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Chapter 2

Paul Drake, head of the Drake Detective Agency, slid sidewise into the big overstuffed leather chair, his back propped against one of the chair arms, his legs draped over the other. He regarded Perry Mason with protruding, somewhat glassy eyes which peered in expressionless appraisal from his rather florid face. When his facial muscles were relaxed, his mouth had a peculiar carp-like appearance which gave him a look of droll humor. He looked so utterly unlike a detective that he was able to accomplish startling results.

Perry Mason, pacing back and forth across his office, thumbs hooked in the armholes of his vest, tossed words over his shoulder. "A Church of England bishop who claims to be William Mallory from Sydney, Australia, has consulted me. He's a close-mouthed chap with the face of an outdoor man You know what I mean, the skin tanned as though accustomed to the bite of wind I don't know when he arrived. He wants to know about a manslaughter case growing out of drunken driving in an outlying county twenty-two years ago."

"What does he look like?" the detective asked.

"About fifty-three or fifty-five, five foot six or seven, weight one hundred eighty, wears the ecclesiastical broadcloth and collar, smokes a pipe by preference, cigarettes on occasion, gray eyes, hair darkish and thick but gray around the temples, a competent sort of an individual, stutters occasionally."

"Stutters?" Drake asked.

"That's right."

"You mean he's a bishop and he stutters?"

"Yes."

"Bishops don't stutter, Perry."

"That's just the point," Mason said. "This stuttering must be a recent development, probably due to some emotional shock. I want to find out what that emotional shock is."

"How did he take the stuttering?" Drake asked. "What I mean is, how did he act when he stuttered?"

"Acted just like a golfer does when he tops a drive or misses a mashie."

"I don't like it, Perry," the detective said. "He sounds like a phoney to me. How do you know he's a bishop? Are you just taking his word for it?"

"That's right," Mason agreed readily enough.

"You'd better let me check on him and get all the dope."

"That's exactly what I want you to do, Paul. The bishop is going to get in touch with me in an hour. Shortly after that I've got to say yes or no to a case involving a lot of money. If the bishop's on the square, I'll be inclined to say yes. If he's a phoney I want to say no."

"What's the case?" Drake asked.

"This," Mason told him, "is in the strictest confidence. It involves Renwold C. Brownley, and if there's anything to it at all, it may carry a fee running into the hundreds of thousands." The detective gave a low whistle. "It involves, among other things, an old manslaughter charge, growing out of drunken driving."

"How old?" Drake asked.

"Twenty-two years, Paul."

The detective raised his eyebrows.

"Now there weren't many drunken driving cases twenty-two years ago. Moreover, this case was in an outlying county. I want to know about it, and I want to know about it right away. Put a bunch of men to work. Cover Orange County, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern and Ventura. I think the defendant was a woman. Check through the records and see if there's an old manslaughter case dating back to 1914 where a woman was the defendant-a case which has never been cleaned up.

"Cable your correspondents in Sydney, Australia, to find out all about Bishop William Mallory. Cover the steamship records, find out when Bishop Mallory arrived in California and what he's been doing with his time since then. Cover the principal hotels and see if they have a Bishop Mallory registered. Put just as many men on the case as you need, but get me results, and get them fast. I want action!"

Drake sighed lugubriously and said, "I'll say you want action! You want a week's work done in sixty minutes."

Mason made no answer, but went on as though he had not heard the comment. "I'm particularly anxious to find out whom he's contacting. Get a line on him as quickly as possible, shadow everyone who comes in contact with him."

The detective slid his back down until only his hip pockets were resting on the polished leather surface of the chair. Then he spun around, lurched to his feet and straightened his long legs and neck, squaring shoulders which were inclined to slump slightly forward. "Okay, Perry," he said, "I'm on my way."

At the corridor door the detective turned and said to Mason, "Suppose I find out this fellow is a phoney, are you going to show him up?"

"Not me," Mason said, grinning. "I'll string him along and see what's back of the impersonation."

"Bet you even money he's a phoney," Drake said.

"His face looks honest," Mason asserted.

"Most bunco men's do," Drake told him. "That's why they make good in the racket."

