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"You have to trust us," the young man told Malone and Jefferson as he led them into the old theatre.

RANSOM

BY JON CLEARY

THEIR NEW YORK honeymoon brings disaster to INSPECTOR SCOBIE MALONE and LISA, his attractive young wife. Lisa is kidnapped by strange chance, together with SYLVIA, wife of New York's Mayor MICHAEL FORTE.

CAROLE COX organised the kidnapping in revenge for the death in a student demonstration of her fiercely anti-Establishment husband ROY.

She tricked ABEL SIMMONS into helping her, and they have Sylvia and Lisa locked in a bedroom of her family's summer cottage on Long Island. As ransom, they demand the release of five anarchists now in the prison known as The Tombs.

Malone frets impatiently as DES HUNGER- FORD, the Police Commissioner, FBI agent CARTWRIGHT, also Michael's father SAM FORTE, his secretary MANNY PEARL, and other officials, debate the effect that releasing the anarchists may have on Forte's chances in the Mayoral election next day.

With Negro police CAPTAIN JOHN JEFFERSON, he visits The Tombs and talks with one of the anarchists, but they learn nothing from him.

Now staying at the Mayor's official residence Gracie Mansion, Malone meets the Fortes' teenage son and daughter ROGER and PIER, and his hopes rise when FRANK PADUA comes to the Mayor, offering help from his "connections" over the kidnapping.

But Forte refuses the offer, because of Padua's suspected connection with the Mafia. So when Carole telephones just after the Mayor has left to tour his campaign headquarters, Malone speaks to her of Padua as her "go-between."

This so upsets her that, despite hurricane rain, she drives into New York to the headquarters, where she tries vainly to find Padua. Meanwhile, defying the Mayor's orders, Malone sets out with Jefferson to visit Padua. NOW READ ON:

RAIN WAS coming down in sheets as Jefferson and

Malone drove off. Jefferson headed downtown, driving carefully and leaning forward to peer through the

windscreen.

Malone sat back quietly, now and again flinching instinctively as water was flung up by a passing car.

Then Jefferson turned the car down a cross-street, slowed, then parked.

"That's the address. Padua's doing all right if the whole house is his. You own a town house in this area, you're paying maybe a quarter of a million bucks for it.

Even the taxes would break mc."

They ran up the few steps through the rain, huddled against the grille guarding the front door. In a moment the door opened and a young, white-jacketed manservant looked cautiously out at them.

Jefferson introduced Malone and himself, showed

his badge. The man servant surveyed them suspiciously, let them into the narrow hall and went away to see his master. He came back, face blank, told

them Mr. Padua would see them and led them upstairs to a sumptuously furnished room.

But even Malone a man of not much taste, who judged rooms only on the comfort of their beds or chairs, knew that someone had gone too far in the furnishing of this particular room.

There was too much of everything: too many

pictures on the walls, too many valuable ornaments, too much expense.

"Is this an official visit. Captain?" Padua was asking. "No. Mr. Padua. But I can call up Headquarters and have them make it official if that's the way you want

it."

"Let's see what you have to say first."

Padua gestured them to chairs, but remained standing in front of the big marble-surrounded fireplace. The wrought-iron grate held small logs of wood, but a fire would only have been another unnecessary ornament to the room. The central heating

was much too warm for Malone's comfort.

Jefferson looked at Malone and the latter took the hint. Since their visit was unofficial, maybe he'd like to do the talking.

"Mr. Padua, after you left tonight I talked to one of the kidnappers a woman."

"What did she have to say?"

"I mentioned your name to her

Malone waited for a reaction, but Padua's face was as smooth and cold as the marble behind him. "So?"

"She said she was not prepared to have you or your connections come into the act unless you were going to

To page 69

Third instalment of our powerful four-part suspense serial

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 67

help her and her partner

Otherwise —"

Malone glanced a Jefferson, but the latter was looking at Padua, not a hint on his big dark face that he felt any surprise at Malone's

lie.

"Otherwise?" Padua repeated.

"She implied they had not let off their last bomb."

For the first time Padua showed some reaction. He had long ago lost any fear of physical violence. He had been inoculated against it in boyhood.

But he feared for his

possessions, for his house and his respectability that was as new and expensive as any of the furnishings that

surrounded him.

"Why should they want to threaten me like that?" he

demanded.

"I don't know." Malone knew he had scored with this wild punch. But where was he to go from here? "If you told us what you know, maybe Captain Jefferson and I could take them off your back."

"I am only the go between," said Padua. "My connections asked me to see the Mayor —"  

"Put us on to your

connections."

"I can't do that —"

Suddenly all the anger and frustration of the long day burst out of Malone. He grabbed Padua by the front of his jacket.

"Tell us who they are!"

Padua, unafraid, looked at Jefferson. "Captain —"

But Jefferson did not move and his dark face remained expressionless.

Malone, blind with fury now, raised his hand and whipped the knuckles across Padua's face. Padua fell

back, jerking free of Malone's grip, and fell over a

small table. A vase fell to the floor and was shattered.

There was a gasp from Padua as his foot crunched into a piece of the vase. He staggered back as Malone

came after him.

They were up and against the fireplace now. Malone swung wildly to grab Padua again, missed, and his hand swept a small figurine from the mantelpiece and it, too. shattered as it hit the floor.

"No! No!" Padua cried.

"Don't break anything

more!"

"Tell us who your

connections are!"

Padua's arm came up to

protect his face as Malone hit

him again, his elbow swept

along the mantelpiece and three more figurines were

knocked to the floor.

"No — please! No more!

I'll call them! Please!"

Malone let Padua go and the latter stepped away, his foot again crunching on a piece of china. He looked down dazedly at his broken treasures, then up at Malone.

"I could have you killed, you know that?" Padua's

voice was still soft, but his own anger was as furious as

that of Malone.

"I'm sure you could," said

Malone. "Your connections

would fix that for you. But that's a risk I'm willing to

take."

"You better tell us who

they are, Mr. Padua," said Jefferson quietly. "Otherwise Inspector Malone is likely to

wreck all this room of

yours."

Padua hesitated, then said. "I'll have to call them—"

Malone picked up the phone on the table beside the fireplace. "Here!"

"I'd rather be alone when I call them —"

Malone shook his head.

"Come on — get on the phone!"

Padua took the phone reluctantly. He stepped on another piece of china, heard it crush beneath his heel, and winced as if in pain. He

looked at Malone with hatred, then dialled a number.

Malone, his anger dying down, reason returning, looked inquiringly at

Jefferson.

