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From the personal diary of
-edited by M. Mitchell Marmel-
From the personal diary of Willow Fawnsworthy:
5 May 1935
Allan Minkerton viewed me with a jaundiced eye. "Have a nice vacation?" he growled.
"Absolutely spiffing," I beamed.
"Ye-es." A long pause. "Shame about the May Day parade in New Haven, wasn't it?"
I did my best to look innocent. "Sir?"
"That reviewing stand. All those high up Red Fist mucketymucks."
"Ah," I said. "Yes, gas main explosions are horrible things."
"Damned lucky explosion," Allan murmured. "Missed the innocent spectators." He grinned sourly. "Has anyone mentioned that no gas lines run anywhere near where the reviewing stand?"
I cocked my head at him. "Really? Imagine that." I beamed again. "An especially horrible gas main explosion then, traveling a couple of city blocks and erupting precisely-"
Allan waved me to a halt. "Never mind, never mind. Is justice served, then?"
I paused to contemplate for a moment. "A small down payment, perhaps. When New Haven is truly free once more-"
Allan rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. "MISS Fawnsworthy."
"Sorry, sir. No politics in the office, sir. I forgot, sir."
"Right," Allan said drily. "In any event, I have the details of your next assignment."
"I'm all ears," I said brightly, swiveling the auditory organs in question towards my boss.
Allan rolled his eyes. "Ahem. Okay. Your cover is to be a traveling companion and secretary-"
"Not again!" I cried. "One more whiff of camphor and old lady talc, and I shall-"
"-For a wealthy playboy," Allan said firmly. "Leslie duCleds, of the Wiltmington duCleds."
"Oh, well, that's different," I said, relieved. "Um. Is he housebroken?"
Allan grinned. "Well, Paul duCleds, his father, assures me that Leslie's trained not to paw the help." A speculative look. "Unless the help WANTS to be pawed." He passed over a dossier.
"H'm," I said. "Wants to be Clark Garble, but not quite. Think I'll use the mousy, handsoff persona for this one. What's the deal?"
"Well," Allan replied slowly, "young Clark, er, Leslie has decided he wants to be an adventurer. So, his father is sending him on a tour of the duCleds interests in the Far East."
I looked dismayed. "As in a slow boat for China?"
"Hardly," Allan said. "A rather up-to-date aeroplane, in fact. Two seater. Further back in the dossier."
I browsed further back. "Wow! An Ercorsair. That's the latest and newest."
Allan nodded. "Yep. Equipped with long range tanks in the floats, .30 calibre Bruinings in the wings, the whole nine yards."
"Kinda close quarters for long-range work," I said, studying the Ercorsair's sleek lines.
"You'll be doing it in short hops leaving from Santa Bearbara," Allan said. A longish uncomfortable pause. "One of the first stops, though..."
"Yes?" I asked.
"duCleds Industries has some interests in the Spontoon Archipelago."
I said nothing for a long moment. The pain in my soul was mirrored in my face. I sighed. "Very mousy persona, and I pray to God we don't cross paths...."