Read CHAPTER 8 of Brain Twister , free online book, by Gordon Randall Garrett & Laurence Mark Janifer, on

Four days later, he was more than tired. He was exhausted. The six psychopaths including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I had been housed in a converted dormitory in the Westinghouse area, together with four highly nervous and even more highly trained and investigated psychiatrists from St. Elizabeths in Washington. The Convention of Nuts, as Malone called it privately, was in full swing.

And it was every bit as strange as he’d thought it was going to be. Unfortunately, five of the six (Her Majesty being the only exception) were completely out of contact with the world. The psychiatrists referred to them in worried tones as “unavailable for therapy,” and spent most of their time brooding over possible ways of bringing them back into the real world for a while, at least far enough so that they could be spoken with.

Malone stayed away from the five who were completely psychotic. The weird babblings of fifty-year-old Barry Miles disconcerted him. They sounded like little Charlie O’Neill’s strange semi-connected jabber, but Westinghouse’s Dr. O’Connor said that it seemed to represent another phenomenon entirely. William Logan’s blank face was a memory of horror, but the constant tinkling giggles of Ardith Parker, the studied and concentrated way that Gordon Macklin wove meaningless patterns in the air with his waving fingers, and the rhythmless, melodyless humming that seemed to be all there was to the personality of Robert Cassiday were simply too much for Malone. Taken singly, each was frightening and remote; all together, they wove a picture of insanity that chilled him more than he wanted to admit.

When the seventh telepath was flown in from Honolulu, Malone didn’t even bother to see her. He let the psychiatrists take over directly, and simply avoided their sessions.

Queen Elizabeth I, on the other hand, he found genuinely likeable.

According to the psych boys, she had been (as both Malone and Her Majesty had theorized) heavily frustrated by being the possessor of a talent which no one else recognized. Beyond that, the impact of other minds was disturbing; there was a slight loss of identity which seemed to be a major factor in every case of telepathic insanity. But the Queen had compensated for her frustrations in the easiest possible way; she had simply traded her identity for another one, and had rationalized a single, overruling delusion: that she was Queen Elizabeth I of England, still alive and wrongfully deprived of her throne.

“It’s a beautiful rationalization,” one of the psychiatrists said with more than a trace of admiration in his voice. “Complete and thoroughly consistent. She’s just traded identities and everything else she does everything else stems logically out of her delusional premise. Beautiful.”

She may have been crazy, Malone realized. But she was a long way from stupid.

The project was in full swing. The only trouble was that they were no nearer finding the telepath than they had been three weeks before. With five completely blank human beings to work with, and the sixth Queen Elizabeth (Malone heard privately that the last telepath, the girl from Honolulu, was no better than the first five; she had apparently regressed into what one of the psychiatrists called a “non-identity childhood syndrome.” Malone didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded terrible.) with that crew, Malone could see why progress was their most difficult commodity.

Dr. Harry Gamble, the head of Project Isle, was losing poundage by the hour with worry. And, Malone reflected, he could ill afford it.

Burris, Malone and Boyd had set themselves up in a temporary office within the Westinghouse area. The Director had left his assistant in charge in Washington. Nothing, he said over and over again, was as important as the spy in Project Isle.

Apparently Boyd had come to believe that, too. At any rate, though he was still truculent, there were no more outbursts of rebellion.

But, on the fourth day:

“What do we do now?” Burris asked.

“Shoot ourselves,” Boyd said promptly.

“Now, look here ” Malone began, but he was overruled.

“Boyd,” Burris said levelly, “if I hear any more of that sort of pessimism, you’re going to be an exception to the beard rule. One more crack out of you, and you can go out and buy yourself a razor.”

Boyd put his hand over his chin protectively, and said nothing at all.

“Wait a minute,” Malone said. “Aren’t there any sane telepaths in the world?”

“We can’t find any,” Burris said. “We ”

There was a knock at the office door. “Who’s there?” Burris called. “Dr. Gamble,” said the man’s surprisingly baritone voice.

