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A New Discovery






 

Nancy stared at the pictures in the Chalmers catalog. The two beautiful gowns Reese had indicated were, in fact, credited to Arnaud Hans, a competing designer!

The girls mind was racing with questions, but she decided to wait until they had left the studio before asking them.

I think we should go, she said to Mr. Reese. Theres nothing more we can accomplish here.

Apparently the temperamental designer agreed, because he walked to the door. Youll hear from my lawyer! he called back to Vinton.

And you from ours! the photographer replied coldly as the girls followed Reese out the door.

The young detectives trooped after him to his office past the receptionist and into an oak-paneled room where he gestured for them to sit.

Mr. Reese, who saw your spring collection before all of these terrible things began to happen to you? Nancy asked.

Very few people, he replied.

Would you mind giving me their names?

Chris Chavez is one.

Chris Chavez, the photographer? Nancy was aghast. I thought a collection wasnt supposed to be photographed before it was shown in public.

Well, Chris didnt shoot anything, but hes a good friend, and I showed him a few things.

Who else had access to the designs? George inquired.

Only three, maybe four other people on my staff, and theyre all trustworthy. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some important appointments.

He led the girls to the door, indicating that he didnt wish to continue the discussion.

I think he was insulted when you asked him about the people he had shown his collection to, George said to Nancy on the way out.

I think hes just upset about everything that happened, Bess declared.

Well, he isnt helping his own case very much, Nancy remarked, which means well have to put on two thinking caps apiece!

I can easily wear two, but I doubt that Bess can! George laughed. She eyed the mountain of curls her cousin had coaxed back into place after trying on clothes that morning.

Bess tugged on a few stray wisps, saying, Im going to pretend you never said that, George Fayne.

Another round of teasing was brewing, which Nancy decided to cut short. I have a choice, she said.

A choice? Bess replied.

Yes, I can either try to get a job with the Millington Company or with Chalmers.

Are you kidding? George said. Youve never worked for anybody in your whole lifeother than your father, of course.

I know, Nancy said, but theres always a first time. Besides, how else am I going to get any inside information?

The cousins had to admit Nancy was making good sense.

Can you type? Bess asked.

Some.

Take shorthand? George inquired.

Nancy shook her head. But I can scrub floors if I have to. She giggled. What about you?

You mean we have to get jobs also? Bess asked.

Well, I wont be able to work in two places at the same time, Nancy persisted.

Okay, okay, Bess said. Ill sure try. But how about a snack first? Im starved!

The girls went into a nearby restaurant where Nancy found a Manhattan telephone directory on a back table. She quickly located addresses for Millington and Chalmers, noted them on a pad, then headed into the dining room where Bess and George were already seated behind menus.

Lunch was only three hours ago, Nancy said.

So well have some dessert, Bess remarked. I cant work on an empty stomach.

Thats assuming we get jobs, George said. What if we dont?

And what if no one will interview us? Bess added.

Then Id like you to track down Jacqueline and find out whom she may have talked to about the Reese investigation.

The cousins agreed and Bess shut her menu as if she had reached a decision.

On second thought, she sighed, Ive been thinking about that gorgeous silver and black pants suit. If I lose a few pounds

And find four hundred and twenty-five dollars, George put in.

I might be able to get into a smaller size and buy it when it goes on sale, Bess finished.

By that time, Nancy said, the suit will be out of style. Come on, lets go.

She rose to lead the way past the cashier when someone opened the restaurant door and held it for a woman in a wheelchair.

Through the open door, Nancy heard a man in the street greet another. Well, if it isnt Chris Chavez. Howve you been, buddy?

Oh, just fine, Sam, the other man replied. Sorry I cant stop to talk to you, but Im in a hurry.

Nancy stared at him in surprise. He had a short, sculpted haircut, and a pencil-thin mus tache. Certainly he was not the photographer she had met!

The man waved to his friend and hailed a taxi. The door, meanwhile, was still blocked by the wheelchair and the girls had to wait. Nancy bit her lip, hoping she would get out in time to talk to the man. Was he really Chris Chavez? And if so, who was the man who had pretended to be the photographer?

Bess and George had witnessed the conversation, too, and now George tugged on Nancys arm. Do you believe this! she whispered. Now there are two impostors in our case!

Nancy nodded. I wish I knew how to solve this dilemma, she murmured, or rather this twin dilemma!

Finally the woman in the wheelchair was through the door. The girls rushed outside, but at the same moment, Chavez climbed into a cab that had pulled to the curb. Before the girls could reach him, however, the taxi pulled away!

What are we going to do now? Bess wailed.

Proceed with our original plan, Nancy said. Lets flip a coin. Heads, you take Chalmers, tails, I do.

A moment later, while Nancy went off by herself to tackle the Millington Company, Bess and George caught a bus to the Chalmers building. When the cousins reached it, they couldnt help comparing the lobby with that of the Zanzibar studio. Catalog covers in beautiful, gilt-edge frames hung low over spotlights, and the walls were papered in rich, brown suede that created an aura of luxury.

Im nervous, Bess admitted as she and George went to the personnel office.

An attractive woman wearing gold-rimmed eyeglasses greeted them with a smile. Are you applying for the secretarial jobs? she asked.

Were they the ones advertised in the paper? George replied with an air of confidence.

Yes.

Then those are the ones were interested in, George said, causing Bess to gulp.

Fine. Please follow me, if you will, the woman responded.

She motioned them toward a table and asked them to fill out applications. Then, with only a brief glance at the forms, led them toward a room with a desk and typewriter.

I have some material for you to type, she said. I can see from your applications that you dont have much prior experience.

None, Bess murmured to herself.

Even so, I dont mind giving young talent a chance, the interviewer went on. If you pass this test, well move on to the next one.

Next one! The cousins moaned. How many hurdles would they have to overcome before the company would hire them?

Now, who wants to go first? the woman inquired.

George offered instantly, but the confidence she exuded was short-lived as she stared at a mass of information she was instructed to type in orderly fashion.

Ill shut the door, the woman told her, so no one will disturb you.

For a moment, George froze in front of the typewriter. Then she set her fingers on the keys, pressing out a few words slowly and carefully until she was able to pick up speed. But as the words fell on the paper in rapid succession, she stopped paying close attention. It wasnt until she had finished one page of work that she realized what she had done! By mistake, she had typed most of it in capital letters and put in wrong punctuation!

Oh, no! She gasped in horror. Ive ruined it!

She tore out the paper, slipping another one in place, racing to make up for lost time. But the keys jammed.

Its no use! George cried aloud, as the door opened.

How are you doing? the personnel manager inquired pleasantly.

Im not doing well at all, the girl admitted, pushing back her chair.

Youre not giving up, are you?

George never liked being called a quitter, but she realized that she wasnt qualified for a secretarial job. Neither was Bess, who, meanwhile, had looked at magazines, including the current Chalmers catalog.

Remembering the page Mr. Reese had taken from another copy, she hunted for it and again studied the lovely gowns. When she saw the personnel manager coming out of the room with George, she had a sudden inspiration.

These pictures are just beautiful, she said to the woman. Do you know who photographed those gowns?

The woman looked at the catalog. Most of this collection, including those dresses, were done by Chris Chavez, she responded. Doesnt he have a terrific flair?

Bess nodded. She was as flabbergasted as George. Was Chris Chavez, Mr. Reeses personal friend, an accomplice to the thefts?

 


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