The Bath Mysteries

The Bath Mysteries by E.R. Punshon Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Bath Mysteries by E.R. Punshon Read Free Book Online
Authors: E.R. Punshon
claimant for the benefits due under the accident policy. But he remembered nothing much about her.
    â€œIt’s months ago, and one sees so many people,” he said. “A nice little woman, tall and dark, I think, unless I’m confusing her with someone else; spoke with an Australian accent; very like the Cockney twang, you know. Nervous, I thought; very natural in the circumstances. I remember one thing – that the coat she was wearing seemed quite out of keeping with her rather shy, quiet manner. It was one of those flashy leopard-skin affairs.”
    â€œWas it, though?” Bobby exclaimed, with a sudden catch in his breath. “Do you know, I half expected that.”
    â€œThere’s something else,” the manager went on, “you may care to know, as you seem interested.”
    â€œOh, I am," agreed Bobby grimly.
    â€œNaturally I come in contact with a good many in the insurance line, and the other day one of the Spread Wings representatives – very good concern, old established and progressive, a most energetic outside staff – told me he had just put through a £10,000 short-term policy and a £10,000 accident on the life of a Mr. Percy Lawrence in favour of a Mr. Andrew Berry. Lawrence has bought an outside stockbroking business – the Berry, Quick Syndicate – from Mr. Berry, and the insurance is to cover the risk of Lawrence’s dying before the payment for the business is completed.”
    â€œWhat,” Bobby asked, almost incredulously, “what did you say the syndicate was called?”
    â€œThe Berry, Quick – Mr. Quick was Mr. Berry’s former partner, I think. Yes, the Berry, Quick Syndicate,” he repeated, and only when he had thus repeated the name a second time did he seem to notice its significance.
    In silence the two men looked at each other across the office table.
    â€œGood God,” the manager muttered then, “bury quick. That can’t... it must... I mean, no one could, could they? Not play on words like that. Not possible.”
    Bobby made no comment. He got to his feet, a little pale, too. Even he could hardly believe the mocking, ghastly challenge in that name could be intentional. He said:
    â€œI think I had better go round to the Spread Wings office and get the address of these people with the – funny name.”
    â€œYes. Yes,” agreed the manager. He added sadly: “Our check has been cleared, and for us the case is closed.”
    â€œBut not closed, I think,” Bobby remarked, as he took his leave, “for this Mr. Percy Lawrence, though I hope he is not in the habit of taking too many baths.”

CHAPTER 5
A FACTORY OF DEATH
    All these inquiries had eaten up the day; and once again had come that blessed hour of relief when the City empties itself to suburb and country. But the address given him as that of the Berry, Quick Syndicate was not far from the office of the Spread Wings Insurance Company, and Bobby thought he would go and have a look at it, even though most likely the staff of the syndicate had departed.
    A few minutes’ walk took him to the building designated – one of those huge blocks of offices a simple-minded optimism caused to be erected in days when increase of business seemed nature’s inevitable law, and only King Solomon’s ignorance prevented him from adding purchasing demand as a fifth to his list of the four things that say not “It is enough.” This particular building was more prosperous than most, though, for it was occupied to nearly half its capacity. A lift took Bobby to the eighth or ninth floor, where, at the end of a corridor he had begun to think interminable – he had ascended by the northeast battery of lifts instead of by the southwest by west lot – he found two doors, one marked, “Berry, Quick Syndicate – Please Enter,” and the other, less hospitably, “Berry, Quick Syndicate – Mr. Percy

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