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Where There's a Will Rex Stout Series: Nero Wolfe [8] Published: 1995 Tags: Vintage Mystery

Vintage Mysteryttt

SUMMARY:

Why did the late multimillionaire Noel Hawthorne leave a peach, a pear and an apple to his sisters, April, May and June? And why is the bulk of his estate to go to a woman most definitely not his wife? The able, astute and unscrupulous detective Nero Wolfe must get to the bottom of a will that has left a whirlpool of menace... and a legacy of murder that's about to be fulfilled.

Where There's a WillRex StoutSeries: Nero Wolfe [8] Published: 1995 Tags: Vintage Mystery

Vintage Mysteryttt

SUMMARY:

Why did the late multimillionaire Noel Hawthorne leave a peach, a pear and an apple to his sisters, April, May and June? And why is the bulk of his estate to go to a woman most definitely not his wife? The able, astute and unscrupulous detective Nero Wolfe must get to the bottom of a will that has left a whirlpool of menace... and a legacy of murder that's about to be fulfilled.

WHERE THERE'S A WILL A Nero Wolfe Mystery Rex Stout WHERE THERE'S A WILL I 49 TORN STACEY LTD vi'^- ^v' 112517 KCRTH YORK PUBLIC L'BRARY RATHURST HEiGHTS First published in Great Britain by Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. This edition published 1971 by Torn Stacey Ltd. 28 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7JP England Copyright 1940, renewed 1968, Rex Stout All rights reserved SEN 85468 057 8 Printed in Great Britain by Biddies Limited, Guildford WHERE THERE'S A WILL CHAPTER ONE I put the 1938-39 edition of Who's Who in America, open, on the leaf of my desk, because it was getting too heavy to hold on a hot day. 'They were sprinkled at discreet intervals,' I stated aloud. 'If they didn't fudge when they supplied the dope, April is thirty-six. May forty- one, and June forty-six. Five years apart. Apparently their parents started at the middle of the calendar and worked backwards, and also apparently they named June that because she was born in June, 1893. But the next one shows an effort of the imagination. I prefer to suppose it was Mamma who thought of it. Although the baby was actually born in February, they named it May . . .' There was no sign that Nero Wolfe was listening as he leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed, but I went on anyhow. On that hot July day, in spite of the swell lunch Fritz had served us, I would have sold the world for a dime. My vacation was over. The news from Europe was enough to make you want to put signs at every ten yards along the seacoast, 'Private Shore. No Sharks or Statesmen Allowed.' I had bandages on my arms where the black flies had bored for blood in Canada. Worst of FR1;4 WHERE THERE'S A WILL all, Nero Wolfe had gone in for a series of fantastic expenditures, the bank balance was the lowest it had been for years, and the detective business was rotten; and just to be contrary, instead of doing his share of the worrying about it he seemed to have adopted the attitude that it would be impertinent to attempt to interfere with natural laws. Which had me boiling. He might be eccentric enough to find pleasure in a personal and intimate test of the operations of the New Deal WPA, but if I had my way about it the only meaning WPA would ever have for yours truly would be Wolfe Pays Archie. So I went on buzzing. 'It all depends,' I declared, 'on what it is that's biting them. It must be something pretty painful, or they wouldn't have made an appointment to call on you in a body. The death of their brother Noel has probably taken care of their financial potentialities. Noel's in here too.' I frowned at the Who's Who. 'He was forty-nine, the eldest, three years older than June, and was next to Cullen himself in Daniel Cullen and Company. Did it all himself, started there as a runner in 1908 at twelve bucks a week. That was in his obit in the Times, day before yesterday. Did you read it?' Wolfe was motionless. I made a face at him and resumed. 'They're not due for twenty minutes yet, so I might as well give you the benefit of my research. FR1;WHERE THERE'S A WILL 5 There's more in this magazine article I dug up than in Who's Who. A lot of rich and colorful detail. For instance, it says that May has worn cotton stockings ever since the Japs bombed Shanghai. It says that Mamma was an amazing woman because she was the mother of four extraordinary children. I have never understood why, in cases like this, it is assumed that Papa's contribution was negligible, but there's no time to go into that now. It's the extraordinary children we're dealing with.' I flipped a page of the magazine. 'To sum up about Noel, who died Tuesday. It seems he had a row of buttons installed on his desk in the Wall Street offices of Daniel Cullen and Company; one for each country in Europe and Asia, not to mention South America. When he pressed a button, that country's government resigned and they telephoned him to ask who to put in next. You can't say that wasn't extraordinary. The eldest daughter, June, was, as I say, born in June, 1895. At the age of twenty she wrote a daring and sensational book called Riding Bareback, and a year later another one entitled Affairs of a Titmouse. Then she married a brilliant young New York lawyer named John Charles Dunn, who is at the present moment the Secretary of State of the United States of America. He sent a cogent letter to Japan last week. The magazine states that Dunn's meteoric rise is in great FR1;6 WHERE THERE'S A WILL part due to his remarkable wife. Mamma again. June is in fact a mamma, having a son, Andrew, twenty-four, and a daughter, Sara, twenty- two.' I shifted to elevate my feet. 'The other two extraordinaries are still named Hawthorne. May Hawthorne never has married. They are thinking of prosecuting her under the anti-trust law for her monopoly on brain cells. At the age of twenty-six she revolutionized colloid chemistry, something about bubbles and drops. Since 1933 she has been president of Varney College, and in those six years has increased its endowment funds by over twelve million bucks, showing that she has gone from colloidal to colossal. It says her intellectual power is extraordinary. 'I was wrong when I said the other two are still named Hawthorne. In April's case I should have said 'again' instead of 'still'. While she was taking London by storm in 1927 she glanced over the prostrate nobility at her feet and picked out the Duke of Lozano. Four other dukes, a bunch of earls and barons, and two soap manufacturers, committed suicide. But alas. Three years later she divorced Lozano, while she was taking Paris by storm, and became April Hawthorne again, privately as well as publicly. She is the only actress, alive or dead, who has played both Juliet and Nora. At present she is taking New York by storm for the WHERE THERE^S A WILL 7 eighth time. I can confirm that personally, because a month ago I paid a speculator five dollars and fifty cents for a ticket to Scrambled Eggs. You may remember that I tried to persuade you to go. I figured that since April Hawthorne is the acknowledged queen of the American stage, you owed it to yourself to see her.' ^ /ti tt 1 1 ? n^cfV^v^^ Not a flicker. He wouldn t rouse. 'Of course,' I said sarcastically, 'it is deplorable that these extraordinary Hawthorne gals have no more consideration for your privacy than to come charging in here before you finish digesting your lunch. No matter what is biting them, no matter if their brother Noel left them a million dollars apiece and they want to pay you half of it for putting a tail on their banker, they ought to have more regard for common courtesy. When June phoned this morning I told her--' 'Archie!' His eyes opened. 'I am aware that you call Mrs. Dunn, whom you have never met, by

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