Murder in the Gunroom HTML version

Chapter 14
Neither of them spoke for a moment or two. Then, after they had left the criminological-
journalistic uproar at the Rivers place behind and were approaching the village of
Rosemont, Pierre turned to Rand.
"You know," he said, "for a disciple of Korzybski, you came pretty close to confusing
orders of abstraction, a couple of times, back there. You showed that Stephen was at
home while Rivers was taking that phone call, a little after ten. But when you talk about
clearing him completely, aren't you overlooking the possibility that he came back to
Rivers's after you and Philip Cabot left the Gresham place?"
Rand eased the foot-pressure on the gas and spared young Jarrett a side-glance before
returning his attention to the road ahead.
"Understand," Pierre hastened to add, "I don't believe that Stephen was fool enough to
kill Rivers over that fake North & Cheney, but weren't you producing inferences that
hadn't been abstracted from any descriptive data?"
"Pierre, when I'm working on a case like this, any resemblance between my opinions and
the statements I may make is purely due to conscious considerations of policy," Rand told
him. "I don't want Farnsworth or Mick McKenna going around bitching this operation up
for me. If they feel justified in eliminating Gresham on the strength of that phone call, I'm
satisfied, regardless of the semantics involved. Right now, the thing that's worrying me is
the ease with which I seem to have talked Farnsworth into laying off Gresham. He and
Olsen both have single-track minds. They may just dismiss that telephone alibi, such as it
is, as mere error of the mortal mind, and go right ahead building some kind of a
ramshackle case against Gresham. Since they picked him for their entry, they won't want
to have to scratch him.... Damn, I wish I could think of where Walters could have sold
those pistols!"
"Well, if Rivers wasn't involved somehow, why was he killed?" Pierre wondered. "Hey!
Maybe Walters sold the pistols to Umholtz! He's just as big a crook as Rivers was, only
not quite so smart."
Rand nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe so. And suppose Rivers found out about it, and tried
to declare himself in on it. That stuff would be worth at least ten thousand; I doubt if
whoever bought it paid Walters more than two. In the Umholtz-Rivers income bracket,
the difference might be worth killing for."
"That's right. And Umholtz was in the infantry, in the other war; he served in the Twenty-
eighth Division. He was trained to use a bayonet. And he'd pick that short Mauser; it has
about the same weight and balance as a 1903 Springfield."
"Well, you know, the killer wouldn't need to have been trained to use a bayonet," Rand
pointed out. "Mick McKenna made that point, this afternoon. There have been a lot of
war-movies that showed bayonet fighting; pretty nearly everybody knows about the