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It had an ugly red and brown carpet and was furnished as an office. "You mean she sent for me without knowing anything about me? I didn't know whether she was scared or annoyed or just having trouble being cool and businesslike. "She got your name from the manager of a branch of the California-Security Bank. I said: "First off, one of the vice-presidents of that same bank. Her nostrils had the whitish look of an anaemic person. If it had to do with the police, I should have called the police." "I charge twenty-five dollars a day, Mrs. I don't like port in hot weather, but it's nice when they let you refuse it. No, I don't think twenty-five dollars a day is too much." "I see. Difficult for an outsider, but anybody in the house could have stolen it." "I see. I'm not delicate enough for that." She turned the color of a cold boiled beet and opened her mouth to yell. Leslie Murdock's car." "It's 2X1111, a gray Mercury convertible, 1940 model." "That's Mr. One I left open for a patient client to sit in, if I had a patient client. I threw up another window, unlocked the communicating door and went into the room beyond.
It contained what you would expect to find in a small office. She wanted me to ask you for a few references." "References? Her chin was too small, too sharp and looked unstable. How do you establish that your daughter-in-law took it, Mrs. Then she thought better of it, lifted her port glass and tucked away some more of her medicine. There was a buzzer on the door which I could switch on and off from my private thinking parlor. Three hard chairs and a swivel chair, flat desk with a glass top, five green filing cases, three of them full of nothing, a calendar and a framed license bond on the wall, a phone, a washbowl in a stained wood cupboard, a hatrack, a carpet that was just something on the floor, and two open windows with net curtains that puckered in and out like the lips of a toothless old man sleeping.
At the end of the walk, on a concrete block, there was a little painted Negro in white riding breeches and a green jacket and a red cap. The hand and nose went in and the door slammed in my face. "If the man was a dealer of any repute, he would know that the coin was not for sale. She folded the big handkerchief very carefully and put it in the drawer of her desk, the one where the gun was. And don't ask me things I do know, because I won't tell you the answers. If a man in my line of work is handed a job, does he go around answering questions about it to anyone that gets curious? I went over and patted his head while I was waiting for somebody to come to the door. "Brother," I said, "you and me both." Time passed, quite a lot of time. About a year ago he made an idiotic marriage, without my consent. It is upstairs, in a locked fireproof room, in a set of fireproof cases. The coin is said to be worth over ten thousand dollars. Morningstar would call some other time, he could probably talk to me. My husband--" she smiled grimly-- "seemed to feel that I ought to have taken more interest in his little pieces of metal while he was alive." It was a nice day outside, the sun shining, the flowers blooming, the birds singing. "I wouldn't carry that tough-guy manner too far, if I were you, Mr. "Just virile." She picked up a pencil and made a mark on a pad. The stumble-stones were hot through the soles of my shoes. I haven't much money, I'm afraid, but would a couple of hundred--" "I ought to bop you," I said. It had thin yellow edges and there was white printing on it. "A corny touch, but it's true." "The Lombardos are still doing all right." He kept his lips pulled back from his teeth and talked through them at me. After a while a middle-aged sourpuss in a maid's costume opened the front door about eight inches and gave me the beady eye. I stuck a cigarette in my mouth but didn't light it. The thief happens to be a member of my family-- by marriage." She turned the wine glass with her thick fingers and smiled faintly in the dim light of the shadowed room. "A charming girl--and tough as an oak board." She looked at me with a sudden gleam in her eyes. This was foolish of him because he is quite incapable of earning a living and he has no money except what I give him, and I am not generous with money. It is insured, but I have not reported the loss yet. It's a mint specimen." "But pretty hard to sell," I said. Cars went by on the street with a distant comfortable sound. I got into the car and started it and pulled away from the curb. At the back a stained-glass window about the size of a tennis court. An old musty, fusty, narrow-minded, clean and bitter room. Then, if you would like a couple of cops, Bernard Ohls of the D. "I'm only doing what I'm told." "Better not call the last two, unless you know what the job is," I said. While she was looking up the numbers and telephoning hither and yon I looked her over. That's why I'm not offering you any." I swung a leg over my knee. I have paid their expenses, given each of them a car, made the lady a sufficient but not gaudy allowance for clothes and so on. He hemmed and hawed and then asked me if he might examine the coin. She refilled her glass and played a tattoo with her thick fingers on the arm of the chaise longue. Marlowe, Linda is the sort of lady who might do it just for spite, if nothing else. Murdock." "Young man, do you want this job or don't you? The blond head under the cocoa straw hat with the tropical print band didn't even turn my way. It didn't look as if anybody ever sat in it or would ever want to. Thirty years before, in the wealthy close-mouthed provincial town Pasadena then was, it must have seemed like quite a room. He may be in Sacramento, or he may be at his office in the State Building in L. Then Sidney Dreyfus, Jr., of Dreyfus, Turner and Swayne, attorneys in the Title-Insurance Building. A.'s staff, and Detective-Lieutenant Carl Randall of the Central Homicide Bureau. She was pale with a sort of natural paleness and she looked healthy enough. Because if you can be scared by me, you won't be much use to me." I nodded and let that one drift with the tide. It was a nice light belch, nothing showy, and performed with easy unconcern. "What I thought then you can probably guess." I said: "The part about Mr. Somebody had offered the coin to him for sale and he had known or suspected where it came from. And you know what these night club people are." "All sorts of people--like the rest of us," I said. It would take a pretty smooth worker to lift just one valuable coin, so there wouldn't be. Leslie Murdock, my daughter-in-law, took the Brasher Doubloon." I stared at her and she stared back. Does that mean you have no idea at all where she went? Your son might have some ideas he hasn't passed along to you. " "I want it if I'm told the facts and allowed to handle the case as I see fit. And it must be handled with delicacy." "If you hire me, you'll get all the delicacy I have. The coup sailed on and I drove back to the Arroyo Seco and on towards Hollywood.