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    Chapter 8

    She looked down into his eyes, as she returned: "I know you must. YOU would, of course. But, after all, it has to be, and I don't suppose the tree minds so much, do you?"

    After a moment the wireless operator came in.

    "I advised Mr Caine to drink Perrier; he thanked me profusely, and assured me that he had always done so. He evidently mixed it up with the Pierian sources of literature which, I learn, provide the innumerable papers of the Associated Press with the necessary water under the name of Perrier.

    She sighed her acknowledgment. “But the . . . the entrance fee . . . ”

    repeated Frank musingly. After some time he began again:

    OF the Raycie family, which prevailed so powerfully in the New York of the ‘forties, only one of the name survived in my boyhood, half a century later. Like so many of the descendants of the proud little Colonial society, the Raycies had totally vanished, forgotten by everyone but a few old ladies, one or two genealogists and the sexton of Trinity Church, who kept the record of their graves.

    "I have everything to fear," the poor thing added; "my father's conduct toward me since he put me here, his discourses, what preceded Rombeau's examination, everything, Therese, everything suggests that these monsters are going to use me in one of their experiments, and that your poor Rosalie is doomed."

    All I Want Is Everything Because I'm Worth It I Like It Like That You're The One That I Want Nobody Does It Better Nothing Can Keep Us Together Only In Your Dreams Would I Lie To You Don't You Forget About Me It Had To Be You And keep your eye out for a new era ofGossip Girl: The Carlyles, coming May 2008. HOW FAR WILL ONE GIRL GO TO BECOME ? the it girl Be sure to read all the novels in theNew York Times bestsellingit girl series the it girl notorious reckless unforgettable lucky And keep your eye out forTempted , coming June 2008. Gossipgirl.net Disclaimer: All the real names of places, people, and events have been altered or abbreviated to protect the innocent. Namely, me. hey people! About last night Sorry boys, but you got punk'd! I know it was totally mean of me not to reveal myself, but admit it, you bonded, and wasn't it fun? Just what you needed, right? Best of all, you got to pet that sweet little monkey. And though you hate to admit it, you kind of like that you still don't know who I am, because youlove imagining what I look like. I'm the girl of your dreams. What we don't know and are dying to find out WillN andB get back together? WillS find someone to love? WillV andD forgive each other and live unhappily ever after? Will we hear more fromG ? Do we want to? WillJ andL figure it out? Does she want to? WillC come out? Will I? You know I can't wait to answer all of the above. But first, I'm building an altar to the Saint of College Admissions. Every day I will buy the saint a new gift, like that pair of beaded slip-ons I've had my eye on in the Barney's shoe department, or that hot pink bag everyone's talking about and no store seems to have. That way, if I don't get in to my number one school I'll have lots of consolation prizes. And if I do get in, I'll have an excuse to congratulate myself with even more gifts. Either way, I won't lose. None of us will! You know you love me, gossip girl

    "Yes. I met her at a party about a year since."

