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VORTEX

By

JON CLEARY

li I

ADELE FARQUHAR admits to police CHIEF MCKECHNIE that she drove out to CLINT BLAMEY'S farm the night before the body of MOLLY, wife of her son GILBERT, was found jn the tornado-wrecked farmhouse, shot dead by a gun owned by the Farquhars. Molly was apparently planning to run away wlth Blamey, who is missing, and Adele claims she only tried to persuade her to return home, while the servant WILMA MAE, who went with Adele, says she took the gun for protection. Adele's daughter ROSE is at the Farquhar home dying of cancer, and DR STENHOUSE tells McKechnie that Molly was jealous of Rose, also that he and Rose were once briefly engaged. Rose's lover, United States Vice President WILLIS VANDERHORN, has come to her and McKechnie persuades his fiancee LEE BARRON, owner of the local newspaper, not to disclose this. With news that two wanted

I killers are in the area, and further tornado

warnings, he vainly urges Vanderhorn to

leave at once. NOW READ ON:

WHEN MCKECHNIE got back to head-

quarters, Lee Barron and her photogra- pher, Billy Greb, were waiting in the outer

room. "We heard about the bank robbers."'

Lee said. "We want the full story. Jim that's what our readers expect."

"Hang around then. I'll give you a few facts when we've decided what we're going

to do."

"If it's a big enough story it could fill all of tomorrow's front page and keep everything else off it." Lee's face said no more than a blank sheet of paper. "I'm sure you'll be on our side, Chief."

'i'm sure 1 will," said McKechnie. trying to look equally innocent.

He went into his office, which was crowded with his own officer Jack

Atcheson, the Vista Count) sheriff and two of his deputies and four Highway Patrol officers. The conference lasted only ten minutes, everyone eager to be put out on the road and have the two robber-killers Black and Cowman in custody.

Lew Black battled with the wheel, fighting it as the car slid and skidded from side to side of the narrow muddy track. Twice the car scraped a tree, but Black managed to keep it going.

Then the rain suddenly stopped, and up ahead he saw a small clearing and beyond it, through a thin screen of trees, a small lake. He drove into the clearing and only then did he see. off to one side, the small cabirrand. behind it, the barn.

.lump) Cowman was first out of the car, tottering on his thin legs, lt was four hours since they had last got out. Black opened his door, got out carefully. For the first time he began to wonder if the heist had been worthwhile. 1 here was only just over $4000 in the canvas bags in the trunk of the

car and it seemed to him that he and

Jumpy had been running for a year.

"Hey look. Lew!" Cowman had stepped up on to the low veranda and pushed open the door of the cabin. "Someone's been using this place."

To page 167

A new slant on Molly's death takes McKechnie

by surprise - continuing

our dramatic serial ,

I_

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 165

Black walked pasl Cowman into the cabin and saw at once that this wasn't a

place that had been closed up for the winter and was still waiting for the owner to come here for the spring and summer, l here were two thick coffee cups on the table in the room thal made up virtually all the cabin. A partition in one corner hid a

shower and a toilet.

A double bunk was in another corner and two single bunks were alon« two of the walls, lhere were blankets on the double bunk, thrown back as if someone had been sleeping under them. In the far corner stood a portable gas stove and beside it was

a bank of shelves on which were tins of food and coffee.

On the table was a red leather key-case. Black picked it up. went out of the cabin,

and crossed to the barn.

Rough double doors blocked the entrance, but they were held together only by a rusted bolt. He slid it back, swung open the doors and looked in at the dim cream Buick with the Missouri plates. He got into the front seat and fitted one of the keys in the ignition.

I he engine started up. coughed, caught, then settled down. It sounded rough, but it would do. The gas gauge showed almost full. He switched off the engine, and went

back to the cabin.