"It got what we wanted," said Jefferson quietly. "Sometimes it's the only way."

Padua spoke into the phone.

"This is Frank Padua. I've had a visit from — from one

of our friends." He glanced at Malone, smiled thinly. He was recovering his compo-

sure. "He wants to see

someone . . . Anyone. I guess —"

"Not anyone." said Malone. "The top one. The bloke who sent you up to see the Mayor."

Padua signed, spoke into the phone again.

"He insists on seeing the top man." He waited, looking from one policeman

to the other.

Once he looked down at the shattered pieces of china on the floor, bit his lip, then

glanced around the room at what he still possessed. Then he held the phone close to his ear again.

"Very well. They'll be there as soon as they can."

He hung up, scribbled an address on the pad beside the phone, tore off the sheet and gave it to Jefferson, ignoring

Malone.

"Someone will be waiting there for you."

When the two policemen had gone, Padua remained standing in front of the fireplace looking about him. He put his fingers up to the weal across his jaw where Malone had hit him, but the pain there was nothing to the other pain he felt.

He knelt down, picked up the largest piece of broken china. Now he had regained his composure he knew that not only the Australian was

to blame for what had

happened.

There were others, the ones who had never

forgotten that his father was

a Sicilian. The one who had

done him favors years ago

when he had first crossed to Manhattan, who had waited all these years before asking for repayment.

Men like Don Auguste Giuffre, a voice from the past that had called today

and mentioned an old debt.

"John, are you sure you want to see this through with me?" Malone asked as they drove off again.

"I'm sure. Only when we see these guys, don't get rough. They won't stand for it the way Padua did."

Jefferson knew he was

laying his head on the block by accompanying Malone on

these "unofficial" visits to

Padua and whomever they were going to see now, but he liked this phlegmatic

Australian and he knew how

he would have felt if any jerk had ever kidnapped Mary.

They came on to the Staten Island Expressway,

turned off and headed south. There was less neon out here.

They were in the suburbs of

darkness. Then Jefferson

slowed, and finally pulled up

in front of a small tavern.

They got out of the car and went into the bar, a dingy stall staffed by a man in a dirty apron. Before they had time to speak to him a thin young man in a black raincoat and a plaid cap got up from one of the booths.

"Mr. Malone?" He had a

pleasant smile and Malone thought, there's something wrong. This kid looks too square to have anything to

do with Padua or his

connections or the kidnap- ping.

"You have a car? We'll go in that, if you don't mind. Mine is an MG, it might be a squeeze for all of us."

Once in the car he gave directions. occasionally passing casual remarks about

the weather. Then he leaned forward.

"That's the place."

It was a closed-down

picture theatre standing in a line of dark locked-up stores,

some of them with their

fronts boarded up. They got out of the car, the wind and the rain still lashing at them.

"We are waiting for this

section to be re-zoned.

Eventually, we hope, we'll have a development of better class homes and apartments here," the young man said.

"Are you in real estate?"

Jefferson asked.

"I'm still at college studying business admin-

istration. But I saw the

possibilities here." He said it with almost shy modesty. "This way please."

"Do I come too?" said Jefferson.

"That's up to you —

Captain Jefferson, isn't it? Mr. Padua rang back after you'd left, just to say you

were with Mr. Malone. Are

you here officially or unofficially?"

"Unofficially," said Jefferson. "Very."

"Then there's no prob-

lem."

He slid back a grille

across the front of the

theatre, opened a door and led the way across the lobby. The place was in darkness, but by the light of the flickering street lamps

outside Malone had seen the

posters peeling off the

bill-boards on the walls.

A torn and mangled Shirley MacLaine smiled at

him, and behind her dozens

of other stars were leaning on her as they peeled off the

wall.

The young man opened another door into the picture

theatre itself.

Malone paused, all at

once aware of the unknown

danger that might lie ahead.

"Why do we have to come to a place like this?"

"Privacy, Mr. Malone.

You'll have to trust us. We

don't want trouble, any more

To page 70

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 69

than you do. We're just trying to be civic-minded."

"That's all you guys are these days," said Jefferson. "Nice harmless civic-minded people."

"I get your point. Captain," said the young man with a smile. "But would you believe — I've never heard the word Mafia spoken in our family?"

"How about Cosa Nos-

tra?"

"Fairy-tales." The young man smiled again, but now there was a slight coolness to his voice. "But is this the time to be asking such questions?"

Then he led them into the theatre, down an aisle between the rows of empty seats. Malone, eyes alert, saw the four men standing in the shadows, one to each corner of the big cavernous bam.

He saw Jefferson undo the button of his jacket, making it easier to get at the gun in his shoulder holster. Then they had stopped by an elderly, heavily built man sitting in an aisle seat.

"Grandfather, this is Mr. Malone and Captain Jeffer- son." The young man gestured at the old man who was wrapped in a dark overcoat and was wearing a black homburg hat. "My grandfather, Don Auguste

Giuffre."

"Wait at the back. Ralph.

In case we have some other customers." The old man chuckled, waited till his grandson had gone back up

the aisle. Then he raised his hand, waved it in a dismissal gesture.

The two men down at the front of the theatre moved

up the side aisles, joined their partners at the back and the four of them disappeared through the door into the lobby. Then, and only then, did Don Auguste Giuffre look up at Malone and

Jefferson.

"I own this movie house.

Once I come here with my family every Saturday night — two features, three shorts, a newsreel, all for fifty cents. Now —" He made a gesture of disgust.

"I could keep it open, make money by showing dirty movies. But my grandchildren, the young ones, not Ralph back there, they might come here. Not good. Sit down, gentlemen."

Malone looked over his shoulder toward the back of the theatre. The four men

had disappeared, but Ralph Giuffre stood by the door. The two policemen moved into the row in front of the

old man. and stood facing

him.

The lights along the side walls were on, but they had been dimmed. The show was about to start. Two features, three shorts and a newsreel, all for fifty cents. Malone wondered what price the old man was going to ask for what he was about to offer

them.

"What can I do for you, gentlemen?" Giuffre's accent was rough, but his manners were impeccable. "Our friend said you were having

some trouble —"

"Mr. Padua —" said Malone.

Giuffre held up a hand.

"No names, please. Is better that way."

"All right, no names."

Malone had decided he

would begin with a lie, an approach that had, acciden- tally, had its effect on Padua.

"The kidnappers have threatened your friend. They said they would plant a

bomb outside his house if you interfered."

"Did they say that?" "They implied it."

"Implied — what's implied? I do not have the education my grandson has."

