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RANSOM

Exciting final instalment of our four-part suspense serial

BY JON CLEARY

Malone and everyone else had to stand by helplessly, as the two

women were forced toward the car.

INFURIATED by the restrictions of New York's political protocol, INSPECTOR SCOBIE MALONE takes matters into his own hands in his efforts to trace his kidnapped wife LISA.

The Malones were honeymooning in New York when SYLVIA, wife of New York's Mayor MICHAEL FORTE, was kidnapped by CAROLE COX and ABEL

SIMMONS.

Carole organised the kidnapping in revenge for the killing of her husband ROY in a student demonstration. She tricked Abel into helping her ... but by a strange chance, they had to take Lisa

too.

They have the two women locked in the bedroom of her family's summer cottage on Long Island and as ransom, they are demanding the release of five anarchists in the prison known as

The Tombs.

Malone frets angrily as officials surrounding the Mayor debate the effect that releasing the anarchists might have on his chances in the mayoral election next day, and Forte himself rejects an offer of help from FRANK PADUA, mistrusting it because of Padua's association with the Mafia.

But, helped by a Negro policeman, CAPTAIN JOHN JEFFERSON, Malone surreptitiously visits Padua and forcibly compels him to arrange an interview for them with his "connection," Mafia don AUGUSTE GIUFFRE.

Working on then from a hint given by Giuffre, Malone and Jefferson eventually learn that LATROBE, youngest of the anarchists, is actually MARK BIRMINGHAM whose parents, WILLARD and ELIZABETH BIRMINGHAM, live on Long Island.

They press on to interview them. But when a remark by Mrs. Birmingham makes Malone ask sharply whether they have any other children, she falls instantly silent and her husband abruptly leaves the room. NOW READ ON:

MALONE was preparing to follow, but Jefferson shook his head. Mrs. Birmingham sat quite still, staring at the two policemen, and in a few moments her

husband returned, carrving a large leather folding

frame.  

In it, facing each other with quiet, knowing smiles, were Mark Birmingham and a beautiful dark-haired

girl.

That's Mark, taken just before he went to College.   And this is Julie, our daughter, taken in her last year at

college."  

"Where is she now?" Malone asked.

Birmingham hesitated, looked at his wife. Then: we don't know. We haven't heard from her for almost

four years."

"Any reason for that?"

Birmingham sat down beside his wife again, looked

at the two photos in the frame, then with an effort folded it shut. '"You must wonder what sort of parents

we've been ..."

Malone could feel sympathy for them welling up inside him. Whatever they had done, they had done it for what they had thought were the best of reasons. But his only interest was in getting Lisa back alive and

unhurt.. .

"Mr. Birmingham—" he began. But Birmingham

didn't hear him.

"Julie wasn't like Mark. She was much more

outgoing. She lived our sort of life. She was doing so well—" His voice broke suddenly.

His wife put her hand on his. then looked at Malone and Jefferson. "She met this boy. this Roy Bates. He was very political —"

"Was he an anarchist?" Jefferson said.

"I wouldn't be surprised —"

Birmingham shook his head. "Be fair, Liz. We don't know. We only met him twice —"

"Three times — counting the wedding. They were married at City Hall. Julie and I used to talk about what her wedding would be like —I wouldn't have   minded how she was married if I'd thought she'd be happy —"

"We had no confidence in the boy." said

Birmingham. "We couldn't see what she saw in him. He let us know right from the start that he had no time

for what we stood for."

"Where is he now?"

"He's dead. He was killed in a demonstration at one

of the small colleges. He was hit by a policeman and he was dead before they got him to the hospital. There was an inquest and the policeman was exonerated. But

Julie —"

"I remember the case." said Jefferson, face

expressionless. "Your daughter thought the cop was to

blame?"

Birmingham hesitated, then nodded.

"She said the policeman went berserk and clubbed her husband to death. We tried to tell her that perhaps the policeman had been provoked — you're human like

the rest of us —"

"Where did vour daughter go after her husband's

death?"

"She came home here for a week, then one day she

just disappeared. There'd been no argument with us

she just walked out one night when we were out. No goodbye, nothing. Mark had a card from her about six months later, saying she was well and not to worry about her. She had always had a great deal of affection

for him."

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RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 51

"Did you ever try to trace her?"

"Of course," said Mrs.   /Birmingham sharply. "We    

disagreed with her, but we

loved her. We wanted her back—" "Mr. Birmingham, two of  

the phone calls we have had from the kidnappers have come from a woman. Its a long shot —" Jefferson glanced at Malone.

"If you're thinking what I'm thinking, it is a long shot" said Malone. "But what other odds have we got? Mr. Birmingham, there's a chance that that woman could be your daughter."

"How do you arrive at an idea like that?"

"The men in The Tombs claim they have no idea who's trying to engineer their release — and we believe them. But someone must have some connection with them. Your daughter could be getting her revenge on cops, all cops, through her brother — without his knowing it —"

"Julie a kidnapper?" Mrs. Birmingham gasped. "Our children aren't monsters —"

"We didn't say they were," said Jefferson. "But if your son was involved in the bombing and your daughter had anything to do with this kidnapping, then they have committed a couple of

monstrous crimes. And we

want to stop them before they go further.

"They have already told us that if we do not agree to the ransom demands, Inspector Malone and the Mayor will not see their wives again." Jefferson was leaning forward now, speaking brutally.

"We know at least one of

the phone calls tonight came from Long Island, out at Patchogue. Do you know anyone out that way who might be sheltering your daughter?"

"Patchogue?" Birming- ham shook his head.

Then Malone said, "Where was that photo over there taken? The one of you

on that boat?"

A slight frown crossed Birmingham's face. "Sunday Harbor. We have a summer cottage out there, and a

boat."

"That's farther out on the Island," Jefferson told

Malone. "Does your daugh- ter know of it, Mr. Birmingham?"

"Yes. We bought it when

she was a child."

"When were you lasi

there?"

"Last summer. Months ago."

Jefferson stood up and Malone followed him, seeing the quickening interest in the

other man's face.

"We'd like you to take us

there. Mr. Birmingham would you and your wife get dressed as quickly as

possible, please?"

The Birminghams stood up, hands still clasped. They

both looked afraid, suddenly aged.

"You don't have any right  

—" Birmingham began.

"If your daughter is not out at the cottage, if she is

not involved in this kidnapping, you can file a complaint with the Commissioner and I'm sure

you'll get satisfaction. If she

is out there, if she is one of the kidnappers, I think she as well as us, will need your help."

The Birminghams looked at each other. Then Willard

Birmingham, still holding his wife's hand, led her out of the room and upstairs.

"Do you think Sunday Harbor might be the place?"

