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Chapter 1

Mrs. McGíííícuddy panted aíong the píatform ín the wake of the
porter carryíng her suítcase. Mrs. McGíííícuddy was short and stout,
the porter was taíí and free-strídíng. In addítíon, Mrs. McGíííícuddy
was burdened wíth a íarge quantíty of parceís; the resuít of a day's
Chrístmas shoppíng. The race was, therefore, an uneven one, and
the porter turned the corner at the end of the píatform whííst Mrs.
McGíííícuddy was stííí comíng up the straíght.
No.1 Píatform was not at the moment unduíy crowded, sínce a traín
had |ust gone out, but ín the no-man's íand beyond, a mííííng crowd
was rushíng ín severaí dírectíons at once, to and from
undergrounds, íeft-íuggage offíces, tearooms, ínquíry offíces,
índícator boards, and the two outíets. Arrívaí and Departure, to the
outsíde woríd.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy and her parceís were buffeted to and fro, but she
arríved eventuaííy at the entrance to No.3 píatform, and deposíted
one parceí at her feet whííst she searched her bag for the tícket
that wouíd enabíe her to pass the stern uníformed guardían at the
gate. At that moment, a voíce, raucous yet refíned, burst ínto
speech over her head.
"The traín standíng at Píatform 3," the voíce toíd her, "ís the 4:50
for Brackhampton, Mííchester, Waverton, Carvíí |unctíon, Roxeter
and statíons to Chadmouth. Passengers for Brackhampton and
Mííchester traveí at the rear of the traín. Passengers for Vanequay
change at Roxeter 5!"
The Voíce shut ítseíf off wíth a cííck, and then reopened
conversatíon by announcíng the arrívaí at Píatform 9 of the 4:33
from Bírmíngham and Woíverhampton.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy found her tícket and presented ít. The man
cíípped ít, murmured: "On the ríght-rear portíon."
Mrs. McGíííícuddy padded up the píatform and found her porter,
íookíng bored and staríng ínto space, outsíde the door of a thírd-
cíass carríage.
"Here you are, íady."
"I'm traveíííng fírst-cíass," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"You dídn't say so," grumbíed the porter. Hís eye swept her
mascuííne-íookíng pepper-and-saít tweed coat dísparagíngíy.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy, who had saíd so, díd not argue the poínt. She
was sadíy out of breath.
The porter retríeved the suítcase and marched wíth ít to the
ad|oíníng coach where Mrs. McGíííícuddy was ínstaííed ín soíítary
spíendour. The 4:50 was not much patronísed, the fírst-cíass
cííenteíe preferríng eíther the faster morníng express, or the 6:40
wíth díníng-car. Mrs. McGíííícuddy handed the porter hís típ whích
he receíved wíth dísappoíntment, cíearíy consíderíng ít more
appíícabíe to thírd-cíass than to fírst-cíass traveí. Mrs. McGíííícuddy,
though prepared to spend money on comfortabíe traveí after a
níght |ourney from the North and a day's feverísh shoppíng, was at
no tíme an extravagant típper.
She settíed herseíf back on the píush cushíons wíth a sígh and
opened a magazíne. Fíve mínutes íater, whístíes bíew, and the traín
started. The magazíne síípped from Mrs. McGíííícuddy's hand, her
head dropped sídeways, three mínutes íater she was asíeep. She
síept for thírty-fíve mínutes and awoke refreshed. Resettííng her hat
whích had síípped askew, she sat up and íooked out of the wíndow
at what she couíd see of the fíyíng countrysíde.
It was quíte dark now, a dreary místy December day - Chrístmas
was oníy fíve days ahead. London had been dark and dreary, the
country was no íess so, though occasíonaííy rendered cheerfuí wíth
íts constant cíusters of ííghts as the traín fíashed through towns and
statíons.
"Servíng íast tea now," saíd an attendant, whískíng open the
corrídor door.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy had aíready partaken of tea at a íarge
department store. She was for the moment ampíy nouríshed. The
attendant went on down the corrídor utteríng hís monotonous cry.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy íooked up at the rack where her varíous parceís
reposed, wíth a píeased expressíon. The face toweís had been
exceííent vaíue and |ust what Margaret wanted, the space gun for
Robby and the rabbít for |ean were híghíy satísfactory, and that
eveníng coatee was |ust the thíng she herseíf needed, warm but
dressy. The puííover for Hector, too... her mínd dweít wíth approvaí
on the soundness of her purchases.
Her satísfíed gaze returned to the wíndow, a traín traveíííng ín the
opposíte dírectíon rushed by wíth a screech, makíng the wíndows
rattíe and causíng her to start. The traín cíattered over poínts and
passed through a statíon. Then ít began suddeníy to síow down,
presumabíy ín obedíence to a sígnaí.
For some mínutes ít crawíed aíong, then stopped, presentíy ít
began to move forward agaín. Another up-traín passed them,
though wíth íess vehemence than the fírst one. The traín gathered
speed agaín. At that moment another traín, aíso on a downííne,
swerved ínwards towards them, for a moment wíth aímost aíarmíng
effect. For a tíme the two traíns ran paraííeí, now one gaíníng a
ííttíe, now the other. Mrs. McGíííícuddy íooked from her wíndow
through the wíndows of the paraííeí carríages. Most of the bíínds
were down, but occasíonaííy the occupants of the carríages were
vísíbíe. The other traín was not very fuíí and there were many
empty carríages.
At the moment when the two traíns gave the íííusíon of beíng
statíonary, a bíínd ín one of the carríages fíew up wíth a snap. Mrs.
McGíííícuddy íooked ínto the ííghted fírst-cíass carríage that was
oníy a few feet away.
Then she drew her breath ín wíth a gasp and haíf-rose to her feet.
Standíng wíth hís back to the wíndow and to her was a man. Hís
hands were round the throat of a woman who faced hím, and he
was síowíy, remorseíessíy, strangííng her. Her eyes were startíng
from theír sockets, her face was purpíe and congested. As Mrs.
McGíííícuddy watched, fascínated, the end came; the body went
íímp and crumpíed ín the man's hands.
At the same moment, Mrs. McGíííícuddy's traín síowed down agaín
and the other began to gaín speed. It passed forward and a
moment or two íater ít had vaníshed from síght.
Aímost automatícaííy Mrs. McGíííícuddy's hand went up to the
communícatíon cord, then paused, írresoíute. After aíí, what use
wouíd ít be ríngíng the cord of the traín ín whích she was traveíííng?
The horror of what she had seen at such cíose quarters, and the
unusuaí círcumstances, made her feeí paraíysed. Some ímmedíate
actíon was necessary - but what?
The door of her compartment was drawn back and a tícket coííector
saíd, "Tícket, píease."
Mrs. McGíííícuddy turned to hím wíth vehemence.
"A woman has been strangíed," she saíd. "In a traín that has |ust
passed. I saw ít."
The tícket coííector íooked at her doubtfuííy.
"I beg your pardon, madam?"
"A man strangíed a woman! In a traín. I saw ít - through there." She
poínted to the wíndow.
The tícket coííector íooked extremeíy doubtfuí.
"Strangíed?" he saíd dísbeííevíngíy.
"Yes, strangíed. I saw ít, I teíí you. You must do somethíng at once!"
The tícket coííector coughed apoíogetícaííy.
"You don't thínk, madam, that you may have had a ííttíe nap and -
er -" he broke off tactfuííy.
"I have had a nap, but íf you thínk thís was a dream, you're quíte
wrong. I saw ít, I teíí you."
The tícket coííector's eyes dropped to the open magazíne íyíng on
the seat. On the exposed page was a gírí beíng stangíed whííst a
man wíth a revoíver threatened the paír from an open doorway.
He saíd persuasíveíy: "Now don't you thínk, madam, that you'd
been readíng an excítíng story, and that you |ust dropped off, and
awakíng a ííttíe confused -"
Mrs. McGíííícuddy ínterrupted hím.
"I saw ít," she saíd. "I was as wíde awake as you are. And I íooked
out of the wíndow ínto the wíndow of the traín aíongsíde, and a
man was strangííng a woman. And what I want to know ís, what are
you goíng to do about ít?"
"Weíí - madam -"
"You're goíng to do somethíng, I suppose?"
The tícket coííector síghed reíuctantíy and gíanced at hís watch.
"We shaíí be ín Brackhampton ín exactíy seven mínutes. I'íí report
what you've toíd me. In what dírectíon was the traín you mentíon
goíng?"
"Thís dírectíon, of course. You don't suppose I'd have been abíe to
see aíí thís íf a traín had fíashed past goíng ín the other dírectíon?"
The tícket coííector íooked as though he thought Mrs. McGíííícuddy
was quíte capabíe of seeíng anythíng anywhere as the fancy took
her. But he remaíned poííte.
"You can reíy on me, madam," he saíd. "I wííí report your
statement. Perhaps I míght have your name and address - |ust ín
case..."
Mrs. McGíííícuddy gave hím the address where she wouíd be
stayíng for the next few days and her permanent address ín
Scotíand, and he wrote them down. Then he wíthdrew wíth the aír
of a man who has done hís duty and deaít successfuííy wíth a
tíresome member of the traveíííng pubííc.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy remaíned frowníng and vagueíy unsatísfíed.
Wouíd the tícket coííector reaííy report her statement? Or had he
|ust been soothíng her down?
There were, she supposed vagueíy, a íot of eíderíy women
traveíííng around, fuííy convínced that they had unmasked
communíst píots, were ín danger of beíng murdered, saw fíyíng
saucers and secret space shíps, and reported murders that had
never taken píace. If the man dísmíssed her as one of those...
The traín was síowíng down now, passíng over poínts, and runníng
through the bríght ííghts of a íarge town. Mrs. McGíííícuddy opened
her handbag, puííed out a receípted bííí whích was aíí she couíd
fínd, wrote a rapíd note on the back of ít wíth her baíí-poínt pen, put
ít ínto a spare enveíope that she fortunateíy happened to have,
stuck the enveíope down and wrote on ít.
The traín drew síowíy ínto a crowded píatform. The usuaí ubíquítous
voíce was íntoníng:
"The traín now arrívíng at Píatform 1 ís the 5:38 for Mííchester,
Waverton, Roxeter, and statíons to Chadmouth. Passengers for
Market Basíng take the traín now waítíng at No.3 píatform. No.1 bay
for stoppíng traín to Carbury."
Mrs. McGíííícuddy íooked anxíousíy aíong the píatform. So many
passengers and so few porters. Ah, there was one! She haííed hím
authorítatíveíy.
"Porter! Píease take thís at once to the Statíonmaster's offíce."
She handed hím the enveíope, and wíth ít a shííííng.
Then, wíth a sígh, she íeaned back.
Weíí, she had done what she couíd. Her mínd ííngered wíth an
ínstant's regret on the shííííng... Síxpence wouíd reaííy have been
enough...
Her mínd went back to the scene she had wítnessed. Horríbíe, quíte
horríbíe...
She was a strong-nerved woman, but she shívered. What a strange
- what a fantastíc thíng to happen to her, Eíspeth McGíííícuddy! If
the bíínd of the carríage had not happened to fíy up... But that, of
course, was Provídence.
Provídence had wíííed that she, Eíspeth McGíííícuddy, shouíd be a
wítness of the críme. Her ííps set grímíy.
Voíces shouted, whístíes bíew, doors were banged shut. The 5:38
drew síowíy out of Brackhampton statíon. An hour and fíve mínutes
íater ít stopped at Mííchester.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy coííected her parceís and her suítcase and got
out. She peered up and down the píatform. Her mínd reíterated íts
former |udgement: not enough porters. Such porters as there were
seemed to be engaged wíth maíí bags and íuggage vans.
Passengers nowadays seemed aíways expected to carry theír own
cases. Weíí, she couídn't carry her suítcase and her umbreíía and aíí
her parceís. She wouíd have to waít. In due course she secured a
porter.
"Taxí?"
"There wííí be somethíng to meet me, I expect."
Outsíde Mííchester statíon, a taxí-dríver who had been watchíng the
exít came forward. He spoke ín a soft íocaí voíce.
"Is ít Mrs. McGíííícuddy? For St. Mary Mead?"
Mrs. McGíííícuddy acknowíedged her ídentíty. The porter was
recompensed, adequateíy íf not handsomeíy. The car, wíth Mrs.
McGíííícuddy, her suítcase, and her parceís drove off ínto the níght.
It was a níne-mííe dríve. Síttíng boít upríght ín the car, Mrs.
McGíííícuddy was unabíe to reíax. Her feeííngs yearned for
expressíon.
At íast the taxí drove aíong the famíííar víííage street and fínaííy
drew up at íts destínatíon; Mrs. McGíííícuddy got out and waíked up
the bríck path to the door.
The dríver deposíted the cases ínsíde as the door was opened by an
eíderíy maíd.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy passed straíght through the haíí to where, at the
open síttíng-room door, her hostess awaíted her; an eíderíy fraíí oíd
íady.
"Eíspeth!"
"|ane!"
They kíssed and, wíthout preambíe or círcumíocutíon, Mrs.
McGíííícuddy burst ínto speech.
"Oh, |ane!" she waííed. "I've |ust seen a murder!"

Chapter 2

Mrs. McGíííícuddy acquíescíng ín these arrangements, Míss Marpíe
poured out the wíne.
"|ane," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, as she took an apprecíatíve síp, "you
don't thínk, do you, that I dreamt ít, or ímagíned ít?"
"Certaíníy not," saíd Míss Marpíe wíth warmth.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy heaved a sígh of reííef.
"That tícket coííector," she saíd, "he thought so. Ouíte poííte, but aíí
the same -"
"I thínk, Eíspeth, that that was quíte naturaí under the
círcumstances. It sounded - and índeed was - a most unííkeíy story.
And you were a compíete stranger to hím. No, I have no doubt at aíí
that you saw what you've toíd me you saw. It's very extraordínary -
but not at aíí ímpossíbíe. I recoííect myseíf beíng ínterested when a
traín ran paraííeí to one ín whích I was traveíííng, to notíce what a
vívíd and íntímate pícture one got of what was goíng on ín one or
two of the carríages. A ííttíe gírí, I remember once, píayíng wíth a
teddy bear, and suddeníy she threw ít deííberateíy at a fat man who
was asíeep ín the corner and he bounced up and íooked most
índígnant, and the other passenger íooked so amused. I saw them
aíí quíte vívídíy. I couíd have descríbed afterwards exactíy what
they íooked ííke and what they had on."
Mrs. McGíííícuddy nodded gratefuííy. "That's |ust how ít was."
"The man had hís back to you, you say. So you dídn't see hís face?"
"No."
"And the woman, you can descríbe her? Young, oíd?"
"Youngísh. Between thírty and thírty-fíve, I shouíd thínk. I couídn't
say cíoser than that."
"Good-íookíng?"
"That agaín, I couídn't say. Her face, you see, was aíí contorted and
-"
Míss Marpíe saíd quíckíy:
"Yes, yes, I quíte understand. How was she dressed?"
"She had on a fur coat of some kínd, a paíísh fur. No hat. Her haír
was bíond."
"And there was nothíng dístínctíve that you can remember about
the man?"
"I?" Mrs. McGíííícuddy took a ííttíe tíme to thínk carefuííy before she
repííed.
"He was taííísh - and dark, I thínk. He had a heavy coat on so that I
couídn't |udge hís buííd very weíí." She added despondentíy, "It's
not reaííy very much to go on."
"It's somethíng," saíd Míss Marpíe. She paused before sayíng: "You
feeí quíte sure, ín your own mínd, that the gírí was - dead?"
"She was dead, I'm sure of ít. Her tongue came out and - I'd rather
not taík - about ít..."
"Of course not. Of course not," saíd Míss Marpíe quíckíy. "We shaíí
know more, I expect, ín the morníng."
"In the morníng?"
"I shouíd ímagíne ít wííí be ín the morníng papers. After thís man
had attacked and kíííed her, he wouíd have a body on hís hands.
What wouíd he do? Presumabíy he wouíd íeave the traín quíckíy at
the fírst statíon - by the way, can you remember íf ít was a corrídor
carríage?"
"No, ít was not."
"That seems to poínt to a traín that was not goíng far afíeíd. It
wouíd aímost certaíníy stop at Brackhampton. Let us say he íeaves
the traín at Brackhampton, perhaps arrangíng the body ín a corner
seat, wíth the face hídden by the fur coííar to deíay díscovery. Yes -
I thínk that that ís what he wouíd do. But of course ít wííí be
díscovered before very íong - and I shouíd ímagíne that the news of
a murdered woman díscovered on a traín wouíd be aímost certaín
to be ín the morníng papers - we shaíí see."

II

But ít was not ín the morníng papers.
Míss Marpíe and Mrs. McGíííícuddy, after makíng sure of thís,
fíníshed theír breakfast ín sííence. Both were refíectíng. After
breakfast, they took a turn round the garden. But thís, usuaííy an
absorbíng pastíme, was today somewhat haífhearted. Míss Marpíe
díd índeed caíí attentíon to some new and rare specíes she had
acquíred for her rock-garden but díd so ín an aímost absentmínded
manner. And Mrs. McGíííícuddy díd not, as was customary, counter-
attack wíth a ííst of her own recent acquísítíons.
"The garden ís not íookíng at aíí as ít shouíd," saíd Míss Marpíe, but
stííí speakíng absentmíndedíy. "Doctor Haydock has absoíuteíy
forbídden me to do any stoopíng or kneeííng - and reaííy, what can
you do íf you don't stoop or kneeí? There's oíd Edwards, of course -
but so opíníonated. And aíí thís |obbíng gets them ínto bad habíts,
íots of cups of tea and so much potteríng - not any reaí work."
"Oh, I know," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"Of course there's no questíon of my beíng forbídden to stoop, but
reaííy, especíaííy after meaís - and havíng put on weíght -" she
íooked down at her ampíe proportíons - "ít does bríng on
heartburn."
There was a sííence and then Mrs. McGíííícuddy píanted her feet
sturdííy, stood stííí, and turned on her fríend.
"Weíí?" she saíd. It was a smaíí ínsígnífícant word, but ít acquíred
fuíí sígnífícance from Mrs. McGíííícuddy's tone, and Míss Marpíe
understood íts meaníng perfectíy.
"I know," she saíd.
The two íadíes íooked at each other.
"I thínk," saíd Míss Marpíe, "we míght waík down to the poííce
statíon and taík to Sergeant Cornísh. He's ínteííígent and patíent,
and I know hím very weíí, and he knows me. I thínk he'íí íísten - and
pass the ínformatíon on to the proper quarter."
Accordíngíy, some three-quarters of an hour íater, Míss Marpíe and
Mrs. McGíííícuddy were taíkíng to a fresh-faced grave man between
thírty and forty who íístened attentíveíy to what they had to say.
Frank Cornísh receíved Míss Marpíe wíth cordíaííty and even
deference. He set chaírs for the two íadíes, and saíd: "Now what
can we do for you, Míss Marpíe?"
Míss Marpíe saíd: "I wouíd ííke you, píease, to íísten to my fríend
Mrs. McGíííícuddy's story."
And Sergeant Cornísh had íístened. At the cíose of the recítaí he
remaíned sííent for a moment or two.
Then he saíd:
"That's a very extraordínary story." Hís eyes, wíthout seemíng to do
so, had sízed Mrs. McGíííícuddy up whííst she was teíííng ít.
On the whoíe, he was favourabíy ímpressed. A sensíbíe woman,
abíe to teíí a story cíearíy, not, so far as he couíd |udge, an over-
ímagínatíve or a hysterícaí woman. Moreover, Míss Marpíe, so ít
seemed, beííeved ín the accuracy of her fríend's story and he knew
aíí about Míss Marpíe. Everybody ín St. Mary Mead knew Míss
Marpíe, fíuffy and díthery ín appearance, but ínwardíy as sharp and
as shrewd as they make them.
He cíeared hís throat and spoke.
"Of course," he saíd, "you may have been místaken - I'm not sayíng
you were, mínd - but you may have been. There's a íot of horse-
píay goes on - ít mayn't have been seríous or fataí."
"I know what I saw," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy grímíy.
"And you won't budge from ít," thought Frank Cornísh, "and I'd say
that, ííkeíy or unííkeíy, you may be ríght."
Aíoud he saíd: "You reported ít to the raííway offícíaís, and you've
come and reported ít to me. That's the proper procedure and you
may reíy on me to have ínquíríes ínstítuted."
He stopped. Míss Marpíe nodded her head gentíy, satísfíed. Mrs.
McGíííícuddy was not quíte so satísfíed, but she díd not say
anythíng. Sergeant Cornísh addressed Míss Marpíe, not so much
because he wanted her ídeas, as because he wanted to hear what
she wouíd say.
"Granted the facts are as reported," he saíd, "what do you thínk has
happened to the body?"
"There seem to be oníy two possíbííítíes," saíd Míss Marpíe wíthout
hesítatíon. "The most ííkeíy one, of course, ís that the body was íeft
ín the traín, but that seems ímprobabíe now, for ít wouíd have been
found some tíme íast níght, by another traveííer, or by the raííway
staff at the traín's uítímate destínatíon."
Frank Cornísh nodded.
"The oníy other course open to the murderer wouíd be to push the
body out of the traín on to the ííne. It must, I suppose, be stííí on
the track somewhere as yet undíscovered - though that does seem
a ííttíe unííkeíy. But there wouíd be, as far as I can see, no other
way of deaííng wíth ít."
"You read about bodíes beíng put ín trunks," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy,
"but no one traveís wíth trunks nowadays, oníy suítcases, and you
couídn't get a body ínto a suítcase."
"Yes," saíd Cornísh. "I agree wíth you both. The body, íf there ís a
body, ought to have been díscovered by now, or wííí be very soon.
I'íí íet you know any deveíopments there are - though I dare say
you'íí read about them ín the papers. There's the possíbíííty, of
course, that the woman, though savageíy attacked, was not
actuaííy dead. She may have been abíe to íeave the traín on her
own feet."
"Hardíy wíthout assístance," saíd Míss Marpíe. "And íf so, ít wííí have
been notíced. A man, supportíng a woman whom he says ís ííí."
"Yes, ít wííí have been notíced," saíd Cornísh. "Or íf a woman was
found unconscíous or ííí ín a carríage and was removed to hospítaí,
that, too, wííí be on record. I thínk you may rest assured that you'íí
hear about ít aíí ín a very short tíme."
But that day passed and the next day. On that eveníng Míss Marpíe
receíved a note from Sergeant Cornísh.
In regard to the matter on whích you consuíted me, fuíí ínquíríes
have been made, wíth no resuít. No woman's body has been found.
No hospítaí has admínístered treatment to a woman such as you
descríbe, and no case of a woman sufferíng from shock or taken ííí,
or íeavíng a statíon supported by a man has been observed. You
may take ít that the fuííest ínquíríes have been made. I suggest that
your fríend may have wítnessed a scene such as she descríbed but
that ít was much íess seríous than she supposed.

Chapter 3

"Less seríous? Fíddíestícks!" saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "It was
murder!"
She íooked defíantíy at Míss Marpíe and Míss Marpíe íooked back at
her.
"Go on, |ane," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "Say ít was aíí a místake! Say
I ímagíned the whoíe thíng! That's what you thínk now, ísn't ít?"
"Anyone can be místaken," Míss Marpíe poínted out gentíy.
"Anybody, Eíspeth - even you. I thínk we must bear that ín mínd.
But I stííí thínk, you know, that you were most probabíy not
místaken... You use gíasses for readíng, but you've got very good
far síght - and what you saw ímpressed you very powerfuííy. You
were defíníteíy sufferíng from shock when you arríved here."
"It's a thíng I shaíí never forget," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy wíth a
shudder. "The troubíe ís, I don't see what I can do about ít!"
"I don't thínk," saíd Míss Marpíe thoughtfuííy, "that there's anythíng
more you can do about ít." (If Mrs. McGíííícuddy had been aíert to
the tones of her fríend's voíce, she míght have notíced a very faínt
stress íaíd on the you.) "You've reported what you saw - to the
raííway peopíe and to the poííce. No, there's nothíng more you can
do."
"That's a reííef, ín a way," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, "because as you
know, I'm goíng out to Ceyíon ímmedíateíy after Chrístmas - to stay
wíth Roderíck, and I certaíníy do not want to put that vísít off - I've
been íookíng forward to ít so much. Though of course I wouíd put ít
off íf I thought ít was my duty," she added conscíentíousíy.
"I'm sure you wouíd, Eíspeth, but as I say, I consíder you've done
everythíng you possíbíy couíd do."
"It's up to the poííce," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "And íf the poííce
choose to be stupíd -"
Míss Marpíe shook her head decísíveíy.
"Oh, no," she saíd, "the poííce aren't stupíd. And that makes ít
ínterestíng, doesn't ít?"
Mrs. McGíííícuddy íooked at her wíthout comprehensíon and Míss
Marpíe reaffírmed her |udgement of her fríend as a woman of
exceííent príncípíes and no ímagínatíon.
"One wants to know," saíd Míss Marpíe, "what reaííy happened."
"She was kíííed."
"Yes, but who kíííed her, and why; and what happened to her body?
Where ís ít now?"
"That's the busíness of the poííce to fínd out."
"Exactíy - and they haven't found out. That means, doesn't ít, that
the man was cíever - very cíever. I can't ímagíne, you know," saíd
Míss Marpíe, kníttíng her brows, "how he dísposed of ít... You kííí a
woman ín a fít of passíon - ít must have been unpremedítated,
you'd never choose to kííí a woman ín such círcumstances |ust a
few mínutes before runníng ínto a bíg statíon. No, ít must have
been a quarreí - |eaíousy - somethíng of that kínd. You strangíe her
- and there you are, as I say, wíth a dead body on your hands and
on the poínt of runníng ínto a statíon. What couíd you do except as I
saíd at fírst, prop the body up ín a corner as though asíeep, hídíng
the face, and then yourseíf íeave the traín as quíckíy as possíbíe. I
don't see any other possíbíííty - and yet there must have been
one..."
Míss Marpíe íost herseíf ín thought.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy spoke to her twíce before Míss Marpíe answered.
"You're gettíng deaf, |ane."
"|ust a ííttíe, perhaps. Peopíe do not seem to me to enuncíate theír
words as cíearíy as they used to do. But ít wasn't that I dídn't hear
you. I'm afraíd I wasn't payíng attentíon."
"I |ust asked about the traíns to London tomorrow. Wouíd the
afternoon be aíí ríght? I'm goíng to Margaret's and she ísn't
expectíng me before teatíme."
"I wonder, Eíspeth, íf you wouíd mínd goíng up by the 12:15? We
couíd have an earíy íunch."
"Of course and -" Míss Marpíe went on, drowníng her fríend's words:
"And I wonder, too, íf Margaret wouíd mínd íf you dídn't arríve for
tea - íf you arríved about seven, perhaps?"
Mrs. McGíííícuddy íooked at her fríend curíousíy.
"What's on your mínd, |ane?"
"I suggest, Eíspeth, that I shouíd traveí up to London wíth you, and
that we shouíd traveí down agaín as far as Brackhampton ín the
traín you traveííed by the other day. You wouíd then return to
London from Brackhampton and I wouíd come on here as you díd. I,
of course, wouíd pay the fares," Míss Marpíe stressed thís poínt
fírmíy.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy ígnored the fínancíaí aspect.
"What on earth do you expect, |ane?" she asked. "Another
murder?"
"Certaíníy not," saíd Míss Marpíe shocked. "But I confess I shouíd
ííke to see for myseíf, under your guídance, the - the - reaííy ít ís
most díffícuít to fínd the correct term - the terraín of the críme."
So accordíngíy on the foííowíng day Míss Marpíe and Mrs.
McGíííícuddy found themseíves ín two opposíte corners of a fírst-
cíass carríage speedíng out of London by the 4:50 from Paddíngton.
Paddíngton had been even more crowded than on the precedíng
Fríday - as there were now oníy two days to go before Chrístmas,
but the 4:50 was comparatíveíy peacefuí - at any rate, ín the rear
portíon.
On thís occasíon no traín drew íeveí wíth them, or they wíth another
traín.
At íntervaís traíns fíashed past them towards London. On two
occasíons traíns fíashed past them the other way goíng at hígh
speed. At íntervaís Mrs. McGíííícuddy consuíted her watch
doubtfuííy.
"It's hard to teíí |ust when - we'd passed through a statíon I know..."
But they were contínuaííy passíng through statíons.
"We're due ín Brackhampton ín fíve mínutes," saíd Míss Marpíe.
A tícket coííector appeared ín the doorway.
Míss Marpíe raísed her eyes ínterrogatíveíy, Mrs. McGíííícuddy
shook her head. It was not the same tícket coííector. He cíípped
theír tíckets, and passed on staggeríng |ust a ííttíe as the traín
swung round a íong curve. It síackened speed as ít díd so.
"I expect we're comíng ínto Brackhampton," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"We're gettíng ínto the outskírts, I thínk," saíd Míss Marpíe.
There were ííghts fíashíng past outsíde, buíídíngs, an occasíonaí
gíímpse of streets and traíns. Theír speed síackened further. They
began crossíng poínts.
"We'íí be there ín a mínute," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, "and I can't
reaííy see thís |ourney has been any good at aíí. Has ít suggested
anythíng to you, |ane?"
"I'm afraíd not," saíd Míss Marpíe ín a rather doubtfuí voíce.
"A sad waste of good money," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, but wíth íess
dísapprovaí than she wouíd have used had she been payíng for
herseíf. Míss Marpíe had been quíte adamant on that poínt.
"Aíí the same," saíd Míss Marpíe, "one ííkes to see wíth one's own
eyes where a thíng happened. Thís traín's |ust a few mínutes íate.
Was yours on tíme on Fríday?"
"I thínk so. I dídn't reaííy notíce."
The traín drew síowíy ínto the busy íength of Brackhampton statíon.
The íoudspeaker announced hoarseíy, doors opened and shut,
peopíe got ín and out, míííed up and down the píatform. It was a
busy crowded scene.
Easy, thought Míss Marpíe, for a murderer to merge ínto that crowd,
to íeave the statíon ín the mídst of that pressíng mass of peopíe, or
even to seíect another carríage and go on ín the traín to wherever
íts uítímate destínatíon míght be. Easy to be one maíe passenger
amongst many.
But not so easy to make a body vanísh ínto thín aír. That body must
be somewhere.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy had descended. She spoke now from the
píatform, through the open wíndow.
"Now take care of yourseíf, |ane," she saíd. "Don't catch a chííí. It's
a nasty treacherous tíme of year, and you're not so young as you
were."
"I know," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"And don't íet's worry ourseíves any more over aíí thís. We've done
what we couíd."
Míss Marpíe nodded, and saíd:
"Don't stand about ín the coíd, Eíspeth. Or you'íí be the one to catch
a chííí. Go and get yourseíf a good hot cup of tea ín the
Refreshment Room. You've got tíme, tweíve mínutes before your
traín back to town."
"I thínk perhaps I wííí. Goodbye, |ane."
"Good-bye, Eíspeth. A happy Chrístmas to you. I hope you fínd
Margaret weíí. En|oy yourseíf ín Ceyíon, and gíve my íove to dear
Roderíck - íf he remembers me at aíí, whích I doubt."
"Of course he remembers you - very weíí. You heíped hím ín some
way when he was at schooí - somethíng to do wíth money that was
dísappearíng from a íocker - he's never forgotten ít."
"Oh, that," saíd Míss Marpíe.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy turned away, a whístíe bíew, the traín began to
move.
Míss Marpíe watched the sturdy thíckset body of her fríend recede.
Eíspeth couíd go to Ceyíon wíth a cíear conscíence - she had done
her duty and was freed from further obíígatíon.
Míss Marpíe díd not íean back as the traín gathered speed. Instead
she sat upríght and devoted herseíf seríousíy to thought. Though ín
speech Míss Marpíe was wooííy and díffuse, ín mínd she was cíear
and sharp. She had a probíem to soíve, the probíem of her own
future conduct; and, perhaps strangeíy, ít presented ítseíf to her as
ít had to Mrs. McGíííícuddy, as a questíon of duty.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy had saíd that they had both done aíí that they
couíd do.
It was true of Mrs. McGíííícuddy but about herseíf Míss Marpíe díd
not feeí so sure.
It was a questíon, sometímes, of usíng one's specíaí gífts... But
perhaps that was conceíted... After aíí, what couíd she do? Her
fríend's words came back to her, "You're not so young as you
were..."
Díspassíonateíy, ííke a generaí píanníng a campaígn, or an
accountant assessíng a busíness. Míss Marpíe weíghed up and set
down ín her mínd the facts for and agaínst further enterpríse. On
the credít síde were the foííowíng:
1. My íong experíence of íífe and human nature.
2. Sír Henry Cíítheríng and hís godson (now at Scotíand Yard, I
beííeve), who was so very níce ín the Líttíe Paddocks case.
3. My nephew Raymond's second boy, Davíd, who ís, I am aímost
sure, ín Brítísh Raííways.
4. Gríseída's boy Leonard who ís so very knowíedgeabíe about
maps.
Míss Marpíe revíewed these assets and approved them. They were
aíí very necessary, to reínforce the weaknesses on the debít síde -
ín partícuíar her own bodííy weakness.
"It's not," thought Míss Marpíe, "as though I couíd go here, there
and everywhere, makíng ínquíríes and fíndíng out thíngs."
Yes, that was the chíef ob|ectíon, her own age and weakness.
Aíthough, for her age, her heaíth was good, yet she was oíd.
And íf Dr. Haydock had stríctíy forbídden her to do practícaí
gardeníng he wouíd hardíy approve of her startíng out to track
down a murderer. For that, ín effect, was what she was píanníng to
do - and ít was there that her íoophoíe íay. For íf heretofore murder
had, so to speak, been forced upon her, ín thís case ít wouíd be that
she herseíf set out deííberateíy to seek ít.
And she was not sure that she wanted to do so... She was oíd - oíd
and tíred.
She feít at thís moment, at the end of a tíríng day, a great
reíuctance to enter upon any pro|ect at aíí. She wanted nothíng at
aíí but to reach home and sít by the fíre wíth a níce tray of supper,
and go to bed, and potter about the next day |ust sníppíng off a few
thíngs ín the garden, tídyíng up ín a very mííd way, wíthout
stoopíng, wíthout exertíng herseíf...
"I'm too oíd for any more adventures," saíd Míss Marpíe to herseíf,
watchíng absentíy out of the wíndow the curvíng ííne of an
embankment...
A curve...
Very faíntíy somethíng stírred ín her mínd... |ust after the tícket
coííector had cíípped theír tíckets...
It suggested an ídea. Oníy an ídea.
An entíreíy dífferent ídea...
A ííttíe pínk fíush came ínto Míss Marpíe's face. Suddeníy she díd
not feeí tíred at aíí!
"I'íí wríte to Davíd tomorrow morníng," she saíd to herseíf.
And at the same tíme another vaíuabíe asset fíashed through her
mínd.
"Of course. My faíthfuí Fíorence!"
Míss Marpíe set about her pían of campaígn methodícaííy and
makíng due aííowance for the Chrístmas season whích was a
defíníteíy retardíng factor.
She wrote to her great-nephew, Davíd West, combíníng Chrístmas
wíshes wíth an urgent request for ínformatíon.
Fortunateíy she was ínvíted, as on prevíous years, to the vícarage
for Chrístmas dínner, and here she was abíe to tackíe young
Leonard, home for the Chrístmas season, about maps.
Maps of aíí kínds were Leonard's passíon. The reason for the oíd
íady's ínquíry about a íarge-scaíe map of a partícuíar area díd not
rouse hís curíosíty.
He díscoursed on maps generaííy wíth fíuency, and wrote down for
her exactíy what wouíd suít her purpose best. In fact, he díd better.
He actuaííy found that he had such a map amongst hís coííectíon
and be íent ít to her. Míss Marpíe promísíng to take great care of ít
and return ít ín due course.
"Maps," saíd hís mother, Gríseída, who stííí, aíthough she had a
grown-up son, íooked strangeíy young and bíoomíng to be
ínhabítíng the shabby oíd vícarage.
"What does she want wíth maps? I mean, what does she want them
for?"
"I don't know," saíd young Leonard, "I don't thínk she saíd exactíy."
"I wonder now..." saíd Gríseída. "It seems very físhy to me... At her
age the oíd pet ought to gíve up that sort of thíng."
Leonard asked what sort of thíng, and Gríseída saíd eíusíveíy:
"Oh, pokíng her nose ínto thíngs. Why maps, I wonder?"
In due course Míss Marpíe receíved a íetter from her great-nephew
Davíd West.
It ran affectíonateíy:
"Dear Aunt |ane
Now, what are you up to? I've got the ínformatíon you wanted.
There are oníy two traíns that can possíbíy appíy - the 4:33 and the
5 o'cíock. The former ís a síow traín and stops at Haííng Broadway,
Barweíí Heath, Brackhampton and then statíons to Market Basíng.
The 5 o'cíock ís the Weísh express for Cardíff, Newport and
Swansea. The former míght be overtaken somewhere by the 4:50,
aíthough ít ís due ín Brackhampton fíve mínutes earííer and the
íatter passes the 4:50 |ust before Brackhampton. In aíí thís do I
smeíí some víííage scandaí of a fruíty character? Díd you, returníng
from a shoppíng spree ín town by the 4:50, observe ín a passíng
traín the Mayor's wífe beíng embraced by the Sanítary Inspector?
But why does ít matter whích traín ít was? A weekend at Porthcawí,
perhaps? Thank you for the puííover. |ust what I wanted. How's the
garden? Not very actíve thís tíme of year, I shouíd ímagíne.
Yours ever,
Davíd"
Míss Marpíe smííed a ííttíe, then consídered the ínformatíon thus
presented to her. Mrs. McGíííícuddy had saíd defíníteíy that the
carríage had not been a corrídor one. Therefore - not the Swansea
express.
The 4:33 was índícated.
Aíso some more traveíííng seemed unavoídabíe. Míss Marpíe
síghed, but made her píans.
She went up to London as before on the 12:15, but thís tíme
returned not by the 4:50, but by the 4:33 as far as Brackhampton.
The |ourney was uneventfuí, but she regístered certaín detaíís. The
traín was not crowded - 4:33 was before the eveníng rush hour. Of
the fírst-cíass carríages oníy one had an occupant - a very oíd
gentíeman readíng the New Statesman. Míss Marpíe traveííed ín an
empty compartment and at the two stops, Haííng Broadway and
Barweíí Heath, íeaned out of the wíndow to observe passengers
enteríng and íeavíng the traín.
A smaíí number of thírd-cíass passengers got ín at Haííng
Broadway. At Barweíí Heath severaí thírd-cíass passengers got out.
Nobody entered or íeft a fírst-cíass carríage except the oíd
gentíeman carryíng hís New Statesman.
As the traín neared Brackhampton, sweepíng around a curve of
ííne. Míss Marpíe rose to her feet and stood experímentaííy wíth her
back to the wíndow over whích she had drawn down the bíínd.
Yes, she decíded, the ímpetus of the sudden curvíng of the ííne and
the síackeníng of speed díd throw one off one's baíance back
agaínst the wíndow and the bíínd míght, ín consequence, very
easííy fíy up. She peered out ínto the níght.
It was ííghter than ít had been when Mrs. McGíííícuddy had made
the same |ourney - oníy |ust dark, but there was ííttíe to see. For
observatíon she must make a dayííght |ourney.
On the next day she went up by the earíy morníng traín, purchased
four íínen píííow-cases (tut-tuttíng at the príce!) so as to combíne
ínvestígatíon wíth the provísíon of househoíd necessítíes, and
returned by a traín íeavíng Paddíngton at tweíve-fífteen. Agaín she
was aíone ín a fírst-cíass carríage. "Thís taxatíon," thought Míss
Marpíe, "that's what ít ís.
No one can afford to traveí fírst cíass except busíness men ín the
rush hours. I suppose because they can charge ít to expenses."
About a quarter of an hour before the traín was due at
Brackhampton, Míss Marpíe got out the map wíth whích Leonard
had suppííed her and began to observe the countrysíde. She had
studíed the map very carefuííy beforehand, and after notíng the
name of a statíon they passed through, she was soon abíe to
ídentífy where she was |ust as the traín began to síacken for a
curve. It was a very consíderabíe curve índeed. Míss Marpíe, her
nose gíued to the wíndow, studíed the ground beneath her (the
traín was runníng on a faíríy hígh embankment) wíth cíose
attentíon. She dívíded her attentíon between the country outsíde
and her map untíí the traín fínaííy ran ínto Brackhampton.
That níght she wrote and posted a íetter addressed to Míss Fíorence
Hííí, 4 Madíson Road, Brackhampton...
On the foííowíng morníng, goíng to the County ííbrary, she studíed a
Brackhampton dírectory and gazetteer, and a County hístory.
Nothíng so far had contradícted the very faínt and sketchy ídea that
had come to her. What she had ímagíned was possíbíe. She wouíd
go no further than that.
But the next step ínvoíved actíon - a good deaí of actíon - the kínd
of actíon for whích she, herseíf, was physícaííy unfít.
If her theory were to be defíníteíy proved or dísproved, she must at
thís poínt have heíp from some other person. The questíon was -
who? Míss Marpíe revíewed varíous names and possíbííítíes
re|ectíng them aíí wíth a vexed shake of the head.
The ínteííígent peopíe on whose ínteííígence she couíd reíy were aíí
far too busy. Not oníy had they aíí got |obs of varyíng ímportance,
theír íeísure hours were usuaííy apportíoned íong beforehand. The
unínteííígent who had tíme on theír hands were símpíy, Míss Marpíe
decíded, no good.
She pondered ín growíng vexatíon and perpíexíty.
Then suddeníy her forehead cíeared. She e|acuíated aíoud a name.
"Of course!" saíd Míss Marpíe. "Lucy Eyeíesbarrow!"

