Why Shoot a Butler

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Authors: Georgette Heyer
    "I thought as much. Now you know we can't have outsiders interfering, my dear fellow. No need for me to tell you that."
    "Not a bit. I won't interfere."
    "No, no, you misunderstand me! That wasn't what I meant."
    "I know exactly what you meant, Colonel. You want me to act for the police. Very, very irregular."
    "Possibly! Possibly! But you have worked with us before, after all. This case ought to interest you. It's one of the most incomprehensible I have ever struck."
    "Ah!" said Mr. Amberley. He reached out his hand towards an open box of cigarettes and took one, and stood tapping it on his thumbnail. "I don't think I want to work with the police," he said.
    From the other end of the room Sir Humphrey spoke. "Then pray don't, Frank. I very much dislike this bringing of unsavoury cases into one's home. I see enough in my official capacity without…'
    "Quite, Uncle," Mr. Amberley said abstractedly. He put the cigarette between his lips and felt in his pocket for matches.
    "Do you mean you take no interest in the case?" asked Colonel Watson, at a loss.
    Amberley struck a match and watched the flame creep up the stick. At the last moment he lit the cigarette and flicked the match into the empty fireplace. "I'm taking a lot of interest in it," he said. "And I don't want to waste my time pointing out obvious facts to Inspector Fraser."
    "My dear sir, I can assure you…'
    "On the other hand," continued Amberley thoughtfully, "if I don't do something about it he's almost certain to queer the whole pitch."
    The colonel pricked up his ears. "That sounds as though you're on the track of something," he said. "Does it?"
    "Come, come, Amberley, you must be open with me!"
    "When I've got something definite to tell you, you shall have it," said Amberley. "At the moment I haven't. Meanwhile I suppose I'd better know what line the police are taking."
    "It's hard to know which line to take," said the colonel, frowning worriedly. "There is no data, you see. Nothing to go on."
    Up went Mr. Amberley's black brows, but he said nothing.
    "We have a man shot on a deserted road. No sign of struggle. No apparent motive, unless it be robbery. The locality seems to rule out the bandit theory, though one can't, of course, entirely set that aside."
    "Do you think you could try?" asked Amberley wearily. "I've no objection to Fraser looking about for a likely bandit; it ought to occupy his time very nicely. But I'm getting a little tired of hearing that singularly foolish theory. Dawson was not murdered by road-bandits."
    "That is my own belief," said the colonel, keeping his end up. "The locality alone…'
    "Yes, I've grasped that, Colonel. What you don't appear to have grasped is the considerable amount of data at your disposal."
    "I think I have all the facts," said the colonel stiffly.
    "I know you have," said Mr. Amberley. "I gave 'em to you in my original statement. They were refreshingly significant."
    "As for instance - ?"
    Mr. Amberley sat down on the edge of the table in the window. "I'll recapitulate, Colonel. By the way, it was a premeditated murder, you know."
    The colonel jumped.
    "I know nothing of the sort, I can assure you. I admit the possibility, but I should require very conclusive proof before I made such a positive statement."
    Just so," said Mr. Amberley. "You would be very wise. And now I'll give you the proof. You have the corpse of a murdered man discovered in a car on a lonely road. First significant fact."
    "The lonely road? I understand that you did not think that significant."
    "On the contrary, highly significant. You, Colonel, treat it as a merely negative link in the chain. The second significant fact is the position of the car."
    The colonel repeated rather blankly: "Of the car?… Well?"
    "Certainly of the car. It was drawn up at the side of the road, with the engine switched off and only the side lamps burning. Why?"
    The colonel made an airy gesture. "There might be several reasons. If the man was held

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