Guy Duggleby and Bob Kane breakfasted on mountains of scrambled egg. They had enjoyed an unbroken night's sleep after disposing of the burglar. The hotel did not seem to be overrun with police. Either the corpse on the roof had yet to be discovered or the affair of a murdered burglar had been hushed up in order not to damage business. The two Englishmen were finding it difficult to believe that the body was there at all. Their adventure in the night seemed more like a dream than reality.
The seats in their corrugated French car were warm and sticky. Guy set a course directly away from the sea. Bob kept yawning to remind him that he rarely saw much of Sunday morning. He was quite surprised by the numbers of people at the churches on their route. Guy had to remind him that they were in a country in which nominal Roman Catholics outnumbered others by nine to one.
Large packs of cyclists were out and about. Bob ran his eyes over the girls purely to see how French crumpet compared with the English variety. Gradually, his attention focussed on the right-hand wing mirror, which gave him a rear view thanks to a slight bump received in the hotel's car park.
"Don't look now, but I think there's a green van following us," he remarked casually.
"You get that impression too?" said Guy.
"Are we going to do anything about it?"
"Such as what?"
"Try and lose them, for instance? Stop for some reason and see what they do about it?"
"Why bother letting them know we know they're following us? They're going to have enough of a problem when we get past Montpelier."
"Oh, yes," grinned Bob. "There's your executive brain in action again, thinking ahead."
"Don't forget, we mention we're hopping over to Aix-en-Provence. By the time that lot find out we're flying and get a plane of their own organized, we'll be long gone."
The forgers had just missed Guy and Bob at their hotel. The receptionist had pointed out the departing pale salmon car and informed them that Messrs. Duggleby and Kane would be back after lunch. His pursuers had been surprised to learn that Guy was not alone, but they remained confident that it would be as easy to thump two Englishmen as one. Albert's odometer had clocked up just over twelve kilometres when the car which he was following turned right, off the road.
"Hello, there are they off to?" said Scott Hamill.
"There is an airfield," said Paul Boulay. "Maybe they are meeting their friend Toby here."
"Aren't we stopping, then?" said Jobbo Wright.
"At the top of the hill. I have some binoculars," said Boulay.
Albert roared up a slight rise and pulled onto the grass verge. A long, narrow copse shielded the western side of the airfield from the road. The four forgers tramped through long grass until they had achieved an uninterrupted view of the airfield buildings.
The pinkish car was parked with two others beside a long, low hut. Two men, one of them in an olive green coverall, dark brown boots and a white crash helmet, were talking towards the four aircraft parked in front of a double hanger.
"I don't think they are meeting anyone," warned Boulay, sweeping the aircraft with his binoculars. "I don't see anyone else."
The two distant figures unlocked one of the aircraft and climbed inside.
"Back to the car," said Hamill urgently.
The sound of a distant aero-engine drifted across the field and through the trees. Then a second engine coughed into life. Albert roared down the road and swung into the field. As he reached the long hut, the aircraft was skimming towards the copse, rising away from its shadow. Hamill slid out of the van as it came to an abrupt halt and rushed for the door of the hut. He slowed to a walk as he reached it. Two minutes later, he was climbing back into the van, a pleasant smile fading into a scowl.
"They've gone to look up a mate but they'll be back this afternoon," he announced, making himself comfortable on the mattress in the back of the van. "Where the hell's Aix-en-Provence?"
"We can drive there in one and a half hours," said Boulay.
"Then we've got to find them when we get there. No, it'll be easier to wait for them to get back here."
"Can't we follow them?" suggested Wright. "There's three more planes over there."
"I thought of that," said Hamill, surprised that Wright had. "There's only one pilot, and he's got a sky-diving job in half an hour. By the time we could get another one sorted out, we'd have no chance of catching them up."
"All this is taking time," said Boulay. "The longer this Toby has the dollars, the more chance he has to spend them. And we have a lot at stake."
"No more than us," Hamill reminded him. "We'll have a word with them this afternoon."
Guy Duggleby rejoined the railway, which had taken a looping excursion to the north. The light aircraft crossed two canals and the River Rhône before the gleaming metal threads brought it to Arles. Guy landed to the east of the ancient town, having flown half of the distance to his stated destination. Getting a chance to practice his school English helped to persuade a youngster with his dad's car to give Guy and Bob a lift into town.
They found Toby Ryun sprawled at a table in front of a café, within sight of the Hôtel Jules-César, looking as if he had been through a hard night. He was sitting on the sunny side of the street because he had heard that pollen collects in the cooler shade and he was mildly susceptible to hay fever.
"You owe me sixty-two francs," Guy remarked, lowering himself onto a not terribly comfortable chair. "Left over from your hotel bill in Montpelier."
"Hello, Big T," added Bob, smiling at the bottle of white wine in a porous polythene cooler-sock.
"Help yourself," said Toby, reaching for his wallet. He had no objections to owing money to tradespeople, but he made a point of never being in debt to his friends.
Bob poured with a heavy hand into two spare glasses.
"What's the occasion for the reunion?" asked Toby.
"We hear you've been impersonating Jeff Jenner again," said Guy, tucking away notes and change.
"Run of bad luck at the tables," nodded Toby. "A change of name brings a change of luck."
"Most of it bad for your friends." Guy ran through a condensed account of the highlights of the week – the persistent burglars, a body in the Jenners' country retreat, Tom Duggleby's introduction to the inside of a police cell and the meeting with Inspector Forward in Nice.
"I knew those two were crooks," said Toby, taking a fortifying pull at his wine glass. He was no longer looking just listless – he was also looking sandbagged. "I didn't know any of this would follow, though."
"Which two?" asked Bob.
"Let's have it in sequence," Guy interrupted before Toby could ramble.
"Was it the beginning of the week?" Toby asked himself. "Yes, it was the night I burned off some ghastly Yankee widow at ratty. You know, baccarat," he added to Bob.
"I only know two people who play that," Bob he remarked. "You and James Bond."
"You know the type," continued Toby. "Cast-iron corset, blue hair, husband safely at home under six feet of earth in a ten grand coffin with a built-in stereo and a bar, leaving her free to blow the family millions in foreign parts."
"Sounds a good reason to be merry," nodded Bob.
"She wasn't looking too merry then she stomped off," laughed Toby. "Leaving me with a very nice mountain of kilo-franc chips indeed. About ten minutes later, this type palled up with me at the bar. Reckoned he knew me slightly and invited me to a poker game, You know, big wheels in the hotel room, the Cincinnati Kid and so on.
