#/ Mason said, ,That+s all#/ 8a!ely said, ,0n (ilac Canyon, Mr# Coll./ Coll &u(ped as though a pin had !een stuck into hi(# ,'o, no,/ he said# ,0 didn+t (ean that# 'o, certainly not# )e didn+t say anything a!out 8ilac Canyon# )e &ust said6 ell, he said Pea$is had !etter get his dough ready !ecause the stock as in his hands#/ ,5id Mr# 8ynk tell Mr# Pea$is here to !ring that (oney./ 8a!ely asked# ,'o, sir# )e did not#/ 8a!ley hesitated a (o(ent, glanced du!iously at the frankly skeptical face of :udge Gros!eck, and said, ,That+s all#/ The &udge settled !ack in his chair and half closed his eyes, kno ing that the preli(inary ha$ing !een laid, it ould !e good procedure for Mason to cla(p do n on Coll and rattle hi( ith a running fire of crosse"a(ina-tion !efore he could reco$er his self-possession# The &udge, ho had e$ery intention of gi$ing Mason plenty of lee ay, co(posed his features into an e"pression of &udicial i(passi$ity# 9ut Mason surprised e$eryone !y saying, ,That+s all, Mr# Coll#/ Coll a$oided 8a!ley+s eyes as he left the itness stand# ,Esther 5il(eyer,/ Mason said# She ca(e for ard and held up her hand to !e s orn6$ery chic in a soft !lack ool &acket dress and a liny !lack hat# The only tonch of color as a gold pin at her throat and a (atching !racelet on her left rist# :udge Gros!eck looked at her curiously# 8a!ley see(ed so(eho ill at ease# Mason said, ,2our )onor, this young o(an has &ust !een discharged fro( the hospital# *n atte(pt as (ade to poison her, and her reco$ery

as # # # / ,The court understands the facts generally,/ :udge Gros!eck said, looking at Esther 5il(eyer# She ga$e her na(e and address to the court reporter, and s(iled at Mr# Mason# ,Miss 5il(eyer,/ Mason said casually, ,you+re ac7uainted ith Mr# Pea$is./ ,2es#/ ,*nd ha$e !een for so(e ti(e./ ,-ell, a fe eeks#/ ,*nd, at his suggestion, you (ade it a point to !eco(e ac7uainted ith Mr# 1o!ert 8a ley./ ,'o#/ ,'o./ Mason asked, raising his eye!ro s# ,'o, sir#/ ,-ho did (ake that suggestion./ 8a!ley &u(ped to his feet# ,2our )onor,/ he said, ,it is inco(petent, irrele$ant and i((aterial#/ :udge Gros!eck looked at Mason curiously# ,Fd !e glad to hear fro( you on that point, Mr# Mason,/ he said# Mason+s (anner as 7uietly (atter-of-fact# )e said, ,2our )onor, there are t o horns to the dile((a hich confronts the plaintiff in this action# Either he can appear in the role of holding hi(self out as a prospecti$e purchaser for the stock in 7uestion, in hich e$ent the fact that 8ynk died !efore the stock could !e sold lea$es the plaintiff ith no right hate$er to (aintain his actionC or he can adopt the position that 8ynk as his agent, purchasing the stock for the plaintiff in this action# That is the only theory on hich he can (aintain the present action# The (inute he adopts that theory, he !eco(es responsi!le for e$erything hich 8ynk, as his agent, did# 'o then, in place of seeking a legal re(edy, he has sought an e7uita!le re(edy# )e is no in a court of e7uity# 0t is an a"io( that he ho co(es to e7uity (ust co(e ith clean hands# 0f the actions of his agent, 8ynk, in o!taining this stock ere such as to shock the conscience, if he e(ployed illegal (eans, or if he resorted to entrap(ent, fraud, or oppression, then the plaintiff is not entitled to an e7uita!le re(edy !ecause the courts of e7uity on+t let hi( cross the threshold#/ :udge Gros!eck nodded# 8a!ley &u(ped to his feet# ,-hy, 2our )onor, 0 don+t understand

such to !e the la #/ ,0t is,/ :udge Gros!eck said, ith cal( finality# ,9ut Pea$is didn+t kno anything a!out hat 8ynk as doing#/ ,0f 8ynk as his agent,/ :udge Gros!eck said, ,it as his duty to notify Pea$is of e$erything he as doing# )is actions ere for the !enefit of Pea$is# Pea$is can+t accept the !enefit of those actions and refuse to assu(e the responsi!ility#/ 8a!ley sat do n slo ly, cautiously, as though after hat had happened, it ould not ha$e surprised hi( if the chair had suddenly !een &erked out fro( under hi(# Mason said, ,0+ll put it this ay, Miss 5il(eyer# 2ou ere told that Mr# 8a ley o ned so(e stock in a co(pany hich Pea$is anted# 2ou ere, therefore, asked to !e nice to 8a ley and # # # / ,'o one told (e any such thing,/ she said# Mason raised his eye!ro s# ,They didn+t./ ,'o#/ ,)o did you get ac7uainted ith Mr# 8a ley./ ,0 as told to culti$ate his ac7uaintance#/ ,9y ho(./ ,9y Mr# Coll,/ she said# 8a!ley s(iled triu(phantly# ,*nd Pea$is had nothing hate$er to do ith Mr# Coll# Coll as not his agent,/ 8a!ley said to the &udge# ,That,/ :udge Gros!eck re(arked, ,re(ains to !e deter(ined#/ ,'o then,/ Mason said, ,on the night that Mr# 8ynk as (urdered, did you hear any con$ersation !et een 8ynk and Coll a!out the stock./ ,'ot that night# That afternoon#/ ,-hat did Mr# 8ynk say./ ,8ynk said that he had the stock in his possession, that if Pea$is anted to get hold of it, he+d ha$e to (eet hi( !efore (idnight ith cold, hard cash, that 8ynk didn+t ant any checks# )e anted cash#/ ,2ou heard that con$ersation./ Mason asked# ,2es, sir#/ ,-here did it take place./ ,0n the Golden )orn#/ ,That+s a nightclu!./ ,2es, sir#/ ,-here in the Golden )orn did the con$ersation take place./ ,0n an upstairs6 ell, in an upstairs suite of roo(s#/

,*nd after you had heard that con$ersation,/ Mason said, ,an atte(pt as (ade on your life, is that right./ ,0 o!&ect,/ 8a!ley shouted# ,That is an atte(pt to pre&udice the court# 0t is a plain inti(ation that (y client has resorted to an atte(pted (urder in order to ena!le hi( to !uy a fe shares of stock in a corporation#/ :udge Gros!eck looked at Mason ith cold, &udicial i(passi$ity# ,Counselor,/ he asked o(inously, ,is it your contention that there is a connection !et een the t o e$ents./ Mason said, ,0f the court ill !ear ith (e, 0 think that perhaps e ill unco$er so(e rather $alua!le e$idence# The 7uestion relates only to a point of ti(e# 2our )onor is far too e"perienced to !e influenced !y insinuations hich are not su!stantiated# 0t is not as though a &ury ere trying the case#/ :udge Gros!eck nodded# ,Proceed,/ he said# ,*ns er the 7uestion,/ Mason ordered Esther 5il(eyer# She said, ,2es,/ in a $ery lo $oice# ,'o ,/ Mason said, ,your (anner of eating candy is rather unusual, isn+t it. 2ou eat piece after piece, $ery rapidly./ ,-ell, perhaps, yes#/ ,)o long ha$e you had that ha!it./ ,E$er since 0 as nineteen hen 0 had a &o! in a candy factory,/ she said ith a s(ile# ,2ou learned to eat candy in that ay hile e(ployed there./ ,2es,/ she said, and laughed lightly# ,The girls eren+t supposed to eat any of the candy on hich they ere orking, !ut6 ell, 0 didn+t like die !oss and thought 0 as getting e$en ith hi(#/ ,0 see,/ Mason said ith a s(ile# ,'o , so(eone (ust ha$e kno n of your propensities for eating one piece of candy right after another#/ She hesitated, then shook her head# ,2oull ha$e to speak up,/ :udge Gros!eck said, ,so the court reporter can take do n your ans er#/ ,'o,/ she said# ,0 don+t think anyone6oh, perhaps so(e of (y inti(ate friends # # # 0r(a 1adine for one#/ ,*nd is Mr# 8a ley an inti(ate friend./ ,'o,/ she said 7uickly# ,Mr# Co)./ ,'o,/ and her tone as sharply defiant# ,Mr# Magard, perhaps./ She said, ,Mr# Magard is an e(ployer rather than a friend#/

