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VORTEX

BY JON CLEARY

What really lay behind Adele's secret visit

to the Blamey farm - continuing our serial

POLICE CHIEF JIM MCKECHNIE learns from DR STENHOUSE that MOLLY FARQUHAR, whose body was found under CLINT BLAMEY'S wrecked farmhouse, was shot dead. Molly and her husband GILBERT had spent all their married life at the home of Gilbert's widowed mother ADELE FARQUHAR. Gilbert's sister ROSE is there now dying of cancer, and when a shot is fired at the house, McKechnie fears that this was an attempt to kill United States Vice President WILLIS VANDERHORN, Rose s lover. Suspicion points to Gilbert, but LEE BARRON. McKechnie's fiancee who owns the local paper, clears him. McKechnie discovers that Molly was going away, apparently with Blamey. When he finds that Adele's late husband owned the gun that shot Molly, Adele admits that she drove out to Blarney's farm the night before and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Molly to return home. But when McKechnie suggests that Molly took the gun, the servant WILMA MAE

says she took it. NOW READ ON:

MCKECHNIE took Wilma Mac back to headquarters to question her further. Adele Farquhar had invited him to question Wilma Mae at the house then, when he had refused, she had tried to insist. "'She will answer your questions just as well here as down at your office -"

"I don't think so. She'll be afraid that \ou will overhear her."

"Are you suggesting my son and I will be eavesdropping?"

"I'm suggesting that Wilma Mae will be afraid of the house eavesdropping on her."

He wondered if that sounded too fanciful, then saw that the old woman understood. She was still a woman of the theatre, even though she had loni; left it,

7

and she understood the meaning and influence of atmosphere.

"Wilma Mae is entitled to have our

lawyer with her. We'll have to get him over from Springfield." Farquhar said.

"I don't want no lawyer man. Mr Gil.

We got enough outsiders worrying us

now."

"That's true." Adele Farquhar didn't look at McKechnie. but he knew that he and Vice President Vanderhorn were the unwelcome intruders. "We'll do as YOU ask. Wilma Mae. No lawyer."

Driving through thc intermittent rain back to headquarters. McKechnie said. "When I start asking you the questions.

To page 167

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 165

Wilma Mac. |iist tell me thc truth. All of it, not just part of it."

She leaned her head wearily hack aeainst the wire grille that separated the front seat from the rear "That where you pul the bad 'uns. Chief?"

.'.lust the violent ones. You're not one of those."

"I ain't done a violent thing in my whole life. I feel like it sometimes. But 1 never done it."

"Did you feel like il last night?"

She closed her eyes and said nothing.

At headquarters, he took her into his office, sat her down, gave her coffee, which she didn't touch.

"Why did you lake the gun?" he asked. ."I was scared for Mi/ Farquhar." "Which Mrs Farquhar?"

"They only one Mi/ Farquhar, far's I concerned. I don't mean Mi/ Molly."

"Well win were you scared for Mrs Farquhar?"

"She going out at midnight on her own. onlv me with her. I told you this morning. I

don't trusts the dark."

"Was that ihe only reason - you didn't trust the dark? Come on. Wilma Mae. You

were scared of more than thal. Why did you go with her anyway? Did she ask \ou

to?"

"Course she did. I mean, after I offered.

I hear her go downstairs and 1 follow her

"Where were you? Isn't your bedroom

off the kitchen?"

"Yeah. Bul 1 was upstairs, sitting the

end of the hall near Miss Rose's bedroom. Just in case I hear her call."

"Where was Mr Gil?"

"He in the bedroom with Miss Rose.

But he asleep in his chair. I peeked in. seen him like that. Then Miz farquhar go downstairs and 1 go after her. She told me go to bed. bul I just stand there, and in the end she ask me to go with her. She glad lo have me. I think. She go oui to get the car outa the garage and I go'n get the gun."

"Did she know you had it?"

"Not then."

"What do you mean - not then'.'"