Burris called: “Come in, Doctor,” and the door opened. Dr. Gamble’s lean face looked almost haggard.

“Mr. Burris,” he said, extending his arms a trifle, “can’t anything be done?” Malone had seen Gamble speaking before, and had wondered if it would be possible for the man to talk with his hands tied behind his back. Apparently it wouldn’t be. “We feel that we are approaching a critical stage in Project Isle,” the scientist said, enclosing one fist within the other hand. “If anything more gets out to the Soviets, we might as well publish our findings ” a wide, outflung gesture of both arms “in the newspapers.”

Burris stepped back. “We’re doing the best we can, Dr. Gamble,” he said. All things considered, his obvious try at radiating confidence was nearly successful. “After all,” he went on, “we know a great deal more than we did four days ago. Miss Thompson has assured us that the spy is right here, within the compound of Yucca Flats Labs. We’ve bottled everything up in this compound, and I’m confident that no information is at present getting through to the Soviet Government. Miss Thompson agrees with me.”

“Miss Thompson?” Gamble said, one hand at his bearded chin.

“The Queen,” Burris said.

Gamble nodded and two fingers touched his forehead. “Ah,” he said. “Of course.” He rubbed at the back of his neck. “But we can’t keep everybody who’s here now locked up forever. Sooner or later we’ll have to let them ” His left hand described the gesture of a man tossing away a wad of paper “go.” His hands fell to his sides. “We’re lost, unless we can find that spy.”

“We’ll find him,” Burris said with a show of great confidence.

“But ”

“Give her time,” Burris said. “Give her time. Remember her mental condition.”

Boyd looked up. “Rome,” he said in an absent fashion, “wasn’t built in a daze.”

Burris glared at him, but said nothing. Malone filled the conversational hole with what he thought would be nice, and hopeful, and untrue.

“We know he’s someone on the reservation, so we’ll catch him eventually,” he said. “And as long as his information isn’t getting into Soviet hands, we’re safe.” He glanced at his wristwatch.

Dr. Gamble said: “But ”

“My, my,” Malone said. “Almost lunchtime. I have to go over and have lunch with Her Majesty. Maybe she’s dug up something more.”

“I hope so,” Dr. Gamble said, apparently successfully deflected. “I do hope so.”

“Well,” Malone said, “pardon me.” He shucked off his coat and trousers. Then he proceeded to put on the doublet and hose that hung in the little office closet. He shrugged into the fur-trimmed, slash-sleeved coat, adjusted the plumed hat to his satisfaction with great care, and gave Burris and the others a small bow. “I go to an audience with Her Majesty, gentlemen,” he said in a grave, well-modulated voice. “I shall return anon.”

He went out the door and closed it carefully behind him. When he had gone a few steps he allowed himself the luxury of a deep sigh.

Then he went outside and across the dusty street to the barracks where Her Majesty and the other telepaths were housed. No one paid any attention to him, and he rather missed the stares he’d become used to drawing. But by now, everybody was used to seeing Elizabethan clothing. Her Majesty had arrived at a new plateau.

She would now allow no one to have audience with her unless he was properly dressed. Even the psychiatrists whom she had, with a careful sense of meiosis, appointed Physicians to the Royal House had to wear the stuff.

Malone went over the whole case in his mind for about the thousandth time, he told himself bitterly.

Who could the telepathic spy be? It was like looking for a needle in a rolling stone, he thought. Or something. He did remember clearly that a stitch in time saved nine, but he didn’t know nine what, and suspected it had nothing to do with his present problem.

How about Dr. Harry Gamble, Malone thought. It seemed a little unlikely that the head of Project Isle would be spying on his own men particularly since he already had all the information. But, on the other hand, he was just as probable a spy as anybody else.

Malone moved onward. Dr. Thomas O’Connor, the Westinghouse psionics man, was the next nominee. Before Malone had actually found Her Majesty, he had had a suspicion that O’Connor had cooked the whole thing up to throw the FBI off the trail and confuse everybody, and that he’d intended merely to have the FBI chase ghosts while the real spy did his work undetected.