,9ut he kno s a!out the ay you eat candy./ She hesitated, disliking to gi$e an affir(ati$e ans er hich ould (ake a plain i(plication# :udge Gros!eck as leaning across the !ig (ahogany desk no , looking do n at the itness, studying her facial e"pressions# Frank 8a!ley, plainly pu%%led, apprehensi$e of the (anner in hich the hearing as de$eloping, 7uite apparently afraid to try to stop the proceedings !y o!&ections, sat for ard on the edge of his chair, turning his head fro( the itness to Mason, then !ack to the itness# ,*ns er the 7uestion,/ Mason said# ,Mr# Magard kne that 0 had orked in a candy factory#/ ,)o did he kno that./ ,)e hired (e#/ ,That is, you ere orking in the candy factory hen Mr# Magard hired you to ork in the Golden )orn./ ,'o# )e looked up (y record#/ ,*nd you don+t consider Mr# Coll an inti(ate friend./ ,'o#/ ,)e as at one ti(e./ ,-ell # # # ell, it depends on hat you call a friend#/ ,*nd ho a!out Mr# 8a ley. )e as at one ti(e./ ,-ell, not6oh, 0 guess so#/ ,5id Mr# Pea$is e$er gi$e you candy./ ,2es# Se$eral ti(es# )e+s nice#/ ,*nd sa you eating it./ ,2es#/ Mason said, ,0 think, 2our )onor, that no 0 ill ask for a continuance until to(orro (orning# 0 a(, of course, a are that it is a (atter addressed to the discretion of the court and # # # / ,'o o!&ection on our part,/ 8a!ley interposed hurriedly# ,@ery ell,/ :udge Gros!eck ruled# ,Pursuant to stipulation of counsel the (atter is continued until to(orro (orning at ten o+clock#/ For a (o(ent it see(ed that :udge Gros!eck anted to ask a 7uestion of Esther 5il(eyer, then he 7uite e$idently changed his (ind and decided to continue in his role of &udicial i(passi$ity# )e rose and alked into his cha(!ers# Magard alked do n the aisle of the courtroo( fro( the seat here he had !een an interested spectator# )e ent directly to Mason# )is (anner as truculent# ,-hat,/ he asked, ,is the idea of trying to drag me into that candy !usiness./

,0 didn+t,/ Mason said, standing up at the counsel ta!le, pushing docu(ents do n into Ms !rief case# ,0 (erely asked 7uestions# The itness ans ered the(#/ ,-ell, you asked the( in a funny ay#/ Mason s(iled# ,0t+s a ha!it 0 ha$e, particularly hen 0+( dealing ith people ho try to dictate to (e#/ Magard (o$ed a step closer# )is appraisal of the la yer as coldly hostile# 0n such a (anner (ight an e"pert hang(an sur$ey a conde(ned prisoner, studying his !uild, his eight, the (uscles of his neck# ,-ell./ Mason asked# Magard said, ,0 don+t like it,/ turned a!ruptly on his heel, and alked a ay# Mildreth Faulkner alked o$er to put her hand on Mason+s ar(# ,0 pro!a!ly don+t appreciate the fine legal points, !ut it see(s to (e you ha$e the( guessing#/ Mason said, ,0 think 0+( on the track of so(ething# 5id you see Carlotta./ The ani(ation left her face# She nodded, and tears glistened in her eyes# ,)o is she./ ,Pretty !ad# *fter they got her to the recei$ing hospital, the doctor took charge# )e said that for at least forty-eight hours she as to ha$e no $isitors# )e (ade an e"ception in (y case !ecause she kept asking for (e, and he thought it ould (ake her feel !etter# )e arned (e 0 (ustn+t talk a!out the case#/ ,5id you./ ,'ot e"actly# 9ut she had so(e things to tell (e# 0 tried to stop her at first, !ut then decided it as !etter for her to talk and get it off her chest# 0t see(ed to !e orrying her#/ ,-hat in particular./ Mason asked# ,They trapped her into ad(itting that she+d gi$en you the stock certificate# They told her that you+d put yourself in the clear !y turning it o$er to the police# Mr# Mason, ho can police !e so a!solutely !rutal, so utterly unscrupulous./ ,They figure they+re dealing ith cri(inals and the ends &ustify the (eans#/ ,-ell, that+s no ay to cope ith cri(e# They lie and resort to !rutality# They can+t e$er get people+s respect doing that# They+re al(ost as !ad as the cri(inals#/

Mason said, ,2ou+re !itter no !ecause it+s !een !rought so close to ho(e6and after all, it+s an e"ceptional case#/ She said, ,0t+s going to !e touch and go ith Carla no # 0 don+t kno hether she+ll pull through# She looks infinitely orse than 0+$e e$er seen her6and she was getting along so ell#/ ,0 kno ,/ Mason said sy(pathetically# ,This is the $ery situation 0 as trying to a$oid#/ ,-ell, it isn+t your fault# 0f she+d follo ed your instructions, she+d ha$e !een all right# She reali%es that no #/ ,*nd she hasn+t told the( anything else6only a!out the stock./ ,That+s all, !ut ith the e$idence they ha$e against her, that+s enough# Mr# Mason, she &ust can+t go ahead ith this # # # # *nd if they should con$ict her # # # Perhaps it (ight !e !etter # # # !etter if # # # / ,She didn+t pull through./ Mason asked# She tried in $ain to !link !ack the tears, !ut nodded# , Mason said, ,So(ething one of the itnesses said this afternoon ga$e (e a ne idea#/ ,2ou (ean there+s hope./ ,8ots of it#/ ,0f 9o! ould only !e a (an,/ she said, ,and tell the truth, he could sa$e her# 0f he+d &ust ad(it that he as out there, and that she follo ed hi( # # # # 9ut 9o! killed hi(, so naturally he on+t say anything that ould risk his precious neck#/ ,9o! pro!a!ly doesn+t kno that she follo ed hi(,/ Mason said# ,)e (ost certainly does,/ Mildreth said indignantly# ,1e(e(!er that 9o! ca(e to the Clear(ount )otel and got Carla# )e dro$e her a ay, and they talked a lot# *nd do you kno , 9o! lied to her. )e a!solutely ouldn+t ad(it that he+d e$er surrendered the stock or that he ent out there to see 8ynk. Can you i(agine that6after she follo ed hi( herself, sa hi( ith her o n eyes going up to 8ilac Canyon./ ,)o does he account for that./ ,-ell, you kno 9o!# )e al ays has the (ost onderful e"planations# )e says that !efore he+d gone ten !locks fro( the house, he picked up a friend of his# )e on+t tell the friend+s na(e# )e says that he dro$e the friend upto n, that the friend anted to !orro the car for a!out an hour, and 9o! stepped out and let hi( take-the car#/ ,2our sister !elie$es that./ ,3f course she !elie$es itA She+d !elie$e anything he told her# She (akes (e sick#/ ,Could that ha$e happened./