"Well," Mason said dryly, "it's not too highly improbable that a real bishop should have an honest face. Get the hell out of here and get to work."

Drake stood still in the doorway. "You're not taking my bet, eh, Perry?" Mason reached quickly for a law book, as though intending to use it as a missile, and the detective hastily slammed the door shut.

The telephone rang. Mason answered it and heard Della Street 's voice saying, "Chief, there's a taxi driver out here. I think I'd better bring him in and let him talk to you."

"A taxi driver?"

"Yes."

"What the devil does he want?"

"Money," she said.

"And you think I should see him?"

"Yes."

"Can you tell me what it's about over the telephone?"

"I don't think I'd better."

"You mean he's where he can hear what you're saying?"

"Yes."

Mason said, "Okay, bring him in." He had hardly hung up the telephone receiver when the door from the outer office opened, and Della Street ushered an apologetic but insistent cab driver into the office.

"This man drove Bishop Mallory to the office, Chief," she said.

The cab driver nodded and said, "He asked me to wait out in front of the building. I'm in a loading zone and a cop boots me out. I find a parking place and roost there and don't see anything of my man. My meter's clocking up time, so I asked the elevator starter. It happens the starter remembers him. He says the guy asked for your office, so here I am. He's a stocky chap with a turned-round collar, around fifty or fifty-five."

Mason's voice showed no interest. "He hasn't left the building?"

"I haven't seen him come out and I've been watching, and the elevator starter says he hasn't come out because he remembered him. I've got three eighty-five on my meter and I wanna know where it's coming from."

"Where'd you pick this chap up?" Mason asked. The cab driver hesitated. Mason pulled a roll of bills from his pocket, pulled off a five and said with a grin, "I just wanted to protect myself by getting the information before advancing the money to cover the cab bill."

The cab driver said, "I picked him up at the Regal Hotel."

"And drove him directly here?"

"That's right."

"Was he in a hurry?"

"Plenty."

Mason passed over the bill and said, "I don't think there's any use waiting any longer."

"Not the way that cop's bawling me out, there isn't," the driver said, handing Mason the change, "and I just want to say this is damn white of you, governor. I've heard of you from the boys. You're a square shooter who gives a working man the breaks. If there's ever anything I can do for you, don't hesitate to say so. The name's Winters, Jack Winters."

"Fine, Jack," Mason said. "Perhaps someday I'll get you on a jury, and in the meantime your fare would doubtless give you a tip, so keep the change and buy yourself a cigar."

The man made a grinning exit.

Mason picked up the telephone, called Paul Drake and said, "Paul, start your men working on the Regal Hotel. He may be registered there as William Mallory. Call me back just as soon as you get him located, and be sure to tail everyone who contacts him."

Della Street, a model of slim efficiency in a close-fitting gray tailored suit, said, " Jackson would like to talk with you about the traction case, if you can spare a minute."

Mason nodded and said, "Send him in."

A moment later he was closeted with his law clerk, outlining the position which the respondent should take on an appeal from a large verdict in a personal injury case. From time to time, Della Street came and went, bustling about the office, cleaning up odds and ends of routine matters, as she always did before Mason became absorbed in an important case which was destined to occupy all of his time.

Mason was pointing out to his clerk the fallacy of the position assumed by the appellant in its opening brief, when Della Street entered the office to say, "Paul Drake on the line, Chief. He says it's important."

Mason nodded, picked up the telephone and heard Drake's voice speaking rapidly, with the drawl completely absent: "Perry, I'm over at the Regal Hotel, and I think you'd better come over right away if you're interested in that bishop of yours."

"Coming right now," Mason said, reaching for his hat as he hung up the telephone. "You needn't stay, Della," he told her, looking at his watch. "I'll call you at your apartment if there's anything I want. Jackson, go ahead and work out the brief along those lines and let me look it over before you file it." He rushed out into the corridor and caught a cab at the curb in front of the building. It took him less than fifteen minutes to reach the Regal Hotel, where Drake was waiting in the lobby, accompanied by a thick-necked, bald-headed individual with sneering eyes, who held the soggy end of a black cigar clamped between thick, pendulous lips.

"Shake hands with Jim Pauley, the house detective here," Drake said to Perry Mason.