But what if O’Connor were the spy himself a telepath? What if he were so confident of his ability to throw the Queen off the track that he had allowed the FBI to find all the other telepaths? There was another argument for that: he’d had to report the findings of his machine no matter what it cost him; there were too many other men on his staff who knew about it.

O’Connor was a perfectly plausible spy, too. But he didn’t seem very likely. The head of a government project is likely to be a much-investigated man. Could any tie-up with Russia even a psionic one stand up against that kind of investigation? It was possible. Anything, after all, was possible. You eliminated the impossible, and then whatever remained, however improbable....

Malone told himself morosely to shut up and think.

O’Connor, he told himself, might be the spy. It would be a pleasure, he realized, to go to the office of that superior scientist and arrest him. “I know your true name,” he muttered. “It isn’t O’Connor, it’s Moriarty.” He wondered if the Westinghouse man had ever done any work on the dynamics of an asteroid. Then he wondered what the dynamics of an asteroid were.

But if O’Connor were the spy, nothing made sense. Why would he have disclosed the fact that people were having their minds read in the first place?

Sadly, Malone gave up the idea. But, then, there were other ideas. The other psychiatrists, for instance....

The only trouble with them, Malone realized, was that there seemed to be neither motive nor anything else to connect them to the case. There was no evidence, none in any direction.

Why, there was just as much evidence that the spy was really Kenneth J. Malone, he told himself.

And then he stopped.

Maybe Tom Boyd had been thinking that way about him. Maybe Boyd suspected that he, Malone, was really the spy.

Certainly it worked in reverse. Boyd...

No, Malone told himself firmly. That was silly.

If he were going to consider Boyd, he realized, he might as well go whole hog and think about Andrew J. Burris.

And that really was ridiculous. Absolutely ridic....

Well, Queen Elizabeth had seemed pretty certain when she’d pointed him out in Dr. Dowson’s office. And the fact that she’d apparently changed her mind didn’t have to mean very much. After all, how much faith could you place in Her Majesty at the best of times? If she’d made a mistake about Burris in the first place, she could just as well have made a mistake in the second place. Or about the spy’s being at Yucca Flats at all.

In which case, Malone thought sadly, they were right back where they’d started from.

Behind their own goal line.

One way or another, though, Her Majesty had made a mistake. She’d pointed Burris out as the spy, and then she’d said she’d been wrong. Either Burris was a spy, or else he wasn’t. You couldn’t have it both ways.

And if Burris really were the spy, Malone thought, then why had he started the investigation in the first place? You came back to the same question with Burris, he realized, that you had with Dr. O’Connor: it didn’t make sense for a man to play one hand against the other. Maybe the right hand sometimes didn’t know what the left hand was doing, but this was ridiculous.

So Burris wasn’t the spy. And Her Majesty had made a mistake when she’d said....

“Wait a minute,” Malone told himself suddenly.

Had she?

Maybe, after all, you could have it both ways. The thought occurred to him with a startling suddenness and he stood silent upon a peak in Yucca Flats, contemplating it. A second went by.

And then something Burris himself had said came back to him, something that

“I’ll be damned,” he muttered.

He came to a dead stop in the middle of the street. In one sudden flash of insight, all the pieces of the case he’d been looking at for so long fell together and formed one consistent picture. The pattern was complete.

Malone blinked.

In that second, he knew exactly who the spy was.

A jeep honked raucously and swerved around him. The driver leaned out to curse and Malone waved at him, dimly recognizing a private eye he had once known, a middle-aged man named Archer. Wondering vaguely what Archer was doing this far East, and in a jeep at that, Malone watched the vehicle disappear down the street. There were more cars coming, but what difference did that make? Malone didn’t care about cars. After all, he had the answer, the whole answer....

“I’ll be damned,” he said again, abruptly, and wheeled around to head back to the offices.