,0 don+t see ho # Carla as follo ing hi( all the ti(e# 3f course, there ere a fe ti(es hen she got !ehind in traffic# 9o! as shre d enough to ask her first a!out the ti(es she+d te(porarily lost sight of the car# Then he had this changing of dri$ers occur at one of those ti(es6the !ig fourflusher#/ ,5id you point out to Carla that # # # / ,3h, 0 tried to, !ut hat+s the use# 0 could see that she as $ery eak# She anted to tell (e these things !ecause she anted you to kno the(# That 8ieutenant TraggA 0f 0 e$er get a chance to gi$e hi( a piece of (y (ind, 0 # # # / ,2ou ill,/ Mason said# ,)ere he co(es no #/ She hirled to face the door of the courtroo( here Tragg, ha$ing &ust entered, s(iled at the deputy, then pushed his ay through a little knot of people gathered in the aisle, and ca(e alking rapidly to ard the(# )is s(ile as cordial# ,Good afternoon,/ he said# Mildreth Faulkner tilted her chin and turned so that the point of her shoulder as to ard hi(# Tragg said, ,Co(e, co(e, Miss Faulkner# 5on+t take it that ay#/ She said icily, ,0 don+t like lies, and 0 hate liars#/ )e flushed# Mason pnt Ms hand on her ar(# ,Take it easy,/ he cautioned# Tragg shifted Ms eyes to Mason# ,'o hard feelings, Mason./ he asked# ,'o hard feelings,/ Mason said# ,0 can dish it out, and 0 can take it# 9ut 0 can+t help feeling concerned a!out (y client#/ Tragg said, ,0 ant to talk ith you a!out that#/ ,Go ahead#/ ,First, ho e$er, 0 ha$e a disagreea!le duty to perfor(#/ ,2es,/ Mildreth Faulkner said icily, ,you ant to carry ater on !oth shoulders# 2ou ant to !e friendly ith people, !ut you !etray their confidences and # # # / ,Easy,/ Mason interrupted# ,8et+s see hat the lieutenant hasSto say#/ Tragg+s face as a shade darker than usual# )e addressed his re(arks entirely to Mason, carefully lea$ing Mildreth Faulkner out of the con$ersation# ,0+( sorry, Mason, !ut you (ade an ad(ission in open court that you had tMs stock certificate# 0 ha$e no alternati$e !ut to de(and that you turn it o$er to (e, and a( also notifying you that you+re going to !e called in front of the grand &ury#/ ,-hy./

Tragg said, ,2ou kno Churchill, don+t you./ ,2ou (ean 8oring Churchill, the deputy district attorney./ ,That+s the one#/ ,-hat a!out hi(./ ,)e doesn+t like you#/ ,That+s nothing,/ Mason said pro(ptly# ,0 don+t like hi(# )e+s an egotistical, acade(ic nonentity# )e has the !rains of an encyclopedia, and the personality of a last year+s al(anac#/ Tragg laughed# ,-ell, any ay, he sent (e up here to get that stock#/ ,)o did he kno 0 had it./ ,*s soon as you (ade the state(ent in open court, e ere ad$ised# Churchill as aiting for that#/ Mason said, ,-eil, you don+t get the stock#/ ,-hy not./ ,9ecause 0+$e !een ser$ed ith a su!poena ordering (e to !ring that stock into court#/ Tragg said, ,5on+t adopt that attitude, Mason# 0t on+t get you any here#/ ,-hy not./ ,2ou+re in a &a(#/ ,(y./ ,9ecause you+$e suppressed e$idence#/ ,-hat+s the e$idence./ ,That stock certificate#/ Mason said, ,0 stood up in open court and ad(itted that 0 had it# That doesn+t sound like concealing it#/ ,2ou ouldn+t ha$e (ade that ad(ission unless you+d !een ser$ed ith a su!poena, and, e$en then, you ouldn+t ha$e ad(itted it unless 0+d trapped Mrs# 8a -ley into ad(itting she ga$e it to you#/ ,2es,/ Mildreth Faulkner interrupted, ,you should feel $ery proud of yourself for that6a !ra$e police officerA/ Mason said, ,-ell, Tragg, that+s a (atter of opinion6 hether 0+d ha$e ad(itted it or not#/ ,-ell, 0 ha$e (y opinion,/ Tragg said, his lips tightening# ,2ou+re entitled to it,/ Mason told hi(# ,F( also entitled to the stock#/ ,'ot unless you get an order of court# 0 as ordered to !e in court as a itness and ha$e that stock certificate ith (e# 0+( here# 0 ha$e that stock certificate#/

,:udge Gros!eck ould understand the situation#/ ,0f he does, he can (ake an order#/ ,That ill take ti(e#/ ,So it in#/ ,*nd hen 0 try to ser$e that order on you, ho do 0 kno 0+( going to !e a!le to find you./ ,2ou don+t#/ Tragg said, ,Churchill ill go up in the air o$er this# )e on+t like it a !it#/ ,Too !ad,/ Mason said# ,0 suppose 0+ll spend a sleepless night no , kno ing that 8oring Churchill doesn+t like (e#/ Tragg said, ,8isten, Mason, you+re on one side of the fence# 0+( on the other# 0 get a kick out of you# 2ou fight hard, and at ti(es you fight dirty, !ut you+re al ays fighting# 0f you turn o$er that stock certificate, Churchill pro!a!ly on+t go ahead ith this grand &ury !usiness# 0+d like to see you keep in the clear#/ ,To he) ith Churchffi#/ ,That+s your final ans er./ ,'o# 0f he turns Mrs# 8a ley loose ithin an hour, he+4 get that stock certificate# 3ther ise, he+4 get it hen 0-get da(n good and ready to gi$e it to hi(#/ Tragg said, ,0+( afraid Mrs# 8a ley is going to face a &ury#/ ,-hat charge./ ,First-degree (urder#/ ,5ecided to pin it on her, ha$e you./ ,-e ha$e no alternati$e# )er hus!and (ade so(e da(aging state(ents#/ ,5a(aging to hi( or her./ ,)er#/ Mildreth Faulkner forgot her ani(osity for Tragg in the shock gi$en her !y that infor(ation# ,2ou (ean 9o! 8a ley said so(ething hich (ade the case !ad for Carla./ she asked incredulously# ,2es,/ Tragg said, and then hastened to add, ,0+( not supposed to !e telling you this, 0 guess, !ut6 e), to te4 you the truth, Mason, 0+( not $ery happy a!out it#/ ,-hy not./ Tragg said, ,9o! 8a ley i(pressed (e as !eing a rat, a heel, and a fourfiusher# )is ife see(s a dead ga(e s7uare-shooter#/ ,-hat did 9o! te4 you./ Mason asked#