"They hinted — sugges-

ted —"

"You mean that's what you think they meant?"

This old so-and-so may not have gone to college, but he is educated all right. "No. that's what I'm sure they

meant."

"I think you are bluffing, Mr. Malone." The old man

took off his hat, put it on the

seat beside him. His face was mottled, as if his skin had

been tie-dyed. At certain

moments and in certain moods, Malone decided, Don Auguste Giuffre could be downright ugly. But so far his temper and his voice

were even.

"The kidnappers do not

know who our friend

represents."

"If they don't know who he represents, how do you know who they are? I think you are bluffing too."

Giuffre sat very still for a long moment, then he took

out a handkerchief and blew his nose.

"Every year, this time, I get a cold. I never get used to

the New York climate."

"You should go home to Sicily," said Jefferson.

The old man shook his head.

"Nothing there, Mr.

Jefferson. Everybody I know is dead. Stupid vendettas —"

he looked back at Malone. "You think I am bluffing, Mr. Malone? That is insulting."

"My wife is in danger,"

said Malone. "I didn't come

here to watch my manners.

I'm sure if Mrs. Giuffre was

in the same situation, you wouldn't be too polite."

"My wife is dead, Mr. Malone. But you are right —"

He looked down to the front of the theatre. Mama, God

rest her lately departed soul, had liked Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. If anyone had ever attempted to kidnap Mama, he, personal- ly, would have cut his heart

out.

"I am trying to help you.

Mr. Malone. And the Mayor."

"How?" Malone demand-

ed.

"Everybody has the wrong picture of us Italians. The negroes also, eh, Mr.

Jefferson?"

"At least you're the right

color."

"You think so? An olive skin, dark hair, a name like Giuffre or Rapelli or Gasperi, you get into trouble with the police, and what they say? Who you know in the Mafia?" He sighed.

"When I came to America

sixty year ago, nobody talk about the Mafia. My father and me, we had an oyster lease in those days. There were colored folk there too, nice peaceful people from

the South, and we got along

fine.

"Men with Italian names

get into trouble with the police, lots of them, but nobody say anything about

the Mafia."

Jefferson said nothing, his

dark face an asset in the

gloom. He had heard this plea so often he could recite it by heart. The honest,

decent Italians were entitled to resent being classed as all related to the Mafia, but that did not say there was no

Mafia.

"Why do they call you Don Auguste?"

Giuffre shrugged.

"Just respect, Mr. Jeffer- son. And a little pride for me, too, I suppose — it's a title. Like yours. Why do they call you Captain?"

"Maybe because I earned

it."

"Me, too. I have done much good in this parish — ask the priests and the sisters, ask anybody. Now I want to do some good for the Mayor."

"Why him?" Malone

asked.

"The Mayor, he is not gonna stay in City Hall. If we have an Italian in the White House, nobody say all Italians belong to the Mafia. Mr. Forte, everybody respect him, I would like to see him in the White House, the first Italian President."

"All right, then, help us. But don't let's waste time." Malone held up his watch, looked at it in the dim light. "If these people stick to their deadline, every minute

counts."

"I got information on all

those men in The Tombs.

Maybe more than you got,

Mr. Jefferson —"

For a moment there was a

twinkle in the dark eyes. "You try Fred Parker, ask

him about San Francisco and

Pasquale Panoli."

He stood up stepped out into the aisle, and looked down with distaste at the litter.

"Was a very clean place when we ran pictures here. Everywhere. Up there —" he gestured at the screen "— here, everywhere. It's a dirty world now."

"He should know," said Jefferson as they got into

their car. "It's his kind that

made it dirty. I just never understand the split in their characters. They lead blameless family lives — they go to church, bring their kids up strict, protect and respect their women. Yet that old man has ordered more contracts —"

"Contracts?"

"Orders to kill. He's handed out more of those than I can count — but we've never been able to lay a finger on him. He runs the drug racket in South Brooklyn and there isn't a bar or restaurant for miles around that he isn't leaning on in some way or other.

"He's got the prostitution game sewed up and he runs

two union locals in the construction business. He sure knows it's a dirty

world."

"I'll worry about my conscience later — when I get my wife back."

Malone watched Giuffre,

his elbow held solicitously by his grandson, cross the sidewalk and get into the big black Cadillac drawn up in

front of Jefferson's car. The

To page 72

RANSOM  

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 70

Cadillac drove off, followed by another car containing the don's four bodyguards.

Jefferson started up the car. "Do we go and see Fred

Parker at The Tombs?"

They drove back to Manhattan through the almost deserted streets. The storm seemed to have worsened. It was almost a

relief to get inside the detention building.

Jefferson signed himself and Malone in, checked his gun with the guard in the duty cubicle, then led

Malone into the Warden's office.

The Assistant Warden, Davidson, a black about

Jefferson's age. was on duty. He pondered Jefferson's request a moment.

"Parker? I dunno he'll

come down to see you."

"Just tell him Don

Auguste Giuffre sent us."

Davidson's eyebrows

went up.

"The Mafia? Are they in

this?"

"What's the Mafia?" Jefferson made an Italian

gesture with his hands. Both

blacks smiled at each other. "Just do me the favor. Phil. We're trying every angle we

can to get Inspector Malone's wife back. And the Mayor's."

Davidson looked at

Malone seemingly for the

first time. Then he nodded.

Malone and Jefferson went to one of the interview rooms, sat there for ten minutes before the door

finally opened and a grey-haired man, his face still cobwebbed with sleep, came in with a young black guard.

"Curiosity got the better

of me, Captain." Fred Parker sat down at the table, lit a cigarette and blew out the

smoke. '"Who is Don Auguste Giuffre?"

Jefferson considered the other man for a moment.

"I do believe you honestly

don't know. Guiffre is a

Mafia don, one of the top

three in the New York area."

"Ah. then that's why I wouldn't have heard of

him." He glanced at Malone

and smiled: it was a not

unattractive smile. "We anarchists, Mr. Malone, are

the only political party in

America who have no connection with the Mafia."

"But Guiffre said he

knew a lot about you. More than Captain Jefferson and

his mates know."

"Captain Jefferson and

his mates have a file on me they tell me is that thick —"

He held his hands apart. "I think Don Auguste Guiffre has been putting you on, Inspector."

"He said to mention San

Francisco and a Pasquale

Parioli."

Parker drew on his cigarette, but Malone did not miss the slight tremor in his fingers.

"What else did he say?"

"Let's just take that for starts. Who is Pasquale

Panoli?"

