Why Shoot a Butler

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Authors: Georgette Heyer
have a hand in the solving of this worrying murder. The colonel dallied for a moment with the idea of taking him at his word and leaving him out of the thing altogether. It would afford him distinct gratification just to turn the conversation on to quite trivial matters, chat for a little and then go, leaving this insufferable young man to wish he had not been so offhand.
    The idea was very tempting, but the colonel put it aside. He was rather dismally aware that he was not a particularly clever man, but he hoped that he was clever enough not to cut off his nose just to spite his face. It was all very well for the inspector to say that they would clear the whole mystery up as soon as certain data came to hand, but Colonel Watson had no great opinion of the inspector's ability to probe any mystery. A good routineman, yes, and a capable man, but it was no use blinking facts; this sort of thing was not in his line. Of course he didn't want to call in Scotland Yard. The colonel could quite sympathise with him over that; he didn't want to call in Scotland Yard himself. He hated those highly efficient persons who came from the Yard, and complained that they should have been called in sooner, before the trail was cold; and took the whole matter out of one's hands. Really, when one considered it, they were worse than Frank Amberley. He was much ruder than they were, because they took the trouble to disguise their scorn of the previous conduct of the case, and he never had any hesitation in condemning what he chose to think blamable. But at least he could not relegate them all to the status of lower schoolboys, and to do him justice he hadn't, over that Bilton affair, wanted to take all the credit of success to himself.
    He ought not to consult a layman. It was irregular, and he did not like irregularity. He ought to have swallowed his pride and called in the Yard at once. He had allowed himself to be overruled by the inspector, and now he dreaded having to apply to the Yard, for they would have considerable justification for complaining of a cold trail. There would be a great deal of unpleasantness about it. On the whole it would be much better to let young Amberley — well, he wasn't so very young, perhaps. Must be about thirty-five, he supposed. Still, too young to sneer at his elders. Never mind about that; no denying the fellow was remarkably astute. Yes, better to let young Amberley see what he could do. He was naturally pretty well known at the Yard, too, so it wasn't like calling in a stranger. If the Yard got to hear about it they wouldn't object. And really the way he had handled that Bilton case was masterly.
    The inspector, of course, would be furious. He had never got over that young devil sending him off twenty miles on a wild-goose chase and saying afterwards by way of explanation that he had put him on to a false trail because be couldn't do any harm there.
    A smile flitted across the colonel's worried countenance. He could still see the inspector's face; he wouldn't have missed that incident for worlds. Serve the inspector right! He was a self-important ass. And if he didn't like Amberley being let into it he could damned well lump it. The colonel had a shrewd suspicion that the tiresome young man was nosing about a bit for his own amusement. Well, if he wanted to dabble in detection he had better do it on behalf of the police.
    He looked up and was annoyed to find that Mr. Amberley, still leaning against the window frame, was watching him with that ironical smile he so much disliked. Damn the fellow! Do him good to have a setback once in a while.
    "Look here, Amberley!" he said abruptly, "I wish you would give me a hand over this case."
    "I know you do," replied Mr. Amberley, still smiling. "Frank, behave yourself," said his uncle.
    "Oh, I know his little way, Matthews!" said the colonel.
    "I've worked with him before. Now, own up, Amberley, you want to have a finger in this pie!"
    "All right," said Frank. "But it's

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