Malone asked.

"It could be. These summer resorts are pretty deserted this time of year.

But we can't go it alone from here on. When I've got the exact address, I'll call Headquarters. We'll take the Birminghams with us, meet the local cops out there —"

Then out in the hall there

was the click of a phone being lifted. Jefferson whirled, moving surprisingly quickly for a man of his bulk, and was out in the hall in half a dozen strides.

Malone followed him, grabbed the phone on the

small table against one wall as Jefferson ran up the stairs. ................................................................

Carole sat in one of the bedroom chairs and watched

the two women as they ate the chili con carne she had

brought them. She had made no comment when Sylvia

Forte a little earlier had

suggested that she was afraid

of Abel.

But the longer she sat

here the more she realised

the Mayor's wife was right.

She was afraid of Abel and

she did not know how she was going to handle him. Especially if the storm kept

up.

"Will this storm make any

difference?" Lisa asked. "I mean to your plans?"

Carole looked at her

suspiciously, then decided it was not a trick question. This was |ust conversation.

"Possibly. All the airports

have been closed. But don't

be hopeful —we're not going   to release you till our friends

are safe in Cuba."

"Did you speak to our husbands again?"

"Not to Mrs. Forte's. But

I spoke to your husband."

"How did he sound?"

Carole smiled. not unkindly. "Worried."

"Poor darling." Lisa

looked at the food left on her

plate, then put the plate down on the dressing-table.

Sylvia too had stopped eating. She suddenly put down her plate and lay back

on the bed. Then she found

she was looking at the blank spaces on the walls where the pictures had hung.

"What pictures did you

have there?" she asked.

Carole remembered how often she had lain on the bed

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RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 53

where Sylvia lay: as a child a young girl, even as a   widow when she had come

with her parents for two  

days after Roy's death.

The pictures had been ones she had brought home from her one trip abroad. It had been just after she had met Roy and he had persuaded her to accompany  

him on a charter flight to

Russia.

They had gone there, ninety young middle-class Americans seeking the truth as Roy had told her. She had been interested only in him

Roy had taken the pictures of himself and herself saluting all the Communist icons, even toasting a picture of Lenin; and she had hung them here in this room, really to annoy her parents for their opposition to Roy.

When she had come here to the cottage last week she had been surprised to find the pictures still hanging on

the walls.

Maybe she didn't know her parents quite as well as she thought she had; maybe they had kept this room exactly as it had been, hoping some day she would come back. Suddenly she loved them again and

wanted to see them.

"I'd never seen this place till a week ago." She stood up quickly, picked up the tray with the plates and went out, locking the door behind

her.

Lisa turned her head and looked at Sylvia. "This is her room, you know."

"What does it matter

now?" Sylvia was utterly dispirited. She had been thinking of her children, regretting how little time she had spent with them over the last four years.

Lisa turned her head on

the pillow and began to weep silently, grieving for the happiness that she was going to miss before it had really begun.

Out in the living-room Carole glanced at the

television set.

"Have they discussed what we've done?" she asked

Abel.

"No, they said nothing Maybe they been told not

to."

Carole turned down the sound. She sat down on the floor at Abel's feet, leaned on his knee. They had taken off their wigs and dark glasses: they had nothing to hide from each other. Or so she hoped he would believe.

"If this storm keeps up what are we gonna do?" His hand caressed the top of her head; he got immense pleasure just from touching her. "They said on TV it   letting up down south, but could go on for another day.

"That's gonna be a long time, baby."

"Those men in The Tombs, they're going to be there an even longer time if

we don't get them out."

You think they appreciate what were doing? I never

really been sure how much they mean to you—

personally, I mean. You sure

you never met any of 'em?

One of 'em isn't —wasn't  

someone you — ?"

"Loved?" She smiled, shook her head. She

recognised the jealousy in him and worked quickly to douse it. She pulled his face down to hers and kissed him.

"Honey, I told you — it's nothing but political. It's our duty — we believe in the same things those men do."

He kissed her back, convinced again, because he wanted to be convinced, that she loved him.

"I been listening to the

news. We're world-wide —

it's all over, everywhere, Europe, Africa, everywhere. We'll get 'em out, baby." He stroked her neck, felt the satiny skin under his fingers.

"Let's go and lay down, baby. It may be a long day

tomorrow —"

I don't want him making love to me again, she thought. He had become physically repulsive to her. But she needed him, had to bind him to her till at least

noon today.

They moved toward the

main bedroom at the front of

the house, forgetting the television set still beaming its silent pictures in the corner of the room. They did not

see that an announcer, face

as serious as that of a priest beside a grave, had come on

the screen.

As they went through the doorway the announcer disappeared and Michael Forte, looking equally

serious, came on the screen.

In the bedroom Carole undressed and climbed into bed beside Abel. Then she

sat up. "I've left the car out in the driveway."

"Forget it, baby. No- body's gonna see it tonight. I'll put it in the garage before daylight."

When finally they fell asleep, she turned away from him, he with his arms wrapped round her. When the phone beside the bed rang once, they both came awake instantly. Carole, nearer to the phone, automatically reached for it, but it had gone silent again.

Lisa, lying awake in the other bedroom, heard the single ring. She saw Sylvia

lift her head.

"Did you hear that?"

"The phone?" Sylvia said. "Yes. But why didn't it ring further? Do you think it was some sort of message for

them?"

"Who from? Do you think there is someone else in this with them?"

But they had no answers.

"Listen! Is the storm

easing off?" Lisa said then.

Sylvia struggled up, her

head cocked to one side.

There certainly was a waning

of the tumult outside.

"How long do hurricanes

take to blow themselves out?"

"It could be a perfectly fine day in four or five hours," Sylvia said.

"Then those men could

be on a plane for Cuba by eight or nine o'clock. Perhaps earlier."

"Yes." Sylvia lay back', stared up at the ceiling.

"Today's Election Day. I'd forgotten about it."

"Do you want to go on being — what do they call you? In Sydney she's the Lady Mayoress."

"In America you're never anything but your husband's wife, whatever he happens to be. I'm the Mayor's wife, nothing more." She was still staring at the ceiling. "I don't know — I mean, if I want to go on being the Mayor's

wife.

"Just being Michael's

wife is enough. None of this would have happened — to you or me — if I'd been a nobody, I'm sorry." she ended rather forlornly. ......................................................................

"That was a stupid thing to try," said Jefferson. "Do you want all four of you to finish up in prison?"

"I didn't stop to think." Mrs. Birmingham, in a white raincoat and hood, sat slumped in the back seat of the car beside Malone. "It was a mother's instinct."

Your mother's instinct has

been slow up till now. Malone thought.