"I lost a few hundred francs while I sized up the opposition. Then I started to win. Whether I was holding a good hand or rubbish. That's when I got the itch in the old wooden leg. Either my new pals were philanthropists who had never learned to calculate poker percentages, or old Toby was being built up for the big plunge.
"I'd lost about six hundred francs, but they'd let me win about two thousand dollars. One of them was a Yank with the proverbial roll big enough to choke a horse. He must have had about ten thousand dollars on him, and he was mopping up the old sauce at a fair rate. Anyway, as I said, I was well on the right side of even. Then I dropped five hundred bucks on the next pot, taking a bit of a silly chance. Finding out how much rope I'd got."
"Guy said it'd be something like this," interrupted Bob. "Could you actually see them up to something? Funny deals, mirrors, marked cards..."
"Chaps with hearing aids being told what I was holding by a bloke with a telescope across the street?" grinned Toby. "I've seen that done, by the way."
"What was it, then?" prompted Guy before Toby could digress. "The edge they had?"
"I think it was mainly psychological," Toby decided. "Making me think it was my night, no matter that the odds said. After all, they'd just seen me pick up a nice bundle from that ghastly Yankee vulture. I was supposed to play a little recklessly on marginal hands, which would give a good player a winning edge over me. Such as a Yank who wasn't quite as plastered as he ought to be. There was plenty of booze in circulation for everyone."
"Generous of them," said Bob, topping up glasses. "This lot got any crisps, or something similar."
"Savoury biscuits?" suggested Toby. He hailed a waiter and gave an order in very English French. "So, anyway!" he continued, tapping his right temple with his index finger. "I realized someone was about to get burned. I won fifty bucks on the next pot – I did tell you everyone else was chucking dollars around, not francs, at this stage? Much more romantic. Then I dropped a small bundle, won a bit, lost more. That was the pattern. Encourage the sucker with small wins, but keep up a steady drain.
"And then the old alarm watch went off. I'd set it while I was getting a drink – mostly tonic water, but they weren't to know that. I told them I had a phone call to make to the States and stuffed the old readies into my pockets, nice and casually, ready to stroll off with the seven or eight hundred bucks they'd left me with. So one of the two blokes running the game... I did tell you two chaps had fixed it up and the other two were just there to make up the numbers?"
"Not yet," said Guy patiently.
"Both fortyish. One shortish with eyebrows like blackened toothbrushes and a rather sinister 'tache. His accent was New Yorkish, but it didn't sound quite right, The other was fairly average looking, and a Londoner or near offer."
"One called Rolf and the other called Lucky? Those are the bloke's who've been messing us around," said Guy.
"And now you've got this bloke Paul Boulay on your tail," said Toby. "Ah, your biscuits, Bob. Merci, gaston."
The waiter deposited a plate of round, crinkly biscuits beside the wine bottle and returned to his lurking position. He made no attempt to correct Toby's French.
"So they let you stroll off with your winnings?" said Guy to return Toby to the point.
"Hardly," chuckled Toby. "They said I could use the phone in the bedroom. Insisted I use the phone in the bedroom. Of course, the door to the corridor was locked and I didn't have a key. So I strolled out onto the balcony, hopped over a couple of railings till I came to a lighted window and knocked politely.
"The old dear was about ninety, but she seemed quite pleased to see me. I suppose that's the French for you. Well, we chatted for a few minutes, then I made my excuses and left, as they used to say in the Sunday papers. I shot over to my hotel and beetled out the back way, as you know. The blighters must have been overcharging me if they wanted another sixty-two francs."
"Let's get this straight," said Guy. "You walked out on them ahead of the game? They're not looking for you because you owe them a bundle? Say, because you caught them cheating and refused to pay up?"
"A good seven hundred ahead," nodded Toby. "Dollars, though, not proper money. Still, it's hardly enough to justify them beetling backwards and forwards across the Channel looking for me. I'd have written it off to experience and made sure I picked up a proper mug next time. I'm sure they could have made good their losses in the time they've wasted chasing after me."
"Which makes their reason worth knowing. It could mean there's something incriminating written on one of the notes. Or they might be part of the proceeds of a robbery. Perhaps that's where Mr. Boulay fits in. Perhaps he did the robbery and lent some of the proceeds to the others to flash around."
"Yes, that makes sense." Toby admitted, laying aside a smile of either scepticism or amusement. "I suppose we'd better take a look at the jolly old loot."
"So you've not spent it?" said Bob, sounding surprised.
"I'm still living on my winnings from the Yankee vulture," beamed Toby. "No, I was thinking about having the other lot stuffed and mounted, as it were. As a sort of trophy. To commemorate getting the better of a bunch of crooks."
Bob Kane released a hollow laugh. A person in his income bracket changes $700 into pounds and spends them. He cannot afford to hang so much cash on his drawing room wall.
"Where is it?" prompted Guy, keeping up the momentum. "The famous trophy?"
"In the hotel safe," said Tody. "Shall we take a look?"
Toby dropped a couple of notes onto the table, leaving it up to the waiter to get there before they blew away. Bob made sure that the bottle was empty, and trailed after his friends clutching the last few biscuits. Only the impossibly rich, or people in films or on television, abandon food and drink for which they have paid good money.
The hotel's safe was set in part of a cellar – a massive construction with thick stone walls. Instead of a large, cubical, steel coffer, Toby was surprised to find a bank of drawer-like deposit boxes. In his usual casual manner, he had just handed a large envelope to the manager, watched him count the contents and then trusted him to put the envelope somewhere safe. Toby had even let the manager look after the key to his box.
With much clanking of a gaoler's bunch of large keys, the hotel's manager relocked the grill in front of the deposit boxes and showed Toby and his friends to an adjoining examination room. Bob gaped at the thick wad of French notes. Toby and Guy turned their attention to the American currency. Toby had sneaked away from the card game with twenty notes. Half of them – a fifty dollar bill, four twenties and five tens – were genuine, having been issued by the US government.
"There doesn't seem to be anything terribly exciting written on mine," said Toby, examining the last of the five $10 bills.
"I suppose they wrote this on in the bank," said Guy, referring to a figure 47 in blue ballpoint on one of the twenties.
"Maybe they're loot," said Toby with a larcenous grin. "Mind you," the grin vanished, "I bloody well hope they're not. The coppers wouldn't let me keep them if they were. How do we check up on that? Discreetly?"
"I suppose people must still pay hotel bills in cash," mused Guy. "Even in these days of plastic money."
"That's that I've been doing," nodded Toby.