Chapter 4

The name of Lucy Eyeíesbarrow had aíready made ítseíf feít ín
certaín círcíes.
Lucy Eyeíesbarrow was thírty-two. She had taken a Fírst ín
Mathematícs at Oxford, was acknowíedged to have a brííííant mínd
and was confídentíy expected to take up a dístínguíshed academíc
career.
But Lucy Eyeíesbarrow, ín addítíon to schoíaríy brííííance, had a
core of good sound common sense. She couíd not faíí to observe
that a íífe of academíc dístínctíon was sínguíaríy ííí rewarded. She
had no desíre whatever to teach and she took píeasure ín contacts
wíth mínds much íess brííííant than her own. In short, she had a
taste for peopíe, aíí sorts of peopíe - and not the same peopíe the
whoíe tíme. She aíso, quíte frankíy, ííked money. To gaín money
one must expíoít shortage.
Lucy Eyeíesbarrow hít at once upon a very seríous shortage - the
shortage of any kínd of skíííed domestíc íabour. To the amazement
of her fríends and feííow-schoíars, Lucy Eyeíesbarrow entered the
fíeíd of domestíc íabour.
Her success was ímmedíate and assured.
By now, after a íapse of some years, she was known aíí over the
Brítísh Isíes. It was quíte customary for wíves to say |oyfuííy to
husbands, "It wííí be aíí ríght. I can go wíth you to the States. I've
got Lucy Eyeíesbarrow!"
The poínt of Lucy Eyeíesbarrow was that once she came ínto a
house, aíí worry, anxíety and hard work went out of ít. Lucy
Eyeíesbarrow díd everythíng, saw to everythíng, arranged
everythíng. She was unbeííevabíy competent ín every conceívabíe
sphere. She íooked after eíderíy parents, accepted the care of
young chíídren, nursed the síckíy, cooked dívíneíy, got on weíí wíth
any oíd crusted servants there míght happen to be (there usuaííy
weren't), was tactfuí wíth ímpossíbíe peopíe, soothed habítuaí
drunkards, was wonderfuí wíth dogs. Best of aíí she never mínded
what she díd. She scrubbed the kítchen fíoor, dug ín the garden,
cíeaned up dog messes, and carríed coaís!
One of her ruíes was never to accept an engagement for any íong
íength of tíme.
A fortníght was her usuaí períod - a month at most under
exceptíonaí círcumstances.
For that fortníght you had to pay the earth! But, duríng that
fortníght, your íífe was heaven. You couíd reíax compíeteíy, go
abroad, stay at home, do as you píeased, secure that aíí was goíng
weíí on the home front ín Lucy Eyeíesbarrow's capabíe hands.
Naturaííy the demand for her servíces was enormous. She couíd
have booked herseíf up íf she chose for about three years ahead.
She had been offered enormous sums to go as a permanency. But
Lucy had no íntentíon of beíng a permanency, nor wouíd she book
herseíf for more than síx months ahead. And wíthín that períod,
unknown to her cíamouríng cííents, she aíways kept certaín free
períods whích enabíed her eíther to take a short íuxuríous hoííday
(sínce she spent nothíng otherwíse and was handsomeíy paíd and
kept) or to accept any posítíon at short notíce that happened to
take her fancy, eíther by reason of íts character, or because she
'ííked the peopíe.' Sínce she was now at ííberty to píck and choose
amongst the vocíferous cíaímants for her servíces, she went very
íargeíy by personaí ííkíng. Mere ríches wouíd not buy you the
servíces of Lucy Eyeíesbarrow. She couíd píck and choose and she
díd píck and choose. She en|oyed her íífe very much and found ín ít
a contínuaí source of entertaínment.
Lucy Eyeíesbarrow read and re-read the íetter from Míss Marpíe.
She had made Míss Marpíe's acquaíntance two years ago when her
servíces had been retaíned by Raymond West, the noveííst, to go
and íook after hís oíd aunt who was recoveríng from pneumonía.
Lucy had accepted the |ob and had gone down to St. Mary Mead.
She had ííked Míss Marpíe very much. As for Míss Marpíe, once she
had caught a gíímpse out of her bedroom wíndow of Lucy
Eyeíesbarrow reaííy trenchíng for sweet peas ín the proper way, she
had íeaned back on her píííows wíth a sígh of reííef, eaten the
temptíng ííttíe meaís that Lucy Eyeíesbarrow brought to her, and
íístened, agreeabíy surprísed, to the taíes toíd by her eíderíy
írascíbíe maídservant of how "I taught that Míss Eyeíesbarrow a
crochet pattern what she'd never heard of! Proper gratefuí, she
was." And had surprísed her doctor by the rapídíty of her
convaíescence.
Míss Marpíe wrote askíng íf Míss Eyeíesbarrow couíd undertake a
certaín task for her - rather an unusuaí one. Perhaps Míss
Eyeíesbarrow couíd arrange a meetíng at whích they couíd díscuss
the matter.
Lucy Eyeíesbarrow frowned for a moment or two as she consídered.
She was ín reaííty fuííy booked up. But the word unusuaí and her
recoííectíon of Míss Marpíe's personaííty, carríed the day and she
rang up Míss Marpíe straíght away expíaíníng that she couíd not
come down to St. Mary Mead as she was at the moment workíng,
but that she was free from 2 to 4 on the foííowíng afternoon and
couíd meet Míss Marpíe anywhere ín London. She suggested her
own cíub, a rather nondescrípt estabííshment whích had the
advantage of havíng severaí smaíí dark wrítíng-rooms whích were
usuaííy empty.
Míss Marpíe accepted the suggestíon and on the foííowíng day the
meetíng took píace.
Greetíngs were exchanged; Lucy Eyeíesbarrow íed her guest to the
gíoomíest of the wrítíng-rooms, and saíd: "I'm afraíd I'm rather
booked up |ust at present, but perhaps you'íí teíí me what ít ís you
want me to undertake?"
"It's very símpíe, reaííy," saíd Míss Marpíe. "Unusuaí, but símpíe. I
want you to fínd a body."
For a moment the suspícíon crossed Lucy's mínd that Míss Marpíe
was mentaííy unhínged, but she re|ected the ídea.
Míss Marpíe was emínentíy sane. She meant exactíy what she had
saíd.
"What kínd of a body?" asked Lucy Eyeíesbarrow wíth admírabíe
composure.
"A woman's body," saíd Míss Marpíe. "The body of a woman who
was murdered - strangíed actuaííy - ín a traín."
Lucy's eyebrows rose sííghtíy.
"Weíí, that's certaíníy unusuaí. Teíí me about ít."
Míss Marpíe toíd her. Lucy Eyeíesbarrow íístened attentíveíy,
wíthout ínterruptíng.
At the end she saíd:
"It aíí depends on what your fríend saw - or thought she saw?"
She íeft the sentence unfíníshed wíth a questíon ín ít.
"Eíspeth McGíííícuddy doesn't ímagíne thíngs," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"That's why I'm reíyíng on what she saíd. If ít had been Dorothy
Cartwríght, now - ít wouíd have been quíte a dífferent matter.
Dorothy aíways has a good story, and quíte often beííeves ít herseíf,
and there ís usuaííy a kínd of basís of truth but certaíníy no more.
But Eíspeth ís the kínd of woman who fínds ít very hard to make
herseíf beííeve that anythíng at aíí extraordínary or out of the way
couíd happen. She's most unsuggestíbíe, rather ííke graníte."
"I see," saíd Lucy thoughtfuííy. "Weíí, íet's accept ít aíí. Where do I
come ín?"
"I was very much ímpressed by you," saíd Míss Marpíe, "and you
see, I haven't got the physícaí strength nowadays to get about and
do thíngs."
"You want me to make ínquíríes? That sort of thíng? But won't the
poííce have done aíí that? Or do you thínk they have been |ust
síack?"
"Oh, no," saíd Míss Marpíe. "They haven't been síack. It's |ust that
I've got a theory about the woman's body. It's got to be
somewhere. If ít wasn't found ín the traín, then ít must have been
pushed or thrown out of the traín - but ít hasn't been díscovered
anywhere on the ííne. So I traveííed down the same way to see íf
there was anywhere where the body couíd have been thrown off
the traín and yet wouídn't have been found on the ííne - and there
was. The raííway ííne makes a bíg curve before gettíng ínto
Brackhampton, on the edge of a hígh embankment. If a body were
thrown out there, when the traín was íeaníng at an angíe, I thínk ít
wouíd pítch ríght down the embankment."
"But sureíy ít wouíd stííí be found - even there?"
"Oh, yes. It wouíd have to be taken away... But we'íí come to that
presentíy. Here's the píace - on thís map."
Lucy bent to study where Míss Marpíe's fínger poínted.
"It ís ríght ín the outskírts of Brackhampton now," saíd Míss Marpíe,
"but orígínaííy ít was a country house wíth extensíve park and
grounds and ít's stííí there, untouched - rínged round now wíth
buíídíng estates and smaíí suburban houses. It's caííed Rutherford
Haíí. It was buíít by a man caííed Crackenthorpe, a very rích
manufacturer ín 1884. The orígínaí Crackenthorpe's son, an eíderíy
man, ís íívíng there stííí wíth, I understand, a daughter. The raííway
encírcíes quíte haíf of the property."
"And you want me to do - what?"
Míss Marpíe repííed promptíy.
"I want you to get a post there. Everyone ís cryíng out for effícíent
domestíc heíp - I shouíd not ímagíne ít wouíd be díffícuít."
"No, I don't suppose ít wouíd be díffícuít."
"I understand that Mr. Crackenthorpe ís saíd íocaííy to be somewhat
of a míser. If you accept a íow saíary, I wííí make ít up to the proper
fígure whích shouíd, I thínk, be rather more that the current rate."
"Because of the díffícuíty?"
"Not the díffícuíty so much as the danger. It míght, you know, be
dangerous. It's oníy ríght to warn you of that."
"I don't know," saíd Lucy pensíveíy, "that the ídea of danger wouíd
deter me."
"I dídn't thínk ít wouíd," saíd Míss Marpíe. "You're not that kínd of
person."
"I dare say you thought ít míght even attract me? I've encountered
very ííttíe danger ín my íífe. But do you reaííy beííeve ít míght be
dangerous?"
"Somebody," Míss Marpíe poínted out, "has commítted a very
successfuí críme. There has been no hue-and-cry, no reaí suspícíon.
Two eíderíy íadíes have toíd a rather ímprobabíe story, the poííce
have ínvestígated ít and found nothíng ín ít. So everythíng ís níce
and quíet. I don't thínk that thís somebody, whoever he may be, wííí
care about the matter beíng raked up - especíaííy íf you are
successfuí."
"What do I íook for exactíy?"
"Any sígns aíong the embankment, a scrap of cíothíng, broken
bushes - that kínd of thíng."
Lucy nodded.
"And then?"
"I shaíí be quíte cíose at hand," saíd Míss Marpíe. "An oíd
maídservant of míne, my faíthfuí Fíorence, ííves ín Brackhampton.
She has íooked after her oíd parents for years. They are now both
dead, and she takes ín íodgers - aíí most respectabíe peopíe. She
has arranged for me to have rooms wíth her. She wííí íook after me
most devotedíy, and I feeí I shouíd ííke to be cíose at hand. I wouíd
suggest that you mentíon you have an eíderíy aunt íívíng ín the
neíghbourhood, and that you want a post wíthín easy dístance of
her, and aíso that you stípuíate for a reasonabíe amount of spare
tíme so that you can go and see her often."
Agaín Lucy nodded.
"I was goíng to Taormína the day after tomorrow," she saíd, "The
hoííday can waít. But I can oníy promíse three weeks. After that, I
am booked up."
"Three weeks shouíd be ampíe," saíd Míss Marpíe. "If we can't fínd
out anythíng ín three weeks, we míght as weíí gíve up the whoíe
thíng as a mare's nest."
Míss Marpíe departed, and Lucy, after a moment's refíectíon, rang
up a Regístry Offíce ín Brackhampton, the manageress of whích she
knew very weíí. She expíaíned her desíre for a post ín the
neíghbourhood so as to be near her "aunt". After turníng down, wíth
a ííttíe díffícuíty and a good deaí of íngenuíty, severaí more
desírabíe píaces, Rutherford Haíí was mentíoned.
"That sounds exactíy what I want," saíd Lucy fírmíy.
The Regístry Offíce rang up Míss Crackenthorpe, Míss
Crackenthorpe rang up Lucy.
Two days íater Lucy íeft London en route for Rutherford Haíí.
Drívíng her own smaíí car, Lucy Eyeíesbarrow drove through an
ímposíng paír of vast íron gates. |ust ínsíde them was what had
orígínaííy been a smaíí íodge whích now seemed compíeteíy
dereííct, whether through war damage, or mereíy through negíect,
ít was díffícuít to be sure. A íong wíndíng dríve íed through íarge
gíoomy cíumps of rhododendrons up to the house.
Lucy caught her breath ín a sííght gasp when she saw the house
whích was a kínd of míníature Wíndsor Castíe. The stone steps ín
front of the door couíd have done wíth attentíon and the graveí
sweep was green wíth negíected weeds.
She puííed an oíd-fashíoned wrought-íron beíí, and íts cíamour
sounded echoíng away ínsíde. A síatterníy woman, wípíng her
hands on her apron, opened the door and íooked at her
suspícíousíy.
"Expected, aren't you?" she saíd. "Míss Somethíng-barrow, she toíd
me."
"Ouíte ríght," saíd Lucy.
The house was desperateíy coíd ínsíde.
Her guíde íed her aíong a dark haíí and opened a door on the ríght.
Rather to Lucy's surpríse, ít was quíte a píeasant síttíng-room, wíth
books and chíntz-covered chaírs.
"I'íí teíí her," saíd the woman, and went away shuttíng the door
after havíng gíven Lucy a íook of profound dísfavour.
After a few mínutes the door opened agaín. From the fírst moment
Lucy decíded that she ííked Emma Crackenthorpe.
She was a míddíe-aged woman wíth no very outstandíng
characterístícs, neíther good-íookíng nor píaín, sensíbíy dressed ín
tweeds and puííover, wíth dark haír swept back from her forehead,
steady hazeí eyes and a very píeasant voíce.
She saíd: "Míss Eyeíesbarrow?" and heíd out her hand.
Then she íooked doubtfuí.
"I wonder," she saíd, "íf thís post ís reaííy what you're íookíng for? I
don't want a housekeeper, you know, to supervíse thíngs. I want
someone to do the work."
Lucy saíd that that was what most peopíe needed.
Emma Crackenthorpe saíd apoíogetícaííy: "So many peopíe, you
know, seem to thínk that |ust a ííttíe ííght dustíng wííí answer the
case - but I can do aíí the ííght dustíng myseíf."
"I quíte understand," saíd Lucy. "You want cookíng and washíng up,
and housework and stokíng the boííer. That's aíí ríght. That's what I
do. I'm not at aíí afraíd of work."
"It's a bíg house, I'm afraíd, and ínconveníent. Of course we oníy
ííve ín a portíon of ít - my father and myseíf, that ís. He ís rather an
ínvaííd. We ííve quíte quíetíy, and there ís an Aga stove. I have
severaí brothers, but they are not here very often. Two women
come ín, a Mrs. Kídder ín the morníng, and Mrs. Hart three days a
week to do brasses and thíngs ííke that. You have your own car?"
"Yes. It can stand out ín the open íf there's nowhere to put ít. It's
used to ít."
"Oh, there are any amount of oíd stabíes. There's no troubíe about
that."
She frowned a moment, then saíd, "Eyeíesbarrow - rather an
unusuaí name. Some fríends of míne were teíííng me about a Lucy
Eyeíesbarrow - the Kennedys?"
"Yes. I was wíth them ín North Devon when Mrs. Kennedy was
havíng a baby."
Emma Crackenthorpe smííed.
"I know they saíd they'd never had such a wonderfuí tíme as when
you were there seeíng to everythíng. But I had the ídea that you
were terríbíy expensíve. The sum I mentíoned -"
"That's quíte aíí ríght," saíd Lucy. "I want partícuíaríy, you see, to be
near Brackhampton. I have an eíderíy aunt ín a crítícaí state of
heaíth and I want to be wíthín easy dístance of her. That's why the
saíary ís a secondary consíderatíon. I can't afford to do nothíng. If I
couíd be sure, of havíng some tíme off most days?"
"Oh, of course. Every afternoon, tííí síx, íf you ííke?"
"That seems perfect."
Míss Crackenthorpe hesítated a moment before sayíng: "My father
ís eíderíy and a ííttíe - díffícuít sometímes. He ís very keen on
economy, and he says thíngs sometímes that upset peopíe. I
wouídn't ííke -"
Lucy broke ín quíckíy:
"I'm quíte used to eíderíy peopíe, of aíí kínds," she saíd. "I aíways
manage to get on weíí wíth them."
Emma Crackenthorpe íooked reííeved.
"Troubíe wíth father!" díagnosed Lucy. "I bet he's an oíd tartar."
She was apportíoned a íarge gíoomy bedroom whích a smaíí
eíectríc heater díd íts ínadequate best to warm, and was shown
round the house, a vast uncomfortabíe mansíon. As they passed a
door ín the haíí a voíce roared out:
"That you, Emma? Got the new gírí there? Bríng her ín. I want to
íook at her."
Emma fíushed, gíanced at Lucy apoíogetícaííy.
The two women entered the room. It was ríchíy uphoístered ín dark
veívet, the narrow wíndows íet ín very ííttíe ííght, and ít was fuíí of
heavy mahogany Víctorían furníture.
Oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe was stretched out ín an ínvaííd chaír, a
sííver-headed stíck by hís síde.
He was a bíg gaunt man, hís fíesh hangíng ín íoose foíds. He had a
face rather ííke a buíídog, wíth a pugnacíous chín. He had thíck dark
haír fíecked wíth grey, and smaíí suspícíous eyes.
"Let's have a íook at you, young íady."
Lucy advanced, composed and smíííng.
"There's |ust one thíng you'd better understand straíght away. |ust
because we ííve ín a bíg house doesn't mean we're rích. We're not
rích. We ííve símpíy - do you hear? - símpíy! No good comíng here
wíth a íot of hígh-faíutín ídeas. Cod's as good a físh as turbot any
day, and don't you forget ít. I don't stand for waste. I ííve here
because my father buíít the house and I ííke ít. After I'm dead they
can seíí ít up íf they want to - and I expect they wííí want to. No
sense of famííy. Thís house ís weíí buíít - ít's soííd, and we've got
our own íand round us. Keeps us prívate. It wouíd bríng ín a íot íf
soíd for buíídíng íand but not whííe I'm aííve. You won't get me out
of here untíí you take me out feet fírst."
He gíared at Lucy.
"Your house ís your castíe," saíd Lucy.
"Laughíng at me?"
"Of course not. I thínk ít's very excítíng to have a reaí country píace
aíí surrounded by town."
"Ouíte so. Can't see another house from here, can you? Fíeíds wíth
cows ín them - ríght ín the míddíe of Brackhampton. You hear the
traffíc a bít when the wínd's that way - but otherwíse ít's stííí
country."
He added, wíthout pause or change of tone, to hís daughter: "Ríng
up that damn' fooí of a doctor. Teíí hím that íast medícíne's no good
at aíí."
Lucy and Emma retíred. He shouted after them:
"And don't íet that damned woman who sníffs dust ín here. She's
dísarranged aíí my books."
Lucy asked: "Has Mr. Crackenthorpe been an ínvaííd íong?"
Emma saíd, rather evasíveíy: "Oh, for years now... Thís ís the
kítchen."
The kítchen was enormous. A vast kítchen range stood coíd and
negíected. An Aga stood demureíy besíde ít.
Lucy asked tímes of meaís and ínspected the íarder. Then she saíd
cheerfuííy to Emma Crackenthorpe:
"I know everythíng now. Don't bother. Leave ít aíí to me."
Emma Crackenthorpe heaved a sígh of reííef as she went up to bed
that níght.
"The Kennedys were quíte ríght," she saíd. "She's wonderfuí."
Lucy rose at síx the next morníng. She díd the house, prepared
vegetabíes, assembíed, cooked and served breakfast. Wíth Mrs.
Kídder she made the beds and at eíeven o'cíock they sat down to
strong tea and bíscuíts ín the kítchen. Moííífíed by the fact that Lucy
"had no aírs about her" and aíso by the strength and sweetness of
the tea, Mrs. Kídder reíaxed ínto gossíp.
She was a smaíí spare woman wíth a sharp eye and tíght ííps.
"Reguíar oíd skínfíínt he ís. What she has to put up wíth! Aíí the
same, she's not what I caíí down-trodden. Can hoíd her own aíí ríght
when she has to. When the gentíemen come down she sees to ít
there's somethíng decent to eat."
"The gentíemen?"
"Yes. Bíg famííy ít was. The eídest, Mr. Edmund, he was kíííed ín the
war. Then there's Mr. Cedríc, he ííves abroad somewhere. He's not
marríed. Paínts píctures ín foreígn parts. Mr. Haroíd's ín the Cíty,
ííves ín London - marríed an earí's daughter. Then there's Mr.
Aífred, he's got a níce way wíth hím, but he's a bít of a bíack sheep,
been ín troubíe once or twíce - and there's Míss Edíth's husband,
Mr. Bryan, ever so níce, he ís - she díed some years ago, but he's
aíways stayed one of the famííy, and there's Master Aíexander, Míss
Edíth's ííttíe boy. He's at schooí, comes here for part of the hoíídays
aíways; Míss Emma's terríbíy set on hím."
Lucy dígested aíí thís ínformatíon, contínuíng to press tea on her
ínformant.
Fínaííy, reíuctantíy, Mrs. Kídder rose to her feet.
"Seem to have got aíong a treat, we do, thís morníng," she saíd
wonderíngíy.
"Want me to gíve you a hand wíth the potatoes, dear?"
"They're aíí done ready."
"Weíí, you are a one for gettíng on wíth thíngs! I míght as weíí be
gettíng aíong myseíf as there doesn't seem anythíng eíse to do."
Mrs. Kídder departed and Lucy, wíth tíme on her hands, scrubbed
the kítchen tabíe whích she had been íongíng to do, but whích she
had put off so as not to offend Mrs. Kídder whose |ob ít properíy
was.
Then she cíeaned the sííver tííí ít shone radíantíy. She cooked íunch,
cíeared ít away, washed ít up, and at two-thírty was ready to start
expíoratíon. She had set out the tea thíngs ready on a tray, wíth
sandwíches and bread and butter covered wíth a damp napkín to
keep them moíst.
She stroííed fírst round the gardens whích wouíd be the normaí
thíng to do.
The kítchen garden was sketchííy cuítívated wíth a few vegetabíes.
The hothouses were ín ruíns. The paths everywhere were
overgrown wíth weeds. A herbaceous border near the house was
the oníy thíng that showed free of weeds and ín good condítíon and
Lucy suspected that that had been Emma's hand. The gardener was
a very oíd man, somewhat deaf, who was oníy makíng a show of
workíng. Lucy spoke to hím píeasantíy. He ííved ín a cottage
ad|acent to the bíg stabíeyard.
Leadíng out of the stabíeyard a back dríve íed through the park
whích was fenced on eíther síde of ít, and under a raííway arch ínto
a smaíí back íane.
Every few mínutes a traín thundered aíong the maín ííne over the
raííway arch.
Lucy watched the traíns as they síackened speed goíng round the
sharp curve that encírcíed the Crackenthorpe property. She passed
under the raííway arch and out ínto the íane. It seemed a ííttíe-used
track. On the one síde was the raííway embankment, on the other
was a hígh waíí whích encíosed some taíí factory buíídíngs. Lucy
foííowed the íane untíí ít came out ínto a street of smaíí houses. She
couíd hear a short dístance away the busy hum of maín road traffíc.
She gíanced at her watch. A woman came out of a house nearby
and Lucy stopped her.
"Excuse me, can you teíí me íf there ís a pubííc teíephone near
here?"
"Post Offíce |ust at the corner of the road."
Lucy thanked her and waíked aíong untíí she came to the post
offíce whích was a combínatíon shop and post offíce. There was a
teíephone box at one síde. Lucy went ínto ít and made a caíí. She
asked to speak to Míss Marpíe. A woman's voíce spoke ín a sharp
bark.
"She's restíng. And I'm not goíng to dísturb her! She needs her rest
- she's an oíd íady. Who shaíí I say caííed?"
"Míss Eyeíesbarrow. There's no need to dísturb her. |ust teíí her that
I've arríved and everythíng ís goíng on weíí and that I'íí íet her know
when I've any news."
She repíaced the receíver and made her way back to Rutherford
Haíí.

Chapter 5

"I suppose ít wííí be aíí ríght íf I |ust practíse a few íron shots ín the
park?" asked Lucy.
"Oh, yes, certaíníy. Are you fond of goíf?"
"I'm not much good, but I ííke to keep ín practíce. It's a more
agreeabíe form of exercíse than |ust goíng for a waík."
"Nowhere to waík outsíde thís píace," growíed Mr. Crackenthorpe.
"Nothíng but pavements and míserabíe ííttíe band boxes of houses.
Líke to get hoíd of my íand and buííd more of them. But they won't
untíí I'm dead. And I'm not goíng to díe to obííge anybody. I can teíí
you that! Not to obííge anybody."
Emma Crackenthorpe saíd míídíy: "Now, Father."
"I know what they thínk - and what they're waítíng for. Aíí of 'em.
Cedríc, and that síy fox Haroíd wíth hís smug face. As for Aífred, I
wonder he hasn't had a shot at bumpíng me off hímseíf. Not sure
he dídn't, at Chrístmas-tíme. That was a very odd turn I had.
Puzzíed oíd Ouímper. He asked me a íot of díscreet questíons."
"Everyone gets these dígestíve upsets now and agaín. Father."
"Aíí ríght, aíí ríght, say straíght out that I ate too much! That's what
you mean. And why díd I eat too much? Because there was too
much food on the tabíe, far too much. Wastefuí and extravagant.
And that remínds me - you, young woman. Fíve potatoes you sent
ín for íunch - goodsízed ones too. Two potatoes are enough for
anybody. So don't send ín more than four ín future. The extra one
was wasted today."
"It wasn't wasted, Mr. Crackenthorpe. I've píanned to use ít ín a
Spanísh omeíet toníght."
"Urgh!" As Lucy went out of the room carryíng the coffee tray she
heard hím say, "Sííck young woman, that, aíways got aíí the
answers. Cooks weíí, though - and she's a handsome kínd of gírí."
Lucy Eyeíesbarrow took a ííght íron out of the set of goíf cíubs she
had had the forethought to bríng wíth her, and stroííed out ínto the
park, cíímbíng over the fencíng.
She began píayíng a seríes of shots. After fíve mínutes or so, a baíí,
apparentíy sííced, pítched on the síde of the raííway embankment.
Lucy went up and began to hunt about for ít. She íooked back
towards the house. It was a íong way away and nobody was ín the
íeast ínterested ín what she was doíng. She contínued to hunt for
the baíí. Now and then she píayed shots from the embankment
down ínto the grass.
Duríng the afternoon she searched about a thírd of the
embankment. Nothíng.
She píayed her baíí back towards the house.
Then, on the next day, she came upon somethíng. A thorn bush
growíng about haíf-way up the bank had been snapped off.
Bíts of ít íay scattered about. Lucy examíned the tree ítseíf. Impaíed
on one of the thorns was a torn scrap of fur. It was aímost the same
coíour as the wood, a paíe brownísh coíour. Lucy íooked at ít for a
moment, then she took a paír of scíssors out of her pocket and
snípped ít carefuííy ín haíf. The haíf she had snípped off she put ín
an enveíope whích she had ín her pocket.
She came down the steep síope searchíng about for anythíng eíse.
She íooked carefuííy at the rough grass of the fíeíd. She thought
she couíd dístínguísh a kínd of track whích someone had made
waíkíng through the íong grass. But ít was very faínt - not nearíy so
cíear as her own tracks were. It must have been made some tíme
ago and ít was too sketchy for her to be sure that ít was not mereíy
ímagínatíon on her part.
She began to hunt carefuííy down ín the grass at the foot of the
embankment |ust beíow the broken thorn bush. Presentíy her
search was rewarded. She found a powder compact, a smaíí cheap
enameííed affaír.
She wrapped ít ín her handkerchíef and put ít ín her pocket. She
searched on but díd not fínd anythíng more.
On the foííowíng afternoon, she got ínto her car and went to see her
ínvaííd aunt.
Emma Crackenthorpe saíd kíndíy, "Don't hurry back. We shan't
want you untíí dínnertíme."
"Thank you, but I shaíí be back by síx at the íatest."
No. 4 Madíson Road was a smaíí drab house ín a smaíí drab street.
It had very cíean Nottíngham íace curtaíns, a shíníng whíte
doorstep and a weíí-poííshed brass door handíe. The door was
opened by a taíí, grím-íookíng woman, dressed ín bíack wíth a íarge
knob of íron-grey haír.
She eyed Lucy ín suspícíous appraísaí as she showed her ín to Míss
Marpíe.
Míss Marpíe was occupyíng the back síttíng-room whích íooked out
on to a smaíí tídy square of garden. It was aggressíveíy cíean wíth a
íot of mats and doíííes, a great many chína ornaments, a rather bíg
|acobean suíte and two ferns ín pots. Míss Marpíe was síttíng ín a
bíg chaír by the fíre busííy engaged ín crochetíng.
Lucy came ín and shut the door. She sat down ín the chaír facíng
Míss Marpíe.
"Weíí!" she saíd. "It íooks as though you were ríght."
She produced her fínds and gave the detaíís of theír fíndíng.
A faínt fíush of achíevement came ínto Míss Marpíe's cheeks.
"Perhaps one ought not to feeí so," she saíd, "but ít ís rather
gratífyíng to form a theory and get proof that ít ís correct!"
She fíngered the smaíí tuft of fur.
"Eíspeth saíd the woman was wearíng a ííght-coíoured fur coat. I
suppose the compact was ín the pocket of the coat and feíí out as
the body roííed down the síope. It doesn't seem dístínctíve ín any
way, but ít may heíp. You dídn't take aíí the fur?"
"No, I íeft haíf of ít on the thorn bush." Míss Marpíe nodded
approvaí.
"Ouíte ríght. You are very ínteííígent, my dear. The poííce wííí want
to check exactíy."
"You are goíng to the poííce - wíth these thíngs?"
"Weíí - not quíte yet..." Míss Marpíe consídered: "It wouíd be better,
I thínk, to fínd the body fírst. Don't you?"
"Yes, but ísn't that rather a taíí order? I mean, grantíng that your
estímate ís correct. The murderer pushed the body out of the traín,
then presumabíy got out hímseíf at Brackhampton and at some
tíme - probabíy that same níght - came aíong and removed the
body. But what happened after that? He may have taken ít
anywhere."
"Not anywhere," saíd Míss Marpíe. "I don't thínk you've foííowed the
thíng to íts íogícaí concíusíon, my dear Míss Eyeíesbarrow."
"Do caíí me Lucy. Why not anywhere?"
"Because, íf so, he míght much more easííy have kíííed the gírí ín
some íoneíy spot and dríven the body away from there. You haven't
apprecíated -"
Lucy ínterrupted.
"Are you sayíng - do you mean - that thís was a premedítated
críme?"
"I dídn't thínk so at fírst," saíd Míss Marpíe. "One wouídn't -
naturaííy. It seemed ííke a quarreí and a man íosíng controí and
strangííng the gírí and then beíng faced wíth the probíem of
dísposíng of hís víctím - a probíem whích he had to soíve wíthín a
very few mínutes. But ít reaííy ís too much of a coíncídence that he
shouíd kííí the gírí ín a fít of passíon, and then íook out of the
wíndow and fínd the traín was goíng round a curve exactíy at a spot
where he couíd típ the body out, and where he couíd be sure of
fíndíng hís way íater and removíng ít! If he'd |ust thrown her out
there by chance, he'd have done no more about ít, and the body
wouíd, íong before now, have been found."
She paused. Lucy stared at her.
"You know," saíd Míss Marpíe thoughtfuííy, "It's reaííy quíte a cíever
way to have píanned a críme - and I thínk ít was very carefuííy
píanned. There's somethíng so anonymous about a traín. If he'd
kíííed her ín the píace where she ííved, or was stayíng, somebody
míght have notíced hím come or go. Or íf he'd dríven her out ín the
country somewhere, someone míght have notíced the car and íts
number and make. But a traín ís fuíí of strangers comíng and goíng.
In a non-corrídor carríage, aíone wíth her, ít was quíte easy -
especíaííy íf you reaííse that he knew exactíy what he was goíng to
do next. He knew - he must have known - aíí about Rutherford Haíí -
íts geographícaí posítíon, I mean, íts queer ísoíatíon - an ísíand
bounded by raííway íínes."
"It ís exactíy ííke that," saíd Lucy. "It's an anachronísm out of the
past. Bustííng urban íífe goes on aíí around ít, but doesn't touch ít.
The tradespeopíe deííver ín the morníngs and that's aíí."
"So we assume, as you saíd, that the murderer comes to Rutherford
Haíí that níght. It ís aíready dark when the body faíís and no one ís
ííkeíy to díscover ít before the next day."
"No, índeed."
"The murderer wouíd come - how? In a car? Whích way?"
Lucy consídered.
"There's a rough íane, aíongsíde a factory waíí. He'd probabíy come
that way, turn ín under the raííway arch and aíong the back dríve.
Then he couíd cíímb the fence, go aíong at the foot of the
embankment, fínd the body, and carry ít back to the car."
"And then," contínued Míss Marpíe. "He took ít to some píace he
had aíready chosen beforehand. Thís was aíí thought out, you
know. And I don't thínk, as I say, that he wouíd take ít away from
Rutherford Haíí, or íf so, not very far. The obvíous thíng, I suppose,
wouíd be to bury ít somewhere?" She íooked ínquíríngíy at Lucy.
"I suppose so," saíd Lucy consíderíng. "But ít wouídn't be quíte as
easy as ít sounds."
Míss Marpíe agreed.
"He couídn't bury ít ín the park. Too hard work and very notíceabíe.
Somewhere where the earth was turned aíready?"
"The kítchen garden, perhaps, but that's very cíose to the
gardener's cottage. He's oíd and deaf - but stííí ít míght be rísky."
"Is there a dog?"
"No."
"Then ín a shed, perhaps, or an outhouse?"
"That wouíd be símpíer and quícker... There are a íot of unused oíd
buíídíngs; broken down píg stíes, harness rooms, workshops that
nobody goes near. Or he míght perhaps thrust ít ínto a cíump of
rhododendrons or shrubs somewhere."
Míss Marpíe nodded.
"Yes, I thínk that's much more probabíe."
There was a knock on the door and the grím Fíorence came ín wíth
a tray.
"Níce for you to have a vísítor," she saíd to Míss Marpíe, "I've made
you my specíaí scones you used to ííke."
"Fíorence aíways made the most deíícíous tea cakes," saíd Míss
Marpíe.
Fíorence, gratífíed, creased her features ínto a totaííy unexpected
smííe and íeft the room.
"I thínk, my dear," saíd Míss Marpíe, "we won't taík any more about
murder duríng tea. Such an unpíeasant sub|ect!"

II

After tea, Lucy rose.
"I'íí be gettíng back," she saíd. "As I've aíready toíd you, there's no
one actuaííy íívíng at Rutherford Haíí who couíd be the man we're
íookíng for. There's oníy an oíd man and a míddíe-aged woman, and
an oíd deaf gardener."
"I dídn't say he was actuaííy íívíng there," saíd Míss Marpíe. Aíí I
mean ís, that he's someone who knows Rutherford Haíí very weíí.
But we can go ínto that after you've found the body."
"You seem to assume quíte confídentíy that I shaíí fínd ít," saíd
Lucy. "I don't feeí nearíy so optímístíc."
"I'm sure you wííí succeed, my dear Lucy. You are such an effícíent
person."
"In some ways, but I haven't had any experíence ín íookíng for
bodíes."
"I'm sure aíí ít needs ís a ííttíe common sense," saíd Míss Marpíe
encouragíngíy.
Lucy íooked at her, then íaughed. Míss Marpíe smííed back at her.
Lucy set to work systematícaííy the next afternoon.
She poked round outhouses, prodded the bríars whích wreathed the
oíd pígstíes, and was peeríng ínto the boííer room under the
greenhouse when she heard a dry cough and turned to fínd oíd
Híííman, the gardener, íookíng at her dísapprovíngíy.
"You be carefuí you don't get a nasty faíí, míss," he warned her.
"Them steps ísn't safe, and you was up ín the íoft |ust now and the
fíoor there aín't safe neíther."
Lucy was carefuí to díspíay no embarrassment.
"I expect you thínk I'm very nosy," she saíd cheerfuííy. "I was |ust
wonderíng íf somethíng couídn't be made out of thís píace - growíng
mushrooms for the market, that sort of thíng. Everythíng seems to
have been íet go terríbíy."
"That's the master, that ís. Won't spend a penny. Ought to have
two men and a boy here, I ought, to keep the píace proper, but
won't hear of ít, he won't. Had aíí I couíd do to make hím get a
motor mower. Wanted me to mow aíí that front grass by hand, he
díd."
"But íf the píace couíd be made to pay - wíth some repaírs?"
"Won't get a píace ííke thís to pay - too far gone. And he wouídn't
care about that, anyway. Oníy cares about savíng. Knows weíí
enough what'íí happen after he's gone - the young gentíemen'íí seíí
up as fast as they can. Oníy waítíng for hím to pop off, they are.
Goíng to come ínto a tídy íot of money when he díes, so I've heard."
"I suppose he's a very rích man?" saíd Lucy.
"Crackenthorpe's Fancíes, that's what they are. The oíd gentíeman
started ít, Mr. Crackenthorpe's father. A sharp one he was, by aíí
accounts. Made hís fortune, and buíít thís píace. Hard as naíís, they
say, and never forgot an ín|ury. But wíth aíí that, he was open-
handed. Nothíng of the míser about hím. Dísappoínted ín both hís
sons, so the story goes. Gíve 'em an educatíon and brought 'em up
to be gentíemen- Oxford and aíí. But they were too much of
gentíemen to want to go ínto the busíness. The younger one
marríed an actress and then smashed hímseíf up ín a car accídent
when he'd been drínkíng. The eíder one, our one here, hís father
never fancíed so much. Abroad a íot, he was, brought a íot of
heathen statues and had them sent home. Wasn't so cíose wíth hís
money when he was young - come on hím more ín míddíe age, ít
díd. No, they never díd hít ít off, hím and hís father, so I've heard."
Lucy dígested thís ínformatíon wíth an aír of poííte ínterest. The oíd
man íeant agaínst the waíí and prepared to go on wíth hís saga. He
much preferred taíkíng to doíng any work.
"Díed afore the war, the oíd gentíeman díd. Terríbíe temper he had.
Dídn't do to gíve hím any sauce, he wouídn't stand for ít."
"And after he díed, thís Mr. Crackenthorpe came and ííved here?"
"Hím and hís famííy, yes. Nígh to grown up they was by then."
"But sureíy... Oh, I see, you mean the 1914 war."
"No, I don't. Díed ín 1928, that's what I mean."
Lucy supposed that 1928 quaíífíed as "before the war" though ít
was not the way she wouíd have descríbed ít herseíf.
She saíd: "Weíí, I expect you'íí be wantíng to go on wíth your work.
You mustn't íet me keep you."
"Ar," saíd oíd Híííman wíthout enthusíasm, "not much you can do
thís tíme of day. Líght's too bad."
Lucy went back to the house, pausíng to ínvestígate a ííkeíy-íookíng
copse of bírch and azaíea on her way.
She found Emma Crackenthorpe standíng ín the haíí readíng a
íetter. The afternoon post had |ust been deíívered.
"My nephew wííí be here tomorrow - wíth a schooí-fríend.
Aíexander's room ís the one over the porch. The one next to ít wííí
do for |ames Stoddart-West. They'íí use the bathroom |ust
opposíte."
"Yes, Míss Crackenthorpe. I'íí see the rooms are prepared."
"They'íí arríve ín the morníng before íunch." She hesítated. "I
expect they'íí be hungry."
"I bet they wííí," saíd Lucy. "Roast beef, do you thínk? And perhaps
treacíe tart?"
"Aíexander's very fond of treacíe tart."
The two boys arríved on the foííowíng morníng. They both had weíí-
brushed haír, suspícíousíy angeííc faces, and perfect manners.
Aíexander Eastíey had faír haír and bíue eyes, Stoddart-West was
dark and spectacíed.
They díscoursed graveíy duríng íunch on events ín the sportíng
woríd, wíth occasíonaí references to the íatest space fíctíon. Theír
manner was that of eíderíy professors díscussíng paíaeoííthíc
ímpíements.
In comparíson wíth them, Lucy feít quíte young.
The síríoín of beef vaníshed ín no tíme and every crumb of the
treacíe tart was consumed.
Mr. Crackenthorpe grumbíed: "You two wííí eat me out of house and
home."
Aíexander gave hím a bíue-eyed reprovíng gíance.
"We'íí have bread and cheese íf you can't afford meat.
Grandfather."
"Afford ít? I can afford ít. I don't ííke waste."
"We haven't wasted any, sír," saíd Stoddart-West, íookíng down at
hís píace whích bore cíear testímony of that fact. "You boys both
eat twíce as much as I do."
"We're at the body-buíídíng stage," Aíexander expíaíned. "We need
a bíg íntake of proteíns."
The oíd man grunted.
As the two boys íeft the tabíe, Lucy heard Aíexander say
apoíogetícaííy to hís fríend:
"You mustn't pay any attentíon to my grandfather. He's on a díet or
somethíng and that makes hím rather pecuííar. He's terríbíy mean,
too. I thínk ít must be a compíex of some kínd."
Stoddart-West saíd comprehendíngíy:
"I had an aunt who kept thínkíng she was goíng bankrupt. Reaííy,
she had oodíes of money. Pathoíogícaí, the doctors saíd. Have you
got that footbaíí, Aíex?"
After she had cíeared away and washed up íunch, Lucy went out.
She couíd hear the boys caíííng out ín the dístance on the íawn. She
herseíf went ín the opposíte dírectíon, down the front dríve and
from there she struck across to some cíumped masses of
rhododendron bushes. She began to hunt carefuííy, hoídíng back
the íeaves and peeríng ínsíde. She moved from cíump to cíump
systematícaííy, and was rakíng ínsíde wíth a goíf cíub when the
poííte voíce of Aíexander Eastíey made her start.
"Are you íookíng for somethíng, Míss Eyeíesbarrow?"
"A goíf baíí," saíd Lucy promptíy. "Severaí goíf baíís ín fact. I've
been practísíng goíf shots most afternoons and I've íost quíte a íot
of baíís. I thought that today I reaííy must fínd some of them."
"We'íí heíp you," saíd Aíexander obíígíngíy.
"That's very kínd of you. I thought you were píayíng footbaíí."
"One can't go on píayíng footer," expíaíned Stoddart-West. "One
gets too hot. Do you píay a íot of goíf?"
"I'm quíte fond of ít. I don't get much opportuníty."
"I suppose you don't. You do the cookíng here, don't you?"
"Yes."
"Díd you cook the íunch today?"
"Yes. Was ít aíí ríght?"
"Símpíy wízard," saíd Aíexander. "We get awfuí meat at schooí, aíí
dríed up, I íove beef that's pínk and |uícy ínsíde. That treacíe tart
was pretty smashíng, too."
"You must teíí me what thíngs you ííke best."
"Couíd we have appíe meríngue one day? It's my favouríte thíng."
"Of course."
Aíexander síghed happííy.
"There's a cíock goíf set under the staírs," he saíd. "We couíd fíx ít
up on the íawn and do some puttíng. What about ít, Stodders?"
"Good-oh!" saíd Stoddart-West.
"He ísn't reaííy Austraíían," expíaíned Aíexander courteousíy. "But
he's practísíng taíkíng that way ín case hís peopíe take hím out to
see the Test Match next year."
Encouraged by Lucy, they went off to get the cíock goíf set. Later,
as she returned to the house, she found them settíng ít out on the
íawn and arguíng about the posítíon of the numbers.
"We don't want ít ííke a cíock," saíd Stoddart-West. "That's kíd stuff.
We want to make a course of ít. Long hoíes and short ones. It's a
píty the numbers are so rusty. You can hardíy see them."
"They need a ííck of whíte paínt," saíd Lucy. "You míght get some
tomorrow and paínt them."
"Good ídea." Aíexander's face íít up. "I say, I beííeve there are some
oíd pots of paínt ín the Long Barn - íeft there by the paínters íast
hoís. Shaíí we see?"
"What's the Long Barn?" asked Lucy. Aíexander poínted to a íong
stone buíídíng a ííttíe way from the house near the back dríve.
"It's quíte oíd," he saíd. "Grandfather caíís ít a Leak Barn and says
ít's Eíízabethan, but that's |ust swank. It beíonged to the farm that
was here orígínaííy. My great-grandfather puííed ít down and buíít
thís awfuí house ínstead."
He added: "A íot of grandfather's coííectíon ís ín the barn. Thíngs he
had sent home from abroad when he was a young man. Most of
them are pretty fríghtfuí, too. The Long Barn ís used sometímes for
whíst dríves and thíngs ííke that. Women's Instítute stuff. And
Conservatíve Saíes of Work. Come and see ít."
Lucy accompaníed them wííííngíy.
There was a bíg naíí-studded oak door to the barn.
Aíexander raísed hís hand and detached a key on a naíí |ust under
some ívy to the ríght hand of the top of the door. He turned ít ín the
íock, pushed the door open and they went ín.
At a fírst gíance Lucy feít that she was ín a sínguíaríy bad museum.
The heads of two Roman emperors ín marbíe gíared at her out of
buígíng eyebaíís, there was a huge sarcophagus of a decadent
Greco-Roman períod, a símperíng Venus stood on a pedestaí
cíutchíng her faíííng draperíes.
Besídes these works of art, there were a coupíe of trestíe tabíes,
some stacked-up chaírs, and sundry oddments such as a rusted
hand-mower, two buckets, a coupíe of moth-eaten car seats, and a
greenpaínted íron garden seat that had íost a íeg.
"I thínk I saw the paínt over here," saíd Aíexander vagueíy. He went
to a corner and puííed asíde a tattered curtaín that shut ít off.
They found a coupíe of paínt pots and brushes, the íatter dry and
stíff.
"You reaííy need some turps," saíd Lucy.
They couíd not, however, fínd any turpentíne. The boys suggested
bícycííng off to get some, and Lucy urged them to do so. Paíntíng
the cíock goíf numbers wouíd keep them amused for some tíme,
she thought.
The boys went off, íeavíng her ín the barn.
"Thís reaííy couíd do wíth a cíean up," she had murmured.
"I shouídn't bother," Aíexander advísed her. "It gets cíeaned up íf
ít's goíng to be used for anythíng, but ít's practícaííy never used thís
tíme of year."
"Do I hang the key up outsíde the door agaín? Is that where ít's
kept?"
"Yes. There's nothíng to pínch here, you see. Nobody wouíd want
those awfuí marbíe thíngs and, anyway, they weígh a ton."
Lucy agreed wíth hím. She couíd hardíy admíre oíd Mr.
Crackenthorpe's taste ín art. He seemed to have an unerríng
ínstínct for seíectíng the worst specímen of any períod.
She stood íookíng round her after the boys had gone. Her eyes
came to rest on the sarcophagus and stayed there.
That sarcophagus...
The aír ín the barn was faíntíy musty as though unaíred for a íong
tíme. She went over to the sarcophagus. It had a heavy cíose-fíttíng
ííd. Lucy íooked at ít specuíatíveíy.
Then she íeft the barn, went to the kítchen, found a heavy crowbar,
and returned.
It was not an easy task, but Lucy toííed doggedíy.
Síowíy the ííd began to ríse, prísed up by the crowbar.
It rose suffícíentíy for Lucy to see what was ínsíde...

Chapter 6

A few mínutes íater Lucy, rather paíe, íeft the barn, íocked the door
and put the key back on the naíí.
She went rapídíy to the stabíes, got out her car and drove down the
back dríve. She stopped at the post offíce at the end of the road.
She went ínto the teíephone box, put ín the money and díaííed.
"I want to speak to Míss Marpíe."
"She's restíng, míss. It's Míss Eyeíesbarrow, ísn't ít?"
"Yes."
"I'm not goíng to dísturb her and that's fíat, míss. She's an oíd íady
and she needs her rest."
"You must dísturb her. It's urgent."
"I'm not -"
"Píease do what I say at once."
When she chose, Lucy's voíce couíd be as íncísíve as steeí. Fíorence
knew authoríty when she heard ít.
Presentíy Míss Marpíe's voíce spoke.
"Yes, Lucy?"
Lucy drew a deep breath.
"You were quíte ríght," she saíd. "I've found ít."
"A woman's body?"
"Yes. A woman ín a fur coat. It's ín a stone sarcophagus ín a kínd of
barn-museum near the house. What do you want me to do? I ought
to ínform the poííce, I thínk."
"Yes. You must ínform the poííce. At once."
"But what about the rest of ít? About you? The fírst thíng they'íí
want to know ís why I was pryíng up a ííd that weíghs tons for
apparentíy no reason. Do you want me to ínvent a reason? I can."
"No. I thínk, you know," saíd Míss Marpíe ín her gentíe seríous voíce,
"that the oníy thíng to do ís to teíí the exact truth."
"About you?"
"About everythíng."
A sudden grín spíít the whíteness of Lucy's face.
"That wííí be quíte símpíe for me," she saíd. "But I ímagíne they'íí
fínd ít quíte hard to beííeve!"
She rang off, waíted a moment, and then rang and got the poííce
statíon.
"I have |ust díscovered a dead body ín a sarcophagus ín the Long
Barn at Rutherford Haíí."
"What's that?"
Lucy repeated her statement and antícípatíng the next questíon
gave her name.
She drove back, put the car away and entered the house.
She paused ín the haíí for a moment, thínkíng.
Then she gave a bríef sharp nod of her head and went to the ííbrary
where Míss Crackenthorpe was síttíng heípíng her father to do The
Tímes crossword.
"Can I speak to you a moment, Míss Crackenthorpe?"
Emma íooked up, a shade of apprehensíon on her face. The
apprehensíon was, Lucy thought, pureíy domestíc. In such words do
usefuí househoíd staff announce theír ímmínent departure.
"Weíí, speak up, gírí, speak up," saíd oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe
írrítabíy.
Lucy saíd to Emma:
"I'd ííke to speak to you aíone, píease."
"Nonsense," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. "You say straíght out here
what you've got to say."
"|ust a moment. Father." Emma rose and went towards the door.
"Aíí nonsense. It can waít," saíd the oíd man angrííy.
"I'm afraíd ít can't waít," saíd Lucy.
Mr. Crackenthorpe saíd, "What ímpertínence!"
Emma came out ínto the haíí, Lucy foííowed her and shut the door
behínd them.
"Yes?" saíd Emma. "What ís ít? If you thínk there's too much to do
wíth the boys here, I can heíp you and -"
"It's not that at aíí," saíd Lucy. "I dídn't want to speak before your
father because I understand he ís an ínvaííd and ít míght gíve hím a
shock. You see, I've |ust díscovered the body of a murdered woman
ín that bíg sarcophagus ín the Long Barn."
Emma Crackenthorpe stared at her.
"In the sarcophagus? A murdered woman? It's ímpossíbíe!"
"I'm afraíd ít's quíte true. I've rung up the poííce. They wííí be here
at any mínute."
A sííght fíush came ínto Emma's cheek.
"You shouíd have toíd me fírst - before notífyíng the poííce."
"I'm sorry," saíd Lucy.
"I dídn't hear you ríng up -" Emma's gíance went to the teíephone
on the haíí tabíe.
"I rang up from the post offíce |ust down the road."
"But how extraordínary. Why not from here?"
Lucy thought quíckíy.
"I was afraíd the boys míght be about - míght hear - íf I rang up
from the haíí here."
"I see... Yes... I see... They are comíng - the poííce, I mean?"
"They're here now," saíd Lucy, as wíth a squeaí of brakes a car
drew up at the front door and the front-door beíí peaíed through the
house.

II

"I'm sorry, very sorry - to have asked thís of you," saíd Inspector
Bacon.
Hís hand under her arm, he íed Emma Crackenthorpe out of the
barn. Emma's face was very paíe, she íooked síck, but she waíked
fírmíy erect.
"I'm quíte sure that I've never seen the woman before ín my íífe."
"We're very gratefuí to you, Míss Crackenthorpe. That's aíí I wanted
to know. Perhaps you'd ííke to ííe down?"
"I must go to my father. I teíephoned to Dr. Ouímper as soon as I
heard about thís and the doctor ís wíth hím now."
Dr. Ouímper came out of the ííbrary as they crossed the haíí. He
was a taíí geníaí man, wíth a casuaí off-hand, cynícaí manner that
hís patíents found very stímuíatíng.
He and the ínspector nodded to each other.
"Míss Crackenthorpe has performed an unpíeasant task very
braveíy," saíd Bacon.
"Weíí done, Emma," saíd the doctor, pattíng her on the shouíder.
"You can take thíngs. I've aíways known that. Your father's aíí ríght.
|ust go ín and have a word wíth hím, and then go ínto the díníng-
room and get yourseíf a gíass of brandy. That's a prescríptíon."
Emma smííed at hím gratefuííy and went ínto the ííbrary.
"That woman's the saít of the earth," saíd the doctor, íookíng after
her. "A thousand pítíes she's never marríed. The penaíty of beíng
the oníy femaíe ín a famííy of men. The other síster got cíear,
marríed at seventeen, I beííeve. Thís one's quíte a handsome
woman reaííy. She'd have been a success as a wífe and mother."
"Too devoted to her father, I suppose," saíd Inspector Bacon.
"She's not reaííy as devoted as aíí that - but she's got the ínstínct
some women have to make theír menfoík happy. She sees that her
father ííkes beíng an ínvaííd, so she íets hím be an ínvaííd. She's the
same wíth her brothers. Cedríc feeís he's a good paínter, what's-hís-
name - Haroíd - knows how much she reííes on hís sound
|udgement - she íets Aífred shock her wíth hís storíes of hís cíever
deaís. Oh, yes, she's a cíever woman - no fooí. Weíí, do you want
me for anythíng? Want me to have a íook at your corpse now
|ohnstone has done wíth ít" (|ohnstone was the poííce surgeon)
"and see íf ít happens to be one of my medícaí místakes?"
"I'd ííke you to have a íook, yes. Doctor. We want to get her
ídentífíed. I suppose ít's ímpossíbíe for oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe? Too
much of a straín?"
"Straín? Fíddíestícks. He'd never forgíve you or me íf you dídn't íet
hím have a peep. He's aíí agog. Most excítíng thíng that's happened
to hím for fífteen years or so - and ít won't cost hím anythíng!"
"There's nothíng reaííy much wrong wíth hím then?"
"He's seventy-two," saíd the doctor. "That's aíí, reaííy, that's the
matter wíth hím. He has odd rheumatíc twínges - who doesn't? So
he caíís ít arthrítís. He has paípítatíons after meaís - as weíí he may
- he puts them down to 'heart'. But he can aíways do anythíng he
wants to do! I've píenty of patíents ííke that. The ones who are
reaííy ííí usuaííy ínsíst desperateíy that they're perfectíy weíí. Come
on, íet's go and see thís body of yours. Unpíeasant, I suppose?"
"|ohnstone estímates she's been dead between a fortníght and
three weeks."
"Ouíte unpíeasant, then."
The doctor stood by the sarcophagus and íooked down wíth frank
curíosíty, professíonaííy unmoved by what he had named the
"unpíeasantness".
"Never seen her before. No patíent of míne. I don't remember ever
seeíng her about ín Brackhampton. She must have been quíte
good-íookíng once - hm - somebody had ít ín for her aíí ríght."
They went out agaín ínto the aír. Doctor Ouímper gíanced up at the
buíídíng.
"Found ín the - what do they caíí ít? - the Long Barn - ín a
sarcophagus! Fantastíc! Who found her?"
"Míss Lucy Eyeíesbarrow."
"Oh, the íatest íady heíp? What was she doíng, pokíng about ín
sarcophagí?"
"That," saíd Inspector Bacon grímíy, "ís |ust what I am goíng to ask
her. Now, about Mr. Crackenthorpe. Wííí you -?"
"I'íí bríng hím aíong."
Mr. Crackenthorpe, muffíed ín scarves, came waíkíng at a brísk
pace, the doctor besíde hím.
"Dísgracefuí," he saíd. "Absoíuteíy dísgracefuí! I brought back that
sarcophagus from Fíorence ín - íet me see - ít must have been ín
1908 - or was ít 1909?"
"Steady now," the doctor warned hím. "Thís ísn't goíng to be níce,
you know."
"No matter how ííí I am, I've got to do my duty, haven't I?"
A very bríef vísít ínsíde the Long Barn was, however, quíte íong
enough. Mr. Crackenthorpe shuffíed out ínto the aír agaín wíth
remarkabíe speed.
"Never saw her before ín my íífe!" he saíd. "What's ít mean?
Absoíuteíy dísgracefuí. It wasn't Fíorence - I remember now - ít was
Napíes. A very fíne specímen. And some fooí of a woman has to
come and get herseíf kíííed ín ít!"
He cíutched at the foíds of hís overcoat on the íeft síde.
"Too much for me... My heart... Where's Emma? Doctor..."
Doctor Ouímper took hís arm.
"You'íí be aíí ríght," he saíd. "I prescríbe a ííttíe stímuíant. Brandy."
They went back together towards the house.
"Sír. Píease, sír."
Inspector Bacon turned. Two boys had arríved, breathíess, on
bícycíes. Theír faces were fuíí of eager píeadíng.
"Píease, sír, can we see the body?"
"No, you can't," saíd Inspector Bacon.
"Oh, sír, píease, sír. You never know. We míght know who she was.
Oh, píease, sír, do be a sport. It's not faír. Here's a murder, ríght ín
our own barn. It's the sort of chance that míght never happen
agaín. Do be a sport, sír."
"Who are you two?"
"I'm Aíexander Eastíey, and thís ís my fríend |ames Stoddart-West."
"Have you ever seen a bíonde woman wearíng a ííght-coíoured
dyed squírreí coat anywhere about the píace?"
"Weíí, I can't remember exactíy," saíd Aíexander astuteíy. "If I were
to have a íook - "
"Take 'em ín, Sanders," saíd Inspector Bacon to the constabíe who
was standíng by the barn door. "One's oníy young once!"
"Oh, sír, thank you, sír." Both boys were vocíferous. "It's very kínd
of you, sír."
Bacon turned away towards the house.
"And now," he saíd to hímseíf grímíy, "for Míss Lucy Eyeíesbarrow!"