"Load all the food in the Buick." he

said to Cowman. "Get the food while 1 get our things outa the Dodge. Move!"

lt took only five minutes to run the

Buick out of the barn and fill its trunk with food, blankets, the canvas bags of money and their two cheap suitcases. Then Black ran the grey Dodge into the barn, came out

and closed the doors on it.

"Hey man. how about that, eh? Finding them keys!" chortled Jumpy.

"Dumb people just encourage crime, right? You ready? OK, we're heading north again and wc gonna make it this time.*"

McKechnie's' car was parked by the junction on Nut Ridge Road where the side road came in through the trees. It was off to one side, but he had a clear view down the straight stretch ahead, and would be able to pull out and block the roadway if he was suspicious of any car coming

toward him. But he had been here almost half an hour and so far the main road had been deserted.

Then the yellow station-wagon sud- denly appeared, braked sharply and pulled in behind the police car. Sighing resign- edly. McMechnie got out as Lee got out of the station-wagon and came up to him.

"Are you just going to sit and wait for those guvs to show? Aren't you going to try

and flush them out?"

"1 can see you're already building up an editorial on police incompetence. Honey why don't you get out of here, please?"

"I'll be doing you a favour if I can

spread this bank robbers story across Page One tomorrow and bury Molly's murder

inside."

"You'll have both stories on the front

page. And I know which one the town will read first. "You're not about to do the police department any favours." He paused, then changed his tone. "But I might have to ask you to do me a favour."

She looked suspiciously at him.

"What?"

"If I'm still stuck out here, trying to pick up Black and Cowman, will you drive the Vice President over to Spnngtield so he can pick up his plane?"

"You've got to be joking!" "Why?"

"I'm already choking on the biggest story I'm ever likely to get and now you

i »

I_I want to make it worse by making me part of the story. Smuggling him out of town. Why can't you get one of your men to do it if YOU can't do it yourself? Or Gil farquhar?"

"You're the only one I can trust."

She shook her head. "No. I haven't

made up my mind yet what I'm going to do about him. 1 mean, so far we don't know how much is going to come out about Molly's death. If he's involved -"

"He's not." Yet he was sure that

Vanderhorn knew something that he

himself didn't know.

"I'll think about it. But -"

Then the cream, mud-splattered car came round the bend and went past them, gathering speed. Lee said, "Isn't that Molly Farquhar's car?"

McKechnie wrenched open the door of his car. fell into the seat and was swinging out on to the blacktop before he had the door shut. He switched on the red light and

To page 168

VORTEX CONTINUED

W Wf"i Ë FROM PAGE 167 ll!

thc siren, grabbed the microphone and 11"

called the other cars as he accelerated

"I have the missing Farquhar Buick in ^

sight, heading north up Nut Ridge. Clint 1íR Blarney's in it, plus another guy Try to i head him off before he hits 86." 1«er' !

The Buick disappeared round a curve ^

The road was slippery, streaked with mud I^1 from side roads, and McKechnie was il1 ^ constantly having to correct as the car ÜPíS threatened to plunge off into the trees The

Buick was in sight again and he could sec t^"1 that Blamey was having just as much é 1 trouble in staying on the road.

Breaking out of the frustration of th« 1st«1 whole day, he began to take risks, puttinç 'ian the car through curves and round bends al fiM a speed that began to diminish the distance ^le

between him and the Buick.

He was coming up on it when he sav the passenger lean out. facing back toward him and taking aim with a gun. Then the windshield suddenly had a spreading star in

il as the bullet hit the grille just behind his ^

head. The car swerved and for 50 \ard- ,

he was fighting it as the nearside wheeK '

tried to take to the mud at the side of the ^ road. The Buick had pulled ahead again ^

he'd gone round a bend out of sight.

As McKechnie went round the bend, he almost ran into the Buick as it finished a

U-turn. It went back past him. the black passenger leaning over to take another shot at him. The bullet this time went through

the window of the rear door. Then the fl

Buick was gone out from sight again round fe

the bend.