"So they might have a list of stuff to look out for. Maybe you could talk the manager into letting us have a squint at it?"
In fact, the hotel's manager had a surprise in store for them. Instead of producing a huge list of numbers to look out for – computer-printed on green and white listing paper – he told Toby that the procedure for checking suspect currency was to enter the details at the keyboard of the hotel's accounts computer and let the machine do the looking, which ruled out keeping quiet about any stolen notes.
The manager passed the dollar notes and appropriate instructions to an underling. During the delay due to the scanning process, Toby had time to tell the manager that he had won the dollars in a poker game and he was worried about being paid off in funny money. The manager nodded wisely, showing that it was something that he had encountered before.
Eventually, the underling returned to give Toby's winnings a clean bill of health – and put the trio back to square one.
Escorted by the hotel's manager, Toby returned his $730 to his deposit box. The manager projected an air of willing co-operation through the whole performance. He was more than willing to go along with the whims of a client like Toby Ryun. Not only did Toby have a deposit box full of French currency, which still wore the wrappers of the casino at which he had won it, he also had the manner and experience of a man who was wealthy beyond a windfall at the gaming table. He was the Right Sort of Person, and therefore worth encouragement.
"Well, what do you make of that?" asked Toby when the trio had claimed chairs in the hotel's lobby for a conference.
"I really don't know," Guy admitted. "I suppose all that's left to do now is to have a word with these chaps who've been following us around."
"Doesn't sound terribly safe to me," murmured Toby.
"They can't do anything too drastic as long as you've got your winnings locked away here," Guy pointed out.
"Maybe they're on the phone," suggested Bob.
"What are your plans for the next couple of days?" Guy added before Toby could wonder whether Bob was serious about phoning their pursuers and he asked how Bob proposed finding out their telephone number.
Tody shrugged. "Looking up a few friends hereabouts. And then off to Monte on Tuesday for a party. I suppose, I'm building up my strength for that particular thrash."
"Make sure you leave a forwarding address next time you shoot off," warned Guy. "Phone my sister Joan and leave it with her."
"Okay," nodded Toby.
"So what happens now?" asked Bob.
"Have lunch here, I think," said Guy. "Then hop back to Palavas and see if we can't track down the mob in the green van."
Toby Ryun gave his friends a conducted tour of the Roman remains in Arles for about an hour and a half. They talked in circles about the events of the week, but they failed to make any sense of them. By lunchtime, they had more or less convinced themselves that Toby's winnings were part of the proceeds of a so-far undetected robbery.
The hotel manager had taken a close look at the notes and pronounced them genuine. He seemed to accept Toby's story of losing francs and winning dollars in the poker game with just a nod of understanding. According to a detective thriller, which Toby had read once, switching currencies was a sly way of unloading forged currency onto unsuspecting suckers. Guy felt sure that the manager would dismiss Toby as an over-imaginative foreigner and allow the incident to gather dust in his memory.
The trio ended up at a café on the Promenade des Lices after a four-mile stroll. Some friends of Toby's were waiting for him, looking bronzed and fit as they swatted early season flies. The walk had given Guy, Bob and Toby healthy appetites and worked up a thirst. But Guy had to keep reminding Toby's French friends that he was on mineral water whenever they offered the wine bottles to his glass. They were used to flying, but always as passengers. Their custom was fortification, not abstinence, before a flight.
Guy and Bob spent more time saying their goodbyes and finding a taxi to take them back to the aircraft than the duration of their flight back to Montpelier. Nobody was waiting for them at the airfield, and no dark green vans appeared out of thin air to chase them during the final lap of their journey in their corrugated runabout.
"You know what they say, the criminal always returns to the scene of his crime," remarked Bob as they approached the coast road and the Hôtel Bellevue.
"Just because they say it doesn't make it true," countered Guy. "I always thought that was a plot device for authors with no imagination."
"Not admitting for one moment we're criminals or we've committed a crime."
"Apart from the purely technical one of not reporting a death. If that is a crime."
"Anyway, unless you're planning a stroll on the roof, going back to our room can't be considered returning to the scene of the crime."
"Oh, no?" grinned Guy.
"Well, yes," admitted Bob. "But not to the scene of where the body is."
"I suppose there could be some justification for it. The criminal returning to make sure he's removed all the incriminating evidence. Or just to find out if the body's been discovered."
"We're not going to make that mistake, I hope? Do you feel guilty at all? I don't. Funny, isn't it?"
"I suppose it's the lack of intent. And we didn't actually do anything. He threw himself back onto the knife. We didn't know he'd spiked himself till it was too late."
"I can't help thinking there's some natural justice at work. A bloke comes swanning into your room in the middle of the night with a gun and a flick knife, and it's him who gets the chop."
"Hang on to that thought," warned Guy as he slowed down for the turn into the hotel's car park. "I think les flics are here ahead of us."
"Why is my confidence draining away suddenly?" said Bob.
"Cops make everyone nervous," said Guy. "It's what they're for, after all."
A gendarme with a large, dark brown holster on his left hip waved Guy to a halt at the entrance to the car park. He ticked off the names of the new arrivals on the list on his clip-board, and he had no answers for questions. The guests were asked to park and report to the hotel's reception desk. As they were going to do just that anyway – to collect their room keys – Guy and Bob followed their orders without protest.
Another gendarme just inside the lobby ticked them off his list. The manager of the Hôtel Bellevue was standing by the reception desk, looking as if the world could not end too soon for him.
"What's happened?" asked Guy – in English for Bob's benefit.
"There has been a robber," admitted the manager, who could apeak eight languages. The sentence sounded terrible in all of them.
"Good job we didn't leave anything worth pinching," said Guy. "When was this?"
"In the night. Excuse me, M'sieu."
The manager stepped away as a tough-looking character in a leather jacket approached the reception desk. He had his five o'clock shadow an hour and a quarter early, and he looked like a gangster. His manner was abrupt and aggressive, as if he resented being a couple of inches shorter than Bob and Guy. He studied their passports, then announced that he would go up to their rooms with them, and observe while they checked their belongings.
Guy, Bob and the detective took a lift up to the third floor in a strained silence. The detective kept scratching the right-hand aide of his jaw and making a sandpapery scraping noise. Bob caught Guy's eye and made a comment about Desperate Dan, which passed right over the detective's head. He was too fed up at having to work on a Sunday to be interested in the chattering of a couple of foreigners.
Their rooms were much as they had left them, except that the beds had been made. Guy unlocked his case and checked that his electric razor was still there. Then he looked through the wardrobe and the chest of drawers. Bob emptied his shopping bag onto his bed and pawed through the debris, mainly for the detective's benefit. He could not imagine a professional hotel-burglar stealing second-hand clothing.