"Don't you know?"

"No," admitted Malone. Years of questioning had developed a sixth sense in him. He knew this man was on the verge of talking.

Parker stared down at the smoke curling up from between his fingers. He was dressed in a cheap blue suit that could have been twenty years old and a tie-less white shirt in need of laundering.

Malone guessed that Parker must be the square amongst the anarchists.

"They never let you go!" Parker's hand quivered and he took another drag on the cigarette, then looked at Jefferson. "There's a pro- logue to that file on me. Captain. You want to hear

it?"

"If you want to tell it." Both Jefferson and Malone were quietly casual.

"None of this gets to the kids upstairs, okay? I'm not gonna split on them, but I'd just sooner keep a piece of myself to myself, you know

what I mean?"

Jefferson and Malone

nodded, waiting patiently.

Parker sat back in his chair.

"Pasquale Parioli was my old man. He was the top lieutenant for the capo of

one of the Families in 'Frisco. That was back in ihe Twenties and Thirties — I

was seventeen years old

before I found out how he

made his dough, and I only

found that out because

someone chopped him down, with a gun, right outside our

front door."

He closed his eyes for a

moment.

"My old lady knew what my father did. They were both from Sicily and maybe

she believed in the Mafia and the way it went about things. I dunno — I never stopped to ask her. I ran away from home the day they buried my old man and

I never went back, never saw

my mother or my sisters again."

He had been talking with his eyes downcast, but now he looked up.

"What the powers that be would never believe is that I became an anarchist because I didn't believe in a society that had room for characters

like my old man. I'm a very

moral man — I even believe in God. I've read "em all and preached "em all.

"I think Christ preached a better brand of propaganda than any of them. But don't tell that to my friends upstairs — they'd think I was a Jesus freak and I sure ain't

that."

"What happened after you ran away from home?

Malone asked.

"America, thats what

happened. All of it." Parker put his head back and for a

moment his eves were those

of a young man. "It was a

country then! Lots wrong

To page 73

RANSOM CONTINUED FROM PAGE 72

with it — but still it had something. If we could have taken it over then — But I'm

tired now —

"I mean I'm tired of what I've been doing all these years. The kids today are different — I don't even speak their language. I had nothing to do with that bombing we're in here for. Okay, okay — " He held up a

hand.

"I know. You're not the one I'm supposed to plead before. But if they offer me a ticket to Cuba tomorrow. I'm gonna take it. Do you think the Malia operates there?"

"What has the Mafia got on you?" Malone asked.

"Nothing. I don't even know what they know about me. But they must have kept tabs on me all this time. How, I wouldn't know.

"I changed my name three times after leaving 'frisco — it was 1936. '37, before I became Fred Parker. When the file started — " He grinned at Jefferson.

"Parker," said Malone

carefully, "something is going to happen to my wife and the Mayor's wife if we don't release you from here   and fly you to Cuba — "

"I know that, Inspector, it's not a deal I would've planned myself — I've never

traded lives, women's or men's. That would only reduce me to my old man's  

level."  

"You say you're a moral man. If you get away to

Cuba and my wife and Mrs. Forte are never returned, are

killed, are you going to come back and help us put the finger on the murder-

ers?"

Parker took his time about replying.    

"I'd do that if I knew who   they were, Inspector. But I

don't know. I'm as much in   the dark as you are. I'm sure the Mafiosi could help you

more than I can."

"They wouldn't have sent  

us to you. If they knew anything definite, they'd have put a price on it."  

Malone was feeling sick   now with disappointment. He had learned nothing except that the Mafia never lost track of even the distant

members of its family.  

"Thanks for coming down to see us, Parker."'  

"Just a minute.'" Parker   stood up. He looked at the

young guard.

Would you do me favor, Mr. Irving, and leave us alone for two minutes?"

The guard looked at Jefferson. "I'm not supposed

to — "

"I'll take the responsibili- ty. Do me and Inspector Malone a favor too."

The guard looked at Malone, then he nodded,

stepped outside the door and pulled it closed behind him.

"How big are the files on the other guys?" Parker

asked Jefferson.

"The ones on Ratelli and

Latrobe started the day they were picked up. We don't know anything about them other than their names."

"I know a bit about Ratelli. lt's not his real name

— I'm not gonna tell you

what is. But Latrobe — he's a

blank page. Try him."

"Fred." said Jefferson

slowly, "you haven't got it in   for the kid, have you? We're   trying to save two women's

lives. We don't have time to

help you revenge yourself on some kid who's rubbed you the wrong way."  

"Have more faith. Cap-

tain. That's what anarchy is, you know, having faith in people. No, the kid's okay as

far as I'm concerned. I don't

even know if he can help, but I can tell you -—he's the only   one amongst us who could have someone on the outside

working for him.

"The rest of us — " He shook his head, then held out his hand to Malone.

"Good luck Inspector. In a proper society there would be no need for kidnapping."

He went out, the door

clanging shut behind him.

"Well." said Jefferson. "Let's see if this kid Latrobe will talk to us."

But Latrobe wouldn't talk to them, refused to come down to them from his cell

up on the seventh floor.

Jefferson and Malone went back to the Warden's office,

and Jefferson spoke to

Davidson.

"We want to go up and take a look at young Latrobe.

Okay.'"

"Just a look? Okay, but

don't make too much fuss up there, John. We got some mean customers on that floor." He picked up his phone, gave instructions to

someone on the other end.

A guard took them up in

the elevator, waited with them until another guard had unlocked the barred gate on to the bridge, the central

area that joined two tiers of cells arranged on either side

of it.

The door was closed

quietly behind them and the guard, another young black,

said softly. "Most of 'em are

sleeping. I've woked La-

trobe, but he ain't said

anything, ain't even got off

his bed."

He led them down to a cell at the far end of the bridge. A white youth lay on

a bunk, hands behind his head. He stared al the two policemen with dark, expressionless eyes.

"Mr. Latrobe, we'd like to

talk to you.'" Jefferson said.

Latrobe said nothing, the expression on his still face remaining unchanged. Ma-

lone could not see him

clearly in the gloom, but one

feature did mark him.

Through his long dark hair

there ran a broad white streak.

"You could maybe save the lives of two women.

Latrobe, if you talked to us." Jefferson urged.

Latrobe still said nothing,

but now turned his face to the wall beside his bed. Malone turned and walked

abruptly back to the elevator.

Jefferson followed. They    

rode down in silence and

when they got out Jefferson led the way to the Warden's

office.

"Phil, could we have a look at what you took off Latrobe when he came in?"