Pauley said, "Howdydo, Mason," and shook hands, his eyes seeming to take a professional interest in Mason's features.

"Pauley's an old pal of mine," Drake said, closing one of his eyes in a slowly surreptitious wink, "one of the ablest detectives in the game. I tried to hire him a couple of times but didn't have money enough. He's got a level head on his shoulders and has given me several tips that have worked out. He's a good man to remember, Perry. He might help you a lot sometime with some of your cases."

Pauley shifted the cigar and said deprecatingly, "Aw, I ain't no genius. I just use common sense."

Drake's hand rested on the house detective's shoulder. "That's the way he is, Perry-modest. You'd never think he was the chap that caught the Easops, the slickest bunch of passkey thieves that ever worked the hotels. Of course, the police took all the credit, but it was Jim here who really did the job Well, we've uncovered something, Perry-that is, Jim has. I guess you'd better tell him, Jim."

The house detective raised thick fingers to pull the soggy cigar from his mouth, as he said importantly, lowering his voice and looking about him as though fearful lest he should be overheard: "You know, we've got a William Mallory staying here and he's a queer one. He left here to go someplace in a taxi, and I noticed someone was tailing him in another cab. An ordinary man wouldn't have noticed it, but that's my business. I'm trained to that stuff, and I spotted the guy in a minute when he pulled away from the curb. I seen him speak to his driver and nod toward the cab Mallory was riding in, and I didn't need to hear what was said. He could just as well have put it in writing for me, so I sort of made up my mind I'd keep an eye on this guy, Mallory, because his tail might be anything from a private dick to a G-man. We're running a nice hotel here, gents, and we don't want the class of trade that carries a tail. So I decided I'd have a talk with this chap when he got back, and tell him we wanted his room.

"Well, when he came back there was a red-headed dame sitting in the lobby. She got up as soon as she got her lamps on him and flashed him the high-sign. He gave her a half a nod and then went right to the elevator. He has a funny way of walking. His legs are short, and he just pounds along with 'em at a mile-a-minute clip.

"Well, gents, I figured that this dame in the lobby was waiting for him and he wouldn't be up in his room more than five minutes before she'd join him. Now, it ain't easy to argue with a guest and tell him you want his room. Sometimes they get rough and threaten lawsuits. Most of the times it's a bluff, but it's a lot of trouble just the same. So I figured it would be a lot easier to let this jane go up to the room, and then spring it on this bird-you know what I mean."

Mason nodded, and Drake said, in a voice which was a soothing murmur, "I told you he was smart, Perry. Plenty smart! That's using the old noodle."

Pauley said, "Well, sure enough, in about five minutes the jane gets up and goes upstairs. I figure I'll give her about ten minutes alone with him and then I'll make a racket on the door. But she ain't up there over three or four minutes when she comes down. She pushes out of the elevator and crosses the lobby like she was going to a fire. I started to say something to her, but then I figure I ain't got nothing on her and I'm going to have enough trouble with Mallory, anyway. So I decides to let her go, since she ain't a guest in the hotel, and if she'd make a squawk I'd be out on a limb.

"So I go up to Mallory's room, 602, and there's been a fight, plenty of fight. A couple of chairs is busted, a mirror's smashed, and this guy Mallory's lying in the middle of the bed dead to the world from a sock on the bean. The fight must have made something of a racket, but it just happens there's no one below and the people on the sides and across the corridor were out. Well, I make a dive for this guy's pulse and I can feel his pump working. It's faint and stringy, but still a pulse. So I grab the telephone and tell Mamie at the switchboard to get an emergency ambulance. About five minutes later an ambulance shows up and they go to work on this guy.

"Did he regain consciousness?" Mason asked.

"No, he was out like a light," Pauley said. "Well, of course I want to keep the name of the hotel out of it. No one knows anything about the fight, so I persuade the ambulance boys to take him down the freight elevator and out through the alley. Now then, here's the funny part of it: About that time, another ambulance shows up. Mamie says she only put in one call, but records show there were two calls, both of 'em from women with young voices. Now figure that one out. I can't do it, unless that red-headed baby sapped him to sleep, and then went down and ordered a wagon for him."