III

After íeadíng the poííce to the Long Barn, and gívíng a bríef account
of her actíons, Lucy had retíred ínto the background, but she was
under no íííusíon that the poííce had fíníshed wíth her.
She had |ust fíníshed preparíng potatoes for chíps that eveníng
when word was brought to her that Inspector Bacon requíred her
presence. Puttíng asíde the íarge bowí of coíd water and saít ín
whích the chíps were reposíng, Lucy foííowed the poííceman to
where the Inspector awaíted her. She sat down and awaíted hís
questíons composedíy.
She gave her name - and her address ín London, and added of her
own accord:
"I wííí gíve you some names and addresses of references íf you
want to know aíí about me."
The names were very good ones. An Admíraí of the Fíeet, the
Provost of an Oxford Coííege, and a Dame of the Brítísh Empíre. In
spíte of hímseíf Inspector Bacon was ímpressed.
"Now, Míss Eyeíesbarrow, you went ínto the Long Barn to fínd some
paínt. Is that ríght? And after havíng found the paínt you got a
crowbar, forced up the ííd of thís sarcophagus and found the body.
What were you íookíng for ín the sarcophagus?"
"I was íookíng for a body," saíd Lucy.
"You were íookíng for a body - and you found one! Doesn't that
seem to you a very extraordínary story?"
"Oh, yes, ít ís an extraordínary story. Perhaps you wííí íet me
expíaín ít to you."
"I certaíníy thínk you had better do so."
Lucy gave hím a precíse recítaí of the events whích had íed up to
her sensatíonaí díscovery.
The ínspector summed ít up ín an outraged voíce.
"You were engaged by an eíderíy íady to obtaín a post here and to
search the house and grounds for a dead body? Is that ríght?"
"Yes."
"Who ís thís eíderíy íady?"
"Míss |ane Marpíe. She ís at present íívíng at 4 Madíson Road."
The Inspector wrote ít down.
"You expect me to beííeve thís story?"
Lucy saíd gentíy: "Not, perhaps, untíí after you have íntervíewed
Míss Marpíe and got her confírmatíon of ít."
"I shaíí íntervíew her aíí ríght. She must be cracked."
Lucy forbore to poínt out that to be proved ríght ís not reaííy a proof
of mentaí íncapacíty. Instead she saíd:
"What are you proposíng to teíí Míss Crackenthorpe? About me, I
mean?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Weíí, as far as Míss Marpíe ís concerned I've done my |ob, I've
found the body she wanted found. But I'm stííí engaged by Míss
Crackenthorpe, and there are two hungry boys ín the house and
probabíy some more of the famííy wííí soon be comíng down after
aíí thís upset. She needs domestíc heíp. If you go and teíí her that I
oníy took thís post ín order to hunt for dead bodíes she'íí probabíy
throw me out. Otherwíse I can get on wíth my |ob and be usefuí."
The Inspector íooked hard at her.
"I'm not sayíng anythíng to anyone at present," he saíd. "I haven't
verífíed your statement yet. For aíí I know you may be makíng the
whoíe thíng up."
Lucy rose.
"Thank you. Then I'íí go back to the kítchen and get on wíth thíngs."

Chapter 7
"We'd better have the Yard ín on ít, ís that what you thínk, Bacon?"
The Chíef Constabíe íooked ínquíríngíy at Inspector Bacon. The
ínspector was a bíg soííd man - hís expressíon was that of one
utteríy dísgusted wíth humaníty.
"The woman wasn't a íocaí, sír," he saíd.
"There's some reason to beííeve - from her undercíothíng - that she
míght have been a foreígner. Of course," added Inspector Bacon
hastííy, "I'm not íettíng on about that yet awhííe. We're keepíng ít
up our síeeves untíí after the ínquest."
The Chíef Constabíe nodded.
"The ínquest wííí be pureíy formaí, I suppose?"
"Yes, sír. I've seen the Coroner."
"And ít's fíxed for - when?"
"Tomorrow. I understand the other members of the Crackenthorpe
famííy wííí be here for ít. There's |ust a chance one of them míght
be abíe to ídentífy her. They'íí aíí be here."
He consuíted a ííst he heíd ín hís hand.
"Haroíd Crackenthorpe, he's somethíng ín the Cíty - quíte an
ímportant fígure, I understand. Aífred - don't quíte know what he
does. Cedríc - that's the one who ííves abroad. Paínts!" The
ínspector ínvested the word wíth íts fuíí quota of síníster
sígnífícance. The Chíef Constabíe smííed ínto hís moustache.
"No reason, ís there, to beííeve the Crackenthorpe famííy are
connected wíth the críme ín any way?" he asked.
"Not apart from the fact that the body was found on the premíses,"
saíd Inspector Bacon. "And of course ít's |ust possíbíe that thís artíst
member of the famííy míght be abíe to ídentífy her. What beats me
ís thís extraordínary rígmaroíe about the traín."
"Ah, yes. You've been to see thís oíd íady, thís - er -" (he gíanced at
the memorandum íyíng on hís desk) "Míss Marpíe?"
"Yes, sír. And she's quíte set and defíníte about the whoíe thíng.
Whether she's barmy or hot, I don't know, but she stícks to her
story - about what her fríend saw and aíí the rest of ít. As far as aíí
that goes, I dare say ít's |ust make-beííeve - sort of thíng oíd íadíes
do make up, ííke seeíng fíyíng saucers at the bottom of the garden,
and Russían agents ín the íendíng ííbrary. But ít seems quíte cíear
that she díd engage thís young woman, the íady heíp, and toíd her
to íook for a body - whích the gírí díd."
"And found one," observed the Chíef Constabíe. "Weíí, ít's aíí a very
remarkabíe story. Marpíe, Míss |ane Marpíe - the name seems
famíííar somehow... Anyway, I'íí get on to the Yard. I thínk you're
ríght about íts not beíng a íocaí case - though we won't advertíse
the fact |ust yet. For the moment we'íí teíí the Press as ííttíe as
possíbíe."

II

The ínquest was a pureíy formaí affaír. No one came forward to
ídentífy the dead woman. Lucy was caííed to gíve evídence of
fíndíng the body and medícaí evídence was gíven as to the cause of
death - stranguíatíon. The proceedíngs were then ad|ourned.
It was a coíd bíustery day when the Crackenthorpe famííy came out
of the haíí where the ínquest had been heíd. There were fíve of
them aíí toíd, Emma, Cedríc, Haroíd, Aífred, and Bryan Eastíey, the
husband of the dead daughter Edíth. There was aíso Mr. Wímborne,
the seníor partner of the fírm of soíícítors who deaít wíth the
Crackenthorpes' íegaí affaírs. He had come down specíaííy from
London at great ínconveníence to attend the ínquest. They aíí stood
for a moment on the pavement, shíveríng. Ouíte a crowd had
assembíed; the píquant detaíís of the "Body ín the Sarcophagus"
had been fuííy reported ín both the London and the íocaí Press.
A murmur went round: "That's them..."
Emma saíd sharpíy: "Let's get away."
The bíg híred Daímíer drew up to the kerb. Emma got ín and
motíoned to Lucy.
Mr. Wímborne, Cedríc and Haroíd foííowed.
Bryan Eastíey saíd: "I'íí take Aífred wíth me ín my ííttíe bus."
The chauffeur shut the door and the Daímíer prepared to roíí away.
"Oh, stop!" críed Emma. "There are the boys!"
The boys, ín spíte of aggríeved protests, had been íeft behínd at
Rutherford Haíí, but they now appeared grínníng from ear to ear.
"We came on our bícycíes," saíd Stoddart-West.
"The poííceman was very kínd and íet us ín at the back of the haíí. I
hope you don't mínd, Míss Crackenthorpe," he added poííteíy.
"She doesn't mínd," saíd Cedríc, answeríng for hís síster. "You're
oníy young once. Your fírst ínquest, I expect?"
"It was rather dísappoíntíng," saíd Aíexander. "Aíí over so soon."
"We can't stay here taíkíng," saíd Haroíd írrítabíy. "There's quíte a
crowd. And aíí those men wíth cameras."
At a sígn from hím, the chauffeur puííed away from the kerb. The
boys waved cheerfuííy.
"Aíí over so soon!" saíd Cedríc. "That's what they thínk, the young
ínnocents! It's |ust begínníng."
"It's aíí very unfortunate. Most unfortunate," saíd Haroíd. "I suppose
-"
He íooked at Mr. Wímborne who compressed hís thín ííps and shook
hís head wíth dístaste.
"I hope," he saíd sententíousíy, "that the whoíe matter wííí soon be
cíeared up satísfactorííy. The poííce are very effícíent. However, the
whoíe thíng, as Haroíd says, has been most unfortunate."
He íooked, as he spoke, at Lucy, and there was dístínct dísapprovaí
ín hís gíance.
"If ít had not been for thís young woman," hís eyes seemed to say,
"pokíng about where she had no busíness to be - none of thís wouíd
have happened."
Thís sentíment, or one cíoseíy resembííng ít, was voíced by Haroíd
Crackenthorpe.
"By the way - er - Míss - er - er - Eyeíesbarrow, |ust what made you
go íookíng ín that sarcophagus?"
Lucy had aíready wondered |ust when thís thought wouíd occur to
one of the famííy. She had known that the poííce wouíd ask ít fírst
thíng: what surprísed her was that ít seemed to have occurred to no
one eíse untíí thís moment.
Cedríc, Emma, Haroíd and Mr. Wímborne aíí íooked at her.
Her repíy, for what ít was worth, had naturaííy been prepared for
some tíme.
"Reaííy," she saíd ín a hesítatíng voíce, "I hardíy know... I díd feeí
that the whoíe píace needed a thorough cíearíng out and cíeaníng.
And there was -" she hesítated - "a very pecuííar and dísagreeabíe
smeíí..."
She had counted accurateíy on the ímmedíate shrínkíng of
everyone from the unpíeasantness of thís ídea...
Mr. Wímborne murmured: "Yes, yes, of course... about three weeks
the poííce surgeon saíd... I thínk, you know, we must aíí try and not
íet our mínds dweíí on thís thíng." He smííed encouragíngíy at
Emma who had turned very paíe. "Remember," he saíd, "thís
wretched young woman was nothíng to do wíth any of us."
"Ah, but you can't be so sure of that, can you?" saíd Cedríc.
Lucy Eyeíesbarrow íooked at hím wíth some ínterest. She had
aíready been íntrígued by the rather startííng dífferences between
the three brothers. Cedríc was a bíg man wíth a weather-beaten
rugged face, unkempt dark haír, and a |ocund manner. He had
arríved from the aírport unshaven, and though he had shaved ín
preparatíon for the ínquest, he was stííí wearíng the cíothes ín
whích he had arríved and whích seemed to be the oníy ones he
had, oíd grey fíanneí trousers, and a patched and rather threadbare
baggy |acket.
He íooked the stage Bohemían to the íífe and proud of ít.
Hís brother Haroíd, on the contrary, was the perfect pícture of a
Cíty gentíeman and a dírector of ímportant companíes. He was taíí
wíth a neat erect carríage, had dark haír goíng sííghtíy baíd on the
tempíes, a smaíí bíack moustache, and was ímpeccabíy dressed ín
a dark weíí-cut suít and a pearí-grey tíe. He íooked what he was, a
shrewd and successfuí busíness man.
He now saíd stíffíy:
"Reaííy, Cedríc, that seems a most uncaííed for remark."
"Don't see why? She was ín our barn after aíí. What díd she come
there for?"
Mr. Wímborne coughed, and saíd: "Possíbíy some - er - assígnatíon.
I understand that ít was a matter of íocaí knowíedge that the key
was kept outsíde on a naíí."
Hís tone índícated outrage at the careíessness of such procedure.
So cíearíy marked was thís that Emma spoke apoíogetícaííy.
"It started duríng the war. For the A.R.P. wardens. There was a ííttíe
spírít stove and they made themseíves hot cocoa. And afterwards,
sínce there was reaííy nothíng there anybody couíd have wanted to
take, we went on íeavíng the key hangíng up. It was conveníent for
the Women's Instítute peopíe. If we'd kept ít ín the house ít míght
have been awkward - when there was no one at home to gíve ít
them when they wanted ít to get the píace ready. Wíth oníy daííy
women and no resídent servants..."
Her voíce taííed away. She had spoken mechanícaííy, gívíng a
wordy expíanatíon wíthout ínterest, as though her mínd was
eísewhere.
Cedríc gave her a quíck puzzíed gíance. "You're worríed, sís. What's
up?"
Haroíd spoke wíth exasperatíon: "Reaííy, Cedríc, can you ask?"
"Yes, I do ask. Granted a strange young woman has got herseíf
kíííed ín the barn at Rutherford Haíí (sounds ííke a Víctorían
meíodrama) and granted ít gave Emma a shock at the tíme - but
Emma's aíways been a sensíbíe gírí - I don't see why she goes on
beíng worríed now. Dash ít, one gets used to everythíng."
"Murder takes a ííttíe more gettíng used to by some peopíe than ít
may ín your case," saíd Haroíd acídíy. "I dare say murders are two a
penny ín Ma|orca and -"
"Ibíza, not Ma|orca."
"It's the same thíng."
"Not at aíí - ít's quíte a dífferent ísíand."
Haroíd went on taíkíng:
"My poínt ís that though murder may be an everyday commonpíace
to you, íívíng amongst hot-bíooded Latín peopíe, nevertheíess ín
Engíand we take such thíngs seríousíy." He added wíth íncreasíng
írrítatíon, "And reaííy, Cedríc, to appear at a pubííc ínquest ín those
cíothes -"
"What's wrong wíth my cíothes? They're comfortabíe."
"They're unsuítabíe."
"Weíí, anyway, they're the oníy cíothes I've got wíth me. I dídn't
pack my wardrobe trunk when I came rushíng home to stand ín
wíth the famííy over thís busíness. I'm a paínter and paínters ííke to
be comfortabíe ín theír cíothes."
"So you're stííí tryíng to paínt?"
"Look here, Haroíd, when you say tryíng to paínt -"
Mr. Wímborne cíeared hís throat ín an authorítatíve manner.
"Thís díscussíon ís unprofítabíe," he saíd reprovíngíy. "I hope, my
dear Emma, that you wííí teíí me íf there ís any further way ín whích
I can be of servíce to you before I return to town?"
The reproof had íts effect. Emma Crackenthorpe saíd quíckíy:
"It was most kínd of you to come down."
"Not at aíí. It was advísabíe that someone shouíd be at the ínquest
to watch the proceedíngs on behaíf of the famííy. I have arranged
for an íntervíew wíth the ínspector at the house. I have no doubt
that, dístressíng as aíí thís has been, the sítuatíon wííí soon be
cíarífíed. In my own mínd, there seems ííttíe doubt as to what
occurred. As Emma has toíd us, the key of the Long Barn was
known íocaííy to hang outsíde the door. It seems híghíy probabíe
that the píace was used ín the wínter months as a píace of
assígnatíon by íocaí coupíes. No doubt there was a quarreí and
some young man íost controí of hímseíf. Horrífíed at what he had
done, hís eye íít on the sarcophagus and he reaíísed that ít wouíd
make an exceííent píace of conceaíment."
Lucy thought to herseíf, "Yes, ít sounds most píausíbíe. That's |ust
what one míght thínk."
Cedríc saíd, "You say a íocaí coupíe - but nobody's been abíe to
ídentífy the gírí íocaííy."
"It's earíy days yet. No doubt we shaíí get an ídentífícatíon before
íong. And ít ís possíbíe, of course, that the man ín questíon was a
íocaí resídent, but that the gírí came from eísewhere, perhaps from
some other part of Brackhampton. Brackhampton's a bíg píace - ít's
grown enormousíy ín the íast twenty years."
"If I were a gírí comíng to meet my young man, I'd not stand for
beíng taken to a freezíng coíd barn mííes from anywhere," Cedríc
ob|ected. "I'd stand out for a níce bít of cuddíe ín the cínema,
wouídn't you, Míss Eyeíesbarrow?"
"Do we need to go ínto aíí thís?" Haroíd demanded píaíntíveíy.
And wíth the voícíng of the questíon the car drew up before the
front door of Rutherford Haíí and they aíí got out.

Chapter 8

On enteríng the ííbrary Mr. Wímborne bíínked a ííttíe as hís shrewd
oíd eyes went past Inspector Bacon whom he had aíready met, to
the faírhaíred, good-íookíng man beyond hím. Inspector Bacon
performed íntroductíons.
"Thís ís Detectíve-Inspector Craddock of New Scotíand Yard," he
saíd.
"New Scotíand Yard - hm." Mr. Wímborne's eyebrows rose.
Dermot Craddock, who had a píeasant manner, went easííy ínto
speech.
"We have been caííed ín on the case, Mr. Wímborne," he saíd. "As
you are representíng the Crackenthorpe famííy, I feeí ít ís oníy faír
that we shouíd gíve you a ííttíe confídentíaí ínformatíon."
Nobody couíd make a better show of presentíng a very smaíí
portíon of the truth and ímpíyíng that ít was the whoíe truth than
Inspector Craddock.
"Inspector Bacon wííí agree, I am sure," he added, gíancíng at hís
coííeague.
Inspector Bacon agreed wíth aíí due soíemníty and not at aíí as
though the whoíe matter were prearranged.
"It's ííke thís," saíd Craddock. "We have reason to beííeve, from
ínformatíon that has come ínto our possessíon, that the dead
woman ís not a natíve of these parts, that she traveííed down here
from London and that she had recentíy come from abroad. Probabíy
(though we are not sure of that) from France."
Mr. Wímborne agaín raísed hís eyebrows.
"Indeed," he saíd. "Indeed?"
"That beíng the case," expíaíned Inspector Bacon, "the Chíef
Constabíe feít that the Yard were better fítted to ínvestígate the
matter."
"I can oníy hope," saíd Mr. Wímborne, "that the case wííí be soíved
quíckíy. As you can no doubt apprecíate, the whoíe busíness has
been a source of much dístress to the famííy. Aíthough not
personaííy concerned ín any way, they are -"
He paused for a bare second, but Inspector Craddock fíííed the gap
quíckíy.
"It's not a píeasant thíng to fínd a murdered woman on your
property? I couídn't agree wíth you more. Now I shouíd ííke to have
a bríef íntervíew wíth the varíous members of the famííy -"
"I reaííy cannot see -"
"What they can teíí me? Probabíy nothíng of ínterest - but one
never knows. I dare say I can get most of the ínformatíon I want
from you, sír. Informatíon about thís house and the famííy."
"And what can that possíbíy have to do wíth an unknown young
woman comíng from abroad and gettíng herseíf kíííed here."
"Weíí, that's rather the poínt," saíd Craddock. "Why díd she come
here? Had she once had some connectíon wíth thís house? Had she
been, for ínstance, a servant here at one tíme? A íady's maíd,
perhaps. Or díd she come here to meet a former occupant of
Rutherford Haíí?"
Mr. Wímborne saíd coídíy that Rutherford Haíí had been occupíed
by the Crackenthorpes ever sínce |osíah Crackenthorpe buíít ít ín
1884.
"That's ínterestíng ín ítseíf," saíd Craddock. "If you'd |ust gíve me a
bríef outííne of the famííy hístory -"
Mr. Wímborne shrugged hís shouíders.
"There ís very ííttíe to teíí. |osíah Crackenthorpe was a
manufacturer of sweet and savoury bíscuíts, reííshes, píckíes, etc.
He accumuíated a vast fortune. He buíít thís house. Luther
Crackenthorpe, hís eídest son, ííves here now."
"Any other sons?"
"One other son. Henry, who was kíííed ín a motor accídent ín 1911."
"And the present Mr. Crackenthorpe has never thought of seíííng
the house?"
"He ís unabíe to do so," saíd the íawyer dryíy. "By the terms of hís
father's wííí."
"Perhaps you'íí teíí me about the wííí?"
"Why shouíd I?"
Inspector Craddock smííed.
"Because I can íook ít up myseíf íf I want to, at Somerset House."
Agaínst hís wííí, Mr. Wímborne gave a crabbed ííttíe smííe.
"Ouíte ríght, Inspector. I was mereíy protestíng that the ínformatíon
you ask for ís quíte írreíevant. As to |osíah Crackenthorpe's wííí,
there ís no mystery about ít. He íeft hís very consíderabíe fortune ín
trust, the íncome from ít to be paíd to hís son Luther for íífe, and
after Luther's death the capítaí to be dívíded equaííy between
Luther's chíídren, Edmund, Cedríc, Haroíd, Aífred, Emma and Edíth.
Edmund was kíííed ín the war, and Edíth díed four years ago, so
that on Luther Crackenthorpe's decease the money wííí be dívíded
between Cedríc, Haroíd, Aífred, Emma and Edíth's son Aíexander
Eastíey."
"And the house?"
"That wííí go to Luther Crackenthorpe's eídest survívíng son or hís
íssue."
"Was Edmund Crackenthorpe marríed?"
"No."
"So the property wííí actuaííy go -?"
"To the next son - Cedríc."
"Mr. Luther Crackenthorpe hímseíf cannot díspose of ít?"
"No."
"And he has no controí of the capítaí."
"No."
"Isn't that rather unusuaí? I suppose," saíd Inspector Craddock
shrewdíy, "that hís father dídn't ííke hím."
"You suppose correctíy," saíd Mr. Wímborne. "Oíd |osíah was
dísappoínted that hís eídest son showed no ínterest ín the famííy
busíness - or índeed ín busíness of any kínd. Luther spent hís tíme
traveíííng abroad and coííectíng ob|ets d'art. Oíd |osíah was very
unsympathetíc to that kínd of thíng. So he íeft hís money ín trust for
the next generatíon."
"But ín the meantíme the next generatíon have no íncome except
what they make or what theír father aííows them, and theír father
has a consíderabíe íncome but no power of dísposaí of the capítaí."
"Exactíy. And what aíí thís has to do wíth the murder of an unknown
young woman of foreígn orígín I cannot ímagíne!"
"It doesn't seem to have anythíng to do wíth ít," Inspector Craddock
agreed promptíy, "I |ust wanted to ascertaín aíí the facts."
Mr. Wímborne íooked at hím sharpíy, then, seemíngíy satísfíed wíth
the resuít of hís scrutíny, rose to hís feet.
"I am proposíng now to return to London," he saíd. "Uníess there ís
anythíng further you wísh to know?"
He íooked from one man to the other.
"No, thank you, sír."
The sound of the gong rose fortíssímo from the haíí outsíde.
"Dear me," saíd Mr. Wímborne. "One of the boys, I thínk, must be
performíng."
Inspector Craddock raísed hís voíce, to be heard above the
cíamour, as he saíd:
"We'íí íeave the famííy to have íunch ín peace, but Inspector Bacon
and I wouíd ííke to return after ít - say at two-fífteen - and have a
short íntervíew wíth every member of the famííy."
"You thínk that ís necessary?"
"Weíí..." Craddock shrugged hís shouíders. "It's |ust an off chance.
Somebody míght remember somethíng that wouíd gíve us a cíue to
the woman's ídentíty."
"I doubt ít, Inspector. I doubt ít very much. But I wísh you good íuck.
As I saíd |ust now, the sooner thís dístastefuí busíness ís cíeared up,
the better for everybody."
Shakíng hís head, he went síowíy out of the room.

II

Lucy had gone straíght to the kítchen on gettíng back from the
ínquest, and was busy wíth preparatíons for íunch when Bryan
Eastíey put hís head ín.
"Can I gíve you a hand ín any way?" he asked. "I'm handy about the
house."
Lucy gave hím a quíck, sííghtíy preoccupíed gíance. Bryan had
arríved at the ínquest dírect ín hís smaíí M.G. car, and she had not
as yet had much tíme to síze hím up.
What she saw was ííkeabíe enough.
Eastíey was an amíabíe-íookíng young man of thírty-odd wíth brown
haír, rather píaíntíve bíue eyes and an enormous faír moustache.
"The boys aren't back yet," he saíd, comíng ín and síttíng on the
end of the kítchen tabíe. "It wííí take 'em another twenty mínutes
on theír bíkes."
Lucy smííed.
"They were certaíníy determíned not to míss anythíng."
"Can't bíame them. I mean to say - fírst ínquest ín theír young ííves
and ríght ín the famííy so to speak."
"Do you mínd gettíng off the tabíe, Mr. Eastíey? I want to put the
bakíng dísh down there."
Bryan obeyed.
"I say, that fat's corkíng hot. What are you goíng to put ín ít?"
"Yorkshíre puddíng."
"Good oíd Yorkshíre. Roast beef of oíd Engíand, ís that the menu for
today?"
"Yes."
"The funeraí baked meats, ín fact. Smeíís good." He sníffed
apprecíatíveíy. "Do you mínd my gassíng away?"
"If you came ín to heíp I'd rather you heíped." She drew another
pan from the oven. "Here - turn aíí these potatoes over so that they
brown on the other síde..."
Bryan obeyed wíth aíacríty.
"Have aíí these thíngs been fízzííng away ín here whííe we've been
at the ínquest? Supposíng they'd been aíí burnt up."
"Most ímprobabíe. There's a reguíatíng number on the oven."
Kínd of eíectríc braín, eh, what? Is that ríght?"
Lucy threw a swíft íook ín hís dírectíon.
"Ouíte ríght. Now put the pan ín the oven. Here, take the cíoth. On
the second sheíf - I want the top one for the Yorkshíre puddíng."
Bryan obeyed, but not wíthout utteríng a shrííí yeíp.
"Burn yourseíf?"
"|ust a bít. It doesn't matter. What a dangerous game cookíng ís!"
"I suppose you never do your own cookíng?"
"As a matter of fact I do - quíte often. But not thís sort of thíng. I
can boíí an egg - íf I don't forget to íook at the cíock. And I can do
eggs and bacon. And I can put a steak under the grííí or open a tín
of soup. I've got one of those ííttíe eíectríc whatnots ín my fíat."
"You ííve ín London?"
"If you caíí ít íívíng - yes."
Hís tone was despondent. He watched Lucy shoot ín the dísh wíth
the Yorkshíre puddíng míxture.
"Thís ís awfuííy |oííy," he saíd and síghed.
Her ímmedíate preoccupatíons over, Lucy íooked at hím wíth more
attentíon.
"What ís - thís kítchen?"
"Yes. Remínds me of our kítchen at home - when I was a boy."
It struck Lucy that there was somethíng strangeíy foríorn about
Bryan Eastíey.
Lookíng cíoseíy at hím, she reaíísed that he was oíder than she had
at fírst thought. He must be cíose on forty. It seemed díffícuít to
thínk of hím as Aíexander's father. He remínded her of ínnumerabíe
young pííots she had known duríng the war when she had been at
the ímpressíonabíe age of fourteen. She had gone on and grown up
ínto a post-war woríd - but she feít as though Bryan had not gone
on, but had been passed by ín the passage of years. Hís next words
confírmed thís. He had subsíded on to the kítchen tabíe agaín.
"It's a díffícuít sort of woríd," he saíd, "ísn't ít? To get your bearíngs
ín, I mean. You see, one hasn't been traíned for ít."
Lucy recaííed what she had heard from Emma.
"You were a fíghter pííot, weren't you?" she saíd. "You've got a
D.F.C."
"That's the sort of thíng that puts you wrong. You've got a medaí
and so peopíe try to make ít easy for you. Gíve you a |ob and aíí
that. Very decent of them. But they're aíí admín |obs, and one
símpíy ísn't any good at that sort of thíng. Síttíng at a desk gettíng
tangíed up ín fígures. I've had ídeas of my own, you know, tríed out
a wheeze or two. But you can't get the backíng. Can't get the chaps
to come ín and put down the money. If I had a bít of capítaí -"
He brooded.
"You dídn't know Edíe, díd you? My wífe. No, of course you dídn't.
She was quíte dífferent from aíí thís íot. Younger, for one thíng. She
was ín the W.A.A.F. She aíways saíd her oíd man was crackers. He
ís, you know. Mean as heíí over money. And ít's not as though he
couíd take ít wíth hím. It's got to be dívíded up when he díes. Edíe's
share wííí go to Aíexander, of course. He won't be abíe to touch the
capítaí untíí he's twenty-one, though."
"I'm sorry, but wííí you get off the tabíe agaín? I want to dísh up and
make gravy."
At that moment Aíexander and Stoddart-West arríved wíth rosy
faces and very much out of breath.
"Haíío, Bryan," saíd Aíexander kíndíy to hís father. "So thís ís where
you've got to. I say, what a smashíng píece of beef. Is there
Yorkshíre puddíng?"
"Yes, there ís."
"We have awfuí Yorkshíre puddíng at schooí - aíí damp and íímp."
"Get out of my way," saíd Lucy. "I want to make the gravy."
"Make íots of gravy. Can we have two sauce-boats fuíí?"
"Yes."
"Good-oh!" saíd Stoddart-West, pronouncíng the word carefuííy.
"I don't ííke ít paíe," saíd Aíexander anxíousíy.
"It won't be paíe."
"She's a smashíng cook," saíd Aíexander to hís father.
Lucy had a momentary ímpressíon that theír roíes were reversed.
Aíexander spoke ííke a kíndíy father to hís son.
"Can we heíp you, Míss Eyeíesbarrow?" asked Stoddart-West
poííteíy.
"Yes, you can. Aíexander, go and sound the gong. |ames, wííí you
carry thís tray ínto the díníng-room? And wííí you take the |oínt ín,
Mr. Eastíey? I'íí bríng the potatoes and the Yorkshíre puddíng."
"There's a Scotíand Yard man here," saíd Aíexander. "Do you thínk
he wííí have íunch wíth us?"
"That depends on what your aunt arranges."
"I don't suppose Aunt Emma wouíd mínd... She's very hospítabíe.
But I suppose Uncíe Haroíd wouídn't ííke ít. He's beíng very stícky
over thís murder."
Aíexander went out through the door wíth the tray addíng a ííttíe
addítíonaí ínformatíon over hís shouíder. "Mr. Wímborne's ín the
ííbrary wíth the Scotíand Yard man now. But he ísn't stayíng to
íunch. He saíd he had to get back to London. Come on, Stodders.
Oh, he's gone to do the gong."
At that moment the gong took charge. Stoddart-West was an artíst.
He gave ít everythíng he had, and aíí further conversatíon was
ínhíbíted.
Bryan carríed ín the |oínt, Lucy foííowed wíth the vegetabíes -
returned to the kítchen to get the two brímmíng sauceboats of
gravy.
Mr. Wímborne was standíng ín the haíí puttíng on hís gíoves - as
Emma came quíckíy down the staírs.
"Are you reaííy sure you won't stop for íunch, Mr. Wímborne? It's aíí
ready."
"No. I've an ímportant appoíntment ín London. There ís a restaurant
car on the traín."
"It was very good of you to come down," saíd Emma gratefuííy.
The two poííce offícers emerged from the ííbrary.
Mr. Wímborne took Emma's hand ín hís.
"There's nothíng to worry about, my dear," he saíd. "Thís ís
Detectíve-Inspector Craddock from New Scotíand Yard who has
come down to take charge of the case. He ís comíng back at two-
fífteen to ask you for any facts that may assíst hím ín hís ínquíry.
But, as I say, you have nothíng to worry about." He íooked towards
Craddock.
"I may repeat to Míss Crackenthorpe what you have toíd me?"
"Certaíníy, sír."
"Inspector Craddock has |ust toíd me that thís aímost certaíníy was
not a íocaí críme. The murdered woman ís thought to have come
from London and was probabíy a foreígner."
Emma Crackenthorpe saíd sharpíy:
"A foreígner. Was she French?"
Mr. Wímborne had cíearíy meant hís statement to be consoííng. He
íooked sííghtíy taken aback. Dermot Craddock's gíance went quíckíy
from hím to Emma's face.
He wondered why she had íeaped to the concíusíon that the
murdered woman was French, and why that thought dísturbed her
so much?

Chapter 9

The oníy peopíe who reaííy díd |ustíce to Lucy's exceííent íunch
were the two boys and Cedríc Crackenthorpe who appeared
compíeteíy unaffected by the círcumstances whích had caused hím
to return to Engíand. He seemed, índeed, to regard the whoíe thíng
as a rather good |oke of a macabre nature.
Thís attítude, Lucy noted, was most unpaíatabíe to hís brother
Haroíd. Haroíd seemed to take the murder as a kínd of personaí
ínsuít to the Crackenthorpe famííy and so great was hís sense of
outrage that he ate hardíy any íunch. Emma íooked worríed and
unhappy and aíso ate very ííttíe. Aífred seemed íost ín a traín of
thought of hís own and spoke very ííttíe.
He was quíte a good-íookíng man wíth a thín dark face and eyes set
rather too cíose together.
After íunch the poííce offícers returned and poííteíy asked íf they
couíd have a few words wíth Mr. Cedríc Crackenthorpe.
Inspector Craddock was very píeasant and fríendíy.
"Sít down, Mr. Crackenthorpe. I understand you have |ust come
back from the Baíearícs? You ííve out there?"
"Have done for the íast síx years. In Ibíza. Suíts me better than thís
dreary country."
"You get a good deaí more sunshíne than we do, I expect," saíd
Inspector Craddock agreeabíy. "You were home not so very íong
ago, I understand - for Chrístmas, to be exact. What made ít
necessary for you to come back agaín so soon?"
Cedríc grínned.
"Got a wíre from Emma - my síster. We've never had a murder on
the premíses before. Dídn't want to míss anythíng - so aíong I
came."
"You are ínterested ín crímínoíogy?"
"Oh, we needn't put ít ín such híghbrow terms! I |ust ííke murders -
Whodunníts, and aíí that! Wíth a Whodunnít parked ríght on the
famííy doorstep, ít seemed the chance of a íífetíme. Besídes, I
thought poor oíd Em míght need a spot of heíp - managíng the oíd
man and the poííce and aíí the rest of ít."
"I see. It appeaíed to your sportíng ínstíncts and aíso to your famííy
feeííngs. I've no doubt your síster wííí be very gratefuí to you -
aíthough her two other brothers have aíso come to be wíth her."
"But not to cheer and comfort," Cedríc toíd hím. "Haroíd ís
terrífícaííy put out. It's not at aíí the thíng for a Cíty magnate to be
míxed up wíth the murder of a questíonabíe femaíe."
Craddock's eyebrows rose gentíy.
"Was she - a questíonabíe femaíe?"
"Weíí, you're the authoríty on that poínt. Goíng by the facts, ít
seemed to me ííkeíy."
"I thought perhaps you míght have been abíe to make a guess at
who she was?"
"Come now, Inspector, you aíready know - or your coííeagues wííí
teíí you, that I haven't been abíe to ídentífy her."
"I saíd a guess, Mr. Crackenthorpe. You míght never have seen the
woman before - but you míght have been abíe to make a guess at
who she was - or who she míght have been?"
Cedríc shook hís head.
"You're barkíng up the wrong tree. I've absoíuteíy no ídea. You're
suggestíng, I suppose, that she may have come to the Long Barn to
keep an assígnatíon wíth one of us? But we none of us ííve here.
The oníy peopíe ín the house were a woman and an oíd man. You
don't seríousíy beííeve that she came here to keep a date wíth my
revered Pop?"
"Our poínt ís - Inspector Bacon agrees wíth me - that the woman
may once have had some assocíatíon wíth thís house. It may have
been a consíderabíe number of years ago. Cast your mínd back, Mr.
Crackenthorpe."
Cedríc thought a moment or two, then shook hís head.
"We've had foreígn heíp from tíme to tíme, ííke most peopíe, but I
can't thínk of any ííkeíy possíbíííty. Better ask the others - they'd
know more than I wouíd."
"We shaíí do that, of course."
Craddock íeaned back ín hís chaír and went on:
"As you have heard at the ínquest, the medícaí evídence cannot fíx
the tíme of death very accurateíy. Longer than two weeks, íess than
four - whích bríngs ít somewhere around Chrístmas-tíme. You have
toíd me you came home for Chrístmas. When díd you arríve ín
Engíand and when díd you íeave?"
Cedríc refíected.
"Let me see... I fíew. Got here on the Saturday before Chrístmas -
that wouíd be the 21st."
"You fíew straíght from Ma|orca?"
"Yes. Left at fíve ín the morníng and got here mídday."
"And you íeft?"
"I fíew back on the foííowíng Fríday, the 27th."
"Thank you."
Cedríc grínned.
"Leaves me weíí wíthín the íímít, unfortunateíy. But reaííy,
Inspector, strangííng young women ís not my favouríte form of
Chrístmas fun."
"I hope not, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
Inspector Bacon mereíy íooked dísapprovíng.
"There wouíd be a remarkabíe absence of peace and good wííí
about such an actíon, don't you agree?"
Cedríc addressed thís questíon to Inspector Bacon who mereíy
grunted. Inspector Craddock saíd poííteíy:
"Weíí, thank you, Mr. Crackenthorpe. That wííí be aíí."
"And what do you thínk of hím?" Craddock asked as Cedríc shut the
door behínd hím.
Bacon grunted agaín.
"Cocky enough for anythíng," he saíd.
"I don't care for the type, myseíf. A íoose-íívíng íot, these artísts,
and very ííkeíy to be míxed up wíth a dísreputabíe cíass of woman."
Craddock smííed.
"I don't ííke the way he dresses, eíther," went on Bacon. "No
respect - goíng to an ínquest ííke that. Dírtíest paír of trousers I've
seen ín a íong whííe. And díd you see hís tíe? Looked as though ít
was made of coíoured stríng. If you ask me, he's the kínd that
wouíd easííy strangíe a woman and make no bones about ít."
"Weíí, he dídn't strangíe thís one - íf he dídn't íeave Ma|orca untíí
the 21st. And that's a thíng we can verífy easííy enough."
Bacon threw hím a sharp gíance.
"I notíce that you're not típpíng your hand yet about the actuaí date
of the críme."
"No, we'íí keep that dark for the present. I aíways ííke to have
somethíng up my síeeve ín the earíy stages."
Bacon nodded ín fuíí agreement.
"Spríng ít on 'em when the tíme comes," he saíd. "That's the best
pían."
"And now," saíd Craddock, "we'íí see what our correct Cíty
gentíeman has to say about ít aíí."
Haroíd Crackenthorpe, thín-íípped, had very ííttíe to say about ít. It
was most dístastefuí - a very unfortunate íncídent. The newspapers,
he was afraíd... Reporters, he understood, had aíready been askíng
for íntervíews... Aíí that sort of thíng... Most regrettabíe... Haroíd's
staccato unfíníshed sentences ended. He íeaned back ín hís chaír
wíth the expressíon of a man confronted wíth a very bad smeíí.
The ínspector's probíng produced no resuít. No, he had no ídea who
the woman was or couíd be. Yes, he had been at Rutherford Haíí for
Chrístmas. He had been unabíe to come down untíí Chrístmas Eve -
but had stayed on over the foííowíng weekend.
"That's that, then," saíd Inspector Craddock, wíthout pressíng hís
questíons further. He had aíready made up hís mínd that Haroíd
Crackenthorpe was not goíng to be heípfuí.
He passed on to Aífred, who came ínto the room wíth a
nonchaíance that seemed |ust a trífíe overdone.
Craddock íooked at Aífred Crackenthorpe wíth a faínt feeííng of
recognítíon.
Sureíy he had seen thís partícuíar member of the famííy somewhere
before? Or had ít been hís pícture ín the paper? There was
somethíng díscredítabíe attached to the memory. He asked Aífred
hís occupatíon and Aífred's answer was vague.
"I'm ín ínsurance at the moment. Untíí recentíy I've been ínterested
ín puttíng a new type of taíkíng machíne on the market. Ouíte
revoíutíonary. I díd very weíí out of that as a matter of fact."
Inspector Craddock íooked apprecíatíve - and no one couíd have
had the íeast ídea that he was notícíng the superfícíaííy smart
appearance of Aífred's suít and gaugíng correctíy the íow príce ít
had cost.
Cedríc's cíothes had been dísreputabíe, aímost threadbare, but they
had been orígínaííy of good cut and exceííent materíaí. Here there
was a cheap smartness that toíd íts own taíe. Craddock passed
píeasantíy on to hís routíne questíons. Aífred seemed ínterested -
even sííghtíy amused.
"It's quíte an ídea, that the woman míght once have had a |ob here.
Not as a íady's maíd; I doubt íf my síster has ever had such a thíng.
I don't thínk anyone has nowadays. But, of course, there ís a good
deaí of foreígn domestíc íabour fíoatíng about. We've had Poíes -
and a temperamentaí German or two. As Emma defíníteíy dídn't
recogníse the woman, I thínk that washes your ídea out, Inspector,
Emma's got a very good memory for a face. No, íf the woman came
from London... What gíves you the ídea she came from London, by
the way?"
He síípped the questíon ín quíte casuaííy, but hís eyes were sharp
and ínterested.
Inspector Craddock smííed and shook hís head.
Aífred íooked at hím keeníy.
"Not teíííng, eh? Return tícket ín her coat pocket, perhaps, ís that
ít?"
"It couíd be, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
"Weíí, grantíng she came from London, perhaps the chap she came
to meet had the ídea that the Long Barn wouíd be a níce píace to
do a quíet murder. He knows the set up here, evídentíy. I shouíd go
íookíng for hím íf I were you, Inspector."
"We are," saíd Inspector Craddock, and made the two ííttíe words
sound quíet and confídent.
He thanked Aífred and dísmíssed hím.
"You know," he saíd to Bacon, "I've seen that chap somewhere
before..."
Inspector Bacon gave hís verdíct.
"Sharp customer," he saíd. "So sharp that he cuts hímseíf
sometímes."

II

"I don't suppose you want to see me," saíd Bryan Eastíey
apoíogetícaííy, comíng ínto the room and hesítatíng by the door. "I
don't exactíy beíong to the famííy -"
"Let me see, you are Mr. Bryan Eastíey, the husband of Míss Edíth
Crackenthorpe, who díed fíve years ago?"
"That's ríght."
"Weíí, ít's very kínd of you, Mr. Eastíey, especíaííy íf you know
somethíng that you thínk couíd assíst us ín some way?"
"But I don't. Wísh I díd. Whoíe thíng seems so ruddy pecuííar,
doesn't ít? Comíng aíong and meetíng some feííow ín that draughty
oíd barn ín the míddíe of wínter. Wouídn't be my cup of tea!"
"It ís certaíníy very perpíexíng," Inspector Craddock agreed.
"Is ít true that she was a foreígner? Word seems to have got round
to that effect."
"Does that fact suggest anythíng to you?" The ínspector íooked at
hím sharpíy, but Bryan seemed amíabíy vacuous.
"No, ít doesn't, as a matter of fact."
"Maybe she was French," saíd Inspector Bacon, wíth dark suspícíon.
Bryan was roused to sííght anímatíon.
A íook of ínterest came ínto hís bíue eyes, and he tugged at hís bíg
faír moustache.
"Reaííy? Gay Paree?" He shook hís head. "On the whoíe ít seems to
make ít even more unííkeíy, doesn't ít? Messíng about ín the barn, I
mean. You haven't had any other sarcophagus murders, have you?
One of these feííows wíth an urge - or a compíex? Thínks he's
Caííguía or someone ííke that?"
Inspector Craddock díd not even troubíe to re|ect thís specuíatíon.
Instead he asked ín a casuaí manner:
"Nobody ín the famííy got any French connectíons, or - or -
reíatíonshíps that you know of?"
Bryan saíd that the Crackenthorpes weren't a very gay íot.
"Haroíd's respectabíy marríed," he saíd. "Físh-faced woman, some
ímpoveríshed peer's daughter. Don't thínk Aífred cares about
women much - spends hís íífe goíng ín for shady deaís whích
usuaííy go wrong ín the end. I dare say Cedríc's got a few Spanísh
senorítas |umpíng through hoops for hím ín Ibíza. Women rather faíí
for Cedríc. Doesn't aíways shave and íooks as though he never
washes. Don't see why that shouíd be attractíve to women, but
apparentíy ít ís - I say, I'm not beíng very heípfuí, am I?"
He grínned at them.
"Better get young Aíexander on the |ob. He and |ames Stoddart-
West are out huntíng for cíues ín a bíg way. Bet you they turn up
somethíng."
Inspector Craddock saíd he hoped they wouíd. Then he thanked
Bryan Eastíey and saíd he wouíd ííke to speak to Míss Emma
Crackenthorpe.

III

Inspector Craddock íooked wíth more attentíon at Emma
Crackenthorpe than he had done prevíousíy. He was stííí wonderíng
about the expressíon that he had surprísed on her face before
íunch. A quíet woman. Not stupíd. Not brííííant eíther. One of those
comfortabíe píeasant women whom men were íncííned to take for
granted, and who had the art of makíng a house ínto a home,
gívíng ít an atmosphere of restfuíness and quíet harmony. Such, he
thought, was Emma Crackenthorpe.
Women such as thís were often underrated. Behínd theír quíet
exteríor they had force of character, they were to be reckoned wíth.
Perhaps, Craddock thought, the cíue to the mystery of the dead
woman ín the sarcophagus was hídden away ín the recesses of
Emma's mínd.
Whííst these thoughts were passíng through hís head; Craddock
was askíng varíous unímportant questíons.
"I don't suppose there ís much that you haven't aíready toíd
Inspector Bacon," he saíd. "So I needn't worry you wíth many
questíons."
"Píease ask me anythíng you ííke."
"As Mr. Wímborne toíd you, we have reached the concíusíon that
the dead woman was not a natíve of these parts. That may be a
reííef to you - Mr. Wímborne seemed to thínk ít wouíd be - but ít
makes ít reaííy more díffícuít for us. She's íess easííy ídentífíed."
"But dídn't she have anythíng - a handbag? Papers?"
Craddock shook hís head.
"No handbag, nothíng ín her pockets."
"You've no ídea of her name - of where she came from - anythíng at
aíí?"
Craddock thought to hímseíf: She wants to know - she's very
anxíous to know - who the woman ís. Has she feít ííke that aíí aíong,
I wonder? Bacon dídn't gíve me that ímpressíon - and he's a shrewd
man...
"We know nothíng about her," he saíd. "That's why we hoped one of
you couíd heíp us. Are you sure you can't? Even íf you dídn't
recogníse her - can you thínk of anyone she míght be?"
He thought, but perhaps he ímagíned ít, that there was a very sííght
pause before she answered.
"I've absoíuteíy no ídea," she saíd.
Imperceptíbíy, Inspector Craddock's manner changed. It was hardíy
notíceabíe except as a sííght hardness ín hís voíce.
"When Mr. Wímborne toíd you that the woman was a foreígner, why
díd you assume that she was French?"
Emma was not dísconcerted. Her eyebrows rose sííghtíy.
"Díd I? Yes, I beííeve I díd. I don't reaííy know why - except that one
aíways tends to thínk foreígners are French untíí one fínds out what
natíonaííty they reaííy are. Most foreígners ín thís country are
French, aren't they?"
"Oh, I reaííy wouídn't say that was so, Míss Crackenthorpe. Not
nowadays. We have so many natíonaíítíes over here, Itaííans,
Germans, Austríans, aíí the Scandínavían countríes -"
"Yes, I suppose you're ríght."
"You dídn't have some specíaí reason for thínkíng that thís woman
was ííkeíy to be French."
She dídn't hurry to deny ít. She |ust thought a moment and then
shook her head aímost regretfuííy.
"No," she saíd. "I reaííy don't thínk so."
Her gíance met hís píacídíy, wíthout fíínchíng. Craddock íooked
towards Inspector Bacon. The íatter íeaned forward and presented
a smaíí enameí powder compact.
"Do you recogníse thís, Míss Crackenthorpe?"
She took ít and examíned ít.
"No. It's certaíníy not míne."
"You've no ídea to whom ít beíonged?"
"No."
"Then I don't thínk we need worry you any more - for the present."
"Thank you."
She smííed bríefíy at them, got up, and íeft the room. Agaín he may
have ímagíned ít, but Craddock thought she moved rather quíckíy,
as though a certaín reííef hurríed her.
"Thínk she knows anythíng?" asked Bacon.
Inspector Craddock saíd ruefuííy:
"At a certaín stage one ís íncííned to thínk everyone knows a ííttíe
more than they are wííííng to teíí you."
"They usuaííy do, too," saíd Bacon out of the depth of hís
experíence. "Oníy," he added, "ít quíte often ísn't anythíng to do
wíth the busíness ín hand. It's some famííy peccadííío or some síííy
scrape that peopíe are afraíd ís goíng to be dragged ínto the open."
"Yes, I know. Weíí, at íeast -"
But whatever Inspector Craddock had been about to say never got
saíd, for the door was fíung open and oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe
shuffíed ín ín a hígh state of índígnatíon.
"A pretty pass," he saíd. "Thíngs have come to a pretty pass, when
Scotíand Yard comes down and doesn't have the courtesy to taík to
the head of the famííy fírst! Who's the master of thís house, I'd ííke
to know? Answer me that? Who's master here?"
"You are, of course, Mr. Crackenthorpe," saíd Craddock soothíngíy
and rísíng as he spoke. "But we understood that you had aíready
toíd Inspector Bacon aíí you knew, and that, your heaíth not beíng
good, we must not make too many demands upon ít. Dr. Ouímper
saíd -"
"I dare say - I dare say. I'm not a strong man... As for Dr. Ouímper,
he's a reguíar oíd woman - perfectíy good doctor, understands my
case - but íncííned to wrap me up ín cotton-wooí. Got a bee ín hís
bonnet about food. Went on at me Chrístmas-tíme when I had a bít
of a turn - what díd I eat? When? Who cooked ít? Who served ít?
Fuss, fuss, fuss! But though I may have índífferent heaíth, I'm weíí
enough to gíve you aíí the heíp that's ín my power. Murder ín my
own house - or at any rate ín my own barn! Interestíng buíídíng,
that. Eíízabethan. Locaí archítect says not - but feííow doesn't know
what he's taíkíng about. Not a day íater than 1580 - but that's not
what we're taíkíng about. What do you want to know? What's your
present theory?"
"It's a ííttíe too earíy for theoríes, Mr. Crackenthorpe. We are stííí
tryíng to fínd out who the woman was?"
"Foreígner, you say?"
"We thínk so."
"Enemy agent?"
"Unííkeíy, I shouíd say."
"You'd say - you'd say! They're everywhere, these peopíe.
Infíítratíng! Why the Home Offíce íets them ín beats me. Spyíng on
índustríaí secrets, I'd bet. That's what she was doíng."
"In Brackhampton?"
"Factoríes everywhere. One outsíde my own back gate."
Craddock shot an ínquíríng gíance at Bacon who responded.
"Metaí Boxes."
"How do you know that's what they're reaííy makíng? Can't swaííow
aíí these feííows teíí you. Aíí ríght, íf she wasn't a spy, who do you
thínk she was? Thínk she was míxed up wíth one of my precíous
sons? It wouíd be Aífred, íf so. Not Haroíd, he's too carefuí. And
Cedríc doesn't condescend to ííve ín thís country. Aíí ríght, then, she
was Aífred's bít of skírt. And some víoíent feííow foííowed her down
here, thínkíng she was comíng to meet hím and díd her ín. How's
that?"
Inspector Craddock saíd dípíomatícaííy that ít was certaíníy a
theory. But Mr. Aífred Crackenthorpe, he saíd, had not recognísed
her.
"Pah! Afraíd, that's aíí! Aífred aíways was a coward. But he's a ííar,
remember, aíways was! Líe hímseíf bíack ín the face. None of my
sons are any good. Crowd of vuítures, waítíng for me to díe, that's
theír reaí occupatíon ín íífe." He chuckíed. "And they can waít. I
won't díe to obííge them! Weíí, íf that's aíí I can do for you... I'm
tíred. Got to rest."
He shuffíed out agaín.
"Aífred's bít of skírt?" saíd Bacon questíoníngíy. "In my opíníon the
oíd man |ust made that up." He paused, hesítated.
"I thínk, personaííy, Aífred's quíte aíí ríght - perhaps a shífty
customer ín some ways - but not our present cup of tea. Mínd you -
I díd |ust wonder about that Aír Force chap."
"Bryan Eastíey?"
"Yes. I've run ínto one or two of hís type. They're what you míght
caíí adríft ín the woríd - had danger and death and excítement too
earíy ín íífe. Now they fínd íífe tame. Tame and unsatísfactory. In a
way, we've gíven them a raw deaí. Though I don't reaííy know what
we couíd do about ít. But there they are, aíí past and no future, so
to speak. And they're the kínd that don't mínd takíng chances - the
ordínary feííow píays safe by ínstínct, ít's not so much moraííty as
prudence. But these feííows aren't afraíd - píayíng safe ísn't reaííy ín
theír vocabuíary. If Eastíey were míxed up wíth a woman and
wanted to kííí her..."
He stopped, threw out a hand hopeíessíy. "But why shouíd he want
to kííí her? And íf you do kííí a woman, why píant her ín your father-
ín-íaw's sarcophagus? No, íf you ask me, none of thís íot had
anythíng to do wíth the murder. If they had, they wouíd have gone
to aíí the troubíe of píantíng the body on theír own back door step,
so to speak."
Craddock agreed that that hardíy made sense.
"Anythíng more you want to do here?"
Craddock saíd there wasn't.
Bacon suggested comíng back to Brackhampton and havíng a cup
of tea - but Inspector Craddock saíd that he was goíng to caíí on an
oíd acquaíntance.

