DA Cleveland Archer

9. august 2011 at 19:55 | Thalia Contostavlos
.........Archer, slightly plumper than he had been a year ago, with his round red face saggy and careworn by the stress of an extremely bad night for him, put his forearms on the table and leaned at me.
........."Goodwin," he said earnestly but not offensively, "I want to put something up to you."
........."Suits me, Mr. Archer," I assured him. "I've never been ignored more."
........."We've been busy. Lieutenant Noonan has of course reported what you told him. Frankly, I find it hard to believe. Almost impossible to believe. It is well known that Nero Wolfe refuses dozens of jobs every month, that he confines himself to cases that interest him, and that the easiest and quickest way to interest him is to offer him a large fee. Now I - "
........."Not the only way," I objected.
........."I didn't say it was. I know he has standards - even scruples. Now I can't believe that he found anything interesting in the poisoning of a dog - certainly not interesting enough for him to send you up here over a weekend. And I doubt very much if Calvin Leeds, from what I know of him, is in a position to offer Wolfe a fee that would attract him. His cousin, Mrs. Rackham, might have, but she did not have the reputation of throwing money around carelessly - rather the contrary. We're going to ask Wolfe about this, naturally, but I thought I might save time by putting it up to you. I appeal to you to cooperate with us in solving this dastardly and cowardly murder. As you know, I have a right to insist on it; knowing you and Wolfe as I do, I prefer to appeal to you as to a responsible citizen and a man who carries a license to work in this state as a private detective. I simply do not believe that you were sent up here merely to investigate the poisoning of a dog."
.........They were all glaring at me.
........."I wasn't," I said mildly.
........."Ha, you weren't!"
........."Hell no. As you say, Mr. Wolfe wouldn't be interested."
........."So you lied, you punk," Noonan gloated.
........."Wrong, as usual." I grinned at him. "You didn't ask me what I was sent here for or even hint that you would like to know. You asked if I was investigating the dog poisoning, and I told you I spent an hour at it, which I did. You asked if I had made any progress, and I told you nothing remarkable. Then you wanted to know what I had seen and heard here, and I told you, in full. It was one of the bummest and dumbest jobs of questioning I have ever run across, but you may learn in time. The first - "
.........Noonan blurted, 'Why, you goddam - "
........."I'll handle it," Archer snapped at him. Back to me: "You might have supplied it, Goodwin."
........."Not to him," I said firmly, "I tried supplying him once and he was displeased. Anyway, I doubt if he would have understood it."
........."See if I can understand it."
........."Yes, sir. Mrs. Rackham phoned Thursday afternoon and made an appointment to see Mr. Wolfe. She came yesterday morning - Friday - at eleven o'clock, and had Leeds with her. She said that it had been her custom, since marrying Rackham three years and seven months ago, to give him money for his personal use when he asked for it, but that he kept asking for bigger amounts, and she began giving him less than he asked for, and last October second he wanted fifteen grand, and she refused. Gave him zero. Since then, the past seven months, he had asked for none and got none, but in spite of that he had gone on spending plenty, and that was what was biting her. She hired Mr. Wolfe to find out where and how he was getting dough, and I was sent up here to look him over and possibly get hold of an idea. I needed an excuse for coming here, and the dog poisoning was better than average." I fluttered a hand. "That's all."
........."You say Leeds was with her?" Noonan demanded.
........."That's partly what I mean," I told Archer, "about Noonan's notion of how to ask questions. He must have heard me say she had Leeds along the first time."
 

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