Mason nodded. Pauley pushed the frayed, wet end of the cigar back into his mouth, and scraped a match into flame. Mason glanced at Paul Drake over the detective's head and raised furtive eyebrows. Drake nodded in answer to the lawyer's unspoken question and said, "I wonder if you'd like to see the way a detective works, Perry. Jim's going up and give the room a once-over and see if he can find out anything that'll be a clue to who did the job. As soon as I saw you drive up, and knowing the way you work on a case, I figured you might like to see a real detective in action."

Pauley puffed out several mouthfuls of white smoke from the moist cigar and said deprecatingly, "Aw, I ain't no genius. I just know my business, that's all."

"Sure thing," Mason said, "I'd like to see Pauley in action."

"Well," Pauley said slowly, "of course the police might not like it if I took someone else in. They usually want house detectives to keep in the background while a bunch of hams, who are appointed because they've got political pull somewhere, go in and mess the clues up. But, if you fellows promise not to touch anything, we'll go up and give it a quick once-over. Maybe I can give Mr. Mason a pointer or two, at that." He walked toward the elevator, jabbed a pudgy forefinger against the button, and tilted his head slightly backward so the cigar smoke just missed his right eye. After a moment, the elevator cage appeared. Pauley entered as soon as the door slid open. Mason hesitated long enough to say to Drake in a surreptitious undertone, "Was one of your men on the job, Paul?"

Drake nodded, then followed the house man into the elevator.

"Six," Pauley said. The elevator shot upward and stopped. Pauley said, "This way, boys," and walked down the long corridor. Drake said to Mason in a low voice, "With any luck one of my men followed her, but don't let Pauley even suspect it."

They followed the house detective to a room near the end of the corridor. He produced a passkey, opened the door, and said, "Be sure not to touch anything."

A chair was overturned, two of the rungs smashed. A floor lamp had been knocked over and the bulb had exploded into myriad fragments of frosty glass which twinkled up from the carpet like bits of ice on a strip of pavement. A mirror, pulled loose from its fastenings, had plummeted downward to the floor and cracked into numerous wedge-shaped segments, some of which were still held in place by the frame of the mirror, while others were littered about the floor. There was a depression in the white counterpane of the bed where a man's body had been stretched out. A Gladstone bag, labeled "WANTED IN CABIN S.S. ' MONTEREY,'" was lying on the floor. Several articles of wearing apparel had been jerked from it. A light wardrobe trunk was standing open. A small portable typewriter was lying bottom-side-up on the floor. The cover of the typewriter case also bore a sticker, "WANTED IN STATEROOM S.S. ' MONTEREY.'" The closet door was partially open, disclosing three or four suits. Mason's eyes focused upon a brief case. A sharp knife had cut around the lock, leaving a flap of leather dangling grotesquely.

"The red-head tried to roll him," Pauley announced, "and he caught her at it. She konked him and then decided to take a look around, probably looking for money."

"Then this red-headed girl must have been a pretty hard customer," Mason said.

Pauley laughed grimly and waved a hand at the wreckage. "Don't that look like it?" he asked. Mason nodded. "One of the first things I've got to do," Pauley remarked, pulling a pencil from his pocket, "is to make an inventory of the stuff that's here. When this man wakes up, he'll claim a lot of stuff is missing, and he's as like as not to to claim some of it was taken after he went to the hospital because the hotel didn't use proper diligence in safeguarding the stuff he'd left behind Oh, you've got to be on to all the tricks to handle the stuff that crops up in a hotel!"

"I'll tell the world," Drake said. "You know, Perry, lots of people think a house detective hasn't got so much on the ball as some of the other boys because he isn't always out on the firing line, but you can take it from me a good house detective has to have everything."

Mason nodded and said, "Well, I have an idea we'd better be going, Paul."

"Thought you were going to stick around," Pauley said.

"No, I just wanted to get a slant on how you went at things," Mason said. "You're going to make a complete inventory now?"

"That's right."

"You don't mean to say you can make an inventory of every little thing that's in the room here."

"Sure I can. And you'll be surprised at how fast I do it."

Mason said, "I'd like to see that inventory when you get done, just to see how you go about it and how you list the stuff."

Pauley pulled a notebook from his pocket and said, "Sure thing."

