Murder in the Gunroom HTML version

Chapter 19
There was less feuding at dinner that evening than at any previous meal Rand had eaten
in the Fleming home. In the first place, everybody seemed a little awed in the presence of
the new butler, who flitted in and out of the room like a ghost and, when spoken to,
answered in a heavy B.B.C. accent. Then, the women, who carried on most of the
hostilities, had re-erected their front populaire and were sharing a common pleasure in
the recovery of the stolen pistols. And finally, there was a distinct possibility that the
swift and dramatic justice that had overtaken Walters and Gwinnett at Rand's hands was
having a sobering effect upon somebody at that table.
Dunmore, Nelda, Varcek, Geraldine and Gladys had been intending to go to a party that
evening, but at the last minute Gladys had pleaded indisposition and telephoned regrets.
The meal over, Rand had gone up to the gunroom, Gladys drifted into the small drawing-
room off the dining-room, and the others had gone to their rooms to dress.
Rand was taking down the junk with which Walters had infiltrated the collection and was
listing and hanging up the recovered items when Fred Dunmore, wearing a dressing-
gown, strolled in.
"I can't get over the idea of Walters being a thief," he sorrowed. "I wouldn't have believed
it if I hadn't seen his signed confession.... Well, it just goes to show you...."
"He took his medicine standing up," Rand said. "And he helped us recover the pistols. If I
were you, I'd go easy with him."
Dunmore shook his head. "I'm not a revengeful man, Colonel Rand," he said, "but if
there's one thing I can't forgive, it's a disloyal employee." His mouth closed sternly
around his cigar. "He'll have to take what's coming to him." He stood by the desk for a
moment, looking down at the recovered items and the pile of junk on the floor. "When
did you first suspect him?"
"Almost from the first moment I saw this collection." Rand explained the reasoning
which had led him to suspect Walters. "The real clincher, to my mind, was the fact that
he knew this collection almost as well as Lane Fleming did, and wouldn't be likely to be
deceived by these substitutions any more than Fleming would. Yet he said nothing to
anybody; neither to Mrs. Fleming, nor Goode, nor myself. If he weren't guilty himself, I
wanted to know his reason for keeping silent. So I put the pressure on him, and he
cracked open."
"Well, I want you to know how grateful we all are," Dunmore said feelingly. "I'm kicking
hell out of myself, now, about the way I objected when Gladys brought you in here. My
God, suppose we'd tried to sell the collection ourselves! Anybody who'd have been
interested in buying would have seen what you saw, and then they'd have claimed that we
were trying to hold out on them." He hesitated. "You've seen how things are here," he
continued ruefully. "And that's something else I have to thank you for; I mean, keeping
your mouth shut till you got the pistols back. There'd have been a hell of a row;