On the way, he stopped in at another small office, this one inhabited by the two FBI men from Las Vegas. He gave a series of quick orders, and got the satisfaction, as he left, of seeing one of the FBI men grabbing for a phone in a hurry.

It was good to be doing things again, important things.

Burris, Boyd and Dr. Gamble were still talking as Malone entered.

“That,” Burris said, “was one hell of a quick lunch. What’s Her Majesty doing now running a diner?”

Malone ignored the bait, and drew himself to his full height. “Gentlemen,” he said solemnly, “Her Majesty has asked that all of us attend her in audience. She has information of the utmost gravity to impart, and wishes this audience at once.”

Dr. Gamble made a puzzled, circular gesture with one hand. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “Is something ”

The hand dropped “wrong?”

Burris barely glanced at him. A startled expression came over his features. “Has she ” he began, and stopped, leaving his mouth open and the rest of the sentence unfinished.

Malone nodded gravely and drew in a breath. Elizabethan periods were hard on the lungs, he had begun to realize: you needed a lot of air before you embarked on a sentence. “I believe, gentlemen,” he said, “that Her Majesty is about to reveal the identity of the spy who has been battening on Project Isle.”

The silence lasted no more than three seconds. Dr. Gamble didn’t even make a gesture during that time. Then Burris spoke.

“Let’s go,” he snapped. He wheeled and headed for the door. The others promptly followed.

“Gentlemen!” Malone said, sounding, as far as he could tell, properly shocked and offended. “Your dress!”

“What?” Dr. Gamble said, throwing up both hands.

“Oh, no,” Boyd chimed in. “Not now.”

Burris simply said: “You’re quite right. Get dressed, Boyd I mean, of course, Sir Thomas.”

While they were dressing, Malone put in a call to Dr. O’Connor’s office. The scientist was as frosty as ever.

“Yes, Mr. Malone?” The sound of that voice, Malone reflected, was enough to give anybody double revolving pneumonia with knobs on.

“Dr. O’Connor,” he said, “Her Majesty wants you in her court in ten minutes and in full court dress.”

O’Connor merely sighed, like Boreas. “What is this,” he asked, “more tomfoolery?”

“I really couldn’t say,” Malone told him coyly. “But I’d advise you to be there. It might interest you.”

“Interest me?” O’Connor stormed. “I’ve got work to do here important work. You simply do not realize, Mr. Malone ”

“Whatever I realize,” Malone cut in, feeling brave, “I’m passing on orders from Her Majesty.”

“That insane woman,” O’Connor stated flatly, “is not going to order me about. Good Lord, do you know what you’re saying?”

Malone nodded. “I certainly do,” he said cheerfully. “If you’d rather, I can have the orders backed up by the United States Government. But that won’t be necessary, will it?”

“The United States Government,” O’Connor said, thawing perceptibly about the edges, “ought to allow a man to do his proper work, and not force him to go chasing off after the latest whims of some insane old lady.”

“You will be there, now, won’t you?” Malone asked. His own voice reminded him of something, and in a second he had it: the cooing, gentle persuasion of Dr. Andrew Blake of Rice Pavilion, who had locked Malone in a padded cell. It was the voice of a man talking to a mental case.

It sounded remarkably apt. Dr. O’Connor went slightly purple, but controlled himself magnificently. “I’ll be there,” he said.

“Good,” Malone told him, and snapped the phone off.

Then he put in a second call to the psychiatrists from St. Elizabeths and told them the same thing. More used to the strange demands of neurotic and psychotic patients, they were readier to comply.

Everyone, Malone realized with satisfaction, was now assembling. Burris and the others were ready to go, sparklingly dressed and looking impatient. Malone put down the phone and took one great breath of relief.

Then, beaming, he led the others out.

Ten minutes later, there were nine men in Elizabethan costume standing outside the room which had been designated as the Queen’s Court. Dr. Gamble’s costume did not quite fit him; his sleeve-ruffs were half way up to his elbows and his doublet had an unfortunate tendency to creep. The St. Elizabeths men, all four of them, looked just a little like moth-eaten versions of old silent pictures. Malone looked them over with a somewhat sardonic eye. Not only did he have the answer to the whole problem that had been plaguing them, but his costume was a stunning, perfect fit.

