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THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

THESITTAFORD
MYSTERY

AgathaChristie

THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

EmilyTrefusisisengagedtoayoung
manwhoisarrestedforthemurderof
hisuncle,Capt.Trevelyan.Sheis
convincedofhisinnocenceandsetsout
tounmasktherealculprit,whichshe
doeswiththehelpofthepolice
inspectorinchargeofthecase.The
answerisrelatedtothemysterious
arrivalofMrs.Willettandher
daughterinthevillageofSittaford,
andthebleaksettingonDartmoor
contributestotheplot.

ToM.E.M:
WithwhomIdiscussedtheplotofthisbook,tothe
alarmofthosearoundus

THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

Published
1931,DoddMeadandCompany(NewYork),1931,
Hardcover,308pp
1931,CollinsCrimeClub(London),September7,1931,
Hardcover,256pp
1948,PenguinBooks,Paperback,(Penguinnumber
690),255pp
1950,DellBooks(NewYork),Paperback,(Dellnumber
391[mapback]),224pp
1961,FontanaBooks(ImprintofHarperCollins),
Paperback,190pp
1973,UlverscroftLargeprintEdition,Hardcover,387
pp
2010,HarperCollins;Facsimileedition,Hardcover:256
pages

THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

TableofContents
SITTAFORDHOUSE.............................................................4
THEMESSAGE....................................................................17
FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE.......................................33
INSPECTORNARRACOTT.................................................41
EVANS..................................................................................51
ATTHETHREECROWNS.................................................66
THEWILL............................................................................79
MRCHARLESENDERBY..................................................93
THELAURELS..................................................................105
THEPEARSONFAMILY...................................................119
EMILYSETSTOWORK....................................................136
THEARREST.....................................................................151
SITTAFORD.......................................................................160
THEWILLETTS................................................................169
VISITTOMAJORBURNABY...........................................181
MRRYCROFT....................................................................194
MISSPERCEHOUSE........................................................208
EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE..............................224
THEORIES.........................................................................238

THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER............................................252
CONVERSATIONS............................................................270
NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES.................292
ATHAZELMOOR...............................................................301
INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE.....313
ATDELLER'SCAF.........................................................328
ROBERTGARDNER.........................................................337
NARRACOTTACTS...........................................................348
BOOTS................................................................................357
THESECONDSANCE....................................................371
EMILYEXPLAINS............................................................389
THELUCKYMAN.............................................................399

THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

THESITTAFORDMYSTERY

Chapter1

SITTAFORDHOUSE
MajorBurnabydrewonhis gum boots,buttonedhis
overcoatcollarroundhisneck,tookfromashelfnear
the door a hurricane lantern, and cautiously opened
thefront doorofhis littlebungalowandpeeredout.
ThescenethatmethiseyeswastypicaloftheEnglish
countryside as depicted on Xmas cards and in old
fashioned melodramas. Everywhere was snow, deep
driftsofitnomerepowderinganinchortwothick.
SnowhadfallenalloverEnglandforthelastfourdays,
anduphereonthefringeofDartmoorithadattained
adepthofseveralfeet.AlloverEnglandhouseholders
weregroaningoverburstpipes,andtohaveaplumber
friend(orevenaplumber'smate)wasthemostcoveted
ofalldistinctions.
Uphere,inthetinyvillageofSittaford,atalltimes
remotefromtheworld,andnowalmostcompletelycut
off,therigorsofwinterwereaveryrealproblem.
MajorBurnaby,however,wasahardysoul.Hesnorted
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SITTAFORDHOUSE

twice,gruntedonce,andmarchedresolutelyoutinto
thesnow.
Hisdestinationwasnotfaraway.Afewpacesalonga
winding lane, then in at a gate, and so up a drive
partially swept clear of snow to a house of some
considerablesizebuiltofgranite.
Thedoorwasopenedbyaneatlycladparlormaid.The
MajorwasdivestedofhisBritishWarm,hisgumboots
andhisagedscarf.
Adoorwasflungopenandhepassedthroughitintoa
room which conveyed all the illusion of a
transformationscene.
Althoughitwasonlyhalfpastthreethecurtainshad
beendrawn,theelectriclightswereonandahugefire
blazed cheerfully on the hearth. Two women in
afternoonfrocksrosetogreetthestauncholdwarrior.
"Splendidofyoutoturnout,MajorBurnaby,"saidthe
elderofthetwo.
"Notatall,MrsWillett,notatall.Verygoodofyouto
askme."Heshookhandswiththemboth.
"MrGarfieldiscoming,"wentonMrsWillett,"andMr
Duke, and Mr Rycroft said he would comebut one
8

SITTAFORDHOUSE

can hardly expect him at his age in such weather.


Really, it is too dreadful. One feels one must do
somethingtokeeponeselfcheerful.Violet,putanother
logonthefire."
TheMajorrosegallantlytoperformthistask.
"Allowme,MissViolet."
Heputthelogexpertlyintherightplaceandreturned
oncemoretothearmchairhishostesshadindicated.
Tryingnottoappearasthoughheweredoingso,he
cast surreptitious glances round the room. Amazing
howacoupleofwomencouldalterthewholecharacter
of a roomand without doing anything very
outstandingthatyoucouldputyourfingeron.
Sittaford House had been built ten years ago by
CaptainJosephTrevelyan,B.N.,ontheoccasionofhis
retirementfromtheNavy.Hewasamanofsubstance,
andhehadalwayshadagreathankeringtoliveon
Dartmoor.Hehadplacedhischanceonthetinyhamlet
of Sittaford. It was not in a valley like most of the
villagesandfarms,butperchedrightontheshoulder
ofthemoorundertheshadowofSittafordBeacon.He
had purchased a large tract of ground, had built a
comfortablehousewithitsownelectriclightplantand
anelectricpumptosavelaborinpumpingwater.Then,
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SITTAFORDHOUSE

as a speculation, he had built six small bungalows,


eachinitsquarteracreofground,alongthelane.
Thefirstofthese,theoneathisverygates,hadbeen
allottedtohisoldfriendandcrony,JohnBurnabythe
others hadbydegrees beensold,therebeingseveral
peoplewhofromchoiceornecessitylikedtoliveright
outoftheworld.Thevillageitselfconsistedofthree
picturesque but dilapidated cottages, a forge, and a
combinedpostofficeandsweetshop.Thenearesttown
was Exhampton, six miles away, a steady descent
which necessitated the sign, "Motorists engage your
lowestgear,"sofamiliarontheDartmoorroads.
Captain Trevelyan, as has been said, was a man of
substance.Inspiteofthisorperhapsbecauseofit
hewasamanwhowasinordinatelyfondofmoney.At
theendofOctoberahouseagentinExhamptonwrote
to him asking if he would consider letting Sittaford
House.
Atenanthadmadeinquiriesconcerningit,wishingto
rentitforthewinter.
Captain Trevelyan's first impulse was to refuse, his
secondtodemandfurtherinformation.Thetenantin
questionprovedtobeaMrsWillett,awidowwithone
daughter.ShehadrecentlyarrivedfromSouthAfrica
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SITTAFORDHOUSE

andwantedahouseonDartmoorforthewinter.
"Damnitall,thewomanmustbemad,"saidCaptain
Trevelyan."Eh,Burnaby,don'tyouthinkso?"
Burnaby did think so, and said so as forcibly as his
friendhaddone.
"Anyway,youdon'twanttolet,"hesaid."Letthefool
woman go somewhere else if she wants to freeze.
ComingfromSouthAfricatoo!"
ButatthispointCaptainTrevelyan'smoneycomplex
asserteditself.Notonceinahundredtimeswouldyou
get a chance of letting your house in midwinter. He
demandedwhatrentthetenantwaswillingtopay.
An offer of twelve guineas a week clinched matters.
Captain Trevelyan went into Exhampton, rented a
smallhouseontheoutskirtsattwoguineasaweek,
andhanded overSittafordHousetoMrsWillet,half
therenttobepaidinadvance.
"Afoolandhermoneyaresoonparted,"hegrowled.
But Burnaby was thinking this afternoon as he
scannedMrsWillettcovertly,thatshedidnotlooka
fool.Shewasatallwomanwitharathersillymanner
but her physiognomy was shrewd rather than
11

SITTAFORDHOUSE

foolish.Shewasinclinedtooverdress,hadadistinct
Colonialaccent,andseemedperfectlycontentwiththe
transaction.Shewasclearlyverywelloffandthat,as
Burnaby had reflected more than once, really made
the whole affair more odd. She was not the kind of
womanonewouldcreditwithapassionforsolitude.
Asaneighborshehadprovedalmostembarrassingly
friendly.InvitationstoSittafordHousewererainedon
everybody.CaptainTrevelyanwasconstantlyurgedto
"Treat the house as though we hadn't rented it."
Trevelyan, however, was not fond of women. Report
went that he had been jilted in his youth. He
persistentlyrefusedallinvitations.
Twomonthshadpassedsincetheinstallationofthe
Willetts and the first wonder at their arrival had
passedaway.
Burnaby, naturally a silent man, continued to study
hishostess,oblivioustoanyneedforsmalltalk.Liked
to make herself out a fool, but wasn't really. So he
summedupthesituation.HisglanceshiftedtoViolet
Willett.Prettygirlscraggy,ofcoursetheyallwere
nowadays.Whatwasthegoodofawomanifshedidn't
look like a woman? Papers said curves were coming
back.Abouttimetoo.

12

SITTAFORDHOUSE

Herousedhimselftothenecessityofconversation.
"Wewereafraidatfirstthatyouwouldn'tbeableto
come,"saidMrsWillett."Yousaidso,youremember.
Weweresopleasedwhenyousaidthatafterallyou
would."
"Friday," said Major Burnaby, with an air of being
explicit.
MrsWillettlookedpuzzled.
"Friday?"
"EveryFridaygotoTrevelyan's.Tuesdayhecomesto
me.Bothofusdoneitforyears."
"Oh!Isee.Ofcourse,livingsonear"
"Kindofhabit."
"But do you still keepit up? I mean now that he is
livinginExhampton"
"Pitytobreakahabit,"saidMajorBurnaby."We'dboth
ofusmissthoseevenings."
"Yougoinforcompetitions,don'tyou?"askedViolet.
"Acrosticsandcrosswordsandallthosethings."

13

SITTAFORDHOUSE

Burnabynodded.
"I do crosswords. Trevelyan does acrostics. We each
sticktoourownlineofcountry.Iwonthreebookslast
monthinacrosswordcompetition,"hevolunteered.
"Oh!really.Hownice.Weretheyinterestingbooks?"
"Don't know. Haven't read them. Looked pretty
hopeless."
"It'sthewinningthemthatmatters,isn'tit?"saidMrs
Willettvaguely.
"How do you get to Exhampton?" asked Violet. "You
haven'tgotacar."
"Walk."
"What?Notreally?Sixmiles."
"Goodexercise.What'stwelvemiles?Keepsamanfit.
Greatthingtobefit."
"Fancy! Twelve miles. But both you and Captain
Trevelyanweregreatathletes,weren'tyou?"
"UsedtogotoSwitzerlandtogether.Wintersportsin
winter, climbing in summer. Wonderful man on ice,
Trevelyan. Both too old for that sort of thing
14

SITTAFORDHOUSE

nowadays."
"You won the Army Racquets Championship, too,
didn'tyou?"askedViolet.
TheMajorblushedlikeagirl.
"Whotoldyouthat?"hemumbled.
"CaptainTrevelyan."
"Joeshouldholdhistongue,"saidBurnaby."Hetalks
toomuch.What'stheweatherlikenow?"
Respectinghisembarrassment,Violetfollowedhimto
thewindow.Theydrewthecurtainasideandlooked
outoverthedesolatescene.
"More snow coming," said Burnaby. "A pretty heavy
falltoo,Ishouldsay."
"Oh!howthrilling,"saidViolet."Idothinksnowisso
romantic.I'veneverseenitbefore."
"It isn't romantic when the pipes freeze, you foolish
child,"saidhermother.
"Have you lived all your life in South Africa, Miss
Willett?"askedMajorBurnaby.

15

SITTAFORDHOUSE

Someofthegirl'sanimationdroppedawayfromher.
Sheseemedalmostconstrainedinhermannerasshe
answered.
"YesthisisthefirsttimeI'veeverbeenaway.It'sall
mostfrightfullythrilling."
Thrilling to be shut away like this in a remote
moorland village? Funny idea. He couldn't get the
hangofthesepeople.
Thedooropenedandtheparlormaidannounced:
"MrRycroftandMrGarfield."
There entered a little, elderly, driedup man and a
freshcolored,boyishyoungman.Thelatterspokefirst.
"Ibroughthimalong,MrsWillett.SaidIwouldn'tlet
him be buriedinasnowdrift. Ha,ha. Isay, this all
lookssimplymarvelous.Yulelogsburning."
"Ashesays,myyoungfriendverykindlypilotedme
here," said Mr Rycroft as he shook hands somewhat
ceremoniously. "How do you do, Miss Violet? Very
seasonableweatherrathertooseasonable,Ifear."
He moved to the fire talking to Mrs Willett. Ronald
GarfieldbuttonholedViolet.
16

SITTAFORDHOUSE

"Isay,can'twegetupanyskatinganywhere?Aren't
theresomepondsabout?"
"Ithinkpathdiggingwillbeyouronlysport."
"I'vebeenatitallthemorning."
"Oh!youheman!"
"Don'tlaughatme.I'vegotblistersallovermyhands."
"How'syouraunt?"
"Oh!she'salwaysthesamesometimesshesaysshe's
betterandsometimesshesaysshe'sworse,butIthink
it's all the same really. It's a ghastly life, you know.
Eachyear,IwonderhowIcanstickitbutthereitis
if one doesn't rally round the old bird for Xmas
why,she'squitecapableofleavinghermoneytoaCat's
Home. She's got five of them, you know. I'm always
strokingthebrutesandpretendingIdoteuponthem."
"Ilikedogsmuchbetterthancats."
"SodoI.Anyday.What Imeanis adogiswell,a
dog'sadog,youknow."
"Hasyourauntalwaysbeenfondofcats?"
"Ithinkit'sjustakindofthingoldmaidsgrowinto.
17

SITTAFORDHOUSE

Ugh!Ihatethebrutes."
"Youraunt'sverynice,butratherfrightening."
"Ishouldthinkshewasfrightening.Snapsmyheadoff
sometimes.ThinksI'vegotnobrains,youknow."
"Notreally?"
"Oh! look here, don't sayit likethat. Lots of fellows
looklikefoolsandarelaughingunderneath."
"MrDuke,"announcedtheparlormaid.
MrDukewasarecentarrival.Hehadboughtthelast
ofthesixbungalowsinSeptember.Hewasabigman,
veryquietanddevotedtogardening.MrRycroftwho
wasanenthusiastonbirdsandwholivednextdoorto
him had taken him up, overruling the section of
thought which voiced the opinion that of course Mr
Dukewasaveryniceman,quiteunassuming,butwas
he, after all, quitewell, quite? Mightn't he, just
possibly,bearetiredtradesman?
But nobody liked to ask himand indeed it was
thoughtbetternottoknow.Becauseifonedidknow,it
might be awkward, and really in such a small
communityitwasbesttoknoweverybody.

18

SITTAFORDHOUSE

"NotwalkingtoExhamptoninthisweather?"heasked
ofMajorBurnaby.
"No,IfancyTrevelyanwillhardlyexpectmetonight."
"It'sawful,isn'tit?"saidMrsWillettwithashudder.
"To be buried up here, year after yearit must be
ghastly."
MrDukegaveheraquickglance.MajorBurnabytoo
staredathercuriously.
Butatthatmomentteawasbroughtin.

19

SITTAFORDHOUSE

Chapter2

THEMESSAGE
Aftertea,MrsWillettsuggestedbridge.
"Therearesixofus.Twocancutin."
Ronnie'seyesbrightened.
"You four start," he suggested. "Miss Willett and I
watch."
ButMrDukesaidthathedidnotplaybridge.Ronnie's
facefell.
"Wemightplayaroundgame,"saidMrsWillett.
"Or table turning," suggested Ronnie. "It's a spooky
evening. We spoke about it the other day, you
remember.MrRycroftandIweretalkingaboutitthis
eveningaswecamealonghere."
"I am a member of the Psychical Research Society,"
explainedMrRycroftinhispreciseway."Iwasableto
putmyyoungfriendrightononeortwopoints."
20

THEMESSAGE

"Tommyrot,"saidMajorBurnabyverydistinctly.
"Oh! but it's great fun, don't you think?" said Violet
Willett."Imean,onedoesn'tbelieveinitoranything.
It'sjustanamusement.Whatdoyousay,MrDuke?"
"Anythingyoulike,MissWillett."
"We must turn the lights out, and we must find a
suitabletable.Nonotthatone,Mother.I'msureit's
muchtooheavy."
Thingsweresettledatlasttoeveryone'ssatisfaction.A
small round table with a polished top was brought
fromanadjoiningroom.Itwassetinfrontofthefire
and everyone tookhis placeroundit with thelights
switchedoff.
MajorBurnabywasbetweenhishostessandViolet.On
the other side of the girl was Ronnie Garfield. A
cynicalsmilecreasedtheMajor'slips.Hethoughtto
himself:
"InmyyoungdaysitwasUpJenkins."Andhetriedto
recall the name of a girl with thick fair hair whose
hand he had held beneath the table at considerable
length.Alongtimeagothatwas.ButUpJenkinshad
beenagoodgame.
21

THEMESSAGE

Therewerealltheusuallaughs,whispers,stereotyped
remarks.
"Thespiritsarealongtime."
"Gotalongwaytocome."
"Hushnothingwillhappenunlessweareserious."
"Oh!dobequieteveryone."
"Nothing'shappening."
"Ofcoursenotitneverdoesatfirst."
"Ifonlyyou'dallbequiet."
Atlast,aftersometime,themurmuroftalkdiedaway.
Asilence.
"This table's dead as mutton," murmured Ronnie
Garfielddisgustedly.
"Hush."
Atremorranthroughthepolishedsurface.Thetable
begantorock.
"Askitquestions.Whoshallask?You,Ronnie."
22

THEMESSAGE

"OherIsaywhatdoIaskit?"
"Isaspiritpresent?"promptedViolet.
"Oh!Hulloisaspiritpresent?"
Asharprock.
"Thatmeansyes,"saidViolet.
"Oh!erwhoareyou?"
Noresponse.
"Askittospellitsname."
"Howcanit?"
"Wecountthenumberofrocks."
"Oh!Isee.Willyoupleasespellyourname."
Thetablestartedrockingviolently.
"ABCDEFGHIIsay,wasthatIorJ?"
"Askit.WasthatI?"
Onerock.
"Yes.Nextletter,please."
23

THEMESSAGE

Thespirit'snamewasIda.
"Haveyouamessageforanyonehere?"
"Yes."
"Whoisitfor?MissWillett?"
"No."
"MrsWillett?"
"No."
"MrRycroft?"
"No."
"Me?"
"Yes."
"It'sforyou,Ronnie.Goon.Makeitspellitout."
Thetablespelt"Diana."
"Who'sDiana?DoyouknowanyonecalledDiana?"
"No,Idon't.Atleast"
"Thereyouare.Hedoes."
24

THEMESSAGE

"Askherifshe'sawidow?"
Thefunwenton.MrRycroftsmiledindulgently.Young
peoplemusthavetheirjokes.Hecaughtoneglanceof
hishostess'sfaceinasuddenflickerofthefirelight.It
looked worried and abstracted. Her thoughts were
somewherefaraway.
MajorBurnabywasthinkingofthesnow.Itwasgoing
to snow again this evening. Hardest winter he ever
remembered.MrDukewasplayingveryseriously.The
spirits,alas,paidverylittleattentiontohim.Allthe
messagesseemedtobeforVioletandRonnie.
VioletwastoldshewasgoingtoItaly.Someonewas
goingwithher.Notawoman.Aman.Hisnamewas
Leonard.
Morelaughter.Thetablespeltthenameofthetown.
ARussianjumbleoflettersnotintheleastItalian.
Theusualaccusationswereleveled.
"Lookhere,Violet"("MissWillett"hadbeendropped).
"Youareshoving."
"I'mnot.Look,Itakemyhandsrightoffthetableand
itrocksjustthesame."

