If he had had his way, Peter McDermott thought, he would have fired the chief house detective weeks ago. But he had not had his way and now, once more, Mr Ogilvie, the obese ex-policeman was missing when he was needed most.
McDermott leaned down from his husky six-and-a-half feet and jiggled the desk telephone impatiently.
‘Fifteen things break loose at once,’ he told the woman by the window of the wide, woodpanelled office, ‘and as usual nobody can find him.’
Christine Francis glanced at her wristwatch. It showed a few minutes before 11 p.m.
‘There’s a bar in Baronne Street you might try.’
‘I’ve already checked the bar. He’s not there.’
‘Our Mr Ogilvie makes his own rules,’ Christine said. ‘It’s been this way for years. We can’t do anything about it as long as Warren Trent allows it.’
‘You’re right,’ he acknowledged. ‘I once tried to reorganize our detective force, and my ears were properly pinned back. I was put right back in my place immediately.’
She said quietly, ‘I didn’t know that.’
He looked at her quizzically. ‘I thought you knew everything.’
And usually she did. As personal assistant to Warren Trent, the unpredictable and irritable manager and owner of New Orleans’ largest hotel, Christine was familiar with the hotel’s inner secrets as well as its day-to-day affairs. She knew, for example, that Peter, although employed just a few months ago, was already promoted to assistant general manager and was virtually running the hotel, though at an ungenerous salary and with limited authority. She knew the reasons behind that, too. They were in a file marked Confidential, brought to her by Warren Trent himself on the day of Peter McDermott’s arrival in the hotel, and involved his personal life.
Christine asked, ‘What is breaking loose?’
McDermott gave a cheerful grin which contorted his rugged, almost ugly features. ‘We have a complaint about a night party on the eleventh floor; on the ninth the Duchess of Croydon claims the Duke has been insulted by a room-service waiter; one of the guests called to say he can’t sleep because of somebody moaning horribly in 1439; and the night manager is off sick, with the other two house officers otherwise engaged. Besides which, I noticed a leak on the second floor next to the elevator, so we need to have it fixed before one of the guests finds it a reason for a major complaint.’
‘Do you have a name for the room where the moaning is?’ Christine asked.
He shook his head and lifted the phone. ‘I’ll find out. Probably someone having a nightmare, but we’d better make sure.’
‘All right, thanks.’ McDermott scribbled a name and hung up.
‘Albert Wells, Montreal.’
‘I know him,’ Christine said. ‘A nice little man who stays here every year. I’ll check that one out.’
The telephone shrilled and McDermott recognized the flat nasal voice of Herbie Chandler. Chandler, like Ogilvie, was another of the hotel’s old-timers.
‘Could you investigate the complaint about the night party on the eleventh?’ Peter asked. As he had half expected, there was an immediate protest. ‘Never mind the argument, I want the complaint attended to. And send a bellboy with a pass key to meet Miss Francis at the reception.’ He replaced the telephone before there could be any more discussion.
‘Let’s go.’ His hand touched Christine’s shoulders slightly. ‘I have to handle the Duke and Duchess incident. The relations between the hotel and the Croydons are excellent, so I think a personal apology will do.’adapted from Hotel by Arthur Hailey
7.1. Which of the following applies to the chief house detective? (! Peter McDermott had fired him from work.) (! He used to meet ex-policemen in Baronne Street.) ( He was often impossible to find in an emergency.) (! Warren Trent considered him an obstinate person.)
7.2. What did Christine Francis find out about Peter McDermott during their conversation? ( That he had been reprimanded for his attempt to reform something.) (! That he had managed the biggest hotel in New Orleans.) (! Why he had been promoted to assistant general manager so quickly.) (! Why he earned so little as an assistant general manager.)
7.3. Which of the following was NOT a complaint made against the hotel? (! the moaning in room 1439) ( the leak on the second floor) (! the party on the eleventh floor) (! the inappropriate behaviour of a waiter)
7.4. Which of the following is TRUE about Peter McDermott? (! He was certain that the Duke and Duchess incident would be difficult to handle.) ( He asked one of the employees to handle the disturbance on the eleventh floor.) (! He decided to investigate the night manager’s sudden illness himself.) (! He ordered Christine to check the moaning in room 1439.)
7.5. Who was the last person to become an employee of the hotel? (! Mr Ogilvie) (! Christine Francis) (! Herbie Chandler) ( Peter McDermott)