Munro waited for the laughter to die down before he continued. "Then perhaps you are an expert on typewriters?"
"Or even signatures?"
"However," said Munro, "would I be right in suggesting that you are considered the world's leading authority on postage stamps?"
"I think I can safely say it's either me or Tomoji Watanabe," Hunsacker replied, "depending on who you talk to."
The judge couldn't control himself any longer. "Can you explain what you mean by that, Mr. Hunsacker?"
"Both of us have been collectors for over forty years, your honor. I have the larger collection, but to be fair to Tomoji, that's possibly because I'm a darn sight richer than he is, and keep outbidding the poor bastard." Even Margaret Moncrieff couldn't stifle a laugh. "I sit on the board of Sotheby's, and Tomoji advises Philips. My collection has been put on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., his at the Imperial Museum in Tokyo. So I can't tell you who's the world's leading authority, but whichever one of us is number one, the other guy is certainly number two."
"Thank you, Mr. Hunsacker," said the judge. "I am satisfied that your witness is an expert in his chosen field, Mr. Munro."
"Thank you, my lord," said Munro. "Mr. Hunsacker, have you studied both of the wills involved in this case?"
"I have, sir."
"And what is your opinion, your professional opinion, of the second will, the one that leaves Sir Alexander's fortune to his son Angus?"
"It's a fake."
Desmond Galbraith was immediately on his feet. "Yes, yes, Mr. Galbraith," said the judge, waving him back in his place. "I do hope, Mr. Hunsacker, that you are going to supply the court with some concrete evidence for the assertion. By 'concrete evidence,' I do not mean another dose of your homespun philosophy."
Hunsacker's jovial smile disappeared. He waited for some time before saying, "I shall prove, your honor, in what I believe you describe in this country as beyond reasonable doubt, that Sir Alexander's second will is a fake. In order to do so, I will require you to be in possession of the original document." Mr. Justice Sanderson turned to Galbraith, who shrugged his shoulders, rose from his place and handed the second will across to the judge. "Now, sir," said Hunsacker, "if you would be kind enough to turn to the second page of the document, you will see Sir Alexander's signature written across a stamp."
"Are you suggesting that the stamp is a fake?" said the judge.
"No, sir, I am not."
"But as you have already stated, Mr. Hunsacker, you are not an expert on signatures. What exactly are you suggesting?"
"That is clear for all to see, sir," said Hunsacker, "as long as you know what you're looking for."
"Please enlighten me," said the judge, sounding a little exasperated.
"Her Majesty the Queen ascended the British throne on February second 1952," said Hunsacker, "and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June second 1953. The Royal Mail produced a stamp to mark that occasion-indeed I am the proud owner of a mint sheet of first editions. That stamp shows the Queen as a young woman, but because of the remarkable length of Her Majesty's reign, the Royal Mail has had to issue a new edition every few years to reflect the fact that the monarch has grown a little older. The edition that is affixed to this will was issued in March 1999." Hunsacker swung around in his chair to look at Hugo Moncrieff, wondering if the significance of his words had sunk in. He couldn't be sure, although the same could not be said of Margaret Moncrieff, whose lips were pursed, while the blood was quickly draining from her face.
"Your honor," said Hunsacker, "Sir Alexander Moncrieff died on December seventeenth 1998-three months before the stamp was issued. So one thing is for certain: that sure can't be his signature scrawled across Her Majesty."
BOOK FOUR. Revenge
REVENGE IS A dish best served cold.
Danny placed Les Liaisons Dangereuses in his briefcase as the plane began its descent through a bank of murky clouds that hung over London. He had every intention of exacting cold revenge on all three men who had been responsible for the death of his closest friend, for preventing him from marrying Beth, for depriving him of being able to bring up his daughter Christy and for causing him to be imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
He now had the financial resources to pick them off slowly, one by one, and it was his intention that by the time he'd completed the task, all three of them would consider death a preferable option.
"Would you please fasten your seatbelt, sir, we'll be landing at Heathrow in a few minutes."
Danny smiled up at the stewardess who had interrupted his thoughts. Mr. Justice Sanderson hadn't been given the opportunity to pass judgment in the case of Moncrieff v. Moncrieff, as one of the parties had withdrawn its claim soon after Mr. Gene Hunsacker had left the judge's chambers.
Mr. Munro had explained to Nick over dinner at the New Club in Edinburgh that if the judge had reason to believe a crime had been committed, he would have no choice but to send all the relevant papers to the Procurator Fiscal. Elsewhere in the city, Mr. Desmond Galbraith was informing his client that if that were to happen, Hugo's nephew might not be the only Moncrieff to experience the slamming of the iron door.
Munro had advised Sir Nicholas not to press charges, despite the fact that Danny was in no doubt who had been responsible for the three policemen waiting for him on the last occasion he had landed at Heathrow. Munro had added, in one of those rare moments when his guard came down, "But if your uncle Hugo causes any trouble in the future, then all bets are off."
Danny had tried inadequately to thank Munro for all he had done over the years-think like Nick-and was surprised by his response, "I'm not sure whom I enjoyed defeating more, your uncle Hugo or that prig Desmond Galbraith." The guard remained down. Danny had always thought how lucky he was to have Mr. Munro in his corner, but he had only recently become aware what it would be like to have him as an opponent.
When coffee was served, Danny had asked Fraser Munro to become a trustee of the family estate as well as its legal adviser. He had bowed low and said, "If that is your wish, Sir Nicholas." Danny had also made it clear that he wanted Dunbroathy Hall and the surrounding land to be handed over to the National Trust for Scotland, and that he intended to allocate whatever funds were necessary for its upkeep.
"Precisely as your grandfather envisaged," said Munro. "Although I have no doubt your uncle Hugo, with the help of Mr. Galbraith, would have found some ingenious way of wriggling out of that commitment."
Danny was beginning to wonder if Munro had had a wee dram too many. He couldn't imagine how the old solicitor would react were he to find out what Danny had in mind for another member of his profession.
The plane touched down at Heathrow just after eleven. Danny was meant to have caught the 8:40 flight, but had overslept for the first time in weeks.
He put Spencer Craig out of his mind when the aircraft came to a halt at its docking gate. He unbuckled his seatbelt and joined the other passengers standing in the aisle waiting for the door to swing open. This time there would be no policemen waiting outside for him.