25

THEMESSAGE

"Ilikeraps.I'mgoingtoaskittorap.Loudones."
"Thereshouldberaps."RonnieturnedtoMrRycroft.
"Thereoughttoberaps,oughtn'tthere,sir?"
"Under the circumstances, I should hardly think it
likely,"saidMrRycroftdrily.
Therewasapause.Thetablewasinert.Itreturnedno
answertoquestions.
"HasIdagoneaway?"
Onelanguidrock.
"Willanotherspiritcome,please?"
Nothing.Suddenlythetablebegantoquiverandrock
violently.
"Hurrah.Areyouanewspirit?"
"Yes."
"Haveyouamessageforsomeone?"
"Yes."
"Forme?"

26

THEMESSAGE

"No."
"ForViolet?"
"No."
"ForMajorBurnaby?"
"Yes."
"It's for you, Major Burnaby. Will you spell it out
please."
Thetablestartedrockingslowly.
"TREVareyousureit'sV?Itcan'tbe.TREVit
doesn'tmakesense.'
"Trevelyan, of course," said Mrs Willett. "Captain
Trevelyan."
"DoyoumeanCaptainTrevelyan?"
"Yes."
"You'vegotamessageforCaptainTrevelyan?"
"No."
"Well,whatisitthen?"
27

THEMESSAGE

The table began to rockslowly, rhythmically. So


slowlythatitwaseasytocounttheletters.
"D"apause."EAD."
"Dead."
"Somebodyisdead?"
InsteadofYesorNo,thetablebegantorockagaintill
itreachedtheletterT.
"TdoyoumeanTrevelyan?"
"Yes."
"Youdon'tmeanTrevelyanisdead?"
Averysharprock."Yes."
Somebodygasped.Therewasafaintstirallaroundthe
table.
Ronnie's voice as he resumed his questions held a
differentnoteanaweduneasynote.
"YoumeanthatCaptainTrevelyanisdead?"
"Yes."

28

THEMESSAGE

Therewasapause.Itwasasthoughnooneknewwhat
to ask next, or how to take this unexpected
development.
Andinthepause,thetablestartedrockingagain.
Rhythmicallyandslowly.Ronniespelledouttheletters
aloud...
MURDER...
Mrs Willett gave a cry and took her hands off the
table.
"Iwon'tgoonwiththis.It'shorrible.Idon'tlikeit."
MrDuke'svoicerangout,resonantandclear.Hewas
questioningthetable.
"Do you meanthat Captain Trevelyan has been
murdered?"
Thelastwordhadhardlylefthislipswhentheanswer
came. The table rocked so violently and assertively
thatitnearlyfellover.Onerockonly.
"Yes..."
"Lookhere,"saidRonnie.Hetookhishandsfromthe
table."Icallthisarottenjoke."Hisvoicetrembled.
29

THEMESSAGE

"Turnupthelights,"saidMrRycroft.
Major Burnaby rose and did so. The sudden glare
revealedacompanyofpaleuneasyfaces.
Everyone looked at each other. Somehownobody
quiteknewwhattosay.
"Allrot,ofcourse,"saidRonnie,withanuneasylaugh.
"Sillynonsense,"saidMrsWillett."Nobodyoughtto
tomakejokeslikethat."
"Notaboutpeopledying,"saidViolet."It'soh!Idon't
likeit."
"I wasn't shoving," said Ronnie, feeling unspoken
criticismleveledathim."IswearIwasn't."
"I can say the same," said Mr Duke. "And you, Mr
Rycroft?"
"Certainlynot,"saidMrRycroftwarmly.
"Youdon'tthinkI'dmakeajokeofthatkind,doyou?"
growledMajorBurnaby."Rottenbadtaste."
"Violetdear"
"Ididn't,Mother.IndeedIdidn't.Iwouldn'tdosucha
30

THEMESSAGE

thing."
Thegirlwasalmosttearful.
Everyonewasembarrassed.Asuddenblighthadcome
overthecheerfulparty.
Major Burnaby pushed back his chair, went to the
windowandpulledasidethecurtain.Hestoodthere
lookingoutwithhisbacktotheroom.
"Twentyfive minutes past five," said Mr Rycroft
glancingupattheclock.Hecompareditwithhisown
watchandsomehoweveryonefeltthattheactionwas
significantinsomeway.
"Let me see," said Mrs Willett with forced
cheerfulness,"Ithinkwe'dbetterhavecocktails.Will
youringthebell,MrGarfield?"
Ronnieobeyed.
IngredientsforcocktailswerebroughtandRonniewas
appointedmixer.Thesituationgrewalittleeasier.
"Well,"saidRonnie,raisinghisglass."Here'show."
Theothersrespondedallbutthesilentfigurebythe
window.
31

THEMESSAGE

"MajorBurnaby.Here'syourcocktail."
The Major roused himself with a start. He turned
slowly.
"Thankyou,MrsWillett.Notforme."Helookedonce
moreoutintothenightthencameslowlybacktothe
group by the fire. "Many thanks for a very pleasant
time.Goodnight."
"You'renotgoing?"
"AfraidImust."
"Notsosoon.Andonanightlikethis."
"Sorry, Mrs Willettbut it's got to be done. If there
wereonlyatelephone."
"Atelephone?"
"Yesto tell you the truthI'mwell, I'd like to be
surethatJoeTrevelyan'sallright.Sillysusperstition
andallthatbutthereitis.Naturally,Idon'tbelieve
inthistommyrotbut"
"Butyoucan'ttelephonefromanywhere.There'snot
suchathinginSittaford."
"That'sjustit.AsIcan'ttelephone,I'llhavetogo."
32

THEMESSAGE

"Gobutyoucouldn'tgetacardownthatroad!Elmer
wouldn'ttakehiscaroutonsuchanight."
Elmerwastheproprietorofthesolecarintheplace,
anagedFord,hiredatahandsomepricebythosewho
wishedtogointoExhampton.
"No, nocar's out of the question. My two legs will
takemethere,MrsWillett."
Therewasachorusofprotest.
"Oh!MajorBurnabyit'simpossible.Yousaidyourself
itwasgoingtosnow."
"Notforanhourperhapslonger.I'llgetthere,never
fear."
"Oh!youcan't.Wecan'tallowit."
Shewasseriouslydisturbedandupset.
But argument and entreaty had no more effect on
Major Burnaby than if he were a rock. He was an
obstinate man. Once his mind was made up on any
point,nopoweronearthcouldmovehim.
HehaddeterminedtowalktoExhamptonandseefor
himselfthatallwaswellwithhisoldfriend,andhe
33

THEMESSAGE

repeatedthatsimplestatementhalfadozentimes.
Intheendtheywerebroughttorealizethathemeant
it.Hewrappedhimselfupinhisovercoat,lightedthe
hurricanelantern,andsteppedoutintothenight.
"I'll just drop into my place for a flask," he said
cheerily, "and then push straight on. Trevelyan will
putmeupforthenightwhenIgetthere.Ridiculous
fuss, I know. Everything sure to be all right. Don't
worry,MrsWillett.SnowornosnowI'llgetthereina
coupleofhours.Goodnight."
He strode away. The others returned to the fire.
Rycrofthadlookedupatthesky.
"Itisgoingtosnow,"hemurmuredtoMrDuke."Andit
willbeginlongbeforehegetstoExhampton.IIhope
hegetsthereallright."
Dukefrowned.
"Iknow.IfeelIoughttohavegonewithhim.Oneofus
oughttohavedoneso."
"Most distressing," Mrs Willett was saying. "Most
distressing.Violet,Iwillnothavethatsillygameever
playedagain.PoorMajorBurnabywillprobablyplunge
intoasnowdriftorifhedoesn'the'lldieofthecold
34

THEMESSAGE

andexposure.Athisage,too.Veryfoolishofhimtogo
offlikethat.Ofcourse,CaptainTrevelyanisperfectly
allright."
Everyoneechoed:
"Ofcourse."
Butevennowtheydidnotfeelreallytoocomfortable.
Supposing something had happened to Captain
Trevelyan...Supposing...

35

THEMESSAGE

Chapter3

FIVEANDTWENTY
PASTFIVE
Two and half hours later, just before eight o'clock,
MajorBurnaby,hurricane lantern inhand,his head
droppedforwardsoasnottomeettheblindingdriveof
the snow, stumbled up the path to the door of
"Hazelmoor," the small house tenanted by Captain
Trevelyan.
Thesnowhadbeguntofallaboutanhouragogreat
blinding flakes of it. Major Burnaby was gasping,
emittingtheloudsighinggaspsofanutterlyexhausted
man.Hewasnumbedwithcold.Hestampedhisfeet,
blew,puffed,snortedandappliedanumbedfingerto
thebellpush.
Thebelltrilledshrilly.
Burnaby waited. After a pause of a few minutes, as
nothinghappened,hepushedthebellagain.
Oncemoretherewasnostiroflife.
36

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

Burnaby rang a third time. This time he kept his


fingeronthebell.
Ittrilledonandonbuttherewasstillnosignoflife
inthehouse.
There was a knocker on the door. Major Burnaby
seizeditandworkeditvigorously,producinganoise
likethunder.
Andstillthelittlehouseremainedsilentasthedead.
TheMajordesisted.Hestoodforamomentasthough
perplexedthenheslowlywentdownthepathandout
at the gate, continuing on the road he had come
towardsExhampton.Ahundredyardsbroughthimto
thesmallpolicestation.
Hehesitatedagain,thenfinallymadeuphismindand
entered.
Constable Graves, who knew the Major well, rose in
astonishment.
"Well,Inever,sir,fancyyoubeingoutonanightlike
this."
"Look here," said Burnaby curtly. "I've been ringing
and knocking at the Captain's houseand Ican't get
anyanswer."
37

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

"Why,ofcourse,it'sFriday,"saidGraveswhoknewthe
habitsofthetwoprettywell."Butyoudon'tmeanto
say you've actually come down from Sittaford on a
nightlikethis?SurelytheCaptainwouldneverexpect
you."
"Whether he's expected me or not, I've come," said
Burnabytestily."AndasI'mtellingyou,Ican'tgetin.
I'verungandknockedandnobodyanswers."
Someofhisuneasinessseemedtocommunicateitself
tothepoliceman.
"That'sodd,"hesaid,frowning.
"Ofcourse,it'sodd,"saidBurnaby.
"It'snotasthoughhe'slikelytobeoutonanightlike
this."
"Ofcoursehe'snotlikelytobeout."
"Itisodd,"saidGravesagain.
Burnabydisplayedimpatienceattheman'sslowness.
"Aren'tyougoingtodosomething?"hesnapped.
"Dosomething?"

38

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

"Yes,dosomething."
Thepolicemanruminated.
"Think he might have been taken bad?" His face
brightened. "I'll try the telephone." It stood at his
elbow.Hetookitupandgavethenumber.
Buttothetelephone,astothefrontdoorbell,Captain
Trevelyangavenoreply.
"Looksasthoughhehadbeentakenbad,"saidGraves
as he replaced the receiver. "And all alone in the
house,too.We'dbestgetholdofDrWarrenandtake
himalongwithus."
DrWarren'shousewasalmostnextdoortothepolice
station. The doctor was just sitting down to dinner
with his wife and was not best pleased at the
summons. However, he grudgingly agreed to
accompany them, drawing on an aged British Warm
andapairofrubberbootsandmufflinghisneckwith
aknittedscarf.
Thesnowwasstillfalling.
"Damnable night," murmured the doctor. "Hope you
haven't brought me out on a wild goose chase.
Trevelyan'sasstrongasahorse.Neverhasanything
39

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

thematterwithhim."
Burnabydidnotreply.
ArrivingatHazelmooroncemore,theyagainrangand
knocked,butelicitednoresponse.
The doctor then suggested going round the house to
oneofthebackwindows.
"Easiertoforcethanthedoor."
Gravesagreeing,theywentroundtotheback.There
wasasidedoorwhichtheytriedontheway,butittoo
waslocked,andpresentlytheyemergedonthesnow
covered lawn that led up to the back windows.
Suddenly,Warrenutteredanexclamation.
"Thewindowofthestudyit'sopen."
Trueenough,thewindow,aFrenchone,wasstanding
ajar.Theyquickenedtheirsteps.Onanightlikethis,
nooneinhissenseswouldopenawindow.Therewasa
lightintheroomthatstreamedoutinathinyellow
band.
Thethreemenarrivedsimultaneouslyatthewindow
Burnaby was thefirst manto enter,the constable
hardonhisheels.
40

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

They bothstoppeddeadinsideandsomething likea


muffled cry came from the exsoldier. In another
momentWarrenwasbesidethem,andsawwhatthey
hadseen.
Captain Trevelyan lay on the floor, face downwards.
Hisarmssprawledwidely.Theroomwasinconfusion
drawersofthebureaupulledout,paperslyingabout
the floor. The window beside them was splintered
whereithadbeenforcednearthelock.BesideCaptain
Trevelyan was a dark green baize tube about two
inchesindiameter.
Warren sprang forward. He knelt down by the
prostratefigure.
Oneminutesufficed.Herosetohisfeet,hisfacepale.
"He'sdead?"askedBurnaby.
Thedoctornodded.
ThenheturnedtoGraves.
"It's you to say what's to be done. I can do nothing
except examine the body and perhaps you'd rather I
didn'tdothatuntiltheInspectorcomes.Icantellyou
the cause of death now. Fracture of the base of the
skull.AndIthinkIcanmakeaguessattheweapon."
41

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

Heindicatedthegreenbaizetube.
"Trevelyanalwayshadthemalongthebottomofthe
doortokeepthedraftout,"saidBurnaby.
Hisvoicewashoarse.
"Yesaveryefficientformofsandbag."
"MyGod!"
"But this here" the constable broke in, his wits
arrivingatthepointslowly."Youmeanthishereis
murder."
Thepolicemansteppedtothetableonwhichstooda
telephone.
MajorBurnabyapproachedthedoctor.
"Have you any idea," he said, breathing hard, "how
longhe'sbeendead?"
"About two hours, I should say, or possibly three.
That'saroughestimate."
Burnabypassedhistongueoverdrylips.
"Wouldyousay,"heasked,"thathemighthavebeen
killedatfivetwentyfive?"
42

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

Thedoctorlookedathimcuriously.
"IfIhadtogiveatimedefinitely,that'sjustaboutthe
timeIwouldsuggest."
"Oh!myGod,"saidBurnaby.
Warrenstaredathim.
TheMajorfelthiswayblindlytoachair,collapsedon
toitandmutteredtohimselfwhilstakindofstaring
terroroverspreadhisface.
"FiveandtwentypastfiveOh!myGod,thenitwas
trueafterall."

43

FIVEANDTWENTYPASTFIVE

Chapter4

INSPECTOR
NARRACOTT
It was the morning after the tragedy, and two men
werestandinginthelittlestudyofHazelmoor.
InspectorNarracottlookedroundhim.Alittlefrown
appeareduponhisforehead.
"Yees,"hesaidthoughtfully."Yees."
InspectorNarracottwasaveryefficientofficer.Hehad
a quiet persistence, a logical mind and a keen
attentiontodetail whichbroughthim success where
manyanothermanmighthavefailed.
He was a tall man with a quiet manner, rather far
awaygrayeyes,andaslowsoftDevonshirevoice.
SummonedfromExetertotakechargeofthecase,he
hadarrivedonthefirsttrainthatmorning.Theroads
had been impassable for cars, even with chains,
44

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

otherwisehewouldhavearrivedthenightbefore.He
wasstandingnowinCaptainTrevelyan'sstudyhaving
justcompletedhisexaminationoftheroom.Withhim
wasSergeantPollockoftheExhamptonpolice.
"Yees,"saidInspectorNarracott.
A ray of pale wintry sunshine came in through the
window.Outsidewasthesnowylandscape.Therewas
afenceaboutahundredyardsfromthewindowand
beyonditthesteepascendingslopeofthesnowcovered
hillside.
Inspector Narracott bent once more over the body
whichhadbeenleftforhisinspection.Anathleticman
himself, he recognized the athlete's type, the broad
shoulders, narrow flanks, and the good muscular
development.Theheadwassmallandwellsetonthe
shoulders,andthepointednavalbeardwascarefully
trimmed.CaptainTrevelyan'sage,hehadascertained,
wassixty,buthelookednotmuchmorethanfiftyone
ortwo.
"It'sacuriousbusiness,"saidInspectorNarracott.
"Ah!"saidSergeantPollock.
Theotherturnedonhim.
45

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

"Whatisyourviewofit?"
"Well"SergeantPollockscratchedhishead.Hewasa
cautious man, unwilling to advance further than
necessary.
"Well,"hesaid,"asIseeit,sir,Ishouldsaythatthe
mancametothewindow,forcedthelock,andstarted
riflingtheroom.CaptainTrevelyan,Isuppose,must
havebeenupstairs.Doubtlesstheburglarthoughtthe
housewasempty"
"WhereisCaptainTrevelyan'sbedroomsituated?"
"Upstairs,sir.Overthisroom."
"Atthepresenttimeofyearitisdarkatfouro'clock.If
CaptainTrevelyanwasupinhisbedroomtheelectric
lightwouldhavebeenon,theburglarwouldhaveseen
itasheapproachedthiswindow."
"Youmeanhe'dhavewaited."
"Nomaninhissenseswouldbreakintoahousewitha
light in it. If anyone forced this windowhe did it
becausehethoughtthehousewasempty."
SergeantPollockscratchedhishead.