"Everything seems to be here," Guy told the detective in French, reinforced by a nod from Bob.
"Nothing is missing? Watches, money, jewellery?" said the detective in a disbelieving tone. "Credit cards?"
"Nope." Guy showed him the watch on his left wrist, which was its usual home except when he was having a wash or a bath. "I haven't missed any money, but it's not something I leave lying around anyway. Everything's in my wallet, along with my credit cards. And I don't think either of us has anything you could call jewellery." He had never been one for rings and pendants, and Bob had never been able to afford them.
"You were here last night? Both of you?" said the detective.
"Yes, I think we got back around midnight," said Guy.
"And you heard nothing unusual in the night?"
"Not really," Guy said with a shrug, telling the exact truth. Invaders descending from the roof had become almost a usual event for him and his friends. "Did he get away with much? The burglar?"
"We're trying to find out," said the detective unhelpfully. "You will be staying here tonight?" The question was fairly redundant because the time was twenty-past three in the afternoon and long past the economical check-out time.
"That's right," Guy confirmed. "Why do you ask?"
"We may have further questions," said the detective evasively. "Thank you for your co-operation, Messieurs. Just one more question. Does your friend have a motorcycle?" Bob's attire had baffled him.
"No," smiled Guy, "it's a flying helmet, not a crash helmet. We came over here in our own plane."
"Ah!" The detective ran his eyes over Bob's olive green coverall and brown boots once more, then he let himself out of the room.
"Go on, what was that about?" Bob invited. "Something to do with aviation?"
"He wanted to know why you're dressed like a pillock," chuckled Guy.
"Cheeky sod!" Bob lit a cigarette. His hands were almost steady. "What's all this about burglars?"
"I suspect things are going on that we didn't anticipate," said Guy. "Let's do some finding out."
"All right. How?"
"By looking in where they know everything. The bar."
Bob changed out of his flying gear. He was wearing a fairly respectable pair of bottle green cords and his Army surplus pullover when they reached the bar. Guy was wearing a similar outfit in the pale blue of brushed denim, but he managed to convey the impression that his clothes had been tailored, not bought in an Oxfam shop.
They had no sooner ordered token glasses of white wine than they were pounced upon by a self-important little man. He was barely five feet six inches tall, he wore a fussy moustache and he put a terrible strain on the buttons of his shirt with a prosperous belly.
Having established that Guy could speak French, he let loose a torrent of information, enjoying immensely a chance to put his fellow guests in the picture. With interruptions to translate for Bob, Guy learned that the pilots of a couple of hang-gliders had spotted a man on the hotel's roof. When they had realised that he was lying in a rather awkward position, and that he had not moved for a good twenty minutes, they had swooped down for a closer look.
The police had arrived a few minutes later in a blare of sirens. Having made inquiries, the little man had learned that murder had taken place during the night. He was a minor public official from Montpelier, who was enjoying a long weekend at the seaside, and he knew most of the policemen.
According to the senior detective, two or more men had been robbing the sleeping guests, but there had been an argument on the roof of the hotel. One of the gang had been tied up for a while – the impressions of ropes remained quite distinct on his wrists – and then he had been stabbed to death. About half a dozen guests had lost money and jewellery. The little man himself had lost five thousand francs and a valuable watch.
Guy thanked him for explaining everything, then he dragged Bob out onto the terrace and down the steep staircase to the beach. As they plodded along a belt of firm sand, half-way between sea and cliffs, Guy began to shake with suppressed laughter.
"What's up with you?" asked Bob when he judged that they could not be overheard. "D'you reckon that bloke wasn't alone? There was a hell of a lot happening last night."
"Don't be so bloody gullible," laughed Guy. "That fat bloke was as big a crook as our visitor last night. And so are all the others. He was on his own, our burglar. And those others are just out to do the hotel's insurance company."
"You reckon?" laughed Bob. "Maybe we should have had some of that. A valuable silver cigarette case, or something."
"That's our trouble. We don't think like crooks – always an eye open for a quick profit."
"So where are we going now?"
"I thought we'd do a recce of the opposition's HQ. You know, the house with the tall chimney and the dark green shutters."
"I know they reckon time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted, but what for?"
"To get ready for slipping back tonight to shove a note through their letter box. Telling them to phone us tomorrow. I think the quickest way to settle this is to tell them Toby's winning are for sale. For their face value, say, plus our expenses."
"You don't think we should bring the police in, then?"
"It's getting a bit late for that now. Rather too much has happened that we haven't told them. And can't tell them."
"Good point," Bob conceded. "Do you think that body at the Jenners' place could have been a warning? This could happen to you if you don't play ball?"
"Not really. It could have been an accident, like our bloke last night."
"True," nodded Bob.
"And it wasn't anyone we know – fortunately. And there was no threatening note, which you'd expect if it was Toby's pals behind it. No, I can't see any reason for the bloke to have been dumped there other than Horton Grand's a quiet spot and the Jenners were away. He may just have been in transit, as it were. Waiting for someone else to pick him up for final disposal."
"You mean, whoever it was might just have disappeared without a trace if big brother Tom hadn't shoved his nose in?"
"It's possible," nodded Guy.
Bob glanced to his right. It was not a topless beach, but some of the local ladies were doing their best to tan the maximum area. "Pasmatri na nyeyo," he remarked, recalling a fragment from distant evening classes in Russian. He nodded sideways, towards an impressive display of brown flesh on a pure white towel.
"Balshaya," said Guy, impressed by the mechanical properties of the sapphire bikini's fabric.
"Gromadnaya," countered Bob, evoking visions of cathedral domes.
"That must be it ahead," said Guy, returning Bob's attention to the job in hand.
They had covered three-quarters of the distance to the house with dark green shutters. The cliff on their right, which was thirty feet high at the hotel, had dipped almost to beach level. It was rising again as a fairly sheer face to a hump around two hundred yards further on.
"That could be their van parked outside," said Bob. "It's the right colour. Are we going to get close enough to check the number? And chance one of them looking out a window?"
"Don't fancy the idea," said Guy. "Hello, who do we have here?"
A youngster of about nine or ten was standing on a table of pale rock, peering out to sea with a battered brass telescope like a young sea dog, watching three idiots charging around the bay in speed boats, hoping that any two of them would collide. Guy asked if he could borrow the telescope for a minute. The youngster refused to part with it, suspicious of Guy's motives. Guy resorted to psychology.
