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Murder in the Gunroom

Chapter 15
Parking in the drive, Rand entered the Fleming house by the front door. The butler must
have been busy with his pre-dinner tasks in the rear; it was Gladys herself who admitted
him.
"Stay out of there," she warned him, taking his arm and guiding him away from the parlor
doorway. "Nelda and Geraldine are in there, ignoring each other. If you go in, they'll start
talking to you, and then they'll start talking at each other through you, and the air will be
full of tomahawks in a jiffy. Let's go up in the gunroom; that's out of the battle zone."
"What started the hostilities this time?" Rand asked, going up the stairway with her.
"Oh, Geraldine lost Nelda's place-marker out of the Kinsey Report, or something." She
shrugged. "Mainly reaction to Rivers's death. That was a great blow to all of us; twenty-
five thousand dollars' worth of blow. It was a blow to me, too, but I'm not letting it throw
me.... What were you doing all afternoon?"
"Trying to keep the rest of our prospects out of jail. This sixteenth-witted District
Attorney you have in this county had the idea he could charge Stephen Gresham with the
killing. I had a time talking him out of it, and I'm still not sure how far I succeeded. And I
was trying to get a line on where those pistols got to."
"Ssssh!" They reached the top of the stairs, and Rand saw Walters approaching down the
hall. "It was Colonel Rand, Walters; I let him in myself. Are Mr. Varcek and Mr.
Dunmore here, yet?"
"Mr. Dunmore is in the library, ma'am, and Mr. Varcek is upstairs, in his laboratory.
Dinner will be ready in three-quarters of an hour."
"Have you mixed the cocktails? You'd better do that. Serve them in about twenty
minutes. And you'd better go up and warn Mr. Varcek not to become involved in
anything messy before dinner."
Walters yes-ma'am'd her and started toward the attic stairway. Rand and Gladys went into
the gunroom; Rand turned to the left, picked a pistol from the wall, and carried it with
him as he guided Gladys toward the desk in the corner.
"You think Walters stole them?" she asked.
"So far, I'm inclined to. Have you told any of the others, yet?"
"Oh, Lord, no! They'd all be sure that I stole them myself. I'm counting on you to get
them back with as little fuss as possible. Do you think that was why Rivers was killed?
After all, when a lot of valuable pistols disappear, and a crooked dealer is murdered, I'd
expect there to be a connection."
 
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