“Now, I want you men to let me handle this,” Malone said. “I know just what I want to say, and I think I can get the information without too much trouble.”

One of the psychiatrists spoke up. “I trust you won’t disturb the patient, Mr. Malone,” he said.

“Sir Kenneth,” Malone snapped.

The psychiatrist looked both abashed and worried. “I’m sorry,” he said doubtfully.

Malone nodded. “That’s all right,” he said. “I’ll try not to disturb Her Majesty unduly.”

The psychiatrists conferred. When they came out of the huddle one of them Malone was never able to tell them apart said: “Very well, we’ll let you handle it. But we will be forced to interfere if we feel you’re ah going too far.”

Malone said: “That’s fair enough, gentlemen. Let’s go.”

He opened the door.

It was a magnificent room. The whole place had been done over in plastic and synthetic fibers to look like something out of the Sixteenth Century. It was as garish, and as perfect, as a Hollywood movie set which wasn’t surprising, since two stage designers had been hired away from color-TV spectaculars to set it up. At the far end of the room, past the rich hangings and the flaming chandeliers, was a great throne, and on it Her Majesty was seated. Lady Barbara reclined on the steps at her feet.

Malone saw the expression on Her Majesty’s face. He wanted to talk to Barbara but there wasn’t time. Later, there might be. Now, he collected his mind and drove one thought at the Queen, one single powerful thought:

Read me! You know by this time that I have the truth but read deeper!

The expression on her face changed suddenly. She was smiling a sad, gentle little smile. Lady Barbara, who had looked up at the approach of Sir Kenneth and his entourage, relaxed again, but her eyes remained on Malone. “You may approach, my lords,” said the Queen.

Sir Kenneth led the procession, with Sir Thomas and Sir Andrew close behind him. O’Connor and Gamble came next, and bringing up the rear were the four psychiatrists. They strode slowly along the red carpet that stretched from the door to the foot of the throne. They came to a halt a few feet from the steps leading up to the throne, and bowed in unison.

“You may explain, Sir Kenneth,” Her Majesty said.

“Your Majesty understands the conditions?” Malone asked.

“Perfectly,” said the Queen. “Proceed.”

Now the expression on Barbara’s face changed, to wonder and a kind of fright. Malone didn’t look at her. Instead, he turned to Dr. O’Connor.

“Dr. O’Connor, what are your plans for the telepaths who have been brought here?” He shot the question out quickly, and O’Connor was caught off-balance.

“Well ah we would like their cooperation in further research which we ah plan to do into the actual mechanisms of telepathy. Provided, of course ” He coughed gently “provided that they become ah accessible. Miss I mean, of course, Her Majesty has already been a great deal of help.” He gave Malone an odd look. It seemed to say: What’s coming next?

Malone simply gave him a nod, and a “Thank you, Doctor,” and turned to Burris. He could feel Barbara’s eyes on him, but he went on with his prepared questions. “Chief,” he said, “what about you? After we nail our spy, what happens to Her Majesty, I mean? You don’t intend to stop giving her the homage due her, do you?”

Burris stared, openmouthed. After a second he managed to say: “Why, no, of course not, Sir Kenneth. That is ” and he glanced over at the psychiatrists “if the doctors think....”

There was another hurried consultation. The four psychiatrists came out of it with a somewhat shaky statement to the effect that treatments which had been proven to have some therapeutic value ought not to be discontinued, although of course there was always the chance that....

“Thank you, gentlemen,” Malone said smoothly. He could see that they were nervous, and no wonder; he could imagine how difficult it was for a psychiatrist to talk about a patient in her presence. But they’d already realized that it didn’t make any difference; their thoughts were an open book, anyway.

Lady Barbara said: “Sir I mean Ken are you going to ”

“What’s this all about?” Burris snapped.

