Murder in the Gunroom HTML version

Chapter 9
Rand found another car, a smoke-gray Plymouth coupé, standing on the left of his
Lincoln when he went down to the garage. Running his car outside and down to the
highway, he settled down to his regular style of driving—a barely legal fifty m.p.h.,
punctuated by bursts of absolutely felonious speed whenever he found an unobstructed
straightaway. Entering Rosemont, he slowed and went through the underpass at the
railroad tracks, speeding again when he was clear of the village. A few minutes later, he
was turning into the crushed-limestone drive that led up to the buff-brick Gresham house.
A girl met him at the door, a cute little redhead in a red-striped dress, who gave him a
smile that seemed to start on the bridge of her nose and lift her whole face up after it. She
held out her hand to him.
"Colonel Rand!" she exclaimed. "I'll bet you don't remember me."
"Sure I do. You're Dot," Rand said. "At least, I think you are; the last time I saw you, you
were in pigtails. And you were only about so high." He measured with his hand. "The last
time I was here, you were away at school. You must be old enough to vote, by now."
"I will, this fall," she replied. "Come on in; you're the first one here. Daddy hasn't gotten
back from town yet. He called and said he'd be delayed till about nine." In the hall she
took his hat and coat and guided him toward the parlor on the right.
"Oh, Mother!" she called. "Here's Colonel Rand!"
Rand remembered Irene Gresham, too; an over-age dizzy blonde who was still living in
the Flaming Youth era of the twenties. She was an extremely good egg; he liked her very
much. After all, insisting upon remaining an F. Scott Fitzgerald character was a harmless
and amusing foible, and it was no more than right that somebody should try to keep the
bright banner of Jazz Age innocence flying in a grim and sullen world. He accepted a
cigarette, shared the flame of his lighter with mother and daughter, and submitted to
being gushed over.
"... and, honestly, Jeff, you get handsomer every year," Irene Gresham rattled on. "Dot,
doesn't he look just like Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind? But then, of course, Jeff
really is a Southerner, so ..."
The doorbell interrupted this slight non sequitur. She broke off, rising.
"Sit still, Jeff; I'm just going to see who it is. You know, we're down to only one servant
now, and it seems as if it's always her night off, or something. I don't know, honestly,
what I'm going to do...."
She hurried out of the room. Voices sounded in the hall; a man's and a girl's.