The sheriffs car and the Highwa) 1

Patrol car that had been blocking the road v went past with roaring engines in pursuit i the fleeing Buick. 1 herc was a screech

tyres and in his driving mirror McKechnie Ï

saw both cars narrowly miss the yellow

station-wagon as it came round the bend in '

the middle of thc road.

He swung his own car round, ignoring ii Lee's silently yelling face. He was not after I Clint Blamey, after all. But Black and

Cowman, the men in the Buick, might be i

able to tell him where Blamey was.

Four miles down the road he saw fivi

cars pulled up beside the turn off. their occupants out and crouched down behind the screen of cars. He recognized two of his own PD cars, plus the sheriffs and the Highway Patrol's. The unmarked fifth one. he guessed must be the FBI's. He skidded to a stop, pulling his car into line behind the others, drew his gun and slipped out on

the blind side where thc other men were

crouching.

"They're up there on top of that ridge. Jim." Sheriff Doug Jorgensen told him. "They got their car up there somehow, but that trail just runs straight into a cliff."

"Just a minute." McKechnie looked at Jack Atcheson crouched beside him. "Jack, get down there around the bend. 1 think Lee Barron and Billv Greb are following

mein their station-wagon. Keep them back or the) might get their heads blown off. Stay there and Hag down any other

traffic."

Atcheson went away in a crouching run. and McKechnie looked at Jorgeson. "Vou have someone up around that bend

ahead?"

"One of m\ cars. Relax. Jim. you're out in my territory, you know that? Town limits finished a couple of miles back." He indicated a big. blond man beside him. "This is hB1 Special Agent Bill Carradine."

"Sorry." McKechnie apologized, but Carradine nodded and smiled with genuine warmth.

"We want those guys up on the ridge, but I don't think any of us should get shot trying to bring them down. You and the sheriff know this country better than my Partner and I do. What do you reckon we should try?"

"Burn 'em out." said Jorgeson. "Toss H>me tear-gas up there, then go in with everything. You don't care if you get "em dead, do you?"

"We'd prefer them alive. But we'll take lhem dead if it means none of your men

get hurt."

want them alive." said McKechnie quietlv.

"With all respect. Chief," said Car- radine. "these guvs aren't your case. We appreciate your'help "

1 ve got a possible murder on my

hands," said McKechnie and explained about the shooting of Moll) Farquhar and his need to question the missing Clint Blamey. "'Those gu\s arc driving Mrs Farquhars car. I want to know where the) got it. I suggest we see if we can talk them out. Have you a bullhorn?"

Up on the ridge Lew Black and Jump) Cowman had left their bogged car, taken the canvas bags and were holed up in a thick stand of hickory. They couldn't see

the road, but thev knew there were at least

three or four police cars down there.

Then the amplified voice came up the slope, tattered a little bv the wind: "Black!

Cowman! This is the FBI! Come down

with your hands up!"

"What we going to do?" Jumpy wailed.

"First thing, we gotta find another place." Black looked around him. saw the clump of rocks further along the ridge on the edge of the timber. He stood up. tuck- ing the shotgun under one arm, transferring

his pistol to that hand and grabbing two of thc canvas bags with his free hand. "Come

on!"

They had just reached the outcrop of rocks when the first of the tear-gas canisters landed among the trees only twenty yards from them. The second and third soon followed. Then the top of thc ridge blossomed with smoke. It lasted only a moment, then the wind whipped it away through thc trees.

Black, watching it go, began to laugh. Maybe they were going to get out of here

after all!

McKechnie, coming up slantwise along the ridge, slipping in the wet clay, saw the smoke coming at him and ducked his head, thrusting his face into the crook of his elbow. He shut his eves tight and held his

breath.

Then he lilted his head, took a quick look and saw that he was in the clear. He just hoped that the man down on the road firing the gas canisters would realize that the\ were going to do no good in this

w ind.