46

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

"Seemsabitodd,Iadmit.Butthereitis."
"We'llletitpassforthemoment.Goon."
"Well,supposetheCaptainhearsanoisedownstairs.
Hecomesdowntoinvestigate.Theburglarhearshim
coming.Hesnatchesupthatbolsterarrangement,gets
behindthedoor,andastheCaptainenterstheroom
strikeshimdownfrombehind."
InspectorNarracottnodded.
"Yes,that'strueenough.Hewasstruckdownwhenhe
was facing the window. But all the same, Pollock, I
don'tlikeit."
"No,sir?"
"No,asIsay,Idon'tbelieveinhousesthatarebroken
intoatfiveo'clockintheafternoon."
"Weell,hemayhavethoughtitagoodopportunity"
"It is not a question of opportunityslipping in
because he found a window unlatched. It was
deliberate housebreakinglook at the confusion
everywherewhat would a burglar go for first? The
pantrywherethesilveriskept."

47

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

"That'strueenough,"admittedtheSergeant.
"Andthisconfusionthischaos,"continuedNarracott,
"thesedrawerspulledoutandtheircontentsscattered.
Pah!It'sbunkum."
"Bunkum?"
"Lookatthewindow,Sergeant.Thatwindowwasnot
lockedandforcedopen!Itwasmerelyshutandthen
splinteredfromtheoutsidetogivetheappearanceof
forcing."
Pollock examined the latch of the window closely,
utteringanejaculationtohimselfashedidso.
"Youareright,sir,"hesaidwithrespectinhisvoice.
"Who'dhavethoughtofthatnow!"
"Someonewhowishestothrowdustinoureyesand
hasn'tsucceeded."
Sergeant Pollock was grateful for the "our." In such
smallwaysdidInspectorNarracottendearhimselfto
hissubordinates.
"Then it wasn't burglary. You mean, sir, it was an
insidejob."

48

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

InspectorNarracottnodded."Yes,"hesaid."Theonly
curiousthingis,though,thatIthinkthemurdererdid
actually enter by the window. As you and Graves
reported, andas Ican still seefor myself,thereare
damppatchesstillvisiblewherethesnowmeltedand
wastroddeninbythemurderer'sboots.Thesedamp
patchesareonlyinthisroom.ConstableGraveswas
quitepositivethattherewasnothingofthekindinthe
hallwhenheandDrWarrenpassedthroughit.Inthis
room he noticed them immediately. In that case it
seems clear that the murderer was admitted by
Captain Trevelyan through the window. Therefore it
must have been someone whom Captain Trevelyan
knew.Youarealocalman,Sergeant,canyoutellmeif
Captain Trevelyan was a man who made enemies
easily?"
"No,sir,Ishouldsayhehadn'tanenemyintheworld.
Abitkeenonmoney,andabitofamartinetwouldn't
standforanyslacknessorincivilitybutblessmysoul
hewasrespectedforthat."
"Noenemies,"saidNarracottthoughtfully.
"Nothere,thatis."
"Verytruewedon'tknowthatenemieshemayhave
made during his naval career. It's my experience,
49

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

Sergeant,thatamanwhomakesenemiesinoneplace
willmaketheminanother,butIagreethatwecan't
put that possibility entirely aside. We come logically
nowtothenextmotivethemostcommonmotivefor
every crimegain. Captain Trevelyan was, I
understand,arichman?"
"Verywarmindeedbyallaccounts.Butclose.Notan
easymantotouchforasubscription."
"Ah!"saidNarracottthoughtfully.
"Pityitsnowedasitdid,"saidtheSergeant."Butfor
thatwe'dhavehadhisfootprintsassomethingtogo
on."
"There was no one else in the house?" asked the
Inspector.
"No.ForthelastfiveyearsCaptainTrevelyanhasonly
hadoneservantretirednavalchap.UpatSittaford
Houseawomancameindaily,butthischap,Evans,
cookedandlookedafterhismaster.Aboutamonthago
hegot marriedmuch totheCaptain's annoyance. I
believethat'soneofthereasonsheletSittafordHouse
to this South African lady. He wouldn't have any
womanlivinginthehouse.Evanslivesjustroundthe
cornerhereinForeStreetwithhiswife,andcomesin
50

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

dailytodoforhismaster.I'vegothimherenowforyou
tosee.Hisstatementisthathelefthereathalfpast
two yesterday afternoon, the Captain having no
furtherneedforhim."
"Yes,Ishallwanttoseehim.Hemaybeabletotellus
somethinguseful."
Sergeant Pollock looked at his superior officer
curiously.Therewassomethingsooddabouthistone.
"Youthink"hebegan.
"Ithink,"saidInspectorNarracottdeliberately,"that
there'salotmoreinthiscasethanmeetstheeye."
"Inwhatway,sir?"
ButtheInspectorrefusedtobedrawn.
"Yousaythisman,Evans,isherenow?"
"He'swaitinginthediningroom."
"Good,I'llseehimstraightaway.Whatsortofafellow
ishe?"
SergeantPollockwasbetteratreportingfactsthanat
descriptiveaccuracy.

51

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

"He'saretirednavalchap.Uglycustomerinascrap,I
shouldsay."
"Doeshedrink?"
"NeverbeentheworseforitthatIknowof."
"What about this wife of his? Not a fancy of the
Captain'soranythingofthatsort?"
"Oh! no, sir, nothing of that kind about Captain
Trevelyan.Hewasn'tthatkindatall.Hewasknown
asawomanhater,ifanything."
"And Evans was supposed to be devoted to his
master?"
"That'sthegeneralidea,sir,andIthinkitwouldbe
knownifhewasn't.Exhampton'sasmallplace."
InspectorNarracottnodded.
"Well,"hesaid,"there'snothingmoretobeseenhere.
I'llinterviewEvansandI'lltakealookattherestof
thehouseandafterthatwewillgoovertotheThree
CrownsandseethisMajorBurnaby.Thatremarkof
hisaboutthetimewascurious.Twentyfiveminutes
pastfive,eh?Hemustknowsomethinghehasn'ttold,
or why should he suggest the time of the crime so
52

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

accurately."
Thetwomenmovedtowardthedoor.
"It's a rum business," said Sergeant Pollock, his eye
wanderingtothelitteredfloor."Allthisburglaryfake!"
"It'snotthatthatstrikesmeasodd,"saidNarracott,
"underthecircumstancesitwasprobablythenatural
thing to do. Nowhat strikes me as odd is the
window."
"Thewindow,sir?"
"Yes. Why should the murderer go to the window?
Assuming it was someone Trevelyan knew and
admitted without question, why not go to the front
door?Togetroundtothiswindowfromtheroadona
nightlikelastnightwouldhavebeenadifficultand
unpleasantproceedingwiththesnowlyingasthickas
itdoes.Yet,theremusthavebeensomereason."
"Perhaps,"suggestedPollock,"themandidn'twantto
beseenturningintothehousefromtheroad."
"There wouldn't be many people about yesterday
afternoontoseehim.Nobodywhocouldhelpitwasout
ofdoors.Nothere'ssomeotherreason.Well,perhaps
itwillcometolightinduecourse."
53

INSPECTORNARRACOTT

Chapter5

EVANS
TheyfoundEvanswaitinginthediningroom.Herose
respectfullyontheirentrance.
Hewasashortthicksetman.Hehadverylongarms
andahabitofstandingwithhishandshalfclenched.
Hewascleanshavenwithsmall,ratherpiglikeeyes,
yethehadalookofcheerfulnessandefficiencythat
redeemedhisbulldogappearance.
Inspector Narracott mentally tabulated his
impressions."Intelligent.Shrewdandpractical.Looks
rattled."
Thenhespoke:
"You'reEvans,eh?"
"Yes,sir."
"Christiannames?"
"RobertHenry."
54

EVANS

"Ah!Nowwhatdoyouknowaboutthisbusiness?"
"Notathing,sir.It'sfairknockedmeover.Tothinkof
theCaptingbeingdonein!"
"Whendidyoulastseeyourmaster?"
"Twoo'clockIshouldsayitwas,sir.Iclearedawaythe
lunch things and laid the table here as you see for
supper. The Capting, he told me as I needn't come
back."
"Whatdoyouusuallydo?"
"As a general rule, I come back about seven for a
couple of hours. Not alwayssometimes the Capting
wouldsayasIneedn't."
"Then you weren't surprised when he told you that
yesterdayyouwouldn'tbewantedagain?"
"No,sir.Ididn'tcomebacktheeveningbeforeeither
onaccountoftheweather.Veryconsiderategentleman,
the Capting was, as long as you didn't try to shirk
things.Iknewhimandhiswaysprettywell."
"Whatexactlydidhesay?"
"Well,helookedoutofthewindowandhesays,'Nota
55

EVANS

hopeofBurnabytoday.''Shouldn'twonder,'hesays,'if
Sittafordisn'tcutoffaltogether.Don'tremembersuch
awintersinceIwasaboy.'ThatwashisfriendMajor
Burnaby over to Sittaford that he was referring to.
AlwayscomesonaFriday,hedoes,heandtheCapting
play chess and do acrostics. And on Tuesdays the
CaptingwouldgotoMajorBurnaby's.Veryregularin
hishabitswastheCapting.Thenhesaidtome:'You
cangonow,Evans,andyouneedn'tcometilltomorrow
morning.'"
"ApartfromhisreferencetoMajorBurnaby,hedidn't
speakofexpectinganyonethatafternoon?"
"No,sir,notaword."
"Therewasnothingunusualordifferentinanywayin
hismanner."
"No,sir,notthatIcouldsee."
"Ah!NowIunderstand,Evans,thatyouhavelatelygot
married."
"Yes,sir.MrsBelling'sdaughterattheThreeCrowns.
Matteroftwomonthsago,sir."
"AndCaptainTrevelyanwasnotoverpleasedaboutit."

56

EVANS

A very faint grin appeared for a moment on Evans'


face.
"Cut up rough about it, he did, the Capting. My
Rebeccaisafinegirl,sir,andaverygoodcook.AndI
hopedwemighthavebeenabletodofortheCapting
together, but hehe wouldn't hear of it. Said he
wouldn't have women servants about his house. In
fact,sir,things wereratherat a deadlockwhenthis
South African lady came along and wanted to take
SittafordHouseforthewinter.TheCaptingherented
this place, I came in to do for him every day, and I
don'tmindtellingyou,sir,thatIhadbeenhopingthat
bytheendofthewintertheCaptingwouldhavecome
roundtotheidea;andthatmeandRebeccawouldgo
backtoSittafordwithhim.Why,hewouldnevereven
know she was in the house. She would keep to the
kitchen,andshewouldmanagesothathewouldnever
meetheronthestairs."
"Have you any idea what lay behind Captain
Trevelyan'sdislikeofwomen?"
"Nothingtoit,sir.Justan'abit,sir,that'sall.Ihave
seenmanyagentlemanlikeitbefore.Ifyouaskme,
it's nothing more or less than shyness. Some young
ladyorothergivesthemasnubwhentheyareyoung
andtheygetsthe'abit."
57

EVANS

"CaptainTrevelyanwasnotmarried?"
"No,indeed,sir."
"Whatrelationshadhe?Doyouknow?"
"IbelievehehadasisterlivingatExeter,sir,andI
think I have heard him mention a nephew or
nephews."
"Noneofthemevercametoseehim?"
"No,sir.IthinkhequarreledwithhissisteratExeter."
"Doyouknowhername?"
"Gardner,Ithink,sir,butIwouldn'tbesure."
"Youdon'tknowheraddress?"
"I'm'afraidIdon't,sir."
"Well,doubtlessweshallcomeacrossthatinlooking
throughCaptainTrevelyan'spapers.Now,Evans,what
were you yourself doing from four o'clock onwards
yesterdayafternoon?"
"Iwasathome,sir."
"Whereshome?"
58

EVANS

"Justroundthecorner,sir,85ForeStreet."
"Youdidn'tgooutatall?"
"Notlikely,sir.Why,thesnowwascomingdownafair
treat."
"Yes, yes. Is there anyone who can support your
statement?"
"Begpardon,sir."
"Is there anyone who knows that you were at home
duringthattime?"
"Mywife,sir."
"Sheandyouwerealoneinthehouse?"
"Yes,sir."
"Well,well,Ihavenodoubtthat'sallright.Thatwill
beallforthepresent,Evans."
Theexsailorhesitated.Heshiftedfromonefoottothe
other.
"AnythingIcandohere,sirinthewayoftidyingup?"
"Nothewholeplaceistobeleftexactlyasitisforthe
59

EVANS

present."
"Isee."
"Youhadbetterwait,though,untilIhavehadalook
round," said Narracott, "in case there might be any
questionIwanttoaskyou."
"Verygood,sir."
InspectorNarracotttransferredhisgazefromEvansto
theroom.
Theinterviewhadtakenplaceinthediningroom.On
thetableaneveningmealwassetout.Acoldtongue,
pickles,aStiltoncheeseandbiscuits,andonagasring
by the fire a saucepan containing soup. On the
sideboard was a tantalus, a soda water siphon, and
twobottlesofbeer.Therewasalsoanimmensearray
of silver cups and with thema rather incongruous
item,threeverynewlookingnovels.
InspectorNarracottexaminedoneortwoofthecups
andreadtheinscriptionsonthem.
"Bitasportsman,CaptainTrevelyan,"heobserved.
"Yes,indeed,sir,"saidEvans."Beenanathleteallhis
life,hehad."
60

EVANS

InspectorNarracottreadthetitlesofthenovels."Love
TurnstheKey,""TheMerryMenofLincoln,""Love's
Prisoner."
"H'm,"heremarked."TheCaptain'stasteinliterature
seemssomewhatincongruous."
"Oh!that,sir."Evanslaughed."That'snotforreading,
sir.That'stheprizeshewonintheseRailwayPictures
Names Competitions. Tensolutions theCapting sent
inunderdifferentnames,includingmine,becausehe
said85ForeStreetwasalikelyaddresstogiveaprize
to! The commoner your name and address the more
likelyyouweretogetaprizeintheCapting'sopinion.
And sure enough a prize I gotbut not the 2,000
pounds,onlythreenewnovelsandthekindofnovels,
inmyopinion,thatnoonewouldeverpaymoneyforin
ashop."
Narracott smiled, then again mentioning that Evans
was to wait, he proceeded on his tour of inspection.
Therewasalargekindofcupboardinonecornerofthe
room. It was almost a small room in itself. Here,
packedinunceremoniously,weretwopairsofskis,a
pair of sculls mounted, ten or twelve hippopotamus
tusks, rods and lines and various fishing tackle
includingabookofflies,abagofgolfclubs,atennis
racket,anelephant'sfootstuffedandmountedanda
61

EVANS

tigerskin.Itwasclearthat,whenCaptainTrevelyan
hadletSittafordHousefurnished,hehadremovedhis
most precious possessions, distrustful of female
influence.
"Funny ideato bring all this with him," said the
Inspector."Thehousewasonlyletforafewmonths,
wasn'tit?"
"That'sright,sir."
"Surely these things could have been locked up at
SittafordHouse?"
For the second time in the course of the interview,
Evansgrinned.
"Thatwouldhavebeenmuchtheeasiestwayofdoing
it,"heagreed."Notthattherearemanycupboardsat
Sittaford House. The architect and the Capting
planned it together, and it takes a female to
understandthevalueofcupboardroom.Still,asyou
say,sir,thatwouldhavebeenthecommonsensething
todo.CartingthemdownherewasajobIshouldsay
itwasajob!Butthere,theCaptingcouldn'tbearthe
idea ofanyone messing around with his things.And
lock things up as you will, he says, a woman will
alwaysfindawayofgettingin.It'scuriosity,hesays.
62

EVANS

Betternotlockthemupatallifyoudon'twantherto
handlethem,hesays.Butbestofall,takethemalong,
andthenyou'resuretobeonthesafeside.Sotake'em
along we did, and as I say, it was a job, and came
expensivetoo.Butthere,thosethingsoftheCapting's
waslikehischildren."
Evanspausedoutofbreath.
Inspector Narracott nodded thoughtfully. There was
anotherpointonwhichhewantedinformation,andit
seemedtohimthatthiswasagoodmomentwhenthe
subjecthadarisennaturally.
"ThisMrsWillett,"hesaidcasually."Wassheanold
friendoracquaintanceoftheCaptain's?"
"Oh!no,sir,shewasquiteastrangertohim."
"Youaresureofthat?"saidtheInspector,sharply.
"Well"thesharpnesstooktheoldsailoraback."The
CaptingneveractuallysaidsobutOh!yes,I'msure
ofit."
"Iask,"explainedtheInspector,"becauseitisavery
curioustimeofyearforalet.Ontheotherhand,ifthis
Mrs Willett was acquainted with Captain Trevelyan
and knewthehouse,shemight havewrittentohim
63

EVANS

andsuggestedtakingit."
Evansshookhishead.
"'TwastheagentsWilliamsonsthatwrote,saidthey
hadanofferfromalady."
InspectorNarracottfrowned.Hefoundthisbusinessof
thelettingofSittafordHousedistinctlyodd.
"CaptainTrevelyanandMrsWillettmet,Isuppose?"
heasked.
"Oh!yes.Shecametoseethehouseandhetookher
overit."
"Andyou'repositivetheyhadn'tmetbefore?"
"Oh!quite,sir."
"Didtheyer"theInspectorpaused,ashetriedto
frame the question naturallv. "Did they get on well
together?Weretheyfriendly?"
"Theladywas."AfaintsmilecrossedEvans'lips."All
overhim,asyoumightsay.Admiringthehouse,and
asking him if he'd planned the building of it.
Altogetherlayingitonthick,asyoumightsay."
"AndtheCaptain?"
64

EVANS

Thesmilebroadened.
"Thatsortofgushingladywasn'tlikelytocutanyice
with him. Polite he was, but nothing more. And
declinedherinvitations."
"Invitations?"
"Yes,toconsiderthehouseashisownanytime,and
dropin,that'showsheputitdropin.Youdon'tdrop
intoaplacewhenyou'relivingsixmilesaway."
"Sheseemedanxioustowelltoseesomethingofthe
Captain?"
Narracottwaswondering.Wasthatthereasonforthe
taking of the house? Was it only a prelude to the
makingofCaptainTrevelyan'sacquaintance?Wasthat
therealgame?Itwouldprobablynothaveoccurredto
her that the Captain would have gone as far as
Exhamptontolive.Shemighthavecalculatedonhis
moving into one of the small bungalows, perhaps
sharingMajorBurnaby's.
Evans'answerwasnotveryhelpful.
"She'saveryhospitablelady,byallaccounts.Someone
intolunchordinnereveryday."

