[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

another potential corpse, and metal clicked on the wrists of the man
Page 84
ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.html
"I told you this was where someone would jump me, if my scheme worked out,"
said the Saint exultantly. "I only had to be found at the bottom there with my
skull caved in on a rock, and it would look as if I slipped and fell in the
dark. Another fortunate accident. Shall we really hunt for that other
spear-gun now, or wait till tomorrow?"
"I saw him following you, and then I saw him attack you," said the gendarme
judicially. "That requires a motive, and there is only one that is plausible."
"You have the rest of it," Simon said. "It was only the kind of impulse, or
inspiration, that you spoke of this afternoon, but he saw how to kill Monsieur
Oddington so that McGeorge would surely be convicted of it, and therefore
would not be able to inherit anything. And in that way Nadine would become
rich, and he was sure that after a while he would be able to win her again and
marry her."
The swollen eyes of Pierre Eschards glared up into the flashlight beam out of
his bruised and bloody and no longer handsome face.
"It is not true," he croaked. "It was my gun that killed Oddington, and then
I was frightened and I let go of it and took the gun that McGeorge dropped and
swam away with it so that he would be accused instead of me. But I had not
meant to fire the gun. It was an accident!"
"I think it is you, instead of Monsieur McGeorge, who will now have to
convince thejuge d'instruction of that," said the gendarme.
They buried Waldo Oddington in a shaded corner of the tiny flower-grown
cemetery on the island.
"That is what he would have chosen," Nadine said.
Later, after they had walked most of the way back to the village in silence,
George McGeorge said, in his stiff awkward way: "I suppose you'll soon be w
nting something to occupy yourself. I've been getting involved in one or two
deals with European connections lately, and I'll need a secretary here who
speaks languages. Perhaps you'd like to think about the
She looked at him uncertainly for a moment, and then put
out her hand.
"Thank you," she said, with a very small smile. ''I think I would like it."
Simon wondered if there might be some unforeseen changes in the future of Mr.
Page 85
ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.html
The BOAC manager located Simon in the bar of the Cairo airport, and said:
"I'm awfully sorry, Mr. Templar, but I still haven't been able to get you
confirmed beyond Basra on this flight. So you'll have to get off there, and
hope they'll be able to put you right back on the plane. If not, they can
definitely put you on the Coronet flight to Karachi on Tuesday. So you'd only
be stuck there for one night and two days. You might find 'em interesting. Or
of course you could just stay here. I can book you all the way through to
Tokyo on this flight next week."
"I'll take a chance on Basra," said the Saint amiably. "I've nothing against
this charming place; but I've already been here a week."
"I've been here for six years," said the manager neutrally. "But I'm
surprised the Saint couldn't find any excitement in Egypt."
Simon Templar grinned lazily.
"I leave this territory to Sax Rohmer," he murmured. "I liked it better in
Cinemascope, anyhow in a nice air-conditioned theater. Your ruins are
wonderful, but the Nile just doesn't send me without Cleopatra. Maybe I'll
come back when you start running time machines."
"Well, if I'm still here, I hope I can be a bit more help to you then." The
manager fumbled out a carefully folded sheet of paper and a pen. "I know it's
a frightful bore, but would you mind very much doing an autograph? I've got a
young son who thinks you're the greatest man who ever lived, and I'll never
hear the last of it if I let you get away without a souvenir."
"You should have brought him up with more respectable heroes," Simon said,
writing his name.
"And that little stick-figure drawing with the halo your Saint trademark . .
. Would you?"
"Sure." Simon drew it. "How do you feel about a drink?"
"Thanks, old chap, but I've still got a spot of work to do." The manager
recovered his pen and paper, and put out his hand. "The station officer will
be looking out for you at Basra. Have a nice trip, Mr. Templar, and come back
and see us."
"Just as soon as you can make me that date with Cleopatra."
Simon sat down again as the manager hurried away. The friendly smile faded
from his tanned face as inevitably as the memory of that whole encounter would
presently fade. It had been pleasant indeed, but it was still only part of the
routine of travel.
And exactly three seconds later, as a direct result of it, nothing could even
remotely be called routine.
His hand was grabbed off the table and practically taken away from him by a
little man whom he had never seen before in his life, who pumped it and clung
Page 86
ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.html
to it with the almost hysterical fervor of a parent greeting a- long-lost son
or a politician looking for a vote.
The little man beamed from ear to ear, and his little brown eyes were bright
with terror, and he said in a frantically pleading undertone: "My name's
Mortimer Usherdown. Please pretend you're an old friend of mine. Please play
along with me. Honestly, it's one of those life-and-death things . . ."
"Well, Mortimer," said the Saint automatically. "Long time no see."
He patted Mr. Usherdown on the shoulder, and gently re-claimed his other
hand. The little man with the big name sank into the nearest chair as if his
knees had melted. He had a round button-nosed face that made one think of a
timid gnome, topped with thinning wisps of mouse-colored hair; he might have
been five years on either side of fifty. His trembling could be felt rather
than seen as if he were sitting on some kind of delicate vibrator.
"Gosh, this is a break, running into you here, Simon," he said, still with
that fixed and desperate grin. "If I could have picked anyone out of the whole
world to run into now, I'd have asked for you."
He looked up abruptly, and Simon looked up with him, as two other men loomed
over them, crowding close to the table with unmistakable intent to be noticed.
"Oh," Mr. Usherdown said, as though he had momentarily forgotten them. "These
are two friends of mine  "
The two men did not look like friends of anyone, except possibly some Middle
Eastern Ali ben Capone. They were obviously Arabs of some kind and did not
care who knew it, since although they wore conventional Western suits of
fascinatingly inaccurate fit,- with what appeared to be striped pajama tops
taking the place of shirts and hanging gaily out below the hem-line of their
coats, their heads were still shrouded in the traditional red-patterned cowls
bound to their brows by what looked like two quoits of heavy black rope. But [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]