She stared at him, then shook her head.

"1 done tell you enough. Chief."

"I can lock you up. Wilma Mae. till you decide to tell me all you know."

"I knows that. Chief. It don't worn me none, being locked up. 'Cept 1 wanna be home when Miss Rose goes to the Lord. You gonna stop me bein<> there then.

Chief?"

He let out a deep breath, a half-sigh. "If 1 let you go home till till Miss Rose dies. w>ll you promise to tell me the truth

tomorrow?"

"' done tell you the truth."

"Not all of it. Mrs Molly was going avvay with Mr Blame\. Do you know if she took many clothes with her '""

I look in her room this morning. She

took two bags, mebbe three. All her good clothes, they gone."

"Did she ever confide in you about why she went up to St Louis every month?"

"No.'* Lhere was no hesitation. "That

her business she keeps to herself."

McKechnie stood up and she got slowly

out of her chair. " Thank you. Chief. You

an understanding man."

An understanding man and a discreet

one. He had never received st) manx

citations in one day.

There was a knock on the office door,

then il opened and Roley Trubauer said. "Bud and I've just had dinner. Chief. We're going out again now."

"Hold it. Roley. Maybe \ou can drive Mrs R o berry home."

"1 can walk." said Wilma Mae, gathering her coat and her strength about her. "I ain't had a breath of air today ." She went out past Trubauer and Bud Grierson.

"Old Mrs Farquhar and Wilma Mae paid a visit out to Clint Blarney's last night. They went there looking for Molly,"

McKechnie told the other two men.

Trubauer whistled softly and Grierson looked dourly surprised. '"Had Clint abducted her or something?"

"No, Molly went out to his place on her own. Thev were going away together, but something went wrong." He opened the drawer in his desk, took out the gun and

the box of ammunition. "I haven't had the bullets checked vet. but it's odds-on that's

the gun killed Mollv. i'll send them up to Joplin tomorrow, have their ballistics guys

look at them."

?"Clint's?" said Grierson. "A fancy gun

like that?"

"It belonged to Senator Farquhar, one of a pair. Wilma Mae took it out with her last night."

"You mean she shot Molly?"1

"if she did it was an accident. But I

don't think she fired the gun or even intended to. She was just scared of thc dark. She took it for protection."

.'Who took the gun from her then'.'" said Trubauer. "'To shoot Mollv. I mean."

"That's something I'm still working on."

Mckechnie said. '"That's win we need

("lint in here as soon as you can get a hand on him." He stood up.

"I'm going to move around town, find out more about Molly. The more 1 get into this, the more I realize we don't know much about her."

"Molly Farquhar had her own ac- count." said George Milburn. "So has Gil. They've always had separate accounts, as long as 1 can remember."

McKechnie had called Milburn, the

president of the bigger of the town's two banks, asked if the Farquhars banked with him. then suggested that Milburn should meet him down at the First Citizens'. The banker, puzzled but curious, had been waiting for McKechnie when he arrived.

The police chief had walked across the square to the bank. It stood on a corner, the most modern building in town, all granite and glass.

"Molly took out 2200 dollars Friday," said Milburn, running a well-manicured finger down an account statement.

"Did she often take out amounts as

large as that?"

Milburn shook his head. He had a soft voice, unobtrusive good manners and was always impeccably groomed. He was one of the leaders of the First Baptist, the town's biggest church, and he had twice been mayor. He was also, like McKechnie.

a man of discretion.

"I take it. Jim. that all your questions are necessary?"

"I wouldn't have troubled you. George, if they weren't."

"I understand. I'm still getting over the shock of what you told me that she was shot, lt was a shock when wc learned at

church this morning that she was dead

and where. But we all thought it was because of the twister. I tried to have a few

words with Clint Blamey

"With Clint'1 Where?" McKechnie exclaimed.

"At church. He came in late, but left earh."