Tragg hesitated# ,8ook here, Mason, you ha$e a fast (ind# 2ou+re usua4y a!le to get your clients out, one ay or another# 0 suppose Churchill ould gi$e (e the de$il for this, !ut # # # / ,-ell, go on#/ Tragg said suddenly, ,0+( a ser$ant of the people# 0+( a cog in a !ig syste(# 0 play the ga(e to get results# 0+( dealing ith cri(inals, and 0 ha$e a &o! to do#/ ,-hy the prelude./ Mason asked# ,9ecause 0+( sorry that 0 did hat 0 did ith Mrs# 8a ley# 0f 0+d reali%ed ho gra$e her condition as, 0 ouldn+t ha$e done it# 0+ll tell you that frankly#/ >+/2ou+$e done it,/ Mason said# Tragg said, ,That+s right, 0+$e done it, and 0+( not !acking up on it# She+s going to !e treated &ust as any other prisoner ould !e treated# 3nly 6 ell, this is a situation the la doesn+t pro$ide for# * o(an ho+s dangerously ill# The slightest e"cite(ent (ay pro$e fatal#/ ,8et+s hear hat 9o! 8a ley told you,/ Mason said !y ay of ans er# ,8a ley,/ Tragg said !itterly, ,see(s all !roken up o$er his ife+s condition# )e cries and hi(pers a!out it, and e let hi( in to see her, and he got do n on his knees and kissed the slee$e of her nightgo n#/ ,Go on#/ ,-ell, &ust !efore that, he+d !roken do n and told the police e$erything he kne #/ ,-hat did he kno ./ ,)e said he+d taken his car out, that he+d picked up a friend, that the friend anted to !orro the car# 8a ley had so(e telephoning he anted to do so he dro$e in to the cur! do n !y Coulter Street, that he let the friend dri$e the auto(o!ile a ay, that his ife as follo ing hi(, that the car ent to 8ilac Canyon, that his ife ent there after the car, and ent to 8ynk+s house#/ ,)o does he kno all this./ ,9ecause she told hi(#/ ,*nd he told the officers that./ Tragg nodded# ,0t+s a pri$ileged and confidential co((unication,/ Mason said# ,'o one should e$er ha$e in7uired into hat his ife told hi(#/ Tragg said, ,*t first he as shaking his fists at the ceiling, s earing that he+d ne$er di$ulge one single thing she had told hi(# Ten (inutes later he as so!!ing and spilling e$erything he kne #/

,)e ould,/ Mildreth Faulkner said !itterly# Mason said, ,2ou kno hat he+s doing, don+t you, Tragg./ Trying to sa$e his o n !acon,/ Tragg said# ,'ot that#/ ,-hat then./ ,Figure it out# )is ife+s in a precarious position# E"cite(ent is !ad for her# Strain and orry are orse# 'ot 7uite as spectacular in their effects, !ut (ore deadly in the long run#/ ,-hat are you getting at./ ,-ho+s the sole !eneficiary under her ill. 9o!# -ho is the !eneficiary of her life insurance. 9o!# -ho ould inherit her property. 9o!#/ Tragg pulled his !ro s together in a fro n# ,Mason, do you (ean to say that he+d plan to kill his o n ife./ ,-hy not. 3ther (en ha$e killed their i$es# 0t isn+t co(pletely unheard of in the annals of cri(e, you kno , and this is a perfect setup# *ll he has to do is egg you folks on, and hen her ticker stops, you+ll !e the ones ho ha$e to take the rap# )e+ll !e s(ugly s(iling to hi(self ith all of the !enefits#/ ,2ou don+t sketch hi( in a $ery flattering light#/ ,-hy should 0./ ,-hat+s your !asis for (aking any such insinuations./ ,They aren+t insinuations,/ Mason said# ,They+re charges# 0+( telling you that+s his ga(e#/ ,The police ouldn+t hound her so that there+d !e6 ell, fatal co(plications#/ ,The hell you ouldn+t,/ Mason said# ,2ou+$e already co(e pretty close to doing it#/ ,-e ha$en+t hurt her any#/ ,5on+t kid yourself# She as getting along pretty ell, then## ,0+( not responsi!le for the e"cite(ent incident to co((itting (urder#/ ,She didn+t co((it (urder# She had so(e e"cite(ent, all right# That put her !ack# 9ut 0 had her e"a(ined yesterday (orning !y a co(petent physician# 2ou don+t dare to let hi( e"a(ine her no and see hat he has to say a!out hat+s happened in the last t enty-four hours#/ Tragg said ith so(e sho of irritation, ,-e+re not responsi!le for e$erything of that sort hich can happen#/ ,2ou+re responsi!le for your share of it6and look at 8oring Churchill# That s(ug, !eetle-!ro ed, !ookish ninco(poop ill nag her

to death# 8et 9o! gi$e hi( a fe fresh facts to ork on, and he+ll keep trotting !ack and forth into Mrs# 8a ley+s roo( in the hospital until he+s orn a groo$e in the floor#/ ,-hat,/ Mildreth Faulkner asked, ,did 9o! say !esides that./ Tragg said, ,'ot a great deal# -hat he did say as (ore da(ning !y i(plication than !y direct state(ent#/ Mason said, ,5on+t !e a sap, Tragg# 4se your head# -hy ould Mrs# 8a ley ha$e killed hi(./ ,3$er that stock#/ ,9unkA 9o! (ight ha$e killed hi( o$er the stock, !ut she ouldn+t# She+d ha$e found out ho (uch (oney he anted for it, paid through the nose, gi$en 9o! a spanking, listened to hi( cry and hine, then s(oothed his hair, fi"ed his necktie nice and pretty, and gi$en hi( so(e (ore (oney to play on the ponies#/ Tragg stood silent for se$eral seconds, his forehead creased in a portentous sco l# Suddenly he raised his eyes to Mason and said, ,*ll right, Mason, you in#/ ,-hat./ ,0+( going to play !all ith you# 5a((it, that 9o! 8a ley doesn+t ring true to (e# 0 don+t fall for hi( for a (inute# 0 think he+s a liar and a crook# 0+d ten ti(es rather figure he as guilty than his ife# )e+s a cle$er liar, and he+s got 8oring Churchill co(pletely sold# 0 told Churchill 0 thought e should put so(e pressure on this guy, and 8oring ouldn+t hear of it# )e thinks Mrs# 8a ley is the one he ants# 1ight no he+s so !usy trying to !uild up a case against her he on+t listen to anything that doesn+t ha$e a tendency to pro$e her guilty# 0 don+t like it#/ Mason said, ,-ant to take a ride./ ,2es#/ ,2ou./ Mason asked Mildreth Faulkner# She nodded# Mason said to 5ella Street, ,2ou+d !etter co(e along, 5ella#/ ,-here are you going./ Tragg asked# Mason said, ,0 had a theory a!out this case that re7uires a little thought, and a fe 7uestions#/ ,2ou+$e asked the 7uestions./ ,2es#/ ,)o ere the ans ers./ Mason said, ,0+( pretty da(n sure 0+( right#/

,-hy not tell (e first./ Mason shook his head# ,-hy./ ,9ecause the case isn+t ripe# 0t isn+t ready to pick# -e ha$en+t any e$idence against the guilty person# *ll e ha$e are certain things e can use to support a $ery logical theory# ,'o then, 0 kno you# 2ou hate to go off half cocked# 2ou+ll listen to hat 0 ha$e to say, think it o$er, and say, Gosh, Mason, that certainly sounds like so(ething, !ut let+s not tip our hand until e ha$e (ore than e+$e got no # 8et+s go to ork on it and !uild up a perfect case#+/ ,-ell,/ Tragg said, , hat+s rong ith that. 2ou don+t ant to flush the 7uarry too soon6not in this !usiness#/ Mason said, ,The thing that+s rong ith that ay of playing it is that youll keep Mrs# 8a ley in confine(ent# 2ou+ll let her kno that a charge is pending o$er her# 2ou+ll let 8oring Churchill trot !ack and forth in and out of her roo( until she+s orn to a shado # She+ll take a deep !reath, and her heart ill pop# 'i" on it# -e+re going to get her out tonight# -e+re going to get that load taken off her (ind#/ ,Suppose you upset the apple cart./ ,Then it+s upset# 5o you ant to co(e, or don+t you./ ,0 don+t appro$e of it#/ ,0 kne you ouldn+t#/ Tragg said (oodily, ,-ell, if you put it up to (e that ay, 0+ll ha$e to co(e#/ ,Co(e on, then,/ Mason said#