By now he had placed all his bets on the Birminghams' daughter being one of the kidnappers and Lisa being in the cottage out at Sunday

Harbor. He shut his mind

against the thought of what his reaction might be if thc cottage should prove to be

empty.

They were on the Long Island Expressway again,

deserted at this hour of the

morning but for the occasional police car looking for vehicles that might have

broken down in the storm.

The four of them rode in

a prickly silence for several miles. Then Elizabeth Birmingham glanced at the dark, stiff profile beside her.

"If our daughter has — has kidnapped your wife and Mrs. Forte, then I suppose we're to blame in some way."

"Not necessarily." Ma- lone realised she was trying to offer him some sympathy. He turned toward her, softening his tone. "Don't torture yourself with the idea, Mrs. Birmingham. Your daughter, whatever

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RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 57

she's done, has chosen

own life."

"I sometimes wonder," said Elizabeth Birmingham, and looked at the silent shape of her husband sitting beside Jefferson in front of

her. "Though that's the first time I've ever admitted it anyone."

Her husband looked back at her. "We should've been franker with each other. Because I've often wondered the same thing myself."

Dear Christ, never let Lisa and me have secrets from each other, not if they lead to situations like this.

Then Jefferson said, "Do you know the cops out at Sunday Harbor?"

"Just casually. I've never had any cause to call on them for anything." said Birmingham.

Jefferson had phoned Police Headquarters and he knew that Police Captain Lewton and probably someone from the FBI would already be on their way out to the far end of the

Island.

Headquarters would have contacted the Sunday Harbor

police and the Suffolk County Sheriffs Department and asked them to watch the Birmingham cottage but to make no move till Lewton and the FBI men had

arrived.

Until they did arrive Jefferson knew he would have to be the liaison man and he was always very much aware of his color and his rank whenever he had to deal with out-of-town cops.

There were still a lot of country law enforcement officers who could not understand how a coon had got to be a captain.

He noticed the car had

seemingly picked up speed

of its own accord.

"I think the storm's easing up. We could be lucky."

"How?" asked Malone.

"You want that plane to be able to get off, don't

you?"

Birmingham turned his head away. In the back seat his wife drew her hood about her face and began to weep quietly. Malone sat unmov- ing beside her, his eyes

gazing unseeingly out at the

rain.

By the time they reached Sunday Harbor the wind has dropped to no more than gentle blow with occasional strong gusts, but it was still raining, a steady downpour.

Two local police cars and four cars from the Sheriff's

Department were parked at

the end of the street to which

Birmingham had directed Jefferson. They were without lights and Jefferson switched off his own lights as soon as

he saw them.

A man in a slicker and

rain-hat got out of one of the cars and came running through the rain. Malone opened the back door and the man got in, apologising for bringing so much water

with him.

"I'm Jack Narvo, the Deputy Sheriff of the county," he said in a light, friendly voice. "Which is Captain Jefferson?"

"I am," Jefferson said, and there was a moment's pause.

"Well, Captain." Narvo

went on. "We have three more cars down at the other end of the street and two in the street behind this one, in case your guess proves

correct. One of my men has

been down to the house, checked the car in the

driveway beside it. It has Missouri plates."

"We don't know anyone from Missouri," said Birmingham.

Jefferson introduced the

Birminghams and Malone.

"We're pretty sure there's someone in the house, but we don't know how many. The car's been out tonight. The motor's cold, but in this weather it could have cooled

off pretty quick. But there are tracks in the gravel of the driveway that haven't been washed out yet."

"Your man seems pretty observant," said Jefferson.

"We try to be." The light voice just for a moment lost its friendliness; but it was impossible to tell whether he resented being compliment- ed by a city cop or a black

cop.

"The Sheriff and the local

police chief are away on an administration course — this

is usually the quiet time of the year for us. This part of town is unincorporated, so it comes under my jurisdic-

tion."

Here we go again, thought Malone, with the jurisdictional protocol.

"Well, you talk it over with Captain Lewton and the FBI when they get out here," said Jefferson. "Kidnapping is a Federal offence, so I

guess the FBI are running things now. That looks like

Captain Lcwton arriving

now."

He and Narvo got out of the car, leaving Malone alone with the Birminghams.

The husband reached back over the front seat and took his wife's hand.

"She may not be in there

after all, dear. This sort of thing isn't Julie —"

"I know it isn't. But —" Then both of them looked at Malone.

"Look." said Malone

quietly. "I've been a cop for quite a long time. One thing that keeps repeating itself in my experience is the number of parents who don't know

their children. You don't

seem to have known your

son too well. What makes

you think you knew your daughter?"

"You sound as if you

want her to be in there!"

Mrs. Birmingham sat

forward to be closer to her husband.

"All I want is for my wife — and Mrs. Forte — to be in

there, and alive. I don't care

who the kidnappers are — but if your daughter is in there, I'm hoping that you can talk her into letting my

wife and Mrs. Forte come

out safely. What happens after that, I don't care."

The Birminghams looked at each other, then the husband said, "We'll try, Inspector."

Then Jefferson came

back, opened the door of the

car and leaned in out of the rain.

"They're busting into the house opposite yours, Mr. Birmingham. They're gonna set that up as the command post. Captain Lewton would like you down there. We can't take the car down, but we should be able to get

down there on foot without

whoever is in your house seeing us."

Five minutes later the  

four of them, their lower legs

drenched and their shoes covered in mud, were in the

large kitchen of the house

across the street from the Birminghams'.

On the way down Malone had tried to catch a glimpse of the cottage where Lisa might be held, but darkness, the heavy rain and the need to hurry had prevented him.

"Oh, what a mess we're making," said Flizabeth Birmingham. "I hope Nell Royce will understand."

"This is Dr. Royce's house," said her husband. "I hope you did no damage when you were breaking in."

It was a large house, built ranch style in fieldstone and

timber, and the kitchen reminded Malone of illustra- tions he had seen in the

American home magazines Lisa had started buying once they had become engaged.

He wondered what sort of

money the owners had that they could leave such a house closed up for six months of the year.

"We broke the lock on the back door there." Lewton

was brusque: he had no patience with a couple who

seemed more concerned with

their neighbors' property than with who might be in

their own house.

"Sheriff Narvo has made a note of it and we'll see the

damage is repaired. We've also had the phone

reconnected —we'll let Dr.  

Royce know about that too."

"Who's in charge?" asked Birmingham.

"Is it any concern of yours. Mr. Birmingham?"

"Yes! If my daughter is

across thc street there, I don't want you busting in, maybe harming her. Maybe even — killing her!"

His wife gasped and he put his arms around her.