McKechnie shook his head. While he

and the other policemen had been looking for Blamey after the shot at the Farquhar house. Blamey had come down to the

church.

"What's the matter. Jim'.'"

"I'm kicking myself. I've been looking for Clint all morning I just never thought

to look for him at church."

"You're not a religious man. are VDU.'

Clint is."

McKechnie went back to lus original line of questioning. "Did Molly often draw out large amounts'.'"

Milburn ran his finger down the statement again. ."No. Usually her withdrawals were average, fifty, si xix a week. Except wait a moment about every four weeks she'd lake oui a couple of

hundred."

That would tie in with the trips to St

Louis. ""Her husband told me she had a

To page 168

un DT F yt CONTIN^L W %frË M k\mJ\ FROM PAGE %

private income. Did that arrive régulai

and how much was it?"

Milburn examined the statement agair "Every quarter she got a cheque for 151 dollars. It doesn't say here where from. I could look it up."

"Later." McKechnie paused. The "What sort of woman was she. George1'

"Well -" Milburn pursed his lips. "S

was a kind woman and a wonderful worke For the churches, the Red Cross, even 1;

She never seemed to be able to do emu. fill in her time. That was why -" he p

- "that was why I always thought she

unhappy. But it never occurred to metha she might walk out on Gil. She was strict. I mean about the morality, sanctity of marriage. You're sure she having an affair with Clint Blamey?"

"Sure enough. You said you abms thought she was unhappy. What do mean by always? Ever since you First

her?"

"Right from the first day. I don't sa

this conceitedly, but I think I can rea;1 people, it's part of my job. But obvioush was wrong about Molly. Or partly wn

mean about her and Clint. 1 was vt

about him. too. Ld never have suspectée him of being a philanderer."

"Did Clint bank here? Do you know he drew any money on Friday, too?"

"I can tell you that without having tog* the files. He had no money, no lars amount, to draw. Clint had a bad year la year. That big hailstorm last summe ruined all his fruit crop and you remembe his wife had been ill for a long time Hu

she died around the same time. He'd had

lot of medical expenses.

"No, if Clint had wanted to draw am large amount, they'd have sent him to me With what's happened to his farm

morning, I don't know what he'll do. Hs must be feeling pretty desperate."

"Molly and Clint were planning to

off together. They had plane tickets for Lo Angeles."

Milburn pursed his lips again. "C& owed the bank close to $80.000. He wasn' a man who would go off leaving a debtlik that behind him. It just wasn't in

nature."

McKechnie understood the sometime'

unbearable weight of debt. In New York

and even here he had been called

suicides who had chosen death instead. Bu Clint Blamey was not a man. he was sure who would have chosen to kill himself an

Molly because of his debt to the bank. A" he had not killed himself, so why had ti

killed Molly? If he had ...

"I think" that's all. George. Thanks^ your help, even though you've confus^

me."

He left Milburn and walked back acr^

To page 171

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 168

the square into headquarters, noting that no police cars were in the parking lot. That meant they were still looking for Clint Blamey, the possible murderer who would never leave a bank debt unpaid, whose natural hiding place had been a church.

"Any messages?" McKechnie asked.

Lucy Chapley had gone home for a two-hour break and had been replaced another part-time dispatcher, Dorothy

Kidmann.

"Dr Stenhouse called. He said it wasn't

important, but you might like to call him back. There's nothing else except they're still repeating the Tornado Warning."

He went into his office and called

Stenhouse, who answered the phone himself. "Chief? I've just come back from another visit to the Farquhars. They tell

me someone tried to shoot our friend

through the bedroom window."

"Doc, can I come up and see you."

"So long as you don't stay too long." Stenhouse never wasted time on politeness. "I'm pooped. 1 was going to have a nap."

McKecfinie drove up again to Forest View Drive. He'd been up here more times today than he had in the past month. He turned into the gravel driveway of Stenhouse's home, a long, low ranch-house

built of fieldstone and timber.