“Just a minute, Sir Andrew,” Malone said. “I’d like to ask one of the doctors here or all of them, for that matter one more question.” He whirled and faced them. “I’m assuming that not one of these persons is legally responsible for his or her actions. Is that correct?”

Another hurried huddle. The psych boys were beginning to remind Malone of a semi-pro football team in rather unusual uniforms.

Finally one of them said: “You are correct. According to the latest statutes, all of these persons are legally insane including Her Majesty.” He paused and gulped. “I except the FBI, of course and ourselves.” Another pause. “And Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Gamble.”

“And,” said Lady Barbara, “me.” She smiled sweetly at them all.

“Ah,” the psychiatrist said. “Certainly. Of course.” He retired into his group with some confusion.

Malone was looking straight at the throne. Her Majesty’s countenance was serene and unruffled.

Barbara said suddenly: “You don’t mean but she ” and closed her mouth. Malone shot her one quick look, and then turned to the Queen.

“Well, Your Majesty?” he said. “You have seen the thoughts of every man here. How do they appear to you?”

Her voice contained both tension and relief. “They are all good men, basically and kind men,” she said. “And they believe us. That’s the important thing, you know. Their belief in us.... Just as you said that first day we met. We’ve needed belief for so long ... for so long....” Her voice trailed off; it seemed to become lost in a constellation of thoughts. Barbara had turned to look up at Her Majesty.

Malone took a step forward, but Burris interrupted him. “How about the spy?” he said.

Then his eyes widened. Boyd, standing next to him, leaned suddenly forward. “That’s why you mentioned all that about legal immunity because of insanity,” he whispered. “Because ”

“No,” Barbara said. “No. She couldn’t she’s not ”

They were all looking at Her Majesty, now. She returned them stare for stare, her back stiff and straight and her white hair enhaloed in the room’s light. “Sir Kenneth,” she said and her voice was only the least bit unsteady “they all think I’m the spy.”

Barbara stood up. “Listen,” she said. “I didn’t like Her Majesty at first well, she was a patient, and that was all, and when she started putting on airs ... but since I’ve gotten to know her I do like her. I like her because she’s good and kind herself, and because because she wouldn’t be a spy. She couldn’t be. No matter what any of you think even you Sir Kenneth!”

There was a second of silence.

“Of course she’s not,” Malone said quietly. “She’s no spy.”

“Would I spy on my own subjects?” she said. “Use your reason!”

“You mean ” Burris began, and Boyd finished for him:

“ she isn’t?”

“No,” Malone snapped. “She isn’t. Remember, you said it would take a telepath to catch a telepath?”

“Well ” Burris began.

“Well, Her Majesty remembered it,” Malone said. “And acted on it.”

Barbara remained standing. She went to the Queen and put an arm around the little old lady’s shoulder. Her Majesty did not object. “I knew,” she said. “You couldn’t have been a spy.”

“Listen, dear,” the Queen said. “Your Kenneth has seen the truth of the matter. Listen to him.”

“Her Majesty not only caught the spy,” Malone said, “but she turned the spy right over to us.”

He turned at once and went back down the long red carpet to the door. I really ought to get a sword, he thought, and didn’t see Her Majesty smile. He opened the door with a great flourish and said quietly: “Bring him in, boys.”

The FBI men from Las Vegas marched in. Between them was their prisoner, a boy with a vacuous face, clad in a straitjacket that seemed to make no difference at all to him. His mind was somewhere else. But his body was trapped between the FBI agents: the body of William Logan.

“Impossible,” one of the psychiatrists said.

Malone spun on his heel and led the way back to the throne. Logan and his guards followed closely.

“Your Majesty,” Malone said. “May I present the prisoner?”

“Perfectly correct, Sir Kenneth,” the Queen said. “Poor Willie is your spy. You won’t be too hard on him, will you?”

“I don’t think so, Your Majesty,” Malone said. “After all ”

“Now wait a minute,” Burris exploded. “How the hell did you know any of this?”