Lewton looked at them both,

then he jerked his head and

went out of the kitchen toward the front of the house. Several of the men followed him. Jefferson

looked at Malone, then they

too followed.

The light was on in the kitchen, but the rest of the house was in darkness. Malone found himself in a

wide hall dimly lit by a guarded flashlight held by a local patrolman who stood with his back to the heavy

front door.

Lewton and the other

men were in the big living-room off to one side of the hall, only their voices telling Malone and Jefferson where they were.

"Inspector Malone," said Lewton, "we have to make up our minds whether to

rush that house across the

street or just wait till they come out. Assuming, of course, that the people over

there are the ones we want. If your wife and Mrs. Forte are across the street, do you want us to run the risk of rushing the place?"

Malone could only dimly

To page 67

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 59

see the other men, but he could read their minds. He didn't blame them for what I read there. No cop ever Canted to take the whote blame for something that

might go wrong.

"No, I don't," he said. "Back home I've been in two cases in the past twelve months where the set-up was something like this. Not a kidnapping, but blokes wanted for armed robbery.

"At the first place the bloke gave up without a struggle — he had a gun but he didn't even fire a shot from it. The second bloke went berserk. He even killed the dog he had in the house with him. and he wounded two of my mates before he finally blew his own brains

out.

"Fifty-fifty, that's my experience of what chances you've got when you rush a place. I want better odds than that for my wife."

Lewton sensed that the men around him agreed with Malone. It relieved him of a decision he would not have cared to make alone. There would have been no future at all for a captain of detectives who gave an order that might

have resulted in the death of the Mayor's wife.

"We'll play it safe then. We'll have Birmingham call

his house, talk to his

daughter if she's there. If it's

not her in there and whoever it is refuses to come out, we'll sit it out till daylight. Then I

think it'll be time for a collective decision."

Lisa, struggling up out of the abyss of exhaustion, heard the telephone ringing out in the living-room and in the other bedroom. She

looked across at Sylvia, who

was also wide awake.

"Someone must know

we're here! Why don't they

answer it?"

"Listen! I think they're arguing —"

Carole, pulling a wrap round her, had come out into

the living-room, followed by

Abel, who was still naked.

She reached for the phone, but Abel grabbed her hand.

"Don't touch it. It's a trick

"What sort of trick? Who knows we're here?"

"It could be your folks -" That had been one of her few mistakes, to tell him that this cottage was her family's;

it would be the one clue he would have to her identity when she finally left him and disappeared again.

The information had

slipped out when he had asked her why she had chosen Sunday Harbor; even after four years she had not become fully professional at retaining her cover.

She was proving every

minute that she was no more than an amateur in this

whole game.

"You sure you didn't tell

someone we were here?"

"No!" She could see

suspicion and anger making him ugly; she sought desperately for a reason why the phone should have rung:

"Someone must have seen the car outside —"

"I'll go put it in the garage. But if someone's being curious we gotta get outa here before daylight."

The phone stopped ringing. Abel looked at it,

then in the sudden silence lifted his head.

"The storm — it's going, baby! That's only rain! We're gonna be okay!"

He grabbed her, kissed her, then went quickly back

into the front bedroom.

Carole remained standing in the living-room, still afraid and now suddenly dispirited.

In a few minutes Abel came out, dressed and pulling on a raincoat. "Get some clothes on, honey. Then you better get the dames ready while I clean up

around here."

He went out through the kitchen, opened the back

door.

It was still dark, but he could tell at once that the

rain was coming straight down now, not beating almost horizontally as it had been. He pulled up the collar

of his raincoat, and ran round the corner of the

house to the driveway.

He was about to pull open

the door of the car when the

searchlight beam hit him. He staggered back against the

wall of the house as if he had

been hit a physical blow; he threw up his hands against the blinding glare and turned his face away.

A cry of anger and shock escaped him, then he spun

round and ran back into the house. He slammed the kitchen door shut, locked it

and leaned against it. breathing heavily and trembling.

Then he heard the phone in the living-room start to ring again.

In the kitchen of the house across the street

Cartwright held the phone to his ear, then raised a warning hand to the others waiting

around him.

"This is the FBI. We have

you surrounded. If you come out with your hands up, you

won't be hurt."

Abel, on the other end of the line, swore savagely.

"Get away or something's gonna happen here you

won't like!" he snarled.

Cartwright put his hand over the phone, looked at

Lewton.

"You better withdraw

that squad car with the

searchlight, Ken. This guy, whoever he is, sounds nasty."

"Is my daughter there?" said Willard Birmingham. "Ask him if I can speak to

her."

Cartwright spoke into the phone again. "Is Julie Birmingham there?"

"Who?" Abel's note of

puzzlement was genuine.

Then he looked at Carole and all at once knew who she

was. He felt suddenly empty.

What other lies had she told him?

"You Julie Birmingham? That your real name?"

Carole hesitated, then

nodded. "Who is it? Is it my parents?"

Abel stared at her, beginning to hate her. How had she conned him, got him into this? He spoke into the phone again.

"Who wants to talk to her?"

Across the street Willard

Birmingham took the phone

in the kitchen while Lewton

went through and picked up the extension in the hallway.

Birmingham said, "I'd like to talk to my daughter - please . . . Julie?" For a

moment he looked as if he were about to break down. His wife stood close to him, her ear pressed against the phone as he held it to his

own ear.

"Julie dear, what's going on? How did you get into this terrible mess? Do you have the Mayor's wife and Mrs. Malone with you?"

Julie did her best to keep her voice steady.

"Daddy, I'm sorry about this — I didn't want you and

Mother involved —"

Mrs. Birmingham choked

on a sob and her husband

put his free arm around her.

"We believe that, Julie — we know you didn't mean to

harm us. But we're in it now

and all we want to do is help you. You and Mark —"

"I did it for him, you understand that, don't you?" Julie was weeping, unable to hold back the banked-up years of lost love.

Her father and mother

were wrong, would never change, but they had loved

her and she had loved them

and that was something she

knew now would never

change. But she had come to

know it too late.

"I don't want to harm Mrs. Forte and Mrs. Malone.

All I want is for Mark to go free - get them to agree to that, put Mark and the other men on the plane to

Cuba—"

Abel grabbed the phone

from her.

"We gotta be with them now, you understand? Tell 'em that, Pop — tell 'em we gotta be on that plane for Cuba too! And the dames go with us — we're gonna give 'em back to you when we're

safe in Cuba!"

Lewton cut in on the extension.

"This is Captain Lewton, of the New York Police Department. We'll have to get back to you — we'll have

to check with the District

Attorney that you can go on that plane with those men — "

"You better see we do,

man —"

"I'm sure they'll agree to what you ask, but I have to

contact them first. We'll be

back to you. If you want to contact us, we're across the street from you, in Dr. Royce's house. The number

is —"

"We got nothing more to say to you, man. You call us when you got the word."

