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Authors: Elizabeth Daly

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BOOK: Any Shape or Form
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“Is that David Malcolm coming?”

“Yes.”

Miss Ryder's local help ushered David Malcolm into the living room. He begged pardon for arriving at teatime, was made politely welcome by his hostess, accepted tea, and sat down opposite the fire. He looked subdued, handsome, and thoughtful.

“I don't think I'll ever get over it,” he said. “I feel very low about it. I never even guessed at Redfield.”

Gamadge, eating a crumpet, said that they knew whom he'd guessed at.

“And wasn't that brutal of me? But don't let's go into the matter of brutalities, or I shall get a headache. Mr. Gamadge, could you suggest a job for a man with occasional headaches?”

“Yes.”

“You
could
?”

“Assistant to me. Mine's left me—going to set up as an analytical chemist after the war, if he gets through it. But you couldn't live in, you know,” said Gamadge, passing the crumpets. “My assistant lived on the top floor; now that's going to be given over to a young infant with his nurse, the electric stove and refrigerator out of my laboratory—till the war's over and I can get others—and about ten thousand bottles.”

Malcolm gazed at him.

“But you'd have the run of the inferior floors,” continued Gamadge, “and two big libraries—one in the office, one upstairs. You could almost learn the trade from them. And”—Gamadge smiled—“you could almost learn to write from them. Even a perfectionist could.”

“You mean this, Mr. Gamadge?”

“Certainly I mean it. As for the occasional headaches, I should ask you to consult a friend of mine named Hamish. You couldn't have afforded him before, his charges are awful, but I'll tell him you're going to have plenty of money, and he'll put off sending a bill.”

Malcolm sat with his untasted tea in its lustre cup balanced on his hand. He asked: “Would you mind telling me, Mr. Gamadge, why you're offering me this?”

“Of course I'll tell you. I never in my life saw anybody stand up to anything as you stood up to the danger you thought you were confronted with on Sunday.”

There was a silence. Then Malcolm, glancing at Abigail Ryder, said; “I'd been rather asking for something. My general attitude and conduct had been—er—irresponsible. It all seemed to have resulted in trouble for Cora as well as for myself, and I thought the only sensible thing would be to keep my wits and face the thing seriously.”

“Let me have such men about me,” murmured Gamadge, “fat or thin.”

Abby said: “Mr. Malcolm, you must try these cakes.”

Malcolm took one. “Thanks, Miss Ryder. I ought to say that Cora and I had some experience in keeping our wits in France. We managed to get some British out before we left. That's why we were a little worried about our own getaway—we were earmarked. Wouldn't you think”—he looked from Abigail to Gamadge—“that I could have managed to put up with
anything
from that unfortunate wife of mine?”

Miss Ryder said: “I don't see the obligation. You hadn't bargained for blackmail.”

“To tell you the truth, Miss Ryder—there's no use in being hypocritical about it—at one time I didn't much care what she might be capable of. But you wouldn't know about that.”

Miss Ryder changed the subject: “Are you staying on with your sister in your flat?”

“If you'll excuse me for referring to such a delicate matter, she won't be with me so very long. Do you realize that I almost ruined
that
for her?”

“Well, really!” She looked at him over the tops of her steel spectacles. “Walter Drummond was married, you know!”

“The stars attended to that,” smiled Malcolm, and then he frowned at himself. “Lord, that nightmare! Can I be joking about it?”

“I shall never joke about it,” said Abigail, “and nobody feels worse about it than I do; but I don't intend to let it ruin my life.”

“You adopt my cousin's attitude towards it,” said Gamadge “and you won't go wrong. It's settled then—your job with me. I shall be in my house permanently by the first of November.”

“I wish to heaven you'd ask me to do something difficult, instead of doing me a favor. Great heavens, won't you
take
that ten thousand dollars?”

“No,” said Gamadge. “I can't say that I was fond of Redfield, but I liked him.”

All the characters and events portrayed in this work are fictitious.

ANY SHAPE OR FORM

A Felony & Mayhem “Vintage” mystery

PUBLISHING HISTORY
First U.S. print edition (Farrar & Rinehart): 1945
Felony & Mayhem print edition: 2011
Felony & Mayhem electronic edition: 2012

Copyright © 1945 by Elizabeth Daly
Copyright renewed 1971 by Frances Daly Harris, Virginia Taylor, Eleanor
Boylan, Elizabeth T. Daly, and Wilfrid Augustin Daly, Jr.

All rights reserved

E-book ISBN: 978-1-937384-18-0

 

You're reading a book in the Felony & Mayhem “Vintage” category. These books were originally published prior to about 1965, and feature the kind of twisty, ingenious puzzles beloved by fans of Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr. If you enjoy this book, you may well like other “Vintage” titles from Felony & Mayhem Press.

“Vintage” titles available as e-books:

The Poisoned Chocolates Case,
by Anthony Berkeley

The “Henry Gamadge” series, by Elizabeth Daly

The “Roderick Alleyn” series, by Ngaio Marsh

“Vintage” titles available as print books:

The “Albert Campion” series, by Margery Allingham

The “Gervase Fen” series, by Edmund Crispin

For more about these books, and other Felony & Mayhem titles, please visit our website:

FelonyAndMayhem.com

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