With a violently thumping heart, Jaffe stared down at Haum’s crumpled body. His immediate reaction was to get help. He turned to the telephone, but paused, frowning and shaking his head.
There was nothing anyone could do now for Haum. He was dead. This was not the moment to think of him, but of himself.
He looked at the ladder standing against the wall. Suppose he told the police that Haum had fallen off the ladder and had accidentally broken his neck?
His eyes shifted to the hole in the wall. The moment the police saw that hole they would suspect it had been a hiding place for something. They would remember that this house had once belonged to Mai Chang, General Nguyen Van Tho’s mistress.
It wouldn’t take them long to assume that the general’s diamonds had been hidden in the wall. Jaffe moved over to Haum’s body. He peered down at the little man. He saw the skin around Haum’s mouth and throat was bruised and broken. These telltale marks would rule out any story of an accident with the ladder.
Suppose he told the police that he had come upon Haum stealing the diamonds and that Haum had attacked him and that during the struggle, Haum had been accidentally killed? Such a story might get him off a murder charge, but it would mean giving up the diamonds, and there was always the risk he would receive a prison sentence.
It was at this moment that Jaffe made up his mind that whatever the risk, he was going to stick to the diamonds, and having decided this, his panic subsided and he began to think more clearly.
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