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By Dick Francis

A automated horse-betting method falls into Jonathan Derry's hands--and except he returns it to the rightful proprietors, the chances of his survival are narrow to none.

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She acknowledged. “Whose destiny? ” I requested, bewildered. “The church’s, after all. ” “Oh,” I stated. “The fête. ” She checked out me as though I have been absolutely silly, which from her viewpoint, I without doubt used to be. “If you narrow the peonies tonight,” she stated, “they’ll be lifeless via Saturday. ” Her voice used to be distinguishably Irish, yet with the natural vowels of schooling, and her phrases have been already a dismissal. She used to be protecting directly to the door with one hand and its body with the opposite, and used to be on the brink of irrevocably rejoining them. “Please,” I acknowledged rapidly, “show me the peonies . . . in order that I’ll understand which to choose . . . on Saturday. ” The half-begun flow used to be arrested. The previous girl thought of for a second after which stepped out earlier the lilac into complete view, revealing a waif-thin body wearing a rust-colored jersey, slender navy-blue trousers, and pink-and-green-checked bed room slippers. “ ’Round the back,” she acknowledged. She seemed me up and down, yet observed not anything it sounds as if to doubt. “This approach. ” She led me round the condo alongside a course whose flat sunken paving stones merged on the edges with the weedy overgrowth of what may perhaps as soon as were flower beds. previous a shoulder-high stack of sawn logs, contrastingly neat. earlier a closed facet door. earlier a greenhouse packed with the straggly stalks of many lifeless geraniums. previous a wheelbarrow choked with cinders, approximately whose goal you'll be able to slightly wager. round an unforeseen nook, via a too-small hole in a vigorously growing to be hedge, and at last into the riotous mess of the again backyard. “Peonies,” she acknowledged, pointing, notwithstanding certainly there has been little need. round the damage of a garden large swaths of the fats sumptuous blowsy heads, purple, red, frilly white, raised themselves in each path from a veritable ocean of modern darkish leaves, the sinking solar touching all with gold. Decay could lie sooner or later however the current used to be a successful shout within the face of dying. “They’re magnificent,” I stated, a little bit awed. “There has to be millions of them. ” The previous girl appeared round with no curiosity. “They develop each year. Liam couldn’t have sufficient. you could take what you're keen on. ” “Um. ” I cleared my throat. “I’d higher let you know I’m now not from the church. ” She checked out me with an analogous kind of bewilderment as I’d lately bent on her. “What did you must see the peonies for, then? ” “I desired to consult you. For you to not move within and close your door if you realized what i need to discuss. ” “Young man,” she stated seriously, “I’m now not paying for whatever. I don’t provide to charities. I don’t like politicians. What do you need? ” “I are looking to know,” I acknowledged slowly, “about the papers that Chris Norwood stole from you. ” Her mouth opened. The wild eyes raked my face like nice watery searchlights. the skinny physique shook with strong yet unspecified emotion. “Please don’t worry,” I stated swiftly. “I suggest you no damage. There’s not anything in any respect to be scared of. ” “I’m now not afraid. I’m offended. ” “You did have a few papers, didn’t you, that Chris Norwood took? ” “Liam’s papers. certain. ” “And you went to Angel Kitchens to bitch?

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