65

EVANS

Narracottnodded.Hecouldlearnnomorehere.Buthe
determinedtoseekaninterviewwiththisMrsWillett
at an early date. Her abrupt arrival needed looking
into.
"Comeon,Pollock,we'llgoupstairsnow,"hesaid.
TheyleftEvansinthediningroomandproceededto
theupperstory.
"Allright,doyouthink?"askedtheSergeantinalow
voice, jerking his head over his shoulder in the
directionofthecloseddiningroomdoor.
"He seems so," said the Inspector. "But one never
knows.He'snofool,thatfellow,whateverelseheis."
"No,he'sanintelligentsortofchap."
"Hisstoryseemsstraightforwardenough,"wentonthe
Inspector."Perfectlyclearandaboveboard.Still,asI
say,oneneverknows."
And with this pronouncement, very typical of his
carefulandsuspiciousmind,theInspectorproceeded
tosearchtheroomsonthefirstfloor.
There were three bedrooms and a bathroom. Two of
the bedrooms were empty and had clearly not been
66

EVANS

entered for some weeks. The third, Captain


Trevelyan'sownroom,wasinexquisiteandapplepie
order.InspectorNarracottmovedaboutinit,opening
drawers and cupboards. Everything was in its right
place.Itwastheroomofamanalmostfanaticallytidy
and neat in his habits. Narracott finished his
inspection and glanced into the adjoining bathroom.
Here, too, everything was in order. He gave a last
glance at the bed, neatly turned down, with folded
pajamaslaidready.
Thenheshookhishead.
"Nothinghere,"hesaid.
"No,everythingseemsinperfectorder."
"Therearethepapersinthedeskinthestudy.Youhad
bettergothroughthose,Pollock.I'lltellEvansthathe
cango.Imaycallroundandseehimathisownplace
later."
"Verygood,sir."
"Thebodycanberemoved.IshallwanttoseeWarren,
bytheway.Helivesnearhere,doesn'the?"
"Yes,sir."

67

EVANS

"ThissideoftheThreeCrownsortheother?"
"Theother,sir."
"Then I'll take the Three Crowns first. Carry on,
Sergeant."
PollockwenttothediningroomtodismissEvans.The
Inspector passed out of the front door and walked
rapidlyinthedirectionoftheThreeCrowns.

68

EVANS

Chapter6

ATTHETHREE
CROWNS
Inspector Narracott was not destined to see Major
Burnabyuntilhehadhadaprotractedinterviewwith
MrsBellinglicensedproprietoroftheThreeCrowns.
MrsBellingwasfatandexcitable,andsovolublethat
there was nothing to be done but to listen patiently
untilsuchtimeasthestreamofconversationshould
dryup.
"Andsuchanightasneverwas,"sheendedup."And
littledidanyofusthinkwhatwashappeningtothe
poordeargentleman.ThosenastytrampsifI'vesaid
itonce,I'vesaiditadozentimes,Ican'tabearthose
nastytramps.Doanybodyintheywould.TheCaptain
hadnotsomuchasadogtoprotecthim.Can'tabeara
dog, tramps can't. Ah, well, you never know what is
happeningwithinaStone'sthrow.
"Yes, Mr Narracott," she proceeded in answer to his
69

ATTHETHREECROWNS

question,"theMajorishavinghisbreakfastnow.You
willfindhiminthecoffeeroom.Andwhatkindofa
nighthehaspassedwithnopajamasoranything,and
sheawidowwomanwithnothingtolendhim,Ican't
say, I am sure. Said it made no matter he didall
upsetandqueerhewasandnowonderwithhisbest
friendmurdered.Verynicegentlementhetwoofthem,
thoughtheCaptainhadthereputationofbeingclose
withhismoney.Ah,well,well,Ihavealwaysthoughtit
dangerous to live up to Sittaford, miles away from
anywhere, and here's the Captain struck down in
Exhamptonitself.It'salwayswhatyoudon'texpectin
thislifethathappens,isn'tit,MrNarracott?"
TheInspectorsaidthatundoubtedlyitwas.Thenhe
added:
"Who did you have staying here yesterday, Mrs
Belling?Anystrangers?"
"Now,letmesee.TherewasMrMoresbyandMrJones
commercial gentlemen they are, and there was a
younggentlemanfromLondon.Nobodyelse.Itstands
to reason there wouldn't be this time of year. Very
quiethereinthewinter.Oh,andtherewasanother
young gentlemanarrived by the last train. Nosy
youngfellowIcallhim.Heisn'tupyet."

70

ATTHETHREECROWNS

"Thelasttrain?"saidtheInspector."Thatgetsinat
teno'clock,eh?Idon'tthinkweneedtroubleourselves
about him. What about the otherthe one from
London?Didyouknowhim?"
"Neverseenhimbeforeinmylife.Notacommercial
gentleman,oh,noacutabovethat.Ican'tremember
his name for the momentbut you'll find it in the
register.LetonthefirsttraintoExeterthismorning,
he did. Six ten. Rather curious. What did he want
downhereanyway,that'swhatI'dliketoknow."
"Hedidn'tmentionhisbusiness?"
"Notaword."
"Didhegooutatall?"
"Arrivedatlunchtime,wentoutabouthalfpastfour
andcameinabouttwentypastsix."
"Wheredidhegowhenhewentout?"
"Ihaven'ttheremotestidea,sir.Mayhavebeenjustfor
a stroll like. That was before the snow came, but it
wasn't what you might call a pleasant day for
walking."
"Wentoutathalfpastfourandreturnedabouttwenty
71

ATTHETHREECROWNS

past six," said the Inspector thoughtfully. "That's


ratherodd.Hedidn'tmentionCaptainTrevelyan?"
MrsBellingshookherheaddecisively.
"No,MrNarracott,hedidn'tmentionanybodyatall.
Kepthimselftohimselfhedid.Anicelookingyoung
fellowbutworried,Ishouldsay."
The Inspector nodded and stepped across to inspect
theregister.
"JamesPearson,London,"saidtheInspector."Well
that doesn't tell us much. We'll have to make a few
inquiriesaboutMrJamesPearson."
ThenhestrodeofftothecoffeeroominsearchofMajor
Burnaby.
TheMajorwastheonlyoccupantoftheroom.Hewas
drinking some rather muddy looking coffee and the
Timeswasproppedupinfrontofhim.
"MajorBurnaby?"
"That'smyname."
"IamInspectorNarracottfromExeter."
"Goodmorning,Inspector.Anyfurther?"
72

ATTHETHREECROWNS

"Yes,sir.Ithinkwearealittlefurther.IthinkIcan
safelysaythat."
"Gladtohearit,"saidtheMajordrily.Hisattitudewas
oneofresigneddisbelief.
"NowtherearejustoneortwopointsIwouldlikesome
information on, Major Burnaby," said the Inspector,
"andIthinkyoucanprobablytellmewhatIwantto
know."
"DowhatIcan,"saidBurnaby.
"Had Captain Trevelyan any enemies to your
knowledge?"
"Notanenemyintheworld."Burnabywasdecisive.
"This man, Evansdo you yourself consider him
trustworthy?"
"Shouldthinkso.TrevelyantrustedhimIknow."
"Therewasnoillfeelingaboutthismarriageofhis?"
"Notillfeeling,no.Trevelyanwasannoyeddidn'tlike
hishabitsupset.Oldbachelor,youknow."
"Talking of bachelors, that's another point. Captain
Trevelyanwasunmarrieddoyouknowifhemadea
73

ATTHETHREECROWNS

will?Andintheeventoftherebeingnowill,haveyou
anyideawhowouldinherithisestate?"
"Trevelyanmadeawill,"saidBurnabypromptly.
"Ahyouknowthat."
"Yes.Mademeexecutor.Toldmeso."
"Doyouknowhowhelefthismoney?"
"ThatIcan'tsay."
"Iunderstandhewasverycomfortablyoff?."
"Trevelyanwasarichman,"repliedBurnaby."Ishould
say he was much better off than anyone round here
suspected."
"Whatrelationshadhedoyouknow?"
"He'dasisterandsomenephewsandniecesIbelieve.
Never saw much of any of them, but there was no
quarrel."
"Aboutthiswill,doyouknowwherehekeptit?"
"It's at Walters & Kirkwoodthe solicitors here in
Exhampton.Theydrewitupforhim."

74

ATTHETHREECROWNS

"Then,perhaps,MajorBurnaby,asyouareexecutor,I
wonder if you would come round to Walters &
Kirkwoodwithmenow.Ishouldliketohaveanideaof
thecontentsofthatwillassoonaspossible."
Burnabylookedupalertly.
"What'sinthewind?"hesaid."What'sthewillgotto
dowithit?"
InspectorNarracottwasnotdisposedtoshowhishand
toosoon.
"Thecaseisn'tsuchplainsailingaswethought,"he
said."Bytheway,there'sanotherquestionIwantto
askyou.Iunderstand,MajorBurnaby,thatyouasked
Dr Warren whether death had occurred at five and
twentyminutespastfive?"
"Well,"saidtheMajorgruffly.
"Whatmadeyouselectthatexacttime,Major?"
"Whyshouldn'tI?"saidBurnaby.
"Wellsomethingmusthaveputitintoyourhead."
TherewasquiteapausebeforeMajorBurnabyreplied.
InspectorNarracott'sinterestwasaroused.TheMajor
75

ATTHETHREECROWNS

had something which he quite patently wished to


conceal.Towatchhimdoingsowasalmostludicrous.
"Why shouldn't I say twentyfive past five?" he
demanded truculently, "or twentyfive to sixor
twentypastfour,forthatmatter?"
"Quiteso,sir,"saidInspectorNarracottsoothingly.He
did not wish to antagonize the Major just at this
moment.Hepromisedhimselfthathewouldgettothe
bottomofthematterbeforethedaywasout.
"There'sonethingthatstrikesmeascurious,sir,"he
wenton.
"Yes?"
"ThisbusinessofthelettingofSittafordHouse.Idon't
knowwhatyouthinkaboutit,butitseemstomea
curiousthingtohavehappened."
"Ifyouaskme,"saidBurnaby,"it'sdamnedodd."
"That'syouropinion?"
"It'severyone'sopinion."
"InSittaford?"
"InSittafordandExhamptontoo.Thewomanmustbe
76

ATTHETHREECROWNS

mad."
"Well,Isupposethere'snoaccountingfortastes,"said
theInspector.
"Damnedoddtasteforawomanofthatkind."
"Youknowthelady?"
"Iknowher.Why,Iwasatherhousewhen"
"Whenwhat?"askedNarracottastheMajorcameto
anabrupthalt.
"Nothing,"saidBurnaby.
InspectorNarracottlookedathimkeenly.Therewas
something here he would have liked to get at. The
Major'sobviousconfusionandembarrassmentdidnot
escapehim.Hehadbeenonthepointofsayingwhat?
"Allingoodtime,"saidNarracotttohimself."Nowisn't
themomenttorubhimupthewrongway."
Aloudhesaidinnocently:
"YouwereatSittafordHouse,yousay,sir.Theladyhas
beentherenowabouthowlong?"
"Acoupleofmonths."
77

ATTHETHREECROWNS

The Major was eager to escape the result of his


imprudentwords.Itmadehimmoreloquaciousthan
usual.
"Awidowladywithherdaughter?"
"That'sit."
"Doesshegiveanyreasonforherchoiceofresidence?"
"Well" the Major rubbed his nose dubiously. "She
talks a lot, she's that kind of womanbeauties of
natureoutoftheworldthatsortofthing.But"
Hepausedratherhelplessly.InspectorNarracottcame
tohisrescue.
"Itdidn'tstrikeyouasnaturalonherpart."
"Well,it'slikethis.She'safashionablesortofwoman.
Dressed up to the ninesdaughter's a smart, pretty
girl.Naturalthingwouldbeforthemtobestayingat
the Ritz or Claridges, or some other big hotel
somewhere.Youknowthesort."
Narracottnodded.
"Theydon'tkeepthemselvestothemselves,dothey?"
heasked."Youdon'tthinktheyarewellhiding?"
78

ATTHETHREECROWNS

MajorBurnabyshookhisheadpositively.
"Oh!no,nothingofthatkind.They'reverysociablea
bittoosociable.Imean,inalittleplacelikeSittaford,
you can't have previous engagements, and when
invitations are showered on you it's a bit awkward.
They'reexceedinglykind,hospitablepeople,butabit
toohospitableforEnglishideas."
"TheColonialtouch,"saidtheInspector.
"Yes,Isupposeso."
"You've no reason to think they were previously
acquaintedwithCaptainTrevelyan?"
"Suretheyweren't."
"Youseemverypositive?"
"Joewouldhavetoldme."
"Andyoudon'tthinktheirmotivecouldhavebeen
welltoscrapeacquaintancewiththeCaptain?"
ThiswasclearlyanewideatotheMajor.Hepondered
overitforsomeminutes.
"Well,Ineverthoughtofthat.Theywereverygushing
tohim,certainly.Notthattheygotanychangeoutof
79

ATTHETHREECROWNS

Joe.But no, Ithink it was just their usual manner.


Overfriendly,youknow,likeColonialsare,"addedthe
SuperInsularsoldier.
"Isee.Now,astothehouseitself.CaptainTrevelyan
builtthat,Iunderstand?"
"Yes."
"Andnobodyelsehaseverlivedinit?Imean,it'snot
beenletbefore?"
"Never."
"Thenitdoesn'tseemasthoughitcouldbeanythingin
thehouseitselfthatwastheattraction.It'sapuzzle.
Tentooneit'sgotnothingtodowiththecase,butit
juststruckmeasanoddcoincidence.Thishousethat
Captain Trevelyan took, Hazelmoor, whose property
wasthat?"
"MissLarpent's.Middleagedwoman,she'sgonetoa
boarding house at Cheltenham for the winter. Does
everyyear.Usuallyshutsthehouseup,butletsitif
shecan,whichisn'toften."
Thereseemednothingpromisingthere.TheInspector
shookhisheadinadiscouragedfashion.

80

ATTHETHREECROWNS

"Williamsonsweretheagents,Iunderstand?"hesaid.
"Yes."
"TheirofficeisinExhampton?"
"NextdoortoWalters&Kirkwood."
"Ah!then,perhaps,ifyoudon'tmind,Major,wemight
justdropinonourway."
"Notatall.Youwon'tfindKirkwoodathisofficebefore
tenanyway.Youknowwhatlawyersare."
"Then,shallwego?"
TheMajor,whohadfinishedhisbreakfastsometime
ago,noddedassentandrose.

81

ATTHETHREECROWNS

Chapter7

THEWILL
Analertlookingyoungmanrosetoreceivetheminthe
officeofMessrs.Williamson.
"Goodmorning,MajorBurnaby."
"Morning."
"Terriblebusiness,this,"saidtheyoungmanchattily.
"NotbeensuchathinginExhamptonforyears."
HespokewithgustoandtheMajorwinced.
"ThisisInspectorNarracott,"hesaid.
"Oh!yes,"saidtheyoungman,pleasurablyexcited.
"I want some information that I think you can give
me," said the Inspector. "I understand that you put
throughthisletofSittafordHouse."
"ToMrsWillet?Yes,wedid."

82

THEWILL

"Canyougivemefulldetails,please,ofhowthatcame
about.Didtheladyapplypersonally,orbyletter?"
"By letter. She wrote, let me see" He opened a
drawer and turned up a file. "Yes, from the Carlton
Hotel,London."
"DidshementionSittafordHousebyname?"
"No,shemerelysaidshewantedtorentahouseforthe
winter,itmustberightonDartmoorandhaveatleast
eightbedrooms.Beingneararailwaystationoratown
wasofnoconsequence."
"WasSittafordHouseonyourbooks?"
"No,itwasnot.Butasamatteroffactitwastheonly
house in the neighborhood that at all fulfilled the
requirements. The lady mentioned in her letter that
shewouldbewillingtogototwelveguineas,andin
thesecircumstancesIthoughtitworthwhilewriting
to Captain Trevelyan and asking whether he would
considerletting.Herepliedintheaffirmative,andwe
fixedthethingup."
"WithoutMrsWillettseeingthehouse?"
"Sheagreedtotakeitwithoutseeingit,andsignedthe
agreement. Then she came down here for one day,
83

THEWILL

droveuptoSittaford,sawCaptainTrevelyan,arranged
withhimaboutplateandlinen,etc.andsawoverthe
house."
"Shewasquitesatisfied?"
"Shecameinandsaidshewasdelightedwithit."
"Andwhatdidyouthink?"askedInspectorNarracott,
eyeinghimkeenly.
Theyoungmanshruggedhisshoulders.
"You learn never to be surprised at anything in the
housebusiness,"hesaid.
On this note of philosophy they left, the Inspector
thankingtheyoungmanforhishelp.
"Notatall,apleasure,I'msure."
Heaccompaniedthempolitelytothedoor.
The offices of Messrs. Walters & Kirkwood were, as
Major Burnaby had said, next door to the estate
agents. On reaching there, they were told that Mr
Kirkwoodhadjustarrivedandtheywereshowninto
hisroom.
Mr Kirkwood was an elderly man with a benign
84

THEWILL

expression. He was a native of Exhampton and had


succeededhisfatherandgrandfatherinthefirm.
Herose,putonhismourningface,andshookhands
withtheMajor.
"Good morning, Major Burnaby," he said. "This is a
very shocking affair. Very shocking indeed. Poor
Trevelyan."
HelookedinquiringlyatNarracottandMajorBurnaby
explainedhispresenceinafewsuccinctwords.
"Youareinchargeofthecase,InspectorNarracott?"
"Yes,MrKirkwood.Inpursuanceofmyinvestigations,
Ihavecometoaskyouforcertaininformation."
"Ishallbehappytogiveyouanyinformationifitis
properformetodoso,"saidthelawyer.
"It concerns the late Captain Trevelyan's will," said
Narracott. "I understand the will is here in your
office."
"Thatisso."
"Itwasmadesometimeago?"
"Fiveor sixyears ago.Icannot besureoftheexact
85

THEWILL

dateatthemoment."
"Ah!Iamanxious,MrKirkwood,toknowthecontents
of that will as soon as possible. It may have an
importantbearingonthecase."
"Indeed,"saidthelawyer."Indeed!Ishouldnothave
thought that, but naturally you know your own
businessbest,Inspector.Well"heglancedacrossat
theotherman."MajorBurnaby and myselfarejoint
executorsofthewill.Ifhehasnoobjection"
"None."
"ThenIseenoreasonwhyIshouldnotaccedetoyour
request,Inspector."
Takingupatelephonethatstoodonhisdeskhespoke
afewwordsdownit.Intwoorthreeminutesaclerk
enteredtheroomandlaidasealedenvelopeinfrontof
the lawyer. The clerk left the room, Mr Kirkwood
pickeduptheenvelope,slititopenwithapaperknife
anddrewoutalargeandimportantlookingdocument,
clearedhisthroatandbegantoread
"I, Joseph Arthur Trevelyan, of Sittaford House,
Sittaford,intheCountyofDevon,declarethistobemy
lastwillandtestamentwhichImakethisthirteenth
86