Malone bowed to Her Majesty, and winked at Barbara. He turned to Burris. “Well,” he said, “I had one piece of information none of the rest of you had. When we were in the Desert Edge Sanatorium, Dr. Dowson called you on the phone. Remember?”

“Sure I remember,” Burris said. “So?”

“Well,” Malone said, “Her Majesty said she knew just where the spy was. I asked her where ”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Burris screamed. “You knew all this time and you didn’t tell me?”

“Hold on,” Malone said. “I asked her where and she said: ’He’s right there.’ And she was pointing right at your image on the screen.”

Burris opened his mouth. Nothing came out. He closed it and tried again. At last he managed one word.

“Me?” he said.

“You,” Malone said. “But that’s what I realized later. She wasn’t pointing at you. She was pointing at Logan, who was in the next room.”

Barbara whispered: “Is that right, Your Majesty?”

“Certainly, dear,” the Queen said calmly. “Would I lie to Sir Kenneth?”

Malone was still talking. “The thing that set me off this noon was something you said, Sir Andrew,” he went on. “You said there weren’t any sane telepaths remember?”

Burris, incapable of speech, merely nodded.

“But according to Her Majesty,” Malone said, “we had every telepath in the United States right here. She told me that and I didn’t even see it!”

“Don’t blame yourself, Sir Kenneth,” the Queen put in. “I did do my best to mislead you, you know.”

“You sure did!” Malone said. “And later on, when we were driving here, she said the spy was ‘moving around.’ That’s right; he was in the car behind us, going eighty miles an hour.”

Barbara stared. Malone got a lot of satisfaction out of that stare. But there was still more ground to cover.

“Then,” he said, “she told us he was here at Yucca Flats after we brought him here! It had to be one of the other six telepaths.”

The psychiatrist who’d muttered: “Impossible,” was still muttering it. Malone ignored him.

“And when I remembered her pointing at you,” Malone told Burris, “and remembered that she’d only said: ‘He’s right there,’ I knew it had to be Logan. You weren’t there. You were only an image on a TV screen. Logan was there in the room behind the phone.”

Burris had found his tongue. “All right,” he said. “Okay. But what’s all this about misleading us and why didn’t she tell us right away, anyhow?”

Malone turned to Her Majesty on the throne. “I think that the Queen had better explain that if she will.”

Queen Elizabeth Thompson nodded very slowly. “I I only wanted you to respect me,” she said. “To treat me properly.” Her voice sounded uneven, and her eyes were glistening with unspilled tears. Lady Barbara tightened her arm about the Queen’s shoulders once more.

“It’s all right,” she said. “We do respect you.”

The Queen smiled up at her.

Malone waited. After a second Her Majesty continued.

“I was afraid that as soon as you found poor Willie you’d send me back to the hospital,” she said. “And Willie couldn’t tell the Russian agents any more once he’d been taken away. So I thought I’d just just let things stay the way they were as long as I could. That’s that’s all.”

Malone nodded. After a second he said: “You see that we couldn’t possibly send you back now, don’t you?”

“You know all the State Secrets, Your Majesty,” Malone said. “We would rather that Dr. Harman in San Francisco didn’t try to talk you out of them. Or anyone else.”

The Queen smiled tremulously. “I know too much, do I?” she said. Then her grin faded. “Poor Dr. Harman,” she said.

“Poor Dr. Harman?”

“You’ll hear about him in a day or so,” she said. “I peeked inside his mind. He’s very ill.”

“Ill?” Lady Barbara asked.

“Oh, yes,” the Queen said. The trace of a smile appeared on her face. “He thinks that all the patients in the hospital can see inside his mind.”

“Oh, my,” Lady Barbara said and began to laugh. It was the nicest sound Malone had ever heard.

“Forget Harman,” Burris snapped. “What about this spy ring? How was Logan getting his information out?”

“I’ve already taken care of that,” Malone said. “I had Desert Edge Sanatorium surrounded as soon as I knew what the score was.” He looked at one of the agents holding Logan.

