Charters and Caldicott

Charters and Caldicott by Stella Bingham Page A

Book: Charters and Caldicott by Stella Bingham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stella Bingham
Left over right.’
    â€˜ Your left over right, but my right over left.’
    â€˜Nonsense,’ said Charters impatiently. ‘My right over left, your left over right.’
    Caldicott made a few practice passes. ‘Which are you calling left?’
    â€˜Look here, Caldicott, get behind me and do it in the mirror. Then tie it as you would your own.’
    â€˜Easier said than done, old boy.’ Caldicott moved behind Charters. ‘Ah, got it. Right over left.’
    â€˜Precisely what I said.’
    â€˜No. What I said. You said left over right.’
    â€˜Just get on with it, Caldicott. Has Gregory been in touch with you at all?’
    â€˜Who Gregory?’
    â€˜The chauffeur.’
    â€˜Oh, your friend. I’m surprised he hasn’t been in touch with you. You’re the one he holds up with Smith and Wesson .38s. Gives one a certain rapport, I would have thought.’ Caldicott gave the tie a twist. ‘Is that too tight old boy?’
    â€˜Not if your object is strangulation.’
    â€˜Sorry, old chap. I suppose he will make contact as soon as he gets the chance. I only hope he doesn’t do it with a blunt instrument.’
    â€˜I’m quite sure friend Gregory is as anxious to talk to us as we are to talk to him. Odd that he turns out to be working here, wouldn’t you say?’
    â€˜Not if he and Josh Darrell turn out to be pieces in the same jigsaw.’ Caldicott made a final adjustment to the tie. ‘How’s that?’
    â€˜It’ll have to do, I suppose. What do you make of Darrell?’
    â€˜Too early to say. Seems open and above board so far.’
    â€˜You think that, do you?’
    â€˜I think so,’ said Caldicott, uncertainly. ‘What do you make of him?’
    â€˜I’ll tell you what I make of him, Caldicott. I took a walk outside before dressing. Now I use my eyes, as you know.’
    â€˜Everything is not what it seems in this house, Caldicott.’
    â€˜In what way?’
    â€˜Polystyrene gargoyles.’
    Margaret, elegant in silver and black, paused in the doorway and glanced around at those of her fellow guests who were already assembled in the great hall. Spotting Cecil St Clair seated at the grand piano, playing light, cocktail-hour music, she strolled over to do a little sleuthing of her own.
    She listened to a few bars, then said, ‘Ever since we met on the train, I’ve had this feeling I’ve seen you somewhere before.’
    St Clair stiffened but continued to play. ‘Is that possible?’
    â€˜You didn’t used to work in the music department at Harrods, did you?’
    â€˜I regret no.’ St Clair scowled down at the piano keys.
    Josh Darrell, smart in a restrained tartan jacket and cravat, joined them. ‘All right, break it up, you two. I want Margaret and a champagne cocktail to myself before this place starts to look like the Concorde departure lounge.’ He took a drink for Margaret from one of the waiters and led her towards the terrace. ‘You’re looking great, do you know that?’
    St Clair’s eyes, as well as his music, followed them. He too wondered where he and Margaret had met before.
    â€˜So we got you at last,’ said Josh. ‘Where did I go right?’
    â€˜I haven’t been playing hard to get, Josh. I’ve wanted to come down for ages.’
    â€˜But your chaperones were busy. Do those two guys take good care of you?’
    â€˜When I want them to.’ Margaret nodded to where Josh’s bodyguards were hovering in the shadows. ‘Do yours?’
    â€˜Rocky and Rocky II. They come with the job.’
    â€˜You mean you get them off tax.’
    â€˜Kidnap, hijack, they’re as much executive risks as a coronary these days. Now, tell me about your two. What do they do?’
    â€˜Not a lot,’ said Margaret laconically.
    â€˜What did they used to do when they did

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