Stenhouse opened the door and led

McKechnie into a room that was a

combined study and office. The surgery

was in the medical centre next to the

hospital and he was notorious for his temper if anyone came to his house expecting to be treated.

"My wife's gone out to the country club. Savs she wants to make sure everything's been cleaned up after last night's wing-ding. Always damn well housekeep- ing. Well, what's on your mind?"

The room was cosy and warm. McKechnie sat down in one of the two deep armchairs, wondering if he might follow the doctor's example, when the time ¿ame, and fall asleep.

"Doc. tell me something about Molly Farquhar. Where did she come from, what was she like when she married Gil?"

Stenhouse took a pipe from a rack, filled it, lit it and sat down in the other armchair. "What makes you think I know anything about Molly?"

"You treated Gil, so you must have gone to the house occasionally. You'd have seen her out at the country club -"

Stenhouse nodded, puffed on his pipe.

To page 172

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 171

"Well, she came originally from Jefferson City - her old man was the Senator's ward boss up there. A very respectable ward boss. I understand. By coincidence. Molly

beautiful Rose."

His pipe went out and he relit it. "Well, at first Molly seemed happy enough with Gil. But it wasn't long before we began to notice things were a bit strained between them. Gil came to see me about two years after they were married, said things weren't too good and asked me to take some tests.

That was when I found out he was impotent."

"What about Molly?"

"It was just after thal she started being the eager beaver she's been ever since. Anyone started a committee, she had to be on it. Down at the hospital she was more nuisance, being a do-gooder ... I shouldn't

talk about her like that. She had her

problems and she was working them off in the only way she knew how. (iii was no help

to her."

"How was that?"

"Well, she wanted to travel, for one

thing. Sometimes, out at the club, she'd let her hair down to ray wife. She said every year they'd gel a card from Europe from Rose, the only time they'd ever hear from her. She said those cards used to drive her up the wall with envy. She used to ask Gil to take her on a trip, but he'd never move out

of Missouri. Damned near never moved out of Friendship."

"Molly used to give herself little trips.

To St Louis, about once a month."

"Where'd you find that out?"

"Something I dug up. Tell me something about Rose. I've left her out of all my calculations about MolICs death, but she seems to be cropping up now."

"She had nothing to do with Molly's death, get that idea out of your head." Stenhouse sounded testy. "It was a long while ago that anyone here in town knew her. I've got to confess I had my eye on her and I wasn't the only feller in town felt like

that about her.

"There was no country club in those days, but there used to be dances at various places and Rose was always there. She was the best-looking gal at any of them. She had a wonderful joyousness about her that was sort of infectious. She made everyone feel good, even the other girls.'*

"Did she go w ith any particular feller?" "She tended to play the field. I don't mean by that she was promiscuous. She just liked a good time. Gil looked after her pretty well, he was very protective. I suppose you couldn't blame him. Moral standards were different back then.

Brothers cared about their sisters' reputa-

tion."

"Were you one of her fellers?" "What makes you ask that?"

looked a bit like Rose

but a less

"Something I dug up."

"You're much smarter than I thought Stenhouse sighed, then looked directlv

McKechnie.

"I might as well tell you. We u£ unofficially engaged for a week. We «g. away together, over a July Fourth weekend. But she called it all off whe we came back. It hurt me badly at the tinte

and 1 couldn't understand it.

weekend had been, well, satisfactory. M0je than satisfactory. I thought. But somethmc happened when she came home and tb

w as the end of it."

"She never told you why?"

"Oh, she told me she'd decided , couldn't be compatible. Maybe she wi right. But she hadn't talked ab compatibility while we were away. li. that was long ago."

McKechnie stood up. He knew who man had given more of himself that

had intended. "I wish I could have met he: just once. You make her sound p

attractive."

"She was more than that." Stent

stood up. "She was the most bea

charming girl 1 ever met. I could cr) i

her now."

"You mentioned she was always jo

Was she like that after she broke it ofl you?"