He came up on to the top of thc ridge, stood fattened against the rough trunk of a shagbark. Then the shooting started, haifa

di ven or more shots somewhere be\ond the timber where he was hidden. He started nuning toward it. running from

tree to tree.

To page 171

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 169

The timber began to thin out, and he dropped flat behind a fallen tree in the

same instant as he saw the two men

crouched behind the rocks up ahead.

They were facing away from him, shooting down the slope at the FBI agents

and the sheriffs men who were hidden from McKechnie's view. He wondered where his own men were. Then he saw Roley Trubauer off to his left, down on one knee behind a tree aiming his carbine. But he took too long. The black one of the two bank robbers suddenly swung around

and fired and Trubauer had to duck back behind his tree.

McKechnie settled his carbine on the tree-trunk, took aim. He had the black in

his sights. He could kill him and force the

other one to surrender. The black turned

and looked straight at him, but he couldn't

kill a man in cold blood. He shifted his aim

as the black brought up his shotgun, fired and the black dropped the shotgun and

clutched his arm.

The white man swung around and McKechnie yelled, "Drop your gun or you're dead!"

Lew Black looked down at the shotgun in his hands, as if debating whether to die now or later. Then he threw his gun away from him and stood up, holding his hands

above his head.

"Where'd you get that Buick?"

McKechnie said.

"No questions, pig. I wanna see my lawyer." Lew Black looked at Carradine. "You the FBI joker? I'm your prisoner, right? Tell the pig to get lost."

They were all standing by the line of cars on the road below the ridge. Billy Greb was swooping about, camera bulbs exploding, and Lee was scribbling furi- ously in her notebook. Cowman, still moaning, was lying on the back seat of the sheriffs car. Black, angrily nervous, stood with the law officers grouped about him.

McKechnie knew he had no authority here. He had captured Black and Cowman, but he was outside the town limits and they were not his prisoners. They would be taken into Vista, and there was no knowing how long it would be before he could question them for his own purpose.

He looked at Carradine. "You're taking them in for killing the policeman over in Columbus, right?"

"Not me," said Black. "It was the coon shot him. not me."

McKechnie ignored him. He looked at Carradine hoping the FBI man would read what he was getting at. "The owner of the Buick is dead. I think this guy killed her."

Carradine nodded, face perfectly straight, going along with the play.

"It looks like it. He's going to get it any- way for the Columbus job, whether he fired the shot or not that killed the policeman. But we can tie him up properly on this

Farquhar murder -"

"Hey, hold it! Who you trying to railroad? I dunno nobody named Farquhar

"That's her car up there and she's dead," said McKechnie. "You want to tell me where you got it?"

"Look, we never saw any dame with the car. Look, we found it - I'll tell you where

"You want your lawyer?"

"What lawyer? Look, we found the car up by some lake -"

"I hope you prefer tea rather than coffee in the afternoon?" Adele Farquhar said, pouring tea.

"Always," said Vanderhorn. thinking again how well his mother and the woman opposite him would have got on. together. "I was brought up on afternoon tea. Thank you, no sugar."

He had not really wanted afternoon tea, but felt it would have been ungracious to

"I say to hell with the

small, economy car."

refuse. He had recognized that Adele Farquhar wanted some diversion, any prop to lean on while the hours crumbled away.

"You should be thinking of leaving soon, Mr Vanderhorn. The weather is getting worse, the radio says. If you don't leave for Springfield in the next hour, you may not get away at all."

"You know I don't want to leave, not

till Rose . . ." Strange, he thought, how I can't bring myself to say "dies" when I'm speaking of her. "What does the doctor

think? I mean, when?"

"I don't know. We'll ask him when he comes down. I hope she goes soon." Her voice was calm, but the cup rattled slightly against the saucer. "She has suffered enough pain."

Gilbert Farquhar came into the room, poured himself some tea, and sat down on a chair apart from the two of them.