THEWILL

dayofAugustnineteenhundredandtwentysix.
"(1)IappointJohnEdwardBurnabyofTheCottages,
Sittaford,andFrederickKirkwoodofExhampton,tobe
theexecutorsandtrusteesofthis,mywill.
"(2)IgivetoRobertHenryEvans,whohasservedme
long and faithfully, the sum of one hundred pounds
free of legacy duty for his own benefit absolutely,
provided that he is in my service at the time of my
deathandnotundernoticetoleavewhethergivenor
received.
"(3)IgivethesaidJohnEdwardBurnaby,asatokenof
ourfriendshipandofmyaffectionandregardforhim,
all my trophies of sport, including my collection of
headsandpeltsofbiggameaswellasanychallenge
cupsandprizesawardedtomeinanydepartmentof
sportandanyspoilsofthechaseinmypossession.
"(4) I give all my real and personal property, not
otherwisedisposedofbythis,mywill,oranycodicil
hereto to my Trustees upon Trust that my Trustees
shallsell,callinandconvertthesameintomoney.
"(5)MyTrusteesshalloutofthemoneystoariseoutof
such sale, calling in and conversion pay any funeral
andtestamentaryexpensesanddebts,andthelegacies
87

THEWILL

given by this, my will, or any codicil hereto and all


deathdutiesandothermoneys.
"(6)MyTrusteesshallholdtheresidueofsuchmoneys
ortheinvestmentsforthetimebeing,representingthe
same upon Trust to divide the same into four equal
partsorshares.
"(7)UponsuchdivisionasaforesaidmyTrusteesshall
holdonesuchequalfourthpartorshareuponTrustto
pay the same to my sister Jennifer Gardner for her
ownuseandenjoymentabsolutely.
"AndmyTrusteesshallholdtheremainingthreesuch
equal fourth parts or shares upon Trust to pay one
suchequalfourthpart orsharetoeachofthethree
childrenofmydeceasedsister,MaryPearsonforthe
benefitofeachsuchchildabsolutely.
"In Witness whereof I, the said Joseph Arthur
Trevelyan, have hereunto set my hand the day and
yearfirstabovewritten.
"SignedbytheabovenamedTestatorashislastwillin
thepresenceofusbothpresentatthesametime,who
inhispresenceandathisrequestandinthepresence
ofeachotherhavehereuntosubscribedournamesas
witness,"
88

THEWILL

MrKirkwoodhandedthedocumenttotheInspector.
"Witnessedbytwoofmyclerksinthisoffice."
TheInspectorranhiseyeoverthewillthoughtfully.
"Mydeceasedsister,MaryPearson,"hesaid."Canyou
tellmeanythingaboutMrsPearson,MrKirkwood?"
"Very little. She died about ten years ago, I believe.
Herhusband,astockbroker,hadpredeceasedher.As
far as I know, she never visited Captain Trevelyan
here."
"Pearson," said the Inspector again. Then he added:
"Onethingmore.TheamountofCaptainTrevelyan's
estateisnotmentioned.Towhatsumdoyouthinkit
willamount?"
"That is difficult to say exactly," said Mr Kirkwood,
enjoying,likealllawyers,makingthereplytoasimple
questiondifficult."Itisaquestionofrealorpersonal
estate. Besides Sittaford House, Captain Trevelyan
ownssomepropertyintheneighborhoodofPlymouth,
and various investments he made from timeto time
havefluctuatedinvalue."
"I just want an approximate idea," said Inspector
Narracott.
89

THEWILL

"Ishouldnotliketocommitmyself."
"Justtheroughestestimateasaguide.Forinstance
wouldtwentythousandpoundsbeoutoftheway?"
"Twenty thousand pounds. My dear sir! Captain
Trevelyan'sestatewillbeworthatleastfourtimesas
muchasthat.Eightyorevenninetythousandpounds
willbemuchnearerthemark."
"ItoldyouTrevelyanwasarichman,"saidBurnaby.
InspectorNarracottrose.
"Thankyouverymuch,MrKirkwood,"hesaid,"forthe
informationyouhavegivenme."
"Youthinkyouwillfindithelpful,eh?"
Thelaywerveryclearlywas agog withcuriosity,but
Inspector Narracott was in no mood to satisfy it at
present.
"In a case like this we have to take everything into
account,"hesaid,noncommittally."Bytheway,have
youthenamesandaddressesofthisJenniferGardner
andofthePearsonfamily?"
"IknownothingofthePearsonfamily.MrsGardner's
90

THEWILL

addressisTheLaurels,WaldonRoad,Exeter."
TheInspectornoteditdowninhisbook.
"Thatwilldotogetonwith,"hesaid."Youdon'tknow
howmanychildrenthelateMrsPearsonleft?"
"Three,Ifancy.Twogirlsandaboyorpossiblytwo
boysandagirlIcannotrememberwhich."
TheInspectornoddedandputawayhisnotebookand
thankedthelawyeroncemoreandtookhisdeparture.
Whentheyhadreachedthestreet,heturnedsuddenly
andfacedhiscompanion.
"Andnow,sir,"hesaid,"we'llhavethetruthaboutthat
twentyfivepastfivebusiness."
MajorBurnaby'sfacereddenedwithannoyance.
"Ihavetoldyoualready"
"That won't go down with me. Withholding
information, that is what you are doing, Major
Burnaby.Youmusthavehadsomeideainmentioning
thatspecifictimetoDrWarrenandIthinkIhavea
verygoodideaofwhatthatsomethingis."
"Well,ifyouknowaboutit,whyaskme?"growledthe
91

THEWILL

Major.
"Itakeitthatyouwereawarethatacertainperson
had an appointment with Captain Trevelyan
somewhereaboutthattime.Now,isn'tthatso?"
MajorBurnabystaredathiminsurprise.
"Nothing of the kind," he snarled, "nothing of the
kind."
"Be careful, Major Burnaby. What about Mr James
Pearson?"
"James Pearson? James Pearson, who's he? Do you
meanoneofTrevelyan'snephews?"
"Ipresumeitwouldbeanephew.Hehadonecalled
James,hadn'the?"
"Not theleast idea.Trevelyan hadnephewsIknow
that.Butwhattheirnameswere,Ihaven'tthevaguest
idea."
"TheyoungmaninquestionwasattheThreeCrowns
lastnight.Youprobablyrecognizedhimthere."
"I didn't recognize anybody," growled the Major.
"Shouldn't anywaynever saw any of Trevelyan's
92

THEWILL

nephewsinmylife."
"ButyouknewthatCaptainTrevelyanwasexpectinga
nephewtocalluponhimyesterdayafternoon?"
"Ididnot,"roaredtheMajor.
Severalpeopleinthestreetturnedroundtostareat
him.
"Damnit,won'tyoutakeplaintruth!Iknewnothing
aboutanyappointment.Trevelyan'snephewsmayhave
beeninTimbuctooforallIknewaboutthem."
Inspector Narracott was a little taken aback. The
Major's vehement denial bore the mark of truth too
plainlyforhimtobedeceived.
"Thenwhythistwentyfivepastfivebusiness?"
"Oh!wellIsupposeIhadbettertellyou,"theMajor
coughedinanembarrassedfashion."Butmindyou
thewholethingisdamnedfoolishness!Tommyrot,sir.
Howanythinkingmancanbelievesuchnonsense!"
InspectorNarracottlookedmoreandmoresurprised.
Major Burnaby was looking more uncomfortable and
ashamedofhimselfeveryminute.
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"You know what it is, Inspector. You have to join in


these things to please a lady. Of course, I never
thoughttherewasanythinginit."
"Inwhat,MajorBurnaby?"
"Tableturning."
"Tableturning?"
WhateverNarracotthadexpectedhehadnotexpected
this. The Major proceeded to explain himself.
Haltingly,andwithmanydisclaimerstohisownbelief
inthething,hedescribedtheeventsoftheprevious
afternoonandthemessagethathadpurportedtocome
throughforhimself.
"Youmean,MajorBurnaby,thatthetablespeltoutthe
nameofTrevelyanandinformedyouthathewasdead
murdered?"
MajorBurnabywipedhisforehead.
"Yes, that's what happened. I didn't believe in it
naturally,Ididn'tbelieveinit."Helookedashamed.
"WellitwasFridayandIthoughtafterallIwould
makesureandgoalongandseeifeverythingwasall
right."

94

THEWILL

TheInspectorreflectedonthedifficultiesofthatsix
mile walk, with the piled up snowdrifts and the
prospect of a heavy snow fall, and he realized that
deny it as he would Major Burnaby must have been
deeply impressed by the spirit message. Narracott
turneditoverinhismind.Aqueerthingtohappena
very queer thing to happen. The sort of thing you
couldn't explain satisfactorily. There might be
somethinginthisspiritbusinessafterall.Itwasthe
firstwellauthenticatedcasehehadcomeacross.
A very queer business altogether but, as far as he
could see, though it explained Major Burnaby's
attitude,ithadnopracticalbearingonthecaseasfar
ashehimselfwasconcerned.Hehadtodealwiththe
physicalworldandnotthepsychic.
Itwashisjobtotrackdownthemurderer.
Andtodothatherequirednoguidancefromthespirit
world.

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ENDERBY
Glancingathiswatch,theInspectorrealizedhecould
justcatchthetrainforExeterifhehurriedoff.Hewas
anxious to interview the late Captain Trevelyan's
sister as soon as possible and obtain from her the
addressesoftheothermembersofthefamily.So,with
ahurriedwordoffarewelltoMajorBurnaby,heraced
offtothestation.TheMajorretracedhisstepstothe
Three Crowns. He had hardly put a foot across the
doorstepwhenhewasaccostedbyabrightyoungman
withaveryshinyheadandaround,boyishface.
"MajorBurnaby?"saidtheyoungman.
"Yes."
"OfNo.1SittafordCottages?"
"Yes,"saidMajorBurnaby.

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"IrepresenttheDailyWire,"saidtheyoungman,"and
I"
Hegotnofurther.Intruemilitaryfashionoftheold
school,theMajorexploded.
"Notanotherword,"heroared."Iknowyouandyour
kind. No decency. No reticence. Clustering round a
murder like vultures round a carcass, but I can tell
you,youngman,youwillgetnoinformationfromme.
Not a word. No story for your damned paper. If you
want to know anything, go and ask the police, and
havethedecencytoleavethefriendsofthedeadman
alone."
The young man seemed not a whit taken aback. He
smiledmoreencouraginglythanever.
"Isay,sir,youknowyouhavegotholdofthewrongend
of the stick. I know nothing about this murder
business."
Thiswasnot,strictlyspeaking,thetruth.Noonein
Exhamptoncouldpretendignoranceoftheeventthat
hadshakenthequietmoorlandtowntoitscore.
"IamempoweredonbehalfoftheDailyWire,"wenton
the young man, "to hand you this check for 5,000
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MRCHARLESENDERBY

pounds and congratulate you on sending in the only


correctsolutionofourfootballcompetition."
MajorBurnabywascompletelytakenaback.
"Ihavenodoubt,"continuedtheyoungman,"thatyou
have already received our letter yesterday morning
informingyouofthegoodnews."
"Letter?"saidMajorBurnaby."Doyourealize,young
man, that Sittaford is about ten feet deep in snow?
Whatchancedoyouthinkwehavehadinthelastfew
daysofaregulardeliveryofletters?"
"But doubtless you saw your name announced as
winnerintheDailyWire,thismorning?"
"No," said Major Burnaby. "I haven't glanced at the
paperthismorning."
"Ah! of course not," said the young man. "This sad
business.Themurderedmanwasafriendofyours,I
understand."
"Mybestfriend,"saidtheMajor.
"Hardlines,"saidtheyoungmantactfullyavertinghis
eyes.Thenhedrewfromhispocketasmallfoldedpiece
ofmauvepaperandhandedittoMajorBurnabywitha
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MRCHARLESENDERBY

bow.
"WiththecomplimentsoftheDailyWire,"hesaid.
MajorBurnabytookitandsaidtheonlythingpossible
underthecircumstances.
"Haveadrink,Mrer?"
"Enderby,CharlesEnderbymynameis.Igotherelast
night,"heexplained."Madeinquiriesaboutgettingto
Sittaford. We make it a point to hand checks to
winnerspersonally.Alwayspublishalittleinterview.
Interests our readers. Well, everyone told me it was
outofthequestionthesnowwasfallinganditsimply
couldn'tbedone,andthenwiththegreatestgoodluck
I find you are actually here, staying at the Three
Crowns."Hesmiled."Nodifficultyaboutidentification.
Everybodyseemstoknoweverybodyelseinthispart
oftheworld."
"Whatwillyouhave?"saidtheMajor.
"Beerforme,"saidEnderby.
TheMajororderedtwobeers.
"Thewholeplaceseemsoffitsheadwiththismurder,"
remarkedEnderby."Ratheramysteriousbusinessby
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allaccounts."
The Major grunted. He was in something of a
quandary. His sentiments towards journalists
remainedunchanged,butamanwhohasjusthanded
youacheckfor5,000poundsisinaprivilegedposition.
Youcannotverywelltellhimtogotothedevil.
"Noenemies,hadhe?"askedtheyoungman.
"No,"saidtheMajor.
"ButIhearthepolicedon'tthinkitisrobbery,"went
onEnderby.
"Howdoyouknowthat?"askedtheMajor.
MrEnderby,however,didnotrevealthesourceofhis
information.
"Ihearit wasyouwhoactuallydiscoveredthebody,
sir,"saidtheyoungman.
"Yes."
"Itmusthavebeenanawfulshock."
Theconversationproceeded.MajorBurnabywasstill
determined to give no information, but he was no
match for the adroitness of Mr Enderby. The latter
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madestatementswithwhichtheMajorwasforcedto
agree or disagree thereby providing the information
theyoungmanwanted.Sopleasantwashismanner,
however,thattheprocesswasreallynotpainfulatall
andtheMajorfoundhimselftakingquitealikingto
theingenuousyoungman.
Presently,MrEnderbyroseandobservedthathemust
goalongtothepostoffice.
"Ifyouwilljustgivemeareceiptforthatcheck,sir."
The Major went across to the writing table, wrote a
receiptandhandedittohim.
"Splendid,"saidtheyoungmanandslippeditintohis
pocket.
"Isuppose,"saidMajorBurnaby,"thatyouareoffback
toLondontoday?"
"Oh!no,"saidtheyoungman."Iwanttotakeafew
photographs, you know, of your cottage at Sittaford,
andofyoufeedingthepigs,orhoeingupdandelions,or
doinganythingcharacteristicthatyoufancy.Youhave
noideahowourreadersappreciatethatsortofthing.
Then I would like to have a few words from you on
'What I intend to do with the 5,000.' Something
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snappy.Youhavenoideahowdisappointedourreaders
wouldbeiftheydidn'tgetthatsortofthing."
"Yes,butlookhereit'simpossibletogettoSittaford
in this weather. The fall of snow was exceptionally
heavy.Novehiclehasbeenabletotaketheroadfor
threedaysanyway,anditmaybeanotherthreebefore
thethawsetsinproperly."
"I know," said the young man, "it is awkward. Well,
well,wewilljusthavetoresignoneselftokickingup
one'sheelsinExhampton.Theydoyouprettywellat
theThreeCrowns.Solong,sir,seeyoulater."
He emerged into the main street of Exhampton and
madehiswaytothepostofficeandwiredhispaper
thatbythegreatestofgoodluckhewouldbeableto
supplythemwithtastyandexclusiveinformationon
theExhamptonMurderCase.
Hereflectedonhisnextcourseofactionanddecided
oninterviewingthelateCaptainTrevelyan'sservant,
Evans,whosenameMajorBurnabyhadincautiously
letslipduringtheirconversation.
A few inquiries brought him to 85 Fore Street. The
servant of the murdered man was a person of
importancetoday,everyonewaswillingandanxiousto
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pointoutwherehelived.
Enderby beat a smart rattat on the door. It was
openedbymansotypicallyanexsailorthatEnderby
hadnodoubtofhisidentity.
"Evans,isn'tit?"saidMrEnderbycheerfully."Ihave
justcomealongfromMajorBurnaby."
"Oh!"Evanshesitatedamoment."Willyoucomein,
sir."
Enderby accepted the invitation. A buxom young
womanwithdarkhairandredcheekshoveredinthe
background.EnderbyjudgedherasthenewlywedMrs
Evans.
"Badthingthisaboutyourlatemaster,"saidEnderby.
"It'sshocking,sir,that'swhatitis."
"Whodoyouthinkdidit?"demandedEnderbywithan
ingenuousairofseekinginformation.
"Oneoftheselowdowntramps,Isuppose,"saidEvans.
"Oh!no,mydearman.Thattheoryisquiteexploded."
"Eh?"

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"That'sallaputupjob.Thepolicesawthroughthatat
once."
"Whotoldyouthat,sir?"
Enderby'srealinformanthadbeenthehousemaidat
theThreeCrownswhosesisterwasthelegalspouseof
ConstableGraves,buthereplied:
"Hadatipfromheadquarters.Yes,theburglaryidea
wasallaputupjob."
"Whodotheythinkdiditthen?"demandedMrsEvans
comingforward.Hereyeslookedfrightenedandeager.
"Now, Rebecca, don't you take on so," said her
husband.
"Cruelstupidthepoliceare,"saidMrsEvans."Don't
mind who they take up as long as they get hold of
someone."
ShecastaquickglanceatEnderby.
"Areyouconnectedwiththepolice,sir?"
"Me?Oh!no.Iamfromanewspaper,theDailyWire.I
camedowntoseeMajorBurnaby.Hehasjustwonour
FreeFootballCompetitionfor5,000."
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"What?"criedEvans."Damnitall,thenthesethings
aresquareafterall."
"Didn'tyouthinktheywere?"askedEnderby.
"Well, it's a wicked world, sir." Evans was a little
confused, feeling that his exclamation had been
wantingintact."Ihaveheardthere'salotoftrickery
concerned.ThelateCaptingusedtosaythataprize
neverwenttoagoodaddress.That'swhyheusedmine
timeandagain."
With a certain navet he described the Captain's
winningofthreenewnovels.
Enderbyencouragedhimtotalk.Hesawaverygood
storybeingmadeoutofEvans.Thefaithfulservant
oldseadogtouch.HewonderedjustalittlewhyMrs
Evans seemed so nervous, he put it down to the
suspiciousignoranceofherclass.
"You find the skunk what done it," said Evans.
"Newspaperscandoalot,theysay,inhuntingdown
criminals."
"It was a burglar," said Mrs Evans. "That's what it
was."
"Ofcourse,itwasaburglar,"saidEvans."Why,there's
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no one in Exhampton would want to harm the


Capting."
Enderbyrose.
"Well,"hesaid."Imustbegoing.Iwillruninnowand
thenandhavealittlechatifImay.IftheCaptainwon
three new novels in a Daily Wire Competition, the
DailyWireoughttomakeitapersonalmattertohunt
downhismurderer."
"Youcan'tsayfairerthanthat,sir.No,youcan'tsay
fairerthanthat."
Wishingthemacheerygoodday,CharlesEnderbytook
hisleave.
"Iwonderwhoreallydidthebeggarin?"hemurmured
tohimself."Idon'tthinkourfriendEvans.Perhapsit
wasaburglar!Verydisappointing,ifso.Doesn'tseem
anywomeninthecase,whichisapity.We'vegotto
have some sensational development soon or the case
willfadeintoinsignificance.Justmyluck,ifso.First
timeIhaveeverbeenonthespotinamatterofthis
kind.Imustmakegood.Charles,myboy,yourchance
in life has come. Make the most of it. Our military
friendwill,Isee,soonbeeatingoutofmyhandifI
remember to be sufficiently respectful and call him
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MRCHARLESENDERBY

'sir,' often enough. Wonder if he was in the Indian


Mutiny.No,ofcoursenot,notoldenoughforthat.The
SouthAfricanWar,that'sit.AskhimabouttheSouth
AfricanWar,thatwilltamehim."
AndponderingthesegoodresolutionsinhismindMr
EnderbysaunteredbacktotheThreeCrowns.