He dug a handful of change out of his pocket and clanked it in his hand until he had attracted the youngster's attention. Then he turned his hand over and opened it. The youngster stared down at the coins on the sand, wondering whether he could grab a couple and make a getaway. Guy offered to hold his telescope while he picked up the coins. The youngster handed it to him and hopped down from his rock, accepting the deal.
"Yep, it's them all right." Guy swung the telescope from the van to the cliff in front of the house.
"Hang about!" protested Bob, noticing the change of direction. "I don't remember packing any climbing gear."
"You don't fancy a spot of nocturnal free-climbing, then?" laughed Guy.
"Not this side of the grave," said Bob firmly.
"M'sieu?" A grubby hand wanted the telescope back.
"Merci, M'sieu," said Guy gravely, returning it.
Considerably richer, the youngster returned to his perch. Guy and Bob headed back to the Hôtel Bellevue to find out if anyone else had been visited by the burglar.
The mystery of Mordeau's silence was cleared up for Scott Hamill and his fellow conspirators in the early afternoon. They were passing time at a café, waiting for Guy Duggleby and his satellite to return to their hotel, when the air filled suddenly with approaching sirens. Reluctant to draw attention to themselves by moving, Hamill and his companions watched a posse of police officers surround the Hôtel Bellevue and move in with relentless purpose.
The uniformed invaders forced clustering spectators out of the way to allow an ambulance to approach. Half an hour later, a stretcher bearing a dark blue plastic sausage disappeared into the ambulance and the vehicle departed without the benefit of sirens. Word had already reached the café that a man had been found with a knife in his back – not in one of the rooms, but on the roof of the hotel. Paul Boulay told Albert to circulate. He was a man of the people, who looked as though he had nothing better to do than hang around being nosy.
Albert returned a quarter of an hour later, fighting a grin. He sat down and tried for a serious expression.
"Well, that is it?" insisted Boulay.
"It was Mordeau," chuckled Albert. "Someone stabbed him."
"Who?" demanded Paul.
Albert shrugged. "No one knows. He must have visited some of the other guests on the way to the Englishman. Whoever was with him stabbed him to get his share. Mordeau took a shot at him, but there's no blood on the roof so he must have missed."
"You sure this Guy bloke didn't stick a knife in him?" said Hamill.
"That cream puff?" scoffed Albert, showing off a phrase picked out of an American film.
"How do you know he's a cream puff?" demanded Jobbo Wright, needled by the Frenchman's scorn for a fellow Englishman.
"All right, we know you could stick a knife in someone," said Hamill to head off a confrontation. "So where does this leave us?"
"I think we should go back to the house and wait there until the police have gone," said Boulay. "We'll come back to talk to this Guy tomorrow morning. Early."
As evening approached, a sultry stickiness filled the air. The police presence at the Hôtel Bellevue persisted until dinner-time so that guests who had been out on a day trip could be questioned. Ominous black clouds gathered out to sea and brought premature darkness when the sun had gone down.
The Jenners phoned Guy from Nice. He told them that he had seen Toby but he was still puzzled. Grant Hardy was flying home on Monday evening with his wife and the other couple. The Jenners were going on to Monte Carlo. They had enjoyed a good run on the tables at Nice, and they wanted to try their luck with Nicki's system in Monte.
"That's bloody typical!" moaned Bob when Guy had shared the other half of the conversation. "They've made their pile and they're still bloody winning!"
"Cheer up," laughed Guy. "Roulette is a pretty good way to lose it again."
"Don't bet on it," said Bob, looking out unenthusiastically at the black night. Rock climbing in very poor visibility wasn't something he felt that he would enjoy.
The storm broke at eleven o'clock. Rain lashed down like machine-gun bullets, coating windows with translucent streaks. Thunder crashed over the town. Lightning split the solid blackness of the sky. It was not a night for strolling along beaches and climbing up rock faces to deliver a note. Even driving up to the front door of the house with dark green shutters held no attractions. Guy and Bob retired early by holiday standards, intending to make an early start in the morning.
Bob Gets The Sack
Guy Duggleby and Bob Kane composed their note through breakfast on Monday morning. It was short and to the point: ‘For sale, $730. Price, £730 plus business expenses. Interested? If so, phone me. G.D.'
"That should do the trick," said Bob, folding the note and tucking it into the breast pocket of his anorak. "It seems a bit cheeky, just driving up and shoving this through their letter box."
"It's called direct action," said Guy. "I wonder what they can do in the way of papers around here?"
"You might get last week's Sunday Telegraph if you're lucky," said Bob. "Want me to get the car while you have a look?"
"Okay," Guy surrendered the keys. "Don't hit anyone."
With a hollow laugh, Bob headed for the car park.
Most of the French cars that he had seen came with enough dents to make the effects of one more shunt fairly unnoticeable. The town seemed quite busy at eight o'clock on a working day. Apart from the foreign names and phrases on the signs, and the fact that everyone was driving on the wrong side of the road, Palavas looked very much like his vision of a typical English seaside town.
"There's one of them," said Paul Boulay when Bob emerged from the hotel's main building. "He was at the airfield."
The dark green van was parked off the road, by the side of the low brick wall that defined the Hôtel Bellevue's car park. It had been there for half an hour.
"Where's the other one?" growled Scott Hamill.
"I can't see him around," said Boulay. "Bring him here. Use that. And this."
Jobbo Wright found a sack in the back of the van. He followed Albert, who was stuffing Boulay's gun into his jacket pocket. Bob Kane turned away from an inspection of cloudless blue sky and calm sea, and continued on towards the corrugated, pale salmon car. He was just putting the key into the lock on the driver's door when the lights went out.
"This is a gun," said a French voice, speaking English with an added American accent. Something prodded into Bob's back. "Keep walking."
Bob released an explosive sneeze. The interior of the sack was a dusty fog. He could still see his feet, and the man with the gun sounded as if he meant business. Almost at once, he was being bundled into a van and a rope was being wound round the sack to secure his arms.
"Just sit quiet, mate," said an English voice. "If you don't want a bashing." The voice sounded rough enough to persuade Bob that its owner was more than capable of making a good job of the bashing.
Bob sneezed again. He had his eyes closed to keep the rain of grit out of them. Being kidnapped was bad enough without the added torment of showers of stinging particles at every movement of the sack.
The van started a few moments later. His kidnappers had exchanged muttered remarks, and one of them had got out of the van for a while, but Bob had not been able to catch the reason.