Lewton hung up, went

back out to the kitchen.

Cartwright followed him.

"I was listening on the bedroom extension, Ken. They don't know anything

about the Cubans and the

Algerians refusing to let them in. They can't have a

TV set or a radio."

"There's a TV in our

house," said Birmingham.

"Or there was when we

closed it up."

"I suggest we get on to the TV and radio stations, tell them to cancel the running of those tapes at once," Special Agent Butlin said.

"I'll talk to Headquarters now," said Lewton. "How's the weather?"

"The rain's stopped," said Sheriff Narvo. "Look, we've got more than enough men

outside to handle 'em. It looks like there's no more

than two of them, the girl and the guy we saw out by

the car. Let's smoke 'em out-"

Lewton looked at Malone.

"It's still your call, Inspector. The safety of your

wife and Mrs. Forte is still our main consideration."

"Let's get 'em out in the open first," said Malone. "For one thing, I'd like to know my wife and Mrs.

Forte are still alive."

Malone and Jefferson

stood in the Royce driveway behind some bushes, gazing

across the street at the

Birmingham cottage. The rain had stopped, the clouds were clearing and daylight crept up the eastern sky.

"If I could get at them, I

think I'd kill that bloke and

that girl," Malone said. "I can't see any reason why the

world wouldn't be better off

without them. A cop's not supposed to think like that."

Jefferson looked across the street. Most of the houses

could be seen clearly now.

Then Lewton came down

the drive, keeping close to

the side of the house.

"The Mayor and the

Police Commissioner are on

their way out here by helicopter. We've been told to offer the kidnappers the deal they want - free passage for all of them to

Cuba. I'm afraid we'll have

to let your wife and Mrs. Forte go with them, Scobie."

Malone looked at him

sharply. "Have the Cubans changed their minds?"

"No. The idea is to get those people out of that

house. An aircraft is standing by at Kennedy Airport and

we'll escort them in there.

To page 69

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 67

"In the meantime what

happens to my wife and

Forte?"

There was enough day- light for Malone to see the blank look on Lewtons face.

"What else can you

them and hope — wait for them to make a mistake."

"If the Cubans still won't

play ball, what happens

then?"

Lewton looked as worried

as Malone.

"Scobie, I wish I knew. But I'm asking you — what else can we do unless those kidnappers make a mistake and we can take advantage

of it?"

"What about police marksmen?" asked Jefferson. "Could they pick them off when they come out?"

"There'll be everything waiting for us at Kennedy — police and FBI marksmen, the Emergency Service squad, the lot. But you can't pick a man off if he has a gun stuck in the side of Mrs.

Malone or Mrs. Forte." He stared across at the cottage.

"Our best bet, I thought, would be the girl — I thought with her folks here, we might have got through to her. But the young punk seems to be running things now — and no amount of talking is ever gonna get through to him."

Then a uniformed patrol-

man came round the back corner of the house.

"They're calling from across the street. Captain."

In the kitchen, Cartwright was on the phone. Lewton went past him into the hallway and picked up the phone there. Malone went into the living-room and picked up the phone he saw

on a side table.

Abel, still nameless to the men listening to him, was doing the talking.

"We're gonna get started now, pig. No delays, you

unnerstand? You have those guys from The Tombs out at

the airport by the time we get there. And no tricks. We're gonna have a gun on the women all the way. You give us a nice friendly escort and the women are gonna be all

right."

"Can I speak to my wife?" said Malone.

"Who's that?"

"Malone. I'd like to speak to my wife." Malone could

hear Lewton and Cartwright listening in on the other extensions. He was butting in on their jurisdiction, but he sensed their understanding.

Let me speak to her. just to

assure me she's all right."

suggest? Right now our only hope is to go along with

[ALL characters in serials and short stories which appear in The Australian Women's Weekly are

fictitious and have no reference to

any living person.]

"Look, man —" The voice came back to the phone. "You're gonna see your wife

in about two minutes —

you're gonna see she's okay. That's all the concession you gonna get. Now let's get moving —"

The phone went dead in Malone's ear. He slammed it down as Lewton and Cartwright came into the living-room.

"You're right. The girl hasn't got a say in it. He's running the show. If she's everything her parents say she is, how did she ever pick up with anyone like that?"

"We'll ask her that when

we take them," said Cartwright, and tried to sound hopeful.

Jefferson stood in the

living-room archway and

Lewton turned to him.

"John, radio the Commissioner and the Mayor, tell 'em to turn back and meet us at Kennedy. We'll go in along Sunrise,

then on to the Southern State, across on Laurelton, then on to the Belt Parkway.

"That should give us the clearest route — at this time

of morning there shouldn't

be too much traffic around.

We'll drop Sheriff Narvo and his men off at the county

line — ask the Nassau

County fellers to pick us up

there and take over the

escort.

"Our own men can meet

us at the Queens line and take us on to the airport. Tell 'em to get a bull team out on bikes, clear the traffic ahead as much as they can. Give strict orders no one is to try anything on his own — we'll

play the game strictly according to their rules."

Then Sheriff Narvo came

into the hallway, flung open

the front door.

'"He's come out of the

house to the car — he's got

one of the women with him!"

The men in the living

room went out of the house in a rush, unconcerned now with remaining hidden. They stood outside the front door, at the top of the sloping

lawn.

Across the street Abel had come out of the front door of

the cottage, pushing Lisa ahead of him and keeping

himself screened by her from the police cars that had now

come down the street.

The cars were parked in the middle of the roadway, their two-man crews stand- ing behind them, their guns

out of their holsters but held

out of sight of the armed man they were all watching. Four motor cycle cops were standing behind the line of

cars.

Lewton took a bullhorn

from one of the patrolmen

and handed it to Malone.

'it may encourage your wife to know you're here."

To page 72

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 69

Malone gratefully took the bullhorn, aimed it across the street. "Lisa! This is Scobie!"

Lisa missed her step, pulled up and looked wildly around, then over toward

Malone. Abel moved in closer behind her, putting his arm around her and shoving the gun hard into her back.

But Lisa, eyes straining to see the familiar figure standing in front of the house across the street, felt neither Abel's arm nor his gun. "Scobie!"

"Are you all right?"

She nodded, then she managed to shout, "Yes!"

"Mrs. Forte — how's she?"

"She's all right!"

It was an inane conversa- tion, Malone's bullhorned bellow booming across the quiet street, and Lisa's thin, exhausted voice shrieking her replies. But every simple word had a poignancy for those listening. All but Abel.