    He stared at me silently for a long minute. He moved a hand, as if to prove to himself that he could still move it, then folded it back over the other. He said lifelessly: "I didn't ask you to look for my son-in-law, Mr. Marlowe." "You wanted me to, though." "I didn't ask you to. You assume a great deal. I usually ask for what I want." I didn't say anything. "You have been paid," he went on coldly. "The money is of no consequence one way or the other. I merely feel that you have, no doubt unintentionally, betrayed a trust." He closed his eyes on that. I said: "Is that all you wanted to see me about?" He opened his eyes again, very slowly, as though the lids were made of lead. "I suppose you are angry at that remark," he said. I shook my head. "You have an advantage over me, General. It's an advantage I wouldn't want to take away from you, not a hair of it. It's not much, considering what you have to put up with. You can say anything you like to me and I wouldn't think of getting angry. I'd like to offer you your money back. It may mean nothing to you. It might mean something to me." "What does it mean to you?" "It means I have refused payment for an unsatisfactory job. That's all." "Do you do many unsatisfactory jobs?" "A few. Everyone does." "Why did you go to see Captain Gregory?" I leaned back and hung an arm over the back of the chair. I studied his face. It told me nothing. I didn't know the answer to his question--no satisfactory answer. I said: "I was convinced you put those Geiger notes up to me chiefly as a test, and that you were a little afraid Regan might somehow be involved in an attempt to blackmail you. I didn't know anything about Regan then. It wasn't until I talked to Captain Gregory that I realized Regan wasn't that sort of guy in all probability." "That is scarcely answering my question." I nodded. "No. That is scarcely answering your question. I guess I just don't like to admit that I played a hunch. The morning I was here, after I left you out in the orchid house, Mrs. Regan sent for me. She seemed to assume I was hired to look for her husband and she didn't seem to like it. She let drop however that 'they' had found his car in a certain garage. The 'they' could only be the police. Consequently the police must know something about it. If they did, the Missing Persons Bureau would be the department that would have the case. I didn't know whether you had reported it, of course, or somebody else, or whether they had found the car through somebody reporting it abandoned in a garage. But I know cops, and I knew that if they got that much, they would get a little more--especially as your driver happened to have a police record. I didn't know how much more they would get. That started me thinking about the Missing Persons Bureau. What convinced me was something in Mr. Wilde's manner the night we had the conference over at his house about Geiger and so on. We were alone for a minute and he asked me whether you had told me you were looking for Regan. I said you had told me you wished you knew where he was and that he was all right. Wilde pulled his lip in and looked funny. I knew just as plainly as though he had said it that by 'looking for Regan' he meant using the machinery of the law to look for him. Even then I tried to go up against Captain Gregory in such a way that I wouldn't tell him anything he didn't know already." "And you allowed Captain Gregory to think I had employed you to find Rusty?" "Yeah. I guess I did--when I was sure he had the case." He closed his eyes. They twitched a little. He spoke with them closed. "And do you consider that ethical?" "Yes," I said. "I do."The eyes opened again. The piercing blackness of them was startling coming suddenly out of that dead face. "Perhaps I don't understand," he said. "Maybe you don't. The head of a Missing Persons Bureau isn't a talker. He wouldn't be in that office if he was. This one is a very smart cagey guy who tries, with a lot of success at first, to give the impression he's a middle-aged hack fed up with his job. The game I play is not spillikins. There's always a large element of bluff connected with it. Whatever I might say to a cop, he would be apt to discount it. And to that cop it wouldn't make much difference what I said. When you hire a boy in my line of work it isn't like hiring a window-washer and showing him eight windows and saying: 'Wash those and you're through.' You don't know what I have to go through or over or under to do your job for you. I do it my way. I do my best to protect you and I may break a few rules, but I break them in your favor. The client comes first, unless he's crooked. Even then all I do is hand the job back to him and keep my mouth shut. After all you didn't tell me not to go to Captain Gregory." "That would have been rather difficult," he said with a faint smile. "Well, what have I done wrong? Your man Norris seemed to think when Geiger was eliminated the case was over. I don't see it that way. Geiger's method of approach puzzled me and still does. I'm not Sherlock Holmes or Philo Vance. I don't expect to go over ground the police have covered and pick up a broken pen point and build a case from it. If you think there is anybody in the detective business making a living doing that sort of thing, you don't know much about cops. It's not things like that they overlook, if they overlook anything. I'm not saying they often overlook anything when they're really allowed to work. But if they do, it's apt to be something looser and vaguer, like a man of Geiger's type sending you his evidence of debt and asking you to pay like a gentleman--Geiger, a man in a shady racket, in a vulnerable position, protected by a racketeer and having at least some negative protection from some of the police. Why did he do that? Because he wanted to find out if there was anything putting pressure on you. If there was, you would pay him. If not, you would ignore him and wait for his next move. But there was something putting a pressure on you. Regan. You were afraid he was not what he had appeared to be, that he had stayed around and been nice to you just long enough to find out how to play games with your bank account." He started to say something but I interrupted him. "Even at that it wasn't your money you cared about. It wasn't even your daughters. You've more or less written them off. It's that you're still too proud to be played for a sucker--and you really liked Regan." There was a silence. Then the General said quietly: "You talk too damn much, Marlowe. Am I to understand you are still trying to solve that puzzle?" "No. I've quit. I've been warned off. The boys think I play too rough. That's why I thought I should give you back your money--because it isn't a completed job by my standards." He smiled. "Quit, nothing," he said. "I'll pay you another thousand dollars to find Rusty. He doesn't have to come back. I don't even have to know where he is. A man has a right to live his own life. I don't blame him for walking out on my daughter, nor even for going so abruptly. It was probably a sudden impulse. I want to know that he is all right wherever he is. I want to know it from him directly, and if he should happen to need money, I should want him to have that also. Am I clear?" I said: "Yes, General." He rested a little while, lax on the bed, his eyes closed and dark-lidded, his mouth tight and bloodless. He was used up. He was pretty nearly licked. He opened his eyes again and tried to grin at me. "I guess I'm a sentimental old goat," he said. "And no soldier at all. I took a fancy to that boy. He seemed pretty clean to me. I must be a little too vain about my judgment of character. Find him for me, Marlowe. Just find him." "I'll try," I said. "You'd better rest now. I've talked your arm off."I got up quickly and walked across the wide floor and out. He had his eyes shut again before I opened the door. His hands lay limp on the sheet. He looked a lot more like a dead man than most dead men look. I shut the door quietly and went back along the upper hall and down the stairs.

    “You must not speak of it;” said the worthy old gentleman; “and as for the affair itself, it is a piece of ill-luck that might have happened to the best of us. At the same time, I should very much like to have an opportunity of telling that wretched Fensden what I think of him.”

    Not a breath came from the dead air. Not a ripple stirred on the motionless water. Nothing changed but the softly-growing light; nothing moved but the lazy mist, curling up to meet the sun, its master, on the eastward sea. By fine gradations, the airy veil of morning thinned in substance as it rose — thinned, till there dawned through it in the first rays of sunlight the tall white sails of a Schooner Yacht.

    A Present Provision For Raisinge a Notable Trade for the Time to Come.

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