"Stenhouse said it won't be long. She's almost gone." He put down his cup and

saucer and looked at Vanderhorn. "When you leave here we never want to hear from you again."

"If that's the way you want it," said Vanderhorn. looking not at him but at Adele Farquhar.

To page 174

VORTEX FROïïd

"lt would be best, I suppose," she said but sounded as if reluctant to agree wit] I her son. She is buried here, Vanderhonfl thought. I wonder how much she hal missed Broadway and Washington sinceB

her husband died?

"I may as well mention somethiniH now," he said. "There will be the matter o M

her estate. The house in Maryland and theil one in New York are in her name. I gotherB to make a will just before she left to corneB home. She has left everything to you, MrsH Farquhar. Shall I have my lawyers attendfljl

to it?"

"T hank you. But she should not havel left them to me. They are your houses-" !

He shook his head. "They were hers, u Everything was hers. What is the matter.'"

Adele Farquhar was shaking her heac

"Molly was jealous of Rose. One of the I reasons was that Rose used to travel I

abroad, had a house in New York ... And I

now I'm going to own a house in New [ ,

York that Molly could have had!"

Farquhar spoke suddenly, looking

directly at Vanderhorn. "Did Rose ever tell Í' you why she left here?"

Vanderhorn hesitated. Then: "Yes. But Í '

only this morning."

Then Dr Stenhouse came into the room, a, \ "Ah, tea! Am I too late?"

"I'll have Wilma Mae bring in a fresÄ'.Jj, pot." Adele Farquhar rang the little silver i

bell on the tray. Again Vanderhorn WM|Î

reminded of his mother. "How is Rose?"

Stenhouse sat down, stretched his legs L in front of him. "She won't wake up again,

I'm sure of that."

Adele Farquhar remained composed.

She turned as Wilma Mae came to the

door. "Some fresh tea, please. Wilma

Mae." She turned back to Stenhouse. "I ? k

was thinking about you and Rose, Russell. 1 When you were going out together."

"I thought you had forgotten that. It was all so long ago and for such a short time." Stenhouse glanced at Gilbert Farquhar, who appeared to be ignoring

him. Then he looked at Vanderhorn. "Rose ever mention me?"

"No."

Vanderhorn was surprised. He

looked at Stenhouse with new interest,

trying to see him twenty-five, thirty years ago. "She was always very reticent about

her life here."

"Well, I was nothing to boast about was I, Gil?"

"I can't remember what you were like, ' said Farquhar. "Should I?"

"No." Stenhouse seemed unperturbed by the other's rudeness.

It occurred to Vanderhorn that they

were all taking of Rose, the woman who was about to die. But Molly Farquhar, the woman already dead and in mysterious circumstances, was forgotten or ignored. Had she been forgotten or ignored like this

To page 176

VORTEX

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 174

when she had been alive? Without ever

having met her he felt a sudden sympath)

for her.

Wilma Mae came back with a fresh pot of tea. Adele Farquhar poured and handed the cup to Stenhouse. "Just as it is." he said, declining sugar and milk. "No. nothing to eat. What's new on Molly's death?" He looked casually at Farquhar. "Chief McKcchnie come up with anything

new?"

"We haven't seen him for an hour or two. Thank God."

"He came up to see mc." Stenhouse sipped his tea. "Don't worn. I was ven circumspect."

Vanderhorn got up. went to a side

window of the room and looked out.

"1 think I should be going," he said abruptly.

"Who will drive von over to Spring- field?" Adele Farquhar did not ask him win he had suddenly decided to leave.

"Chief McKechnie is arranging that. I'll go up and have a last few moments with

Rose. Then I'll call him."

Stenhouse walked out into the hall with him. "I spoke to Rose this morning after you arrived. I asked her if she had been happy with you and she said yes. ver) happy. I thought you might like to know that. She said you owed her nothing."