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Chapter9

THELAURELS
IttakesabouthalfanhourfromExhamptontoExeter
bytrain.AtfiveminutestotwelveInspectorNarracott
wasringingthefrontdoorbellofTheLaurels.
TheLaurelswasasomewhatdilapidatedhouse,badly
inneedofanewcoatofpaint.Thegardenrounditwas
unkemptandweedyandthegatehungaskewonits
hinges.
"Nottoomuchmoneyabouthere,"thoughtInspector
Narracotttohimself."Evidentlyhardup."
Hewasaveryfairmindedman,butinquiriesseemed
toindicatethattherewasverylittlepossibilityofthe
Captain'shavingbeendonetodeathbyanenemy.On
theotherhand,fourpeople,asfarashecouldmake
out,stoodtogainaconsiderablesumbytheoldman's
death.Themovementsofeachofthesefourpeoplehad
gottobeinquiredinto.Theentryinthehotelregister
was suggestive, but after all Pearson was quite a
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commonname.InspectorNarracottwasanxiousnotto
cometoanydecisiontoorapidlyandtokeepaperfectly
openmindwhilstcoveringthepreliminarygroundas
rapidlyaspossible.
Asomewhatslatternlylookingmaidansweredthebell.
"Goodafternoon,"saidInspectorNarracott."Iwantto
seeMrsGardner,please.Itisinconnectionwiththe
death of her brother, Captain Trevelyan, at
Exhampton."
Hepurposelydidnothandhisofficialcardtothemaid.
Themerefactofhisbeingapoliceofficer,asheknew
byexperience,wouldrenderherawkwardandtongue
tied.
"She's heard of her brother's death?" asked the
Inspectorcasuallyasthemaiddrewbacktolethim
intothehall.
"Yes, got a telegram she did. From the lawyer, Mr
Kirkwood."
"Justso,"saidInspectorNarracott.
Themaidusheredhimintothedrawingroomaroom
which,liketheoutsideofthehouse,wasbadlyinneed
ofalittlemoneyspentuponit,butyet,hadwithall
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THELAURELS

thatanairofcharmwhichtheInspectorfeltwithout
beingabletoparticularizethewhyandwhereforeofit.
"Must have been a shock to your mistress," he
observed.Thegirlseemedalittlevagueaboutthat,he
noticed."Shedidn'tseemuchofhim,"washeranswer.
"Shut the door and come here," said Inspector
Narracott. He was anxious to try the effect of a
surpriseattack.
"Didthetelegramsaythatitwasmurder?"heasked.
"Murder!"
Thegirl'seyesopenedwide,amixtureofhorrorand
intenseenjoymentinthem."Murderedwashe?"
"Ah!"saidInspectorNarracott,"Ithoughtyouhadn't
heard that. Mr Kirkwood didn't want to break the
news too abruptly to your mistress, but you see, my
dearwhatisyourname,bytheway?"
"Beatrice,sir."
"Well, you see, Beatrice, it will be in the evening
paperstonight."
"Well,Inever,"saidBeatrice."Murdered.'orrible,isn't
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it?Didtheybashhisheadinorshoothimorwhat?"
The Inspector satisfied her passion for detail, then
addedcasually,"Ibelievetherewassomeideaofyour
mistressgoingovertoExhamptonyesterdayafternoon.
ButIsupposetheweatherwastoobadforher."
"Ineverheardanythingaboutit,sir,"saidBeatrice."I
think you must have made a mistake. The mistress
went out in the afternoon to do some shopping and
thenshewenttothePictures."
"Whattimedidshegetin?"
"Aboutsixo'clock."
SothatletMrsGardnerout.
"Idon'tknowmuchaboutthefamily,"hewentonina
casualtone."IsMrsGardnerawidow?"
"Oh,no,sir,there'smaster."
"Whatdoeshedo?"
"He doesn't do anything," said Beatrice staring. "He
can't.He'saninvalid."
"Aninvalid,ishe?Oh,I'msorry.Ihadn'theard."

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"He can't walk. He lies in bed all day. Got a nurse


alwaysinthehousewehave.Itisn'teverygirlwhat
staysonwithan'ospitalnurseinthehousethewhole
time.Alwayswantingtrayscarriedupandpotsoftea
made."
"Must be very trying," said the Inspector soothingly.
"Now,willyougoandtellyourmistressplease,thatI
amherefromMrKirkwoodofExhampton?"
Beatrice withdrew and a few minutes later the door
opened and a tall, rather commanding woman came
intotheroom.Shehadanunusuallookingface,broad
aboutthebrows,andblackhairwithatouchofgrayat
the temples, which she wore combed straight back
from her forehead. She looked at the Inspector
inquiringly.
"YouhavecomefromMrKirkwoodatExhampton?"
"Notexactly,MrsGardner.Iputitthatwaytoyour
maid.Yourbrother,CaptainTrevelyan,wasmurdered
yesterday afternoon and I am Divisional Inspector
Narracottinchargeofthecase."
WhateverelseMrsGardnermightbeshewascertainly
a woman of iron nerve. Her eyes narrowed and she
drew in her breath sharply, then motioning the
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Inspectortoachairandsittingdownherselfshesaid:
"Murdered! How extraordinary! Who in the world
wouldwanttomurderJoe?"
"ThatiswhatI'manxioustofindout,MrsGardner."
"Ofcourse.IhopeIshallbeabletohelpyouinsome
way,butIdoubtit.MybrotherandIhaveseenvery
littleofeachotherinthelasttenyears.Iknownothing
ofhisfriendsorofanytieshehasformed."
"You'llexcuseme,MrsGardner,buthadyouandyour
brotherquarreled?"
"Nonot quarreled. I think estranged would be a
betterwordtodescribethepositionbetweenus.Idon't
wanttogointofamilydetails,butmybrotherrather
resented my marriage. Brothers, I think, seldom
approve of their sisters' choice, but usually, I fancy,
theyconcealitbetterthanmybrotherdid.Mybrother,
asperhapsyouknow,hadalargefortunelefthimby
anaunt.Bothmysisterandmyselfmarriedpoormen.
Whenmyhusbandwasinvalidedoutofthearmyafter
thewarwithshellshock,alittlefinancialassistance
would have been a wonderful reliefwould have
enabled me to give him an expensive course of
treatmentwhichwasotherwisedeniedtohim.Iasked
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mybrotherforaloanwhichherefused.That,ofcourse,
hewasperfectlyentitledtodo.Butsincethenwehave
metatveryrareintervals,andhardlycorrespondedat
all."
Itwasaclearsuccinctstatement.
An intriguing personality, this Mrs Gardner's, the
Inspector thought. Somehow, he couldn't quite make
her out. She seemed unnaturally calm, unnaturally
ready with her recital offacts.He alsonoticedthat,
withall her surprisesheasked forno details of her
brother'sdeath.Thatstruckhimasextraordinary.
"Idon'tknowifyouwanttohearwhatexactlyoccurred
atExhampton,"hebegan.
Shefrowned.
"MustIhearit?Mybrotherwaskilled,painlesslyI
hope."
"Quitepainlessly,Ishouldsay."
"Thenpleasesparemeanyrevoltingdetails."
"Unnatural," thought the Inspector, "decidedly
unnatural."

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Asthoughshehadreadhismindsheusedthevery
wordthathehadspokentohimself.
"I suppose you think that very unnatural, Inspector,
butIhaveheardagoodmanyhorrors.Myhusband
has told methings when he has hadone ofhis bad
turns"sheshivered."Ithinkyouwouldunderstand
ifyouknewmycircumstancesbetter."
"Oh! quite so, quite so, Mrs Gardner. What I really
cameinwastogetafewfamilydetailsfromyou."
"Yes?"
"Doyouknowhowmanyrelativeslivingyourbrother
hasbesidesyourself?"
"Ofnearrelations,onlythePearsons.MysisterMary's
children."
"Andtheyare?"
"James,SylviaandBrian."
"James?"
"Heistheeldest.HeworksinanInsuranceOffice."
"Whatageishe?"

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"Twentyeight."
"Ishemarried?"
"No,butheisengagedtoaverynicegirl,Ibelieve.
I'venotyetmether."
"Andhisaddress?"
"21CromwellStreet,S.W.3."
TheInspectornoteditdown.
"Yes,MrsGardner?"
"Thenthere'sSylvia.She'smarriedtoMartinDering
you may have read his books. He's a moderately
successfulauthor."
"Thankyou,andtheiraddress?"
"TheNook,SurreyRoad,Wimbledon."
"Yes?"
"AndtheyoungestisBrianbutheisoutinAustralia.
I am afraid Idon't know his address,but either his
brotherorsisterwouldknow."
"Thankyou,MrsGardner.Justasamatterofform,do
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you mind my asking you how you spent yesterday


afternoon?"
Shelookedsurprised.
"Letmesee.IdidsomeshoppingyesthenIwentto
thePictures.Icamehomeaboutsixandlaydownon
my bed until dinner, as the Pictures had given me
ratheraheadache."
"Thankyou,MrsGardner."
"Isthereanythingelse?"
"No,Idon'tthinkIhaveanythingfurthertoaskyou.I
will now get into communication with your nephew
andniece.Idon'tknowifMrKirkwoodhasinformed
you of the fact yet, but you and the three young
Pearsons are the joint inheritors of Captain
Trevelyan'smoney."
Thecolorcameintoherfaceinaslow,richblush.
"Thatwillbewonderful,"shesaidquietly."Ithasbeen
sodifficultsoterriblydifficultalwaysskimpingand
savingandwishing."
Shestartedupasaman'sratherquerulousvoicecame
floatingdownthestairs.
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"Jennifer,jennifer,Iwantyou."
"Excuseme,"shesaid.
Assheopenedthedoorthecallcameagain,louderand
moreimperiously.
"Jennifer,whereareyou?Iwantyou,Jennifer."
TheInspectorhadfollowedhertothedoor.Hestoodin
thehalllookingafterherassheranupthestairs.
"Iamcoming,dear,"shecalled.
A hospital nurse who was coming down the stairs
stoodasidetoletherpassup.
"PleasegotoMrGardner,heisgettingveryexcited.
Youalwaysmanagetocalmhim."
Inspector Narracott stood deliberately in the nurse's
wayasshereachedthebottomofthestairs.
"May I speak to you for a moment?" he said. "My
conversationwithMrsGardnerwasinterrupted."
Thenursecamewithalacrityintothedrawingroom.
"Thenewsofthemurderhasupsetmypatient,"she
explained,adjustingawellstarchedcuff."Thatfoolish
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girl,Beatrice,camerunningupandblurteditallout."
"Iamsorry,"saidtheInspector."Iamafraidthatwas
myfault."
"Oh,ofcourse,youcouldn'tbeexpectedtoknow,"said
thenursegraciously.
"Is Mr Gardner dangerously ill?" inquired the
Inspector.
"It's a sad case," said the nurse. "Of course, in a
mannerofspeaking,there'snothingthematterwith
him really. He's lost the use of his limbs entirely
throughnervousshock.There'snovisibledisability."
"Hehadnoextrastrainorshockyesterdayafternoon?"
inquiredtheInspector.
"Not that I know of," the nurse looked somewhat
surprised.
"Youwerewithhimalltheafternoon?"
"I intended to be, but, wellas a matter of fact,
CaptainGardnerwasveryanxiousformetochange
twobooksforhimatthelibrary.Hehadforgottento
askhiswifebeforeshewentout.So,toobligehimI
wentoutwiththem,andheaskedmeatthesametime
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togetoneortwootherlittlethingsforhimpresents
forhiswifeasamatteroffact.Veryniceaboutithe
was,andtoldmeIwastohaveteaathisexpenseat
Boots. He said nurses never liked missing their tea.
His little joke, you know. I didn't get out until past
four,andwhatwiththeshopsbeingsofulljustbefore
Christmas, and one thing and another, I didn't get
backuntilaftersix,butthepoorfellowhadbeenquite
comfortable. In fact, he told me he had been asleep
mostofthetime."
"MrsGardnerwasbackbythen?"
"Yes,Ibelieveshewaslyingdown."
"She'sverydevotedtoherhusband,isn'tshe?"
"She worships him. I really do believe that woman
would do anything in the world for him. Quite
touching,andverydifferentfromsomeofthecasesI
haveattended.Why,onlylastmonth"
But Inspector Narracott fended off the impending
scandal of last month with considerable skill. He
glancedathiswatchandgavealoudexclamation.
"Goodnessgracious,"hecried,"Ishallmissmytrain.
Thestationisnotfaraway,isit?"
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"StDavid'sisonlythreeminute'walk,ifit'sStDavid's
youwant,ordidyoumeanQueenStreet?"
"Imustrun,"saidtheInspector,"tellMrsGardnerI
am sorry not to have seen her to say goodby. Very
pleasedtohavehadthislittlechatwithyou,nurse."
Thenursebridledeversoslightly.
"Ratheragoodlookingman,"shesaidtoherselfasthe
frontdoorshutaftertheInspector."Reallyquitegood
looking.Suchanicesympatheticmanner."
And with a slight sigh she went upstairs to her
patient.

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Chapter10

THEPEARSONFAMILY
InspectorNarracott's next movewas toreport to his
superior,SuperintendentMaxwell.Thelatterlistened
withinteresttotheInspector'snarrative.
"It's going to be a big case," he said thoughtfully.
"There'llbeheadlinesinthepapersoverthis."
"Iagreewithyou,sir."
"We'vegottobecareful.Wedon'twanttomakeany
mistake. But I think you're on the right track. You
mustgetafterthisJamesPearsonassoonaspossible
findoutwherehewasyesterdayafternoon.Asyou
say, it's a common enough name, but there's the
Christiannameaswell.Ofcourse,hissigninghisown
name openly like that shows there wasn't any
premeditationaboutit.He'dhardlyhavebeensucha
fool otherwise. It looks to me like a quarrel and a
suddenblow.Ifitistheman,hemusthaveheardof
his uncle's death that night. And if so, why did he
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

sneak off by the six train in the morning without a


wordtoanyone?No,itlooksbad.Alwaysgrantingthat
the whole thing's not a coincidence. You must clear
thatupasquicklyaspossible."
"That'swhatIthought,sir.I'dbettertakethe1.45to
town.SometimeorotherIwanttohaveawordwith
this Willett woman who rented the Captain's house.
There's something fishy there. But I can't get to
Sittaford at present, the roads are impassable with
snow. And anyway, she can't have any direct
connectionwiththecrime.Sheandherdaughterwere
actuallywelltable turning at the time the crime
wascommitted.And,bytheway,ratheraqueerthing
happened"
TheInspectornarratedthestoryhehadheardMajor
Burnaby.
"That's a rum go," ejaculated the Superintendent.
"Thinkthisoldfellowwastellingthetruth?That'sthe
sortofstorythatgetscookedupafterwardsbythose
believersinspooksandthingsofthatkind."
"Ifancyit'strueallright,"saidNarracottwithagrin.
"Ihadalotofdifficultygettingitoutofhim.He'snota
believerjust the oppositeold soldier, all damned
nonsenseattitude."
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

TheSuperintendentnoddedhiscomprehension.
"Well,it'sodd,butitdoesn'tgetusanywhere,"washis
conclusion.
"ThenI'lltakethe1.45toLondon."
Theothernodded.
On arrival in town Narracott went straight to 21
CromwellStreet.MrPearson,hewastold,wasatthe
office. He would be back for certain about seven
o'clock.
Narracottnoddedcarelesslyasthoughtheinformation
wereofnovaluetohim.
"I'll call back if I can," he said. "It's nothing of
importance," and departed quickly without leaving a
name.
Hedecided not to go tothe InsuranceOffice,but to
visitWimbledon insteadandhave an interviewwith
MrsMartinDering,formerlyMissSylviaPearson.
There were no signs of shabbiness about The Nook.
"New and shoddy," was how Inspector Narracott
describedittohimself.

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THEPEARSONFAMILY

MrsDeringwasathome.Aratherpertlookingmaid
dressed in lilac color showed him into a rather
overcrowded drawingroom. He gave her his official
cardtotaketohermistress.
MrsDeringcametohimalmostimmediately,hiscard
inherhand.
"IsupposeyouhavecomeaboutpoorUncleJoseph,"
washergreeting."It'sshockingreallyshocking!Iam
so dreadfully nervous of burglars myself. I had two
extraboltsputonthebackdoorlastweek,andnew
patentcatchesonthewindows."
SylviaDering,theInspectorknewfromMrsGardner,
wasonlytwentyfive,butshelookedconsiderablyover
thirty. She was small and fair and anemic looking,
withaworriedandharassedexpression.Hervoicehad
thatfaintlycomplainingnoteinitwhichisaboutthe
mostannoyingsoundahumanvoicecancontain,still
notallowingtheInspectortospeakshewenton:
"Ifthere'sanythingIcandotohelpyouinanyway,of
course,Ishallbeonlytoogladtodoso,butonehardly
eversawUncleJoseph.Hewasn'taverynicemanI
amsurehecouldn'thavebeen.Notthesortofperson
one could go to in trouble, always carping and
criticizing.Notthesortofmanwhohadanyknowledge
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

ofwhatliteraturemeant.Successtruesuccessisnot
alwaysmeasuredintermsofmoney,Inspector."
AtlastshepausedandtheInspector,towhomthose
remarkshadopenedcertainfieldsofconjecture,was
givenhisturntospeak.
"You'veheardofthetragedyveryquickly,MrsDering."
"AuntJenniferwiredittome."
"Isee."
"But I suppose it will be in the evening papers.
Dreadful,isn'tit?"
"Igatheryou'venotseenyouruncleoflateyears."
"Ihaveonlyseenhimtwicesincemymarriage.Onthe
secondoccasionhewasreallyveryrudetoMartin.Of
course, he was a regular philistine in every way
devotedtosport.Noappreciation,asIsaidjustnow,of
literature."
"Husbandappliedtohimforaloanandgotrefused,"
was Inspector Narracott's private comment on the
situation.
"Justasamatterofform,MrsDering,willyoutellme
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

whatyourmovementswereyesterdayafternoon?"
"Mymovements?Whataveryqueerwayofputtingit,
Inspector.Iplayedbridgemostoftheafternoonanda
friendcameinandspenttheeveningwithme,asmy
husbandwasout."
"Out,washe?Awayfromhomealtogether?"
"A literary dinner," explained Mrs Dering with
importance."HelunchedwithanAmericanpublisher
andhadthisdinnerintheevening."
"Isee."
Thatseemedquitefairandaboveboard.Hewenton.
"YouryoungerbrotherisinAustralia,Ibelieve,Mrs
Dering?"
"Yes."
"Youhavehisaddress?"
"Oh, yes, I can find it for you if you wishrather a
peculiar nameI've forgotten it for the minute.
SomewhereinNewSouthWales."
"Andnow,MrsDering,yourelderbrother?"