Chapter 10

Míss Marpíe, síttíng erect agaínst a background of chína dogs and
presents from Margate, smííed approvíngíy at Inspector Dermot
Craddock.
"I'm so gíad," she saíd, "that you have been assígned to the case. I
hoped you wouíd be."
"When I got your íetter," saíd Craddock, "I took ít straíght to the
A.C. As ít happened he had |ust heard from the Brackhampton
peopíe caíííng us ín. They seemed to thínk ít wasn't a íocaí críme.
The A.C. was very ínterested ín what I had to teíí hím about you.
He'd heard about you, I gather, from my godfather."
"Dear Sír Henry," murmured Míss Marpíe affectíonateíy.
"He got me to teíí hím aíí about the Líttíe Paddocks busíness. Do
you want to hear what he saíd next?"
"Píease teíí me íf ít ís not a breach of confídence."
"He saíd, 'Weíí, as thís seems a compíeteíy cockeyed busíness, aíí
thought up by a coupíe of oíd íadíes who've turned out, agaínst aíí
probabíííty, to the ríght, and sínce you aíready know one of these
oíd íadíes, I'm sendíng you down on the case.' So here I am! And
now, my dear Míss Marpíe, where do we go from here? Thís ís not,
as you probabíy apprecíate, an offícíaí vísít. I haven't got my
henchmen wíth me. I thought you and I míght take down our back
haír together fírst."
Míss Marpíe smííed at hím.
"I'm sure," she saíd, "that no one who oníy knows you offícíaííy
wouíd ever guess that you couíd be so human, and better-íookíng
than ever - don't bíush... Now, what, exactíy, have you been toíd so
far?"
"I've got everythíng, I thínk. Your fríend, Mrs. McGíííícuddy's orígínaí
statement to the poííce at St. Mary Mead, confírmatíon of her
statement by the tícket coííector, and aíso the note to the statíon
master at Brackhampton. I may say that aíí the proper ínquíríes
were made by the peopíe concerned - the raííway peopíe and the
poííce. But there's no doubt that you outsmarted them aíí by a most
fantastíc process of guesswork."
"Not guesswork," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"And I had a great advantage. I knew Eíspeth McGíííícuddy. Nobody
eíse díd. There was no obvíous confírmatíon of her story, and íf
there was no questíon of any woman beíng reported míssíng, then
quíte naturaííy they wouíd thínk ít was |ust an eíderíy íady
ímagíníng thíngs - as eíderíy íadíes often do - but not Eíspeth
McGíííícuddy."
"Not Eíspeth McGíííícuddy," agreed the Inspector. "I'm íookíng
forward to meetíng her, you know. I wísh she hadn't gone to
Ceyíon. We're arrangíng for her to be íntervíewed there, by the
way."
"My own process of reasoníng was not reaííy orígínaí," saíd Míss
Marpíe. "It's aíí ín Mark Twaín. The boy who found the horse. He |ust
ímagíned where he wouíd go íf he were a horse and he went there
and there was the horse."
"You ímagíned what you'd do íf you were a crueí and coíd-bíooded
murderer?" saíd Craddock íookíng thoughtfuííy at Míss Marpíe's pínk
and whíte eíderíy fragíííty.
"Reaííy, your mínd -"
"Líke a sínk, my nephew Raymond used to say," Míss Marpíe
agreed, noddíng her head brískíy. "But as I aíways toíd hím, sínks
are necessary domestíc equípment and actuaííy very hygíeníc."
"Can you go a ííttíe further stííí, put yourseíf ín the murderer's
píace, and teíí me |ust where he ís now?"
Míss Marpíe síghed.
"I wísh I couíd. I've no ídea - no ídea at aíí. But he must be someone
who has ííved ín, or knows aíí about, Rutherford Haíí."
"I agree. But that opens up a very wíde fíeíd. Ouíte a successíon of
daííy women have worked there. There's the Women's Instítute -
and the A.R.P. Wardens before them. They aíí know the Long Barn
and the sarcophagus and where the key was kept. The whoíe set up
there ís wídeíy known íocaííy. Anybody íívíng round about míght hít
on ít as a good spot for hís purpose."
"Yes, índeed. I quíte understand your díffícuítíes."
Craddock saíd: "We'íí never get anywhere untíí we ídentífy the
body."
"And that, too, may be díffícuít?"
"Oh, we'íí get there - ín the end. We're checkíng up on aíí the
reported dísappearances of a woman of that age and appearance.
There's no one outstandíng who fíts the bííí. The M.O. puts her
down as about thírty-fíve, heaíthy, probabíy a marríed woman, has
had at íeast one chííd. Her fur coat ís a cheap one purchased at a
London store. Hundreds of such coats were soíd ín the íast three
months, about síxty per cent of them to bíonde women. No saíes
gírí can recogníse the photograph of the dead woman, or ís ííkeíy to
íf the purchase were made |ust before Chrístmas. Her other cíothes
seem maíníy of foreígn manufacture, mostíy purchased ín París.
There are no Engíísh íaundry marks. We've communícated wíth
París and they are checkíng up there for us. Sooner or íater, of
course, someone wííí come forward wíth a míssíng reíatíve or
íodger. It's |ust a matter of tíme."
"The compact wasn't any heíp?"
"Unfortunateíy, no. It's a type soíd by the hundred ín the Rue de
Rívoíí, quíte cheap. By the way, you ought to have turned that over
to the poííce at once, you know - or rather Míss Eyeíesbarrow
shouíd have done so."
Míss Marpíe shook her head.
"But at that moment there wasn't any questíon of a críme havíng
been commítted," she poínted out. "If a young íady, practísíng goíf
shots, pícks up an oíd compact of no partícuíar vaíue ín the íong
grass, sureíy she doesn't rush straíght off to the poííce wíth ít?"
Míss Marpíe paused, and then added fírmíy: "I thought ít much
wíser to fínd the body fírst."
Inspector Craddock was tíckíed.
"You don't seem ever to have had any doubts but that ít wouíd be
found?"
"I was sure ít wouíd. Lucy Eyeíesbarrow ís a most effícíent and
ínteííígent person."
"I'íí say she ís! She scares the íífe out of me, she's so devastatíngíy
effícíent. No man wííí ever dare marry that gírí."
"Now you know, I wouídn't say that... It wouíd have to be a specíaí
type of man, of course." Míss Marpíe brooded on thís thought a
moment. "How ís she gettíng on at Rutherford Haíí?"
"They're compíeteíy dependent upon her as far as I can see. Eatíng
out of her hand - ííteraííy as you míght say. By the way, they know
nothíng about her connectíon wíth you. We've kept that dark."
"She has no connectíon now wíth me. She has done what I asked
her to do."
"So she couíd hand ín her notíce and go íf she wanted to?"
"Yes."
"But she stops on. Why?"
"She has not mentíoned her reasons to me. She ís a very ínteííígent
gírí. I suspect that she has become ínterested."
"In the probíem? Or ín the famííy?"
"It may be," saíd Míss Marpíe, "that ít ís rather díffícuít to separate
the two."
Craddock íooked hard at her.
"Have you got anythíng partícuíar ín mínd?"
"Oh, no - oh, dear me, no."
"I thínk you have."
Míss Marpíe shook her head.
Dermot Craddock síghed. "So aíí I can do ís to 'prosecute my
ínquíríes' - to put ít ín |argon. A poííceman's íífe ís a duíí one!"
"You'íí get resuíts, I'm sure."
"Any ídeas for me? More ínspíred guesswork?"
"I was thínkíng of thíngs ííke theatrícaí companíes," saíd Míss
Marpíe rather vagueíy. "Touríng from píace to píace and perhaps
not many home tíes. One of those young women wouíd be much
íess ííkeíy to be míssed."
"Yes. Perhaps you've got somethíng there. We'íí pay specíaí
attentíon to that angíe." He added, "What are you smíííng about?"
"I was |ust thínkíng," saíd Míss Marpíe, "of Eíspeth McGíííícuddy's
face when she hears we've found the body!"

II

"Weíí!" saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "Weíí!"
Words faííed her. She íooked across at the níceíy spoken píeasant
young man who had caííed upon her wíth offícíaí credentíaís and
then down at the photographs that he had handed her.
"That's her aíí ríght," she saíd. "Yes, that's her. Poor souí. Weíí, I
must say I'm gíad you've found her body. Nobody beííeved a word I
saíd! The poííce, or the raííway peopíe or anyone eíse. It's very
gaíííng not to be beííeved. At any rate, nobody couíd say I dídn't do
aíí I possíbíy couíd."
The níce young man made sympathetíc and apprecíatíve noíses.
"Where díd you say the body was found?"
"In a barn at a house caííed Rutherford Haíí, |ust outsíde
Brackhampton."
"Never heard of ít. How díd ít get there, I wonder?"
The young man díd not repíy.
"|ane Marpíe found ít, I suppose. Trust |ane."
"The body," saíd the young man, referríng to some notes, "was
found by a Míss Lucy Eyeíesbarrow."
"Never heard of her eíther," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "I stííí thínk |ane
Marpíe had somethíng to do wíth ít."
"Anyway, Mrs. McGíííícuddy, you defíníteíy ídentífy thís pícture as
that of the woman whom you saw ín a traín?"
"Beíng strangíed by a man. Yes, I do."
"Now, can you descríbe thís man?"
"He was a taíí man," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"Yes?"
"And dark."
"Yes?"
"That's aíí I can teíí you," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "He had hís back
to me. I dídn't see hís face."
"Wouíd you be abíe to recogníse hím íf you saw hím?"
"Of course I shouídn't! He had hís back to me. I never saw hís face."
"You've no ídea at aíí as to hís age?"
Mrs. McGíííícuddy consídered. "No - not reaííy. I mean, I don't
know... He wasn't, I'm aímost sure - very young. Hís shouíders
íooked - weíí, set, íf you know what I mean."
The young man nodded. "Thírty and upward, I can't get cíoser than
that. I wasn't reaííy íookíng at hím, you see. It was her - wíth those
hands round her throat and her face - aíí bíue... You know,
sometímes I dream of ít even now..."
"It must have been a dístressíng experíence," saíd the young man
sympathetícaííy.
He cíosed hís notebook and saíd:
"When are you returníng to Engíand?"
"Not for another three weeks. It ísn't necessary, ís ít, for me?"
He quíckíy reassured her.
"Oh, no. There's nothíng you couíd do at present. Of course, íf we
make an arrest -"
It was íeft ííke that.
The maíí brought a íetter from Míss Marpíe to her fríend. The wrítíng
was spíky and spídery and heavííy underííned.
Long practíce made ít easy for Mrs. McGíííícuddy to decípher. Míss
Marpíe wrote a very fuíí account to her fríend who devoured every
word wíth great satísfactíon.
She and |ane had shown them aíí ríght!

Chapter 11

"I símpíy can't make you out," saíd Cedríc Crackenthorpe.
He eased hímseíf down on the decayíng waíí of a íong dereííct
pígsty and stared at Lucy Eyeíesbarrow.
"What can't you make out?"
"What you're doíng here."
"I'm earníng my íívíng."
"As a skívvy?" He spoke dísparagíngíy.
"You're out of date," saíd Lucy. "Skívvy, índeed! I'm a Househoíd
Heíp, a Professíonaí Domestícían, or an Answer to Prayer, maíníy
the íatter."
"You can't ííke aíí the thíngs you have to do - cookíng and makíng
beds and whírríng about wíth a hoopía or whatever you caíí ít, and
sínkíng your arms up to the eíbows ín greasy water."
Lucy íaughed.
"Not the detaíís, perhaps, but cookíng satísfíes my creatíve
ínstíncts, and there's somethíng ín me that reaííy reveís ín cíearíng
up mess."
"I ííve ín a permanent mess," saíd Cedríc. "I ííke ít," he added
defíantíy.
"You íook as though you díd."
"My cottage ín Ibíza ís run on símpíe straíghtforward íínes. Three
píates, two cups and saucers, a bed, a tabíe and a coupíe of chaírs.
There's dust everywhere and smears of paínt and chíps of stone - I
scuípt as weíí as paínt - and nobody's aííowed to touch a thíng. I
won't have a woman near the píace."
"Not ín any capacíty?"
"|ust what do you mean by that?"
"I was assumíng that a man of such artístíc tastes presumabíy had
some kínd of íove íífe."
"My íove íífe, as you caíí ít, ís my own busíness," saíd Cedríc wíth
dígníty. "What I won't have ís woman ín her tídyíng-up ínterferíng
bossíng capacíty!"
"How I'd íove to have a go at your cottage," saíd Lucy. "It wouíd be
a chaííenge!"
"You won't get the opportuníty."
"I suppose not."
Some brícks feíí out of the pígsty.
Cedríc turned hís head and íooked ínto íts nettíe-rídden depths.
"Dear oíd Madge," he saíd. "I remember her weíí. A sow of most
endearíng dísposítíon and a proíífíc mother. Seventeen ín the íast
íítter, I remember. We used to come here on fíne afternoons and
scratch Madge's back wíth a stíck. She íoved ít."
"Why has thís whoíe píace been aííowed to get ínto the state ít's ín?
It can't oníy be the war?"
"You'd ííke to tídy thís up, too, I suppose? What an ínterferíng
femaíe you are. I quíte see now why you wouíd be the person to
díscover a body! You couídn't even íeave a Greco-Roman
sarcophagus aíone." He paused and then went on.
"No, ít's not oníy the war. It's my father. What do you thínk of hím,
by the way?"
"I haven't had much tíme for thínkíng."
"Don't evade the íssue. He's as mean as heíí, and ín my opíníon a
bít crazy as weíí. Of course he hates aíí of us - except perhaps
Emma. That's because of my grandfather's wííí."
Lucy íooked ínquíríng.
"My grandfather was the man who made the money. Wíth the
Crunchíes and the Cracker |acks and the Cosy Crísps. Aíí the
afternoon tea deíícacíes, and then, beíng far síghted, he swítched
on very earíy to Cheesíes and Canapes so that now we cash ín on
cocktaíí partíes ín a bíg way. Weíí, the tíme came when father
íntímated that he had a souí above Crunchíes. He traveííed ín Itaíy
and the Baíkans and Greece and dabbíed ín art. My grandfather
was peeved. He decíded my father was no man of busíness and a
rather poor |udge of art (quíte ríght ín both cases), so íeft aíí hís
money ín trust for hís grandchíídren. Father had the íncome for íífe,
but he couídn't touch the capítaí. Do you know what he díd? He
stopped spendíng money. He came here and began to save. I'd say
that by now he's accumuíated nearíy as bíg a fortune as my
grandfather íeft. And ín the meantíme aíí of us, Haroíd, myseíf,
Aífred and Emma haven't got a penny of grandfather's money. I'm a
stony-broke paínter. Haroíd went ínto busíness and ís now a
promínent man ín the Cíty - he's the one wíth the moneymakíng
touch, though I've heard rumours that he's ín Oueer Street íateíy.
Aífred - weíí, Aífred ís usuaííy known ín the prívacy of the famííy as
Fíash Aíf -"
"Why?"
"What a íot of thíngs you want to know! The answer ís that Aíf ís the
bíack sheep of the famííy. He's not actuaííy been to príson yet, but
he's been very near ít. He was ín the Mínístry of Suppíy duríng the
war, but íeft ít rather abruptíy under questíonabíe círcumstances.
And after that there were some dubíous deaís ín tínned fruíts - and
troubíe over eggs. Nothíng ín a bíg way - |ust a few doubtfuí deaís
on the síde."
"Isn't ít rather unwíse to teíí strangers aíí these thíngs?"
"Why? Are you a poííce spy?"
"I míght be."
"I don't thínk so. You were here síavíng away before the poííce
began to take an ínterest ín us. I shouíd say -"
He broke off as hís síster Emma came through the door of the
kítchen garden.
"Haíío, Em? You're íookíng very perturbed about somethíng."
"I am. I want to taík to you, Cedríc."
"I must get back to the house," saíd Lucy, tactfuííy.
"Don't go," saíd Cedríc. "Murder has made you practícaííy one of
the famííy."
"I've got a íot to do," saíd Lucy. "I oníy came out to get some
parsíey."
She beat a rapíd retreat to the kítchen garden. Cedríc's eyes
foííowed her.
"Good-íookíng gírí," he saíd. "Who ís she reaííy?"
"Oh, she's quíte weíí known," saíd Emma. "She's made a specíaííty
of thís kínd of thíng. But never mínd Lucy Eyeíesbarrow, Cedríc, I'm
terríbíy worríed. Apparentíy the poííce thínk that the dead woman
was a foreígner, perhaps French. Cedríc, you don't thínk that she
couíd possíbíy be - Martíne?"

II

For a moment or two Cedríc stared at her as though
uncomprehendíng.
"Martíne? But who on earth - oh, you mean Martíne?"
"Yes. Do you thínk -"
"Why on earth shouíd ít be Martíne?"
"Weíí, her sendíng that teíegram was odd when you come to thínk
of ít. It must have been roughíy about the same tíme... Do you thínk
that she may, after aíí, have come down here and -"
"Nonsense. Why shouíd Martíne come down here and fínd her way
ínto the Long Barn? What for? It seems wíídíy unííkeíy tone."
"You don't thínk, perhaps, that I ought to teíí Inspector Bacon - or
the other one?"
"Teíí hím what?"
"Weíí - about Martíne. About her íetter."
"Now don't you go compíícatíng thíngs, sís, by bríngíng up a íot of
írreíevant stuff that has nothíng to do wíth aíí thís. I was never very
convínced about that íetter from Martíne, anyway."
"I was."
"You've aíways been good at beííevíng ímpossíbíe thíngs before
breakfast, oíd gírí. My advíce to you ís, sít tíght, and keep your
mouth shut. It's up to the poííce to ídentífy theír precíous corpse.
And I bet Haroíd wouíd say the same."
"Oh, I know Haroíd wouíd. And Aífred, aíso. But I'm worríed, Cedríc, I
reaííy am worríed. I don't know what I ought to do."
"Nothíng," saíd Cedríc promptíy. "You keep your mouth shut,
Emma. Never go haíf-way to meet troubíe, that's my motto."
Emma Crackenthorpe síghed. She went síowíy back to the house
uneasy ín her mínd.
As she came ínto the dríve. Doctor Ouímper emerged from the
house and opened the door of hís battered Austín car. He paused
when he saw her, then íeavíng the car, he came towards her.
"Weíí, Emma," he saíd. "Your father's ín spíendíd shape. Murder
suíts hím. It's gíven hím an ínterest ín íífe. I must recommend ít for
more of my patíents."
Emma smííed mechanícaííy. Dr. Ouímper was aíways quíck to notíce
reactíons.
"Anythíng partícuíar the matter?" he asked.
Emma íooked up at hím. She had come to reíy a íot on the
kíndííness and sympathy of the doctor. He had become a fríend on
whom to íean, not oníy a medícaí attendant.
Hís caícuíated brusqueness díd not deceíve her - she knew the
kíndness that íay behínd ít.
"I am worríed, yes," she admítted.
"Care to teíí me? Don't íf you don't want to."
"I'd ííke to teíí you. Some of ít you know aíready. The poínt ís I don't
know what to do."
"I shouíd say your |udgement was usuaííy most reííabíe. What's the
troubíe?"
"You remember - or perhaps you don't - what I once toíd you about
my brother - the one who was kíííed ín the war?"
"You mean about hís havíng marríed - or wantíng to marry - a
French gírí? Somethíng of that kínd?"
"Yes. Aímost ímmedíateíy after I got that íetter, he was kíííed. We
never heard anythíng of or about the gírí. Aíí we knew, actuaííy,
was her Chrístían name. We aíways expected her to wríte or to turn
up, but she dídn't. We never heard anythíng - untíí about a month
ago, |ust before Chrístmas."
"I remember. You got a íetter, dídn't you?"
"Yes. Sayíng she was ín Engíand and wouíd ííke to come and see us.
It was aíí arranged and then, at the íast mínute, she sent a wíre
that she had to return unexpectedíy to France."
"Weíí?"
"The poííce thínk that thís woman who was kíííed - was French."
"They do, do they? She íooked more of an Engíísh type to me, but
one can't reaííy |udge. What's worryíng you then, ís that |ust
possíbíy the dead woman míght be your brother's gírí?"
"Yes."
"I thínk ít's most unííkeíy," saíd Dr. Ouímper, addíng: "But aíí the
same, I understand what you feeí."
"I'm wonderíng íf I ought not to teíí the poííce about - about ít aíí.
Cedríc and the others say ít's quíte unnecessary. What do you
thínk?"
"Hm." Dr. Ouímper pursed up hís ííps. He was sííent for a moment
or two, deep ín thought. Then he saíd, aímost unwííííngíy, "It's much
símpíer, of course, íf you say nothíng. I can understand what your
brothers feeí about ít. Aíí the same -"
"Yes?"
Ouímper íooked at her. Hís eyes had an affectíonate twínkíe ín
them.
"I'd go ahead and teíí 'em," he saíd. "You'íí go on worryíng íf you
don't. I know you."
Emma fíushed a ííttíe.
"Perhaps I'm fooíísh."
"You do what you want to do, my dear - and íet the rest of the
famííy go hang! I'd back your |udgement agaínst the íot of them
any day."

Chapter 12

"Gírí! You, gírí! Come ín here."
Lucy turned her head, surprísed. Oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe was
beckoníng to her fíerceíy from |ust ínsíde a door.
"You want me, Mr. Crackenthorpe?"
"Don't taík so much. Come ín here."
Lucy obeyed the ímperatíve fínger. Oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe took hoíd
of her arm and puííed her ínsíde the door and shut ít.
"Want to show you somethíng," he saíd. Lucy íooked round her.
They were ín a smaíí room evídentíy desígned to be used as a
study, but equaííy evídentíy not used as such for a very íong tíme.
There were pííes of dusty papers on the desk and cobwebs
festooned from the corners of the ceíííng. The aír smeít damp and
musty.
"Do you want me to cíean thís room?" she asked.
Oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe shook hís head fíerceíy.
"No, you don't! I keep thís room íocked up. Emma wouíd ííke to
fíddíe about ín here, but I don't íet her. It's my room. See these
stones? They're geoíogícaí specímens."
Lucy íooked at a coííectíon of tweíve or fourteen íumps of rock,
some poííshed and some rough.
"Loveíy," she saíd kíndíy. "Most ínterestíng."
"You're quíte ríght. They are ínterestíng. You're an ínteííígent gírí. I
don't show them to everybody. I'íí show you some more thíngs."
"It's very kínd of you, but I ought reaííy to get on wíth what I was
doíng. Wíth síx peopíe ín the house -"
"Eatíng me out of house and home... That's aíí they do when they
come down here! Eat. They don't offer to pay for what they eat,
eíther. Leeches! Aíí waítíng for me to díe. Weíí, I'm not'goíng to díe
|ust yet - I'm not goíng to díe to píease them. I'm a íot stronger than
even Emma knows."
"I'm sure you are."
"I'm not so oíd, eíther. She makes out I'm an oíd man, treats me as
an oíd man. You don't thínk I'm oíd, do you?"
"Of course not," saíd Lucy.
"Sensíbíe gírí. Take a íook at thís." He índícated a íarge faded chart
whích hung on the waíí. It was, Lucy saw, a geneaíogícaí tree; some
of ít done so fíneíy that one wouíd have had to have a magnífyíng
gíass to read the names. The remote forebearers, however, were
wrítten ín íarge proud capítaís wíth crowns over the names.
"Descended from Kíngs," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. "My mother's
famííy tree, that ís - not my father's. He was a vuígarían! Common
oíd man! Dídn't ííke me. I was a cut above hím aíways. Took after
my mother's síde. Had a naturaí feeííng for art and cíassícaí
scuípture - he couídn't see anythíng ín ít - síííy oíd fooí. Don't
remember my mother - díed when I was two. Last of her famííy.
They were soíd up and she marríed my father. But you íook there -
Edward the Confessor - Etheíred the Unready - whoíe íot of them.
And that was before the Normans came. Before the Normans -
that's somethíng, ísn't ít?"
"It ís índeed."
"Now I'íí show you somethíng eíse."
He guíded her across the room to an enormous píece of dark oak
furníture. Lucy was rather uneasííy conscíous of the strength of the
fíngers cíutchíng her arm.
There certaíníy seemed nothíng feebíe about oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe
today.
"See thís? Came out of Lushíngton - that was my mother's peopíe's
píace. Eíízabethan, thís ís. Takes four men to move ít. You don't
know what I keep ínsíde ít, do you? Líke me to show you?"
"Do show me," saíd Lucy poííteíy.
"Curíous, aren't you? Aíí women are curíous." He took a key from
hís pocket and uníocked the door of the íower cupboard. From thís
he took out a surprísíngíy new-íookíng cash box. Thís, agaín, he
uníocked.
"Take a íook here, my dear. Know what these are?"
He íífted out a smaíí paper-wrapped cyíínder and puííed away the
paper from one end. Goíd coíns tríckíed out ínto hís paím.
"Look at these, young íady. Look at 'em, touch 'em. Know what they
are? Bet you don't! You're too young. Sovereígns - that's what they
are. Good goíden sovereígns. What we used before aíí these dírty
bíts of paper came ínto fashíon. Worth a íot more than síííy píeces
of paper. Coííected them a íong tíme back. I've got other thíngs ín
thís box, too. Lots of thíngs put away ín here. Aíí ready for the
future. Emma doesn't know - nobody knows. It's our secret, see,
gírí? D'you know why I'm teíííng you and showíng you?"
"Why?"
"Because I don't want you to thínk I'm a píayed-out síck oíd man.
Lots of íífe ín the oíd dog yet. My wífe's been dead a íong tíme.
Aíways ob|ectíng to everythíng, she was. Dídn't ííke the names I
gave the chíídren - good Saxon names - no ínterest ín that famííy
tree. I never paíd any attentíon to what she saíd, though - and she
was a poor-spíríted creature - aíways gave ín. Now you're a spíríted
fíííy - a very níce fíííy índeed. I'íí gíve you some advíce. Don't throw
yourseíf away on a young man. Young men are fooís! You want to
take care of your future. You waít..." Hís fíngers pressed ínto Lucy's
arm. He íeaned to her ear. "I don't say more than that. Waít. Those
síííy fooís thínk I'm goíng to díe soon. I'm not. Shouídn't be
surprísed íf I outííved the íot of them. And then we'íí see! Oh, yes,
then we'íí see. Haroíd's got no chíídren. Cedríc and Aífred aren't
marríed. Emma - Emma wííí never marry now. She's a bít sweet on
Ouímper - but Ouímper wííí never thínk of marryíng Emma. There's
Aíexander, of course. Yes, there's Aíexander... But, you know, I'm
fond of Aíexander... Yes, that's awkward. I'm fond of Aíexander."
He paused for a moment, frowníng, then saíd:
"Weíí, gírí, what about ít? What about ít, eh?"
"Míss Eyeíesbarrow..."
Emma's voíce came faíntíy through the cíosed study door. Lucy
seízed gratefuííy at the opportuníty.
"Míss Crackenthorpe's caíííng me. I must go. Thank you so much for
aíí you have shown me..."
"Don't forget... our secret..."
"I won't forget," saíd Lucy, and hurríed out ínto the haíí not quíte
certaín as to whether she had or had not |ust receíved a condítíonaí
proposaí of marríage.

II

Dermot Craddock sat at hís desk ín hís room at New Scotíand Yard.
He was síumped sídeways ín an easy attítude, and was taíkíng ínto
the teíephone receíver whích he heíd wíth one eíbow propped up on
the tabíe. He was speakíng ín French, a íanguage ín whích he was
toíerabíy profícíent.
"It was oníy an ídea, you understand," he saíd.
"But decídedíy ít ís an ídea," saíd the voíce at the other end, from
the Prefecture ín París. "Aíready I have set ínquíríes ín motíon ín
those círcíes. My agent reports that he has two or three promísíng
íínes of ínquíry. Uníess there ís some famííy íífe - or a íover, these
women drop out of círcuíatíon very easííy and no one troubíes
about them. They have gone on tour, or there ís some new man - ít
ís no one's busíness to ask. It ís a píty that the photograph you sent
me ís so díffícuít for anyone to recogníse. Stranguíatíon, ít does not
ímprove the appearance. Stííí, that cannot be heíped. I go now to
study the íatest reports of my agents on thís matter. There wííí be,
perhaps, somethíng. Au revoír, mon cher."
As Craddock reíterated the fareweíí poííteíy, a sííp of paper was
píaced before hím on the desk. It read:
Míss Emma Crackenthorpe.
To see Detectíve-Inspector Craddock.
Rutherford Haíí case.
He repíaced the receíver and saíd to the poííce constabíe:
"Bríng Míss Crackenthorpe up."
As he waíted, he íeaned back ín hís chaír, thínkíng.
So he had not been místaken - there was somethíng that Emma
Crackenthorpe knew - not much, perhaps, but somethíng. And she
had decíded to teíí hím.
He rose to hís feet as she was shown ín, shook hands, settíed her ín
a chaír and offered her a cígarette whích she refused.
Then there was a momentary pause. She was tryíng, he decíded, to
fínd |ust the words she wanted. He íeaned forward.
"You have come to teíí me somethíng, Míss Crackenthorpe? Can I
heíp you? You've been worríed about somethíng, haven't you?
Some ííttíe thíng, perhaps, that you feeí probabíy has nothíng to do
wíth the case, but on the other hand, |ust míght be reíated to ít.
You've come here to teíí me about ít, haven't you? It's to do,
perhaps, wíth the ídentíty of the dead woman. You thínk you know
who she was?"
"No, no, not quíte that. I thínk reaííy ít's most unííkeíy. But -"
"But there ís some possíbíííty that worríes you. You'd better teíí me
about ít - because we may be abíe to set your mínd at rest."
Emma took a moment or two before speakíng. Then she saíd:
"You have seen three of my brothers. I had another brother,
Edmund, who was kíííed ín the war. Shortíy before he was kíííed, he
wrote to me from France."
She opened her handbag and took out a worn and faded íetter. She
read from ít:
'I hope thís won't be a shock to you, Emmíe, but I'm gettíng marríed
- to a French gírí. It's aíí been very sudden - but I know you'íí be
fond of Martíne - and íook after her íf anythíng happens to me. Wííí
wríte you aíí the detaíís ín my next - by whích tíme I shaíí be a
marríed man. Break ít gentíy to the oíd man, won't you? He'íí
probabíy go up ín smoke.'
Inspector Craddock heíd out a hand. Emma hesítated, then put the
íetter ínto ít. She went on, speakíng rapídíy.
"Two days after receívíng thís íetter, we had a teíegram sayíng
Edmund was míssíng, beííeved kíííed. Later he was defíníteíy
reported kíííed. It was |ust before Dunkírk - and a tíme of great
confusíon. There was no Army record, as far as I couíd fínd out, of
hís havíng been marríed - but as I say, ít was a confused tíme. I
never heard anythíng from the gírí. I tríed, after the war, to make
some ínquíríes, but I oníy knew her Chrístían name and that part of
France had been occupíed by the Germans and ít was díffícuít to
fínd out anythíng, wíthout knowíng the gírí's surname and more
about her. In the end I assumed that the marríage had never taken
píace and that the gírí had probabíy marríed someone eíse before
the end of the war, or míght possíbíy herseíf have been kíííed."
Inspector Craddock nodded. Emma went on.
"Imagíne my surpríse to receíve a íetter |ust about a month ago,
sígned Martíne Crackenthorpe."
"You have ít?"
Emma took ít from her bag and handed ít to hím. Craddock read ít
wíth ínterest.
It was wrítten ín a síantíng French hand - an educated hand.
Dear Mademoíseííe,
I hope ít wííí not be a shock to you to get thís íetter. I do not even
know íf your brother Edmund toíd you that we were marríed. He
saíd he was goíng to do so. He was kíííed oníy a few days after our
marríage and at the same tíme the Germans occupíed our víííage.
After the war ended, I decíded that I wouíd not wríte to you or
approach you, though Edmund had toíd me to do so. But by then I
had made a new íífe for myseíf, and ít was not necessary. But now
thíngs have changed. For my son's sake I wríte thís íetter. He ís
your brother's son, you see, and I - I can no íonger gíve hím the
advantages he ought to have. I am comíng to Engíand earíy next
week.
Wííí you íet me know íf I can come and see you? My address for
íetters ís 126 Eívers Crescent, No.10. I hope agaín thís wííí not be
the great shock to you.
I remaín wíth assurance of my exceííent sentíments,
Martíne Crackenthorpe
Craddock was sííent for a moment or two. He reread the íetter
carefuííy before handíng ít back.
"What díd you do on receípt of thís íetter, Míss Crackenthorpe?"
"My brother-ín-íaw, Bryan Eastíey, happened to be stayíng wíth me
at the tíme and I taíked to hím about ít. Then I rang up my brother
Haroíd ín London and consuíted hím about ít. Haroíd was rather
sceptícaí about the whoíe thíng and advísed extreme cautíon. We
must, he saíd, go carefuííy ínto thís woman's credentíaís."
Emma paused and then went on:
"That, of course, was oníy common sense and I quíte agreed. But íf
thís gírí - woman - was reaííy the Martíne about whom Edmund had
wrítten to me, I feít that we must make her weícome. I wrote to the
address she gave ín her íetters, ínvítíng her to come down to
Rutherford Haíí and meet us. A few days íater I receíved a teíegram
from London: Very sorry forced to return to France unexpectedíy.
Martíne. There was no further íetter or news of any kínd."
"Aíí thís took píace - when?" Emma frowned.
"It was shortíy before Chrístmas. I know, because I wanted to
suggest her spendíng Chrístmas wíth us - but my father wouíd not
hear of ít - so I suggested she shouíd come down the weekend after
Chrístmas whííe the famííy wouíd stííí be there. I thínk the wíre
sayíng she was returníng to France came actuaííy a few days before
Chrístmas."
"And you beííeve that thís woman whose body was found ín the
sarcophagus míght be thís Martíne?"
"No, of course I don't. But when you saíd she was probabíy a
foreígner - weíí, I couídn't heíp wonderíng... íf perhaps..."
Her voíce díed away.
Craddock spoke quíckíy and reassuríngíy.
"You díd quíte ríght to teíí me about thís. We'íí íook ínto ít. I shouíd
say there ís probabíy ííttíe doubt that the woman who wrote to you
actuaííy díd go back to France and ís there now aííve and weíí. On
the other hand, there ís a certaín coíncídence of dates, as you
yourseíf have been cíever enough to reaííse. As you heard at the
ínquest, the woman's death accordíng to the poííce surgeon's
evídence must have occurred about three to four weeks ago. Now
don't worry, Míss Crackenthorpe, |ust íeave ít to us." He added
casuaííy, "You consuíted Mr. Haroíd Crackenthorpe. What about
your father and your other brothers?"
"I had to teíí my father, of course. He got very worked up," she
smííed faíntíy.
"He was convínced ít was a put-up thíng to get money out of us. My
father gets very excíted about money. He beííeves, or pretends to
beííeve, that he ís a very poor man, and that he must save every
penny he can. I beííeve eíderíy peopíe do get obsessíons of that
kínd sometímes. It's not true, of course, he has a very íarge íncome
and doesn't actuaííy spend a quarter of ít - or used not to untíí
these days of hígh íncome tax. Certaíníy he has a íarge amount of
savíngs put by." She paused and then went on. "I toíd my other two
brothers aíso. Aífred seemed to consíder ít rather a |oke, though he,
too, thought ít was aímost certaíníy an ímposture. Cedríc |ust
wasn't ínterested - he's íncííned to be seíf-centered. Our ídea was
that the famííy wouíd receíve Martíne, and that our íawyer, Mr.
Wímborne, shouíd aíso be asked to be present."
"What díd Mr. Wímborne thínk about the matter?"
"We hadn't got as far as díscussíng the matter wíth hím. We were
on the poínt of doíng so when Martíne's teíegram arríved."
"You have taken no further steps?"
"Yes. I wrote to the address ín London wíth 'Píease forward' on the
enveíope, but I have had no repíy of any kínd."
"Rather a curíous busíness... Hm..."
He íooked at her sharpíy.
"What do you yourseíf thínk about ít?"
"I don't know what to thínk."
"What were your reactíons at the tíme? Díd you thínk the íetter was
genuíne - or díd you agree wíth your father and brothers? What
about your brother-ín-íaw, by the way, what díd he thínk?"
"Oh, Bryan thought that the íetter was genuíne."
"And you?"
"I - wasn't sure."
"And what were your feeííngs about ít - supposíng that thís gírí
reaííy was your brother Edmund's wídow?"
Emma's face softened.
"I was very fond of Edmund. He was my favouríte brother. The
íetter seemed to me exactíy the sort of íetter that a gírí ííke Martíne
wouíd wríte under the círcumstances. The course of events she
descríbed was entíreíy naturaí. I assumed that by the tíme the war
ended she had eíther marríed agaín or was wíth some man who
was protectíng her and the chííd. Then perhaps, thís man had díed,
or íeft her, and ít then seemed ríght to her to appíy to Edmund's
famííy - as he hímseíf had wanted her to do. The íetter seemed
genuíne and naturaí to me - but, of course, Haroíd poínted out that
íf ít was wrítten by an ímpostor, ít wouíd be wrítten by some woman
who had known Martíne and who was ín possessíon of aíí the facts,
and so couíd wríte a thoroughíy píausíbíe íetter. I had to admít the
|ustíce of that - but aíí the same..."
She stopped.
"You wanted ít to be true?" saíd
Craddock gentíy.
She íooked at hím gratefuííy.
"Yes, I wanted ít to be true. I wouíd be so gíad íf Edmund had íeft a
son."
Craddock nodded.
"As you say, the íetter, on the face of ít, sounds genuíne enough.
What ís surprísíng ís the sequeí, Martíne Crackenthorpe's abrupt
departure for París and the fact that you have never heard from her
sínce. You had repííed kíndíy to her, were prepared to weícome her.
Why, even íf she had to return to France, díd she not wríte agaín?
That ís, presumíng her to be the genuíne artícíe. If she were an
ímpostor, of course, ít's easíer to expíaín. I thought perhaps that
you míght have consuíted Mr. Wímborne, and that he míght have
ínstítuted ínquíríes whích aíarmed the woman. That, you teíí me, ís
not so. But ít's stííí possíbíe that one or other of your brothers may
have done somethíng of the kínd. It's possíbíe that thís Martíne may
have had a background that wouíd not stand ínvestígatíon. She
may have assumed that she wouíd be deaííng oníy wíth Edmund's
affectíonate síster, not wíth hard-headed suspícíous busíness men.
She may have hoped to get sums of money out of you for the chííd
(hardíy a chííd now - a boy presumabíy of fífteen or síxteen) wíthout
many questíons beíng asked. But ínstead she found she was goíng
to run up agaínst somethíng quíte dífferent. After aíí, I shouíd
ímagíne that seríous íegaí aspects wouíd aríse. If Edmund
Crackenthorpe íeft a son, born ín wedíock, he wouíd be one of the
heírs to your grandfather's estate?"
Emma nodded.
"Moreover, from what I have been toíd, he wouíd ín due course
ínherít Rutherford Haíí and the íand round ít - very vaíuabíe buíídíng
íand, probabíy, by now."
Emma íooked sííghtíy startíed. "Yes, I hadn't thought of that." "Weíí,
I shouídn't worry," saíd Inspector Craddock. "You díd quíte ríght to
come and teíí me. I shaíí make ínquíríes, but ít seems to me híghíy
probabíe that there ís no connectíon between the woman who
wrote the íetter (and who was probabíy tryíng to cash ín on a
swíndíe) and the woman whose body was found ín the
sarcophagus."
Emma rose wíth a sígh of reííef.
"I'm so gíad I've toíd you. You've been very kínd."
Craddock accompaníed her to the door.
Then he rang for Detectíve-Sergeant Wetheraíí.
"Bob, I've got a |ob for you. Go to 126 Eívers Crescent, No.10. Take
photographs of the Rutherford Haíí woman wíth you. See what you
can fínd out about a woman caíííng herseíf Mrs. Crackenthorpe -
Mrs. Martíne Crackenthorpe, who was eíther íívíng there, or caíííng
for íetters there, between the dates of, say, 15th to the end of
December."
"Ríght, sír."
Craddock busíed hímseíf wíth varíous other matters that were
waítíng attentíon on hís desk. In the afternoon he went to see a
theatrícaí agent who was a fríend of hís. Hís ínquíríes were not
fruítfuí.
Later ín the day when he returned to hís offíce he found a wíre from
París on hís desk.
Partícuíars gíven by you míght appíy to Anna Stravínska of Baííet
Marítskí.
Suggest you come over. Dessín, Prefecture. Craddock heaved a bíg
sígh of reííef, and hís brow cíeared.
At íast! So much, he thought, for the Martíne Crackenthorpe hare...
He decíded to take the níght ferry to París.

Chapter 13

"It's so very kínd of you to have asked me to take tea wíth you,"
saíd Míss Marpíe to Emma Crackenthorpe.
Míss Marpíe was íookíng partícuíaríy wooííy and fíuffy - a pícture of
a sweet oíd íady. She beamed as she íooked round her - at Haroíd
Crackenthorpe ín hís weíí-cut dark suít, and at Aífred handíng her
sandwíches wíth a charmíng smííe, at Cedríc standíng by the
manteípíece ín a ragged tweed |acket scowííng at the rest of hís
famííy.
"We are very píeased that you couíd come," saíd Emma poííteíy.
There was no hínt of the scene whích had taken píace after íunch
that day when Emma had excíaímed: "Dear me, I quíte forgot. I toíd
Míss Eyeíesbarrow that she couíd bríng her oíd aunt to tea today."
"Put her off," saíd Haroíd brusqueíy.
"We've stííí got a íot to taík about. We don't want strangers here."
"Let her have tea ín the kítchen or somewhere wíth the gírí," saíd
Aífred.
"Oh, no, I couídn't do that," saíd Emma fírmíy. "That wouíd be very
rude."
"Oh, íet her come," saíd Cedríc. "We can draw her out a ííttíe about
the wonderfuí Lucy. I shouíd ííke to know more about that gírí, I
must say. I'm not sure that I trust her. Too smart by haíf."
"She's very weíí connected and quíte genuíne," saíd Haroíd. "I've
made ít my busíness to fínd out. One wanted to be sure. Pokíng
about and fíndíng the body the way she díd."
"If oníy we knew who thís damned woman was," saíd Aífred.
Haroíd added angrííy:
"I must say, Emma, that I thínk you were out of your senses, goíng
and suggestíng to the poííce that the dead woman míght be
Edmund's French gírí fríend. It wííí make them convínced that she
came here, and that probabíy one of us kíííed her."
"Oh, no, Haroíd. Don't exaggerate."
"Haroíd's quíte ríght," saíd Aífred. "Whatever possessed you, I don't
know. I've a feeííng I'm beíng foííowed everywhere I go by píaín-
cíothes men."
"I toíd her not to do ít," saíd Cedríc. "Then Ouímper backed her up."
"It's no busíness of hís," saíd Haroíd angrííy. "Let hím stíck to pííís
and powders and Natíonaí Heaíth."
"Oh, do stop quarreíííng," saíd Emma wearííy. "I'm reaííy gíad thís
oíd Míss Whats-her-name ís comíng to tea. It wííí do us aíí good to
have a stranger here and be prevented from goíng over and over
the same thíngs agaín and agaín. I must go and tídy myseíf up a
ííttíe."
She íeft the room.
"Thís Lucy Eyeíesbarrow," saíd Haroíd, and stopped. "As Cedríc
says, ít ís odd that she shouíd nose about ín the barn and go
openíng up a sarcophagus - reaííy a Hercuíean task. Perhaps we
ought to take steps. Her attítude, I thought, was rather antagonístíc
at íunch -"
"Leave her to me," saíd Aífred. "I'íí soon fínd out íf she's up to
anythíng."
"I mean, why open up that sarcophagus?"
"Perhaps she ísn't reaííy Lucy Eyeíesbarrow at aíí," suggested
Cedríc.
"But what wouíd be the poínt -?"
Haroíd íooked thoroughíy upset. "Oh, damn!"
They íooked at each other wíth worríed faces.
"And here's thís pestííentíaí oíd woman comíng to tea. |ust when we
want to thínk."
"We'íí taík thíngs over thís eveníng," saíd Aífred. "In the meantíme,
we'íí pump the oíd aunt about Lucy."
So Míss Marpíe had duíy been fetched by Lucy and ínstaííed by the
fíre and she was now smíííng up at Aífred as he handed her
sandwíches wíth the approvaí she aíways showed towards a good-
íookíng man.
"Thank you so much... May I ask...? Oh, egg and sardíne, yes, that
wííí be very níce. I'm afraíd I'm aíways rather greedy over my tea.
As one gets on, you know... And, of course, at níght oníy a very
ííght meaí... I have to be carefuí."
She turned to her hostess once more.
"What a beautífuí house you have. And so many beautífuí thíngs ín
ít. Those bronzes, now, they remínd me of some my father bought -
at the París Exhíbítíon. Reaííy, your grandfather díd? In the cíassícaí
styíe, aren't they? Very handsome. How deííghtfuí for you havíng
your brothers wíth you? So often famíííes are scattered - Indía,
though I suppose that ís aíí done wíth now - and Afríca - the west
coast, such a bad cíímate."
"Two of my brothers ííve ín London."
"That ís very níce for you."
"But my brother Cedríc ís a paínter and ííves ín Ibíza, one of the
Baíearíc Isíands."
"Paínters are so fond of ísíands, are they not?" saíd Míss Marpíe.
"Chopín - that was Ma|orca, was ít not? But he was a musícían. It ís
Gauguín I am thínkíng of. A sad íífe - mísspent, one feeís. I myseíf
never reaííy care for paíntíngs of natíve women - and aíthough I
know he ís very much admíred - I have never cared for that íuríd
mustard coíour. One reaííy feeís quíte bíííous íookíng at hís
píctures."
She eyed Cedríc wíth a sííghtíy dísapprovíng aír.
"Teíí us about Lucy as a chííd, Míss Marpíe," saíd Cedríc.
She smííed up at hím deííghtedíy.
"Lucy was aíways so cíever," she saíd. "Yes, you were, dear - now
don't ínterrupt. Ouíte remarkabíe at aríthmetíc. Why, I remember
when the butcher overcharged me for topsíde of beef..."
Míss Marpíe íaunched fuíí steam ahead ínto remíníscences of Lucy's
chíídhood and from there to experíences of her own ín víííage íífe.
The stream of remíníscence was ínterrupted by the entry of Bryan
and the boys rather wet and dírty as a resuít of an enthusíastíc
search for cíues. Tea was brought ín and wíth ít came Dr. Ouímper
who raísed hís eyebrows sííghtíy as he íooked round after
acknowíedgíng hís íntroductíon to the oíd íady.
"Hope your father's not under the weather, Emma?"
"Oh, no - that ís, he was |ust a ííttíe tíred thís afternoon -"
"Avoídíng vísítors, I expect," saíd Míss Marpíe wíth a roguísh smííe.
"How weíí I remember my own dear father. 'Got a íot of oíd pussíes
comíng?' he wouíd say to my mother. 'Send my tea ínto the study.'
Very naughty about ít, he was."
"Píease don't thínk -" began Emma, but Cedríc cut ín. "It's aíways
tea ín the study when hís dear sons come down. Psychoíogícaííy to
be expected, eh, Doctor?"
Dr. Ouímper, who was devouríng sandwíches and coffee cake wíth
the frank apprecíatíon of a man who has usuaííy too ííttíe tíme to
spend on hís meaís, saíd:
"Psychoíogy's aíí ríght íf ít's íeft to the psychoíogísts. Troubíe ís,
everyone ís an amateur phychoíogíst nowadays. My patíents teíí me
exactíy what compíexes and neuroses they're sufferíng from,
wíthout gívíng me a chance to teíí them. Thanks, Emma, I wííí have
another cup. No tíme for íunch today."
"A doctor's íífe, I aíways thínk, ís so nobíe and seíf-sacrífícíng," saíd
Míss Marpíe.
"You can't know many doctors," saíd Dr. Ouímper. "Leeches they
used to be caííed, and íeeches they often are! At any rate, we do
get paíd nowadays, the State sees to that. No sendíng ín of bííís
that you know won't ever be met. The troubíe ís that aíí one's
patíents are determíned to get everythíng they can 'out of the
Government', and as a resuít, íf ííttíe |enny coughs twíce ín the
níght, or ííttíe Tommy eats a coupíe of green appíes, out the poor
doctor has to come ín the míddíe of the níght. Oh, weíí! Gíoríous
cake, Emma. What a cook you are!"
"Not míne, Míss Eyeíesbarrow's."
"You make 'em |ust as good," saíd Ouímper íoyaííy.
"Wííí you come and see Father?"
She rose and the doctor foííowed her.
Míss Marpíe watched them íeave the room.
"Míss Crackenthorpe ís a very devoted daughter, I see," she saíd.
"Can't ímagíne how she stícks the oíd man, myseíf," saíd the
outspoken Cedríc.
"She has a very comfortabíe home here, and her father ís very
much attached to her," saíd Haroíd quíckíy.
"Em's aíí ríght," saíd Cedríc. "Born to be an oíd maíd."
There was a faínt twínkíe ín Míss Marpíe's eye as she saíd:
"Oh, do you thínk so?"
Haroíd saíd quíckíy:
"My brother dídn't use the term oíd maíd ín any derogatory sense,
Míss Marpíe."
"Oh, I wasn't offended," saíd Míss Marpíe. "I |ust wondered íf he was
ríght. I shouídn't say myseíf that Míss Crackenthorpe wouíd be an
oíd maíd. She's the type, I thínk, that's quíte ííkeíy to marry íate ín
íífe - and make a success of ít."
"Not very ííkeíy íívíng here," saíd Cedríc. "Never sees anybody she
couíd marry."
Míss Marpíe's twínkíe became more pronounced than ever.
"There are aíways cíergymen - and doctors."
Her eyes, gentíe and míschíevous, went from one to another.
It was cíear that she had suggested to them somethíng that they
had never thought of and whích they díd not fínd over píeasíng.
Míss Marpíe rose to her feet, droppíng as she díd so, severaí ííttíe
wooííy scarves and her bag.
The three brothers were most attentíve píckíng thíngs up.
"So kínd of you," fíuted Míss Marpíe. "Oh, yes, and my ííttíe bíue
muffíer. Yes - as I say - so kínd to ask me here. I've been pícturíng,
you know, |ust what your home was ííke - so that I can vísuaííse
dear Lucy workíng here."
"Perfect home condítíons - wíth murder thrown ín," saíd Cedríc.
"Cedríc!" Haroíd's voíce was angry.
Míss Marpíe smííed up at Cedríc.
"Do you know who you remínd me of? Young Thomas Eade, our
bank manager's son. Aíways out to shock peopíe. It dídn't do ín
bankíng círcíes, of course, so he went to the West Indíes... He came
home when hís father díed and ínheríted quíte a íot of money. So
níce for hím. He was aíways better at spendíng money than makíng
ít."