Stenhouse looked back at years he

tried to forget, "i've really forgotten. 1 we away for six months, took a temporar)

over in St Louis, and when I came back -

had gone. Then I met my wife and 1 pi Rose out of my mind. Or tried to. 1 wi

think about her once in a while, but aft« while those sort of things don't hurt i

more."

McKechnie nodded. "Thanks, da Have your nap."

"I'm wide awake now. When this isa

over, come up again and spoil another Sunday afternoon for me."

'Til look forward to it."

Willis Vanderhorn had gone throng every room on the ground floor of uV house, walking restlessly back and forth

When he had come downstairs twent)

minutes ago. he had phoned the Presiden:

- the first time he had ever had to

through his own call to the White House

As he walked back through the hallway Gilbert Farquhar came down the stairs arie went into the drawing-room. Vanderhorr hesitated, then followed him. The Sunda) edition of the News lay on a chair, tossei

there carelessly by Vanderhorn when he had finished glancing through it.

Farquhar picked it up. frowned aiw shook the pages together. "1 like my pap¿r neat." He folded the newspaper neatly, Put

it down on a side table.

"Did Rose ever talk to you about me he asked abruptly.

Vanderhorn wondered if he should K

To page 174

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 172

the truth and say no. It was difficult to know whether Farquhar would be re- assured or hurt. He hedged: "'Not specifically. She would sometimes talk about the family, but in a general way."

"I suppose if she hadn't fallen ill ... Would you have stayed together? Would you have married her - eventually? I mean if your wife, um died?" Farquhar asked hesitantly.

"Yes." Vanderhorn said emphatically.

Farquhar nodded to himself, lt was impossible to tell whether the answer satisfied him or not. But he did say. "That would have pleased my mother."

"What would have pleased me?" Adele Farquhar came into the room, sweeping in. She had regained some of her style and poise.

"The Vice President was saying that

eventually he and Rose ' would have

married, lt' his wile died."

"Yes. that would have pleased me. Mr Vanderhorn. Rose is awake. She would like to see you."

"How is she?"

"I think you should say goodbye to her now. Not in so manv words - you know what 1 mean. Then 1 think I will call Russell

Stenhouse and ask him to give her an extra strong sedative -*'

"No!" Farquhar cried out.

"lt's for the best. She has suffered

enough. Don't you agree. Mr

Vanderhorn?"

"1 don't know. 1 can't -" Then through the net curtains he saw the policeman on duty in his car outside in the driveway suddenly grab his microphone and start talking excitedly into it.

"Something's happening!" Vanderhorn

said.

The police car backed out of the

driveway, the red light starting to flash on its roof, then it went down the street at speed, its siren beginning to wail.

The two wanted criminlas. Lew Black and Jumpy Cowman were having their

argument. "What you doing, Lew, drivir, right inna the town? You crazy, man!"

"You think I did it on purpose? Shi up. Jumpy."

When they had come along Route 86 and seen the flattened Blamey farmhoust Black had slowed the car. Then he ha, seen the blue police car and at once speedec up again.

A mile down the road he had turnedi

into a side road with thick timber on eithc side. He had pulled off on to a tra»,

the engine and waited. But they hadn't j

been followed and they had decided to sta)

there a while and rest.

They had both dozed off and two hour

passed before they started off again. Black had headed in the direction away from

Route 86. He had driven down between some farms, come to some warehouses ami then suddenly realized he was heading into town. There had been no turn-offs and ina few more minutes they were in the town square, and saw the blue squad car standing outside police headquarters.

Jumpy began to curse, "Lew. man1 Let's get outa here!"

Black drove down into the north-wesl

corner. The street curved up the side of a bluff, then flattened out into a tree-lined avenue between expensive houses set back in their own lawns and gardens.

Then they saw the police car standing'11

the driveway of the big house with the j

copper dome on top. Black just stopp himself from slamming his foot down on the gas pedal. Thev went on down tl*e street, cruising sedately, and the police cat

remained behind them in the driveway.