He shoved Lisa into the front seat of the car, got in beside her. And then it became obvious that the car wouldn't start.

"If it's been out there all

night, it could have water in the plugs," said Cartwright.

Abel got out of the car, pushing Lisa ahead of him again. "We want one of the squad cars!" he shouted.

"He can have mine." Jefferson made to move down the path.

"Stay where you are. Pig'"

Abel pushed Lisa ahead

of him around to the front of the house. The front door

opened again and Julie, holding a gun, came out with Sylvia Forte.

The four people on the other side of the street, the hostages in Tront and the kidnappers behind, moved like a small deputation down the driveway and out into the

road.

As they did so Malone

and the others moved down the path of the Royce house.

"That's far enough." Abel, one hand holding Lisa's arm tightly, brought his gun up menacingly. "We want your car, Captain - Lewton, you say your name

was? No tricks — which is

your car?"

Malone, now only forty feet away, stared at Lisa,

unable to believe the

nightmare of what was happening. Then he looked

at the other three who had

emerged from the house for the first time. Sylvia Forte

was even more wan and

exhausted-looking than Lisa. The young man with his long

blond hair looked like a thousand other kids all over the world; it was somehow galling that he should look so

anonymous.

But he would have picked

the girl out in any company

and he would remember her for ever. She looked as strained and exhausted as the other two women in front of her and she was as beautiful as either of them.

There was no look of defiance about her: she looked what she was, an ordinary girl who had suddenly found herself in a situation she could no longer

control.

"That's my car over there," Lewton said. "You're sure you want to go through

with this? You let Mrs. Forte

and Mrs. Malone go now and I'll do what I can for you

with the D.A."

Julie looked at Abel, but

he shook his head fiercely. She was not wearing her wig

and neither of them wore

their dark glasses.

"Nothing doing, pig,"

said Abel. '"You better be

sure that plane is waiting for us at Kennedy. Malone, don't you let 'em forget one minute that we got your wife —" He dug Lisa in the back with the gun.

"Just a minute," said Lewton. "To see we get a clear run right through to the airport, we'll precede you

with two cars and those four

motor cycle men - I'll be in

one of the cars. The other

cars will tail you. At the county lines they'll be changed each time —

"No tricks." he assured Abel as the latter stiffened

with suspicion. "We just want to get you to that plane as quickly and with as little fuss as possible."

"Well," said Abel, "we'll do it your way. But remember — anything happens to us, these two dames go out with tis."

The Police Department helicopter was over River head, when the message came

for it to turn back to Kennedy Airport.

"Keep going!" shouted Commissioner Hungerford

above the clatter of the

helicopter's blades, and the pilot nodded. "We'll turn

back when we see the

convoy."

Michael Forte and

Manny Pearl were sitting in the rear seats. As they flew on they saw flooded potato

fields. One or two houses had been unroofed and trees lay on their sides.

"There they are!" Hungerford pointed down.

"It looks like a Presiden- tial motorcade," said Forte. "Do they need all those

cars?"

Hungerford was looking at the scene below through binoculars. "I can count only eight police cars. Who are

the rest?"

Manny Pearl also had binoculars to his eyes.

"The other six are TV and

Press, I'd say. There's a guy

with a TV camera mounted on top of that station wagon."

The pilot swung the helicopter -about, took it down closer to the convoy of cars as it picked up Sunrise Highway.

Forte took the binoculars

from Manny Pearl and looked down, trying to pick out which car Sylvia might be in. He saw the third police car in the line waver a little, then caught a quick glance of someone as they looked out of the car and up at him.

But the angle was too

acute, the face too distorted

by the window glass, for him to be able to identify it.

In the rear seat of the car, Sylvia and Lisa sat side by side, each slumped in her own confused despair. Sylvia had looked out at the helicopter when it had clattered overhead.

Sitting in the front beside Julie, who was driving, Abel had turned back to them, his gun held on the back of the

seat.

"They got you watched from all angles, but it ain't gonna help you. That right, baby?"

Julie, driving the car with almost automatic reflexes nodded glumly. The last three-quarters of an hour had seen everything crumble

into bitter dust for her.

Worst of all. she had become Abel's prisoner though he might not yet think of her that way.

From the moment he had snatched the phone from her in the cottage she had known she had lost control of the whole operation. It was now just a war between Abel and the police: but he hated her too, the traitor in the ranks.

Abel reached for the microphone of the car radio.

"Captain, you hear me? Tell that chopper to get outa

here!"

"He's leaving now. It's —" Lewton's voice faded as his car passed under a bridge " and the Mayor."

At that Sylvia leaned quickly forward, but the helicopter was already swinging up and away, heading back toward Ken- nedy Airport. Abel switched

off the radio and looked back at her.

"He must be pretty worried, eh? Mrs. Malone's

[FROM THE BIBLE

God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?

— Job 9.4]

old man didn't look too good

either."

"Leave them alone." said Julie.

"You on their side? I been

waiting for you to tell me

that."

"I'm on nobody's side," she said dully.

"What about those guys

in The Tombs? That brother

of yours? Baby, did you use me! Nobody, not even my

old man. ever conned me like you've done!"

She continued to stare ahead of her, deaf to his abuse. He was one with

Carole Cox now, part of the past: she did not have to live with either of them any

more.

Once in Cuba she would find some way of escaping from him. But she felt sorry for the two women in the back of the car. God knew

what was going to happen to

them.

She slowed down as the police car up front began to slow. Abel swung round,

then relaxed.

"Must be a county line Mustn't forget — what you

call it. Teach?"

"Protocol," she said mechanically. They had completed the circle to their first relationship, teacher and

student: then she had been

as unresponsive to him as she

was now.

The Suffolk County cars

and motor cycle men peeled

off and the Nassau County

squad took over. Then the convoy sped on.

They were on the Southern State Parkway now

To page 74

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 72

and the traffic was thickening. The sirens were wailing and early morning drivers, pulling their cars over to the slow lanes as the bull team waved them aside, were staring out in puzzlement as the long cavalcade swept by.

By the time it had picked up the New York Police Department's escort and was approaching the airport, traffic on the parkway had

slowed to a crawl.

At the airport several mobile control trucks were

waiting, the producers telling their cameramen parked around the area what they

wanted.

In his town house in Manhattan Frank Padua had switched on the television set in his bedroom, watched it as his manservant brought in his breakfast tray.

He made no comment, vocal or mental, as he looked at the pictures on the screen. Whatever happened out at Kennedy Airport would make little, if any, difference

to his life.

"Tell them to have the car out front in an hour," he told the manservant. "Fm going

down to vote. You should vote too, Tony."