"We'll drop in after a while," Mason said. "In the meantime, thanks a lot, and it was a real pleasure to see how you worked. A lot of people wouldn't have noticed that girl in the lobby."

Pauley nodded in agreement. "She was clever as hell. Just standing up and giving a little slant to the eyebrows was all the signal she gave. She'd evidently picked him up somewhere and had a date with him here in the hotel."

"Well," Mason said, nudging Drake in the ribs, "let's go."

Pauley saw them as far as the elevator, then returned to finish taking his inventory. Drake said, "Didn't know whether you wanted to play along with him or not, Perry, but I figured I'd give you a chance in case you did. He's a pompous bird, but he really knows the hotel game. A little flattery works wonders with him."

"I just wanted to take a look at the room," Mason said. "The way I figure it, the bishop was tailed to my office and found it out. He wanted to ditch the shadow, so he left his cab driver holding the sack and beat it back here. The boys who were interested in him were relying on the chap who was doing the shadowing to keep the bishop from coming back unexpectedly, so they'd have time to go through the luggage. The bishop came in and surprised them and there was a fight."

"Where does that leave the red-headed dame in the lobby?" Drake asked.

"That's what we've got to find out. I hope your men managed to pick her up."

"I think they did. Charlie Downes was on the job with orders to tail anyone who showed an interest in the bishop. I'll ring up the office and see if he's reported."

Drake called from a telephone booth in the lobby, talked for a few minutes and emerged grinning. "Check," he said. "Charlie telephoned in just a minute ago. He's down on Adams Street, camped in front of an apartment house. The red-headed dame went in there."

"Okay," Mason said, "let's go."

Drake had his own car and he made time through the traffic. Arriving at the Adams Street address, he slowed his car behind an old model Chevrolet which was parked at the curb. A man slid out from behind the wheel and walked slowly toward them. "What d'ya know?" Paul Drake asked.

Charlie Downes, a tall, gangling individual, held a pendulous cigarette from his lower lip. He stood so the two men were looking at his profile. He spoke from the right side of his mouth, which was toward them, while his eyes remained fixed on the apartment house. The cigarette bobbed up and down as he talked.

"This red-headed jane gave the bishop a tumble. He handed her the high-sign and went on up to his room, 602. A little while later the jane went up. I didn't dare to follow her, but I noticed the indicator on the elevator went to six, and then stopped. A couple of minutes later she came down looking plenty excited. She walked across the lobby, went down the street to a drug store, and telephoned. Then she came out, flagged a cab, and came here."

"Make any attempt to break her trail?" Mason asked.

"No."

"Where's she located here?" Mason asked.

"She looked in the lower mail box on the right-hand side. I took a look at the name on that box. It's Janice Seaton, and the number's 328. I buzzed a couple of apartments, got a ring and went on in. The elevator was at the third floor. So then I came back and telephoned the office and waited for instructions."

"Good boy," Drake said. "I think you've got something. Stick around here, Charlie, and if she comes out, tag her. We're going up."

The operative nodded and climbed back into his car.

Drake noticed Mason regarding the car and said, "The only kind of a car for a detective to have. Common enough so it doesn't attract attention, dependable enough so it'll go anywhere, and if a man wants to crowd someone into a curb, one more dent in the fenders doesn't mean anything."

Mason grinned and said, "I don't suppose we give this baby a buzz, do we, Paul?"

"Not a chance. We don't give her an opportunity to set the stage. We come down on her like a thousand bricks. Let's buzz a couple of other tenants." He selected a couple of apartments at random and rang the bells until an electric buzzing announced the releasing of the door catch. Pushing open the door, Drake held it for the lawyer, and the two men started climbing the stairs. They found Apartment 328 and listened for a moment in front of the door. Sounds of rapid and purposeful motion reached their ears.

"Packing up," Drake said.

Mason nodded and tapped gently with the tips of his fingers on the panels. A woman's voice on the other side of the door, sounding thin and frightened, said, "Who is it?"

Mason said, "Special delivery."

"Shove it under the door, please."

"There's two cents due on it," Mason remarked.

"Just a moment," the voice said, and steps receded from the door, only to return a moment later as someone made a futile attempt to push two copper pennies through the bottom of the door.