"She was wrong about that I'll always owe her something. But thank you for telling me. I won't be back after 1 leave here. Can you ensure that nothing touches

her after she dies'.'"

"Ill do m\ best, that's all I can promise."

Vanderhorn nodded. Then he said. "Why did Rose break it off with sou and

leave town?"

"It took me years to find out. Just as 1 gather it has taken you." The front-door bell rang. The two men stood back in the gloomy hallway as Wilma Mae went past to open the door.

"Come on in. Chief." she said, and closed the door behind McKechnie as he stepped into the hall.

Vanderhorn came forward. "I was going

to call you, Chief. I think I should

leaving soon."

"1 can't take you over to Spring, sir." said McKechnie, then turned to\dt

Farquhar and her son as they came to H II

door of the drawing-room. "We've t\nirlOH

your wife's car. Mr farquhar. Two kv robbers we were looking for had stolen it Farquhar looked puzzled. "You mean th

killed my wife?" ' -»i

"No. They found it out at a cabin clKl

Gilly's Lake. We've traced the owner, the cabin - it belongs to Clint Blaniev

brother-in-law. I'm on my way oui IhtffrK

"Do you expect to find Mr Blamer

there?" said Adele Farquhar.

"1 don't know. Mrs Farquhar. I Mf^

have to look for him wherever I get a ieaiitr 0 You and your son haven't been as helptWl as you might have been, should have beei ,v considering whose murder I'm irvine i ,.'

solve." " . g *JJ

Adele Farquhar turned and went bad' ? down the hallway toward the study. Gilbet^ Farquhar stood for a moment, awkwan,'0'16 and irresolute, then he. too. went dowi'" the hallway to the study.

Stenhouse broke the silence that hat''1'

been left. "I'll drive you over ir" Springfield, Mr Vanderhorn.

"I'll keep my radio on. If a twister hits.mj I'll turn straight back. The Vice President1'^

will have to take his chances on that." e

"Of course." said Vanderhorn. "I'll pick you up in an hour."

"I'll be waiting for you. Doctor."

Stenhouse and McKechnie moved!

toward the front door together, bur. Vanderhorn put a hand on the police" chief s arm. "fd like a word with you.T Chief. We may not see each other again v s

Stenhouse nodded and went on out the P door, closing it behind him.

"I want to thank you for your help. Perhaps I can help you." Vanderhorn said.

"How?" McKechnie frowned. C "I mean about Molh farquhars I murder. I don't know whether I really lit should be telling you this, but 1 owe

you. The reason Miss Rose left here eo twenty-five years ago, why she never came li back till a month ago was that her brother I), was in love with her. Still is." Ï

McKechnie's frown deepened. "You fe

mean incest?" ii

"It never got to that. But the situation j

had become unbearable for her. Her I mother knew, but couldn't do anything ,

about it." ls

"Who told you this?" I

"Rose did, only today. She was full) ,

conscious for a while and she talked, lt was ,

another agony for her, on top of what she , was already "suffering. I don't know wh)

she told me. except perhaps she felt she , had to explain the peculiar atmosphere in

the house. I'd said I couldn't understand j her brother's antagonism toward mc. 'l must have preyed on her mind, because an

To page 180

\/OÉÍ TEJC FROMPAGEU!

hour OF two later she told me what h % happened!" IAL>

"Did Molly know about it when si

married Gil?"

"Apparently not. After she did leam, it, she was always jealous of Rose. Whi Gil and his mother brought Rose hom

that was the final straw. Molly herself toL*«-* Rose that last night. She burst into Rose-f*** room in a temper and Gil threw heroin.!/

guess il was just after that that Molly ¡eW^

the house." J/*

"Then Gil could have -" 'Ézù "Killed his wife? Perhaps. But somehoHw 1 don't think so. Do you?" mt)

"No," said Mckechnie. "M) moneys

still on Clint Blamey."