Jefferson asked thoughtfully.

"Sure." Davidson picked up his phone. When he put it down he said. "You get anything out of him? Nothing? Neither have we. He just seems to have

withdrawn from the human race."

A guard brought in a tin tray in a cloth bag. A tag was tied to the bag: Charles

Latrobe and the date of his

admission. When the guard had gone out Jefferson ran his fingers through the few belongings in thc tray.

"Not much there," he said. A wallet, some money, a gold-nibbed fountain pen, a pearl-handled penknife, a gold signet ring.

"That's all he had on him." said Davidson. "The

wallet had nothing but that money in it. Just as if he knew he was gonna be picked up and he was gonna have nothing on him that would identify hun."

"What about the pen and ring?" Malone said. "That's a pretty expensive pen, isn't it? How many anarchists go

around with those.'"

"lt was probably a special present." said Jefferson.

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 73

"Latrobe isn't old enough to have graduated from college. This could be a high school graduation present."

"The ring could be  

anything." said Davidson holding it up to the light. "It's just got two colors, black and gold, with the initials ZT laid over it. Those could be his initials."

"Could it be a high school ring.'' Jefferson took the ring. "ZT. There's the Zachary Taylor High School out on Long Island. Did anybody check this out?"

"Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. That's the job of you guys up at Headquarters, John. We just look after them when you bring 'em

in."

Jefferson gave him a sourly amused look.

"If Latrobe was so keen on hiding his identity, why did he keep something like

this?" he said.

"Sentiment." said Ma- lone. "Maybe some girl gave it to him, or his parents. Maybe that and the fountain pen are the only links he has with who he really is and he couldn't bear to give them up."

Jelterson nodded. "I think we'd do better to go straight out to the school."

"This time of night?"

"There'll be a caretaker, or someone in the neighbor- hood who can tell us where weean find the principal."

"One thing before we go," Malone said to

Davidson. "That white streak

in Latrobe's hair — Did you run any photos of him in the newspapers? Nobody came

forward to identify him from thal?"

"That streak has only

come out since he's been in here. That's two months

now. It must have been dyed when they first brought him in. No, nobody's come forward. For him or any of

them."

Malone nodded, then gestured toward the phone.

"May I call the Mayor, just to let him know where I am. And just in case he's had another message."

Davidson waved at the phone and Malone waited for the switchboard operator

to connect him.

"Inspector Malone? This is Lieutenant Denning," a voice said. "The Mayor has been trying to reach you for the last hour. He wants you

to call him at City Hall."    

Malone pressed down the receiver buttons, then asked to be connected to City Hall. While he was wailing he

looked at Jefferson.

"I'm not daring to hope, but do you think ?"

Jefferson shrugged. "We could have been lucky. Let's hope so."

Then Michael Forte came on the phone.

"Inspector Malone? Sco-

bie — where have you been." Where are you now?" It was impossible to tell from his voice what news he had. "Get across here to City Hall as soon as you can.   Something's come up." .................................................................

"About time you did get back!" Abel burst into a

string of oaths, glowering at

Carole. Then he swallowed

his anger as he saw her stiffen. "'Sorry, baby."

"I'm not blaming you, honey —"

"Blaming me?" The anger sprang up in him again. What was she talking about? Blaming him? "You go off. you stay away half the night, you leave me here like I'm some baby-sitter — !"

He swore again and she

hit him across the mouth. He raised his own hand to retaliate and she stood in

front of him, her eyes cold

and hard.

"Hit me, and that's the end! I don't need you —"

He slowly lowered his hand, shook his head dazedly

at what he had almost done. If he had hit her he would

have gone on hitting her

until she was dead. He

slumped down in the chair

behind him.

"I'm sorry, baby. Don't let's fight —"

Still unmoving. Carole stared at him, wondering

what to do with him. She did not need him from now on

and the longer he stayed with

her the more difficult it

would be to get rid of him

when the time came. But if

she told him to go now . . .

She had seen the look in

his eyes, had recognised the danger sign that she had glimpsed before but had told herself was only her imagination.

But his anger would some day break out of him entirely

and he would not be able to control it. She had seen the

same look in the eyes of the policeman who had clubbed Roy to death.

She turned away from

him, went out to the kitchen and began to make coffee. She took down a cup and

saucer, hesitated, then took

down three more cups and

saucers.

lt would be a simple means of letting him know

that all four of them in this

cottage were bound together,

whether he liked it or not.

She felt rather than heard

him come to the doorway.

""Carole — I was worried,

baby 1 anything could've happened to you, you

know?"

He came into the kitchen, slid on to one of the stools at the breakfast bar.

She turned round, sat on

one of the stools opposite

him. She and her brother Mark used to sit here in the

early hours of the morning,

when each of them had come

back from a party.

The memory was too sudden and too sharp, she

felt a catch in her throat and

spoke abruptly.

"I heard on the car radio that they've closed all the

airports between Washington

and Boston."

"What are we gonna do then — I mean if they can't

take those guys to Cuba?" Abel was scowling again.

"'I'll — we'll have to think about tl." She made a concession, let him think he

might help in the decisions. The coffee had begun to percolate and she got up and

turned down the burner.

"There s something else —

someone named Frank Padua."

"Who's Frank Padua?"

"I don't really know. He's someone in politics, but what

he is, I don't know."

Carole looked for some-  

thing to eat with the coffee: suddenly she was very hungry.

She had hardly eaten all day, consumed as she had been by nervous excitement. She rattled through the cans of food in the cupboards, her fingers thick and awkward with anger and nerves.

Since the death of Roy

she had not been able to

handle close relationships, her capacity for tolerance and sympathy eroded by the

bitter grief that was still part

of her.

lt had taken her weeks to commit herself to Abel and

she had only done so when she had finally decided he was necessary to the success of her scheme. A crisis in

their relationship was something else she had not anticipated. She grabbed a

can of chili con carne, fumbled with it at the can-opener mounted on the

wall.

Abel took the can from

her, opened it expertly, and she emptied thc contents into

a saucepan.

"Have you fed the

women?"

"No. I was too worried

about you."

Carole found two more

cans of chili, opened them

herself this time, and added

the contents to that already in the saucepan. He watched her, then abruptly he

wheeled round and went

back into the living-room.

She turned down the burner under the coffee as

low as possible, began to stir the chili in the saucepan. She

fell weak and exhausted and,

for the first time, hopeless.

Was it really worthwhile going through with the operation?

