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25

Fleeced

Archibald Enders and his wife, Vernella, had long enjoyed living on Gramercy Park. Both in their seventies, they had traveled the world over but were always happy to come back to the town house where Archibald had grown up and give their staff a hard time. They werent happy if there wasnt something to complain about.

The Settlers Club virtually falling apart right across the street from them gave them a lot of fat to chew on. Archibald made sure he knew every disgraceful thing that was going on there.

As a boy walking docilely in the park with his nanny, as a lad on holiday from prep school, as a Harvard-educated young broker in the family firm, invited to teas and formal dinners at the Settlers Club, Archibald could remember when the club had been worthy of its surroundings. But it had been in decline for the last quarter of a century. The rumblings of commercialism had become a stampede. Now its new president was turning the place into a tacky madhouse.

Home to a dating service! The setting for a third-rate film!

And all the hoopla last night, with the wailing of police sirens and the shrill of an ambulance. All the people out on the street stopping to gawk. Whispers of diamond theft and murder!

Not such good publicity for an old club that was trying to attract new members. The Settlers Club will close its doors, he thought. No doubt about it. It will soon be occupied by someone more worthy of the surroundings.

And come to think of it, I have just the one.

He put through his second call to England that day.

Thorn, he said into the phone. I suggest you get over here on the last flight out tonight. Weve got work to do this weekend.


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