Murder in the Gunroom HTML version

Chapter 7
When Walters entered, Rand had his pipe lit and was walking slowly around the room,
laying out the work ahead of him. Roughly, the earliest pieces were on the extreme left,
on the short north wall of the room, and the most recent ones on the right, at the south
end. This was, of course, only relatively true; the pistols seemed to have been classified
by type in vertical rows, and chronologically from top to bottom in each row. The
collection seemed to consist of a number of intensely specialized small groups, with a
large number of pistols of general types added. For instance, about midway on the long
east wall, there were some thirty-odd all-metal pistols, from wheel lock to percussion.
There was a collection of U.S. Martials, with two rows of the regulation pistols, flintlock
and percussion, of foreign governments, placed on the left, and the collection of Colts on
the right. After them came the other types of percussion revolvers, and the later metallic-
cartridge types.
It was an arrangement which made sense, from the arms student's point of view, and
Rand decided that it would make sense to the dealers and museums to whom he intended
sending lists. He would save time by listing them as they were hung on the walls. Then,
there were the cases between the windows on the west wall, containing the ammunition
collection—examples of every type of fixed-pistol ammunition—and the collection of
bullet-molds and powder flasks and wheel lock spanners and assorted cleaning and
loading accessories. All that stuff would have to be listed, too.
"I beg your pardon, sir," Walters broke in, behind him. "Mrs. Fleming said that you
wanted me."
"Oh, yes." Rand turned. "Is this the whole thing? What's on the walls, here?"
"Yes, sir. There is also a wall-case containing a number of modern pistols and revolvers,
and several rifles and shotguns, in the room formerly occupied by Mr. Fleming, but they
are not part of the collection, and they are now the personal property of Mrs. Fleming. I
understand that she intends selling at least some of them, on her own account. Then, there
is a quantity of ammunition and ammunition-components in that closet under the
workbench—cartridges, primed cartridge-shells, black and smokeless powder, cartridge-
primers, percussion caps—but they are not part of the collection, either. I believe Mrs.
Fleming wants to sell most of that, too."
"Well, I'll talk to her about it. I may want to buy some of the ammunition for myself,"
Rand said. "So I only need to bother with what's on the walls, in this room?... By the way,
did Mr. Fleming keep any sort of record of his collection? A book, or a card-index, or
anything like that?"
"Why no, sir." Walters was positive. Then he hedged. "If he did, I never saw or heard of
anything of the sort. Mr. Fleming knew everything in this room. I've seen him,
downstairs, when somebody would ask him about something, close his eyes as though
trying to visualize and then give a perfect description of any pistol in the collection. Or
else, he could enumerate all the pistols of a certain type; say, all the Philadelphia