Guy Duggleby left the hotel by the side entrance, carrying a second-hand copy of the previous day's Sunday Times under his arm. He was surprised to see the rented car still standing where he had parked it after the trip to Arles. He was even more surprised to find the driver's door unlocked. Wondering that had happened to Bob, he glanced into the car – and spotted the note pinned to the dashboard with the ignition key.
"A straight trade, this guy for Toby," read the note. "Stay by your phone."
Guy stared at the sheet of paper, trying to absorb the message. And then a pale hand reached into his field of view and past him to pluck the note away.
"M. Ryun is in great demand," said a smooth voice. "I take it your friend M. Kane is ‘this guy'?"
"Just who the hell are you, chum? And that's your game?" Guy said coldly, turning to confront the Frenchman.
"Police, M'sieu," the interloper replied simply and grandly. "They told me in the hotel you had just gone to your car."
The man was just above average height and a couple of stones overweight. His dark blue suit had seen a lot of service, and it would see a lot more. After a glance at the back of the note, which was blank, he tucked it into the right side pocket of his jacket. Then he produced an identity card from his inside pocket and flashed it at Guy.
"I suggest we go to your room and wait, M. Duggleby," he remarked in a tone that allowed no room for disagreement.
Guy locked the car and allowed the detective to escort him back to the hotel. He said nothing, waiting for the other man to speak. He felt reluctant to volunteer information until he knew the extent of the police involvement in their affairs. Everything had gone very badly wrong in just a few minutes. The good guys had been out-manoeuvred comprehensibly.
The detective dropped into the armchair in room 317, leaving the bed for Guy. He took a pipe from his left-side pocket, then he put it away again. He was around forty, two or three years older than Guy's brother Tom, and he had the same air of certainty that everyone else would fall in with his plans, But where Tom Duggleby was sandy-haired and solidly built, the detective was dark and had a drinker's pot.
"I am Inspector Girardin of Interpol," he announced. "I have been speaking to your friend M. Ryun."
"Not this morning?" said Guy, looking startled.
The time was just past eight o'clock. Any interview with Toby had to have taken place at least an hour earlier. And Guy could not imagine anyone getting any sense out of Toby Ryun at that time in the morning.
"No, it was last night," said the inspector smoothly. "I understand you and your friends were interested in finding out if some dollars were stolen? I take it you didn't know the hotel's computer asked a police computer about them?"
"No," admitted Guy, "but I suppose it makes sense. We just assumed the information was fed in manually from police lists."
"The advance of technology. You may be interested to know the notes are not stolen, to the best of our knowledge."
"We found that out yesterday."
"But," continued the inspector, rolling over the interruption, "one of them doesn't exist."
"What do you mean?" frowned Guy. "The clerk fed in the wrong number?"
"That was a possibility, but the wrong one," said the inspector with a superior smile. "M. Ryun did have a fifty dollar bill with the number in question. But it was not made in the United States of America. But your friend M. Ryun thinks the notes may be stolen and you will not tell him otherwise."
"The manager of the hotel had a look at the notes," Guy pointed out. "He didn't think there was anything wrong with them."
"I would think he has never seen a forgery of that quality before. But the number was conclusive proof. All banknotes are examined after printing and flawed ones are destroyed. If they are of high denomination, specially printed notes are substituted so that there are no gaps in the sequence of numbers. But the Americans have stopped replacing flawed fifty-dollar bills, as they have done with the lower denomination notes. Inflation has made them too common. They just make a note of the numbers of the ones destroyed in their computer records."
"That was a stroke of luck, finding a non-existent number in Toby's handful."
"Long odds come off sometimes, and they must have printed thousands of notes. We were bound to come across their mistake sooner or later."
"Unluckily for them, it was sooner. So that do you want us to do for you?"
"M. Ryun said you've been having trouble from people who want to contact him. We wanted you to put us in touch with them. But now they have kidnapped M. Kane..."
"It sort of changes things," agreed Guy.
"When they telephone you, you are not to mention my presence," ordered the inspector.
"Don't worry. I wasn't going to."
Someone tapped on the door. Guy opened it. A large suitcase began to move towards him. Guy hopped out of the way. The man behind the suitcase was around forty, of rather slight build and obviously of Italian extraction. He looked like a middle-rank Hollywood Mafioso, who was either hung over or heavily jet-lagged.
In fact, Calvin North had just been rushed to the US Treasury Department office in Paris to take over from a colleague who had suffered a heart attack. After a brief word with Inspector Girardin, he attached a cassette recorder to the telephone, then he retired to Bob's room to lie on the bed. He was a long way from getting himself attuned to the European time zone in France.
The call from the kidnappers came through five minutes later. Inspector Girardin rewound the tape, then he roused the sleeping treasury agent. Calvin North yawned into Guy's room, scratching in his black and silver hair and trying to force an alert expression onto his olive-tanned face.
On the tape, a Frenchman who spoke English with an American accent asked Guy whether he wanted to trade. Guy told him that he was perfectly willing to swap Bob Kane for Toby Ryun's $730. The Frenchman warned him not to bring the police into the affair – the usual warning delivered by most kidnappers. Then he told Guy that he would call again in about two hours, and rang off before Guy could say anything more.
"We are going to make the swap, of course," Guy said.
"Well," said Inspector Girardin doubtfully.
"Look," Guy put on a dangerous tone, "there must be more than seven hundred bucks of funny money around. If you try anything clever, they're liable to duck out of sight with the rest. Which won't go down very well with your bosses. And I doubt whether it'll go down too well in the British newspapers, either."
"Naturally, we will do everything possible to ensure the safety of your friend," said Inspector Girardin, changing his tune in rapid French.
"I'm glad to hear it," said Guy in the same language. "Because that's the price of my co-operation."
"But at the same time, we must make every effort to capture his kidnappers."
"Of course. You can't just let them go. I suppose your people took the forged dollars off Toby? We could do with having them on hand here then that bloke calls again."
"I must tell my superiors about the telephone call," said the inspector, refusing to discuss policy.
Tugging his pipe from his pocket, Inspector Girardin went into Bob's room and closed the communicating door. Calvin North, who was perched on the edge of the writing desk, used both hands to hide a massive yawn, then he leaned over to pick up Guy's telephone. He ordered a large pot of coffee for room 317, then he dropped heavily into the chair vacated by the inspector.
"Okay," he invited through another massive yawn, "what was all that about safety and your pal Toby?"
Guy summarized the remarks made in French, assuming that the inspector had reverted to his native language and put on a burst of speed to exclude and annoy the American.
"This deal is not going to be screwed up," said North positively, issuing a clear warning to both Guy and the absent inspector.