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THEPEARSONFAMILY

"Jim?"
"Yes.Ishallwanttogetintouchwithhim."
MrsDeringhastenedtosupplyhimwiththeaddress
the same as that which Mrs Gardner had already
givenhim.
Then,feelingtherewasnomoretobesaidoneither
side,hecuttheinterviewshort.
Glancingathiswatch,henotedthatbythetimehe
had returned to town it would be seven o'clocka
likelytime,hehoped,forfindingMrJamesPearsonat
home.
The same superior looking, middleaged woman
opened the door of No. 21. Yes, Mr Pearson was at
homenow.Itwasonthesecondfloor,ifthegentleman
wouldwalkup.
She preceded him, tapped at a door, and in a
murmuredandapologeticvoicesaid:"Thegentleman
toseeyou,sir."Then,standingback,sheallowedthe
Inspectortoenter.
A young man in evening dress was standing in the
middle of the room. He was goodlooking, indeed
handsome,ifyoutooknoaccountoftheratherweak
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

mouthandtheirresoluteslantoftheeyes.Hehada
haggard, worried look and an air of not having had
muchsleepoflate.
He looked inquiringly at the Inspector as the latter
advanced.
"I am Detective Inspector Narracott," he beganbut
gotnofurther.
With a hoarse cry the young man dropped on to a
chair,flunghisarmsoutinfrontofhimonthetable,
bowinghisheadonthemandmuttering:
"Oh!myGod!It'scome."
Afteraminuteortwoheliftedhisheadandsaid,
"Well,whydon'tyougetonwithit,man?"
Inspector Narracott looked exceedingly stolid and
unintelligent.
"Iaminvestigatingthedeathofyouruncle,Captain
Joseph Trevelyan. May I ask you, sir, if you have
anythingtosay?"
Theyoungmanroseslowlytohisfeetandsaidinalow
strainedvoice:
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

"Areyouarrestingme?"
"No,sir,Iamnot.IfIwasarrestingyouIwouldgive
youthecustomarycaution.Iamsimplyaskingyouto
accountforyourmovementsyesterdayafternoon.You
mayreplytomyquestionsornotasyouseefit."
"AndifIdon'treplytothemitwilltellagainstme.
Oh,yes,Iknowyourlittleways.You'vefoundoutthen
thatIwasdownthereyesterday?"
"You signed your name in the hotel register, Mr
Pearson."
"Oh,Isupposethere'snousedenyingit.Iwasthere
whyshouldn'tIbe?"
"Whyindeed?"saidtheInspectormildly.
"Iwentdowntheretoseemyuncle."
"Byappointment?"
"Whatdoyoumean,byappointment?"
"Didyouruncleknowyouwerecoming?"
"Inohedidn't.Ititwasasuddenimpulse."
"Noreasonforit?"
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

"Ireason? Nono, why should there be? II just


wantedtoseemyuncle."
"Quiteso,sir.Andyoudidseehim?"
Therewasapauseaverylongpause.Indecisionwas
written on every feature of the young man's face.
InspectorNarracottfeltakindofpityashewatched
him.Couldn'ttheboyseethathispalpableindecision
wasasgoodasanadmissionofthefact?
AtlastJimPearsondrewadeepbreath."IIsuppose
Ihadbettermakeacleanbreastofit.YesIdidsee
him.IaskedatthestationhowIcouldgettoSittaford.
They told me it was out of the question. The roads
wereimpassableforanyvehicle.Isaiditwasurgent."
"Urgent?"murmuredtheInspector.
"IIwantedtoseemyuncleverymuch."
"Soitseems,sir."
"Theportercontinuedtoshakehisheadandsaythatit
wasimpossible.Imentionedmyuncle'snameandat
oncehisfaceclearedup,andhetoldmemyunclewas
actuallyinExhampton,andgavemefulldirectionsas
tohowtofindthehousehehadrented."

131

THEPEARSONFAMILY

"Thiswasatwhattime,sir?"
"About one o'clock, I think. I went to the Innthe
Three Crownsbooked a room and had some lunch
there.ThenafterwardsIIwentouttoseemyuncle."
"Immediatelyafterwards?"
"No,notimmediately."
"Whattimewasit?"
"Well,Icouldn'tsayforcertain."
"Halfpastthree?Fouro'clock?Halfpastfour?"
"II"hestammeredworsethanever."Idon'tthink
itcouldhavebeenaslateasthat."
"Mrs Belling, the proprietress, said you went out at
halfpastfour."
"DidI?IIthinkshe'swrong.Itcouldn'thavebeenas
lateasthat."
"Whathappenednext?"
"I found myuncle's house, hada talkwith him and
camebacktotheInn."

132

THEPEARSONFAMILY

"Howdidyougetintoyouruncle'shouse?"
"Irangthebellandheopenedthedoortomehimself."
"Wasn'thesurprisedtoseeyou?"
"Yesyeshewasrathersurprised."
"Howlongdidyouremainwithhim,MrPearson?"
"Aquarterofanhourtwentyminutes.Butlookhere,
hewasperfectlyallrightwhenIlefthim.Perfectlyall
right.Iswearit."
"Andwhattimedidyouleavehim?"
Theyoungmanloweredhiseyes.Again,thehesitation
waspalpableinhistone,"Idon'tknowexactly."
"Ithinkyoudo,MrPearson."
Theassuredtonehaditseffect.Theboyrepliedina
lowtone.
"Itwasaquarterpastfive."
"YoureturnedtotheThreeCrownsataquartertosix.
Atmostitcouldonlytakeyousevenoreightminutes
towalkoverfromyouruncle'shouse."

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THEPEARSONFAMILY

"Ididn'tgostraightback.Iwalkedaboutthetown."
"Inthaticyweatherinthesnow!"
"Itwasn'tactuallysnowingthen.Itcameontosnow
later."
"Isee.Andwhatwasthenatureofyourconversation
withyouruncle?"
"Oh!nothinginparticular.IIjustwantedtotalkto
theoldboy,lookhimup,thatsortofthing,youknow."
"He's a poor liar," thought Inspector Narracott to
himself. "Why, I could manage better than that
myself."
Aloudhesaid:
"Verygood,sir.Now,mayIaskyouwhy,onhearingof
your uncle's murder, you left Exhampton without
disclosingyourrelationshiptothemurderedman?"
"Iwasscared,"saidtheyoungmanfrankly."Iheardhe
hadbeenmurderedroundaboutthetimeIlefthim.
Now,dashitall,that'senoughtoscareanyone,isn'tit?
I got the wind up and left the place by the first
available train. Oh, I dare say I was a fool to do
anythingofthesort.Butyouknowwhatitiswhenyou
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

arerattled.Andanyonemighthavebeenrattledunder
thesecircumstances."
"Andthat'sallyouhavetosay,sir?"
"Yesyes,ofcourse."
"Then,perhapsyou'llhavenoobjection,sir,tocoming
roundwithmeandhavingthisstatementtakendown
in writing, after which you will haveit readover to
you,andyouwillsignit."
"Isisthatall?"
"I think it possible, Mr Pearson, that it may be
necessarytodetainyouuntilaftertheinquest."
"Oh! my God," said Jim Pearson. "Can nobody help
me?"
Atthatmomentthedooropenedandayoungwoman
walkedintotheroom.
Shewas,astheobservantInspectorNarracottnotedat
once,averyexceptionalkindofyoungwoman.Shewas
notstrikinglybeautiful,butshehadafacewhichwas
arresting and unusual, a face that having once seen
you could not forget. There was about her an
atmosphere of common sense, savoirfaire, invincible
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

determinationandamosttantalizingfascination.
"Oh!Jim,"sheexclaimed,"What'shappened?"
"It'sallover,Emily,"saidtheyoungman."TheythinkI
murderedmyuncle."
"Whothinksso?"demandedEmily.
Theyoungmanindicatedhisvisitorbyagesture.
"This is Inspector Narracott," he said, and he added
with a dismal attempt at introduction, "Miss Emily
Trefusis."
"Oh!"saidEmilyTrefusis.
ShestudiedInspectorNarracottwithkeenhazeleyes.
"Jim," she said, "is a frightful idiot. But he doesn't
murderpeople."
TheInspectorsaidnothing.
"I expect," said Emily, turning to Jim, "that you've
beensayingthemostfrightfullyimprudentthings.If
you'dreadthepapersalittlebetterthanyoudo,Jim,
youwouldknowthatyoumustnevertalktopolicemen
unless you have a strong solicitor sitting beside you
making objections to every word. What's happened?
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

Areyouarrestinghim,InspectorNarracott?"
Inspector Narracott explained technicallyand clearly
exactlywhathewasdoing.
"Emily,"criedtheyoungman,"youwon'tbelieveIdid
it?Youneverwillbelieveit,willyou?"
"No,darling,"saidEmilykindly."Ofcoursenot."And
sheaddedinagentlemeditativetone,"Youhaven'tgot
theguts."
"Idon'tfeelasifIhadafriendintheworld,"groaned
Jim.
"Yes,youhave,"saidEmily."You'vegotme.Cheerup,
Jim,lookatthewinkingdiamondsonthethirdfinger
ofmylefthand.Herestandsthefaithfulfiance.Go
withtheInspectorandleaveeverythingtome."
JimPearsonrose,stillwithadazedexpressiononhis
face.Hisovercoatwaslyingoverachairandheputit
on.InspectorNarracotthandedhimahatwhichwas
lying on a bureau near by. They moved towards the
doorandtheInspectorsaidpolitely:
"Goodevening,MissTrefusis."
"Aurevoir,Inspector,"saidEmilysweetly.
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THEPEARSONFAMILY

And if he had known Miss Emily Trefusis better he


would have known that in these three words lay a
challenge.

138

THEPEARSONFAMILY

Chapter11

EMILYSETSTOWORK
TheinquestonthebodyofCaptainTrevelyanwasheld
on Monday morning. From the point of view of
sensation it was a tame affair, for it was almost
immediatelyadjournedforaweek,thusdisappointing
large numbers of people. Between Saturday and
Monday Exhampton had sprung into fame. The
knowledge that the dead man's nephew had been
detained in connection with the murder made the
wholeaffairspringfromamereparagraphintheback
pagesofthenewspaperstogiganticheadlines.Onthe
Monday,reportershadarrivedatExhamptoninlarge
numbers.MrCharlesEnderbyhadreasononcemore
tocongratulatehimselfonthesuperiorpositionhehad
obtained from the purely fortuitous chance of the
footballcompetitionprize.
It was the journalist's intention to stick to Major
Burnaby like a leech. And under the pretext of
photographingthelatter'scottage,toobtainexclusive
information of the inhabitants of Sittaford and their
139

EMILYSETSTOWORK

relationswiththedeadman.
It did not escape Mr Enderby's notice that at lunch
time a small table near the door was occupied by a
very attractive girl. Mr Enderby wondered what she
wasdoinginExhampton.Shewas well dressedina
demureandprovocativestyle,anddidnotappeartobe
a relation of the deceased, and still less could be
labeledasoneoftheidlecurious.
"I wonder how long she's staying?" thought Mr
Enderby."RatherapityIamgoinguptoSittafordthis
afternoon.Justmyluck.Well,youcan'thaveitboth
ways,Isuppose."
But shortly after lunch, Mr Enderby received an
agreeable surprise. He was standing on the steps of
theThreeCrownsobservingthefastmeltingsnow,and
enjoyingthesluggishraysofwintrysunshine,whenhe
was aware of a voice, an extremely charming voice,
addressinghim.
"Ibegyourpardonbutcouldyoutellmeifthereis
anythingtoseeinExhampton?"
CharlesEnderbyrosetotheoccasionpromptly.
"There'sacastle,Ibelieve,"hesaid."Notmuchtoit
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EMILYSETSTOWORK

butthereitis.Perhapsyouwouldallowmetoshow
youthewaytoit."
"Thatwouldbefrightfullykindofyou,"saidthegirl.
"Ifyouaresureyouarenottoobusy"
CharlesEnderbydisclaimedimmediatelythenotionof
beingbusy.
Theysetouttogether.
"YouareMrEnderby,aren'tyou?"saidthegirl.
"Yes.Howdidyouknow?"
"MrsBellingpointedyououttome."
"Oh,Isee."
"MynameisEmilyTrefusis.MrEnderbyIwantyou
tohelpme."
"Tohelpyou?"saidEnderby."Why,certainlybut"
"Yousee,IamengagedtoJimPearson."
"Oh!"saidMrEnderby,journalisticpossibilitiesrising
beforehismind.
"Andthepolicearegoingtoarresthim.Iknowthey
141

EMILYSETSTOWORK

are.MrEnderby,IknowthatJimdidn'tdothisthing.
Iamdownheretoprovehedidn't.ButImusthave
someonetohelpme.Onecan'tdoanythingwithouta
man. Men know so much, and are able to get
information in so many ways that are simply
impossibletowomen."
"WellIyes,Isupposethatistrue,"saidMrEnderby
complacently.
"Iwaslookingatallthesejournaliststhismorning,"
said Emily. "Such a lot of them I thought had such
stupidfaces.Ipickedyououtastheonereallyclever
oneamongthem."
"Oh!Isay.Idon'tthinkthat'strue,youknow,"saidMr
Enderbystillmorecomplacently.
"What I want to propose," saidEmilyTrefusis,"is a
kind of partnership. There would, I think, be
advantagesonbothsides.TherearecertainthingsI
want toinvestigatetofindout about. There you in
yourcharaeterofjournalistcanhelpme.Iwant"
Emilypaused.Whatshereallywantedwastoengage
MrEnderbyasakindofprivatesleuthofherown.To
gowhereshetoldhim,toaskthequestionsshewanted
asked,andingeneraltobeakindofbondslave.But
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EMILYSETSTOWORK

she was aware of the necessity of couching these


proposals in terms at once flattering and agreeable.
Thewholepointwasthatshewastobetheboss,but
thematterneededmanagingtactfully.
"Iwant,"saidEmily,"tofeelthatIcandependupon
you."
She had a lovely voice, liquid and alluring. As she
uttered the last sentence a feeling rose in Mr
Enderby's bosom that this lovely helpless girl could
dependuponhimtothelastditch.
"Itmustbeghastly,"saidMrEnderby,andtakingher
handhesqueezeditwithfervor.
"But you know," he went on with a journalistic
reaction,"mytimeisnotentirelymyown.Imean,I
havegottogowhereIamsent,andallthat."
"Yes,"saidEmily."Ihavethoughtofthat,andthatyou
seeiswhereIcomein.SurelyIamwhatyoucalla
'scoop,'aren'tI?Youcandoaninterviewwithmeevery
day, you can make me say anything that you think
yourreaderswilllike.JimPearson'sfiance.Girlwho
believespassionatelyinhisinnocence.Reminiscences
ofhischildhoodwhichshesupplies.Idon'treallyknow
about his childhood you know," she added, "but that
143

EMILYSETSTOWORK

doesn'tmatter."
"Ithink,"saidMrEnderby,"thatyouaremarvelous.
Youreallyaremarvelous."
"And then," said Emily pursuing her advantage, "I
haveaccessnaturallytoJim'srelations.Icangetyou
inthereasafriendofmine,wherequitepossiblyyou
mighthavethedoorshutinyourfaceanyotherway."
"Don't I know that only too well," said Mr Enderby
withfeeling,recallingvariousrebuffsofthepast.
A glorious prospect opened out before him. He had
beeninluckoverthisaffairallround.Firstthelucky
chanceofthefootballcompetition,andnowthis.
"It'sadeal,"hesaidfervently.
"Good," said Emily becoming brisk and businesslike.
"Now,what'sthefirstmove?"
"I'mgoinguptoSittafordthisafternoon."
He explained the fortunate circumstance which had
puthiminsuchanadvantageouspositionwithregard
toMajorBurnaby."Because,mindyou,heisthekind
of old buffer that hates newspaper men like poison.
But you can't push a chap in the face who has just
144

EMILYSETSTOWORK

handedyou5,000pounds,canyou?"
"It would beawkward," saidEmily."Well,ifyou are
goingtoSittaford,Iamcomingwithyou."
"Splendid,"saidMrEnderby."Idon'tknow,though,if
there's anywhere to stay up there. As far as I know
there's only Sittaford House and a few odd cottages
belongingtopeoplelikeBurnaby."
"Weshallfindsomething,"saidEmily."Ialwaysfind
something."
Mr Enderby could well believe that. Emily had the
kind of personality that soars triumphantly over all
obstacles.
They had arrived by now at the ruined castle, but
payingnoattentiontoit,theysatdownonapieceof
wallinthesocalledsunshineandEmilyproceededto
developherideas.
"I am looking at this, Mr Enderby, in an absolutely
unsentimentalandbusinesslikeway.You'vegottotake
itfrommetobeginwiththatJimdidn'tdothemurder.
I'mnotsayingthatsimplybecauseIaminlovewith
him,orbelieveinhisbeautifulcharacteroranything
like that. It's justwellknowledge. You see I have
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EMILYSETSTOWORK

beenonmyownprettywellsinceIwassixteen.Ihave
nevercomeintocontactwithmanywomenandIknow
verylittleaboutthem,butIknowreallyalotabout
men. And unless a girl can size up a man pretty
accurately,andknowwhat'sshe'sgottodealwith,she
willnevergeton.Ihavegoton.Iworkasamannequin
at Lucie's, and I can tell you, Mr Enderby, that to
arrivethereisafeat.
"Well, as I was saying, I can size up men pretty
accurately. Jim is rather a weak character in many
ways. I am not sure," said Emily, forgetting for a
momentherrleofadmirerofstrongmen,"thatthat's
notwhyIlikehim.ThefeelingthatIcanrunhimand
makesomethingofhim.Therearequitealotofwell
evencriminalthingsthatIcanimaginehimdoingif
pushedtoitbutnotmurder.Hesimplycouldn'tpick
upasandbagandhitanoldmanonthebackofthe
neckwithit.Hewouldmakeaboshshotandhithim
inthewrongplaceifhedid.Heisaheisagentle
creature, Mr Enderby. He doesn't even like killing
wasps.Healwaystriestoputthemoutofawindow
without hurting them and usually gets stung.
However,it'snogoodmygoingonlikethis.You'vegot
totakemywordforitandstartontheassumptionthat
Jimisinnocent."