The journey back from

Manhattan had been a

nightmare, even on the almost deserted expressways and roads. And riding with her had been the nagging

wonder at who Frank Padua

really was and how he had

become involved in the

kidnapping.

Then she had reached  

home only to be harassed by this new tense relationship

with Abel.

Carole could not remem- ber the first time she had

seen Abel, only the first time

she had noticed him. He had

been in her night class three weeks then, a quiet boy sitting right back at the tar

corner of the classroom.

She had been teaching English, the course aimed at those who had never got above the tenth grade.

It had taxed her patience to lower her intelligence to

that of the class in front of her. But the school had

provided the retreat she wanted — a night class in one of the poorer sections of Kansas City.

Then one night after she

had dismissed the class Abel

To page 85

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 75

had come shyly up to her desk. "Miss — ?"

"Yes?" She had to

struggle to remember his name. "Simmons, isn't it?"

"Yeah. Could I walk you

to your car?" She looked at him curiously and he stumbled on. "I heard a coupla guys talking. They gonna wait for you outside."

"Who?" she asked him. He shook his head.

"Dunno their names. But

they been talking dirty about you. I wouldn't want nothing to happen to you, you

know?"

Her first reaction had been to brush him off, but there had been something in his face that had suddenly caught her, a look of concern that told her that this boy saw her as more than just a pick-up date.

And when they got outside, there were indeed two boys from the class waiting there. They had said nothing, just stared sullenly at her and Abel, then hurried off into the night. They had

never come to her classes again.

The relationship with Abel had developed slowly. She would occasionally have coffee with him, but she had kept the association on a strictly teacher-student level and he had accepted it.

She told him nothing about herself, but she learned that he came from Chicago, that he had run away from home at sixteen, and now was working as a laundry deliveryman in

Kansas City.

He had come to night school because he had some vague ambition to better himself. But what had intrigued her was that his

hatred of the Establishment

(though he did not call it that) and its uses of authority was even stronger than her

own.

Then two months ago there had occurred the incident for which she had been waiting four long years, the opportunity to revenge herself on the society that

had killed her husband.

There had been an added sweet irony that the revenge would be effected through the release of Mark.

She had suffered a severe shock when she had seen his

photo in the papers as one of thc anarchists, because she had had no idea what he had been involved in since she had left home.

The plan had come into her mind as a sudden inspiration. She had spent the next few days studying it as thoroughly as any course she had taken at College and decided to lake Abel in with

her.

She had told Abel

nothing of Roy or Mark. The plan was just to effect the release of five men who

believed the same as they

did, that all authority was

rotten.

But once she had involved him, she had had to commit herself to him. He had at once lost his shyness with her, had told her what she

had suspected, that he was in  

I love with her.

She had had no man in bed with her since Roy, but

she felt she owed Abel

something and she had

allowed him to make love to

her. He was a fumbling, aggressive lover and she had

tried to educate him. He had mistaken her self-interest for

an expression of love for

himself.

From then on she had known that when she had to

break away from him it would have to be secretly

and she would have to head for a destination where he would never find her.

She might even have to join Mark in Cuba. ....................................................

The Cubans have said

they won't take Parker and  

the others." Michael Forte told Malone. "The Swiss spoke to them for us, and they won't allow any plane carrying them to land there."

"But why not?"

"They didn't give us their

reasons, but the Swiss guess they are fed up with being a

haven for American malcon-

tents. They've suggested we try somewhere else."

"Where, for instance?"

"The State Department is trying Algeria. But we have to do that through channels too — we have no diplomatic exchange with them. The Swiss are handling it for us

there too. But it will take

time — protocol always takes

time."

Malone could feel himself

seething. But once again he

To page 86

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 85

knew he was trapped, that there was nothing he personally could do. Even as a lowly cop he had known the hobbling effects of protocol.

As soon as he had entered

the Mayor's office he knew there was no good news for

him. There was an air of crisis, reflected in the tense manner of all the men gathered there.

He recognised most of the faces, but there was one new one: that of Pat Brendan, the District Attorney.

Malone spoke to him

now.

"You've agreed, then, to let Parker and the others go?"

Brendan looked around at the other men before he replied.

"I don't think we'd ever

considered the possibility of not letting them go —" He

saw the look on Malone's

face and read it correctly. He

was no fool.

"Well, maybe we did

think about it. We've had

enough pressures on us —"

"Have you found out anything at all?" Malone

said.

"We think we have a

trace on one of the

kidnappers." Cartwright, the

FBI man, said. "A woman

phoned in from Jamaica, out on Long Island.

"She'd heard the descrip- tion on TV of the grey delivery truck used in the kidnapping, and she told us about one she'd seen being

driven into the house across the street from her. She said the people were newcomers, a young couple.

"We checked — there was

nobody in the house, but the truck was in the garage, minus its licence plates, and there were some fingerprints

on the wheel.

"They belong to Joseph

Abel Swokowski. who was

booked two years ago in Louisville, Kentucky, for taking a stolen car across a State line. He slugged the officer who was taking him to court and got away."

"And that's all you have  

so far?"

Cartwright hesitated, then

nodded. What did this Aussie cop expect —

miracles?

"Inspector, we're doing

all we can. But we need one

piece of luck — something to turn up — " He sighed.

"Trouble is, there seems no   connection at all between those men in The Tombs and

the kidnappers."

"What happens if the Algerians won't take them?"

said Malone.

""I don't know — I just

don't know." Michael Forte

closed his eyes for a moment. "I have to go on the air in

another forty-five minutes. I'm asking the kidnappers for some definite proof that

our wives are still alive.

"If they produce proof — let our wives speak to us on the phone would be good enough — then we'll release

those men at seven tomorrow morning. I've chartered a 707 — it's standing by, ready to go as soon as we give them

the word."

"Where have you been tonight, Inspector?" Sam Forte asked as silence fell. In the middle of the worst night of his life, he looked as impeccable as ever. He had had a nap after dinner, then taken a bath, changed and come down here to City Hall determined to sit out the hours till Sylvia and the Malone woman were re- turned safely.

Joe Burgmann. Michael Forte's campaign director, had been in touch with him

and told him that the swing now appeared to be back to Michael and that if it kept up

the election tomorrow would be in the bag.

So one issue was safe. Now he could concentrate on the safe return of Sylvia. Oh,

and the Malone woman.

In the meantime Malone himself looked as if he would have to be humored. If he

started talking to the Press in his present mood he might alienate the sympathy that was building up for Michael.

"I called you. I thought you might have cared for some company while Michael was out, but my grandchildren told me you had gone out with Captain

Jefferson."

