The League of Frightened Men | Chapter 16 of 30 - Part: 1 of 4

Author: Rex Stout | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 5913 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 10

Wolfe didn’t say anything. I stood behind her and waited, ready to catch her if she started to faint and fall forward, because I didn’t know how much it might open up. Wolfe hadn’t moved. He sat looking at her with his eyes nearly shut and his lips pushing out, and in, and out and in again.

She said, “He got into a fit. One of his cold fits.”

Wolfe said politely, “I didn’t know Mr. Chapin had fits. Feel her pulse.”

I reached out and got her wrist and placed my fingers. While I was counting she began to talk:

“He doesn’t have fits exactly. It’s a look that comes into his eyes. I am always afraid of him, but when I see that look I am terrified. He has never done anything to me before. This morning when I saw him look like that I said something I shouldn’t have said … look here.”

She jerked her hand away from me to use it for getting into her handbag, a big leather one. Out of it she pulled something wrapped in newspaper. She unrolled the newspaper and held up a kitchen knife that had blood on it still wet and red.

“He had this and I didn’t know it. He must have been getting ready for me when he was out in the kitchen.”

I took the knife from her and laid it on the desk, on top of the newspaper, and said to Wolfe:

“Her pulse is on a little sprint, but it’s okay.”

Wolfe put his hands on the arms of the chair, braced himself, and got to his feet. He said, “Please do not move, Mrs. Chapin,” and walked around behind her and took a look at her neck. He bent down with his eyes close to her; I hadn’t seen him so active for a month or more. Peering at the gashes, he said, “Please tilt your head forward, just a little, and back again.” She did so, and the blood came out again; in one spot it nearly spurted at him.

Wolfe straightened up. “Indeed. Get a doctor, Archie.”

She started to turn around at him, and I stopped her. She protested, “I don’t need a doctor. I got here, I can get home again. I just wanted to show you, and ask you—”

“Yes, madam. For the moment my judgment must prevail … if you please …”

I was at the phone, giving a number. Someone answered, and I asked for Dr. Vollmer. She said he wasn’t there, he was just leaving, if it was urgent she might be able to catch him out in front. I started to ask her to do that, then it occurred to me that I might be quicker at it myself, and I hung up and took it on the trot. Fritz was in the hall dusting and I told him to stick around. As I hopped down the stoop I noticed a taxi there at the curb: our visitor’s of course. A couple of hundred feet east Dr. Vollmer’s blue coupé was standing, and he was just getting in. I sprinted for him and let out a yell. He heard me and by the time I got there he was out on the sidewalk again. I told him about the casualty that had dropped in on us, and he got his bag out of the coupé and came along.

In my business I’ve seen it proved a hundred times that one thing you never want to leave in the bureau drawer is your curiosity. As we turned in at our stoop I took another look at the taxi standing there. I nearly lost my aplomb for a second when the driver looked straight at me and tipped me a wink.

I went on in with the doc. Fritz was in the hall and told me that Wolfe had gone to the kitchen and would return when the doctor had finished. I told Fritz for God’s sake not to let him get started eating, and took Vollmer into the office. Dora Chapin was still in her chair. I introduced them, and he put his bag on the desk and went to take a look at her. He poked around a little and said she might have to be sewed up and he could tell better if he could wash her off. I showed him where the bathroom was and said there were bandages and iodine and so on, and then said:

“I’ll call Fritz in to help you. I’ve got an errand out front. If you need me I’ll be there.”

He said all right, and I went to the hall and explained Fritz’s new duties to him. Then I went out to the sidewalk.

The taxi was still there. The driver wasn’t winking any more; he just looked at me. I said, Greetings.”

He said, “I very seldom talk that much.”

“How much?”

“Enough to say greetings. Any form of salutation.”

“I don’t blame you. May I glance inside?”

I pulled the door open and stuck my head in far enough to get a good look at the framed card fastened to the panel, showing the driver’s picture and name. That was only a wild guess, but I thought if it happened to hit it would save time. I backed out again and put a foot up on the running-board and grinned at him:

“I understand you’re a good engineer.”

He looked funny for a second, then he laughed. “That was when I was in burlesque. Now I’m just doing straight parts. Damn it, quit grinning at me. I’ve got a headache.”

I rubbed the grin off. “Why did you wink at me as I went by?”

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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