He took his chaufeur's cap off and laid it on the seat between them. 'Wait'U you see the trail we got to take into the camp. Some fun for fifteen miles.'

'Secluded, hm?'


'Pretty wild. But it's a nice place. YouTl like it.' His voice went off tone on that, just a little awkwardly. 'Too bad he's got to close it up ifor the duration,' he went on, 'but I dunno how you'd get in there without a car.'

'I'm supposed to help him make an inventory.'

'Is that so?' Fred skipped the faint self-derision in her tone and was politely the recipient of news. 'Well, I guess the caretaker's going to move all the way out, then.'

'The caretaker's got a wife, hasn't he?' she said rather flatly.

'Oh, sure. She's a nice old dame.'

'Is she?'

Fred said softly, 'Don't worry.'

'Oh, I'm not worrying.' She crossed her legs. 'Have you got a match? Gosh, I'm sleepy.'

'Go ahead, take a nap,' he suggested. The car floated. The windows were closed against the morning chill. Soon they were above Evanston, sliding qiiiedy between the varying walls and fences that hid rich men's houses from the thoroughfare. The morning was perfect. Their comfort was absolute. The car went like thought.

'She's running sweet,' Fred said. 'Aw, something's the matter with me.' He thumped the wheel. 'Why should I feel so sorry? What business have I got feeling sorry for Innes Whitlock?'

'It's not for him. It's for the car,' the girl said softly. 'It's so darned beautiful and American. It nearly made me cry.'

For a second the car itself faltered, as if with emotion. Then Fred said, with an air of banter. 'Kind of sentimental, aren't you?'

The girl's face hardened. 'I haven't been sentimental,' she said clearly, 'since Saturday morning. What are you going to do when the tires fall off and you're out of a job? Enlist?'

Fred smiled, showing a gold tooth far back on the right. The wrinkles radiating from the comers of his eyes looked weathered in. 'I'd just as leave go in the Army,' he said, with an air of being reasonable, 'but I broke my foot a few years ago and the Army don't trust it.'

'Broke your foot?'

'Yeah, playing football. But the funny thing is, Mother

Nature has put in a bundh of new bone there, makes it twice as strong. Or that's what the doctor said.'

Alice, by opening her eyes wide, knew how to look very innocent and baby-doU-like. 'You mean the Army won't trust Mother Naturel'

'Well,'' said Fred, 'the Army makes a pair of shoes the same size as each other.'

Her eyes narrowed again with laughter. 'What will you do, then?'

'rm not worrying. I'll stick to Innes.'


'He can get me a job if he wants to. A man with a million dollars has got a lot of contacts.'

'How right,' Alice said in a low voice. 'How true! And you've got a contact with a million dollars. Hang onto your contacts. They matter. Three kinds of people, that's all. A few top people who've got something. A lot of other people, the smart ones, trying to make contacts with the top ones and get some of what they've got. And then a whole lot of dumb bunnies who don't know where the percentage Ues. Do you know about percentage, too?'


'Why, that's what you ask yourself. Is there any percentage? That's the way you tell who your friends are, whom to speak to, whom to be nice to, whom to . . . You be smart, Fred. Always watch the percentage.'

'Your philosophy of life?' Fred inquired politely.


''Since Saturday morning?'

'Never mind since when. But I learn fast. I'm quick,' she said viciously.

Fred said nothing. They were close to Lake Forest, now, where Innes Whitlock lived; and he turned from the main thoroughfare into a winding road and let the big car loaf along, not hunying.

Alice chewed on her lower lip. In a few minutes she said, 'Excuse it, please, Fred.'

'Yeah, but listen,' he said, as if the argument were his, not hers, 'it stands to reason you got to look around and see what goes on. So the whole world's full of chiselers. Chiseled themselves into a sweet mess and still chiseling. You can't get away from it. You look out for yourself and

don't get fooled. That's what I say.'

'Sure,' she said, 'that's what I say.'

'Why stick your head in the sand and make out like virtue is rewarded when . . .'

She turned her head sharply. 'Who said anything about virtue?'

Вы читаете The Case of the Weird Sisters
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