"Who would I vote for, Mr. Padua? Anyone in particular? Mr. Forte, maybe?"

Padua spread his hands. "Anyone you like, Tony. It's a free country."

In Brooklyn, Don Au- guste Giuffre came out of early Mass and went into the presbytery next door to the church for his usual morning cup of coffee with Father Lupi. He looked at the television set in the priest's study and shook his head in disapproval.

"It's a terrible world. Padre. Too much violence."

"I said Mass this morning

for the safe return of those poor women."

"I noticed, Padre. You're a thoughtful man."

"Are you going to vote for the Mayor today?"

"Who else? He's a nice Italian boy."

Giuffre looked back at

the screen. The long convoy had reached the airport, was moving down the perimeter

of the field to the far end. A big jet stood there and parked some distance from it was a semi-circle of police cars, trucks, buses, three ambulances, two fire engines and a helicopter.

He had to admire the efficiency of the City of New York, lt was just a pity it was in the wrong hands.

The radio in the police

car crackled and Lewton

said, "Yes? Any trouble?"

"Pig," said Abel, "what're you trying to pull? That army down there —you think   we're gonna drive into the

middle of that?"

"I had nothing to do with

that."

"You tell 'em they all

gotta get öuta there - and

remember, I can hear every word you say. But first, you pull your car outa this line - you and us are gonna stay right here till every one of

them is moved right outa

there."

Lewton, in the front seat with the driver, switched off for a moment and looked back at Cartwright, in the

back seat beside Malone.

"Do we agree to what he

wants?"

"What else can we do?"

Cartwright said.

Lewton spoke into the microphone again.

"All cars? Turn round and head back to the other end of the runway."

Then a gruff angry voice

came on the air as Lewton flicked the switch over.

"This is the Commission-

er, Captain. Who gave that

order?"

Lewton motioned to the driver to slow down, watched the other cars swing away and go back the way they

had come.

"With all due respect, Commissioner, the kidnap- pers are giving the orders.

They also want everyone moved away from the plane. We have to stay here till you

are all at the other end of the

runway. Special Agent Cartwright and I agree that we have no argument, sir.

"Our friend is getting impatient. Will you give the

order for the area to be cleared, sir?"

Three hundred yards down the perimeter the helicopter lifted off from beside the parked 707. Then

the police cars and trucks, the green buses, the fire engines and the ambulances pulled away and the long convoy came up the edge of

the field.

The big aircraft was left alone right out at the far end.

Then the radio in front of

Lewton crackled on again. "Okay, pig. Let's go."

As the two cars approached the plane Abel suddenly snapped, "Who's that? I said everbody outa there!"

"It's the Mayor," said Lewton. Michael Forte had

been standing by the foot of the steps leading up to the

aircraft. As the two cars

rolled to a stop, he stepped

forward.

"That's far enough!" Abel yelled, and his gun came out

of the window of the car.

"What you doing here?"

"I came to see that my wife is all right. I'm not

armed."

Another plane screamed

overhead and Abel waited

till it had gone. "Who's in the plane? You know?"

"The five men you asked

for and a crew of four."

Abel picked up the microphone.

"Commissioner you hear me? You in touch with the crew of that plane? Tell 'em I want 'em all outa there, tell 'em to come down to the bottom of the steps. And make it quick, pig!"

In the other car Cart-

wright looked at Malone and Lewton. "You're right, he's

smart. But what's with the

girl? Out at Sunday Harbor

she told her folks she did it for her brother - I got the feeling the whole idea was

hers."

"Me too," said Malone, and looked across again at

the other car. He could see

Julie Birmingham, her arms resting on the wheel, staring

ahead of her as if she had no interest at all in what was going on.

"If only we could get to

her -"

"How?" said Cartwright.

"Let's see what she does now."

The four members of the

plane's crew had come down out of the aircraft and stood at the foot of the steps. Julie holding a gun, got out of the car. Then unhurriedly, she walked across to the crew.

She gestured to each of the crew to come forward in  

turn, moved round behind   him and ran her free hand  

down over his coveralls.

"Three of those are FBI   men," said Cartwright. "The   other must be the pilot. I   hope he's being paid a good   rate for the job."

"She's going up into the

plane." said Malone, eyes   again on Julie Birmingham,   "I wonder if she'll pull   anything on him while she's   up in there?"

"What makes you think

she might?" Lewton asked.  

"I don't know that she

will. But she's our only  

Julie Birmingham ap- peared again at the door of   the plane, stood for just a   moment looking out and   about her, like some traveller   getting her first sight of New  

York, then she came down

the steps, still with the same   unhurried walk and crossed  

to the other car.

A moment later both offside doors swung open   and Abel, gun in hand, and  

Lisa and Sylvia got out.

Sylvia looked across at her husband, opened her   mouth, but whatever she said   was lost in the screaming   roar of another plane as it  

came in to land.

Then abruptly Malone opened his door and got out.

Abel swung round, the gun   coming up, and Malone,   tensing for the impact of the   bullet, flung up his hands.

"- - - - -shoot!" Only his

last word came out of the

shriek of a receding plane.

"Stay where you are Captain — you and the other   pigs get outa the car! Come on, move! Take your guns out and throw'em over here! Come on!"

For the first time there

was a note of panic in Abel's

voice. Suddenly his head was   ready to burst and he

remembered the attacks he used to have as a kid. He

mustn't slip out of himself

like he used to in those

attacks! They always finished up the same way, with him out like a light on the ground.

"Move, move!" he

shouted.

Lewton, Cartwright and the driver got out of the car, the driver moving round to join the others. The three of them took their guns from their holsters and tossed

them toward Abel.

"Pick 'em up, baby."

Julie, face expressionless, picked up the guns, put one in her handbag and handed

the other two to Abel. He

slid one into each pocket of his jacket, suddenly grinned.

His headache was easing, he wasn't going to have one of those attacks. Freedom lay just three or four steps

behind him.

Then Malone said, "I'm going with you."

"I'm going with you. I'm not armed, so you've got

To page 78

RANSOM  

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 74

nothing to worry about. But if anything happens to my wife, I want to be with her."

"'And I want to be with mine." said Michael Forte. 'Tm coming too."

"You think I'm crazy —"

"Let them come," said

Julie.

"Nothing doing!"

"We'll be two more

hostages," said Malone, speaking quietly but arguing

with more force than he had

ever done before. "If you

land in Havana with the

Mayor of New York, a political figure like Mr. Forte, as your hostage. Fidel Castro is going to give you

the freedom of Cuba."

"Still nothing doing," snapped Abel. But then another plane roared

overhead and in the few

seconds of ear-splitting noise the expression on his face changed. All his life he had been a nobody. Wouldn't it be something to be a somebody!