"Anyone who screws up and puts my friend's life in danger is going to be in more trouble than he can handle," retorted Guy in the dangerous tone which he had used on the inspector.
"Yeah, yeah," said North, not impressed by the threat. "Just as long as we understand each other. Know him?" He produced a photograph from the inside pocket of his pale check summer jacket and flipped it to Guy.
Guy studied the picture for a moment, then began to flip it back. "Never seen him before in my life. Hang on." He bent his arm again and took a longer look at the picture. "This isn't the bloke my brother found? At the Jenners' place?"
"Right in one. We think he's the guy who did the printing. Name of Inky Fergusson."
"Never heard of him."
"Didn't think you had. Suppose you tell me all you know about the guys who were bugging you and the Jenners in England."
"We gave the police statements..."
"Yeah, yeah. I've seen that crap." North dismissed the statements with a wave of his hand. "I want the straight dope. What you know, all you know."
"Or else?" smiled Guy.
The door of the bedroom opened at that moment. Inspector Girardin looked at the armchair, then at the bed, as if wondering what Guy and Calvin North had been saying about him in his absence. He looked a naturally suspicious sort.
"I have to see someone," he said importantly. "You will, of course, stay here, M'sieu," he added with a challenging look at Guy.
It was understood that Calvin North had also been ordered to remain on guard duty. The inspector danced a few steps with a waiter in the doorway, then he plodded heavily to the lift. He looked the sort of man who hates hot weather and the stickiness that it creates. The day was becoming warmer and heavier by the hour.
Calvin North allowed Guy to sign the bill, but he dropped a tip onto the cork-lined tray. The waiter pocketed the tip, inclined his head in a sketch of a bow which took in both customers, and ghosted out of the room. North poured into two of the three cups, then he clicked sweetener tablets into his cup. Guy stirred a lick of cream into his coffee.
"Okay," said North, pulling a face over his cup. "I wish these guys could make decent java."
"Nothing wrong with mine," said Guy.
"Okay," repeated North, "the straight poop. No written statements, no tape records, everything you tell me is for information only, off the record."
"It would be nice to believe that," smiled Guy.
"Look," yawned North, "I know you weren't one hundred per cent straight with that cop in Nice. Because you wanted to talk to this guy Toby first. I don't give a shit about that. I want the guys with the funny money and I want their plates. Before that French son of a bitch screws everything up. Nice little firm, Allen-Duggleby."
"What's that?" invited Guy, a trace of a laugh in his voice. "A sort of threat?" He put on an East-End gangster accent. "Nice little firm you got there, John. Pity if something happened to it, you know that I mean? Like if it got broken?"
"I was going to say," said North wearily, "co-operate with us and Uncle Sam could throw some business your way. We look after our friends. And we have a lot of people with a lot of buying power in your country."
"Aren't the French your pals?" frowned Guy. "I get the distinct impression you're trying to shut them out."
"The French!" scoffed North. "They were a pain in your asses in World War Two. Then they wouldn't let you into the EEC till you were too desperate to read the fine print. And now you're in, they're screwing the hell out of you. Who needs that sort of friend?"
"What have they done to you recently?" prodded Guy. "Or hasn't Uncle Sam forgiven them for pulling out of NATO and making you shift all your bases to Belgium?"
"I think these bastards are going to bust their end of the deal and collect their medals. Even if they tip off the English end. I've been telling them since I got down here at zero four-thirty this morning, hold off till we've tied down all the loose ends. But will they listen?"
"Will they hell," said Guy, answering a rhetorical question.
"Right," said North, his flow stopped by the unexpected agreement.
"I find this very hard to believe. Surely the French end of Interpol is staffed with experienced and responsible cops?"
"They say they can bust their end and keep it quiet," sneered North. "But things leak. And we don't know how many zillions of bucks these guys have printed. The stuff I've seen is great. We have to get all these guys. And the plates."
"How do you know they weren't made in France?"
"We don't know nothing, except Inky Fergusson hasn't left England in a coon's age. We haven't had time to do all the digging for information. And people haven't been levelling with us."
"One of the disadvantages of levelling is self-incrimination," said Guy delicately. "Hence the Fifth Amendment to your Constitution. If I tell you things, you tell Inspector What's-his-name and he tells some Interpol mate at New Scotland Yard, and so on. I don't think we've actually broken the law, but if we haven't been as forthcoming as we might, certain British cops could get peevish and make life difficult for us to show us who's boss."
"I'm working with Inspector What's-his-name," North pointed out. "If you tell me something, it's the same as telling him."
"If you remember to pass it on?"
"Have we got a deal or not?" yawned the T-Man.
Guy told him about the mid-week visitors at the Jenners' country home, and the subsequent identification of the gamblers Cotton and Weinbaum. He skipped through the search for Toby, mentioning the dark green van which had been following him and Bob but omitting the visit from the man who had been found dead on the hotel's roof. The story ended with Guy and Bob spotting the van the previous afternoon, parked at the isolated house with dark green shutters and a tall chimney.
"Okay," nodded North, twitching an index finger backwards and forwards to point at each of them in alternation. "This is between us two. You've told me, so you don't need to tell that French son of a bitch. You don't want to make trouble for yourself, do you?"
"Was that another rather crude attempt at blackmail? Because I'm getting a bit pissed off with them," Guy added.
"Yeah, I suppose it was," North admitted through another yawn. "It gets to be a sort of reflex when you've not had any sleep for a couple of days. Okay, you concentrate on getting your pal back and forget about the rest of it."
The treasury agent dragged himself out of his chair and recovered a police-type radio transceiver from his suitcase. He went into Bob's room and closed the door firmly. Guy considered creeping over to the door to listen, then he poured himself more coffee. If the United States Treasury Department was fighting World War Three with the French branch of Interpol, Guy felt safer not knowing that Calvin North was plotting.
Bob Kane's coughs and sneezes eventually told his kidnappers that all was not well inside the sack. The van pulled over to the side of the road. It lurched as someone got out through the back door, which slammed shut again. Hands turned Bob. Then the securing rope was removed.
"Okay," said the French/American voice. "Keep facing the back of the van and you can take the sack off. Turn round, and I'll blow your goddam head off."
Bob struggled out of the sack. He was allowed to comb and shake the dust out of his hair and beard, and wash the grit out of his eyes with the aid of a piece of white rag and bottled mineral water. Then he took a long drink from the bottle to lay the dust in his throat.
"Okay, that's enough," said the spokesman. "Lean back. We're going to put a blindfold on you."
