Bertha Cool was in a flap. The distinguished Mr Homer Breckinridge had been waiting twenty minutes for Donald Lam to make an appearance, and around Mr Breckinridge was the heady aroma of C-A-S-H. Then Donald appeared and in no time found himself hired to investigate an insurance claim. “Such nice, safe, respectable work”, purred Bertha, “and it’s up for grabs.” But it didn’t take Donald long to find out he was anything but safe and that he was the one up for grabs...
But she had to admit that Henry C. Ashbury was a pretty smart cookie, and it was his idea to take Donald on as a gym coach so the little smoothie could gain his daughter’s confidence. Someone was blackmailing Alta Ashbury — and her father didn’t trust any of the household, least of all his second wife.
This was one case when Bertha Cool didn’t see much of her partner, Donald Lam. This time he was living with the clients instead of running up expensive hotel bills. Still, it made it even harder for Bertha to keep tabs on him.
There was only one thing about him that worried Bertha Cool. She thought he was too susceptible to women. Maybe he was. There was no doubt that women made fools of themselves over Donald. Bertha didn’t understand why but she didn’t mind. Donald’s girlfriends were pretty useful.
Nor was Donald too ethical. He’d learned that if nature had made you pint size, it was easier to trip a man up than knock him down. Some people called Donald “poison.”
Every runt gets pushed around Donald Lam was no exception. The difference between him and most runts was that the harder you pushed the faster Donald came back. He discovered early in life that his hands weren’t much use to him in a fight, so he used his head. And there was nothing soft about Donald’s head. He used his mind and trained it mercilessly. Sometimes it got him into trouble because he was just a little too far ahead of the other fellow.
You’ll like Bertha Cool. She is lusty and gusty and has personality.
But deep inside that mountain of flesh must have been a heart, for in spite of these instincts she developed an affectionate, almost solicitous, loyalty for Donald.
Inside, she was hard as nails, shrewd and unscrupulous, stingy, avaricious. She handled cases no decent agency would touch. She hired Donald Lam for two reasons he hod brains, and she knew he needed a job so badly that she could get him for practically nothing. She watched his expense account like a vulture and did her best to deduct legitimate expenses from his already meager salary.
The day she told her husband he could go his own way, were it blonde or brunette, she became a happy woman. Freed from the duty of preserving a contour that would keep Mr. Cool home nights, she gave up dieting, and serenely watched her figure expand to balloon-like proportions.