The Case of the Lucky Legs

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Аннотация: A mistake at a murder scene dogs Perry while he tries to represent a woman taken in by a con man.

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Erle Stanley Gardner

Perry Mason — 5

Cast of Characters

in the order of their appearance

Perry Mason , who wants to be the first to guess what happened and usually is…

Della Street , his devoted secretary, whose soft heart for the underdog is equaled only by her concern for Perry Mason's safety…

Mr. J.R. Bradbury , a very substantial citizen, former President of the Cloverdale National Bank and a fighter who refused to be underestimated…

Eva Lamont , who signed the telegram that precipitated the hunt…

Marjorie Clunk , tricked, robbed, and betrayed by her notsolucky legs…

Frank Patton , motion picture promoter with a beguiling proposition…

Dr. Robert Doray , rising young dentist who ran afoul of the law in the big city…

Mamie , the blonde at the cigar counter…

Paul Drake , owner of the Drake Detective Agency who knows how to turn question marks into exclamation points…

Thelma Bell , another girl whose legs were lovely but not lucky…

Detectives Riker and Johnson , who thought they had finally caught up with Perry Mason…

Chapter 1

Della Street held open the door of Perry Mason's private office.

"Mr. J.R. Bradbury," she said.

The man who pushed past her, into the room, was around fortytwo years of age, with quick gray eyes that surveyed Perry Mason with ready friendship.

"How do you do, Mr. Mason?" he said, extending his hand.

Perry Mason arose from his swivel chair to take the hand. Della Street stood for a moment in the door, watching the two men.

Perry Mason was taller than Bradbury. He was, perhaps, heavier, but his heaviness was the result of big bones and heavy muscles, rather than the heaviness of fat. There was in his motions, as he arose from the chair and shook hands, a suggestion of finality. The man seemed as substantial as a granite rock, and there was something of the appearance of rugged granite in his face, which was entirely without expression as he said:

"I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Bradbury. Have a chair."

Della Street caught Perry Mason's eye.

"Is there anything you want?" she asked.

The lawyer shook his head. Then, as Della Street closed the door, turned to his visitor.

"You told my secretary that you had sent me a telegram," he said, "but our files fail to disclose any telegram by a man named Bradbury."

Bradbury laughed and crossed one welltailored leg over the other. He seemed very much at ease.

"That," he said, "is easily explained. I filed the telegram from an office where my name was known. I didn't want to use my name, so I signed the telegram Eva Lamont."

Perry Mason's face showed quick interest.

"Then," he said, "you are the one who sent the photograph by air mail. The photograph of the young woman."

Bradbury nodded and fished a cigar from his waistcoat pocket.

"All right if I smoke?" he asked.

Perry Mason nodded an answer. He picked up the telephone on his desk, and when he heard Della Street 's voice, said, "Bring me that photograph that came yesterday, also the telegram that was signed 'Eva Lamont. "

He hung up the telephone, and, as Bradbury clipped the end from his cigar, Perry Mason took a cigarette from a humidor on his desk. Bradbury scraped a match along the sole of his shoe and jumped from his chair to hold a light to Mason's cigarette, then, still standing, he applied the flame to the end of his cigar and was just dropping the match into the ashtray on the desk when Della Street opened the door from the outer office and laid a legal jacket on Perry Mason's desk.

"Anything else?" she asked.

The lawyer shook his head.

Della Street 's eyes turned appraisingly to the welltailored figure of the man who stood puffing on his cigar. Then she turned and left the room.

As the door clicked shut, Perry Mason turned back the jacket and picked up a photograph which had been printed on glossy paper. It was the photograph of a young woman, showing her shoulders, hips, arms and legs. The photograph did not show the young woman's face, but there could be no doubt of her youth from the willowy shape of her body, the graceful contours of her hands, and the sweep of leg which was displayed in the picture.

The woman's hands held her skirts very high, showing a pair of slim legs. Underneath the picture was a typewritten caption which had been pasted to the photograph and which read " The Girl with the Lucky Legs ."

Clipped to the photograph was a telegram which read:

SENDING YOU SPECIAL DELIVERY AIR MAIL PHOTOGRAPH OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE IN CASE I AM ABOUT TO PRESENT KEEP PHOTOGRAPH AND AWAIT ME IN YOUR OFFICE WITHOUT FAIL

EVA LAMONT

Bradbury crossed to the desk, stared down at the photograph.

"The girl who posed for that photograph," he said, "was tricked, robbed and betrayed."

Perry Mason looked not at the photograph but at Bradbury's face, his eyes holding that steady, watchful scrutiny which seeks to uncover truth beneath a veneer of stage setting. It was the scrutiny of an attorney who has handled clients of all types, and who has learned to calmly and unhurriedly brush aside layers of falsehood in order to get at the real facts.

"Who is she?" Mason asked.

"Her name," said Bradbury, "is Marjorie Clune."

"You say she was tricked, robbed and betrayed?"

"Yes."

"And who is the person who is responsible for that?"

"Frank Patton," said Bradbury.

Perry Mason waved his hand toward the big leather chair which faced his desk.

"If," he said, "you'll sit down and tell me about it from the beginning, we can probably make faster progress."

"There's one thing I want understood," Bradbury said, sitting down, "and that is that whatever I tell you is going to be in confidence."

"Certainly," said Mason.

"My name is J.R. Bradbury. I live in Cloverdale. I was a heavy stockholder in the Cloverdale National Bank and was its president for many years. I am fortytwo years of age. Recently I retired, to devote my time exclusively to private investments. I am a substantial citizen of Cloverdale and can furnish you with any number of firstclass references."

Bradbury's voice held the closeclipped articulation of a man who is dictating. The lawyer watched him with eyes that seemed to penetrate the man's mind as X rays penetrate human tissue.

"Marjorie Clune," went on Bradbury, "is a young woman of character and beauty. She is an orphan. She was employed as a stenographer in my bank.

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