Rand shrugged, and managed to get some of the shrug into his voice. “Can be, at that,” he said. “I hope you’re not making a mistake, Mick; if you are, his lawyer’s going to crucify you. What are you using for a motive?”
“Rivers was outbidding this crowd Jarrett and the girl were in with. They all told me about that,” McKenna said. “And he and the girl were planning to use their end of the collection to go into the arms business, after they got married. Rivers got in the way.” McKenna, at the other end of the line, must have shrugged, too. “After all, for about four years, they’d been training Jarrett to overcome resistance with the bayonet, so he did just that.”
“Maybe so. You find out anything about that other matter I was interested in?”
“You mean the pistols? Huh-unh; we went over Rivers’s place with a fine-tooth comb, and questioned young Gillis about it, and we didn’t get a thing. You sure those pistols went to Rivers?”
“I’m not sure of anything at all,” Rand replied, looking at his watch. “You going to be in, say in a couple of hours? I want to have a talk with you.”
“Sure. I’ll be around all evening,” McKenna assured him. “If we don’t have another murder.”
Rand hung up. He pulled the sheet out of the typewriter, laid it face down on the other sheets he had finished, and laid a long seventeenth-century Flemish flintlock on top for a paperweight, memorizing the position of the pistol relative to the paper under it.
“Put those pistols back on the wall,” he told Walters, indicating several he had laid aside after listing. “Leave the others there; I’m not finished with them yet. I’ll be back before too long. If I don’t find any more bodies.”
It was raining again as Rand parked his car about a hundred yards up the street from Karen Lawrence’s antique-shop. The windows were dark, but Karen was waiting inside the door for him. He entered quickly, mindful of the All-Seeing Eye across the street, and followed her to a back room, where Mrs. Jarrett and Dorothy Gresham were. All three women regarded him intently, as though trying to decide whether he was friend or enemy. There was a long silence before Mrs. Jarrett spoke, and when she did, her words were almost the same as Karen’s when she had spoken over the phone.
“Colonel Rand,” she began, obviously struggling with herself, “you must tell me the truth. Did you have anything to do with my son’s being arrested?”
Rand shook his head. “Absolutely nothing, Mrs. Jarrett,” he told her, unbuckling the belt of his raincoat and taking it off. “I have never seriously suspected your son of the Rivers murder, I had no idea that McKenna was contemplating arresting him, and if I had, I would have advised him against it. Besides causing annoyance to innocent people, McKenna’s made a serious tactical error. He was misled by appearances, and he was afraid I’d break this case before he did, which I intend to do.” He turned to Karen Lawrence. “I talked to McKenna after you called me; he as much as admitted making that arrest to get in ahead of me.”