Chapter 1>
Tragg parked his car in front of the Molay *r(s *part(ents# ,1ing her !ell./ he asked Mason# Mason opened the rear door and assisted Mildreth Faulkner and 5ella Street fro( the car# ,9etter to ring the (anager#/ Tragg said, ,Perhaps 0 can !eat that# This passkey should do the ork#/ )e took a key ring fro( his pocket, selected a key, tried it tentati$ely, shook his head, tried another key, and the lock clicked !ack# ,8ocks on those outer doors are (ostly orna(ental, any ay,/ Tragg e"plained as they alked across the lo!!y# ,:ust hat do you ant ith

Esther 5il(eyer, Mason./ ,*sk her so(e 7uestions#/ ,8ook here, if you+re getting anything hot, 8oring Churchill should !e here#/ Mason said, ,This (ay !e only luke ar(#/ ,2ou+re leading up to so(ething#/ ,4h huh#/ Tragg said, ,3kay, 0+ll ride along for a hile, and see here you+re going#/ They alked do n the thin carpet of the third corridor# There as a light co(ing fro( the transo( o$er Esther 5il(eyer+s door# Mason said, in a lo tone to Mildreth Faulkner, ,Tap on the door# She+ll ask ho it is# Tell her#/ ,Then hat./ ,0 think that+s all she+ll ant to kno # 0f she should ask hat you ant, tell her you ant to talk ith her for a (inute a!out so(ething that happened today#/ Tragg (ade one last atte(pt# ,8isten, Mason, if you+d put youi8cards on the ta!le, and tell us hat you :aio , the depart(ent ould # # # / ,Stall around until it got proof,/ Mason said, ,and, !y that ti(e, my client ould !e dead#/ Mildreth tapped gently on the door# ,-ho is it./ Esther 5il(eyer called# ,Mildreth Faulkner#/ ,3h, it+s you # # # #/ 'oises fro( the apart(ent, the sound of slippered feet on the floor, the noise (ade !y a !olt turning, and Esther 5il(eyer, attired only in under-things, opened the door to say, ,0 anted to see you# 0 hoped you+d understand # # # / She !roke off as she sa the group in the corridor, then laughed, and said, ,-ell, e"cuse me! -hy didn+t you tell (e there ere (en in the party./ She said, ,:ust a (inute,/ stepped !ack into the apart(ent, and picked up a ro!e hich hung o$er the !ack of a chair# She slipped it on and said, ,Co(e on in# 2ou should ha$e told (e you eren+t alone, Miss Faulkner#/ Mason stepped for ard# )e asked, ,2ou kno 8ieutenant Tragg./ ,3h, yes# 0 sa hi( !efore 0 left the hospital# They ouldn+t let (e lea$e until 0 had per(ission of the police#/ There as an a k ard pause# Tragg looked at Mason, and Mason said

a!ruptly, ,Miss 5il(eyer, 0 think you+re in so(e danger#/ ,06danger./ ,2es# Murder6so you on+t get on the stand to(orro #/ ,-hat (akes you think so./ )e said, ,5on+t forget an atte(pt has already !een (ade to (urder you# -hoe$er tried then is &ust as an"ious to get you out of the ay no as he as a couple of days ago#/ She laughed# ,To tell you the truth, 0 hadn+t thought (uch of anything a!out it#/ ,0f so(e person had a desire to kill you forty-eight Phours ago, 0 kno of nothing hich has happened in the (eanti(e that ould cause hi( to change his (ind,/ Mason said# Esther tapped a cigarette on the ar( of the chair, and said, ,2ou+re pro!a!ly (ore concerned a!out that than 0 a(#/ ,Perhaps so# That+s !ecause 0 think that the person ho sent you the candy is the sa(e person ho (urdered )ar$ey 8ynk#/ She raised her eye!ro s# ,-ell, isn+t that a !right ideaA/ Mason said, ,-e ha$e se$eral clues to ork on# 0 don+t kno hether 8ieutenant Tragg told you all of the(#/ ,0 didn+t,/ Tragg said# ,To !egin ith,/ Mason o!ser$ed as Esther 5il(eyer struck a (atch and held it to the end of her cigarette, ,the address on the rapper as typed on the type riter in Mr# 8ynk+s office at the Golden )orn#/ She shook out the (atch ith a 7uick, ner$ous gesture# )er eyes sho ed that the state(ent ca(e as so(ething of a shock# ,)o in the orld do you kno that,/ she asked, ,6unless so(eone sa the thing !eing typed./ ,Many people don+t kno that type riters are (ore highly indi$iduali%ed than a person+s hand riting,/ Mason said# ,*ny type riter hich has !een in use for e$en a short ti(e has a distinct indi$iduality# The type gets out of line# *n e"pert can co(pare sa(ples of typing and tell a!solutely hether they ere done on the sa(e (achine#/ Esther 5il(eyer said, ,0 didn+t kno that#/ ,That+s one thing,/ Mason ent on# ,The other is that the paper as taken fro( 8ynk+s office#/ ,)o do you kno that./ ,Papers $ary as to rag-content, eight, che(ical co(position, and trade-(ark# Trade-(ark is usually ater(arked directly into the paper#/ ,*nything else./ she asked#

Mason said, ,The la!el as pasted on ith glue# The glue as si(ilar in co(position to so(e that is used at the Golden )orn, and, (ost i(portant of all, the glue had set so thoroughly that the police ere a!le to tell that the la!el had !een put on at least forty-eight hours !efore the package as sent#/ ,-ell,/ she said, ,1 guess the police are a lot s(arter than 0+d e$er thought they ere#/ ,They are,/ Mason co((ented dryly# ,*nything else./ she asked# ,2es# 9ear in (ind that the la!el as prepared for the candy (ore than forty-eight hours !efore it as sent to you# 'o , you+$e orked in a candy factory# 2ou kno so(ething a!out hat a &o! it is to ta(per ith chocolate crea(s, and then lea$e the( so perfectly finished in appearance that there ouldn+t see( to !e anything rong#/ ,2es, 0 can appreciate that# 0t ouldn+t !e such a difficult &o! if one kne ho , !ut it+s no &o! for a !ungler#/ ,'o also !ear in (ind that the card hich acco(panied the candy as one hich had pre$iously !een enclosed ith an orchid corsage sent to you#/ ,Either that or it+s an e"act duplicate,/ Esther 5il(eyer said, a$oiding Mildreth Faulkner+s eyes# Mildreth laughed# ,0 certainly hope you don+t think that 0 ent !ack and sent the candy ith another card#/ Esther 5il(eyer didn+t look at her# She said to Perry Mason, ,0+( only ans ering 7uestions so e can help get the thing cleared up#/ The s(ile left Mildreth Faulkner+s lips# ,Then you do think that O sent you the candy./ she asked# Esther said, ,0 like to li$e and let li$e#/ She turned slo ly to face Mildreth Faulkner# ,0 don+t ant to (ake any accusations or insinuations, !ut &ust the sa(e that certainly looked like your hand riting on the card#/ ,-hy, 0 ne$er # # # / ,Easy, Miss Faulkner,/ Mason arned# ,8et+s de$elop the facts a little !it !efore e start looking for the person ho sent that candy# 'o then,-Miss 5il(eyer, hen you got that candy, and sa the card on the inside, you felt co(pletely at ease# 0s that right./ ,2es, naturally# 0+d (et Miss Faulkner, found her $ery char(ing, and sy(pathetic6although she had grounds for !eing other ise if she anted to !e6 ell, you kno , narro -(inded a!out things and hold (e