To page 176

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 174

"Relax. Jumpy. We gonna get outa

town without no trouble at all. Here comes

the rain again. Nobody's gonna be looking

for us in this."

He was wrong. Two miles out of town, driving through heavy rain, they passed a police car. In the driving mirror he saw its brake lights suddenly go on, saw the car swing sideways on the greasy road as the

driver tried to do a U-turn. Black

accelerated, and went down the highway, looking for a side road, wondering where they were going now.

McKechnie was sitting at his desk when the red light went on. It was the signal that something important was coming in over

the communication radio, that the

dispatcher at thc console needed him to give instructions.

He went out quickly to the glassed-in

section behind the front counter where

Dorothy Kidmann was speaking excitedly into the microphone.

"Got it, PD-Four. The chief is here -

hold it." She looked up at ¡VlcKechriie. "Roley and Bud are out on Route 60. They said they recognized the car those bank robbers used over at Columbus. Roley and Bud followed them, but have lost them."

McKechnie look over the microphone. "Roley. Bud - where are you now?"

"Out on Nut Ridge Road, Chief, just past the sawmill." Grierson told him. "We lost 'em in the rain, but we reckon they're still somewhere in the area. Plenty of back roads, but they all lead back to the main

roads."

"OK. sit there. I'll get all the other cars into the area right away. I'll be out as soon

as I can make it." He handed the

microphone back to Dorothy. "Get me the other cars, quickly." As the other cars reported in, McKechnie told them to get out to Nut Ridge Road. He went into Bud Grierson's office which was also the

ammunition store, opened up the safe with his master key and took out a dozen boxes ol' ammunition, plus a dozen tear-gas bombs. He didn't know whether they were going to have any sort of shootout with the bank robbers, but the wanted notices had said they were dangerous and he didn't want any of his men caught short of firepower.

It was raining heavily, with wild gusts of

wind as he ran out of his office. It took him

fifteen minutes to get out lo Nut Ridge Road, a trip that normally would have taken him no more than five. But as he arrived at the spot where the other four cars were congregated, the rain abruptly stopped.

The men got out of their cars as he pulled up. He joined them and they all

stood in a bunch in the middle of the sealed surface, away from the mud of the shoulders of the road. This was thickly

wooded country. McKechnie knew that if

ihe bank robbers had got in here am0r.

the timber it might take weeks to f \

them out.

"I'm going to have to call in the ^ ii and the Highway Patrol." he told the mea] '1

"Ah, Chief, we need to do that?Tß

guys come in they just lake over," R,,: ^

Trubauer protested.

"I have to," McKechnie said ruefulh fl "This is out of our territory now. Tht Fj

I'll have to call them too."

The area was suddenly |,

crowded. He sometimes though',

American law enforcement system hue many cooks in the kitchen. Sometime jealousy and rivalry resembled thal organizations on the other side of thc

At least he could keep quiet about . ] Farquhar affair. It was still within 'I

jurisdiction.

Quickly he issued his orders.

"You and Bud stay in this area, Roi : Don't go on to any of the trails through^ 11 timber. Gerry, you and Andy swing 1

over thc other side of this timber, don through the lakes. Larry -" He looked ai

I-. u

the other young farm boy, seeing I " nervous excitement. As far as he kne« \ boy had never yet had to draw his gun the course ol Iiis duty and he hateo thought of his coming up alone agi

someone of the calibre of Black Cowman.

'"You get out on the open road, kel out there so you can't be jumped I

don't forget, all of you. we're still looi , for Clint Blamey."

He kept to himself Milburn's inl'ornu . tion that Blamey had been at chun

morning while they had been out look»! ä

for him on the back roads.

"What about me?" said .lack Atches ¡ "You come back with me tu ne»"' ^ quarters." ,

He saw the disappointmenl

Atcheson's face. He was afraid of m

something. They had all lived a qui« for so long.