Mckechnie and Roley Trubauer\¡; o pi"

chairs just to one side of each of the cabin

two windows. Mckechnie looked uVw^^ toward the lake and Trubauer looked ot ^ at the barn. If Clint Blamey came from tit' blind sides of the cabin he would con within view of at least one of the men to the barn.

1 he police cars were half a mile awaj x parked off the highway in the scrub, an they had walked up through the timber

the cabin. The three young officers vej

hidden out in the woods and Bud Grk sot**" was in one of the cars down by the road A

Mckechnie had brought a walkie-talkiiJL with him and every five minutes he c¡ «

Grierson to check on traffic down the road,|

"She must of been danged unhappy'Ä Trubauer said suddenly. "I used to see heil

there in church Wednesday nights, upl^i

there in the front pew, singing."

"1 thought she was an Episcopalian.

"Mebbe she went there Sundays, I dunno. But she started coming to oui church and nobody told her to stay

Mebbe she figured that was the only wajl she was gonna meet Clint, if it was him shei

had her eye on. Mebbe she was looking foi!01 someone just like Clint. Some widower

could run away with." He looked around ^ the cabin. "This wasn't much of a place to.

run to." i li

"Here comes someone across the lake re

Mckechnie said, flicking on his walkie-!,d<

talkie.

"This is Mckechnie. You hear me, oi

everyone?" The three young policemen Uti and Bud Grierson responded. "H¿s 9; coming across the lake. Stay where you are, iS let him come ashore and up to the cabin or £r barn. You can come out behind him ii he IK tries to make it back to the boat. No g0 shooting, you understand? I want him .j,

alive." *\

Trubauer shrugged. "We'll get him. I( Clint's not the sorta guy is gonna start L shooting down fellers he's been saying L

hello to all his life." li

Mckechnie took his gun out ot lts holster, checked it. released the catch.

To page 182

UOfíTElf C°NTINUEC

W Vn ? FROM PAGE 18ii

His wearniness slid off him and he felt J

surge of excitement. In a few minutes hi might know the answer to all the question': that had plagued him since early this morning.

The little boat slid into the shore. The

man stood up and got out. It was Clint! Blamey, all right. He pulled the boat'i further up in the mud at the water's edge

then came up toward the cabin and the

barn

Blamey came to a halt no more than five or six yards from the cabin porch McKechnie, flattened against the wall inside, suddenly remembered that there would be their footprints in the wet earth below the porch. He raised his gun. was

about to move, when, looking across at' Trubauer. he saw Blamey pass beyond the

other window.

McKechnie quickly crossed the* room, stood beside Trubauer and watched Bia . i

go to the barn. He paused, looked down at the twist of tyre tracks in the mud.

Then abruptly he snatched at the bolt on the barn doors, whipped it back and swung open the doors.

McKechnie opened the cabin door, moved out to the end of the porch and levelled his gun. "Hold it. Blamey! Don't

move! You're covered all around!"

Blamey didn't move. He surrendered so readily that McKechnie felt ridiculous at the way he had levelled his gun at him. Blamey held out his hands for Roley Trubauer to put the cuffs on them without being asked.

When the three young officers came out of the timber he still said nothing.

"You drive my car, Roley." said McKechnie. 'TU ride in the back with Clint." The four cars went down the

highway their spinning red lights a tiny galaxy in the darkening day.

When they reached headquarters McKechnie helped Blamey out of the car but let the farmer, without manhandling him. walk ahead of him into his office.

"You want to talk. Clint? Before we get your lawyer here9"

Blamey sat back on the hard-backed chair, trying to compose himself.

"What's the use of talking?" He had a soft voice, the voice of a man who spent hours on his own in the fields. "You've got me. I've done with running. Chief."

"Why did you kill Molly Farquhar?"

Blarney's hands folded together with a metallic click. "You know I didn't do that.

Jim. I loved her. Why would I want to kill

her?" E7

To be concluded

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