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Chapter 19

It was noon of the next day that Mason hung up the telephone, nodded to Della Street and said, "The autopsy shows he met his death by drowning."

"Where does that put everyone?" she asked.

"It makes Stella Kenwood guilty of a technical assault with a deadly weapon. It makes Peter Sacks and Victor Stockton guilty of first degree murder. The autopsy shows Brownley would probably have bled to death from a bullet wound which had severed one of his large arteries, but it also shows unmistakably that his death was actually caused by drowning."

"Can the district attorney prove the conspiracy between Sacks and Stockton?"

Mason grinned and said, "That's up to him. I'm not running the district attorney's office, but I think he can. Stockton left himself wide open when he arranged such an elaborate alibi for Janice before he had any reason to believe Brownley was going to be murdered."

"I take it," she said slowly, "that in the future Burger won't be so quick to issue warrants for your arrest."

Mason grinned and said, "As a matter of fact, Burger has asked me if I'll have dinner with him this evening. He wants to 'talk over the case.' Now that Bishop Mallory's regained consciousness and is going to live, Burger's got a pretty good case. I drove over to the hospital this morning to see the bishop. Mallory remembers seeing the yellow coupe, saw it swerve and deliberately drive into him. That, of course, is the last he remembers, but with the dent on the fender and human bloodstains on the back of the seat, Burger's got a pretty good case of circumstantial evidence. And remember, these men are rats. They'll turn on each other when it comes to a show-down, particularly if the D.A. can make Sacks think Stockton deliberately engineered it so he'd be in the clear and Sacks would climb the thirteen steps to the gallows."

"It all clicks, Chief," said Della slowly. "But there's one thing that still puzzles me. If the bishop is a real bishop, and not a phoney, what about that stutter?"

Mason grinned. "I thought of that myself," he said. "I asked Mallory about it this morning. He told me all about it: It seems that when he was a boy, he used to stutter. He cured himself of the habit, but every time he got an emotional shock, the stutter would come back to him. When he met the false Janice Brownley on the ship, and realized that she was a fake, and that his promise to Charles Seaton kept him from exposing a serious crime, he was so upset that he began stuttering again. He was still suffering from that shock when he came into my office."


Chapter 18 | The Case of the Stuttering Bishop |