"I want you to run things from tn* . Jack." Mckechnie said, as he

Atcheson walked back to their I

"There's only Dorothy and a couple of* ¡

volunteer guys there now. I can't leave'111' F( of them in charge.

To page 178

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 176

"Right now 1 have to go up to the Farquhars. Warn them to stay put. If the sheriff and the Highway guys are down at headquarters before I get back, put them in the picture. I'll be there before the FBI

arrives."

He contacted Dorothy, told her to inform the other law agencies what was happening and to ask them to come to headquarters.

"I've a call to make at the Farquhar place, but not a word to the sheriff or the Highway guys or the FBI about what happened to Molly."

The streets were deserted as he drove

back through them and up to Forest View Drive. The citizens might not be ready to go down into their storm cellars, but at least they had the sense to stay at home and close to shelter.

Wilma Mae opened the door to him,

ushered him in without a word as if

accepting now that he had right of entry whenever he wanted it. At least for today.

Adele Farquhar came out into the hall from the study. "What is it now. Mr

McKechnie?"

"I'd like to see the Vice President,

please. Something's come up."

"Something to do with my daughter-in-law?'

"No. ma'am. Something separate from

that."

She nodded, and went upstairs. In a

moment Vanderhorn came down.

"*I thought you'd better know, sir - the roads out of town are going to be over-run pretty soon with the sheriffs men. the Highway Patrol and the FBI." He explained about the sighting of the two

bank robbers.

"Fm not going. Chief-"

"You will be later, sir. if you still plan to go back to Washington tonight. I have to get you over to Springfield somehow and it may be that I won't be the one to drive you - I may be needed here. If you leave now you can go with Mr Farquhar -"

It was a risk, but Farquhar was the only driver he could think of right off.

"You'll be gone before they put up any

roadblocks."

"Fm not going. Chief." Vanderhorn was quietly adamant. "First. Fm staying with Miss Rose till the last minute. Secondly. I don't think Mr Farquhar would drive me to the end of the street. He is just as

reluctant as 1 am to leave this house while

his sister is still alive. She may die at any

time and I don't think either of us would forgive ourselves -" He trailed off, made an odd tentative gesture that was out of

character.

"We'll have to get you out of here eventually sir. I'll drive you myself, if I possibly can. But that will depend on what happens in the next hour or two. Otherwise

He suddenly thought of another driver.

.'Otherwise I may have to ask Miss BarjH

to drive you over to Springfield. I canM her where the roadblocks will be setal

and she can avoid them."

"1 don't want you to get into troubled

my account. I've been thinking - ¡n Jfl situation, a personal one, I really dofl

have the right to ask any help of you." | 1

"I've thought of that, sir," $fl McKechnie, trying to make his frankel sound respectful. "I'm doing it for persofl

reasons."

"i hope 1 have the opportunity sometH to ask you about those. But if you're iH

hurry now -"

If you decide to leave, let me know.fM

headquarters do you have a code na Jj

sir?"

"Yes. Charger."

"Ring headquarters and tell M dispatcher that you're Mr Charger and vi want to get in touch with me immediat«B I'll let her know I may be expecting a J from you. She'll call me and I'll get back« you." I

J

"You've managed to keep it sc

I'm here?"

"So far. I'll do my best to see that way."

"What about the other business'.' R sister-in-law? Any progress?"

He was trying to keep

Vice President out of that business and less he knew the better. But some about Vanderhorn's manner made

ask. "Do you know something, sir?"

"Eh?" Vanderhorn for a moment J*

suddenly remote. Then he recovered. "N< nothing."

But Mckechnie had the feeling ? Vice President was holding sometN back and he was abruptly angry. The man owed him something. But you could"1 push the Vice President for information^ didn't want to divulge. Congress might bi

not a small town police chief.

"We'll be in touch." he said sheri' turned on his heel and left.

To be continued

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