responsi!le for things hich ere entirely !eyond (y control#/ ,0 see, !ut that possi!ility hadn+t occurred to you at the ti(e you recei$ed the candy./ ,'o# 0 thought she as a $ery nice person# She as going to gi$e (e a &o!, and 0 felt $ery friendly and6 ell, loyal#/ Mason said, ,8et+s see here that lea$es us# The person ho sent the candy as so(eone ho had access to $irtually e$erything at the Golden )orn, so(eone ho could use Mr# 8ynk+s type riter, open the desk dra er, take out so(e of 8ynk+s stationery, use the glue pot, so(eone ho kne so(ething a!out the (anner in hich packages ere handled at the package-deli$ery ser$ice during the rush hourC and, last of all, so(eone ho as a!le to get that card hich had !een sent ith the orchids and put it in the candy !efore the candy as deli$ered to the (essenger ser$ice# That as an inter$al of less than thirty (inutes# That calls for rather fast ork#/ ,4nless,/ Esther 5il(eyer said, and then stopped# ,4nless hat./ ,4nless Miss Faulkner as the one ho sent the candy# 0f she did, there ere two cards, and # # # and # # # ell, that+s all there is to it#/ Mason said, ,0+$e carefully in$estigated Miss Faulkner# She ould ha$e !een una!le to ha$e sent the candy e$en if she+d anted to#/ ,-hat do you (ean./ ,She hadn+t had sufficient e"perience ith handling chocolates to ha$e doctored the candy for one thing, and for another, she didn+t ha$e any access to the Golden )orn forty-eight hours prior to the ti(e the candy as sent# 'o, there+s only one person ho (eets all of those re7uire(ents#/ ,-ho./ Esther 5il(eyer asked# ,2ou,/ Mason said 7uietly# She half rose fro( her chair# ,MeA 2ou (ean # # # / ,0 (ean,/ Mason ent on, ,that you ere the only one ho could ha$e sent that candy# 2ou sent it to yourself#/ ,*nd then ate a lot of poison &ust to put (yself in the hospital./ she asked sarcastically# 8ieutenant Tragg leaned for ard, started to say so(ething to Mason# Mason, ithout taking his eyes fro( Esther 5il(eyer, said, ,Shut up, Tragg,/ and then to Esther 5il(eyer, ,2ou didn+t eat any drugged candy#/ ,3h, 0 didn+t./ she said# ,0 &ust anted to get a ride to the hospital# 0

as pretending to !e asleep and fooled the doctor, is that it./ ,'o# 2ou took a !ig dose of $eronal, !ut you didn+t get it in the candy#/ She (ade a sho of irritation# ,8isten, 0+$e got so(e things to do tonight# 0 understand that you sa$ed (y life# *t any rate, you paid (y hospital !ill# 0 felt grateful to you, !ut you ha$e !ats in your !elfry, and 0 ha$en+t all night to sit here and listen to you spout a lot of theories#/ ,2ou see,/ Mason ent on, ,each piece of candy as held in a little !ro n paper cup folded and scalloped so as to fit around the piece of candy#/ ,-ell./ she asked# ,0n the !o" of candy hich as on the ta!le,/ Mason ent on, ,se$eral pieces ere (issing, !ut the little paper containers ere also (issing, and those eren+t any here in the roo(# 2ou+d hardly ha$e de$oured the papers as ell as the candy#/ * s ift flicker of e"pression sho ed on her face# Mason follo ed up his ad$antage 7uickly# ,9ut here you ga$e yourself a ay as hen you told (e that hen you sa the card in the candy !o", ith the initials KM#F#+ on it, you ere co(pletely reassured# If you+d !een telling the truth, that card ould ha$e (ade you suspicious, !ecause, not thirty (inutes earlier, you had recei$ed an orchid corsage ith an identical card# 2ou ill e$en notice that on the card there ere t o pinholes, sho ing here the card had !een pinned to the orchids# 0t+s hardly possi!le that you could ha$e failed to notice that+ ,2ou+re cuckoo,/ she said# ,-hy ould 0 ant to send (yself poisoned candy./ ,9ecause,/ Mason said, ,you anted an ali!i#/ ,*n ali!i for hat./ ,For killing 8ynk#/ ,3h, so O killed him, did 0./ Mason nodded# ,*nd then ga$e yourself a ay !y trying to i(plicate too (any people this afternoon in court# Magard, 3Pea$is, 0r(a 1adine # # # # 2ou $ery adroitly suggested nu(!ers of people ho kne of your candy-eating propensities#/ ,-ell, aren+t you interestingA/ ,2ou see,/ Mason said, ,you anted an ali!i# 0t occurred to you that it ould (ake a s ell ali!i if you could !e drugged into co(plete unconsciousness at the ti(e hen the (urder as co((itted# So you sent yourself poisoned candy, slipped out of your e$ening dress, put on (ore

ser$icea!le and less conspicuous clothes, and dro$e up to 8ilac Canyon# ,2ou pro!a!ly telephoned 8ynk to (ake certain lie ould !e there# Then you stopped on the ay to telephone (e# 2ou had to telephone (e early enough to gi$e yourself an ali!i, !ut not early enough to ena!le (e to locate your apart(ent and get out here hile you ere still out on your (urder (ission# The !est place you kne to telephone fro( as here Sindler Coll li$ed# 2ou kne there as a !ooth in the lo!!y, that no one ould !e in the lo!!y to see you using the telephone, or to o$erhear the con$ersation#/ ,*nd &ust why did 0 telephone you? she asked# ,For a $ery particular reason, Miss 5il(eyer# 2ou anted to ha$e so(eone hose ord the police ould take# 2ou anted to ha$e so(eone ho kne so(ething a!out you, !ut didn+t kno here you li$ed# 2ou anted so(eoneJin short, ho ould (ake a good itnessC !ut ho ouldn+t kno here you li$ed or ho to go a!out finding out# ,2ou+d planned your ali!i and the (urder for t o or three days# 2ou ere ondering &ust ho you could fi" it so you ould !e found !efore you had !een unconscious too long, !ut not soon enough to interfere ith your ali!i# ,2ou kne that 0 ould ha$e to get hold of Mildreth Faulkner to connect you ith the Golden )orn# E$en if 0 did, you eren+t particularly concerned, !ecause no one in the nightclu! kne your address# ,2ou felt reasona!ly certain that 0 ouldn+t !e a!le to get hold of Miss Faulkner until she ca(e to keep her appoint(ent at one o+clock, that then Miss Faulkner ould gi$e (e the lead to the Golden )orn, that e$en then it ould take (e 7uite a hile to locate your apart(ent# ,*s a (atter of fact, 0 al(ost got here too soon# Thanks to a little detecti$e ork on the part of (y secretary, Miss Street, 0 connected you ith the Golden )orn al(ost at once#/ She said sarcastically, ,*ren+t you s(art. 0 (ean re,al,l,ly! Mason said, ,2on left Coil+s apart(ent house after you had telephoned (e, dro$e out to 8ilac Canyon, killed 8ynk, and then, after you killed hi(, took a !ig dose of $eronal# Then you dro$e to your apart(ent, placed the telephone on the floor, taking care not to change the position of the recei$er, and yielded to the drug hich as !eginning to (ake you sleepy# 9y the ti(e 0 found you, you had &ust dropped off into deep sleep#/ ,That+s your story./ she asked# Mason nodded# ,-ell, go &u(p in the lake# 0 suppose you+d like to ha$e (e !e a nice