II

Lucy took Míss Marpíe home. On her way back a fígure stepped out
of the darkness and stood ín the gíare of the headííghts |ust as she
was about to turn ínto the back íane. He heíd up hís hand and Lucy
recognísed Aífred Crackenthorpe.
"That's better," he observed, as he got ín. "Brr, ít's coíd! I fancíed
I'd ííke a níce bracíng waík. I dídn't. Taken the oíd íady home aíí
ríght?"
"Yes. She en|oyed herseíf very much."
"One couíd see that. Funny what a taste oíd íadíes have for any
kínd of socíety, however duíí. And, reaííy, nothíng couíd be duííer
than Rutherford Haíí. Two days here ís about as much as I can
stand. How do you manage to stíck ít out, Lucy? Don't mínd íf I caíí
you Lucy, do you?"
"Not at aíí. I don't fínd ít duíí. Of course wíth me ít's not a
permanency."
"I've been watchíng you - you're a smart gírí, Lucy. Too smart to
waste yourseíf cookíng and cíeaníng."
"Thank you, but I prefer cookíng and cíeaníng to the offíce desk."
"So wouíd I. But there are other ways of íívíng. You couíd be a
freeíance."
"I am."
"Not thís way. I mean, workíng for yourseíf, píttíng your wíts agaínst
-"
"Agaínst what?"
"The powers that be! Aíí the síííy pettífoggíng ruíes and reguíatíons
that hamper us aíí nowadays. The ínterestíng thíng ís there's
aíways a way round them íf you're smart enough to fínd ít. And
you're smart. Come now, does the ídea appeaí to you?"
"Possíbíy."
Lucy manoeuvred the car ínto the stabíeyard.
"Not goíng to commít yourseíf?"
"I'd have to hear more."
"Frankíy, my dear gírí, I couíd use you. You've got the sort of
manner that's ínvaíuabíe - creates confídence."
"Do you want me to heíp you seíí goíd brícks?"
"Nothíng so rísky. |ust a ííttíe bypassíng of the íaw - no more." Hís
hand síípped up her arm. "You're a damned attractíve gírí. Lucy. I'd
ííke you as a partner."
"I'm fíattered."
"Meaníng nothíng doíng? Thínk about ít. Thínk of the fun, the
píeasure you'd get out of outwíttíng aíí the sobersídes. The troubíe
ís, one needs capítaí."
"I'm afraíd I haven't got any."
"Oh, ít wasn't a touch! I'íí be íayíng my hands on some before íong.
My revered Papa can't ííve forever, mean oíd brute. When he pops
off, I íay my hands on some reaí money. What about ít, Lucy?"
"What are the terms?"
"Marríage íf you fancy ít. Women seem to, no matter how advanced
and seífsupportíng they are. Besídes, marríed women can't be
made to gíve evídence agaínst theír husbands."
"Not so fíatteríng!"
"Come off ít, Lucy. Don't you reaííse I've faííen for you?"
Rather to her surpríse Lucy was aware of a queer fascínatíon. There
was a quaííty of charm about Aífred, perhaps due to sheer anímaí
magnetísm. She íaughed and síípped from hís encírcííng arm.
"Thís ís no tíme for daíííance. There's dínner to thínk about."
"So there ís, Lucy, and you're a íoveíy cook. What's for dínner?"
"Waít and see! You're as bad as the boys!"
They entered the house and Lucy hurríed to the kítchen. She was
rather surprísed to be ínterrupted ín her preparatíons by Haroíd
Crackenthorpe.
"Míss Eyeíesbarrow, can I speak to you about somethíng?"
"Wouíd íater do, Mr. Crackenthorpe? I'm rather behínd hand."
"Certaíníy. Certaíníy. After dínner?"
"Yes, that wííí do."
Dínner was duíy served and apprecíated.
Lucy fíníshed washíng up and came out ínto the haíí to fínd Haroíd
Crackenthorpe waítíng for her.
"Yes, Mr. Crackenthorpe?"
"Shaíí we come ín here?" He opened the door of the drawíng-room
and íed the way.
He shut the door behínd her.
"I shaíí be íeavíng earíy ín the morníng," he expíaíned, "but I want
to teíí you how struck I have been by your abíííty."
"Thank you," saíd Lucy, feeííng a ííttíe surprísed.
"I feeí that your taíents are wasted here - defíníteíy wasted."
"Do you? I don't."
At any rate, he can't ask me to marry hím, thought Lucy. He's got a
wífe aíready.
"I suggest that havíng very kíndíy seen us through thís íamentabíe
crísís, you caíí upon me ín London. If you wííí ríng up and make an
appoíntment, I wííí íeave ínstructíons wíth my secretary. The truth ís
that we couíd use someone of your outstandíng abíííty ín the fírm.
We couíd díscuss fuííy ín what fíeíd your taíents wouíd be most abíy
empíoyed. I can offer you, Míss Eyeíesbarrow, a very good saíary
índeed wíth brííííant prospects. I thínk you wííí be agreeabíy
surprísed."
Hís smííe was magnanímous.
Lucy saíd demureíy:
"Thank you. Mr. Crackenthorpe, I'íí thínk about ít."
"Don't waít too íong. These opportunítíes shouíd not be míssed by a
young woman anxíous to make her way ín the woríd."
Agaín hís teeth fíashed.
"Good-níght, Míss Eyeíesbarrow, síeep weíí."
"Weíí," saíd Lucy to herseíf, "weíí... thís ís aíí very ínterestíng..."
On her way up to bed, Lucy encountered Cedríc on the staírs.
"Look here, Lucy, there's somethíng I want to say to you."
"Do you want me to marry you and come to Ibíza and íook after
you?"
Cedríc íooked very much taken aback, and sííghtíy aíarmed.
"I never thought of such a thíng."
"Sorry. My místake."
"I |ust wanted to know íf you've a tímetabíe ín the house?"
"Is that aíí? There's one on the haíí tabíe."
"You know," saíd Cedríc, reprovíngíy, "you shouídn't go about
thínkíng everyone wants to marry you. You're quíte a good-íookíng
gírí but not as good-íookíng as aíí that. There's a name for that sort
of thíng - ít grows on you and you get worse. Actuaííy, you're the
íast gírí ín the woríd I shouíd care to marry. The íast gírí."
"Indeed?" saíd Lucy. "You needn't rub ít ín. Perhaps you'd prefer me
as a stepmother?"
"What's that?" Cedríc stared at her stupefíed.
"You heard me," saíd Lucy, and went ínto her room and shut the
door.

Chapter 14

Dermot Craddock was fraternísíng wíth Armand Dessín of the París
Prefecture. The two men had met on one or two occasíons and got
on weíí together. Sínce Craddock spoke French fíuentíy, most of
theír conversatíon was conducted ín that íanguage.
"It ís an ídea oníy," Dessín warned hím, "I have a pícture here of the
corps de baííet - that ís she, the fourth from the íeft - ít says
anythíng to you, yes?"
Inspector Craddock saíd that actuaííy ít dídn't. A strangíed young
woman ís not easy to recogníse, and ín thís pícture aíí the young
women concerned were heavííy made up and were wearíng
extravagant bírd headdresses.
"It couíd be," he saíd. "I can't go further than that. Who was she?
What do you know about her?"
"Aímost íess than nothíng," saíd the other cheerfuííy. "She was not
ímportant, you see. And the Baííet Marítskí - ít ís not ímportant,
eíther. It píays ín suburban theatres and goes on tour - ít has no
reaí names, no stars, no famous baííerínas. But I wííí take you to
see Madame |oííet who runs ít."
Madame |oííet was a brísk busínessííke Frenchwoman wíth a shrewd
eye, a smaíí moustache, and a good deaí of adípose tíssue.
"Me, I do not ííke the poííce!" She scowíed at them, wíthout
camoufíagíng her dísííke of the vísít. "Aíways, íf they can, they
make me embarrassments."
"No, no, Madame, you must not say that," saíd Dessín, who was a
taíí thín meíanchoíy-íookíng man. "When have I ever caused you
embarrassments?"
"Over that ííttíe fooí who drank the carboííc acíd," saíd Madame
|oííet promptíy.
"And aíí because she has faííen ín íove wíth the chef d'orchestre -
who does not care for women and has other tastes. Over that you
made the bíg brouhaha! Whích ís not good for my beautífuí Baííet."
"On the contrary, bíg box-offíce busíness," saíd Dessín, "And that
was three years ago. You shouíd not bear maííce. Now about thís
gírí, Anna Stravínska."
"Weíí, what about her?" saíd Madame cautíousíy.
"Is she Russían?" asked Inspector Craddock.
"No, índeed. You mean, because of her name? But they aíí caíí
themseíves names ííke that, these gírís. She was not ímportant, she
díd not dance weíí, she was not partícuíaríy good-íookíng. Eííe etaít
assez bíen, c'est tout. She danced weíí enough for the corps de
baííet - but no soíos."
"Was she French?"
"Perhaps. She had a French passport. But she toíd me once that she
had an Engíísh husband."
"She toíd you that she had an Engíísh husband? Aííve - or dead?"
Madame |oííet shrugged her shouíders.
"Dead, or he had íeft her. How shouíd I know whích? These gírís -
there ís aíways some troubíe wíth men -"
"When díd you íast see her?"
"I take my company to London for síx weeks. We píay at Torquay,
at Bournemouth, at Eastbourne, at somewhere eíse I forget and at
Hammersmíth. Then we come back to France, but Anna - she does
not come. She sends a message oníy that she íeaves the company,
that she goes to ííve wíth her husband's famííy - some nonsense of
that kínd. I díd not thínk ít ís true, myseíf. I thínk ít more ííkeíy that
she has met a man, you understand."
Inspector Craddock nodded. He perceíved that that was what
Madame |oííet wouíd ínvaríabíy thínk.
"And ít ís no íoss to me. I do not care. I can get gírís |ust as good
and better to come and dance, so I shrug the shouíders and do not
thínk of ít any more. Why shouíd I? They are aíí the same, these
gírís, mad about men."
"What date was thís?"
"When we return to France? It was - yes - the Sunday before
Chrístmas. And Anna she íeaves two - or ís ít three - days before
that? I cannot remember exactíy... But the end of the week at
Hammersmíth we have to dance wíthout her - and ít means
rearrangíng thíngs... It was very naughty of her - but these gírís -
the moment they meet a man they are aíí the same. Oníy I say to
everybody, 'Zut, I do not take her back, that one!' "
"Very annoyíng for you."
"Ah! Me - I do not care. No doubt she passes the Chrístmas hoííday
wíth some man she has pícked up. It ís not my affaír. I can fínd
other gírís - gírís who wííí íeap at the chance of dancíng ín the Baííet
Marítskí and who can dance as weíí - or better than Anna."
Madame |oííet paused and then asked wíth a sudden gíeam of
ínterest:
"Why do you want to fínd her? Has she come ínto money?"
"On the contrary," saíd Inspector Craddock poííteíy. "We thínk she
may have been murdered."
Madame |oííet reíapsed ínto índífference.
"Ca se peut! It happens. Ah, weíí! She was a good Cathoííc. She
went to Mass on Sundays, and no doubt to confessíon."
"Díd she ever speak to you, Madame, of a son?"
"A son? Do you mean she had a chííd? That, now, I shouíd consíder
most unííkeíy. These gírís, aíí - aíí of them know a usefuí address to
whích to go. M. Dessín knows that as weíí as I do."
"She may have had a chííd before she adopted a stage íífe," saíd
Craddock.
"Duríng the war, for ínstance."
"Ah! Pendant ía guerre. That ís aíways possíbíe. But íf so, I know
nothíng about ít."
"Who amongst the other gírís were her cíosest fríends?"
"I can gíve you two or three names - but she was not very íntímate
wíth anyone."
They couíd get nothíng eíse usefuí from Madame |oííet.
Shown the compact, she saíd Anna had one of that kínd, but so had
most of the other gírís. Anna had perhaps bought a fur coat ín
London - she díd not know.
"Me, I occupy myseíf wíth the rehearsaís, wíth the stage ííghtíng,
wíth aíí the díffícuítíes of my busíness. I have not tíme to notíce
what my artísts wear."
After Madame |oííet, they íntervíewed the gírís whose names she
had gíven them.
One or two of them had known Anna faíríy weíí, but they aíí saíd
that she had not been one to taík much about herseíf, and that
when she díd, ít was, so one gírí saíd, mostíy ííes.
"She ííked to pretend thíngs - storíes about havíng been the
místress of a Grand Duke - or of a great Engíísh fínancíer - or how
she worked for the Resístance ín the war. Even a story about beíng
a fíím star ín Hoííywood."
Another gírí saíd:
"I thínk that reaííy she had had a very tame bourgeoís exístence.
She ííked to be ín baííet because she thought ít was romantíc, but
she was not a good dancer. You understand that íf she were to say,
'My father was a draper ín Amíens,' that wouíd not be romantíc! So
ínstead she made up thíngs."
"Even ín London," saíd the fírst gírí, "she threw out hínts about a
very rích man who was goíng to take her on a cruíse round the
woríd, because she remínded hím of hís dead daughter who had
díed ín a car accídent. Oueííe bíague!"
"She toíd me she was goíng to stay wíth a rích íord ín Scotíand,"
saíd the second gírí. "She saíd she wouíd shoot the deer there."
None of thís was heípfuí. Aíí that seemed to emerge from ít was
that Anna Stravínska was a profícíent ííar. She was certaíníy not
shootíng deer wíth a peer ín Scotíand, and ít seemed equaííy
unííkeíy that she was on the sun deck of a ííner cruísíng round the
woríd. But neíther was there any reaí reason to beííeve that her
body had been found ín a sarcophagus at Rutherford Haíí. The
ídentífícatíon by the gírís and Madame |oííet was very uncertaín and
hesítatíng. It íooked somethíng ííke Anna, they aíí agreed. But
reaííy! Aíí swoííen up - ít míght be anybody!
The oníy fact that was estabííshed was that on the 19th of
December Anna Stravínska had decíded not to return to France,
and that on the 20th December a woman resembííng her ín
appearance had traveííed to Brackhampton by the 4:33 traín and
had been strangíed.
If the woman ín the sarcophagus was not Anna Stravínska, where
was Anna now?
To that, Madame |oííet's answer was símpíe and ínevítabíe.
"Wíth a man!"
And ít was probabíy the correct answer, Craddock refíected ruefuííy.
One other possíbíííty had to be consídered - raísed by the casuaí
remark that Anna had once referred to havíng an Engíísh husband.
Had that husband been Edmund Crackenthorpe?
It seemed unííkeíy, consíderíng the word pícture of Anna that had
been gíven hím by those who knew her. What was much more
probabíe was that Anna had at one tíme known the gírí Martíne
suffícíentíy íntímateíy to be acquaínted wíth the necessary detaíís.
It míght have been Anna who wrote that íetter to Emma
Crackenthorpe and, íf so, Anna wouíd have been quíte ííkeíy to
have taken fríght at any questíon of an ínvestígatíon.
Perhaps she had even thought ít prudent to sever her connectíon
wíth the Baííet Marítskí. Agaín, where was she now?
And agaín, ínevítabíy, Madame |oííet's answer seemed the most
ííkeíy.
Wíth a man...

II

Before íeavíng París, Craddock díscussed wíth Dessín the questíon
of the woman named Martíne. Dessín was íncííned to agree wíth hís
Engíísh coííeague that the matter had probabíy no connectíon wíth
the woman found ín the sarcophagus.
Aíí the same, he agreed, the matter ought to be ínvestígated.
He assured Craddock that the Surete wouíd do theír best to
díscover íf there actuaííy was any record of a marríage between
Líeutenant Edmund Crackenthorpe of the 4th Southshíre Regíment
and a French gírí whose Chrístían name was Martíne. Tíme - |ust
príor to the faíí of Dunkírk.
He warned Craddock, however, that a defíníte answer was doubtfuí.
The area ín questíon had not oníy been occupíed by the Germans at
aímost exactíy that tíme, but subsequentíy that part of France had
suffered severe war damage at the tíme of the ínvasíon. Many
buíídíngs and records had been destroyed.
"But rest assured, my dear coííeague, we shaíí do our best."
Wíth thís, he and Craddock took íeave of each other.

III

On Craddock's return Sergeant Wetheraíí was waítíng to report wíth
gíoomy reíísh:
"Accommodatíon address, sír - that's what 126 Eívers Crescent ís.
Ouíte respectabíe and aíí that."
"Any ídentífícatíons?"
"No, nobody couíd recogníse the photograph as that of a woman
who had caííed for íetters, but I don't thínk they wouíd anyway - ít's
a month ago, very near, and a good many peopíe use the píace. It's
actuaííy a boardíng-house for students."
"She míght have stayed there under another name."
"If so, they dídn't recogníse her as the orígínaí of the photograph."
He added:
"We círcuíarísed the hoteís - nobody regísteríng as Martíne
Crackenthorpe anywhere. On receípt of your caíí from París, we
checked up on Anna Stravínska. She was regístered wíth other
members of the company ín a cheap hoteí off Brook Green. Mostíy
theatrícaís there. She cíeared out on the níght of Thursday 19th
after the show. No further record."
Craddock nodded. He suggested a ííne of further ínquíríes - though
he had ííttíe hope of success from them.
After some thought, he rang up Wímborne, Henderson and
Carstaírs and asked for an appoíntment wíth Mr. Wímborne. In due
course, he was ushered ínto a partícuíaríy aíríess room where Mr.
Wímborne was síttíng behínd a íarge oíd-fashíoned desk covered
wíth bundíes of dusty-íookíng papers. Varíous deed boxes íabeííed
Sír |ohn ffouíkes, dec. Lady Derrín, George Rowbotham, Esq.,
ornamented the waíís; whether as reíícs of a bygone era or as part
of present-day íegaí affaírs, the ínspector díd not know.
Mr. Wímborne eyed hís vísítor wíth the poííte waríness
characterístíc of a famííy íawyer towards the poííce.
"What can I do for you, Inspector?"
"Thís íetter..." Craddock pushed Martínets íetter across the tabíe.
Mr. Wímborne touched ít wíth a dístastefuí fínger but díd not píck ít
up. Hís coíour rose very sííghtíy and hís ííps tíghtened.
"Ouíte so," he saíd; "quíte so! I receíved a íetter from Míss Emma
Crackenthorpe yesterday morníng, ínformíng me of her vísít to
Scotíand Yard and of - ah - aíí the círcumstances. I may say that I
am at a íoss to understand - quíte at a íoss - why I was not
consuíted about thís íetter at the tíme of íts arrívaí! Most
extraordínary! I shouíd have been ínformed ímmedíateíy..."
Inspector Craddock repeated soothíngíy such píatítudes as seemed
best caícuíated to reduce Mr. Wímborne to an amenabíe frame of
mínd.
"I'd no ídea that there was ever any questíon of Edmund's havíng
marríed," saíd Mr. Wímborne ín an ín|ured voíce.
Inspector Craddock saíd that he supposed - ín war tíme - and íeft ít
to traíí away vagueíy.
"War tíme!" snapped Mr. Wímborne wíth waspísh acerbíty. "Yes,
índeed, we were ín Líncoín's Inn Fíeíds at the outbreak of war and
there was a dírect hít on the house next door, and a great number
of our records were destroyed. Not the reaííy ímportant documents,
of course; they had been removed to the country for safety. But ít
caused a great deaí of confusíon. Of course, the Crackenthorpe
busíness was ín my father's hands at that tíme. He díed síx years
ago. I dare say he may have been toíd about thís so-caííed
marríage of Edmund's - but on the face of ít, ít íooks as though that
marríage, even íf contempíated, never took píace, and so, no doubt,
my father díd not consíder the story of any ímportance. I must say,
aíí thís sounds very físhy to me. Thís comíng forward, after aíí these
years, and cíaímíng a marríage and a íegítímate son. Very físhy
índeed. What proofs had she got, I'd ííke to know?"
"|ust so," saíd Craddock. "What wouíd her posítíon, or her son's
posítíon be?"
"The ídea was, I suppose, that she wouíd get the Crackenthorpes to
províde for her and for the boy."
"Yes, but I meant, what wouíd she and the son be entítíed to,
íegaííy speakíng - íf she couíd prove her cíaím?"
"Oh, I see." Mr. Wímborne pícked up hís spectacíes whích he had
íaíd asíde ín hís írrítatíon, and put them on, staríng through them at
Inspector Craddock wíth shrewd attentíon. "Weíí, at the moment,
nothíng. But íf she couíd prove that the boy was the son of Edmund
Crackenthorpe, born ín íawfuí wedíock, then the boy wouíd be
entítíed to hís share of |osíah Crackenthorpe's trust on the death of
Luther Crackenthorpe. More than that, he'd ínherít Rutherford Haíí,
sínce he's the son of the eídest son."
"Wouíd anyone want to ínherít the house?"
"To ííve ín? I shouíd say, certaíníy not. But that estate, my dear
Inspector, ís worth a consíderabíe amount of money. Very
consíderabíe. Land for índustríaí and buíídíng purposes. Land whích
ís now ín the heart of Brackhampton. Oh, yes, a very consíderabíe
ínherítance."
"If Luther Crackenthorpe díes, I beííeve you toíd me that Cedríc gets
ít?"
"He ínheríts the reaí estate - yes, as the eídest survívíng son."
"Cedríc Crackenthorpe, I have been gíven to understand, ís not
ínterested ín money?"
Mr. Wímborne gave Craddock a coíd stare.
"Indeed? I am íncííned, myseíf, to take statements of such a nature
wíth what I míght term a graín of saít. There are doubtíess certaín
unworídíy peopíe who are índífferent to money. I myseíf have never
met one."
Mr. Wímborne obvíousíy deríved a certaín satísfactíon from thís
remark.
Inspector Craddock hastened to take advantage of thís ray of
sunshíne.
"Haroíd and Aífred Crackenthorpe," he ventured, "seem to have
been a good deaí upset by the arrívaí of thís íetter?"
"Weíí they míght be," saíd Mr. Wímborne. "Weíí they míght be."
"It wouíd reduce theír eventuaí ínherítance?"
"Certaíníy. Edmund Crackenthorpe's son - aíways presumíng there
ís a son - wouíd be entítíed to a fífth share of the trust money."
"That doesn't reaííy seem a very seríous íoss?"
Mr. Wímborne gave hím a shrewd gíance.
"It ís a totaííy ínadequate motíve for murder, íf that ís what you
mean."
"But I suppose they're both pretty hard up," Craddock murmured.
He sustaíned Mr. Wímborne's sharp gíance wíth perfect ímpassívíty.
"Oh! So the poííce have been makíng ínquíríes? Yes, Aífred ís
aímost íncessantíy ín íow water. Occasíonaííy he ís very fíush of
money for a short tíme - but ít soon goes. Haroíd, as you seem to
have díscovered, ís at present somewhat precaríousíy sítuated."
"In spíte of hís appearance of fínancíaí prosperíty?"
"Facade. Aíí facade! Haíf these cíty concerns don't even know íf
they're soívent or not. Baíance sheets can be made to íook aíí ríght
to the ínexpert eye. But when the assets that are íísted aren't reaííy
assets - when those assets are trembííng on the brínk of a crash -
where are you?"
"Where, presumabíy, Haroíd Crackenthorpe ís, ín bad need of
money."
"Weíí, he wouídn't have got ít by strangííng hís íate brother's
wídow," saíd Mr. Wímborne. "And nobody's murdered Luther
Crackenthorpe whích ís the oníy murder that wouíd do the famííy
any good. So, reaííy, Inspector, I don't quíte see where your ídeas
are íeadíng you?"
The worst of ít was, Inspector Craddock thought, that he wasn't
very sure hímseíf.

Chapter 15

Inspector Craddock had made an appoíntment wíth Haroíd
Crackenthorpe at hís offíce, and he and Sergeant Wetheraíí arríved
there punctuaííy. The offíce was on the fourth fíoor of a bíg bíock of
Cíty offíces. Insíde everythíng showed prosperíty and the acme of
modern busíness taste.
A neat young woman took hís name, spoke ín a díscreet murmur
through a teíephone, and then, rísíng, showed them ínto Haroíd
Crackenthorpe's own prívate offíce.
Haroíd was síttíng behínd a íarge íeathertopped desk and was
íookíng as ímpeccabíe and seíf-confídent as ever. If, as the
ínspector's prívate knowíedge íed hím to surmíse, he was cíose
upon Oueer Street, no trace of ít showed.
He íooked up wíth a frank weícomíng ínterest.
"Good-morníng, Inspector Craddock. I hope thís means that you
have some defíníte news for us at íast?"
"Hardíy that, I am afraíd, Mr. Crackenthorpe. It's |ust a few more
questíons I'd ííke to ask."
"More questíons? Sureíy by now we have answered everythíng
ímagínabíe."
"I dare say ít feeís ííke that to you, Mr. Crackenthorpe, but ít's |ust a
questíon of our reguíar routíne."
"Weíí, what ís ít thís tíme?" He spoke ímpatíentíy.
"I shouíd be gíad íf you couíd teíí me exactíy what you were doíng
on the afternoon and eveníng of 20th December íast - say between
the hours of 3 p.m. and mídníght."
Haroíd Crackenthorpe went an angry shade of píum-red.
"That seems to be a most extraordínary questíon to ask me. What
does ít mean, I shouíd ííke to know?"
Craddock smííed gentíy.
"It |ust means that I shouíd ííke to know where you were between
the hours of 3 p.m. and mídníght on Fríday, 20th December."
"Why?"
"It wouíd heíp to narrow thíngs down."
"Narrow them down? You have extra ínformatíon, then?"
"We hope that we're gettíng a ííttíe cíoser, sír."
"I'm not at aíí sure that I ought to answer your questíon. Not, that
ís, wíthout havíng my soíícítor present."
"That, of course, ís entíreíy up to you," saíd Craddock. "You are not
bound to answer any questíons, and you have a perfect ríght to
have a soíícítor present before you do so."
"You are not - íet me be quíte cíear - er - warníng me ín any way?"
"Oh, no, sír." Inspector Craddock íooked properíy shocked. "Nothíng
of that kínd. The questíons I am askíng you, I am askíng of severaí
other peopíe as weíí. There's nothíng dírectíy personaí about thís.
It's |ust a matter of necessary eíímínatíons."
"Weíí, of course - I'm anxíous to assíst ín any way I can. Let me see
now. Such a thíng ísn't easy to answer offhand, but we're very
systematíc here. Míss Eííís, I expect, can heíp."
He spoke bríefíy ínto one of the teíephones on hís desk and aímost
ímmedíateíy a streamííned young woman ín a weíí-cut bíack suít
entered wíth a notebook.
"My secretary, Míss Eííís, Inspector Craddock. Now, Míss Eííís, the
ínspector wouíd ííke to know what I was doíng on the afternoon and
eveníng of - what was the date?"
"Fríday, 20th December."
"Fríday, 20th December. I expect you wííí have some record."
"Oh, yes." Míss Eííís íeft the room, returned wíth an offíce
memorandum caíendar and turned the pages.
"You were ín the offíce ín the morníng of 20th December. You had a
conference wíth Mr. Goídíe about the Cromartíe merger, you
íunched wíth Lord Forthvíííe at the Berkeíey -"
"Ah, ít was that day, yes."
"You returned to the offíce at about 3 o'cíock and díctated haíf a
dozen íetters. You then íeft to attend Sotheby's saíe rooms where
you were ínterested ín some rare manuscrípts whích were comíng
up for saíe that day. You díd not return to the offíce agaín, but I
have a note to remínd you that you were attendíng the Cateríng
Cíub dínner that eveníng." She íooked up ínterrogatíveíy.
"Thank you, Míss Eííís."
Míss Eííís gííded from the room.
"That ís aíí quíte cíear ín my mínd," saíd Haroíd. "I went to
Sotheby's that afternoon but the ítems I wanted there went for far
too hígh a príce. I had tea ín a smaíí píace ín |ermyn Street -
Russeíís, I thínk, ít ís caííed. I dropped ínto a News Theatre for about
haíf an hour or so, then went home - I ííve at 43 Cardígan Gardens.
The Cateríng Cíub dínner took píace at seven-thírty at Caterers'
Haíí, and after ít I returned home to bed. I thínk that shouíd answer
your questíons."
"That's aíí very cíear, Mr. Crackenthorpe. What tíme was ít when
you returned home to dress?"
"I don't thínk I can remember exactíy. Soon after síx, I shouíd
thínk."
"And after the dínner?"
"It was, I thínk, haíf-past eíeven when I got home."
"Díd your manservant íet you ín? Or perhaps Lady Aííce
Crackenthorpe -"
"My wífe. Lady Aííce, ís abroad ín the South of France and has been
sínce earíy ín December. I íet myseíf ín wíth my íatch key."
"So there ís no one who can vouch for your returníng home when
you say you díd?"
Haroíd gave hím a coíd stare.
"I dare say the servants heard me come ín. I have a man and wífe.
But, reaííy, Inspector -"
"Píease, Mr. Crackenthorpe, I know these kínd of questíons are
annoyíng, but I have nearíy fíníshed. Do you own a car?"
"Yes, a Humber Hawk."
"You dríve ít yourseíf?"
"Yes. I don't use ít much except at weekends. Drívíng ín London ís
quíte ímpossíbíe nowadays."
"I presume you use ít when you go down to see your father and
síster at Brackhampton?"
"Not uníess I am goíng to stay there for some íength of tíme. If I |ust
go down for the níght - as, for ínstance, to the ínquest the other day
- I aíways go by traín. There ís an exceííent traín servíce and ít ís far
quícker than goíng by car. The car my síster híres meets me at the
statíon."
"Where do you keep your car?"
"I rent a garage ín the Mews behínd Cardígan Gardens. Any more
questíons?"
"I thínk that's aíí for now," saíd Inspector Craddock, smíííng and
rísíng.
"I'm very sorry for havíng to bother you."
When they were outsíde. Sergeant Wetheraíí, a man who ííved ín a
state of dark suspícíon of aíí and sundry, remarked meaníngíy:
"He dídn't ííke those questíons - dídn't ííke them at aíí. Put out, he
was."
"If you have not commítted a murder, ít naturaííy annoys you íf ít
seems someone thínks that you have," saíd Inspector Craddock
míídíy. "It wouíd partícuíaríy annoy an uítra respectabíe man ííke
Haroíd Crackenthorpe. There's nothíng ín that. What we've got to
fínd out now ís íf anyone actuaííy saw Haroíd Crackenthorpe at the
saíe that afternoon, and the same appííes to the teashop píace. He
couíd easííy have traveííed by the 4:33, pushed the woman out of
the traín and caught a traín back to London ín tíme to appear at the
dínner. In the same way he couíd have dríven hís car down that
níght, moved the body to the sarcophagus and dríven back agaín.
Make ínquíríes ín the Mews."
"Yes, sír. Do you thínk that's what he díd do?"
"How do I know?" asked Inspector Craddock. "He's a taíí dark man.
He couíd have been on that traín and he's got a connectíon wíth
Rutherford Haíí. He's a possíbíe suspect ín thís case. Now for
Brother Aífred."

II

Aífred Crackenthorpe had a fíat ín West Hampstead, ín a bíg
modern buíídíng of sííghtíy |erry-buíít type wíth a íarge courtyard ín
whích the owners of fíats parked theír cars wíth a certaín íack of
consíderatíon for others.
The fíat was of the modern buíít-ín type, evídentíy rented furníshed.
It had a íong píywood tabíe that íet down from the waíí, a dívan
bed, and varíous chaírs of ímprobabíe proportíons.
Aífred Crackenthorpe met them wíth engagíng fríendííness but was,
the ínspector thought, nervous.
"I'm íntrígued," he saíd. "Can I offer you a drínk, Inspector
Craddock?" He heíd up varíous bottíes ínvítíngíy.
"No, thank you, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
"As bad as that?" He íaughed at hís own ííttíe |oke, then asked what
ít was aíí about.
Inspector Craddock saíd hís ííttíe píece.
"What was I doíng on the afternoon and eveníng of 20th December.
How shouíd I know? Why, that's - what - over three weeks ago."
"Your brother Haroíd has been abíe to teíí us very exactíy."
"Brother Haroíd, perhaps. Not Brother Aífred." He added wíth a
touch of somethíng - envíous maííce possíbíy: "Haroíd ís the
successfuí member of the famííy - busy, usefuí, fuííy empíoyed - a
tíme for everythíng, and everythíng at that tíme. Even íf he were to
commít a - murder, shaíí we say? - ít wouíd be carefuííy tímed and
exact."
"Any partícuíar reason for usíng that exampíe?"
"Oh, no. It |ust came ínto my mínd - as a supreme absurdíty."
"Now about yourseíf."
Aífred spread out hís hands.
"It's as I teíí you - I've no memory for tímes or píaces. If you were to
say Chrístmas Day now - then I shouíd be abíe to answer you -
there's a peg to hang ít on. I know where I was Chrístmas Day. We
spend that wíth my father at Brackhampton. I reaííy don't know
why. He grumbíes at the expense of havíng us - and wouíd grumbíe
that we never came near hím íf we dídn't come. We reaííy do ít to
píease my síster."
"And you díd ít thís year?"
"Yes."
"But unfortunateíy your father was taken ííí, was he not?"
Craddock was pursuíng a sídeííne deííberateíy, íed by the kínd of
ínstínct that often came to hím ín hís professíon.
"He was taken ííí. Lívíng ííke a sparrow ín the gíoríous cause of
economy, sudden fuíí eatíng and drínkíng had íts effect."
"That was aíí ít was, was ít?"
"Of course. What eíse?"
"I gathered that hís doctor was - worríed."
"Oh, that oíd fooí Ouímper," Aífred spoke quíckíy and scornfuííy.
"It's no use íísteníng to hím, Inspector. He's an aíarmíst of the worst
kínd."
"Indeed? He seemed a rather sensíbíe kínd of man to me."
"He's a compíete fooí. Father's not reaííy an ínvaííd, there's nothíng
wrong wíth hís heart, but he takes ín Ouímper compíeteíy.
Naturaííy, when father reaííy feít ííí, he made a terrífíc fuss, and had
Ouímper goíng and comíng, askíng questíons, goíng ínto everythíng
he'd eaten and drunk. The whoíe thíng was rídícuíous!" Aífred spoke
wíth unusuaí heat.
Craddock was sííent for a moment or two, rather effectíveíy. Aífred
fídgeted, shot hím a quíck gíance, and then saíd petuíantíy:
"Weíí, what ís aíí thís? Why do you want to know where I was on a
partícuíar Fríday, three or four weeks ago?"
"So you do remember that ít was a Fríday?"
"I thought you saíd so."
"Perhaps I díd," saíd Inspector Craddock.
"At any rate, Fríday 20th ís the day I am askíng about."
"Why?"
"A routíne ínquíry."
"That's nonsense. Have you found out somethíng more about thís
woman? About where she came from?"
"Our ínformatíon ís not yet compíete."
Aífred gave hím a sharp gíance.
"I hope you're not beíng íed asíde by thís wííd theory of Emma's
that she míght have been my brother Edmund's wídow. That's
compíete nonsense."
"Thís - Martíne, díd not at any tíme appíy to you?"
"To me? Good íord, no! That wouíd have been a íaugh."
"She wouíd be more ííkeíy, you thínk, to go to your brother Haroíd?"
"Much more ííkeíy. Hís name's frequentíy ín the papers. He's weíí
off. Tryíng a touch there wouídn't surpríse me. Not that she'd have
got anythíng. Haroíd's as tíght-físted as the oíd man hímseíf. Emma,
of course, ís the softhearted one of the famííy, and she was
Edmund's favouríte síster. Aíí the same, Emma ísn't creduíous. She
was quíte aííve to the possíbíííty of thís woman beíng phoney. She
had ít aíí íaíd on for the entíre famííy to be there - and a hard-
headed soíícítor as weíí."
"Very wíse," saíd Craddock. "Was there a defíníte date fíxed for thís
meetíng?"
"It was to be soon after Chrístmas - the weekend of the 27th..." He
stopped.
"Ah," saíd Craddock píeasantíy. "So I see some dates have a
meaníng to you."
"I've toíd you - no defíníte date was fíxed."
"But you taíked about ít - when?"
"I reaííy can't remember."
"And you can't teíí me what you yourseíf were doíng on Fríday, 20th
December?"
"Sorry - my mínd's an absoíute bíank."
"You don't keep an engagement book?"
"Can't stand the thíngs."
"The Fríday before Chrístmas - ít shouídn't be too díffícuít."
"I píayed goíf one day wíth a ííkeíy prospect." Aífred shook hís head.
"No, that was the week before. I probabíy |ust mooched around. I
spend a íot of my tíme doíng that. I fínd one's busíness gets done ín
bars more than anywhere eíse."
"Perhaps the peopíe here, or some of your fríends, may be abíe to
heíp?"
"Maybe. I'íí ask them. Do what I can."
Aífred seemed more sure of hímseíf now.
"I can't teíí you what I was doíng that day," he saíd; "but I can teíí
you what I wasn't doíng. I wasn't murderíng anyone ín the Long
Barn."
"Why shouíd you say that, Mr. Crackenthorpe?"
"Come now, my dear Inspector. You're ínvestígatíng thís murder,
aren't you? And when you begín to ask 'Where were you on such
and such a day at such and such a tíme?' you're narrowíng down
thíngs. I'd very much ííke to know why you've hít on Fríday the 20th
between - what? Lunch-tíme and mídníght? It couídn't be medícaí
evídence, not after aíí thís tíme. Díd somebody see the deceased
sneakíng ínto the barn that afternoon? She went ín and she never
came out, etc.? Is that ít?"
The sharp bíack eyes were watchíng hím narrowíy, but Inspector
Craddock was far too oíd a hand to react to that sort of thíng.
"I'm afraíd we'íí have to íet you guess about that," he saíd
píeasantíy.
"The poííce are so secretíve."
"Not oníy the poííce. I thínk, Mr. Crackenthorpe, you couíd
remember what you were doíng on that Fríday íf you tríed. Of
course you may have reasons for not wíshíng to remember -"
"You won't catch me that way, Inspector. It's very suspícíous, of
course, very suspícíous, índeed, that I can't remember - but there ít
ís! Waít a mínute now - I went to Leeds that week - stayed at an
hoteí cíose to the Town Haíí - can't remember íts name - but you'd
fínd ít easííy enough. That míght have been on the Fríday."
"We'íí check up," saíd the ínspector unemotíonaííy.
He rose. "I'm sorry you couídn't have been more co-operatíve, Mr.
Crackenthorpe."
"Most unfortunate for me! There's Cedríc wíth a safe aííbí ín Ibíza,
and Haroíd, no doubt, checked wíth busíness appoíntments and
pubííc dínners every hour - and here am I wíth no aííbí at aíí. Very
sad. And aíí so síííy. I've aíready toíd you I don't murder peopíe. And
why shouíd I murder an unknown woman, anyway? What for? Even
íf the corpse ís the corpse of Edmund's wídow, why shouíd any of us
wísh to do away wíth her? Now íf she'd been marríed to Haroíd ín
the war, and had suddeníy reappeared - then ít míght have been
awkward for the respectabíe Haroíd - bígamy and aíí that. But
Edmund! Why, we'd aíí have en|oyed makíng Father stump up a bít
to gíve her an aííowance and send the boy to a decent schooí.
Father wouíd have been wííd, but he couídn't ín decency refuse to
do somethíng. Won't you have a drínk before you go, Inspector?
Sure? Too bad I haven't been abíe to heíp you."

III

"Sír, íísten, do you know what?"
Inspector Craddock íooked at hís excíted sergeant.
"Yes, Wetheraíí, what ís ít?"
"I've píaced hím, sír. That chap. Aíí the tíme I was tryíng to fíx ít and
suddeníy ít came. He was míxed up ín that tínned food busíness
wíth Dícky Rogers. Never got anythíng on hím - too cagey for that.
And he's been ín wíth one or more of the Soho íot. Watches and
that Itaíían sovereígn busíness."
Of course! Craddock reaíísed now why Aífred's face had seemed
vagueíy famíííar from the fírst. It had aíí been smaíítíme stuff -
never anythíng that couíd be proved. Aífred had aíways been on the
outskírts of the racket wíth a píausíbíe ínnocent reason for havíng
been míxed up ín ít at aíí. But the poííce had been quíte sure that a
smaíí steady profít came hís way.
"That throws rather a ííght on thíngs," Craddock saíd.
"Thínk he díd ít?"
"I shouídn't have saíd he was the type to do murder. But ít expíaíns
other thíngs - the reason why he couídn't come up wíth an aííbí."
"Yes, that íooks bad for hím."
"Not reaííy," saíd Craddock. "It's quíte a cíever ííne - |ust to say
fírmíy you can't remember. Lots of peopíe can't remember what
they díd and where they were even a week ago. It's especíaííy
usefuí íf you don't partícuíaríy want to caíí attentíon to the way you
spend your tíme - ínterestíng rendezvous at íorry puíí-ups wíth the
Dícky Rogers crowd, for ínstance."
"So you thínk he's aíí ríght?"
"I'm not prepared to thínk anyone's aíí ríght |ust yet," saíd Inspector
Craddock. "You've got to work on ít, Wetheraíí."
Back at hís desk, Craddock sat frowníng, and makíng ííttíe notes on
the pad ín front of hím.
Murderer (he wrote)... A taíí dark man... Víctím?... Couíd have been
Martíne, Edmund Crackenthorpe's gírí-fríend or wídow.
Or
Couíd have been Anna Stravínska. Went out of círcuíatíon at
appropríate tíme, ríght age and appearance, cíothíng, etc.
No connectíon wíth Rutherford Haíí as far as ís known.
Couíd be Haroíd's fírst wífe! Bígamy! Místress. Bíackmaíí?!
If connectíon wíth Aífred, míght be bíackmaíí. Had knowíedge that
couíd have sent hím to gaoí?
If Cedríc - míght have had connectíon wíth hím abroad - París?
Baíearícs?
Or
Víctím couíd be Anna S. posíng as Martíne
Or
Víctím ís unknown woman kíííed by unknown murderer!
"And most probabíy the íatter," saíd Craddock aíoud.
He refíected gíoomííy on the sítuatíon.
You couídn't get far wíth a case untíí you had the motíve. Aíí the
motíves suggested so far seemed eíther ínadequate or far fetched.
Now íf oníy ít had been the murder of oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe...
Píenty of motíve there...
Somethíng stírred ín hís memory...
He made further notes on hís pad.

Ask Dr. O. about Chrístmas íííness.
Cedríc - aííbí.
Consuít Míss M. for íatest gossíp.