"Where did you take the Inspector, John?" said Hungerford.

Malone and Jefferson looked at each other, then Jefferson answered, his face bland.

"I thought the same as Mr. Forte — that Inspector Malone might like some company. We continued our tour that was interrupted this morning, showing him how we operate."'

Malone glanced at Michael Forte, saw the quick warning frown and was puzzled for a moment. Then

it clicked. Michael did not want Frank Padua men- tioned in front of those in this room.

"I was just filling in

time." he said to Sam Forte.

"Trying to keep my mind off   what might be happening to my wife and Mrs. Forte."

There was a tap on the door and the Mayor's secretary, wan and tired looking, put her head into

the room.

"Mr. Mayor, the State Department is on the line."

"I'll take it in here." Michael Forte picked up the phone.

"Yes, this is Mayor Forte. Any news from Algeria?"

The look on his face instantly told the others the news was bad. He listened for a while, once or twice offering a half-argument, but

whoever was on the other end of the line gave him no

To page 93

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 86

encouragement and at last he hung up. "The Algerians won't play ball either. The Swiss said they considered the request for an hour, then came out with a flat no. No reasons, just no and that was it."

"But why—"

"The Swiss think the Algerians got in touch with the Cubans in that hour and they've both decided it was a good opportunity to embar- rass us politically. The State Department agrees the Swiss opinion is probably right. Anyhow, that's how it is. I'm   sorry, Scobie. Your wife is being made to pay for being

in America."

"That's no way to talk, Mike," said Burgmann. "If a quote like that got out —"

"Relax," said Malone sourly. He was sick and exhausted. "I'm not going to go quoting the Mayor to the Press. I'm sure I'm the only one you're worried about, so put your mind at rest."

Manny Pearl, the pourer of oil on waters that looked like developing into rapids, interrupted.

"I think we'd better start

getting ready for your broadcast, Mr. Mayor. If you gentlemen would excuse

him—?"  

In the next few minutes

he gave a demonstration of

how to clear a room of

people and a volatile atmosphere. Only Malone,

on a nod from Michael

Forte, and Sam Forte stayed behind, as the others, diplomatically herded by Manny Pearl, filed out the doorway.

"He's a genius at it. He once got rid of the Vice-President when he was up here telling me how to run the city." Michael Forte smiled for the first time since Malone had entered the room. "If I'm re-elected tomorrow, maybe I should put him on to slum clearance."

"I thought that was what he was doing then," said Malone; then gestured, "Sorry, I didn't mean that."

"Where did you really go tonight? I mean, before you finished up at The Tombs?" Michael Forte asked. "When

I talked to my son I had the feeling he was holding something back from me. Was he?"

Yes" Malone admitted. "Don't blame him — I told him t0 keep his mouth shut. I went to see Frank Padua."

Forte swore.

"Don't you know when to leave things alone?"

"Ordinarily — yes. But this is different — my wife's

in danger."

"What's all this about?"   Sam Forte said.

His son told him, then looked back at Malone.

And I suppose you got nowhere? I just hope you

didn't let him think I'd sent

you —"

"He knows who sent me

—you don't have to worry.  

We had a bit of a

donneybrook, but it paid off."

Malone then narrated the

events of the evening.

"Jefferson and I have this small clue about Latrobe. It

may mean nothing, but it's as much as anyone else has dug up. We want to go out and check it. Unless you want me

to turn it over to the FBI and

the Police Department?"

Michael Forte looked at his father. The old man

spread his hands, not wanting to make the

decision, and Michael

suddenly thought: all my life you've been pushing me, but never once have you laid your neck on the line, not

even now. He looked back at Malone.

"What do you want to

do?"

"If it leads to something definite, then it will be too big for us, and we'll turn it over to the Police Depart- ment," Malone said slowly.

"But first I'd like a crack at it with Jefferson." ...............................................................................

Jefferson gripped the wheel, holding the car steady against the cross-wind as they came on to the Long Island Expressway.

The storm showed no sign of abating. The wind and the

rain seemed to have become

stronger and heavier. There

was little traffic on the

expressway and what there

was of it was slowed almost to a crawl.

"Where do we go first?"

Malone asked.

"We'll try the local precinct house. They'd know where the high school principal lives."

They pulled up outside the precinct house, ran through the rain, and finished up in a room empty of people but for the duty sergeant dozing at the front desk. He straightened up, stiffening as the two wet strangers came bursting in.

Jefferson produced his badge, then explained their errand, and the sergeant looked with interest at Malone.

"That's why I'm alone here — everybody else is out prowling around looking for your wife, Inspector, and the Mayor's. The high-school principal? Sure, I know him. My kid goes there.

"His name's Hellibrand. You want me to call him

first? He mightn't open his door, you knock on it this time of night."

The sergeant dialled the high-school principal's num- ber, spoke briefly, then hung

up.

"Hellibrand will see you at the school. You want

someone to go with you?"

But Jefferson declined the offer, asked directions to the school, and he and Malone hurried out to the car again. Ten minutes later they were being led into the Zachary Taylor High School by the principal.

Hellibrand was a man in his mid-forties who at

another time of day might have been jovial. Now he

was irritable and curious as

to why two policemen, one of them an Australian, should want to look through copies of the school year-book.

When Jefferson explained who Malone was, the irritation suddenly went out of Hellibrand's face, to be replaced by genuine sympa- thy.

"Well, of course. If there's anything I can do — Latrobe? No, I can't remember anyone of that name — I have a good memory for names. How far do you want to look back? Five, six years? There they

are.

"I often wonder what the kids in them have achieved since. One of them I know, is already a guest of the government. He got life for shooting his father. He

wasn't one of the more

promising students."

Malone and Jefferson had

been flicking through the books. Young faces smiled up at them. Then Malone stopped, finger pressed down on a face: thin, unsmiling, a

white streak in the dark hair.

"That's Latrobe."

Hellibrand looked at the

caption under the photo.

"Mark Birmingham? You mean you think he's one of the men who kidnapped your wife?"

"No, he's in The Tombs on a bomb conspiracy charge. He's an anarchist. But we think he can give us a

lead. Where does he come from?"

Hellibrand shook his

head worriedly.

"I find it hard to believe — an anarchist! You work

yourself to death trying to help these kids —"

"We know, Mr. Helli- brand," said Jefferson patiently. "But what about this kid Birmingham?"

"He was always quiet, hard to approach — but his marks were always good.

When he left here he could

have taken his pick of any college he wanted to go to.