“They ought to be in the Las Vegas jail within half an hour,” he said in confirmation.

“Dr. Dowson was in on it, wasn’t he, Your Majesty?” Malone said.

“Certainly,” the Queen said. Her eyes were suddenly very cold. “I hope he tries to escape. I hope he tries it.”

Malone knew just how she felt.

One of the psychiatrists spoke up suddenly. “I don’t understand it,” he said. “Logan is completely catatonic. Even if he could read minds, how could he tell Dowson what he’d read? It doesn’t make sense.”

“In the first place,” the Queen said patiently, “Willie isn’t catatonic. He’s just busy, that’s all. He’s only a boy, and well, he doesn’t much like being who he is. So he visits other people’s minds, and that way he becomes them for a while. You see?”

“Vaguely,” Malone said. “But how did Dowson get his information? I had everything worked out but that.”

“I know you did,” the Queen said, “and I’m proud of you. I intend to award you with the Order of the Bath for this day’s work.”

Unaccountably, Malone’s chest swelled with pride.

“As for Dr. Dowson,” the Queen said, “that traitor hurt Willie. If he’s hurt enough, he’ll come back.” Her eyes weren’t hard any more. “He didn’t want to be a spy, really,” she said, “but he’s just a boy, and it must have sounded rather exciting. He knew that if he told Dowson everything he’d found out, they’d let him go go away again.”

There was a long silence.

“Well,” Malone said, “that about wraps it up. Any questions?”

He looked around at the men, but before any of them could speak up Her Majesty rose.

“I’m sure there are questions,” she said, “but I’m really very tired. My lords, you are excused.” She extended a hand. “Come, Lady Barbara,” she said. “I think I really may need that nap, now.”

Malone put the cufflinks in his shirt with great care. They were great stones, and Malone thought that they gave his costume that necessary Elizabethan flair.

Not that he was wearing the costumes of the Queen’s Court now. Instead, he was dressed in a tailor-proud suit of dark blue, a white-on-white shirt and no tie. He selected one of a gorgeous peacock pattern from his closet rack.

Boyd yawned at him from the bed in the room they were sharing. “Stepping out?” he said.

“I am,” Malone said with restraint. He whipped the tie round his neck and drew it under the collar.

“Anybody I know?”

“I am meeting Lady Barbara, if you wish to know,” Malone said.

“My God,” Boyd said. “Come down. Relax. Anyhow, I’ve got a question for you. There was one little thing Her Everlovin’ Majesty didn’t explain.”

“Yes?” said Malone.

“Well, about those hoods who tried to gun us down,” Boyd said. “Who hired ’em? And why?”

“Dowson,” Malone said. “He wanted to kill us off, and then kidnap Logan from the hotel room. But we foiled his plan by killing his hoods. By the time he could work up something else, we were on our way to Yucca Flats.”

“Great,” Boyd said. “And how did you find out this startling piece of information? There haven’t been any reports in from Las Vegas, have there?”

“No,” Malone said.

“Okay,” Boyd said. “I give up, Mastermind.”

Malone wished Boyd would stop using that nickname. The fact was as he, and apparently nobody else, was willing to recognize that he wasn’t anything like a really terrific FBI agent. Even Barbara thought he was something special.

He wasn’t, he knew. He was just lucky.

“Her Majesty informed me,” Malone said.

“Her ” Boyd stood with his mouth dropped open, like a fish waiting for some bait. “You mean she knew?”

“Well,” Malone said, “she did know the guys in the Buick weren’t the best in the business and she knew all about the specially-built FBI Lincoln. She got that from our minds.” He knotted his tie with an air of great aplomb, and went slowly to the door. “And she knew we were a good team. She got that from our minds, too.”

“But,” Boyd said. After a second he said: “But,” again, and followed it with: “Why didn’t she tell us?”

Malone opened the door.

“Her Majesty wished to see the Queen’s Own FBI in action,” said Sir Kenneth Malone.