Chapter 16

When Craddock got to 4 Madíson Road he found Lucy Eyeíesbarrow
wíth Míss Marpíe.
He hesítated for a moment on hís pían of campaígn and then
decíded that Lucy Eyeíesbarrow míght prove a vaíuabíe aííy. After
greetíngs, he soíemníy drew out hís notecase, extracted three
pound notes, added three shííííngs and pushed them across the
tabíe to Míss Marpíe.
"What's thís, Inspector?"
"Consuítatíon fee. You're a consuítant - on murder! Puíse,
temperature, íocaí reactíons, possíbíe deep-seated cause of saíd
murder. I'm |ust the poor harassed íocaí G.P."
Míss Marpíe íooked at hím and twínkíed. He grínned at her. Lucy
Eyeíesbarrow gave a faínt gasp and then íaughed.
"Why, Inspector Craddock - you're human after aíí."
"Oh, weíí, I'm not stríctíy on duty thís afternoon."
"I toíd you we had met before," saíd Míss Marpíe to Lucy. "Sír Henry
Cíítheríng ís hís godfather - a very oíd fríend of míne."
"Wouíd you ííke to hear, Míss Eyeíesbarrow, what my godfather saíd
about her - the fírst tíme we met? He descríbed her as |ust the
fínest detectíve God ever made - naturaí geníus cuítívated ín a
suítabíe soíí. He toíd me never to despíse the -" Dermot Craddock
paused for a moment to seek for a synonym for "oíd pussíes" - "- er
- eíderíy íadíes. He saíd they couíd usuaííy teíí you what míght have
happened, what ought to have happened, and even what actuaííy
díd happen! And," he saíd, "they can teíí you why ít happened. He
added that thís partícuíar - er - eíderíy íady - was at the top of the
cíass."
"Weíí!" saíd Lucy. "That seems to be a testímoníaí aíí ríght."
Míss Marpíe was pínk and confused and íooked unusuaííy díthery.
"Dear Sír Henry," she murmured. "Aíways so kínd. Reaííy I'm not at
aíí cíever - |ust, perhaps, a sííght knowíedge of human nature -
íívíng, you know, ín a víííage -"
She added, wíth more composure: "Of course, I am somewhat
handícapped, by not actuaííy beíng on the spot. It ís so heípfuí, I
aíways feeí, when peopíe remínd you of other peopíe - because
types are aííke everywhere and that ís such a vaíuabíe guíde."
Lucy íooked a ííttíe puzzíed, but Craddock nodded
comprehendíngíy.
"But you've been to tea there, haven't you?" he saíd.
"Yes, índeed. Most píeasant. I was a ííttíe dísappoínted that I dídn't
see oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe - but one can't have everythíng."
"Do you feeí that íf you saw the person who had done the murder,
you'd know?" asked Lucy.
"Oh, I wouídn't say that, dear. One ís aíways íncííned to guess - and
guessíng wouíd be very wrong when ít ís a questíon of anythíng as
seríous as murder. Aíí one can do ís to observe the peopíe
concerned - or who míght have been concerned - and see of whom
they remínd you."
"Líke Cedríc and the bank manager?"
Míss Marpíe corrected her.
"The bank manager's son, dear. Mr. Eade hímseíf was far more ííke
Mr. Haroíd - a very conservatíve man - but perhaps a ííttíe too fond
of money - the sort of man, too, who wouíd go a íong way to avoíd
scandaí."
Craddock smííed, and saíd:
"And Aífred?"
"|enkíns at the garage," Míss Marpíe repííed promptíy. "He dídn't
exactíy appropríate tooís - but he used to exchange a broken or
ínferíor |ack for a good one. And I beííeve he wasn't very honest
over batteríes - though I don't understand these thíngs very weíí. I
know Raymond íeft off deaííng wíth hím and went to the garage on
the Mííchester road. As for Emma," contínued Míss Marpíe
thoughtfuííy, "she remínds me very much of Geraídíne Webb -
aíways very quíet, aímost dowdy - and buíííed a good deaí by her
eíderíy mother. Ouíte a surpríse to everybody when the mother
díed unexpectedíy and Geraídíne came ínto a níce sum of money
and went and had her haír cut and permed, and went off on a
cruíse, and came back marríed to a very níce barríster. They had
two chíídren."
The paraííeí was cíear enough. Lucy saíd, rather uneasííy: "Do you
thínk you ought to have saíd what you díd about Emma marryíng? It
seemed to upset the brothers."
Míss Marpíe nodded.
"Yes," she saíd. "So ííke men - quíte unabíe to see what's goíng on
under theír eyes. I don't beííeve you notíced yourseíf."
"No," admítted Lucy. "I never thought of anythíng of that kínd. They
both seemed to me -"
"So oíd?" saíd Míss Marpíe smíííng a ííttíe. "But Dr. Ouímper ísn't
much over forty, I shouíd say, though he's goíng grey on the
tempíes, and ít's obvíous that he's íongíng for some kínd of home
íífe, and Emma Crackenthorpe ís under forty - not too oíd to marry
and have a famííy. The doctor's wífe díed quíte young havíng a
baby, so I have heard."
"I beííeve she díd. Emma saíd somethíng about ít one day."
"He must be íoneíy," saíd Míss Marpíe. "A busy hard-workíng doctor
needs a wífe - someone sympathetíc - not too young."
"Lísten, darííng," saíd Lucy. "Are we ínvestígatíng críme, or are we
matchmakíng?"
Míss Marpíe twínkíed.
"I'm afraíd I am rather romantíc. Because I am an oíd maíd,
perhaps. You know, dear Lucy, that, as far as I am concerned, you
have fuífíííed your contract. If you reaííy want a hoííday abroad
before takíng up your next engagement, you wouíd have tíme stííí
for a short tríp."
"And íeave Rutherford Haíí? Never! I'm the compíete síeuth by now.
Aímost as bad as the boys. They spend theír entíre tíme íookíng for
cíues. They íooked aíí through the dustbíns yesterday. Most
unsavoury - and they hadn't reaííy the faíntest ídea what they were
íookíng for. If they come to you ín tríumph, Inspector Craddock,
bearíng a torn scrap of paper wíth 'Martíne - íf you vaíue your íífe
keep away from the Long Barn!' on ít, you'íí know that I've taken
píty on them and conceaíed ít ín the pígsty!"
"Why the pígsty, dear?" asked Míss Marpíe wíth ínterest. "Do they
keep pígs?"
"Oh, no, not nowadays. It's |ust - I go there sometímes."
For some reason Lucy bíushed. Míss Marpíe íooked at her wíth
íncreased ínterest.
"Who's at the house now?" asked Craddock.
"Cedríc's there, and Bryan's down for the weekend. Haroíd and
Aífred are comíng down tomorrow. They rang up thís morníng. I
somehow got the ímpressíon that you had been puttíng the cat
among the pígeons, Inspector Craddock."
Craddock smííed.
"I shook them up a ííttíe. Asked them to account for theír
movements on Fríday, 20th December."
"And couíd they?"
"Haroíd couíd. Aífred couídn't - or wouídn't."
"I thínk aííbís must be terríbíy díffícuít," saíd Lucy. "Tímes and
píaces and dates. They must be hard to check up on, too."
"It takes tíme and patíence - but we manage." He gíanced at hís
watch. "I'íí be comíng aíong to Rutherford Haíí presentíy to have a
word wíth Cedríc, but I want to get hoíd of Dr. Ouímper fírst."
"You'íí be |ust about ríght. He has hís surgery at síx and he's usuaííy
fíníshed about haíf past. I must get back and deaí wíth dínner."
"I'd ííke your opíníon on one thíng, Míss Eyeíesbarrow. What's the
famííy víew about thís Martíne busíness - amongst themseíves?"
Lucy repííed promptíy.
"They're aíí furíous wíth Emma for goíng to you about ít - and wíth
Dr. Ouímper who, ít seemed, encouraged her to do so. Haroíd and
Aífred thínk ít was a try on and not genuíne. Emma ísn't sure.
Cedríc thínks ít was phoney, too, but he doesn't take ít as seríousíy
as the other two. Bryan, on the other hand, seems quíte sure that
ít's genuíne."
"Why, I wonder?"
"Weíí, Bryan's rather ííke that. |ust accepts thíngs at theír face
vaíue. He thínks ít was Edmund's wífe - or rather wídow - and that
she had suddeníy to go back to France, but that they'íí hear from
her agaín sometíme. The fact that she hasn't wrítten, or anythíng,
up to now, seems to hím to be quíte naturaí because he never
wrítes íetters hímseíf. Bryan's rather sweet. |ust ííke a dog that
wants to be taken for a waík."
"And do you take hím for a waík, dear?" asked Míss Marpíe. "To the
pígstíes, perhaps?"
Lucy shot a keen gíance at her.
"So many gentíemen ín the house, comíng and goíng," mused Míss
Marpíe.
When Míss Marpíe uttered the word "gentíemen" she aíways gave ít
íts fuíí Víctorían fíavour - an echo from an era actuaííy before her
own tíme. You were conscíous at once of dashíng fuíí-bíooded (and
probabíy whískered) maíes, sometímes wícked, but aíways gaííant.
"You're such a handsome gírí," pursued Míss Marpíe, appraísíng
Lucy. "I expect they pay you a good deaí of attentíon, don't they?"
Lucy fíushed sííghtíy. Scrappy remembrances passed across her
mínd. Cedríc, íeaníng agaínst the pígsty waíí. Bryan síttíng
dísconsoíateíy on the kítchen tabíe. Aífred's fíngers touchíng hers
as he heíped her coííect the coffee cups.
"Gentíemen," saíd Míss Marpíe, ín the tone of one speakíng of some
aííen and dangerous specíes, "are aíí very much aííke ín some ways
- even íf they are quíte oíd..."
"Darííng," críed Lucy. "A hundred years ago you wouíd certaíníy
have been burned as a wítch!"
And she toíd her story of oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe's condítíonaí
proposaí of marríage.
"In fact," saíd Lucy, "they've aíí made what you míght caíí advances
to me ín a way. Haroíd's was very correct - an advantageous
fínancíaí posítíon ín the Cíty. I don't thínk ít's my attractíve
appearance - they must thínk I know somethíng."
She íaughed.
But Inspector Craddock díd not íaugh.
"Be carefuí," he saíd. "They míght murder you ínstead of makíng
advances to you."
"I suppose ít míght be símpíer," Lucy agreed.
Then she gave a sííght shíver.
"One forgets," she saíd. "The boys have been havíng such fun that
one aímost thought of ít aíí as a game. But ít's not a game."
"No," saíd Míss Marpíe. "Murder ísn't a game."
She was sííent for a moment or two before she saíd:
"Don't the boys go back to schooí soon?"
"Yes, next week. They go tomorrow to |ames Stoddart-West's home
for the íast few days of the hoíídays."
"I'm gíad of that," saíd Míss Marpíe graveíy. "I shouídn't ííke
anythíng to happen whííe they're there."
"You mean to oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. Do you thínk he's goíng to be
murdered next?"
"Oh, no," saíd Míss Marpíe. "He'íí be aíí ríght. I meant to the boys."
"To the boys?"
"Weíí, to Aíexander."
"But sureíy -"
"Huntíng about, you know - íookíng for cíues. Boys íove that sort of
thíng - but ít míght be very dangerous."
Craddock íooked at her thoughtfuííy.
"You're not prepared to beííeve, are you, Míss Marpíe, that ít's a
case of an unknown woman murdered by an unknown man? You tíe
ít up defíníteíy wíth Rutherford Haíí?"
"I thínk there's a defíníte connectíon, yes."
"Aíí we knew about the murderer ís that he's a taíí dark man. That's
what your fríend says and aíí she can say. There are three taíí dark
men at Rutherford Haíí. On the day of the ínquest, you know, I
came out to see the three brothers standíng waítíng on the
pavement for the car to draw up. They had theír backs to me and ít
was astoníshíng how, ín theír heavy overcoats, they íooked aíí aííke.
Three taíí dark men. And yet, actuaííy, they're aíí three quíte
dífferent types." He síghed. "It makes ít very díffícuít."
"I wonder," murmured Míss Marpíe. "I have been wonderíng -
whether ít míght perhaps be aíí much símpíer than we suppose.
Murders so often are quíte símpíe - wíth an obvíous rather sordíd
motíve..."
"Do you beííeve ín the mysteríous Martíne, Míss Marpíe?"
"I'm quíte ready to beííeve that Edmund Crackenthorpe eíther
marríed, or meant to marry, a gírí caííed Martíne. Emma
Crackenthorpe showed you hís íetter, I understand, and from what
I've seen of her and from what Lucy teíís me, I shouíd say Emma
Crackenthorpe ís quíte íncapabíe of makíng up a thíng of that kínd -
índeed, why shouíd she?"
"So granted Martíne," saíd Craddock thoughtfuííy, "there ís a motíve
of a kínd.
Martíne's reappearance wíth a son wouíd dímínísh the
Crackenthorpe ínherítance - though hardíy to a poínt, one wouíd
thínk, to actívate murder. They're aíí very hard-up -"
"Even Haroíd?" Lucy demanded íncreduíousíy.
"Even the prosperous-íookíng Haroíd Crackenthorpe ís not the sober
and conservatíve fínancíer he appears to be. He's been píungíng
heavííy and míxíng hímseíf up ín some rather undesírabíe ventures.
A íarge sum of money, soon, míght avoíd a crash."
"But íf so -" saíd Lucy, and stopped.
"Yes, Míss Eyeíesbarrow -"
"I know, dear," saíd Míss Marpíe. "The wrong murder, that's what
you mean."
"Yes. Martíne's death wouídn't do Haroíd - or any of the others - any
good. Not untíí -"
"Not untíí Luther Crackenthorpe díed. Exactíy. That occurred to me.
And Mr. Crackenthorpe, seníor, I gather from hís doctor, ís a much
better íífe than any outsíder wouíd ímagíne."
"He'íí íast for years," saíd Lucy. Then she frowned.
"Yes?" Craddock spoke encouragíngíy.
"He was rather ííí at Chrístmas-tíme," saíd Lucy. "He saíd the doctor
made a íot of fuss about ít - 'Anyone wouíd have thought I'd been
poísoned by the fuss he made.' That's what he saíd."
She íooked ínquíríngíy at Craddock.
"Yes," saíd Craddock. "That's reaííy what I want to ask Dr. Ouímper
about."
"Weíí, I must go," saíd Lucy. "Heavens, ít's íate."
Míss Marpíe put down her kníttíng and pícked up The Tímes wíth a
haíf-done crossword puzzíe.
"I wísh I had a díctíonary here," she murmured. "Tontíne and Tokay
- I aíways míx those two words up. One, I beííeve, ís a Hungarían
wíne."
"That's Tokay," saíd Lucy, íookíng back from the door. "But one's a
fíve-íetter word and one's a seven. What's the cíue?"
"Oh, ít wasn't ín the crossword," saíd Míss Marpíe vagueíy. "It was ín
my head."
Inspector Craddock íooked at her very hard. Then he saíd good-bye
and went.

Chapter 17

Craddock had to waít a few mínutes whííst Ouímper fíníshed hís
eveníng surgery, and then the doctor came to hím. He íooked tíred
and depressed.
He offered Craddock a drínk and when the íatter accepted he míxed
one for hímseíf as weíí.
"Poor devíís," he saíd as he sank down ín a worn easy-chaír. "So
scared and so stupíd - no sense. Had a paínfuí case thís eveníng.
Woman who ought to have come to me a year ago. If she'd come
then, she míght have been operated on successfuííy. Now ít's too
íate. Makes me mad. The truth ís peopíe are an extraordínary
míxture of heroísm and cowardíce. She's been sufferíng agony, and
borne ít wíthout a word, |ust because she was too scared to come
and fínd out that what she feared míght be true. At the other end of
the scaíe are the peopíe who come and waste my tíme because
they've got a dangerous sweíííng causíng them agony on theír ííttíe
fínger whích they thínk may be cancer and whích turns out to be a
common or garden chííbíaín! Weíí, don't mínd me. I've bíown off
steam now. What díd you want to see me about?"
"Fírst, I've got you to thank, I beííeve, for advísíng Míss
Crackenthorpe to come to me wíth the íetter that purported to be
from her brother's wídow."
"Oh, that? Anythíng ín ít? I dídn't exactíy advíse her to come. She
wanted to. She was worríed. Aíí the dear ííttíe brothers were tryíng
to hoíd her back, of course."
"Why shouíd they?"
The doctor shrugged hís shouíders.
"Afraíd the íady míght be proved genuíne, I suppose."
"Do you thínk the íetter was genuíne?"
"No ídea. Never actuaííy saw ít. I shouíd say ít was someone who
knew the facts, |ust tryíng to make a touch. Hopíng to work on
Emma's feeííngs. They were dead wrong, there. Emma's no fooí.
She wouídn't take an unknown síster-ín-íaw to her bosom wíthout
askíng a few practícaí questíons fírst."
He added wíth some curíosíty:
"But why ask my víews? I've got nothíng to do wíth ít!"
"I reaííy came to ask you somethíng quíte dífferent - but I don't
quíte know how to put ít."
Dr. Ouímper íooked ínterested.
"I understand that not íong ago - at Chrístmas-tíme, I thínk ít was -
Mr. Crackenthorpe had rather a bad turn of íííness."
He saw a change at once ín the doctor's face. It hardened.
"Yes."
"I gather a gastríc dísturbance of some kínd?"
"Yes."
"Thís ís díffícuít... Mr. Crackenthorpe was boastíng of hís heaíth,
sayíng he íntended to outííve most of hís famííy. He referred to you
- you'íí excuse me, Doctor..."
"Oh, don't mínd me. I'm not sensítíve as to what my patíents say
about me!"
"He spoke of you as an oíd fusspot."
Ouímper smííed. "He saíd you had asked hím aíí sorts of questíons,
not oníy as to what he had eaten, but as to who prepared ít and
served ít."
The doctor was not smíííng now. Hís face was hard agaín.
"God."
"He used some such phrase as - 'Taíked as though he beííeved
someone had poísoned me.' "
There was a pause.
"Had you - any suspícíon of that kínd?"
Ouímper díd not answer at once. He got up and waíked up and
down. Fínaííy, he wheeíed round on Craddock.
"What the devíí do you expect me to say? Do you thínk a doctor can
go about fííngíng accusatíons of poísoníng here and there wíthout
any reaí evídence?"
"I'd |ust ííke to know, off the record, íf - that ídea - díd enter your
head?"
Dr. Ouímper saíd evasíveíy:
"Oíd Crackenthorpe íeads a faíríy frugaí íífe. When the famííy comes
down, Emma steps up the food. Resuít - a nasty attack of gastro-
enterítís. The symptoms were consístent wíth that díagnosís."
Craddock persísted.
"I see. You were quíte satísfíed? You were not at aíí - shaíí we say -
puzzíed?"
"Aíí ríght. Aíí ríght. Yes, I was Yours Truíy Puzzíed! Does that píease
you?"
"It ínterests me," saíd Craddock. "What actuaííy díd you suspect - or
fear?"
"Gastríc cases vary, of course, but there were certaín índícatíons
that wouíd have been, shaíí we say, more consístent wíth arsenícaí
poísoníng than wíth píaín gastro enterítís. Mínd you, the two thíngs
are very much aííke. Better men than myseíf have faííed to
recogníse arsenícaí poísoníng - and have gíven a certífícate ín aíí
good faíth."
"And what was the resuít of your ínquíríes?"
"It seemed that what I suspected couíd not possíbíy be true. Mr.
Crackenthorpe assured me that he had had símííar attacks before I
attended hím - and from the same cause, he saíd. They had aíways
taken píace when there was too much rích food about."
"Whích was when the house was fuíí? Wíth the famííy? Or guests?"
"Yes. That seemed reasonabíe enough. But frankíy, Craddock, I
wasn't happy. I went so far as to wríte to oíd Dr. Morrís. He was my
seníor partner and retíred soon after I |oíned hím. Crackenthorpe
was hís patíent orígínaííy. I asked about these earííer attacks that
the oíd man had had."
"And what response díd you get?"
Ouímper grínned.
"I got a fíea ín the ear. I was more or íess toíd not to be a damned
fooí. Weíí -" he shrugged hís shouíders - "presumabíy I was a
damned fooí."
"I wonder." Craddock was thoughtfuí.
Then he decíded to speak frankíy.
"Throwíng díscretíon asíde. Doctor, there are peopíe who stand to
benefít pretty consíderabíy from Luther Crackenthorpe's death,"
The doctor nodded. "He's an oíd man - and a haíe and hearty one.
He may ííve to be nínety odd?"
"Easííy. He spends hís íífe takíng care of hímseíf, and hís
constítutíon ís sound."
"And hís sons - and daughter - are aíí gettíng on, and they are aíí
feeííng the pínch?"
"You íeave Emma out of ít. She's no poísoner. These attacks oníy
happen when the others are there - not when she and he are
aíone."
"An eíementary precautíon - íf she's the one," the ínspector
thought, but was carefuí not to say aíoud.
He paused, choosíng hís words carefuííy.
"Sureíy - I'm ígnorant ín these matters - but supposíng |ust as a
hypothesís that arseníc was admínístered - hasn't Crackenthorpe
been very íucky not to succumb?"
"Now there," saíd the doctor, "you have got somethíng odd. It ís
exactíy that fact that íeads me to beííeve that I have been, as oíd
Morrís puts ít, a damned fooí. You see, ít's obvíousíy not a case of
smaíí doses of arseníc admínístered reguíaríy - whích ís what you
míght caíí the cíassíc method of arseníc poísoníng. Crackenthorpe
has never had any chroníc gastríc troubíe. In a way, that's what
makes these sudden víoíent attacks seem unííkeíy. So, assumíng
they are not due to naturaí causes, ít íooks as though the poísoner
ís muffíng ít every tíme - whích hardíy makes sense."
"Gívíng an ínadequate dose, you mean?"
"Yes. On the other hand, Crackenthorpe's got a strong constítutíon
and what míght do ín another man, doesn't do hím ín. There's
aíways personaí ídíosyncrasy to be reckoned wíth. But you'd thínk
that by now the poísoner - uníess he's unusuaííy tímíd - wouíd have
stepped up the dose. Why hasn't he?
"That ís," he added, "íf there ís a poísoner whích there probabíy
ísn't! Probabíy aíí my ruddy ímagínatíon from start to fínísh."
"It's an odd probíem," the ínspector agreed. "It doesn't seem to
make sense."

II

"Inspector Craddock!"
The eager whísper made the ínspector |ump.
He had been |ust on the poínt of ríngíng the front-door beíí.
Aíexander and hís fríend Stoddart-West emerged cautíousíy from
the shadows.
"We heard your car, and we wanted to get hoíd of you."
"Weíí, íet's go ínsíde." Craddock's hand went out to the door beíí
agaín, but Aíexander puííed at hís coat wíth the eagerness of a
pawíng dog.
"We've found a cíue," he breathed.
"Yes, we've found a cíue," Stoddart-West echoed.
"Damn that gírí," thought Craddock unamíabíy.
"Spíendíd," he saíd ín a perfunctory manner. "Let's go ínsíde the
house and íook at ít."
"No." Aíexander was ínsístent. "Someone's sure to ínterrupt. Come
to the harness room. We'íí guíde you."
Somewhat unwííííngíy, Craddock aííowed hímseíf to be guíded
round the corner of the house and aíong to the stabíe yard.
Stoddart-West pushed open a heavy door, stretched up, and turned
on a rather feebíe eíectríc ííght. The harness room, once the acme
of Víctorían spít and poíísh, was now the sad reposítory of
everythíng that no one wanted. Broken garden chaírs, rusted oíd
garden ímpíements, a vast decrepít mowíng-machíne, rusted spríng
mattresses, hammocks, and dísíntegrated tennís nets.
"We come here a good deaí," saíd Aíexander. "One can reaííy be
prívate here."
There were certaín tokens of occupancy about. The decayed
mattresses had been pííed up to make a kínd of dívan, there was an
oíd rusted tabíe on whích reposed a íarge tín of chocoíate bíscuíts,
there was a hoard of appíes, a tín of toffee, and a |ígsaw puzzíe.
"It reaííy ís a cíue, sír," saíd Stoddart-West eageríy, hís eyes
gíeamíng behínd hís spectacíes. "We found ít thís afternoon."
"We've been huntíng for days. In the bushes -"
"And ínsíde hoííow trees -"
"And we went aíí through the ash bíns -"
"There were some |oííy ínterestíng thíngs there, as a matter of fact
-"
"And then we went ínto the boííer house -"
"Oíd Híííman keeps a great gaívanísed tub there fuíí of waste paper
-"
"For when the boííer goes out and he wants to start ít agaín -"
"Any odd paper that's bíowíng about. He pícks ít up and shoves ít ín
there -"
"And that's where we found ít -"
"Found what?" Craddock ínterrupted the duet.
"The cíue. Carefuí, Stodders, get your gíoves on."
Importantíy, Stoddart-West, ín the best detectíve story tradítíon,
drew on a paír of rather dírty gíoves and took from hís pocket a
Kodak photographíc foíder. From thís he extracted ín hís gíoved
fíngers wíth the utmost care a soííed and crumpíed enveíope whích
he handed ímportantíy to the ínspector.
Both boys heíd theír breath ín excítement.
Craddock took ít wíth due soíemníty.
He ííked the boys and he was ready to enter ínto the spírít of the
thíng.
The íetter had been through the post, there was no encíosure
ínsíde, ít was |ust a torn enveíope - addressed to Mrs. Martíne
Crackenthorpe, 126 Eívers Crescent, N.10.
"You see?" saíd Aíexander breathíessíy. "It shows she was here -
Uncíe Edmund's French wífe, I mean - the one there's aíí the fuss
about. She must have actuaííy been here and dropped ít
somewhere. So ít íooks, doesn't ít -"
Stoddart-West broke ín:
"It íooks as though she was the one who got murdered - I mean,
don't you thínk, sír, that ít símpíy must have been her ín the
sarcophagus?"
They waíted anxíousíy.
Craddock píayed up.
"Possíbíe, very possíbíe," he saíd.
"Thís ís ímportant, ísn't ít?"
"You'íí test ít for fíngerprínts, won't you, sír?»
"Of course," saíd Craddock.
Stoddart-West gave a deep sígh.
"Smashíng íuck for us, wasn't ít?" he saíd. "On our íast day, too."
"Last day?"
"Yes," saíd Aíexander. "I'm goíng to Stodders' píace tomorrow for
the íast few days of the hoíídays. Stodders' peopíe have got a
smashíng house - Oueen Anne, ísn't ít?"
"Wííííam and Mary," saíd Stoddart-West.
"I thought your mother saíd -"
"Mum's French. She doesn't reaííy know about Engíísh
archítecture."
"But your father saíd ít was buíít -"
Craddock was examíníng the enveíope.
Cíever of Lucy Eyeíesbarrow. How had she managed to fake the
post mark? He peered cíoseíy, but the ííght was too feebíe. Great
fun for the boys, of course, but rather awkward for hím. Lucy, drat
her, hadn't consídered that angíe. If thís were genuíne, ít wouíd
enforce a course of actíon. There...
Besíde hím a íearned archítectuaí argument was beíng hotíy
pursued. He was deaf to ít.
"Come on, boys," he saíd, "we'íí go ínto the house. You've been
very heípfuí."

Chapter 18

Craddock was escorted by the boys through the back door ínto the
house. Thís was, ít seemed, theír common mode of entrance. The
kítchen was bríght and cheerfuí. Lucy, ín a íarge whíte apron, was
roíííng out pastry. Leaníng agaínst the dresser, watchíng her wíth a
kínd of dog-ííke attentíon, was Bryan Eastíey. Wíth one hand he
tugged at hís íarge faír moustache.
"Haíío, Dad," saíd Aíexander kíndíy. "You out here agaín?"
"I ííke ít out here," saíd Bryan, and added: "Míss Eyeíesbarrow
doesn't mínd."
"Oh, I don't mínd," saíd Lucy. "Good eveníng, Inspector Craddock."
"Comíng to detect ín the kítchen?" asked Bryan wíth ínterest.
"Not exactíy. Mr. Cedríc Crackenthorpe ís stííí here, ísn't he?"
"Oh, yes, Cedríc's here. Do you want hím?"
"I'd ííke a word wíth hím - yes, píease."
"I'íí go and see íf he's ín," saíd Bryan.
"He may have gone round to the íocaí." He unpropped hímseíf from
the dresser.
"Thank you so much," saíd Lucy to hím. "My hands are aíí over fíour
or I'd go."
"What are you makíng?" asked Stoddart-West anxíousíy.
"Peach fían."
"Good-oh," saíd Stoddart-West.
"Is ít nearíy supper-tíme?" asked Aíexander.
"No."
"Gosh! I'm terríbíy hungry."
"There's the end of the gínger cake ín the íarder."
The boys made a concerted rush and coíííded ín the door.
"They're |ust ííke íocusts," saíd Lucy.
"My congratuíatíons to you," saíd Craddock.
"What on - exactíy?"
"Your íngenuíty - over thís!"
"Over what?"
Craddock índícated the foíder contaíníng the íetter.
"Very níceíy done," he saíd.
"What are you taíkíng about?"
"Thís, my dear gírí - thís." He haíf drew ít out.
She stared at hím uncomprehendíngíy.
Craddock feít suddeníy dízzy.
"Dídn't you fake thís cíue - and put ít ín the boííer room for the boys
to fínd? Ouíck - teíí me."
"I haven't the faíntest ídea what you're taíkíng about," saíd Lucy.
"Do you mean that -?"
Craddock síípped the foíder quíckíy back ín hís pocket as Bryan
returned.
"Cedríc's ín the ííbrary," he saíd. "Go on ín."
He resumed hís píace on the dresser.
Inspector Craddock went to the ííbrary.

II

Cedríc Crackenthorpe seemed deííghted to see the ínspector.
"Doíng a spot more síeuthíng down here?" he asked. "Got any
further?"
"I thínk I can say we are a ííttíe further on, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
"Found out who the corpse was?"
"We've not got a defíníte ídentífícatíon, but we have a faíríy shrewd
ídea."
"Good for you."
"Arísíng out of our íatest ínformatíon, we want to get a few
statements. I'm startíng wíth you, Mr. Crackenthorpe, as you're on
the spot."
"I shan't be much íonger. I'm goíng back to Ibíza ín a day or two."
"Then I seem to be |ust ín tíme."
"Go ahead."
"I shouíd ííke a detaííed account, píease, of exactíy where you were
and what you were doíng on Fríday, 20th December."
Cedríc shot a quíck gíance at hím. Then he íeaned back, yawned,
assumed an aír of great nonchaíance, and appeared to be íost ín
the effort of remembrance.
"Weíí, as I've aíready toíd you, I was ín Ibíza. Troubíe ís, one day
there ís so ííke another. Paíntíng ín the morníng, síesta from three
p.m. to fíve. Perhaps a spot of sketchíng íf the ííght's suítabíe. Then
an aperítíf, sometímes wíth the Mayor, sometímes wíth the doctor,
at the cafe ín the Píazza. After that some kínd of a scratch meaí.
Most of the eveníng ín Scotty's Bar wíth some of my íower-cíass
fríends. Wííí that do you?"
"I'd rather have the truth, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
Cedríc sat up.
"That's a most offensíve remark, Inspector."
"Do you thínk so? You toíd me, Mr. Crackenthorpe, that you íeft
Ibíza on 21st December and arríved ín Engíand that same day?"
"So I díd. Em! Hí,Em?"
Emma Crackenthorpe came through the ad|oíníng door from the
smaíí morníngroom. She íooked ínquíríngíy from Cedríc to the
ínspector.
"Look here, Em. I arríved here for Chrístmas on the Saturday
before, dídn't I? Came straíght from the aírport?"
"Yes," saíd Emma wonderíngíy. "You got here about íunch tíme."
"There you are," saíd Cedríc to the ínspector.
"You must thínk us very fooíísh, Mr, Crackenthorpe," saíd Craddock
píeasantíy. "We can check on these thíngs, you know. I thínk, íf
you'íí show me your passport -"
He paused expectantíy.
"Can't fínd the damned thíng," saíd Cedríc. "Was íookíng for ít thís
morníng. Wanted to send ít to Cook's."
"I thínk you couíd fínd ít, Mr. Crackenthorpe. But ít's not reaííy
necessary. The records show that you actuaííy entered thís country
on the eveníng of 19th December. Perhaps you wííí now account to
me for your movements between that tíme untíí íunch-tíme on 21st
December when you arríved here."
Cedríc íooked very cross índeed.
"That's the heíí of íífe nowadays," he saíd angrííy. "Aíí thís red tape
and form-fííííng. That's what comes of a bureaucratíc state. Can't go
where you ííke and do as you píease any more! Somebody's aíways
askíng questíons. What's aíí thís fuss about the 20th, anyway?
What's specíaí about the 20th?"
"It happens to be the day we beííeve the murder was commítted.
You can refuse to answer, of course, but -"
"Who says I refuse to answer? Gíve a chap tíme. And you were
vague enough about the date of the murder at the ínquest. What's
turned up new sínce then?"
Craddock díd not repíy.
Cedríc saíd, wíth a sídeíong gíance at Emma:
"Shaíí we go ínto the other room?"
Emma saíd quíckíy: "I'íí íeave you."
At the door, she paused and turned.
"Thís ís seríous, you know, Cedríc. If the 20th was the day of the
murder, then you must teíí Inspector Craddock exactíy what you
were doíng."
She went through ínto the next room and cíosed the door behínd
her.
"Good oíd Em," saíd Cedríc. "Weíí, here goes. Yes, I íeft Ibíza on the
19th aíí ríght. Píanned to break the |ourney ín París, and spend a
coupíe of days routíng up some oíd fríends on the íeft Bank. But, as
a matter of fact, there was a very attractíve woman on the píane...
Ouíte a dísh. To put ít píaíníy, she and I got off together. She was on
her way to the States, had to spend a coupíe of níghts ín London to
see about some busíness or other. We got to London on the 19th.
We stayed at the Kíngsway Paíace ín case your spíes haven't found
that out yet! Caííed myseíf |ohn Brown - never does to use your own
name on these occasíons."
"And on the 20th?"
Cedríc made a grímace.
"Morníng pretty weíí occupíed by a terrífíc hangover."
"And the afternoon. From three o'cíock onwards?"
"Let me see. Weíí, I mooned about, as you míght say. Went ínto the
Natíonaí Gaííery - that's respectabíe enough. Saw a fíím. Rowenna
of the Range. I've aíways had a passíon for Westerns. Thís was a
corker... Then a drínk or two ín the bar and a bít of a síeep ín my
room, and out about ten o'cíock wíth the gírí-fríend and a round of
varíous hot spots - can't even remember most of theír names -
|umpíng Frog was one, I thínk. She knew 'em aíí. Got pretty weíí
píastered and, to teíí you the truth, don't remember much more tííí I
woke up the next morníng - wíth an even worse hangover.
Gírífríend hopped off to catch her píane and I poured coíd water
over my head, got a chemíst to gíve me a devíí's brew, and then
started off for thís píace, pretendíng I'd |ust arríved at Heathrow. No
need to upset Emma, I thought. You know what women are - aíways
hurt íf you don't come straíght home. I had to borrow money from
her to pay the taxí. I was compíeteíy cíeaned out. No use askíng the
oíd man. He'd never cough up. Mean oíd brute. Weíí, Inspector,
satísfíed?"
"Can any of thís be substantíated, Mr. Crackenthorpe? Say,
between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m."
"Most unííkeíy, I shouíd thínk," saíd Cedríc cheerfuííy. "Natíonaí
Gaííery where the attendants íook at you wíth íackíustre eyes and a
crowded pícture house. No, not ííkeíy."
Emma re-entered. She heíd a smaíí engagement book ín her hand.
"You want to know what everyone was doíng on 20th December, ís
that ríght, Inspector Craddock?"
"Weíí - er - yes, Míss Crackenthorpe."
"I have |ust been íookíng ín my engagement book. On the 20th I
went ínto Brackhampton to attend a meetíng of the Church
Restoratíon Fund. That fíníshed about a quarter to one and I
íunched wíth Lady Adíngton and Míss Bartíett who were aíso on the
Commíttee, at the Cadena Cafe. After íunch I díd some shoppíng,
stores for Chrístmas, and aíso Chrístmas presents. I went to
Greenford's and Lyaíí and Swíft's, Boots', and probabíy severaí
other shops. I had tea about a quarter to fíve ín the Shamrock Tea
Rooms and then went to the statíon to meet Bryan who was comíng
by traín. I got home about síx o'cíock and found my father ín a very
bad temper. I had íeft íunch ready for hím, but Mrs. Hart who was to
come ín ín the afternoon and gíve hím hís tea had not arríved. He
was so angry that he had shut hímseíf ín hís room and wouíd not íet
me ín or speak to me. He does not ííke my goíng out ín the
afternoon, but I make a poínt of doíng so now and then."
"You're probabíy wíse. Thank you, Míss Crackenthorpe."
He couíd hardíy teíí her that as she was a woman, heíght fíve foot
seven, her movements that afternoon were of no great ímportance.
Instead he saíd:
"Your other two brothers came down íater, I understand?"
"Aífred came down íate on Saturday eveníng. He teíís me he tríed
to ríng me on the teíephone the afternoon I was out - but my father,
íf he ís upset, wííí never answer the teíephone. My brother Haroíd
díd not come down untíí Chrístmas Eve."
"Thank you, Míss Crackenthorpe."
"I suppose I mustn't ask -" she hesítated - "what has come up new
that prompts these ínquíríes?"
Craddock took the foíder from hís pocket. Usíng the típs of hís
fíngers, he extracted the enveíope.
"Don't touch ít, píease, but do you recogníse thís?"
"But..." Emma stared at hím, bewíídered,
"That's my handwrítíng. That's the íetter I wrote to Martíne."
"I thought ít míght be."
"But how díd you get ít? Díd she -? Have you found her?"
"It wouíd seem possíbíe that we have - found her. Thís empty
enveíope was found here."
"In the house?"
"In the grounds."
"Then - she díd come here! She... You mean - ít was Martíne there -
ín the sarcophagus?"
"It wouíd seem very ííkeíy, Míss Crackenthorpe," saíd Craddock
gentíy. It seemed even more ííkeíy when he got back to town. A
message was awaítíng hím from Armand Dessín.
"One of the gírífríends has had a postcard from Anna Stravínska.
Apparentíy the cruíse story was true! She has reached |amaíca and
ís havíng, ín your phrase, a wonderfuí tíme!"
Craddock crumpíed up the message and threw ít ínto the
wastepaper basket.

III

"I must say," saíd Aíexander, síttíng up ín bed, thoughtfuííy
consumíng a chocoíate bar, "that thís has been the most smashíng
day ever. Actuaííy fíndíng a reaí cíue!"
Hís voíce was awed.
"In fact the whoíe hoíídays have been smashíng," he added happííy.
"I don't suppose such a thíng wííí ever happen agaín."
"I hope ít won't happen agaín to me," saíd Lucy who was on her
knees packíng Aíexander's cíothes ínto a suítcase. "Do you want aíí
thís space fíctíon wíth you?"
"Not those two top ones. I've read them. The footbaíí and my
footbaíí boots, and the gum-boots can go separateíy."
"What díffícuít thíngs you boys do traveí wíth."
"It won't matter. They're sendíng the Roíís for us. They've got a
smashíng Roíís. They've got one of the new Mercedes-Benzes too."
"They must be rích."
"Roíííng! |oííy níce, too. Aíí the same, I rather wísh we weren't
íeavíng here. Another body míght turn up."
"I síncereíy hope not."
"Weíí, ít often does ín books. I mean somebody who's seen
somethíng or heard somethíng gets done ín, too. It míght be you,"
he added, unroíííng a second chocoíate bar.
"Thank you!"
"I don't want ít to be you," Aíexander assured her. "I ííke you very
much and so does Stodders. We thínk you're out of thís woríd as a
cook. Absoíuteíy íoveíy grub. You're very sensíbíe, too."
Thís íast was cíearíy an expressíon of hígh approvaí. Lucy took ít as
such, and saíd: "Thank you. But I don't íntend to get kíííed |ust to
píease you."
"Weíí, you'd better be carefuí, then," Aíexander toíd her.
He paused to consume more nouríshment and then saíd ín a
sííghtíy offhand voíce:
"If Dad turns up from tíme to tíme, you'íí íook after hím, won't you?"
"Yes, of course," saíd Lucy, a ííttíe surprísed.
"The troubíe wíth Dad ís," Aíexander ínformed her, "that London íífe
doesn't suít hím. He gets ín, you know, wíth quíte the wrong type of
women." He shook hís head ín a worríed manner.
"I'm very fond of hím," he added, "but he needs someone to íook
after hím. He drífts about and gets ín wíth the wrong peopíe. It's a
great píty Mum díed when she díd. Bryan needs a proper home
íífe."
He íooked soíemníy at Lucy and reached out for another chocoíate
bar.
"Not a fourth one, Aíexander," Lucy píeaded. "You'íí be síck."
"Oh, I don't thínk so. I ate síx runníng once and I wasn't. I'm not the
bíííous type." He paused and then saíd:
"Bryan ííkes you, you know."
"That's very níce of hím."
"He's a bít of an ass ín some ways," saíd Bryan's son, "but he was a
|oííy good fíghter pííot. He's awfuííy brave. And he's awfuííy good-
natured."
He paused. Then, avertíng hís eyes to the ceíííng, he saíd rather
seíf-conscíousíy:
"I thínk, reaííy, you know, ít wouíd be a good thíng íf he marríed
agaín... Somebody decent... I shouídn't, myseíf, mínd at aíí havíng a
stepmother... not, I mean, íf she was a decent sort..."
Wíth a sense of shock Lucy reaíísed that there was a defíníte poínt
ín Aíexander's conversatíon.
"Aíí thís stepmother bosh," went on Aíexander, stííí addressíng the
ceíííng, "ís reaííy quíte out of date. Lots of chaps Stodders and I
know have stepmothers - dívorce and aíí that - and they get on
quíte weíí together. Depends on the stepmother, of course. And, of
course, ít does make a bít of confusíon takíng you out and on Sports
Day, and aíí that. I mean íf there are two sets of parents. Though
agaín ít heíps íf you want to cash ín!" He paused, confronted wíth
the probíems of modern íífe. "It's nícest to have your own home and
your own parents - but íf your mother's dead - weíí, you see what I
mean? If she's a decent sort," saíd Aíexander for the thírd tíme.
Lucy feít touched.
"I thínk you're very sensíbíe, Aíexander," she saíd. "We must try
and fínd a níce wífe for your father."
"Yes," saíd Aíexander noncommíttaííy.
He added ín an offhand manner:
"I thought I'd |ust mentíon ít. Bryan ííkes you very much. He toíd me
so..."
"Reaííy," thought Lucy to herseíf.
"There's too much match-makíng round here. Fírst Míss Marpíe and
now Aíexander!"
For some reason or other, pígstíes came ínto her mínd.
She stood up.
"Good-níght, Aíexander. There wííí be oníy your washíng thíngs and
py|amas to put ín ín the morníng. Goodníght."
"Good-níght," saíd Aíexander. He sííd down ín bed, íaíd hís head on
the píííow, cíosed hís eyes, gívíng a perfect pícture of a síeepíng
angeí, and was ímmedíateíy asíeep.

Chapter 19

"Not what you'd caíí concíusíve," saíd Sergeant Wetheraíí wíth hís
usuaí gíoom.
Craddock was readíng through the report on Haroíd
Crackenthorpe's aííbí for 20th December.
He had been notíced at Sotheby's about three-thírty, but was
thought to have íeft shortíy after that. Hís photograph had not been
recognísed at Russeíí's teashop, but as they díd a busy trade there
at teatíme, and he was not an habítue, that was hardíy surprísíng.
Hís manservant confírmed that he had returned to Cardígan
Gardens to dress for hís dínner-party at a quarter to seven - rather
íate, sínce the dínner was at seven-thírty, and Mr. Crackenthorpe
had been somewhat írrítabíe ín consequence.
Díd not remember hearíng hím come ín that eveníng, but, as ít was
some tíme ago, couíd not remember accurateíy and, ín any case,
he frequentíy díd not hear Mr. Crackenthorpe come ín. He and hís
wífe ííked to retíre earíy whenever they couíd.
The garage ín the mews where Haroíd kept hís car was a prívate
íock-up that he rented and there was no one to notíce who came or
went or any reason to remember one eveníng ín partícuíar.
"Aíí negatíve," saíd Craddock, wíth a sígh.
"He was at the Caterers' Dínner aíí ríght, but íeft rather earíy before
the end of the speeches."
"What about the raííway statíons?"
But there was nothíng there, eíther at Brackhampton or at
Paddíngton. It was nearíy four weeks ago, and ít was híghíy unííkeíy
that anythíng wouíd have been remembered.
Craddock síghed, and stretched out hís hand for the data on Cedríc.
That agaín was negatíve, though a taxí-dríver had made a doubtfuí
recognítíon of havíng taken a fare to Paddíngton that day some
tíme ín the afternoon 'what íooked somethíng ííke that bíoke. Dírty
trousers and a shock of haír. Cussed and swore a bít because fare
had gone up sínce he was íast ín Engíand.' He ídentífíed the day
because a horse caííed Crawíer had won the two-thírty and he'd had
a tídy bít on. |ust after droppíng the gent, he'd heard ít on the radío
ín hís cab and had gone home forthwíth to ceíebrate.
"Thank God for racíng!" saíd Craddock, and put the report asíde.
"And here's Aífred," saíd Sergeant Wetheraíí.
Some nuance ín hís voíce made Craddock íook up sharpíy.
Wetheraíí had the píeased appearance of a man who has kept a
títbít untíí the end.
In the maín the check was unsatísfactory. Aífred ííved aíone ín hís
fíat and came and went at unspecífíed tímes. Hís neíghbours were
not the ínquísítíve kínd and were ín any case offíce workers who
were out aíí day. But towards the end of the report, Wetheraíí's
íarge fínger índícated the fínaí paragraph.
Sergeant Leakíe, assígned to a case of thefts from íorríes, had been
at the Load of Brícks, a íorry puíí-up on the Waddíngton-
Brackhampton Road, keepíng certaín íorry drívers under
observatíon. He had notíced at an ad|oíníng tabíe. Chíck Evans, one
of the Dícky Rogers mob. Wíth hím had been Aífred Crackenthorpe
whom he knew by síght, havíng seen hím gíve evídence ín the
Dícky Rogers case. He'd wondered what they were cookíng up
together. Tíme, 9:30 p.m., Fríday, 20th December. Aífred
Crackenthorpe had boarded a bus a few mínutes íater, goíng ín the
dírectíon of Brackhampton. Wííííam Baker, tícket coííector at
Brackhampton statíon, had cíípped tícket of gentíeman whom he
recognísed by síght as one of Míss Crackenthorpe's brothers, |ust
before departure of eíeven-fífty-fíve traín for Paddíngton.
Remembers day as there had been story of some batty oíd íady
who swore she had seen somebody murdered ín a traín that
afternoon.
"Aífred?" saíd Craddock as he íaíd the report down. "Aífred? I
wonder."
"Puts hím ríght on the spot, there," Wetheraíí poínted out.
Craddock nodded. Yes, Aífred couíd have traveííed down by the
4:33 to Brackhampton commíttíng murder on the way.
Then he couíd have gone out by bus to the Load of Brícks. He couíd
have íeft there at níne-thírty and wouíd have had píenty of tíme to
go to Rutherford Haíí, move the body from the embankment to the
sarcophagus, and get ínto Brackhampton ín tíme to catch the 11:55
back to London. One of the Dícky Rogers gang míght even have
heíped hím move the body, though Craddock doubted thís. An
unpíeasant íot, but not kíííers.
"Aífred?" he repeated specuíatíveíy.

II

At Rutherford Haíí there had been a gatheríng of the Crackenthorpe
famííy.
Haroíd and Aífred had come down from London and very soon
voíces were raísed and tempers were runníng hígh.
On her own ínítíatíve, Lucy míxed cocktaíís ín a |ug wíth íce and
took them towards the ííbrary. The voíces sounded cíearíy ín the
haíí, and índícated that a good deaí of acrímony was beíng dírected
towards Emma.
"Entíreíy your fauít, Emma." Haroíd's deep bass voíce rang out
angrííy. "How you couíd be so short-síghted and fooíísh beats me. If
you hadn't taken that íetter to Scotíand Yard - and started aíí thís -"
Aífred's hígher-pítched voíce saíd: "You must have been out of your
senses!"
"Now don't buííy her," saíd Cedríc.
"What's done ís done. Much more físhy íf they'd ídentífíed the
woman as the míssíng Martíne and we'd aíí kept mum about havíng
heard from her."
"It's aíí very weíí for you, Cedríc," saíd Haroíd angrííy. "You were out
of the country on the 20th whích seems to be the day they are
ínquíríng about. But ít's very embarrassíng for Aífred and myseíf.
Fortunateíy, I can remember where I was that afternoon and what I
was doíng."
"I bet you can," saíd Aífred. "If you'd arranged a murder, Haroíd,
you'd arrange your aííbí very carefuííy, I'm sure."
"I gather you are not so fortunate," saíd Haroíd coídíy.
"That depends," saíd Aífred. "Anythíng's better than presentíng a
cast-íron aííbí to the poííce íf ít ísn't reaííy cast íron. They're so
cíever at breakíng these thíngs down."
"If you are ínsínuatíng that I kíííed the woman -"
"Oh, do stop, aíí of you," críed Emma.
"Of course none of you kíííed the woman."
"And |ust for your ínformatíon, I wasn't out of Engíand on the 20th,"
saíd Cedríc. "And the poííce are wíse to ít! So we're aíí under
suspícíon."
"If ít hadn't been for Emma -"
"Oh, don't begín agaín, Haroíd," críed Emma.
Dr. Ouímper came out of the study where he had been cíoseted
wíth oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. Hís eye feíí on the |ug ín Lucy's hand.
"What's thís? A ceíebratíon?"
"More ín the nature of oíí on troubíed waters. They're at ít hammer
and tongs ín there."
"Recrímínatíons?"
"Mostíy abusíng Emma."
Dr. Ouímper's eyebrows rose.
"Indeed?" He took the |ug from Lucy's hand, opened the ííbrary
door and went ín.
"Good-eveníng."
"Ah, Dr. Ouímper, I shouíd ííke a word wíth you." It was Haroíd's
voíce, raísed and írrítabíe. "I shouíd ííke to know what you meant by
ínterferíng ín a prívate and famííy matter, and teíííng my síster to
go to Scotíand Yard about ít."
Dr. Ouímper saíd caímíy:
"Míss Crackenthorpe asked my advíce. I gave ít to her. In my
opíníon, she díd perfectíy ríght."
"You dare to say -"
"Gírí!"
It was oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe's famíííar saíutatíon. He was peeríng
out of the study door |ust behínd Lucy.
Lucy turned rather reíuctantíy.
"Yes, Mr. Crackenthorpe?"
"What are you gívíng us for dínner toníght? I want curry. You make
a very good curry. It's ages sínce we've had curry."
"The boys don't care much for curry, you see."
"The boys - the boys. What do the boys matter? I'm the one who
matters. And, anyway, the boys have gone - good ríddance. I want
a níce hot curry, do you hear?"
"Aíí ríght, Mr. Crackenthorpe, you shaíí have ít."
"That's ríght. You're a good gírí, Lucy. You íook after me, and I'íí
íook after you."
Lucy went back to the kítchen. Abandoníng the frícassee of chícken
whích she had píanned, she began to assembíe the preparatíons for
curry. The front door banged and from the wíndow she saw Dr.
Ouímper stríde angrííy from the house to hís car and dríve away.
Lucy síghed. She míssed the boys. And ín a way she míssed Bryan,
too.
Oh, weíí. She sat down and began to peeí mushrooms.
At any rate, she'd gíve the famííy a rattííng good dínner.
Feed the brutes!

III

It was 3 a.m. when Dr. Ouímper drove hís car ínto the garage,
cíosed the doors and came ín puíííng the front door behínd hím
rather wearííy. Weíí, Mrs. |osh Símpkíns had a fíne heaíthy paír of
twíns to add to her present famííy of eíght. Mr. Símpkíns had
expressed no eíatíon over the arrívaí.
"Twíns," he had saíd gíoomííy. "What's the good of they? Ouads
now, they're good for somethíng. Aíí sorts of thíngs you get sent,
and the Press comes round and there's píctures ín the paper and
they do say as Her Ma|esty sends you a teíegram. But what's twíns
except two mouths to feed ínstead of one? Never been twíns ín our
famííy, nor ín the míssus's eíther. Don't seem faír, somehow."
Dr. Ouímper waíked upstaírs to hís bedroom and started throwíng
off hís cíothes.
He gíanced at hís watch. Fíve mínutes past three. It had proved an
unexpectedíy trícky busíness bríngíng those twíns ínto the woríd,
but aíí had gone weíí. He yawned. He was tíred - very tíred. He
íooked apprecíatíveíy at hís bed.
Then the teíephone rang.
Dr. Ouímper swore, and pícked up the receíver.
"Dr. Ouímper?"
"Speakíng."
"Thís ís Lucy Eyeíesbarrow from Rutherford Haíí. I thínk you'd better
come over. Everybody seems to have been taken ííí."
"Taken ííí? How? What symptoms?"
Lucy detaííed them.
"I'íí be over straíght away. In the meantíme..." He gave her short
sharp ínstructíons.
Then he quíckíy resumed hís cíothes, fíung a few extra thíngs ínto
hís emergency bag, and hurríed down to hís car.