fall guy so you could get your rich client out of a (ess, !ut unfortunately for you 0+( not going to do it# 2ou+ll ha$e to find so(e other fall guy#/ There as an inter$al of silence# 8ieutenant Tragg looked across at Esther 5il(eyer, then looked a ay# )e studied the carpet thoughtfully# ,-ell,/ Esther 5il(eyer said, after (ore than a (inute had elapsed, , hat is this, a ne kind of third degree, or are e &ust sitting here en&oying the scenery./ ,-e+re aiting,/ Mason said, ,for you to tell us a!out the (urder#/ ! ou can ait until doo(sday# 5on+t hold your !reath until 0 start talking# 0+( going out# *nd no if you folks ill e"cuse (e, 0+ll start dressing#/ Tragg said, ,2ou+re not going out#/ ,'o./ ,'o#/ ,-hy not./ ,Mason has !uilt up a logical case#/ ,2ou (ean you fall for that stuff./ )e nodded# ,2ou+re nuts,/ she said, and then, after a (o(ent, (ake Esther 5il(eyer (ore ner$ous than hen Mason ,*ll of you#/ *gain ther as an inter$al of silence hich see(ed to (ake Esther 5il(eyer (ore ner$ous then hen Mason had !een accusing her of (urder# ,My God,/ she said, ,don+t all sit here looking at (e in that tone of $oiceA Good 8ordA This is my apart(ent# 0 ant to dress#/ ,2ou+re not going out,/ Tragg said# ,2ou can consider yourself under arrest#/ ,*ll right, 0+( under arrest# That doesn+t (ean that 0 ha$e to sit here and look at a lot of sourpusses# *nd 0 suppose, since 0+( under arrest, you+re going to take (e so(e here#/ ,Perhaps#/ She flung open her ro!e# ,0n (y undies, 0 suppose#/ ,'o# 2ou (ay dress#/ ,-hile you guys get an eyeful. 'o, thank you#/ Mason )t a cigarette# ,-ell, for God+s sake, so(e!ody say so(ething# -on+t you at least argue a!out it./ ,There+s nothing to argue a!out,/ Mason said# ,The e$idence is conclusi$e against you, on the poisoned candy# 0f you didn+t kill 8ynk, you+d !etter start talking# 2ou might ha$e had so(e e"tenuating circu(-

stances in your fa$or#/ She said, ,0 kno your ga(e# 2ou+re trying to get (e to talk# -ell, !rother, since you+re so da(n s(art, 0+ll tell you so(ething# 8ittle Esther kno s her rights# She+s going to sit $ery 7uiet and not ans er a single da(n 7uestion# 0f the cops+think they ha$e enough to hold (e on, they can take (e up in front of a &ury, and 0+ll get a la yer ho on+t turn out to !e a dou!le-crosser# Then e+ll see hat happens#/ Mason said, ,That+s fair enough if you deli!erately (urdered hi( in cold !lood, !ut if you shot hi( in self-defense, or if it as an accident, you+re going to ha$e to say so no #/ ,-hy no ./ she asked# ,9ecause if you keep 7uiet no , and then try to (ake a defense of accident or &ustifia!le ho(icide hen you get to trial, it+ll sound to a &ury as though you ere reciting so(ething a la yer had thought up for you#/ She said, ! oure a !ig help#/ ,0 a( at that,/ Mason told her# ,There are se$eral eak points in your sche(e# The police ould ha$e stu(!led on the( sooner or later# Then it ould !e too late for you to sa$e yourself !y telling hat actually did happen#/ ,3h, is that so. -hat are the eak points./ ,The (issing paper cups in the candy !o", the identical cards, your handkerchief, the telephone on the floor ith the recei$er in place6and the other things the police ill find#/ ,-hat other things./ Mason s(iled# ,Think !ack,/ he said, ,on hat you+$e done# 1e(e(!er that the police no kno e"actly hat happened# They only need to look for confir(ation#/ )er $oice as defiant# ,*ll right, let the( look#/ ,9y that ti(e,/ Mason said, ,it ill !e too late for you to tell your story#/ ,-hy./ ,'e spapers ill think it+s so(ething your la yer thought up#/ She regarded hi( ith the thought-clouded eyes of one ho is stri$ing to reach a decision# ,Suppose 0 tell it no ./ ,The facts ill sound a lot !etter co(ing all at once#/ She studied the tip of her cigarette# ,2ou (ay !e right at that#/ Tragg started to say so(ething, !ut Mason+s 7uickly i(perati$e gesture (otioned hi( to silence# ,Coll has a key to your apart(ent./ Mason pro(pted#

,2es#/ ,Then he kept 9o! 8a ley here the day after the (urder hile you ere in the hospital./ ,0 suppose so# 0 ouldn+t kno a!out that#/ ,2ou+re in lo$e ith Coll./ ,'ot no # 0 as cra%y o$er hi(# 0+ll get o$er it all right# 0t+ll ear off# 0t has !efore, and it ill again#/ Mason looked at his atch# ,-ell, if you+re going to # # # / ,3h, all right,/ she said# ,)ere it is# 0 as color for the ga(!ling house# 0t as (y &o! to (ake (en play, and keep the( fro( 7uitting hen they started losing# 0 got a co((ission# * hile ago Coll and 8ynk put it up to (e that 9o! 8a ley as a rich play!oy# 0 as to help the( relie$e hi( of so(e of the orldly possessions ith hich he as o$er!urdened# ,0 did (y part# ,-hen things got ready for the payoff, they planned to dou!le-cross (e out of (y cut, and plant Coil+s ne girl in on (y &o!# ,That+s all right# 0 as fed up ith the life any ay, !ut 0 didn+t propose to stand for a dou!le-cross# 0 decided to do so(e calling on (y o n# ,9o! 8a ley carried tins gun in the glo$e co(part(ent &ot the auto(o!ile# 0 don+t think he e$en kne it as gone hen 0 lifted it# 3f course, 0 kne they+d suspect (e first thing, and 0 needed an ironclad ali!i# ,0 decided to send (yself so(e poisoned candy# 0 fi"ed it up four days ago6took a fe pieces out of the !o" and put the( in a paper !ag hich 0 could carry ith (e, poisoned the rest, rapped the !o" and held it in readiness to send to (yself !y a (essenger hene$er 8ynk ga$e (e the chance to gra! the stock# 0 as all set and aiting# ,The night he ent out to 8ilac Canyon 0 kne he+d ha$e the stock ith hi(# 0 thought the payoff as to !e Pthat night# Then Miss Faulkner got in touch ith (e, and ga$e (e a lot of infor(ation 0 hadn+t had !efore, also arranged for (e to !e at your office at one o+clock# 0 had intended to call the police to fi" up (y ali!i, !ut you ere a !etter !et# Coll kne here 0 li$ed and had a key to (y apart(ent# 0 anted to !e certain he as out# 0 kne he+d !e (eeting 8ynk out at 8ilac Canyon# 0 shado ed Coil+s place until 0 sa hi( lea$ing, then 0 ent to the lo!!y, telephoned you Fd !een poisoned, and started for 8ilac Canyon# 3n the ay, 0 ate the unpoi-soned candy out of the paper !ag, so the sto(ach content ould sho chocolate crea(s# :ust !efore 0 ent to 8ynk+s ca!in,