Then in the sudden return

of quiet Julie said, "If you don't let them come, Abel, then I don't go."

He turned his head

sharply and in that moment

Malone moved. He had never moved faster. Six or seven

yards separated him from

Abel and he covered the

distance in a running, diving

tackle.

He felt the bullet tear

through the shoulder of his raincoat, then he hit Abel around the knees and they

both went down as another

plane screamed overhead.

By the time the sound had coned away to silence.

Malone had knocked Abel unconscious.

He was still punching the thin, insensible face when

Lewton and Cartwright dragged him away.

"Did they tell you what I was trying to do to that bloke yesterday?" Malone shivered a little despite the warmth of

the overheated room where

they sat. "I was just like that cop who killed Julie Birmingham's husband."

"If her side of that story

was true," said Jefferson.

"Who are you trying to protect? Me or that cop?"

"I don't know that other

one, but I know you — or I

think I do."

"You don't, John. After

yesterday. I wouldn't place any bets that I know myself. One of my faults has been

that I've always got myself

too involved in a case. But I've never been as bad as I

was yesterday —"

"'Scobie, those two are locked up and they're gonna go up for a long stretch. You're a hero. Nobody's blaming you —"

"I don't care very much whether they are or not. It's what I feel myself. I just

don't think I was much of an advertisment for law and order."

They were in one of the VIP lounges at Kennedy.

Jefferson had driven the

Malones out to the airport,

and an airline official had

brought them in here to get them away from the attention of reporters and photographers.

Lisa had gone to the

ladies' room and Malone and

Jefferson had been left to say their regretful farewell to

each other.

Yesterday morning now seemed an age away. Malone had only a confused memory

now of what had happened after Lewton and Cartwright had pulled him off Abel.

Julie Birmingham had dropped her gun before anyone had demanded it of her and stood silently and listlessly as one of the FBI

men had run forward and

grabbed her.

Planes had continued to scream in overhead as

Cartwright and the other FBI men had run up into the

aircraft. There had been the

rising whine of sirens as the police convoy came speeding back along the perimeter.

Parker and the other four anarchists, all handcuffed to the one long chain, had come

out of the aircraft with

Cartwright and the FBI men following them. They passed close to Julie Birmingham.

"Mark!"

Mark Birmingham paused, the chain rattling as the others paused with him. His thin, serious face looked grey, the streak in his hair standing out like a white

scar.

"It was no use. Julie. But thanks —"

Then the convoy arrived, another plane roared overhead, and everything

had become an even more

confused memory. Malone and Lisa were put into a car, each holding the other's hand tightly: Michael and Sylvia Forte got into another

car.

Malone saw Willard andi Elizabeth Birmingham

standing helplessly by a

police car, trying to move   forward to their son and   daughter but held back by a  

barrier of four policemen.

Commissioner Hunger- ford was standing in the  

middle of a circle of senior police officers, and photographers were scurry- ing about, aiming their cameras. Then the cars carrying the Malones and the Fortes, escorted by four police cars, were screaming away from the scene.

The Malones, at the insistence of the Fortes, had stayed at Gracie Mansion.

"Sylvia and I want you to stay. If you're leaving

tomorrow, as you say, we'd like you to leave with at least one friendly impression of

New York."

By evening both Lisa and Sylvia had recovered from their ordeal, if only for the time being. Dinner had been a quiet affair, with only the Malones, the Fortes and their son and daughter and

old Sam Forte at the table.

The Malones had spent

the day together in their room, resting, and quietly and gently savoring the fact that they were together again

and that the horror of the past twenty-four hours was

over.

"Voting will finish in

another half-hour." said Sam

Forte as they were served coffee. "Are you going down to the Biltmore, Michael?"

"Only if we win."

"It will look ungracious if you lose and you don't go down there. But, of course, you'll win."

"Joe Burgmann called an hour ago. He said voting has been very light, the worst turn-out for years."

"lil feel differently tomorrow, I suppose," said Sylvia, "but the election now

seems anti-climatic —I  

mean, after what Lisa and I have been through."

"Inspector," said Pier. "I heard Captain Jefferson say last night you have some photos of Mrs. Malone. May I have one? The girls at school are going to be asking me what Mrs. Malone is

like—"

"I'd like one too," said her brother. "I think you and Mother are gonna be the pin-ups at school. For a while, anyway," he added with the unwitting callous- ness of his age.

Lisa smiled. "Ahead of

To page 92

RANSOM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 78

Raquel Welch? Of course. Your mother and I may never achieve such a rating again. Unless —" She looked across at Sylvia.

Sylvia shook her head: ambition was dead, or at most stone cold. "That's too

far off — another four years

at least."

"You mean the White

House?" said Roger. "I'll be in college by then and nobody there ever pins up a

President or his wife. I'd be

expelled or something."

"I'll wait until you're out of college, then," said

Michael Forte, and looked at his own father, "before I make my run."

"In the meantime," Sylvia said to the Malones, "please

come back and see us here."

Malone had grinned, shaken his head. "This city is too expensive for a cop on

my pay. Especially when it almost cost me my wife."

"He's always pinching pennies," said Lisa, but her

hand on Malone's told him

how priceless he was to her.

Now, at the airport, she was coming toward him and

Jefferson. The two men

stood up as she and the

airline official arrived at the

same moment.

"Inspector Malone, it's

time to board the aircraft."

Lisa put out her hand to Jefferson. "Goodbye. Cap- tain. I wish you could manage to come out our way

some time."

"I may do that," said

Jefferson. "Just to see how

you run things Down

Under."

"How do you think they'll run things here now?" said Malone, and opened the copy of The New York

Times he carried.

Jefferson shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. Somehow. 1 got the feeling the Mayor wouldn't

have minded if he had lost."

Malone spread out the front page of the newspaper, looked at the two photos side by side.

In one Michael and Sylvia

Forte stood frozen in the

moment they were about to step into the police car on the tarmac yesterday morning: their happiness was poig-

nant, their strained, tearful faces needing no smiles to highlight what they felt.

In the other photo, taken by flashlight in the lobby ot"

the Biltmore, their smiles were a face wide. Michael with one arm raised in the traditional salute of victory. But. whether it was a trick of the camera or the truth, there

was no light at all in his eyes.

"I'm glad the New York voters at least showed they had a heart," said Lisa. "It would have been callous if

they had voted for the other

man."

"I wonder," said Malone, and led Lisa toward the gate, the plane and home.

The End

(C) Sundowner Productions

Pty. Ltd. 1973.

The novel "Ransom" by Jon Cleary is published by

William Collins Ltd.

Jon Cleary

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