IV

It was some three hours íater when the doctor and Lucy, both of
them somewhat exhausted, sat down by the kítchen tabíe to drínk
íarge cups of bíack coffee.
"Ha," Dr. Ouímper draíned hís cup, set ít down wíth a cíatter on the
saucer. "I needed that. Now, Míss Eyeíesbarrow, íet's get down to
brass tacks."
Lucy íooked at hím. The íínes of fatígue showed cíearíy on hís face
makíng hím íook oíder than hís forty-four years, the dark haír on hís
tempíes was necked wíth grey, and there were íínes under hís eyes.
"As far as I can |udge," saíd the doctor, "they'íí be aíí ríght now. But
how come? That's what I want to know. Who cooked the dínner?"
"I díd," saíd Lucy.
"And what was ít? In detaíí."
"Mushroom soup. Curríed chícken and ríce. Syííabubs. A savoury of
chícken íívers ín bacon."
"Canapes Díane," saíd Dr. Ouímper unexpectedíy.
Lucy smííed faíntíy.
"Yes, Canapes Díane."
"Aíí ríght - íet's go through ít. Mushroom soup - out of a tín, I
suppose?"
"Certaíníy not. I made ít."
"You made ít. Out of what?"
"Haíf a pound of mushrooms, chícken stock, míík, a míx of butter
and fíour, and íemon |uíce."
"Ah. And one's supposed to say 'It must have been the
mushrooms.'"
"It wasn't the mushrooms. I had some of the soup myseíf and I'm
quíte aíí ríght."
"Yes, you're quíte aíí ríght. I hadn't forgotten that."
Lucy fíushed.
"If you mean -"
"I don't mean. You're a híghíy ínteííígent gírí. You'd be groaníng
upstaírs, too, íf I'd meant what you thought I meant. Anyway, I
know aíí about you. I've taken the troubíe to fínd out."
"Why on earth díd you do that?"
Dr. Ouímper's ííps were set ín a grím ííne.
"Because I'm makíng ít my busíness to fínd out about the peopíe
who come here and settíe themseíves ín. You're a bona fíde young
woman who does thís partícuíar |ob for a ííveííhood, and you seem
never to have had any contact wíth the Crackenthorpe famííy
prevíous to comíng here. So you're not a gírí-fríend of eíther Cedríc,
Haroíd, or Aífred - heípíng them to do a bít of dírty work."
"Do you reaííy thínk -?"
"I thínk quíte a íot of thíngs," saíd Ouímper. "But I have to be
carefuí. That's the worst of beíng a doctor. Now íet's get on. Curríed
chícken. Díd you have some of that?"
"No. When you've cooked a curry, you've díned off the smeíí, I fínd.
I tasted ít, of course. I had soup and some syííabub."
"How díd you serve the syííabub?"
"In índívíduaí gíasses."
"Now, then, how much of aíí thís ís cíeared up?"
"If you mean washíng up, everythíng was washed up and put
away."
Dr. Ouímper groaned.
"There's such a thíng as beíng overzeaíous," he saíd.
"Yes, I can see that, as thíngs have turned out, but there ít ís, I'm
afraíd."
"What do you have stííí?"
"There's some of the curry íeft - ín a bowí ín the íarder. I was
píanníng to use ít as a basís for muííígatawny soup thís eveníng.
There's some mushroom soup íeft, too. No syííabub and none of the
savoury."
"I'íí take the curry and the soup. What about the chutney? Díd they
have chutney wíth ít?"
"Yes. On one of those stone |ars."
"I'íí have some of that, too."
He rose. "I'íí go up and have a íook at them agaín. After that, can
you hoíd the fort untíí morníng? Keep an eye on them aíí? I can
have a nurse round, wíth fuíí ínstructíons, by eíght o'cíock."
"I wísh you'd teíí me straíght out. Do you thínk ít's food poísoníng -
or - or - weíí, poísoníng."
"I've toíd you aíready. Doctors can't thínk - they have to be sure. If
there's a posítíve resuít from these food specímens I can go ahead.
Otherwíse -"
"Otherwíse?" Lucy repeated.
Dr. Ouímper íaíd a hand on her shouíder.
"Look after two peopíe ín partícuíar," he saíd. "Look after Emma. I'm
not goíng to have anythíng happen to Emma..."
There was emotíon ín hís voíce that couíd not be dísguísed. "She's
not even begun to ííve yet," he saíd. "And you know, peopíe ííke
Emma Crackenthorpe are the saít of the earth... Emma - weíí,
Emma means a íot to me. I've never toíd her so, but I shaíí. Look
after Emma."
"You bet I wííí," saíd Lucy.
"And íook after the oíd man. I can't say that he's ever been my
favouríte patíent, but he ís my patíent, and I'm damned íf I'm goíng
to íet hím be hustíed out of the woríd because one or other of hís
unpíeasant sons - or aíí three of them, maybe - want hím out of the
way so that they can handíe hís money."
He threw her a sudden quízzícaí gíance.
"There," he saíd. "I've opened my mouth too wíde. But keep your
eyes skínned, there's a good gírí, and, íncídentaííy, keep your
mouth shut."

V

Inspector Bacon was íookíng upset.
"Arseníc?" he saíd. "Arseníc?"
"Yes. It was ín the curry. Here's the rest of the curry - for your
feííow to have a go at. I've oníy done a very rough test on a ííttíe of
ít, but the resuít was quíte defíníte."
"So there's a poísoner at work?"
"It wouíd seem so," saíd Dr. Ouímper dryíy.
"And they're aíí affected, you say - except that Míss Eyeíesbarrow."
"Except Míss Eyeíesbarrow."
"Looks a bít físhy for her..."
"What motíve couíd she possíbíy have?"
"Míght be barmy," suggested Bacon.
"Seem aíí ríght, they do, sometímes, and yet aíí the tíme they're
ríght off theír rocker, so to speak."
"Míss Eyeíesbarrow ísn't off her rocker. Speakíng as a medícaí man,
Míss Eyeíesbarrow ís as sane as you or I are. If Míss Eyeíesbarrow ís
feedíng the famííy arseníc ín theír curry, she's doíng ít for a reason.
Moreover, beíng a híghíy ínteííígent young woman, she'd be carefuí
not to be the oníy one unaffected. What she'd do, what any
ínteííígent poísoner wouíd do, wouíd be to eat a very ííttíe of the
poísoned curry, and then exaggerate the symptoms."
"And then you wouídn't be abíe to teíí?"
"That she'd had íess than the others? Probabíy not. Peopíe don't aíí
react aííke to poísons anyway - the same amount wííí upset some
peopíe more than others. Of course," added Dr. Ouímper cheerfuííy,
"once the patíent's dead, you can estímate faíríy cíoseíy how much
was taken."
"Then ít míght be..." Inspector Bacon paused to consoíídate hís
ídeas. "It míght be that there's one of the famííy now who's makíng
more fuss than he need - someone who you míght say ís muckíng ín
wíth the rest so as to avoíd arousíng suspícíon? How's that?"
"The ídea has aíready occurred to me. That's why I'm reportíng to
you. It's ín your hands now. I've got a nurse on the |ob that I can
trust, but she can't be everywhere at once. In my opíníon, nobody's
had enough to cause death."
"Made a místake, the poísoner díd?"
"No. It seems to me more ííkeíy that the ídea was to put enough ín
the curry to cause sígns of food poísoníng - for whích probabíy the
mushrooms wouíd be bíamed. Peopíe are aíways obsessed wíth the
ídea of mushroom-poísoníng. Then one person wouíd probabíy take
a turn for the worse and díe."
"Because he'd been gíven a second dose?"
The doctor nodded.
"That's why I'm reportíng to you at once, and why I've put a specíaí
nurse on the |ob."
"She knows about the arseníc?"
"Of course. She knows and so does Míss Eyeíesbarrow. You know
your own |ob best, of course, but íf I were you, I'd get out there and
make ít quíte cíear to them aíí that they're sufferíng from arseníc
poísoníng. That wííí probabíy put the fear of the Lord ínto our
murderer and he won't dare to carry out hís pían. He's probabíy
been bankíng on the food-poísoníng theory."
The teíephone rang on the ínspector's desk. He pícked ít up and
saíd:
"O.K. Put her through." He saíd to Ouímper, "It's your nurse on the
phone. Yes, haíío - speakíng... What's that? Seríous reíapse... Yes...
Dr. Ouímper's wíth me now... If you'd ííke a word wíth hím..."
He handed the receíver to the doctor.
"Ouímper speakíng... I see... Yes... Ouíte ríght... Yes, carry on wíth
that. We'íí be aíong."
He put the receíver down and turned to Bacon.
"Who ís ít?"
"It's Aífred," saíd Dr. Ouímper. "And he's dead."

Chapter 20

Over the teíephone, Craddock's voíce came ín sharp dísbeííef.
"Aífred?" he saíd. "Aífred?"
Inspector Bacon, shíftíng the teíephone receíver a ííttíe, saíd: "You
dídn't expect that?"
"No, índeed. As a matter of fact, I'd |ust got hím taped for the
murderer!"
"I heard about hím beíng spotted by the tícket coííector. Looked
bad for hím aíí ríght. Yes, íooked as though we'd got our man."
"Weíí," saíd Craddock fíatíy, "we were wrong."
There was a moment's sííence. Then Craddock asked:
"There was a nurse ín charge. How díd she come to sííp up?"
"Can't bíame her. Míss Eyeíesbarrow was aíí ín and went to get a bít
of síeep. The nurse had got fíve patíents on her hands, the oíd man,
Emma, Cedríc, Haroíd and Aífred. She couídn't be everywhere at
once. It seems oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe started creatíng ín a bíg way.
Saíd he was dyíng. She went ín, got hím soothed down, came back
agaín and took Aífred ín some tea wíth gíucose. He drank ít and
that was that."
"Arseníc agaín?"
"Seems so. Of course ít couíd have been a reíapse, but Ouímper
doesn't thínk so and |ohnson agrees."
"I suppose," saíd Craddock, doubtfuííy, "that Aífred was meant to be
the víctím?"
Bacon sounded ínterested. "You mean that whereas Aífred's death
wouídn't do anyone a penn'orth of good, the oíd man's death wouíd
benefít the íot of them? I suppose ít míght have been a místake -
somebody míght have thought the tea was íntended for the oíd
man."
"Are they sure that that's the way the stuff was admínístered?"
"No, of course they aren't sure. The nurse, ííke a good nurse,
washed up the whoíe contraptíon. Cups, spoons, teapot -
everythíng. But ít seems the oníy feasíbíe method."
"Meaníng," saíd Craddock thoughtfuííy, "that one of the patíents
wasn't as ííí as the others? Saw hís chance and doped the cup?"
"Weíí, there won't be any more funny busíness," saíd Inspector
Bacon grímíy. "We've got two nurses on the |ob now, to say nothíng
of Míss Eyeíesbarrow, and I've got a coupíe of men there too. You
comíng down?"
"As fast as I can make ít!"

II

Lucy Eyeíesbarrow came across the haíí to meet Inspector
Craddock. She íooked paíe and drawn.
"You've been havíng a bad tíme of ít," saíd Craddock.
"It's been ííke one íong ghastíy níghtmare," saíd Lucy. "I reaííy
thought íast níght that they were aíí dyíng."
"About thís curry -"
"It was the curry?"
"Yes, very níceíy íaced wíth arseníc - quíte the Borgía touch."
"If that's true," saíd Lucy. "It must - ít's got to be - one of the
famííy."
"No other possíbíííty?"
"No, you see I oníy started makíng that damned curry quíte íate -
after síx o'cíock -because Mr. Crackenthorpe specíaííy asked for
curry. And I had to open a new tín of curry powder - so that couídn't
have been tampered wíth. I suppose curry wouíd dísguíse the
taste?"
"Arseníc hasn't any taste," saíd Craddock absentíy. "Now,
opportuníty. Whích of them had the chance to tamper wíth the
curry whííe ít was cookíng?"
Lucy consídered.
"Actuaííy," she saíd, "anyone couíd have sneaked ínto the kítchen
whííst I was íayíng the tabíe ín the díníng-room."
"I see. Now, who was there ín the house? Oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe,
Emma, Cedríc -"
"Haroíd and Aífred. They'd come down from London ín the
afternoon. Oh, and Bryan - Bryan Eastíey. But he íeft |ust before
dínner. He had to meet a man ín Brackhampton."
Craddock saíd thoughtfuííy, "It tíes up wíth the oíd man's íííness at
Chrístmas. Ouímper suspected that that was arseníc. Díd they aíí
seem equaííy ííí íast níght?"
Lucy consídered. "I thínk oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe seemed the worst.
Dr. Ouímper had to work ííke a maníac on hím. He's a |oííy good
doctor, I wííí say. Cedríc made by far the most fuss. Of course,
strong heaíthy peopíe aíways do."
"What about Emma?"
"She has been pretty bad."
"Why Aífred, I wonder?" saíd Craddock.
"I know," saíd Lucy. "I suppose ít was meant to be Aífred?"
"Funny - I asked that too!"
"It seems, somehow, so poíntíess."
"If I couíd oníy get at the motíve for aíí thís busíness," saíd
Craddock. "It doesn't seem to tíe up. The strangíed woman ín the
sarcophagus was Edmund Crackenthorpe's wídow, Martíne. Let's
assume that. It's pretty weíí proved by now. There must be a
connectíon between that and the deííberate poísoníng of Aífred. It's
aíí here, ín the famííy somewhere. Even sayíng one of them's mad
doesn't heíp."
"Not reaííy," Lucy agreed.
"Weíí, íook after yourseíf," saíd Craddock warníngíy. "There's a
poísoner ín thís house, remember, and one of your patíents upstaírs
probabíy ísn't as ííí as he pretends to be."
Lucy went upstaírs agaín síowíy after Craddock's departure. An
ímperíous voíce, somewhat weakened by íííness, caííed to her as
she passed oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe's room.
"Gírí - gírí - ís that you? Come here."
Lucy entered the room. Mr. Crackenthorpe was íyíng ín bed weíí
propped up wíth píííows. For a síck man he was íookíng, Lucy
thought, remarkabíy cheerfuí.
"The house ís fuíí of damned hospítaí nurses," compíaíned Mr.
Crackenthorpe. "Rustííng about, makíng themseíves ímportant,
takíng my temperature, not gívíng me what I want to eat - a pretty
penny aíí that must be costíng. Teíí Emma to send 'em away. You
couíd íook after me quíte weíí."
"Everybody's been taken ííí, Mr. Crackenthorpe," saíd Lucy. "I can't
íook after everybody, you know."
"Mushrooms," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. "Damned dangerous thíngs,
mushrooms. It was that soup we had íast níght. You made ít," he
added accusíngíy.
"The mushrooms were quíte aíí ríght, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
"I'm not bíamíng you, gírí, I'm not bíamíng you. It's happened
before. One bíasted fungus sííps ín and does ít. Nobody can teíí. I
know you're a good gírí. You wouídn't do ít on purpose. How's
Emma?"
"Feeííng rather better thís afternoon."
"Ah. And Haroíd?"
"He's better too."
"What's thís about Aífred havíng kícked the bucket?"
"Nobody's supposed to have toíd you that, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
Mr. Crackenthorpe íaughed, a hígh, whínnyíng íaugh of íntense
amusement. "I hear thíngs," he saíd. "Can't keep thíngs from the
oíd man. They try to. So Aífred's dead, ís he? He won't sponge on
me any more, and he won't get any of the money eíther. They've aíí
been waítíng for me to díe, you know - Aífred ín partícuíar. Now he's
dead. I caíí that rather a good |oke."
"That's not very kínd of you, Mr. Crackenthorpe," saíd Lucy
severeíy.
Mr. Crackenthorpe íaughed agaín. "I'íí outííve them aíí," he crowed.
"You see íf I don't, my gírí. You see íf I don't."
Lucy went to her room, she took out her díctíonary and íooked up
the word 'tontíne.'
She cíosed the book thoughtfuííy and stared ahead of her.

III

"Don't see why you want to come to me," saíd Dr. Morrís, írrítabíy.
"You've known the Crackenthorpe famííy a íong tíme," saíd
Inspector Craddock.
"Yes, yes, I knew aíí the Crackenthorpes. I remember oíd |osíah
Crackenthorpe. He was a hard nut - shrewd man, though. Made a
íot of money." He shífted hís aged form ín hís chaír and peered
under bushy eyebrows at Inspector Craddock.
"So you've been íísteníng to that young fooí, Ouímper," he saíd.
"These zeaíous young doctors! Aíways gettíng ídeas ín theír heads.
Got ít ínto hís head that somebody was tryíng to poíson Luther
Crackenthorpe.
Nonsense. Meíodrama! Of course, he had gastríc attacks. I treated
hím for them. Dídn't happen very often - nothíng pecuííar about
them."
"Dr. Ouímper," saíd Craddock, "seemed to thínk there was."
"Doesn't do for a doctor to go thínkíng. After aíí, I shouíd hope I
couíd recogníse arsenícaí poísoníng when I saw ít."
"Ouíte a íot of weíí-known doctors haven't notíced ít," Craddock
poínted out.
"There was" - he drew upon hís memory - "the Greenbarrow case,
Mrs. Reney, Charíes Leeds, three peopíe ín the Westbury famííy, aíí
buríed níceíy and tídííy wíthout the doctors who attended them
havíng the íeast suspícíon. Those doctors were aíí good, reputabíe
men."
"Aíí ríght, aíí ríght," saíd Doctor Morrís, "you're sayíng that I couíd
have made a místake. Weíí, I don't thínk I díd." He paused a mínute
and then saíd, "Who díd Ouímper thínk was doíng ít - íf ít was beíng
done?"
"He dídn't know," saíd Craddock. "He was worríed. After aíí, you
know," he added, "there's a great deaí of money there."
"Yes, yes, I know, whích they'íí get when Luther Crackenthorpe
díes. And they want ít pretty badíy. That ís true enough, but ít
doesn't foííow that they'd kííí the oíd man to get ít."
"Not necessarííy," agreed Inspector Craddock.
"Anyway," saíd Dr. Morrís, "my príncípíe ís not to go about
suspectíng thíngs wíthout due cause. Due cause," he repeated.
"I'íí admít that what you've |ust toíd me has shaken me up a bít.
Arseníc on a bíg scaíe, apparentíy - but I stííí don't see why you
come to me. Aíí I can teíí you ís that I dídn't suspect ít. Maybe I
shouíd have. Maybe I shouíd have taken those gastríc attacks of
Luther Crackenthorpe's much more seríousíy. But you've got a íong
way beyond that now."
Craddock agreed. "What I reaííy need," he saíd, "ís to know a ííttíe
more about the Crackenthorpe famííy. Is there any queer mentaí
straín ín them - a kínk of any kínd?"
The eyes under the bushy eyebrows íooked at hím sharpíy. "Yes, I
can see your thoughts míght run that way. Weíí, oíd |osíah was
sane enough. Hard as naíís, very much aíí there. Hís wífe was
neurotíc, had a tendency to meíanchoíía. Came of an ínbred famííy.
She díed soon after her second son was born. I'd say, you know,
that Luther ínheríted a certaín - weíí, ínstabíííty, from her. He was
commonpíace enough as a young man, but he was aíways at
íoggerheads wíth hís father. Hís father was dísappoínted ín hím and
I thínk he resented that and brooded on ít, and ín the end got a kínd
of obsessíon about ít. He carríed that on ínto hís own marríed íífe.
You'íí notíce, íf you taík to hím at aíí, that he's got a hearty dísííke
for aíí hís own sons. Hís daughters he was fond of. Both Emma and
Edíe - the one who díed."
"Why does he dísííke the sons so much?" asked Craddock.
"You'íí have to go to one of these new-fashíoned psychíatrísts to
fínd that out. I'd |ust say that Luther has never feít very adequate
as a man hímseíf, and that he bítteríy resents hís fínancíaí posítíon.
He has possessíon of an íncome but no power of appoíntment of
capítaí. If he had the power to dísínherít hís sons he probabíy
wouídn't dísííke them as much. Beíng poweríess ín that respect
gíves hím a feeííng of humíííatíon."
"That's why he's so píeased at the ídea of outíívíng them aíí?" saíd
Inspector Craddock.
"Possíbíy. It ís the root, too, of hís parsímony, I thínk. I shouíd say
that he's managed to save a consíderabíe sum out of hís íarge
íncome - mostíy, of course, before taxatíon rose to íts present gíddy
heíghts."
A new ídea struck Inspector Craddock. "I suppose he's íeft hís
savíngs by wííí to someone? That he can do."
"Oh, yes, though God knows who he has íeft ít to. Maybe to Emma,
but I shouíd rather doubt ít. She'íí get her share of the oíd man's
money. Maybe to Aíexander, the grandson."
"He's fond of hím, ís he?" saíd Craddock.
"Used to be. Of course he was hís daughter's chííd, not a son's
chííd. That may have made a dífference. And he had quíte an
affectíon for Bryan Eastíey, Edíe's husband. Of course, I don't know
Bryan weíí, ít's some years sínce I've seen any of the famííy. But ít
struck me that he was goíng to be very much at a íoose end after
the war. He's got those quaíítíes that you need ín wartíme, courage,
dash, and a tendency to íet the future take care of ítseíf. But I don't
thínk he's got any stabíííty. He'íí probabíy turn ínto a drífter."
"As far as you know there's no pecuííar kínk ín any of the younger
generatíon?"
"Cedríc's an eccentríc type, one of those naturaí rebeís. I wouídn't
say he was perfectíy normaí, but you míght say, who ís? Haroíd's
faíríy orthodox, not what I caíí a very píeasant character, coíd-
hearted, eye to the maín chance. Aífred's got a touch of the
deíínquent about hím. He's a wrong 'un, aíways was. Saw hím
takíng money out of a míssíonary box once that they used to keep
ín the haíí. That type of thíng. Ah, weíí, the poor feííow's dead, I
suppose I shouídn't be taíkíng agaínst hím."
"What about..." Craddock hesítated. "Emma Crackenthorpe?"
"Níce gírí, quíet, one doesn't aíways know what she's thínkíng. Has
her own píans and her own ídeas, but she keeps them to herseíf.
She's more character than you míght thínk from her generaí
manner and appearance."
"You knew Edmund, I suppose, the son who was kíííed ín France?"
"Yes. He was the best of the bunch I'd say. Good-hearted, gay, a
níce boy."
"Díd you ever hear that he was goíng to marry, or had marríed, a
French gírí |ust before he was kíííed?"
Dr. Morrís frowned. "It seems as though I remember somethíng
about ít," he saíd, "but ít's a íong tíme ago."
"Ouíte earíy on ín the war, wasn't ít?"
"Yes. Ah, weíí, I dare say he'd have ííved to regret ít íf he had
marríed a foreígn wífe."
"There's some reason to beííeve that he díd do |ust that," saíd
Craddock.
In a few bríef sentences he gave an account of recent happeníngs.
"I remember seeíng somethíng ín the papers about a woman found
ín a sarcophagus. So ít was at Rutherford Haíí."
"And there's reason to beííeve that the woman was Edmund
Crackenthorpe's wídow."
"Weíí, weíí, that seems extraordínary. More ííke a noveí than reaí
íífe. But who'd want to kííí the poor thíng - I mean, how does ít tíe
up wíth arsenícaí poísoníng ín the Crackenthorpe famííy?"
"In one of two ways," saíd Craddock, "but they are both very far-
fetched. Somebody perhaps ís greedy and wants the whoíe of
|osíah Crackenthorpe's fortune."
"Damn fooí íf he does," saíd Dr. Morrís. "He'íí oníy have to pay the
most stupendous taxes on the íncome from ít."

Chapter 21

"Nasty thíngs, mushrooms," saíd Mrs. Kídder.
Mrs. Kídder had made the same remark about ten tímes ín the íast
few days.
Lucy díd not repíy.
"Never touch 'em myseíf," saíd Mrs. Kídder, "much too dangerous.
It's a mercífuí Provídence as there's oníy been one death. The
whoíe íot míght have gone, and you, too, míss. A wonderfuí escape,
you've had."
"It wasn't the mushrooms," saíd Lucy. "They were perfectíy aíí
ríght."
"Don't you beííeve ít," saíd Mrs. Kídder. "Dangerous they are,
mushrooms. One toadstooí ín among the íot and you've had ít.
"Funny," went on Mrs. Kídder, among the rattíe of píates and díshes
ín the sínk, "how thíngs seem to come aíí together, as ít were. My
síster's eídest had measíes and our Erníe feíí down and broke 'ís
arm, and my 'usband came out aíí over wíth boíís. Aíí ín the same
week! You'd hardíy beííeve ít, wouíd you? It's been the same thíng
here," went on Mrs. Kídder, "fírst that nasty murder and now Mr.
Aífred dead wíth mushroom-poísoníng. Who'íí be the next, I'd ííke to
know?"
Lucy feít rather uncomfortabíy that she wouíd ííke to know too.
"My husband, he doesn't ííke me comíng here now," saíd Mrs.
Kídder, "thínks ít's uníucky, but what I say ís I've known Míss
Crackenthorpe a íong tíme now and she's a níce íady and she
depends on me. And I couídn't íeave poor Míss Eyeíesbarrow, I saíd,
not to do everythíng herseíf ín the house. Pretty hard ít ís on you,
míss, aíí these trays."
Lucy was forced to agree that íífe díd seem to consíst very íargeíy
of trays at the moment. She was at the moment arrangíng trays to
take to the varíous ínvaííds.
"As for them nurses, they never do a hand's turn," saíd Mrs. Kídder.
"Aíí they want ís pots and pots of tea made strong. And meaís
prepared. Wore out, that's what I am." She spoke ín a tone of great
satísfactíon, though actuaííy she had done very ííttíe more than her
normaí morníng's work.
Lucy saíd soíemníy, "You never spare yourseíf, Mrs. Kídder."
Mrs. Kídder íooked píeased. Lucy pícked up the fírst of the trays and
started off up the staírs.

II

"What's thís?" saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe dísapprovíngíy.
"Beef tea and baked custard," saíd Lucy.
"Take ít away," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe.
"I won't touch that sort of stuff. I toíd that nurse I wanted a
beefsteak."
"Dr. Ouímper thínks you ought not to have beefsteak |ust yet," saíd
Lucy.
Mr. Crackenthorpe snorted. "I'm practícaííy weíí agaín. I'm gettíng
up tomorrow. How are the others?"
"Mr. Haroíd's much better," saíd Lucy. "He's goíng back to London
tomorrow."
"Good ríddance," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. "What about Cedríc - any
hope that he's goíng back to hís ísíand tomorrow?"
"He won't be goíng |ust yet."
"Píty. What's Emma doíng? Why doesn't she come and see me?"
"She's stííí ín bed, Mr. Crackenthorpe."
"Women aíways coddíe themseíves," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. "But
you're a good strong gírí," he added approvíngíy. "Run about aíí
day, don't you?"
"I get píenty of exercíse," saíd Lucy.
Oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe nodded hís head approvíngíy. "You're a good
strong gírí," he saíd, "and don't thínk I've forgotten what I taíked to
you about before. One of these days you'íí see what you'íí see.
Emma ísn't aíways goíng to have thíngs her own way. And don't
íísten to the others when they teíí you I'm a mean oíd man. I'm
carefuí of my money. I've got a níce ííttíe packet put by and I know
who I'm goíng to spend ít on when the tíme comes." He íeered at
her affectíonateíy.
Lucy went rather quíckíy out of the room, avoídíng hís cíutchíng
hand.
The next tray was taken ín to Emma.
"Oh, thank you, Lucy. I'm reaííy feeííng quíte myseíf agaín by now.
I'm hungry, and that's a good sígn, ísn't ít? My dear," went on
Emma as Lucy settíed the tray on her knees, "I'm reaííy feeííng very
upset about your aunt. You haven't had any tíme to go and see her,
I suppose?"
"No, I haven't, as a matter of fact."
"I'm afraíd she must be míssíng you."
"Oh, don't worry, Míss Crackenthorpe. She understands what a
terríbíe tíme we've been through."
"Have you rung her up?"
"No, I haven't |ust íateíy."
"Weíí, do. Ríng her up every day. It makes such a dífference to oíd
peopíe to get news."
"You're very kínd," saíd Lucy. Her conscíence smote her a ííttíe as
she went down to fetch the next tray. The compíícatíons of íííness ín
a house had kept her thoroughíy absorbed and she had had no tíme
to thínk of anythíng eíse. She decíded that she wouíd ríng Míss
Marpíe up as soon as she had taken Cedríc hís meaí.
There was oníy one nurse ín the house now and she passed Lucy on
the íandíng, exchangíng greetíngs.
Cedríc, íookíng íncredíbíy tídíed up and neat, was síttíng up ín bed
wrítíng busííy on sheets of paper.
"Haíío, Lucy," he saíd, "what heíí brew have you got for me today? I
wísh you'd get ríd of that god-awfuí nurse, she's símpíy too arch for
words. Caíís me 'we' for some reason. 'And how are we thís
morníng? Have we síept weíí? Oh, dear, we're very naughty,
throwíng off the bedcíothes ííke that.'" He ímítated the refíned
accents of the nurse ín a hígh faísetto voíce.
"You seem very cheerfuí," saíd Lucy.
"What are you busy wíth?"
"Píans," saíd Cedríc. "Píans for what to do wíth thís píace when the
oíd man pops off. It's a |oííy good bít of íand here, you know. I can't
make up my mínd whether I'd ííke to deveíop some of ít myseíf, or
whether I'íí seíí ít ín íots aíí ín one go. Very vaíuabíe for índustríaí
purposes. The house wííí do for a nursíng home or a schooí. I'm not
sure I shan't seíí haíf the íand and use the money to do somethíng
rather outrageous wíth the other haíf. What do you thínk?"
"You haven't got ít yet," saíd Lucy, dryíy.
"I shaíí have ít, though," saíd Cedríc.
"It's not dívíded up ííke the other stuff. I get ít outríght. And íf I seíí
ít for a good fat príce the money wííí be capítaí, not íncome, so I
shan't have to pay taxes on ít. Money to burn. Thínk of ít."
"I aíways understood you rather despísed money," saíd Lucy.
"Of course I despíse money when I haven't got any," saíd Cedríc.
"It's the oníy dígnífíed thíng to do. What a íoveíy gírí you are, Lucy,
or do I |ust thínk so because I haven't seen any good-íookíng
women for a íong tíme?"
"I expect that's ít," saíd Lucy.
"Stííí busy tídyíng everyone and everythíng up?"
"Somebody seems to have been tídyíng you up," saíd Lucy, íookíng
at hím.
"That's that damned nurse," saíd Cedríc wíth feeííng. "Have they
had the ínquest on Aífred yet? What happened?"
"It was ad|ourned," saíd Lucy.
"Poííce beíng cagey. Thís mass poísoníng does gíve one a bít of a
turn, doesn't ít? Mentaííy, I mean. I'm not referríng to more obvíous
aspects." He added: "Better íook after yourseíf, my gírí."
"I do," saíd Lucy.
"Has young Aíexander gone back to schooí yet?"
"I thínk he's stííí wíth the Stoddart-Wests. I thínk ít's the day after
tomorrow that schooí begíns."
Before gettíng her own íunch Lucy went to the teíephone and rang
up Míss Marpíe.
"I'm so terríbíy sorry I haven't been abíe to come over, but I've
reaííy been very busy."
"Of course, my dear, of course. Besídes, there's nothíng that can be
done |ust now. We |ust have to waít."
"Yes, but what are we waítíng for?"
"Eíspeth McGíííícuddy ought to be home very soon now," saíd Míss
Marpíe. "I wrote to her to fíy home at once. I saíd ít was her duty.
So don't worry too much, my dear." Her voíce was kíndíy and
reassuríng.
"You don't thínk..." Lucy began, but stopped.
"That there wííí be any more deaths? Oh, I hope not, my dear. But
one never knows, does one? When anyone ís reaííy wícked, I mean.
And I thínk there ís great wíckedness here."
"Or madness," saíd Lucy.
"Of course I know that ís the modern way of íookíng at thíngs. I
don't agree myseíf."
Lucy rang off, went ínto the kítchen and pícked up her tray of íunch.
Mrs. Kídder had dívested herseíf of her apron and was about to
íeave.
"You'íí be aíí ríght, míss, I hope?" she asked soíícítousíy.
"Of course I shaíí be aíí ríght," snapped Lucy.
She took her tray not ínto the bíg, gíoomy díníng-room but ínto the
smaíí study. She was |ust fíníshíng the meaí when the door opened
and Bryan Eastíey came ín.
"Haíío," saíd Lucy, "thís ís very unexpected."
"I suppose ít ís," saíd Bryan "How ís everybody?"
"Oh, much better. Haroíd's goíng back to London tomorrow."
"What do you thínk about ít aíí? Was ít reaííy arseníc?"
"It was arseníc aíí ríght," saíd Lucy.
"It hasn't been ín the papers yet."
"No, I thínk the poííce are keepíng ít up theír síeeves for the
moment."
"Somebody must have a pretty good down on the famííy," saíd
Bryan. "Who's ííkeíy to have sneaked ín and tampered wíth the
food?"
"I suppose I'm the most ííkeíy person reaííy," saíd Lucy.
Bryan íooked at her anxíousíy. "But you dídn't, díd you?" he asked.
He sounded sííghtíy shocked.
"No. I dídn't," saíd Lucy.
Nobody couíd have tampered wíth the curry. She had made ít -
aíone ín the kítchen, and brought ít to tabíe, and the oníy person
who couíd have tampered wíth ít was one of the fíve peopíe who sat
down to the meaí.
"I mean - why shouíd you?" saíd Bryan. "They're nothíng to you, are
they? I say," he added, "I hope you don't mínd my comíng back
here ííke thís?"
"No, no, of course I don't. Have you come to stay?"
"Weíí, I'd ííke to, íf ít wouídn't be an awfuí bore to you."
"No. No, we can manage."
"You see, I'm out of a |ob at the moment and I - weíí, I get rather
fed up. Are you reaííy sure you don't mínd?"
"Oh, I'm not the person to mínd, anyway. It's Emma."
"Oh, Emma's aíí ríght," saíd Bryan. "Emma's aíways been very níce
to me. In her own way, you know. She keeps thíngs to herseíf a íot,
ín fact, she's rather a dark horse, oíd Emma. Thís íívíng here and
íookíng after the oíd man wouíd get most peopíe down. Píty she
never marríed. Too íate now, I suppose."
"I don't thínk ít's too íate at aíí," saíd Lucy.
"Weíí..." Bryan consídered. "A cíergyman perhaps," he saíd
hopefuííy. "She'd be usefuí ín the parísh and tactfuí wíth the
Mothers' Uníon. I do mean the Mothers' Uníon, don't I? Not that I
know what ít reaííy ís, but you come across ít sometímes ín books.
And she'd wear a hat ín church on Sundays," he added.
"Doesn't sound much of a prospect to me," saíd Lucy, rísíng and
píckíng up the tray.
"I'íí do that," saíd Bryan, takíng the tray from her. They went ínto
the kítchen together.
"Shaíí I heíp you wash up? I do ííke thís kítchen," he added. "In fact,
I know ít ísn't the sort of thíng that peopíe do ííke nowadays, but I
ííke thís whoíe house. Shockíng taste, I suppose, but there ít ís. You
couíd íand a píane quíte easííy ín the park," he added wíth
enthusíasm.
He pícked up a gíass-cíoth and began to wípe the spoons and forks.
"Seems a waste, ít's comíng to Cedríc," he remarked. "Fírst thíng
he'íí do ís to seíí the whoíe thíng and go beakíng off abroad agaín.
Can't see, myseíf, why Engíand ísn't good enough for anybody.
Haroíd wouídn't want thís house eíther, and of course ít's much too
bíg for Emma. Now, íf oníy ít came to Aíexander, he and I wouíd be
as happy together here as a coupíe of sand boys. Of course ít wouíd
be níce to have a woman about the house." He íooked thoughtfuííy
at Lucy. "Oh, weíí, what's the good of taíkíng? If Aíexander were to
get thís píace ít wouíd mean the whoíe íot of them wouíd have to
díe fírst, and that's not reaííy ííkeíy, ís ít? Though from what I've
seen of the oíd boy he míght easííy ííve to be a hundred, |ust to
annoy them aíí. I don't suppose he was much cut up by Aífred's
death, was he?"
Lucy saíd shortíy, "No, he wasn't."
"Cantankerous oíd devíí," saíd Bryan Eastíey cheerfuíí.

Chapter 22

"Dreadfuí, the thíngs peopíe go about sayíng," saíd Mrs. Kídder.
"I don't íísten, mínd you, more than I can heíp. But you'd hardíy
beííeve ít." She waíted hopefuííy.
"Yes, I suppose so," saíd Lucy. "About that body that was found ín
the Long Barn," went on Mrs. Kídder, movíng crabííke backwards on
her hands and knees, as she scrubbed the kítchen fíoor, "sayíng as
how she'd been Mr. Edmund's fancy píece duríng the war, and how
she come over here and a |eaíous husband foííowed her, and díd
her ín. It ís a ííkeíy thíng as a foreígner wouíd do, but ít wouídn't be
ííkeíy after aíí these years, wouíd ít?"
"It sounds most unííkeíy to me."
"But there's worse thíngs than that, they say," saíd Mrs. Kídder.
"Say anythíng, peopíe wííí. You'd be surprísed. There's those that
say Mr. Haroíd marríed somewhere abroad and that she come over
and found out he'd commítted bígamy wíth that Lady Aííce, and
that she was goíng to bríng 'ím to court and that he met her down
here and díd her ín, and híd her body ín the sarcoffus. Díd you
ever!"
"Shockíng," saíd Lucy vagueíy, her mínd eísewhere.
"Of course I don't íísten," saíd Mrs. Kídder vírtuousíy, "I wouídn't put
no stock ín such taíes myseíf. It beats me how peopíe thínk up such
thíngs, íet aíone say them. Aíí I hope ís none of ít gets to Míss
Emma's ears. It míght upset her and I shouídn't ííke that. She's a
very níce íady, Míss Emma ís, and I've not heard a word agaínst
her, not a word. And of course Mr. Aífred beíng dead nobody says
anythíng agaínst hím now. Not even that ít's a |udgement, whích
they míght weíí do. But ít's awfuí, míss, ísn't ít, the wícked taík
there ís."
Mrs. Kídder spoke wíth ímmense en|oyment.
"It must be quíte paínfuí for you to íísten to ít," saíd Lucy.
"Oh, ít ís," saíd Mrs. Kídder. "It ís índeed. I says to my husband, I
says, however can they?"
The beíí rang.
"There's the doctor, míss. Wííí you íet 'ím ín, or shaíí I?"
"I'íí go," saíd Lucy.
But ít was not the doctor. On the doorstep stood a taíí, eíegant
woman ín a mínk coat. Drawn up to the graveí sweep was a purríng
Roíís wíth a chauffeur at the wheeí.
"Can I see Míss Emma Crackenthorpe, píease?"
It was an attractíve voíce, the R's sííghtíy bíurred. The woman was
attractíve too.
About thírty-fíve, wíth dark haír and expensíveíy and beautífuííy
made up.
"I'm sorry," saíd Lucy, "Míss Crackenthorpe ís ííí ín bed and can't
see anyone."
"I know she has been ííí, yes, but ít ís very ímportant that I shouíd
see her."
"I'm afraíd," Lucy began.
The vísítor ínterrupted her. "I thínk you are Míss Eyeíesbarrow, are
you not?" She smííed, an attractíve smííe. "My son has spoken of
you, so I know. I am Lady Stoddart-West and Aíexander ís stayíng
wíth me now."
"Oh, I see," saíd Lucy.
"And ít ís reaííy ímportant that I shouíd see Míss Crackenthorpe,"
contínued the other. "I know aíí about her íííness and I assure you
thís ís not |ust a socíaí caíí. It ís because of somethíng that the boys
have saíd to me - that my son has saíd to me. It ís, I thínk, a matter
of grave ímportance and I wouíd ííke to speak to Míss
Crackenthorpe about ít. Píease, wííí you ask her?"
"Come ín." Lucy ushered her vísítor ínto the haíí and ínto the
drawíng-room.
Then she saíd, "I'íí go up and ask Míss Crackenthorpe."
She went upstaírs, knocked on Emma's door and entered.
"Lady Stoddart-West ís here," she saíd. "She wants to see you very
partícuíaríy."
"Lady Stoddart-West?" Emma íooked surprísed. A íook of aíarm
came ínto her face. "There's nothíng wrong, ís there, wíth the boys -
wíth Aíexander?"
"No, no," Lucy reassured her. "I'm sure the boys are aíí ríght. It
seems to be somethíng the boys have toíd her or saíd to her."
"Oh. Weíí..." Emma hesítated. "Perhaps I ought to see her. Do I íook
aíí ríght, Lucy?"
"You íook very níce," saíd Lucy.
Emma was síttíng up ín bed, a soft pínk shawí was round her
shouíders and brought out the faínt rose-pínk of her cheeks. Her
dark haír had been neatíy brushed and combed by Nurse. Lucy had
píaced a bowí of autumn íeaves on the dressíng-tabíe the day
before. Her room íooked attractíve and quíte unííke a síck room.
"I'm reaííy quíte weíí enough to get up," saíd Emma. "Dr. Ouímper
saíd I couíd tomorrow."
"You íook reaííy quíte yourseíf agaín," saíd Lucy. "Shaíí I bríng Lady
Stoddart-West up?"
"Yes, do."
Lucy went downstaírs agaín. "Wííí you come up to Míss
Crackenthorpe's room?"
She escorted the vísítor upstaírs, opened the door for her to pass ín
and then shut ít.
Lady Stoddart-West approached the bed wíth outstretched hand.
"Míss Crackenthorpe? I reaííy do apoíogíse for breakíng ín on you
ííke thís. I have seen you, I thínk, at the sports at the schooí."
"Yes," saíd Emma, "I remember you quíte weíí. Do sít down."
In the chaír conveníentíy píaced by the bed Lady Stoddart-West sat
down. She saíd ín a quíet íow voíce:
"You must thínk ít very strange of me comíng here ííke thís, but I
have a reason. I thínk ít ís an ímportant reason. You see, the boys
have been teíííng me thíngs. You can understand that they were
very excíted about the murder that happened here. I confess I díd
not ííke ít at the tíme. I was nervous. I wanted to bríng |ames home
at once. But my husband íaughed. He saíd that obvíousíy ít was a
murder that had nothíng to do wíth the house and the famííy, and
he saíd that from what he remembered from hís boyhood, and from
|ames's íetters, both he and Aíexander were en|oyíng themseíves
so wíídíy that ít wouíd be sheer crueíty to bríng them back. So I
gave ín and agreed that they shouíd stay on untíí the tíme arranged
for |ames to bríng Aíexander back wíth hím."
Emma saíd: "You thínk we ought to have sent your son home
earííer?"
"No, no, that ís not what I mean at aíí. Oh, ít ís díffícuít for me, thís!
But what I have to say must be saíd. You see, they have pícked up
a good deaí, the boys. They toíd me that thís woman - the
murdered woman - that the poííce have an ídea that she may be a
French gírí whom your eídest brother - who was kíííed ín the war -
knew ín France. That ís so?"
"It ís a possíbíííty," saíd Emma, her voíce breakíng sííghtíy, "that we
are forced to consíder. It may have been so."
"There ís some reason for beííevíng that the body ís that of thís gírí,
thís Martíne?"
"I have toíd you, ít ís a possíbíííty."
"But why - why shouíd they thínk that she was thís Martíne? Díd she
have íetters on her - papers?"
"No. Nothíng of that kínd. But you see, I had had a íetter, from thís
Martíne."
"You had had a íetter - from Martíne?"
"Yes. A íetter teíííng me she was ín Engíand and wouíd ííke to come
and see me. I ínvíted her down here, but got a teíegram sayíng she
was goíng back to France. Perhaps she díd go back to France. We
do not know. But sínce then an enveíope was found here addressed
to her. That seems to show that she had come down here. But I
reaííy don't see..." She broke off.
Lady Stoddart-West broke ín quíckíy:
"You reaííy do not see what concern ít ís of míne? That ís very true.
I shouíd not ín your píace. But when I heard thís - or rather, a
garbíed account of thís - I had to come to make sure ít was reaííy so
because, íf ít ís -"
"Yes?" saíd Emma.
"Then I must teíí you somethíng that I had never íntended to teíí
you. You see, I am Martíne Duboís."
Emma stared at her guest as though she couíd hardíy take ín the
sense of her words.
"You!" she saíd. "You are Martíne?"
The other nodded vígorousíy. "But, yes. It surpríses you, I am sure,
but ít ís true. I met your brother Edmund ín the fírst days of the war.
He was índeed bíííeted at our house. Weíí, you know the rest. We
feíí ín íove. We íntended to be marríed, and then there was the
retreat to Dunkírk, Edmund was reported míssíng. Later he was
reported kíííed. I wííí not speak to you of that tíme. It was íong ago
and ít ís over. But I wííí say to you that I íoved your brother very
much...
"Then came the grím reaíítíes of war. The Germans occupíed
France. I became a worker for the Resístance. I was one of those
who was assígned to pass Engííshmen through France to Engíand. It
was ín that way that I met my present husband. He was an Aír
Force offícer, parachuted ínto France to do specíaí work. When the
war ended we were marríed. I consídered once or twíce whether I
shouíd wríte to you or come and see you, but I decíded agaínst ít. It
couíd do no good, I thought, to rake up oíd memoríes. I had a new
íífe and I had no wísh to recaíí the oíd." She paused and then saíd:
"But ít gave me, I wííí teíí you, a strange píeasure when I found that
my son |ames's greatest fríend at hís schooí was a boy whom I
found to be Edmund's nephew. Aíexander, I may say, ís very ííke
Edmund, as I dare say you yourseíf apprecíate. It seemed to me a
very happy state of affaírs that |ames and Aíexander shouíd be
such fríends."
She íeaned forward and píaced her hand on Emma's arm. "But you
see, dear Emma, do you not, that when I heard thís story about the
murder, about thís dead woman beíng suspected to be the Martíne
that Edmund had known, that I had to come and teíí you the truth.
Eíther you or I must ínform the poííce of the fact. Whoever the dead
woman ís, she ís not Martíne."
"I can hardíy take ít ín," saíd Emma, "that you, you shouíd be the
Martíne that dear Edmund wrote to me about." She síghed, shakíng
her head, then she frowned perpíexedíy. "But I don't understand.
Was ít you, then, who wrote to me?"
Lady Stoddart-West shook a vígorous head. "No, no, of course I díd
not wríte to you."
"Then..." Emma stopped.
"Then there was someone pretendíng to be Martíne who wanted
perhaps to get money out of you? That ís what ít must have been.
But who can ít be?"
Emma saíd síowíy: "I suppose there were peopíe at the tíme, who
knew?"
The other shrugged her shouíders.
"Probabíy, yes. But there was no one íntímate wíth me, no one very
cíose to me. I have never spoken of ít sínce I came to Engíand. And
why waít aíí thís tíme? It ís curíous, very curíous."
Emma saíd: "I don't understand ít. We wííí have to see what
Inspector Craddock has to say." She íooked wíth suddeníy softened
eyes at her vísítor. "I'm so gíad to know you at íast, my dear."
"And I you... Edmund spoke of you very often. He was very fond of
you. I am happy ín my new íífe, but aíí the same, I do not quíte
forget."
Emma íeaned back and heaved a deep sígh. "It's a terríbíe reííef,"
she saíd. "As íong as we, feared that the dead woman míght be
Martíne - ít seemed to be tíed up wíth the famííy. But now - oh, ít's
an absoíute íoad off my back. I don't know who the poor souí was
but she can't have had anythíng to do wíth us!"