"Go ahead and open the door," Mason said. "I'm a mailman. What the hell do I care!" The lock clicked back. The door opened a crack. Mason pushed the toe of his shoe through the door. The young woman gave a little scream and tried to push it closed. Mason opened the door easily and said, "No need to get excited, Janice. We want to talk with you." He noticed the suitcase on the bed, the trunk, which had been dragged from the closet into the center of the floor the pile of wearing apparel on the bed and said, "Going places, were you?"

"Who are you and what do you mean by getting in here this way? Where's the special delivery letter?"

Mason indicated a chair and said, "Sit down, Paul, and be comfortable." The detective seated himself, and Mason sat down on the edge of the bed. The girl stared at them from frantic blue eyes. Her hair was the color of spun copper, and she had the smooth complexion which usually goes with such hair. She was slender, well-formed, athletic, and very frightened.

"You might as well sit down, too," Mason told her.

"Who are you? What do you mean by coming in here this way?"

"We want to find out about Bishop Mallory."

"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know any Bishop Mallory."

"You were over at the Regal Hotel," Mason said.

"I was not!" she blazed, with every evidence of righteous indignation.

"You went up to Mallory's room. The house detective spotted you in the lobby and saw you give the bishop the high-sign when he came in. We may be able to help you, sister, but not unless you come clean."

"You can understand," Drake added, "what a spot you're in. As nearly as we can find out, you were the last person to see the bishop alive."

She thrust her clenched fist against her teeth, pressing until the skin around the knuckles grew white. Her eyes were dark with terror. "Alive," she exclaimed. "He's not dead?"

"What do you think?" Drake asked.

Abruptly she sat down and started to cry. Mason, his eye tender with sympathy, glanced across at Paul Drake and shook a warning head. "Not too thick," he said.

Drake remarked impatiently, "If you don't get them on the run, you can't chase them around. Leave it to me." He got to his feet, placed a palm on the girl's forehead, pushed the head back and pulled her handkerchief from her eyes. "Did you kill him?" he asked.

"No!" she cried. "I tell you I don't know him. I don't know what you're talking about, and besides he isn't dead."

Mason said. "Let me handle this for a minute, Paul. No, listen, Janice, it happens that several people were watching Bishop Mallory. I'm not going to tell you who they were nor why they were watching him, but he was shadowed when he entered his hotel. You were seated in the lobby and gave him a high-sign. He motioned for you to wait a little and then come up to his room. You gave him four or five minutes, then went up in the elevator. After a little while you came down, and you were plenty excited. All of that time you were being shadowed by my men, who are trained to remember people. You don't stand any chance whatever of lying out of it. Now, then, after you left the bishop's place you went to a telephone and telephoned for an ambulance to come and pick up the bishop. That put you in a spot. I'm trying to give you a chance to get out."

"Who are you?" she asked.

"A friend of Bishop Mallory's."

"How do I know that?"

"Just at present," he said, "you take my word for it."

"I'd want something more than that."

"Okay, then, I'm a friend of yours."

"How do I know that?"

"Because I'm sitting here talking with you instead of telephoning police headquarters."

"He isn't dead?" she asked.

"No," Mason said, "he isn't dead."

Drake frowned impatiently and said, "You'll never get anywhere this way, Perry. She's going to lie now."

The girl whirled to the tall detective and said, "You shut up! He'll get a lot farther with me than you would."

Drake said impersonally, "I know the type, Perry. You've got to keep them on the run. Get them frightened and keep them that way. Try to play square with them and they'll slip out from under."

She ignored the comment, turned to Perry Mason and said, "I'll play square with you. I answered an ad in a paper."

"And met the bishop that way?"

"Yes."

"What was the ad?"

She hesitated a moment, then tilted her chin and said, "He advertised for a trained nurse who was dependable and trustworthy."

"You're a trained nurse?"

"Yes."

"How many other people answered the ad?"

"I don't know."

"When did you answer it?"

"Yesterday."

"Did the bishop give his name and address?"

"No, only a blind box."

"So you answered the ad. Then what happened?"

"Then the bishop telephoned me and said he liked my letter and wanted a personal interview."

"When was that?"