"His father wanted him to

go to Yale, where he'd been, but the boy picked a small college — somewhere in the mid-West, I think. Don't quote me, but I think he was trying to get away from his

father."

"Who is his father?"

"Willard Birmingham — he's a lawyer with one of the big insurance companies."

"Where does he live?"

"Over in Waquoit. I can phone him —"

"No, I think it'll be better if we drop in on him

unannounced."

Malone and Jefferson drove off while Hellibrand

was still locking up the school again.

"How far to — Waquoit?"

Malone asked.

"We're practically there." They found the Birming- ham house, and ran through the rain up on to the front porch. They had to press the bell three times before a light

To page 106

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 93

appeared behind the small

barred window in the front door and a voice spoke, husky with sleep and apprehension.

"Who's there? What do you want?"

Jefferson had to shout to make himself heard above the noise of the storm. The

door was opened a few

inches, but still held on a

chain, and half a face peered

out at them.

"Here's my badge. Mr. Birmingham. It's important

that we see you. It's about

your son Mark."

The chain rattled and the

door swung open.

Malone and Jefferson

stepped into a warm entrance hall that instantly suggested a comfortable house, a family house where every penny that could be afforded had been spent to make it a home in which the

occupants could be cossetted and protected.

Willard Birmingham was

a tall, well-built man,

handsome and grey-haired. He was dressed in pyjamas and a silk dressing-gown and

he had the bewildered, dishevelled air of a man who

was still not quite certain

that he was awake.

Elizabeth Birmingham, dark-haired. slim, good looking, dressed in silk dressing-gown buttoned to

her neck, stood at the foot of the stairs that led to the upper floor.

"It's about Mark."

Birmingham explained to his

wife, and led Malone and Jefferson through an arch- way into a large living-room. Mrs. Birmingham followed them, going to stand beside

her husband and take his hand in hers.

'"Has he asked to see us?" Jefferson looked at them

in surprise. "'You know

where he is?"

The Birminghams looked at each other, then the husband nodded shame- facedly.

"We've known all along. We recognised him the first day his picture appeared in the newspapers, even though he'd grown his hair and dyed

the white streak in it."

""We have been trying to make up our minds whether to go to see him." said Mrs. Birmingham. "We didn't

know whether he would want us to -—we haven't seen   or heard from him in almost two years

"We tried to do our best for him —" There was no

whining note in Birming-

ham's voice. He stated a fact

but he was puzzled by it. "We gave him a good

home — "

Malone had heard it all before, in another accent; he even felt he had been in this

room before. He was taking in his surroundings without moving his head.

He had been in a dozen rooms like this on the North

Shore back home in Sydney, with the too-impeccable taste of the furnishings that made one look for just one note out of place.

They turn everything into a museum without realising it, Malone thought, and then they wonder why their kids

leave home.

"Why did he leave

home?" he asked.

The two people opposite him looked at him again, recognising thal he had a

strange accent. Birmingham's face at once closed up.

"Who are you? You're not with the police, are you? Are you a reporter?"

Malone let Jefferson tell

them who he was. They

looked at him with

sympathetic curiosity, but

only for a moment. Then

they looked puzzled and finally incredulous.

"You don't mean Mark

had anything to do with the kidnapping?"

"No!" Mrs. Birmingham shook her head fiercely, tears in her eyes. "I don't even believe he had anything to do with the bombing! He's a gentle boy — "

Jefferson sighed, looked at Birmingham and waited

for him to comfort and

quieten his wife.

"Your son will get a fair trial and I'm not anticipating what the jury will say — all I can say is that he and his friends will have a tough time disproving the evi-

dence."

"lt could be a frame-up!" Mrs. Birmingham pushed herself away from her husband's arms. "The police only want a conviction!"

"Not only, Mrs. Birming- ham." said Jefferson patient- ly. "We want a conviction, but we want one for the right

men.

"lt's not gonna help us if we've just taken in the first

anarchists we could lay our hands on and we've left the

ones who did the bombing free to plant more bombs. Especially if they kill more cops."

Birmingham nodded.

"That's logical, Captain.

But how could Mark have

had anything to do with the kidnapping if he's been in prison for two months?"

"We don't think he had

anything directly to do with

it, but we think there could be a connection."

"I'm trying to save the lives of my wife and Mrs.

Forte," said Malone. "You

didn't answer my question. Why did your son leave

home?"

Mrs. Birmingham glanced

at her husband, but he was

looking down at his slippered feet. He looked like a man whose strength

had suddenly run out,

he spoke his voice was a

monotone.

"It was the so-called

generation gap. Generally. It was more as if we were foreigners to each other didn't even speak their language. We, my wife and I could have been wrong—"

"No." said his wife. "We weren't wrong!"

He looked up at her, showing the same patience

Jefferson had.

"Maybe. But we weren't right, either. I don't where the answer is —" He looked at the two policemen,

but they, with their

experience of the problem had no answer for him.

"I had disagreements

my own father when I was young -—who doesn't? But we both basically agreed on what way of life was best. He saluted the flag and so did I,

without question. But Mark

—" He looked at Malone and

Jefferson. "Do you have

children?"

"No." said Jefferson.

"My wife and I have only

been married eight weeks,"

said Malone.

"Oh!" Elizabeth Birming-

ham looked at him, her face all at once clouding pain. He suddenly realized that she was capable of feeling sympathy for himself, a stranger. Behind the wall she

had built about her, not all

the pity she felt was for

herself.

"I'm sorry. Mr. Malone, I hope —"

"So do I," said Malone.

"But time is running out. We need your help to get through to your son.

Won't talk to us —"

"There's no guarantee

he'll talk to us," said Birmingham.

"That's why we hesitated about going to see him." Elizabeth Birmingham seemed to have aged ten

years since Malone and Jefferson had come into this

room with her and her husband. "You wonder

where you failed. We'd give them everything —"  

" Them?" said Malone. He had been looking around the room again.

There was only one photograph in it, a gilt-framed picture standing

on a side table.

Willard and Elizabeth

Birmingham stood on the deck of a boat, arms linked and Birmingham holding

aloft some some sort of trophy.

They were both laughing

happily, no relation at all to the two people here in the room this morning. There were no photographs of

Mark, their son, or anyone else.

"Them?" Malone repeat-   ed. "Do you have any other

children?"

Mrs. Birmingham pulled her lips together; she had said more than she had intended to. Her husband sat up straight, suddenly he stood up and went out of the

room.

To be concluded

The novel "Ransom" by Jon Cleary is published by

William Collins Ltd.        

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