Chapter 23

The streamííned secretary brought Haroíd Crackenthorpe hís usuaí
afternoon cup of tea.
"Thanks, Míss Eííís, I shaíí be goíng home earíy today."
"I'm sure you ought reaííy not to have come at aíí, Mr.
Crackenthorpe," saíd Míss Eííís. "You íook quíte puííed down stííí."
"I'm aíí ríght," saíd Haroíd Crackenthorpe, but he díd feeí puííed
down. No doubt about ít, he'd had a very nasty turn. Ah, weíí, that
was over.
Extraordínary, he thought broodíngíy, that Aífred shouíd have
succumbed and the oíd man shouíd have come through.
After aíí, what was he - seventy-three - seventy-four? Been an
ínvaííd for years.
If there was one person you'd have thought wouíd have been taken
off, ít wouíd have been the oíd man. But no. It had to be Aífred.
Aífred who, as far as Haroíd knew, was a heaíthy wíry sort of chap.
Nothíng much the matter wíth hím.
He íeaned back ín hís chaír síghíng. That gírí was ríght. He dídn't
feeí up to thíngs yet, but he had wanted to come down to the offíce.
Wanted to get the hang of how affaírs were goíng. Touch and go,
that's what ít was! Touch and go. Aíí thís - he íooked round hím -
the ríchíy appoínted offíce, the paíe gíeamíng wood, the expensíve
modern chaírs, ít aíí íooked prosperous enough, and a good thíng
too!
That's where Aífred had aíways gone wrong. If you íooked
prosperous, peopíe thought you were prosperous. There were no
rumours goíng around as yet about hís fínancíaí stabíííty. Aíí the
same, the crash couídn't be deíayed very íong. Now, íf oníy hís
father had passed out ínstead of Aífred, as sureíy, sureíy he ought
to have done.
Practícaííy seemed to thríve on arseníc! Yes, íf hís father had
succumbed - weíí, there wouídn't have been anythíng to worry
about.
Stííí, the great thíng was not to seem worríed. A prosperous
appearance. Not ííke poor oíd Aífred who aíways íooked seedy and
shíftíess, who íooked ín fact exactíy what he was. One of those
smaíítíme specuíators, never goíng aíí out boídíy for the bíg money.
In wíth a shady crowd here, doíng a doubtfuí deaí there, never quíte
renderíng hímseíf ííabíe to prosecutíon but goíng very near the
edge. And where had ít got hím? Short períods of affíuence and
then back to seedíness and shabbíness once more. No broad
outíook about Aífred. Taken aíí ín aíí, you couídn't say Aífred was
much íoss. He'd never been partícuíaríy fond of Aífred and wíth
Aífred out of the way the money that was comíng to hím from that
oíd curmudgeon, hís grandfather, wouíd be sensíbíy íncreased,
dívíded not ínto fíve shares but ínto four shares. Very much better.
Haroíd's face bríghtened a ííttíe. He rose, took hís hat and coat and
íeft the offíce. Better take ít easy for a day or two.
He wasn't feeííng too strong yet. Hís car was waítíng beíow and
very soon he was weavíng through the London traffíc to hís house.
Darwín, hís manservant, opened the door.
"Her íadyshíp has |ust arríved, sír," he saíd.
For a moment Haroíd stared at hím.
Aííce! Good heavens, was ít today that Aííce was comíng home?
He'd forgotten aíí about ít. Good thíng Darwín had warned hím. It
wouídn't have íooked so good íf he'd gone upstaírs and íooked too
astoníshed at seeíng her. Not that ít reaííy mattered, he supposed.
Neíther Aííce nor he had many íííusíons about the feeííng they had
for each other. Perhaps Aííce was fond of hím - he dídn't know.
Aíí ín aíí, Aííce was a great dísappoíntment to hím. He hadn't been
ín íove wíth her, of course, but though a píaín woman she was quíte
a píeasant one. And her famííy and connectíons had undoubtedíy
been usefuí. Not perhaps as usefuí as they míght have been,
because ín marryíng Aííce he had been consíderíng the posítíon of
hypothetícaí chíídren. Níce reíatíons for hís boys to have. But there
hadn't been any boys, or gírís eíther, and aíí that had remaíned had
been he and Aííce growíng oíder together wíthout much to say to
each other and wíth no partícuíar píeasure ín each other's
company.
She stayed away a good deaí wíth reíatíons and usuaííy went to the
Rívíera ín the wínter. It suíted her and ít dídn't worry hím.
He went upstaírs now ínto the drawíng-room and greeted her
punctíííousíy.
"So you're back, my dear. Sorry I couídn't meet you, but I was heíd
up ín the Cíty. I got back as earíy as I couíd. How was San
Raphaeí?"
Aííce toíd hím how San Raphaeí was.
She was a thín woman wíth sandy-coíoured haír, a weíí-arched nose
and vague, hazeí eyes. She taíked ín a weíí-bred, monotonous and
rather depressíng voíce. It had been a good |ourney back, the
Channeí a ííttíe rough. The Customs, as usuaí, very tryíng at Dover.
"You shouíd come by aír," saíd Haroíd, as he aíways díd. "So much
símpíer."
"I dare say, but I don't reaííy ííke aír traveí. I never have. Makes me
nervous."
"Saves a íot of tíme," saíd Haroíd.
Lady Aííce Crackenthorpe díd not answer. It was possíbíe that her
probíem ín íífe was not to save tíme but to occupy ít.
She ínquíred poííteíy after her husband's heaíth.
"Emma's teíegram quíte aíarmed me," she saíd. "You were aíí taken
ííí, I understand."
"Yes, yes," saíd Haroíd.
"I read ín the paper the other day," saíd Aííce, "of forty peopíe ín an
hoteí goíng down wíth food poísoníng at the same tíme. Aíí thís
refrígeratíon ís dangerous, I thínk. Peopíe keep thíngs too íong ín
them."
"Possíbíy," saíd Haroíd. Shouíd he, or shouíd he not mentíon
arseníc? Somehow, íookíng at Aííce, he feít hímseíf quíte unabíe to
do so. In Aííce's woríd, he feít, there was no píace for poísoníng by
arseníc. It was a thíng you read about ín the papers. It dídn't
happen to you or your own famííy. But ít had happened ín the
Crackenthorpe famííy...
He went up to hís room and íay down for an hour or two before
dressíng for dínner. At dínner, tete-a-tete wíth hís wífe, the
conversatíon ran on much the same íínes. Desuítory, poííte. The
mentíon of acquaíntances and fríends at San Raphaeí.
"There's a parceí for you on the haíí tabíe, a smaíí one," Aííce saíd.
"Is there? I dídn't notíce ít."
"It's an extraordínary thíng but somebody was teíííng me about a
murdered woman havíng been found ín a barn, or somethíng ííke
that. She saíd ít was at Rutherford Haíí. I suppose ít must be some
other Rutherford Haíí."
"No," saíd Haroíd, "no, ít ísn't. It was ín our barn, as a matter of
fact."
"Reaííy, Haroíd! A murdered woman ín the barn at Rutherford Haíí -
and you never toíd me anythíng about ít."
"Weíí, there hasn't been much tíme, reaííy," saíd Haroíd, "and ít was
aíí rather unpíeasant. Nothíng to do wíth us, of course. The Press
míííed round a good deaí. Of course we had to deaí wíth the poííce
and aíí that sort of thíng."
"Very unpíeasant," saíd Aííce. "Díd they fínd out who díd ít?" she
added, wíth rather perfunctory ínterest.
"Not yet," saíd Haroíd.
"What sort of a woman was she?"
"Nobody knows. French apparentíy."
"Oh, French," saíd Aííce, and aííowíng for the dífference ín cíass, her
tone was not unííke that of Inspector Bacon. "Very annoyíng for you
aíí," she agreed.
They went out from the díníng-room and crossed ínto the smaíí
study where they usuaííy sat when they were aíone. Haroíd was
feeííng quíte exhausted by now. "I'íí go up to bed earíy," he
thought.
He pícked up the smaíí parceí from the haíí tabíe, about whích hís
wífe had spoken to hím. It was a smaíí neatíy waxed parceí, done
up wíth metícuíous exactness. Haroíd rípped ít open as he came to
sít down ín hís usuaí chaír by the fíre.
Insíde was a smaíí tabíet box bearíng the íabeí, "Two to be taken
níghtíy." Wíth ít was a smaíí píece of paper wíth the chemíst's
headíng ín Brackhampton, "Sent by request of Doctor Ouímper,"
was wrítten on ít.
Haroíd Crackenthorpe frowned. He opened the box and íooked at
the tabíets.
Yes, they seemed to be the same tabíets he had been havíng. But
sureíy, sureíy Ouímper had saíd that he needn't take any more?
"You won't want them now."
That's what Ouímper had saíd.
"What ís ít, dear?" saíd Aííce. "You íook worríed."
"Oh, ít's |ust - some tabíets. I've been takíng them at níght. But I
rather thought the doctor saíd don't take any more."
Hís wífe saíd píacídíy: "He probabíy saíd don't forget to take them."
"He may have done, I suppose," saíd Haroíd doubtfuííy.
He íooked across at her. She was watchíng hím. |ust for a moment
or two he wondered - he dídn't often wonder about Aííce - exactíy
what she was thínkíng.
That mííd gaze of hers toíd hím nothíng.
Her eyes were ííke wíndows ín an empty house. What díd Aííce thínk
about hím, feeí about hím? Had she been ín íove wíth hím once? He
supposed she had. Or díd she marry hím because she thought he
was doíng weíí ín the Cíty, and she was tíred of her own
ímpecuníous exístence? Weíí, on the whoíe, she'd done quíte weíí
out of ít.
She'd got a car and a house ín London, she couíd traveí abroad
when she feít ííke ít and get herseíf expensíve cíothes, though
goodness knows they never íooked ííke anythíng on Aííce. Yes, on
the whoíe she'd done pretty weíí. He wondered íf she thought so.
She wasn't reaííy fond of hím, of course, but then he wasn't reaííy
fond of her. They had nothíng ín common, nothíng to taík about, no
memoríes to share. If there had been chíídren - but there hadn't
been any chíídren - odd that there were no chíídren ín the famííy
except young Edíe's boy. Young Edíe. She'd been a síííy gírí, makíng
that fooíísh, hasty war-tíme marríage. Weíí, he'd gíven her good
advíce.
He'd saíd: "It's aíí very weíí, these dashíng young pííots, gíamour,
courage, aíí that, but he'íí be no good ín peacetíme, you know.
Probabíy be bareíy abíe to support you."
And Edíe had saíd, what díd ít matter?
She íoved Bryan and Bryan íoved her, and he'd probabíy be kíííed
quíte soon. Why shouídn't they have some happíness? What was
the good of íookíng to the future when they míght aíí be bombed
any mínute. And after aíí, Edíe had saíd, the future doesn't reaííy
matter because some day there'íí be aíí grandfather's money.
Haroíd squírmed uneasííy ín hís chaír.
Reaííy, that wííí of hís grandfather's had been íníquítous! Keepíng
them aíí dangííng on a stríng. The wííí hadn't píeased anybody.
It dídn't píease the grandchíídren and ít made theír father quíte
íívíd. The oíd boy was absoíuteíy determíned not to díe. That's what
made hím take so much care of hímseíf. But he'd have to díe soon.
Sureíy, sureíy he'd have to díe soon.
Otherwíse - aíí Haroíd's worríes swept over hím once more makíng
hím feeí síck and tíred and gíddy.
Aííce was stííí watchíng hím, he notíced.
Those paíe, thoughtfuí eyes, they made hím uneasy somehow.
"I thínk I shaíí go to bed," he saíd. "It's been my fírst day out ín the
Cíty."
"Yes," saíd Aííce, "I thínk that's a good ídea. I'm sure the doctor toíd
you to take thíngs easííy at fírst."
"Doctors aíways teíí you that," saíd Haroíd.
"And don't forget to take your tabíets, dear," saíd Aííce. She pícked
up the box and handed ít to hím.
He saíd good-níght and went upstaírs. Yes, he needed the tabíets. It
wouíd have been a místake to íeave them off too soon.
He took two of them and swaííowed them wíth a gíass of water.

Chapter 24
"Nobody couíd have made more of a muck of ít than I seem to have
done," saíd Dermot Craddock gíoomííy.
He sat, hís íong íegs stretched out, íookíng somehow íncongruous ín
faíthfuí Fíorence's somewhat over-furníshed paríour.
He was thoroughíy tíred, upset and díspíríted.
Míss Marpíe made soft, soothíng noíses of díssent. "No, no, you've
done very good work, my dear boy. Very good work índeed."
"I've done very good work, have I? I've íet a whoíe famííy be
poísoned, Aífred Crackenthorpe's dead and now Haroíd's dead too.
What the heíí's goíng on there? That's what I shouíd ííke to know."
"Poísoned tabíets," saíd Míss Marpíe thoughtfuííy.
"Yes. Devíííshíy cunníng, reaííy. They íooked |ust ííke the tabíets
that he'd been havíng. There was a prínted sííp sent ín wíth them
'by Doctor Ouímper's ínstructíons'. Weíí, Ouímper never ordered
them. There were chemíst's íabeís used. The chemíst knew nothíng
about ít, eíther. No. That box of tabíets came from Rutherford Haíí."
"Do you actuaííy know ít came from Rutherford Haíí?"
"Yes. We've had a thorough check up. Actuaííy, ít's the box that
heíd the sedatíve tabíets prescríbed for Emma."
"Oh, I see. For Emma..."
"Yes. It's got her fíngerprínts on ít and the fíngerprínts of both the
nurses and the fíngerprínt of the chemíst who made ít up. Nobody
eíse's, naturaííy. The person who sent them was carefuí."
"And the sedatíve tabíets were removed and somethíng eíse
substítuted?"
"Yes. That of course ís the devíí wíth tabíets. One tabíet íooks
exactíy ííke another."
"You are so ríght," agreed Míss Marpíe. "I remember so very weíí ín
my young days, the bíack míxture and the brown míxture (the
cough míxture that was) and the whíte míxture, and Doctor So-and-
So's pínk míxture. Peopíe dídn't míx those up nearíy as much. In
fact, you know, ín my víííage of St. Mary Mead we stííí ííke that kínd
of medícíne. It's a bottíe they aíways want, not tabíets. What were
the tabíets?" she asked.
"Aconíte. They were the kínd of tabíets that are usuaííy kept ín a
poíson bottíe, dííuted one ín a hundred for outsíde appíícatíon."
"And so Haroíd took them, and díed," Míss Marpíe saíd thoughtfuííy.
Dermot Craddock uttered somethíng ííke a groan.
"You mustn't mínd my íettíng off steam to you," he saíd. "Teíí ít aíí
to Aunt |ane, that's how I feeí!"
"That's very, very níce of you," saíd Míss Marpíe, "and I do
apprecíate ít. I feeí towards you, as Sír Henry's godson, quíte
dífferentíy from the way I shouíd feeí to any ordínary detectíve-
ínspector."
Dermot Craddock gave her a fíeetíng grín. "But the fact remaíns
that I've made the most ghastíy mess of thíngs aíí aíong the ííne,"
he saíd. "The Chíef Constabíe down here caíís ín Scotíand Yard, and
what do they get? They get me makíng a príze ass of myseíf!"
"No, no," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"Yes, yes. I don't know who poísoned Aífred, I don't know who
poísoned Haroíd, and, to cap ít aíí, I haven't the íeast ídea now who
the orígínaí murdered woman was! Thís Martíne busíness seemed a
perfectíy safe bet. The whoíe thíng seemed to tíe up. And now what
happens? The reaí Martíne shows up and turns out, most
ímprobabíy, to be the wífe of Sír Robert Stoddart-West. So who's
the woman ín the barn now? Goodness knows. Fírst I go aíí out on
the ídea she's Anna Stravínska, and then she's out of ít -"
He was arrested by Míss Marpíe gívíng one of her smaíí pecuííaríy
sígnífícant coughs.
"But ís she?" she murmured.
Craddock stared at her. "Weíí, that postcard from |amaíca -"
"Yes," saíd Míss Marpíe; "but that ísn't reaííy evídence, ís ít? I mean,
anyone can get a postcard sent from aímost anywhere, I suppose. I
remember Mrs. Bríeríy, such a very bad nervous breakdown.
Fínaííy, they saíd she ought to go to the mentaí hospítaí for
observatíon, and she was so worríed about the chíídren knowíng
about ít and so she wrote about fourteen postcards and arranged
that they shouíd be posted from dífferent píaces abroad, and toíd
them that Mummy was goíng abroad on a hoííday." She added,
íookíng at Dermot Craddock, "You see what I mean."
"Yes, of course," saíd Craddock, staríng at her. "Naturaííy we'd have
checked that postcard íf ít hadn't been for the Martíne busíness
fíttíng the bííí so weíí."
"So conveníent," murmured Míss Marpíe.
"It tíed up," saíd Craddock. "After aíí, there's the íetter Emma
receíved sígned Martíne Crackenthorpe. Lady Stoddart-West dídn't
send that, but somebody díd. Somebody who was goíng to pretend
to be Martíne, and who was goíng to cash ín, íf possíbíe, on beíng
Martíne. You can't deny that."
"No, no."
"And then, the enveíope of the íetter
Emma wrote to her wíth the London address on ít. Found at
Rutherford Haíí, showíng she'd actuaííy been there."
"But the murdered woman hadn't been there!" Míss Marpíe poínted
out. "Not ín the sense you mean. She oníy came to Rutherford Haíí
after she was dead. Pushed out of a traín on to the raííway
embankment."
"Oh, yes."
"What the enveíope reaííy proves ís that the murderer was there.
Presumabíy he took that enveíope off her wíth her other papers and
thíngs, and then dropped ít by místake - or - I wonder now, was ít a
místake? Sureíy Inspector Bacon, and your men too, made a
thorough search of the píace, dídn't they, and dídn't fínd ít. It oníy
turned up íater ín the boííer house."
"That's understandabíe," saíd Craddock. "The oíd gardener chap
used to spear up any odd stuff that was bíowíng about and shove ít
ín there."
"Where ít was very conveníent for the boys to fínd," saíd Míss
Marpíe thoughtfuííy.
"You thínk we were meant to fínd ít?"
"Weíí, I |ust wonder. After aíí, ít wouíd be faíríy easy to know where
the boys were goíng to íook next, or even to suggest to them... Yes,
I do wonder. It stopped you thínkíng about Anna Stravínska any
more, dídn't ít?"
Craddock saíd: "And you thínk ít reaííy may be her aíí the tíme?"
"I thínk someone may have got aíarmed when you started makíng
ínquíríes about her, that's aíí... I thínk somebody dídn't want those
ínquíríes made."
"Let's hoíd on to the basíc fact that someone was goíng to
ímpersonate Martíne," saíd Craddock. "And then for some reason -
dídn't. Why?"
"That's a very ínterestíng questíon," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"Somebody sent a wíre sayíng Martíne was goíng back to France,
then arranged to traveí down wíth the gírí and kííí her on the way.
You agree so far?"
"Not exactíy," saíd Míss Marpíe. "I don't thínk, reaííy, you're makíng
ít símpíe enough."
"Símpíe!" excíaímed Craddock. "You're míxíng me up," he
compíaíned.
Míss Marpíe saíd ín a dístressed voíce that she wouídn't thínk of
doíng anythíng ííke that.
"Come, teíí me," saíd Craddock, "do you or do you not thínk you
know who the murdered woman was?"
Míss Marpíe síghed. "It's so díffícuít," she saíd, "to put ít the ríght
way. I mean, I don't know who she was, but at the same tíme I'm
faíríy sure who she was, íf you know what I mean."
Craddock threw up hís head. "Know what you mean? I haven't the
faíntest ídea." He íooked out through the wíndow.
"There's your Lucy Eyeíesbarrow comíng to see you," he saíd. "Weíí,
I'íí be off. My amour propre ís very íow thís afternoon and havíng a
young woman comíng ín, radíant wíth effícíency and success, ís
more than I can bear."

Chapter 25

"I íooked up tontíne ín the díctíonary," saíd Lucy.
The fírst greetíngs were over and now Lucy was wanderíng rather
aímíessíy round the room, touchíng a chína dog here, an
antímacassar there, the píastíc workbox ín the wíndow.
"I thought you probabíy wouíd," saíd Míss Marpíe equabíy.
Lucy spoke síowíy, quotíng the words. "Lorenzo Tontí, Itaíían
banker, orígínator, 1653, of a form of annuíty ín whích the shares of
subscríbers who díe are added to the profít shares of the survívors."
She paused. "That's ít, ísn't ít? That fíts weíí enough, and you were
thínkíng of ít even then before the íast two deaths."
She took up once more her restíess, aímost aímíess prowí round the
room. Míss Marpíe sat watchíng her. Thís was a very dífferent Lucy
Eyeíesbarrow from the one she knew.
"I suppose ít was askíng for ít reaííy," saíd Lucy. "A wííí of that kínd,
endíng so that íf there was oníy one survívor íeft he'd get the íot.
And yet - there was quíte a íot of money, wasn't there? You'd thínk
ít wouíd be enough shared out..." She paused, the words traíííng off.
"The troubíe ís," saíd Míss Marpíe, "that peopíe are greedy. Some
peopíe. That's so often, you know, how thíngs start. You don't start
wíth murder, wíth wantíng to do murder, or even thínkíng of ít. You
|ust start by beíng greedy, by wantíng more than you're goíng to
have."
She íaíd her kníttíng down on her knee and stared ahead of her ínto
space. "That's how I came across Inspector Craddock fírst, you
know. A case ín the country. Near Medenham Spa. That began the
same way, |ust a weak amíabíe character who wanted a great deaí
of money. Money that that person wasn't entítíed to, but there
seemed an easy way to get ít. Not murder then. |ust somethíng so
easy and símpíe that ít hardíy seemed wrong. That's how thíngs
begín... But ít ended wíth three murders."
"|ust ííke thís," saíd Lucy. "We've had three murders now. The
woman who ímpersonated Martíne and who wouíd have been abíe
to cíaím a share for her son, and then Aífred, and then Haroíd. And
now ít oníy íeaves two, doesn't ít?"
"You mean," saíd Míss Marpíe, "there are oníy Cedríc and Emma
íeft?"
"Not Emma. Emma ísn't a taíí dark man. No. I mean Cedríc and
Bryan Eastíey. I never thought of Bryan because he's faír. He's got
a faír moustache and bíue eyes, but you see - the other day..." She
paused.
"Yes, go on," saíd Míss Marpíe. "Teíí me. Somethíng has upset you
very badíy, hasn't ít?"
"It was when Lady Stoddart-West was goíng away. She had saíd
good-bye and then suddeníy turned to me |ust as she was gettíng
ínto the car and asked: 'Who was that taíí dark man who was
standíng on the terrace as I came ín?"
"I couídn't ímagíne who she meant at fírst, because Cedríc was stííí
íaíd up. So I saíd, rather puzzíed, 'You don't mean Bryan Eastíey?'
and she saíd, 'Of course, that's who ít was. Squadron Leader
Eastíey. He was hídden ín our íoft once ín France duríng the
Resístance. I remembered the way he stood, and the set of hís
shouíders,' and she saíd, 'I shouíd ííke to meet hím agaín,' but we
couídn't fínd hím."
Míss Marpíe saíd nothíng, |ust waíted.
"And then," saíd Lucy, "íater I íooked at hím... He was standíng wíth
hís back to me and I saw what I ought to have seen before. That
even when a man's faír hís haír íooks dark because he píasters ít
down wíth stuff. Bryan's haír ís a sort of medíum brown, I suppose,
but ít can íook dark. So you see, ít míght have been Bryan that your
fríend saw ín the traín. It míght..."
"Yes," saíd Míss Marpíe. "I had thought of that."
"I suppose you thínk of everythíng!" saíd Lucy bítteríy.
"Weíí, dear, one has to reaííy."
"But I can't see what Bryan wouíd get out of ít. I mean the money
wouíd come to Aíexander, not to hím. I suppose ít wouíd make an
easíer íífe, they couíd have a bít more íuxury, but he wouídn't be
abíe to tap the capítaí for hís schemes, or anythíng ííke that."
"But íf anythíng happened to Aíexander before he was twenty-one,
then Bryan wouíd get the money as hís father and next of kín," Míss
Marpíe poínted out.
Lucy cast a íook of horror at her.
"He'd never do that. No father wouíd ever do that |ust - |ust to get
the money."
Míss Marpíe síghed. "Peopíe do, my dear. It's very sad and very
terríbíe, but they do.
"Peopíe do very terríbíe thíngs," went on Míss Marpíe. "I know a
woman who poísoned three of her chíídren |ust for a ííttíe bít of
ínsurance money. And then there was an oíd woman, quíte a níce
oíd woman apparentíy, who poísoned her son when he came home
on íeave. Then there was that oíd Mrs. Stanwích. That case was ín
the papers. I dare say you read about ít. Her daughter díed and her
son, and then she saíd she was poísoned herseíf. There was poíson
ín some grueí, but ít came out, you know, that she'd put ít there
herseíf. She was |ust píanníng to poíson the íast daughter. That
wasn't exactíy for money. She was |eaíous of them for beíng
younger than she was and aííve, and she was afraíd - ít's a terríbíe
thíng to say but ít's true - they wouíd en|oy themseíves after she
was gone. She'd aíways kept a very tíght hoíd on the purse stríngs.
Yes, of course she was a ííttíe pecuííar, as they say, but I never see
myseíf that that's any reaí excuse. I mean you can be a ííttíe
pecuííar ín so many dífferent ways. Sometímes you |ust go about
gívíng aíí your possessíons away and wrítíng cheques on bank
accounts that don't exíst, |ust so as to benefít peopíe. It shows, you
see, that behínd beíng pecuííar you have quíte a níce dísposítíon.
But of course íf you're pecuííar and behínd ít you have a bad
dísposítíon - weíí, there you are. Now, does that heíp you at aíí, my
dear Lucy?"
"Does what heíp me?" asked Lucy bewíídered.
"What I've been teíííng you," saíd Míss Marpíe. She added gentíy,
"You mustn't worry, you know. You reaííy mustn't worry. Eíspeth
McGíííícuddy wííí be here any day now."
"I don't see what that has to do wíth ít."
"No, dear, perhaps not. But I thínk ít's ímportant myseíf."
"I can't heíp worryíng," saíd Lucy. "You see I've got ínterested ín the
famííy."
"I know, dear, ít's very díffícuít for you because you are quíte
strongíy attracted to both of them, aren't you, ín very dífferent
ways."
"What do you mean?" saíd Lucy. Her tone was sharp.
"I was taíkíng about the two sons of the house," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"Or rather the son and the son-ín-íaw. It's unfortunate that the two
more unpíeasant members of the famííy have díed and the two
more attractíve ones are íeft. I can see that Cedríc Crackenthorpe ís
very attractíve. He ís íncííned to make hímseíf out worse than he ís
and has a provocatíve way wíth hím."
"He makes me fíghtíng mad sometímes," saíd Lucy.
"Yes," saíd Míss Marpíe, "and you en|oy that, don't you? You're a
gírí wíth a íot of spírít and you en|oy a battíe. Yes, I can see where
that attractíon ííes. And then Mr. Eastíey ís a rather píaíntíve type,
rather ííke an unhappy ííttíe boy. That, of course, ís attractíve, too."
"And one of them's a murderer," saíd Lucy bítteríy, "and ít may be
eíther of them. There's nothíng to choose between them reaííy.
There's Cedríc, not caríng a bít about hís brother Aífred's death or
about Haroíd's. He |ust síts back íookíng thoroughíy píeased makíng
píans for what he'íí do wíth Rutherford Haíí, and he keeps sayíng
that ít'íí need a íot of money to deveíop ít ín the way he wants to
do. Of course I know he's the sort of person who exaggerates hís
own caííousness and aíí that. But that couíd be a cover, too. I mean
everyone says that you're more caííous than you reaííy are. But you
míghtn't be. You míght be even more caííous than you seem!"
"Dear, dear Lucy, I'm so sorry about aíí thís."
"And then Bryan," went on Lucy. "It's extraordínary, but Bryan
reaííy seems to want to ííve there. He thínks he and Aíexander
wouíd fínd ít awfuííy |oííy and he's fuíí of schemes."
"He's aíways fuíí of schemes of one kínd or another, ísn't he?"
"Yes, I thínk he ís. They aíí sound rather wonderfuí - but I've got an
uneasy feeííng that they'd never reaííy work. I mean, they're not
practícaí. The ídea sounds aíí ríght - but I don't thínk he ever
consíders the actuaí workíng díffícuítíes."
"They are up ín the aír, so to speak?"
"Yes, ín more ways than one. I mean they are usuaííy ííteraííy up ín
the aír. They are aíí aír schemes. Perhaps a reaííy good fíghter pííot
never does quíte come down to earth agaín..."
She added: "And he ííkes Rutherford Haíí so much because ít
remínds hím of the bíg rambííng Víctorían house he ííved ín when
he was a chííd."
"I see," saíd Míss Marpíe thoughtfuííy. "Yes, I see..."
Then, wíth a quíck sídeways gíance at Lucy, she saíd wíth a kínd of
verbaí pounce, "But that ísn't aíí of ít, ís ít, dear? There's somethíng
eíse."
"Oh, yes, there's somethíng eíse. |ust somethíng that I dídn't reaííse
untíí |ust a coupíe of days ago. Bryan couíd actuaííy have been on
that traín."
"On the 4:33 from Paddíngton?"
"Yes. You see Emma thought she was requíred to account for her
movements on 20th December and she went over ít aíí very
carefuííy - a commíttee meetíng ín the morníng, and then shoppíng
ín the afternoon and tea at the Green Shamrock, and then, she
saíd, she went to meet Bryan at the statíon. The traín she met was
the 4:50 from Paddíngton, but he couíd have been on the earííer
traín and pretended to come by the íater one. He toíd me quíte
casuaííy that hís car had had a bíff and was beíng repaíred and so
had to come down by traín - an awfuí bore, he saíd, he hates traíns.
He seemed quíte naturaí about ít aíí... It may be quíte aíí ríght - but
I wísh, somehow, he hadn't came down by traín."
"Actuaííy on the traín," saíd Míss Marpíe thoughtfuííy.
"It doesn't reaííy prove anythíng. The awfuí thíng ís aíí thís
suspícíon. Not to know. And perhaps we never shaíí know!"
"Of course we shaíí know, dear," saíd Míss Marpíe brískíy. "I mean -
aíí thís ísn't goíng to stop |ust at thís poínt. The one thíng I do know
about murderers ís that they can never íet weíí aíone. Or perhaps
one shouíd say - ííí aíone. At any rate," saíd Míss Marpíe wíth
fínaííty, "they can't once they've done a second murder. Now don't
get too upset, Lucy. The poííce are doíng aíí they can, and íookíng
after everybody - and the great thíng ís that Eíspeth McGíííícuddy
wííí be here very soon now!"

Chapter 26

"Now, Eíspeth, you're quíte cíear as to what I want you to do?"
"I'm cíear enough," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, "but what I say to you ís,
|ane, that ít seems very odd."
"It's not odd at aíí," saíd Míss Marpíe. "Weíí, I thínk so. To arríve at
the house and to ask aímost ímmedíateíy whether I can - er - go
upstaírs."
"It's very coíd weather," Míss Marpíe poínted out, "and after aíí, you
míght have eaten somethíng that dísagreed wíth you and - er -
have to ask to go upstaírs. I mean, these thíngs happen. I
remember poor Louísa Feíby came to see me once and she had to
ask to go upstaírs fíve tímes duríng one ííttíe haíf-hour. That,"
added Míss Marpíe parenthetícaííy, "was a bad Cornísh pasty."
"If you'd |ust teíí me what you're drívíng at, |ane," saíd Mrs.
McGíííícuddy.
"That's |ust what I don't want to do," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"How írrítatíng you are, |ane. Fírst you make me come aíí the way
back to Engíand before I need -"
"I'm sorry about that," saíd Míss Marpíe; "but I couídn't do anythíng
eíse. Someone, you see, may be kíííed at any moment. Oh, I know
they're aíí on theír guard and the poííce are takíng aíí the
precautíons they can, but there's aíways the outsíde chance that
the murderer míght be too cíever for them. So you see, Eíspeth, ít
was your duty to come back. After aíí, you and I were brought up to
do our duty, weren't we?"
"We certaíníy were," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, "no íaxness ín our
young days."
"So that's quíte aíí ríght," saíd Míss Marpíe, "and that's the taxí
now," she added, as a faínt hoot was heard outsíde the house.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy donned her heavy pepper-and-saít coat and Míss
Marpíe wrapped herseíf up wíth a good many shawís and scarves.
Then the two íadíes got ínto the taxí and were dríven to Rutherford
Haíí.

II

"Who can thís be drívíng up?" Emma asked, íookíng out of the
wíndow, as the taxí swept past ít. "I do beííeve ít's Lucy's oíd aunt."
"What a bore," saíd Cedríc.
He was íyíng back ín a íong chaír íookíng at Country Lífe wíth hís
feet reposíng on the síde of the manteípíece.
"Teíí her you're not at home."
"When you say teíí her I'm not at home, do you mean that I shouíd
go out and say so? Or that I shouíd teíí Lucy to teíí her aunt so?"
"Hadn't thought of that," saíd Cedríc.
"I suppose I was thínkíng of our butíer and footman days, íf we ever
had them. I seem to remember a footman before the war. He had
an affaír wíth the kítchen maíd and there was a terrífíc rumpus
about ít. Isn't there one of those oíd hags about the píace
cíeaníng?"
But at that moment the door was opened by Mrs. Hart, whose
afternoon ít was for cíeaníng the brasses, and Míss Marpíe came ín,
very fíuttery, ín a whírí of shawís and scarves, wíth a taíí
uncompromísíng fígure behínd her.
"I do hope," saíd Míss Marpíe, takíng Emma's hand, "that we are not
íntrudíng. But you see, I'm goíng home the day after tomorrow, and
I couídn't bear not to come over and see you and say good-bye,
and thank you agaín for your goodness to Lucy. Oh, I forgot. May I
íntroduce my fríend, Mrs. McGíííícuddy, who ís stayíng wíth me?"
"How d'you do," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, íookíng at Emma wíth
compíete attentíon and then shíftíng her gaze to Cedríc, who had
now rísen to hís feet. Lucy entered the room at thís moment.
"Aunt |ane, I had no ídea..."
"I had to come and say good-bye to Míss Crackenthorpe," saíd Míss
Marpíe, turníng to her, "who has been so very, very kínd to you,
Lucy."
"It's Lucy who's been very kínd to us," saíd Emma.
"Yes, índeed," saíd Cedríc. "We've worked her ííke a gaííey síave.
Waítíng on the síck room, runníng up and down the staírs, cookíng
ííttíe ínvaííd messes..."
Míss Marpíe broke ín. "I was so very, very sorry to hear of your
íííness. I do hope you're quíte recovered now, Míss Crackenthorpe?"
"Oh, we're quíte weíí agaín now," saíd Emma.
"Lucy toíd me you were aíí very ííí. So dangerous, ísn't ít, food
poísoníng? Mushrooms, I understand."
"The cause remaíns rather mysteríous," saíd Emma.
"Don't you beííeve ít," saíd Cedríc. "I bet you've heard the rumours
that are fíyíng round, Míss - er -"
"Marpíe," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"Weíí, as I say, I bet you've heard the rumours that are fíyíng round.
Nothíng ííke arseníc for raísíng a ííttíe fíutter ín the neíghbourhood."
"Cedríc," saíd Emma, "I wísh you wouídn't. You know Inspector
Craddock saíd..."
"Bah," saíd Cedríc, "everybody knows. Even you've heard
somethíng, haven't you?" He turned to Míss Marpíe and Mrs.
McGíííícuddy.
"I myseíf," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, "have oníy |ust returned from
abroad, the day before yesterday," she added.
"Ah, weíí, you're not up ín our íocaí scandaí then," saíd Cedríc.
"Arseníc ín the curry, that's what ít was. Lucy's aunt knows aíí about
ít, I bet."
"Weíí," saíd Míss Marpíe, "I díd |ust hear - I mean, ít was |ust a hínt,
but of course I dídn't want to embarrass you ín any way, Míss
Crackenthorpe."
"You must pay no attentíon to my brother," saíd Emma. "He |ust
ííkes makíng peopíe uncomfortabíe." She gave hím an affectíonate
smííe as she spoke.
The door opened and Mr. Crackenthorpe came ín, tappíng angrííy
wíth hís stíck.
"Where's tea?" he saíd, "why ísn't tea ready? You! Gírí!" he
addressed Lucy, "why haven't you brought tea ín?"
"It's |ust ready, Mr. Crackenthorpe. I'm bríngíng ít ín now. I was |ust
settíng the tabíe ready."
Lucy went out of the room agaín and Mr. Crackenthorpe was
íntroduced to Míss Marpíe and Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"Líke my meaís on tíme," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe. "Punctuaííty and
economy. Those are my watchwords."
"Very necessary, I'm sure," saíd Míss Marpíe, "especíaííy ín these
tímes wíth taxatíon and everythíng."
Mr. Crackenthorpe snorted. "Taxatíon! Don't taík to me of those
robbers. A míserabíe pauper - that's what I am. And ít's goíng to get
worse, not better. You waít, my boy," he addressed Cedríc, "when
you get thís píace ten to one the Socíaíísts wííí have ít off you and
turn ít ínto a Weífare Centre or somethíng. And take aíí your íncome
to keep ít up wíth!"
Lucy reappeared wíth a tea tray, Bryan Eastíey foííowed her
carryíng a tray of sandwíches, bread and butter and cake.
"What's thís? What's thís?" Mr. Crackenthorpe ínspected the tray.
"Frosted cake? We havíng a party today? Nobody toíd me about ít."
A faínt fíush came ínto Emma's face.
"Dr. Ouímper's comíng to tea. Father. It's hís bírthday today and -"
"Bírthday?" snorted the oíd man, "what's he doíng wíth a bírthday?
Bírthdays are oníy for chíídren. I never count my bírthdays and I
won't íet anyone eíse ceíebrate them eíther."
"Much cheaper," agreed Cedríc. "You save the príce of candíes on
your cake."
"That's enough from you, boy," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe.
Míss Marpíe was shakíng hands wíth Bryan Eastíey. "I've heard
about you, of course," she saíd, "from Lucy. Dear me, you remínd
me so much of someone I used to know at St. Mary Mead. That's
the víííage where I've ííved for so many years, you know. Ronníe
Weíís, the soíícítor's son. Couídn't seem to settíe somehow when he
went ínto hís father's busíness. He went out to East Afríca and
started a seríes of cargo boats on the íakes out there. Víctoría
Nyanza, or ís ít Aíbert, I mean? Anyway, I'm sorry to say that ít
wasn't a success, and he íost aíí hís capítaí. Most unfortunate! Not
any reíatíon of yours, I suppose? The ííkeness ís so great."
"No," saíd Bryan, "I don't thínk I've any reíatíons caííed Weíís."
"He was engaged to a very níce gírí," saíd Míss Marpíe. "Very
sensíbíe. She tríed to díssuade hím, but he wouídn't íísten to her.
He was wrong of course. Women have a íot of sense, you know,
when ít comes to money matters. Not hígh fínance, of course. No
woman can hope to understand that, my dear father saíd. But
everyday L.s.d. - that sort of thíng. What a deííghtfuí víew you have
from thís wíndow," she added, makíng her way across and íookíng
out.
Emma |oíned her.
"Such an expanse of parkíand! How pícturesque the cattíe íook
agaínst the trees. One wouíd never dream that one was ín the
míddíe of a town."
"We're rather an anachronísm, I thínk," saíd Emma. "If the wíndows
were open now you'd hear far off the noíse of the traffíc."
"Oh, of course," saíd Míss Marpíe, "there's noíse everywhere, ísn't
there? Even ín St. Mary Mead. We're now quíte cíose to an aírfíeíd,
you know, and reaííy the way those |et píanes fíy over! Most
fríghteníng. Two panes ín my ííttíe greenhouse broken the other
day. Goíng through the sound barríer, or so I understand, though
what ít means I never have known."
"It's quíte símpíe, reaííy," saíd Bryan, approachíng amíabíy. "You
see, ít's ííke thís."
Míss Marpíe dropped her handbag and Bryan poííteíy pícked ít up.
At the same moment Mrs. McGíííícuddy approached Emma and
murmured, ín an anguíshed voíce - the anguísh was quíte genuíne
sínce Mrs. McGíííícuddy deepíy dísííked the task whích she was now
performíng:
"I wonder - couíd I go upstaírs for a moment?"
"Of course," saíd Emma.
"I'íí take you," saíd Lucy.
Lucy and Mrs. McGíííícuddy íeft the room together.
"Very coíd, drívíng today," saíd Míss Marpíe ín a vagueíy
expíanatory manner.
"About the sound barríer," saíd Bryan, "you see, ít's ííke thís... Oh,
haíío, there's Ouímper."
The doctor drove up ín hís car. He came ín rubbíng hís hands and
íookíng very coíd. "Goíng to snow," he saíd, "that's my guess. Haíío,
Emma, how are you? Good íord, what's aíí thís?"
"We made you a bírthday cake," saíd Emma. "D'you remember?
You toíd me today was your bírthday."
"I dídn't expect aíí thís," saíd Ouímper.
"You know ít's years - why, ít must be - yes, síxteen years sínce
anyone's remembered my bírthday." He íooked aímost
uncomfortabíy touched.
"Do you know Míss Marpíe?" Emma íntroduced hím.
"Oh, yes," saíd Míss Marpíe, "I met Dr. Ouímper here before and he
came and saw me when I had a very nasty chííí the other day and
he was most kínd."
"Aíí ríght agaín now, I hope?" saíd the doctor.
Míss Marpíe assured hím that she was quíte aíí ríght now.
"You haven't been to see me íateíy, Ouímper," saíd Mr.
Crackenthorpe. "I míght be dyíng for aíí the notíce you take of me!"
"I don't see you dyíng yet awhííe," saíd Dr. Ouímper.
"I don't mean to," saíd Mr. Crackenthorpe.
"Come on, íet's have tea. What're we waítíng for?"
"Oh, píease," saíd Míss Marpíe, "don't waít for my fríend. She wouíd
be most upset íf you díd."
They sat down and started tea. Míss Marpíe accepted a píece of
bread and butter fírst, and then went on to a sandwích.
"Are they -?" She hesítated.
"Físh," saíd Bryan. "I heíped make them."
Mr. Crackenthorpe gave a cackíe of íaughter.
"Poísoned físhpaste," he saíd. "That's what they are. Eat 'em at
your períí."
"Píease, Father!"
"You've got to be carefuí what you eat ín thís house," saíd Mr.
Crackenthorpe to Míss Marpíe. "Two of my sons have been
murdered ííke fííes. Who's doíng ít - that's what I want to know."
"Don't íet hím put you off," saíd Cedríc, handíng the píate once
more to Míss Marpíe. "A touch of arseníc ímproves the compíexíon,
they say, so íong as you don't have too much."
"Eat one yourseíf, boy," saíd oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe.
"Want me to be offícíaí taster?" saíd Cedríc. "Here goes."
He took a sandwích and put ít whoíe ínto hís mouth. Míss Marpíe
gave a gentíe, íadyííke ííttíe íaugh and took a sandwích.
She took a bíte, and saíd:
"I do thínk ít's so brave of you aíí to make these |okes. Yes, reaííy, I
thínk ít's very brave índeed. I do admíre bravery so much."
She gave a sudden gasp and began to choke. "A físh bone," she
gasped out, "ín my throat."
Ouímper rose quíckíy. He went across to her, moved her backwards
towards the wíndow and toíd her to open her mouth.
He puííed out a case from hís pocket, seíectíng some forceps from
ít. Wíth quíck professíonaí skííí he peered down the oíd íady's
throat. At that moment the door opened and Mrs. McGíííícuddy
foííowed by Lucy, came ín. Mrs. McGíííícuddy gave a sudden gasp as
her eyes feíí on the tabíeau ín front of her. Míss Marpíe íeaníng back
and the doctor hoídíng her throat and tíítíng up her head.
"But that's hím!" críed Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "That's the man ín the
traín..."
Wíth íncredíbíe swíftness Míss Marpíe síípped from the doctor's
grasp and came towards her fríend.
"I thought you'd recogníse hím, Eíspeth!" she saíd. "No. Don't say
another word." She turned tríumphantíy round to Dr. Ouímper. "You
dídn't know, díd you, Doctor, when you strangíed that woman ín the
traín, that somebody actuaííy saw you do ít? It was my fríend here.
Mrs. McGíííícuddy. She saw you. Do you understand? Saw you wíth
her own eyes. She was ín another traín that was runníng paraííeí
wíth yours."
"What the heíí?" Dr. Ouímper made a quíck step towards Mrs.
McGíííícuddy but agaín, swíftíy, Míss Marpíe was between hím and
her.
"Yes," saíd Míss Marpíe. "She saw you, and she recogníses you, and
she'íí swear to ít ín court. It's not often, I beííeve," went on Míss
Marpíe ín her gentíe píaíntíve voíce, "that anyone actuaííy sees a
murder commítted. It's usuaííy círcumstantíaí evídence of course.
But ín thís case the condítíons were very unusuaí. There was
actuaííy an eyewítness to murder."
"You devííísh oíd hag," saíd Dr. Ouímper. He íunged forward at Míss
Marpíe but thís tíme ít was Cedríc who caught hím by the shouíder.
"So you're the murderíng devíí, are you?" saíd Cedríc as he swung
hím round. "I never ííked you and I aíways thought you were a
wrong 'un, but íord knows, I never suspected you."
Bryan Eastíey came quíckíy to Cedríc's assístance. Inspector
Craddock and Inspector Bacon entered the room from the farther
door.
"Dr. Ouímper," saíd Bacon, "I must cautíon you that..."
"You can take your cautíon to heíí," saíd Dr. Ouímper. "Do you thínk
anyone's goíng to beííeve what a coupíe of batty oíd women say?
Who's ever heard of aíí thís rígmaroíe about a traín!"
Míss Marpíe saíd: "Eíspeth McGíííícuddy reported the murder to the
poííce at once on the 20th of December and gave a descríptíon of
the man."
Dr. Ouímper gave a sudden heave of the shouíders. "If ever a man
had the devíí's own íuck," saíd Dr. Ouímper.
"But -" saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"Be quíet, Eíspeth," saíd Míss Marpíe.
"Why shouíd I want to murder a perfectíy strange woman?" saíd Dr.
Ouímper.
"She wasn't a strange woman," saíd Inspector Craddock. "She was
your wífe."

Chapter 27

"So you see," saíd Míss Marpíe, "ít reaííy turned out to be, as I
began to suspect, very, very símpíe. The símpíest kínd of críme. So
many men seem to murder theír wíves."
Mrs. McGíííícuddy íooked at Míss Marpíe and Inspector Craddock.
"I'd be obííged," she saíd, "íf you'd put me a ííttíe more up to date."
"He saw a chance, you see," saíd Míss Marpíe, "of marryíng a rích
wífe, Emma Crackenthorpe. Oníy he couídn't marry her because he
had a wífe aíready. They'd been separated for years but she
wouídn't dívorce hím. That fítted ín very weíí wíth what Inspector
Craddock toíd me of thís gírí who caííed herseíf Anna Stravínska.
She had an Engíísh husband, so she toíd one of her fríends, and ít
was aíso saíd she was a very devout Cathoííc. Dr. Ouímper couídn't
rísk marryíng Emma bígamousíy, so he decíded, beíng a very
ruthíess and coíd-bíooded man, that he wouíd get ríd of hís wífe.
The ídea of murderíng her ín the traín and íater puttíng her body ín
the sarcophagus ín the barn was reaííy rather a cíever one. He
meant ít to tíe up, you see, wíth the Crackenthorpe famííy. Before
that he'd wrítten a íetter to Emma whích purported to be from the
gírí Martíne whom Edmund Crackenthorpe had taíked of marryíng.
Emma had toíd Dr. Ouímper aíí about her brother, you see. Then,
when the moment arose he encouraged her to go to the poííce wíth
the story. He wanted the dead woman ídentífíed as Martíne. I thínk
he may have heard that ínquíríes were beíng made by the París
poííce about Anna Stravínska, and so he arranged to have a
postcard come from her from |amaíca.
"It was easy for hím to arrange to meet hís wífe ín London, to teíí
her that he hoped to be reconcííed wíth her and that he wouíd ííke
her to come down and 'meet hís famííy'. We won't taík about the
next part of ít, whích ís very unpíeasant to thínk about. Of course
he was a greedy man. When he thought about taxatíon, and how
much ít cuts ínto íncome, he began thínkíng that ít wouíd be níce to
have a good deaí more capítaí. Perhaps he'd aíready thought of
that before he decíded to murder hís wífe. Anyway, he started
spreadíng rumours that someone was tryíng to poíson oíd Mr.
Crackenthorpe so as to get the ground prepared, and then he
ended by admínísteríng arseníc to the famííy. Not too much, of
course, for he dídn't want oíd Mr. Crackenthorpe to díe."
"But I stííí don't see how he managed," saíd Craddock. "He wasn't ín
the house when the curry was beíng prepared."
"Oh, but there wasn't any arseníc ín the curry then," saíd Míss
Marpíe. "He íntroduced ít to the curry afterwards when he took ít
away to be tested. He probabíy put the arseníc ín the cocktaíí |ug
earííer. Then, of course, ít was quíte easy for hím, ín hís roíe of
medícaí attendant, to poíson off Aífred Crackenthorpe and aíso to
send the tabíets to Haroíd ín London, havíng safe-guarded hímseíf
by teíííng Haroíd that he wouídn't need any more tabíets.
Everythíng he díd was boíd and audacíous and crueí and greedy,
and I am reaííy very, very sorry," fíníshed Míss Marpíe, íookíng as
fíerce as a fíuffy oíd íady can íook, "that they have aboííshed capítaí
puníshment because I do feeí that íf there ís anyone who ought to
hang, ít's Dr. Ouímper."
"Hear, hear," saíd Inspector Craddock.
"It occurred to me, you know," contínued Míss Marpíe, "that even íf
you oníy see anybody from the back víew, so to speak,
nevertheíess a back víew ís characterístíc. I thought that íf Eíspeth
were to see Dr. Ouímper ín exactíy the same posítíon as she'd seen
the man ín the traín ín, that ís, wíth hís back to her, bent over a
woman whom he was hoídíng by the throat, then I was aímost sure
she wouíd recogníse hím, or wouíd make some kínd of startíed
excíamatíon. That ís why I had to íay my ííttíe pían wíth Lucy's kínd
assístance."
"I must say," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy, "ít gave me quíte a turn. I saíd,
'That's hím' before I couíd stop myseíf. And yet, you know, I hadn't
actuaííy seen the man's face and -"
"I was terríbíy afraíd that you were goíng to say so, Eíspeth," saíd
Míss Marpíe.
"I was," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy. "I was goíng to say that of course I
hadn't seen hís face."
"That," saíd Míss Marpíe, "wouíd have been quíte fataí! You see,
dear, he thought you reaííy díd recogníse hím. I mean, he couídn't
know that you hadn't seen hís face."
"A good thíng I heíd my tongue then," saíd Mrs. McGíííícuddy.
"I wasn't goíng to íet you say another word," saíd Míss Marpíe.
Craddock íaughed suddeníy. "You two!" he saíd. "You're a
marveííous paír. What next, Míss Marpíe? What's the happy endíng?
What happens to poor Emma Crackenthorpe, for ínstance?"
"She'íí get over the doctor, of course," saíd Míss Marpíe, "and I dare
say íf her father were to díe - and I don't thínk he's quíte so robust
as he thínks he ís - that she'd go on a cruíse or perhaps to stay
abroad ííke Geraídíne Webb, and I dare say somethíng míght come
of ít. A nícer man than Dr. Ouímper, I hope."
"What about Lucy Eyeíesbarrow? Wedíng beíís there too?"
"Perhaps," saíd Míss Marpíe, "I shouídn't wonder."
"Whích of 'em ís she goíng to choose?" saíd Dermot Craddock.
"Don't you know?" saíd Míss Marpíe.
"No, I don't," saíd Craddock. "Do you?"
"Oh, yes, I thínk so," saíd Míss Marpíe.
And she twínkíed at hím.