"Late last night."

"So you went to the hotel this morning for that interview?"

"No, I went to the hotel last night, and he hired me."

"Did he say what for?"

"He said he wanted me to nurse a patient."

"You're a registered nurse?" Paul Drake interrupted.

"Yes."

"Show me," Drake said.

She opened the suitcase, took out a manila envelope, handed it to the detective and immediately turned her eyes back to Mason. She was more sure of herself now, more calmly competent, more wary, and more watchful.

"So Bishop Mallory hired you?" Mason asked.

For a moment her eyes wavered. Then she shook her head and said, "No."

"What paper was it in?"

"I can't remember. It was in one of the evening papers a day or two ago. Someone called the ad to my attention."

"So Bishop Mallory hired you?" Mason asked.

"Yes."

"Did he say what was wrong with the patient?"

"No, he didn't. I gathered that it was a case of insanity in the family or something of that sort."

"Why all the packing up?" Paul Drake asked, handing back the manila envelope.

"Because Bishop Mallory told me I'd have to go with him and the patient on a trip."

"Did he say where?"

"No."

"And he told you to meet him in the hotel?"

"Yes. And I wasn't to talk with him in the lobby. He was to nod if everything was all right, and I was to go up to his room after five minutes."

"Why all the mystery?" Drake asked.

"I don't know. He didn't tell me, and I didn't ask him. He was a bishop, so I knew he was all right, and he was paying good wages. Also, you know how some mental cases are. They go wild if they think they're under treatment or even observation."

"So you went up to the room," Mason said. "What did you find?"

"I found things all topsy-turvy. The bishop was lying on the floor. He had a concussion. His pulse was weak but steady. I picked him up and got him to bed. It was a job-an awful job."

"Did you see anyone in the room?"

"No."

"Was the door locked or unlocked?"

"It was open an inch or two."

"Did you see anyone in the corridor?" Mason asked.

"You mean when I went up to see the bishop?"

"Yes."

"No."

"Did you see anyone coming down in the elevator just as you went up?"

"No."

"Why didn't you notify the hotel authorities when you found the bishop?"

"I didn't think there was any need. They couldn't have done anything. I went out and telephoned for an ambulance."

"And then came here and got ready to skip out?" Drake asked sneeringly.

"I wasn't getting ready to skip out. I'd done this earlier in the day because the bishop said I'd have to travel. He said the patient was sailing on the Monterey."

"What're your plans now?"

"I'm just going to wait here until I hear from the bishop. I don't think he's seriously hurt. He'll be conscious in an hour or two at the latest unless there are sclerotic conditions."

Mason got to his feet and said, "Okay, Paul, I think she's told us everything she knows. Let's go."

Drake said, "You're going to let her get away with this, Perry?"

The lawyer's eyes were stern. "Of course I am. The trouble with you, Paul, is that you deal so much with crooks you don't know how to treat a woman who's on the square."

Drake sighed and said, "You win. Let's go."

Janice Seaton came close to Perry Mason, placed her hand on his arm and gave it a friendly squeeze. "Thank you so much," she said, "for being a gentleman."

They stepped into the corridor, heard the door slam behind them. A moment later there was a click as the key turned in the lock. Drake said to Mason, "What's the idea in being such a softy, Perry? We might have found out something if we'd made her think it was a murder pinch."

"We're finding out plenty the way it is," Mason told him. "That girl's up to something. Make her suspicious and we'll never find out what it is. Let her think she's pulled the wool over our eyes and she'll give us a lead. Put a couple of men on the job. Run over to the Regal Hotel. Hand your friend the house dick a little more salve, and see if you can get a description of some man who came down the stairs to the lobby shortly after the girl went up on the elevator and before the house dick started after her."

"Anything else?" Drake asked.

"Follow the girl wherever she goes, and get that other dope for me just as quickly as you can-you know, the manslaughter business, a line on the bishop and all that. And remember to keep a tail on that bishop. Find out what hospital he's at and get a line on his condition."

"Bet you four to one he's a phoney," Drake said.

Mason grinned and said, "No takers-not yet. Call me at the office and keep me posted on developments."


Chapter 1 | The Case of the Stuttering Bishop | Chapter 3