0 took a !ig dose of $eronal, put on a (ask, and a raincoat# ,0 kne 8ynk as e"pecting a o(an, fro( the ay he ans ered (y knock# -hen he sa (y (ask and the !usiness end of the gun, he al(ost collapsed# 0 told hi( to get out that 8a ley stock and put it on the ta!le#/ ,5id you ha$e any trou!le ith hi(./ Mason asked# ,3nly that he as frightened and his hands ere tre(!ling so 0 as afraid he couldn+t unlock the dra er that held the stock# Then, &ust as he did it, 0 heard a noise and looked !ack o$er (y shoulder#/ ,The other girl./ Mason asked# ,That+s right# 2ou see 0+d neglected to close the door !ehind (e hen 0 pushed 8ynk !ack into the roo(# 0+ll say one thingH she as dead ga(e# 0 s ung the gun around and tried to !luff her# She didn+t !luff# She ca(e at (e like a ildcat# She gra!!ed (y right rist ith !oth hands and tried to rench the gun loose# 0t as a dou!le action# My finger as caught in the trigger guard# She kept pulling it !ack# 0 yelled at her to stop# She didn+t stop# The gun ent off# That scared her, and she &u(ped !ack# The gun fell to the floor# *nd then e sa )ar$ey 8ynk# ,My (ask as still on# She didn+t kno ho 0 as# -e (ade for the door# She left her o$ernight !ag# 0 left the gun# ,0 had an a ful ti(e getting ho(e# The $eronal as co((encing to take effect# The last part of the dri$e 0 as ha$ing goofy ideas# 0 thought 0+( drea(t the hole thing# 0 (anaged to get (y car parked in the garage, got to (y apart(ent here 0+d left things all planted the ay 0 anted you to find the(# 0 as asleep !efore 0 hit the floor# 2ou kno the rest of it# ,0t asn+t until 0 regained consciousness in the hospital that 0 reali%ed 0+d left the raincoat and the (ask in (y car# That (ask as a gi$ea ay# 0 as going to destroy it tonight#/ Mason nodded to Tragg# ,*ll right, Tragg, go ahead#/ The police lieutenant said, ,9oth of you o(en ran out ithout aiting to see ho !adly he as hurt./ ,-e didn+t need to e"a(ine hi(# )e collapsed like a punctured tire#/ ,-hat as he doing hile you t o ere struggling for the gun./ ,Trying to get the stock !ack in the dra er,/ she said# ,)e had his !ack turned to ard us, !ut 0 sa he as fu(!ling ith the dra er# 'o 0 ant you to do one thing#/ ,-hat./ Tragg asked# ,Get that other girl and (ake her tell her story !efore she kno s ho 0 a( or hat 0+$e told you#/

,-ho is she./ Mason asked# )er latfgh as !itter# ,That,/ she said, ,is the payoff# *n e(ptyheaded little fool ho thinks !eing a ga(!ling-house decoy on a co((ission !asis !eats orking for a li$ing# She ants (y &o!, and 0 ant hers# ,That+s the trou!le ith those e(pty-headed, high-spirited girls ho ha$e youth and looks# They think they+ll al ays ha$e youth# *ge is so(ething that lea$es its (ark on other people# 0 re(e(!er hen 0 felt that ay (yself6and you lose 7uick in this ga(e# -hen you+re thirty here, it+s the sa(e as !eing forty in any other # # # / !-ho is it./ Tragg interrupted# Esther 5il(eyer+s laugh as harsh# ,8ois Carling,/ she said, ,6and that+s the payoff#/ Mason picked up the telephone and handed it to 8ieutenant Tragg# ,Call head7uarters and tell the( to release Carlotta 8a ley,/ he said# -hile he as aiting for the connection, he said, ,*nd the ne"t ti(e you try to decoy (e a ay fro( your sister, Miss Faulkner, don+t ha$e a gun go off accidentally and don+t !e such an o!$ious suspect# 2ou had (e fooled for a hile, !ut after 0 got to kno you ell enough to kno hat a !right (ind you had, 0 reali%ed you ere o$erplaying your part # # # # )ello# )ello, )ead7uarters. 8ieutenant Tragg of )o(icide# -e+re releasing Carlotta 8a ley# Perry Mason is arranging to put her in a pri$ate sanitariu(# 1ush it through and cut the red tape#/

Chapter 1?
0t as late that night hen 5ella Street snuggled up !eside Perry Mason in the la yer+s car and said, ,-ell, that+s one thing a!out 8ieutenant Tragg# -hen he pro(ises to co-operate, he co-operates#/ Mason nodded# She rapped her fingers around his right ar(, a gentle, reassuring touch# ,5id it occur to you, Chief, that 8ieutenant Tragg is falling pretty hard for Mildreth Faulkner./ ,0+d ha$e to !e !lind and deaf not to ha$e had the thought occur to (e#/ ,She see(s to !e interested in hi(#/ ,-hy not. )e+s a pretty shre d indi$idual#/ ,0+ll say he is# )a$ing hi( on )o(icide isn+t going to !e the cinch it as hen Sergeant )olco(! as running things# 2ou kno , you+re going

to ha$e to atch your step# Tragg is filled ith co-operation this ti(e, !ut if he e$er catches you pulling one of your fast ones, 0 don+t think he+d hesitate for a (inute to thro the !ook at you#/ ,8et hi( thro 6/ ,-ill they con$ict Esther 5il(eyer./ ,Pro!a!ly not,/ Mason said# ,8ois Carling ca(e through and !acked her story up# 3f course, Esther ent out there ith a gun in order to perpetrate a felony, !ut6 ell, she+s a darn good-looking girl, and # # # / ,*nd a good-looking o(an can get a ay ith (urder./ 5ella asked# ,)o(icide,/ Mason corrected, s(iling# ,There+s a distinction#/ ,*nd you think Esther 5il(eyer+s testi(ony ill in the Pea$is la suit for Miss Faulkner./ ,Sure it ill# She kno s that Pea$is had only (ade 8ynk an offer for the stock# 0t+s a s(all point !ut da(ned i(portant# *nd hen 0 get done cross-e"a(ining Mr# Sindler Coll6 ell, 0 think Pea$is ill drop his suit#/ 5ella laughed# ,That+s going to !e a lo$ely cross-e"a(ination# -ill you !e a!le to sho that the hole ga(!ling thing as a crooked fra(eup, in order to in-$alidate that transfer of stock./ ,Easy#/ ,-here ill that lea$e Mr# Magard./ Mason grinned# ,1ight out on the $ery tip end of a li(! o$er a $ery deep pool# 0n case you+re interested, e+re on our ay to the Golden )orn right no # -e+re going to order cha(pagne, and 0 ouldn+t dou!t in the least if Mr# Magard co(es do n and falls all o$er us trying to s7uare hi(self# Tragg ouldn+t ant (uch of an e"cuse to raid that place#/ ,-on+t he do it any ay./ ,Pro!a!ly#/ Then is it good policy for you to go do n and pro(ise Magard you+ll # # # / ,0+( not going to pro(ise Magard one single thing,/ Mason said, ,and hen it co(es to dealing ith the police, he can (ake his contact ith 8ieutenant Tragg#/ She said uneasily, ,0 ha$e a presenti(ent a!out 8ieutenant Tragg#/ ,-hat./ ,0 think he+s going to !e dangerous#/ The (an+s cle$er,/ Mason conceded# ,Part of his instructions fro( the Chief+s office are to keep an eye on (e and hold (e in line# 0 guess ell ha$e a lot of fun fro( no on#/

There as no longer any good-natured !anter in her $oice# She said, ,Says you# 1 don+t like it#/ ,0+ll appoint you (y legal guardian if you+ll take the &o!, 5ella#/ ,'o dice,/ she said# ,2ou don+t ant a guardian any (ore than you ant do(estic ties6!ut try and get out of (y sight, after this, for $ery long at a ti(e # # # #/ )e s ung the car out to ard the center of the road# ,8ook, !a!y,/ he said, ,0 as atching the ay Tragg dri$es hen he has the siren going# 0t+s a techni7ue all its o n# 2ou (ake your speed in !et een !locks, start to ride your !rakes as you co(e to the intersection, then step on the throttle # # # #-atch#/ She settled !ack against the cushions, atching his face, her eyes contented and a(used as Mason sent the speedo(eter needle 7ui$ering up into the !ig figures# The End