The view through the rear window was about as memorable as the interior of the back of the van. Deciding that he was missing nothing, Bob obeyed and leaned back. Another length of the white rag was round twice round his head and tied at the back. It formed an impenetrable blindfold, and it also muffled external sounds.
Two men climbed into the back of the van. Bob tried to follow its course, in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, by sound and the turns that it made. Shortly after the stop to change blindfolds, the van passed through a busy town. A long time later – perhaps three-quarters of an hour but Bob had lost all track of time – the vehicle began to climb. Bob assumed, correctly, that they were travelling to the north. He remembered from Guy's atlas that there was a huge yellow and brown area to the right of the Rhône valley.
The kidnappers' destination lay in the high ground. After a journey of sixty-five miles, Albert turned off the road and drove round to the back of a square stone house with a dark brown roof. It was another of Paul Boulay's collection of retreats. It stood well back from the road on the edge of a small town.
"I could do with another drink," Bob remarked then he heard the driver apply the handbrake. "And a smoke."
"Get out," said the spokesmen.
The door at the back of the van opened with a faint but distinctive creak. Two hands guided Bob down to the smooth surface of the yard, and then to a low wall. A bottle was placed in his right hand when Bob had perched himself securely. To his surprise, one of the kidnappers pushed a cigarette into his other hand. He was even more surprised to find, when he lit it by waving his lighter in about the right area and inhaled, that it was one of the milder British brands.
"What happens now?" asked Bob, putting his lighter back into his pocket. He was growing quite used to his world of darkness, but his balance remained uncertain. He was always on the verge of falling over. And he was feeling more bored than frightened.
"You sit there until we tell you to move," said Paul Boulay, who had done most of the talking.
"All this is a waste of time, you know," said Bob.
"Shut up," returned Boulay.
"No, listen, we're willing to trade," persisted Bob. "We were on our way to deliver this." He reached into his anorak pocket and produced the note which he and Guy had composed at breakfast
"What's that?" said Boulay.
Albert plucked the note from Bob's hand and passed it to his partner.
"‘For sale, $730 Price, £730 plus business expenses'," read Boulay. "‘Interested? If so, phone me. G.D.' What's this about?"
"We were on our way to deliver it when you grabbed me," Bob explained in a patient tone.
"Deliver it there?" demanded Scott Hamill.
Bob turned his head in the approximate direction of the new voice, which was English and from the south-east. "To your place. Down the road from the hotel."
"What place is this?" said Boulay, admitting nothing.
Bob shrugged. "We saw your van parked outside it yesterday. The one you were following us in."
"Are you serious about this deal?" said Boulay sceptically.
"Why else would I have the note?" said Bob. "And I could hardly have written it on the way here."
"Why'?" said Hamill. "Why do you want this deal? What's in it for you, exactly?"
"It's the easy way out for everyone," said Bob. "You know who we are, but we haven't a clue who you are. Yet. So at the moment, we have to keep looking over our shoulders all the time and you have complete freedom of action. But if we sell you back the stolen money, we've got no evidence. And if we've got nothing on you, we can stop chasing each other around."
"What stolen money?" said Hamill.
Bob shrugged again. "All right, deny it. But it's perfectly obvious Toby's winning are part of the haul from a robbery no one's found out about yet. Those guys in the hotel were flashing it around to make Toby think they didn't need the grand or two they were planning to take off him."
"Real smart guy, figuring that out," chuckled Boulay, grinning at Hamill.
"We've got our heads screwed on the right way, me and Guy," agreed Bob. "We soon figured out what the game was."
"Sounds like we'd better phone this Guy again," said Boulay.
Leaving Bob armed with a cigarette and a plastic bottle of mineral water, Boulay led Hamill into the low-ceilinged living room of the stone house. They were wearing grins of relief. Nobody had spent the forged notes and the people who had them had worked out a completely wrong reason for their special value – a reason which threw suspicion in completely the wrong direction.
Whistling confidently, Paul Boulay dialled the number of the Hôtel Bellevue in Palavas. The switchboard put him through to room 317 with commendable efficiency.
"I hear you want to trade," he said when Guy had identified himself. "I got your note."
"If you hadn't been in so much of a rush, you'd have got it two hours ago," said Guy.
"Yeah, yeah," said Boulay impatiently. "Still want to trade? This guy we've got for the dollars? Your pal Toby can pay your expenses."
"If that's your best offer, okay. I'm not actually sure where Toby is at the moment. He may have gone back to England." Guy had not heard from Inspector Girardin for over an hour and a half and he felt the need to buy time. "We weren't expecting things to go quite as fast as they have."
"So how long will it take you to get the dollars?"
"We'll get them to you as quickly as possible. We'd rather not have them on our hands when someone finds they've gone. In case they think we took them. How about a word with Bob to make sure he's okay?"
"He's still okay." Boulay looked through the window on his left. "He's sitting on a wall, smoking a cigarette at this very minute. I will call you again before noon."
The phone clicked in Guy's ear. He replaced the receiver and rewound the cassette on the treasury agent's recorder. Then he woke Calvin North. Starting to look more alert after his nap, North ordered more coffee from room service and listened to the latest conversation with the kidnappers, which lasted just over one minute.
"What's this about your pal Toby going to England?" he demanded. "He was told to stay put in Arles."
Guy shrugged. "I was stalling. I've not heard anything from that Interpol bloke since he shot off."
"Maybe he's gone back home for his lunch break. And what's all this about a note and trading with them?"
Guy admitted that he and Bob had been planning to sell Toby's winnings back to their original owners, assuming that the dollars had been stolen, not forged. The treasury agent looked horrified by such a casual attitude to a crime against the sacred Buck. But he forced down a cup of French coffee then the waiter delivered it and went back to sleep instead of delivering the expected sermon.
Guy settled down with his Sunday Times and the rest of the coffee, filing a mental note to make sure that Interpol picked up the bill for Inspector Girardin's phone call and that the US Treasury Department paid for a share of the coffee.
Sixty-five miles away, Paul Boulay told Scott Hamill that the elusive Toby might have gone back to England, but that the dollars were still safe.
"Maybe he's scared of us," suggested Hamill. "Maybe he doesn't want a body dumped on him," he added dangerously.
"How will he know you have been dumping bodies on people?" countered Boulay. "Maybe you should go to England to be ready to deal with this Toby. We had better get back to the house to move our dollars in case M'sieu Guy goes looking there."
"What about him?" Hamill nodded through the window to the blindfolded figure on the low wall.
"I'm just wondering if we need him any more," said Boulay.