Murder in the Gunroom HTML version

Chapter 3
Humphrey Goode was sixty-ish, short and chunky, with a fringe of white hair around a
bald crown. His brow was corrugated with wrinkles, and he peered suspiciously at Rand
through a pair of thick-lensed, black-ribboned glasses. His wide mouth curved downward
at the corners in an expression that was probably intended to be stern and succeeded only
in being pompous. His office was dark, and smelled of dusty books.
"Mr. Rand," he began accusingly, "when your secretary called to make this appointment,
she informed me that you had been retained by Mrs. Gladys Fleming."
"That's correct." Rand slowly packed tobacco into his pipe and lit it. "Mrs. Fleming wants
me to look after some interests of hers, and as you're executor of her late husband's estate,
I thought I ought to talk to you, first of all."
Goode's eyes narrowed behind the thick glasses.
"Mr. Rand, if you're investigating the death of Lane Fleming, you're wasting your time
and Mrs. Fleming's money," he lectured. "There is nothing whatever for you to find out
that is not already public knowledge. Mr. Fleming was accidentally killed by the
discharge of an old revolver he was cleaning. I don't know what foolish feminine impulse
led Mrs. Fleming to employ you, but you'll do nobody any good in this matter, and you
may do a great deal of harm."
"Did my secretary tell you I was making an investigation?" Rand demanded
incredulously. "She doesn't usually make mistakes of that sort."
The wrinkles moved up Goode's brow like a battalion advancing in platoon front. He
looked even more narrowly at Rand, his suspicion compounded with bewilderment.
"Why should I investigate the death of Lane Fleming?" Rand continued. "As far as I
know, Mrs. Fleming is satisfied that it was an accident. She never expressed any other
belief to me. Do you think it was anything else?"
"Why, of course not!" Goode exclaimed. "That's just what I was telling you. I—" He took
a fresh start. "There have been rumors—utterly without foundation, of course—that Mr.
Fleming committed suicide. They are, I may say, nothing but malicious fabrications,
circulated for the purpose of undermining public confidence in Premix Foods,
Incorporated. I had thought that perhaps Mrs. Fleming might have heard them, and
decided, on her own responsibility, to bring you in to scotch them; I was afraid that such
a step might, by giving these rumors fresh currency, defeat its intended purpose."
"Oh, nothing of the sort!" Rand told him. "I'm not in the least interested in how Mr.
Fleming was killed, and the question is simply not involved in what Mrs. Fleming wants
me to do."