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The Ten Kings--ten rare coins, each depicting an ancient monarch. The collection represents fifteen years work by Allen Markham, and he plans to auction it to one of three groups. He puts the collection in the special safe, chooses his combination and sets the time lock, and goes to bed. The next morning, the collection has vanished! Security reports no one opened the safe, and with a time lock no one could. But someone got the coins out, somehow. It is while visiting one of the bidders that Banacek gets an important clue...
Wendell Church: That's very sporting. But it's not a sport, not to us. You see, if any of us lowly company investigator crack the case, we just pick up our weekly paycheck. You crack it and pick up a small fortune and a lot of glory. Maybe, uh, that's the reason that bounty hunters never seem quite legitimate to me somehow.
Banacek: I take it you didn't mean exactly what you said.
Wendell Church: Take it however you want.
Banacek: Well, they're not exactly the people next door. Unless you're next door to the wax museum.
Roland Garson: All sin is punishable, Mr. Banacek.
Banacek: Is that a threat?
Roland Garson: Oh, my, yes.
Banacek: There is an old Polish proverb that says, "A wolf that takes a peasant to supper, probably won't need any breakfast."