146

EMILYSETSTOWORK

"Doyouthinkthatsomebodyisdeliberatelytryingto
fastenthecrimeonhim?"askedCharlesEnderbyin
hisbestjournalisticmanner.
"I don't think so. You see nobody knew about Jim
comingdowntoseehisUncle.Ofcourse,onecan'tbe
certain, but I should put that down as just a
coincidence and bad luck. What we have to find is
someone else with a motive for killing Captain
Trevelyan.Thepolicearequitecertainthatthisisnot
what they call an 'outside job'I mean, it wasn't a
burglar.Thebrokenopenwindowwasfaked."
"Didthepolicetellyouallthis?"
"Practically,"saidEmily.
"Whatdoyoumeanbypractically?"
"Thechambermaidtoldme,andhersisterismarried
to Constable Graves, so, of course, she knows
everythingthepolicethink."
"Verywell,"saidMrEnderby,"itwasn'tanoutsidejob.
Itwasaninsideone."
"Exactly," said Emily. "The policethat is Inspector
Narracottwho,bytheway,Ishouldthinkisanawfully
sound man, have started investigating to find who
147

EMILYSETSTOWORK

benefitsbyCaptainTrevelyan'sdeath,andwithJim
stickingoutamile,sotospeak,theywon'tbothertogo
onwithotherinvestigationsmuch.Well,that'sgotto
beourjob."
"Whatascoopitwouldbe,"saidMrEnderby,"ifyou
andIdiscoveredtherealmurderer.Thecrimeexpert
of the Daily Wirethat's the way I should be
described. But it's too good to be true," he added
despondently. "That sort of thing only happens in
books."
"Nonsense,"saidEmily,"ithappenswithme."
"You'resimplymarvelous,"saidEnderbyagain.
Emilybroughtoutalittlenotebook.
"Nowlet'sputthingsdownmethodically.Jimhimself,
hisbrotherandsister,andhisAuntJenniferbenefit
equallybyCaptainTrevelyan'sdeath.OfcourseSylvia
that's Jim's sisterwouldn't hurt a fly, but I
wouldn't put it past her husband, he's what I call a
nastysortofbrute.Youknowtheartisticnastykind,
has affairs with womenall that sort of thing. Very
likely to be in a hole financiallyThe money they'd
comeintowouldactuallybeSylvia's,butthatwouldn't
mattertohim.Hewouldsoonmanagetogetitoutof
148

EMILYSETSTOWORK

her."
"He sounds a most unpleasant person," said Mr
Enderby.
"Oh!yes.Goodlookinginaboldsortofway.Women
talk about sex with him in corners. Real men hate
him."
"Well, that's suspect No. 1," said Mr Enderby, also
writinginalittlebook."Investigatehismovementson
Fridayeasilydoneundertheguiseofinterviewwith
popularnovelistconnectedwiththecrime.Isthatall
right?"
"Splendid," said Emily. "Then there's Brian, Jim's
youngerbrother.He'ssupposedtobeinAustralia,but
hemightquiteeasilyhavecomeback.Imean,people
dosometimeswithoutsaying."
"Wecouldsendhimacable."
"Wewill.IsupposeAuntJenniferisoutofit.Fromall
I'veheardshe'sratherawonderfulperson.She'sgot
character.Still,afterall,shewasn'tveryfaraway,she
wasonlyatExeter.Shemighthavecomeovertosee
herbrother,andhemighthavesaidsomethingnasty
aboutherhusbandwhomsheadores,andshemight
149

EMILYSETSTOWORK

haveseenredandsnatchedupasandbagandbiffed
himone."
"Doyonreallythinkso?"saidMrEnderbydubiously.
"No,rotreally.Butoneneverknows.Then,ofcourse,
there'sthebatman.Heonlygets100poundsunderthe
willandheseemsallright.Butthereagain,onenever
knows.HiswifeisMrsBelling'sniece.YouknowMrs
BellingwhokeepstheThreeCrowns.IthinkIshall
weep on her shoulder when I get back. She looks
ratheramotherlyandromanticsoul.Ithinkshewould
beterriblysorryformewithmyyoungmanprobably
going to prison, and she might let slip something
useful.Andthen,ofcourse,there'sSittafordHouse.Do
youknowwhatstruckmeasqueer?"
"No,what?"
"Thesepeople,theWilletts.TheonesthattookCaptain
Trevelyan's house furnished in the middle of winter.
It'sanawfullyqueerthingtodo."
"Yes,itisodd,"agreedMrEnderby."Theremightbe
somethingatthebottomofthatsomethingtodowith
CaptainTrevelyan'spastlife.
"Thatsancebusinesswasqueertoo,"headded."I'm
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EMILYSETSTOWORK

thinkingofwritingthatupforthepaper.Getopinions
fromSirOliverLodgeandSirArthurConanDoyleand
afewactressesandpeopleaboutit."
"Whatsancebusiness?"
Mr Enderby recounted it with gusto. There was
nothing connected with the murder that he had not
managedsomehoworothertohear.
"Bitodd,isn'tit?"hefinished."Imean,itmakesyou
thinkandallthat.Maybesomethinginthesethings.
First time I've really ever come across anything
authentic."
Emily gave a slight shiver. "I hate supernatural
things,"shesaid."Justforonce,asyousay,itdoeslook
as though therewas something in it. But howhow
gruesome!"
"Thissancebusinessneverseemsverypractical,does
it? If the old boy could get through and say he was
dead,whycouldn'thesaywhomurderedhim?Itought
tobeallsosimple."
"I feel there may be a clue in Sittaford," said Emily
thoughtfully.
"Yes,Ithinkweoughttoinvestigatetherethoroughly,"
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EMILYSETSTOWORK

saidEnderby."I'vehiredacarandI'mstartingthere
in about half an hour's time. You had better come
alongwithme."
"Iwill,"saidEmily,"WhataboutMajorBurnaby?"
"He's going to track it," said Enderby. "Started
immediately after the inquest. If you ask me, he
wantedtogetoutofhavinganycompanyontheway
there. Nobody could like trudging there through all
thisslush."
"Willthecarbeabletogetupallright?"
"Oh!yes.Firstdaycarhasbeenabletogetthrough
though."
"Well,"saidEmilyrisingtoherfeet."It'sabouttimewe
went back to the Three Crowns and I will pack my
suitcaseanddoashortweepingactonMrsBelling's
shoulder."
"Don'tyouworry,"saidMrEnderbyratherfatuously.
"Youleaveeverythingtome."
"That's just what I mean to do," said Emily with a
complete lack of truth, "It's so wonderful to have
someoneyoucanreallyrelyon."

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EMILYSETSTOWORK

EmilyTrefusiswasreallyaveryaccomplishedyoung
woman.

153

EMILYSETSTOWORK

Chapter12

THEARREST
On her return to the Three Crowns, Emily had the
good fortune to run right into Mrs Belling who was
standinginthehallway.
"Oh! Mrs Belling," sheexclaimed."I am leavingthis
afternoon."
"Yes,Miss.BythefourtentraintoExeter,Miss?"
"No,IamgoinguptoSittaford."
"ToSittaford?"
Mrs Belling's countenance showed the most lively
curiosity.
"Yes,andIwantedtoaskyouifyouknewofanywhere
therewhereIcouldstay."
"Youwanttostayupthere?"
Thecuriositywasheightened.
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"Yes,thatisOh!MrsBelling,istheresomewhereI
couldspeaktoyouprivatelyforamoment?"
WithsomethinglikealacrityMrsBellingledtheway
toherownprivatesanctum.Asmallcomfortableroom
withalargefireburning.
"You won't tell anyone, will you?" began Emily,
knowingwellthatofallopeningsonearththisoneis
themostcertaintoprovokeinterestandsympathy.
"No,indeed,Miss,thatIwon't,"saidMrsBelling,her
darkeyesaglitterwithinterest.
"Yousee,MrPearsonyouknow"
"The young gentleman that stayed here on Friday?
Andthatthepolicehavearrested?"
"Arrested?Doyoumeanreallyarrested?"
"Yes,Miss.Nothalfanhourago."
Emilyhadgoneverywhite.
"Youyou'resureofthat?"
"Oh!yes,Miss.OurAmyhaditfromtheSergeant."
"It's too awful!" said Emily. She had been expecting
155

THEARREST

thisbutitwasnonethebetterforthat."Yousee,Mrs
Belling, II'm engaged to him. And he didn't do it,
and,ohdear,it'salltoodreadful!"
AndhereEmilybegantocry.Shehad,earlierinthe
day,announcedherintentionstoCharlesEnderbyof
doingso,butwhatappalledhersowaswithwhatease
the tears came. To cry at will is not an easy
accomplishment.Therewassomethingmuchtooreal
aboutthesetears.Itfrightenedher.Shemustn'treally
giveway.Givingwaywasn'ttheleastusetoJim.Tobe
resolute, logical and clear sightedthese were the
qualitiesthatweregoingtocountinthisgame.Sloppy
cryinghadneverhelpedanyoneyet.
Butitwasareliefallthesame,toletyourselfgo.After
all she had meant to cry. Crying would be an
undeniable passport to Mrs Belling's sympathy and
help.Sowhynothaveagoodcrywhileshewasabout
it. A real orgy of weeping in which all her troubles,
doubtsandunacknowledgedfearsmightfindventand
besweptaway.
"There,there,mydear,don'teetakeonso,"saidMrs
Belling.
SheputalargemotherlyarmroundEmily'sshoulders
andpattedherconsolingly.
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THEARREST

"Said from the start I have that he didn't do it. A


regularnice young gentleman. A lot of chuckleheads
the police are, and so I've said before now. Some
thievingtrampisagreatdealmorelikely.Now,don't
eefret,mydear,it'llallcomeright,youseeifitdon't."
"Iamsodreadfullyfondofhim,"wailedEmily.
Dear Jim, dear, sweet, boyish, helpless, impractical
Jim. So utterly to be depended on to do the wrong
thingatthewrongmoment.Whatpossiblechancehad
he got against that steady, resolute Inspector
Narracott?
"Wemustsavehim,"shewailed.
"Of course, we will. Of course, we will," Mrs Belling
consoledher.
Emilydabbedhereyesvigorously,gaveonelastsniff
andgulp,andraisingherheaddemandedfiercely:
"WherecanIstayatSittaford?"
"UptoSittaford?You'resetongoingthere,mydear?"
"Yes,"Emilynoddedvigorously.
"Well,now,"MrsBellingcogitatedthematter."There's
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THEARREST

only one place for ee to stay. There's not much to


Sittaford. There's the big house, Sittaford House,
whichCaptainTrevelyanbuilt,andthat'sletnowtoa
South African lady. And there's the six cottages he
built,andNo.5ofthemcottageshadgotCurtis,what
usedtobegardeneratSittafordHouse,init,andMrs
Curtis. She lets rooms in the summer time, the
Captain allowing her to do so. There's nowhere else
you could stay and that's a fact. There's the
blacksmith's and the post office, but Mary Hibbert,
she'sgotsixchildrenandhersisterinlawlivingwith
her, and the blacksmith's wife she's expecting her
eighth,sotherewon'tbesomuchasacornerthere.
But,howareyougoingtogetuptoSittaford,Miss?
Haveyouhiredacar?"
"IamgoingtoshareMrEnderby's."
"Ah,andwherewillhebestayingIwonder?"
"IsupposehewillhavetobeputupatMrsCurtis's
too.Willshehaveroomforbothofus?"
"Idon'tknowthatthatwilllookquiterightforayoung
ladylikeyou,"saidMrsBelling.
"He'smycousin,"saidEmily.

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THEARREST

On no account, she felt, must a sense of propriety


intervenetoworkagainstherinMrsBelling'smind.
The landlady's brow cleared. "Well, that may be all
rightthen,"sheallowedgrudgingly,"andlikelyasnot
ifyou'renotcomfortablewithMrsCurtistheywould
putyouupatthebighouse."
"I'msorryI'vebeensuchanidiot,"saidEmilymopping
oncemoreathereyes.
"It'sonlynatural,mydear.Andyoufeelbetterforit."
"Ido,"saidEmilytruthfully."Ifeelmuchbetter."
"Agoodcryandagoodcupofteathere'snothingto
beatthem,andanicecupofteayoushallhaveatonce,
mydear,beforeyoustartoffonthatcolddrive."
"Oh,thankyou,butIdon'tthinkIreallywant"
"Nevermindwhatyouwant,it'swhatyou'regoingto
have,"saidMrsBellingrisingwithdeterminationand
movingtowardsthedoor."AndyoutellAmeliaCurtis
frommethatshe'stolookafteryouandseeyoutake
yourfoodproperandseeyoudon'tfret."
"Youarekind,"saidEmily.

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THEARREST

"Andwhat'smoreIshallkeepmyeyesandearsopen
downhere,"saidMrsBellingenteringwithrelishinto
herpartoftheromance."There'smanyalittlething
thatIhearthatnevergoestothepolice.Andanything
IdohearI'llpassontoyou,Miss."
"Willyoureally?"
"ThatIwill.Don'teeworry,mydear,we'llhaveyour
younggentlemanoutofhistroubleinnotime."
"Imustgoandpack,"saidEmilyrising.
"I'llsendtheteauptoyou,"saidMrsBelling.Emily
went upstairs, packed her few belongings into her
suitcase,spongedhereyeswithcoldwaterandapplied
aliberalallowanceofpowder.
"You have made yourself look a sight," she
apostrophized herself in the glass. She added more
powderandatouchofrouge.
"Curious," said Emily, "how much better I feel. It's
worththepuffylook."
Sherangthebell.Thechambermaid(thesympathetic
sisterinlaw of Constable Graves) came promptly.
Emilypresentedherwithapoundnoteandbeggedher
earnestlytopassonanyinformationshemightacquire
160

THEARREST

in roundabout ways from police circles. The girl


promisedreadily.
"MrsCurtis'suptoSittaford?Iwillindeed,Miss.Do
anything that I will. We all feel for you, Miss, more
thanIcansay.AllthetimeIkeepsayingtomyself,
'Just fancy if it was you and Fred,' I keep saying. I
would be distractedthat I would. The leastthing I
hearsI'llpassitontoyou,Miss."
"Youangel,"saidEmily.
"Just like a sixpenny I got at Woolworth's the other
day,TheSyringaMurdersitwascalled.Anddoyou
knowwhatledthemtofindtherealmurderer,Miss?
Justabitofcommonsealingwax.Yourgentlemanis
goodlooking,Miss,isn'the?Quiteunlikehispicturein
thepapers.I'msureI'lldoanythingIcan,Miss,for
youandforhim."
Thusthecenterofromanticattention,Emilyleftthe
ThreeCrownshavingdulygulpeddownthecupoftea
prescribedbyMrsBelling.
"By the way," she said to Enderby as the aged Ford
sprangforward,"youaremycousin,don'tforget."
"Why?"
161

THEARREST

"They've got such pure minds in the country," said


Emily."Ithoughtitwouldbebetter."
"Splendid.Inthatcase,"saidMrEnderbyrisingtohis
opportunities,"IhadbettercallyouEmily."
"Allright,cousinwhat'syourname?"
"Charles."
"Allright,Charles."
ThecarwentupwardsontheSittafordroad.

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THEARREST

Chapter13

SITTAFORD
Emily was rather fascinated by her first view of
Sittaford.Turningoffthemainroadabouttwomiles
from Exhampton, they went upwards over a rough
moorland road until theyreached a village that was
situatedrightontheedgeofthemoor.Itconsistedofa
smithy, and a combined post office and sweet shop.
Fromtheretheyfollowedalaneandcametoarowof
newlybuiltsmallgranitebungalows.Atthesecondof
thesethecarstoppedandthedrivervolunteeredthe
informationthatthiswasMrsCurtis's.
Mrs Curtis was a small, thin, gray haired woman,
energeticandshrewishindisposition.Shewasallagog
with the news of the murder which had only
penetratedtoSittafordthatmorning.
"Yes,ofcourseIcantakeyouin,Miss,andyourcousin
too,ifhecanjustwaituntilIshiftafewduds.You
won't mind having your meals along of us, I don't
suppose? Well, who would have believed it! Captain
163

SITTAFORD

Trevelyan murdered and an inquest and all! Cut off


fromtheworldwe'vebeensinceFridaymorning,and
this morning when the news came you could have
knockedmedownwithafeather.'TheCaptain'sdead,'
IsaidtoCurtis,'thatshowsyouthewickednessthere
isintheworldnowadays.'ButI'mkeepingyoutalking
here, Miss. Come away in and the gentleman too. I
havegotthekettleonandyoushallhaveacupoftea
immediately,foryoumustbeperishedbythedriveup,
though of course, it's warmer today after what it's
been.Eightandtenfeetthesnowhasbeenhereabout."
Drowned in this sea of talk, Emily and Charles
Enderbywereshowntheirnewquarters.Emilyhada
smallsquareroom,scrupulouslyclean,lookingoutand
uptotheslopeofSittafordBeacon.Charles'sroomwas
asmallslitfacingthefrontifthehouseandthelane,
containing a bed and a microscopic chest of drawers
andwashstand.
"Thegreatthingis,"heobservedafterthedriverofthe
carhaddisposedhissuitcaseuponthebed,andhad
beendulypaidandthanked,"thatwearehere.Ifwe
don't know all there is to be known about everyone
livinginSittafordwithinthenextquarterofanhour,
I'lleatmyhat."
Tenminuteslater,theyweresittingdownstairsinthe
164

SITTAFORD

comfortable kitchen, being introduced to Curtis, a


rather gruff looking grayhaired old man, and being
regaledwithstrongtea,breadandbutter,Devonshire
creamandhardboiledeggs.Whiletheyateanddrank
they listened. Within half an hour they knew
everything there was to be known about the
inhabitantsofthesmallcommunity.
FirsttherewasMissPercehouse,wholivedinNo.4
TheCottages,aspinsterofuncertainyearsandtemper
who had come down here to die, according to Mrs
Curtis,sixyearsago.
"Butbelieveitornot,Miss,theairofSittafordisthat
healthy that she picked up from the day she came.
Wonderfullypureairforlungsitis.
"Miss Percehouse has a nephew who occasionally
comesdowntoseeher,"shewenton,"andindeedhe's
stayingwithheratthepresenttime.Seeingtoitthat
themoneydoesn'tgooutofthefamily,that'swhathe's
doing.Verydullforayounggentlemanatthistimeof
year.Butthere,there'smorewaysthanoneofamusing
yourself,andhiscominghasbeenaprovidenceforthe
youngladyatSittafordHouse.Pooryoungthing,the
ideaofbringinghertothatgreatbarrackofahousein
thewintertime.Selfishiswhatsomemothersare.A
veryprettyyounglady,too.MrRonaldGarfieldisup
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SITTAFORD

there as often as he can be without neglecting Miss


Percehouse."
Charles Enderby and Emily exchanged glances.
Charles remembered that Ronald Garfield had been
mentioned as one of the party present at the table
turning.
"Thecottagethissideofmine,No.6,"continuedMrs
Curtis, "has only just been took. Gentleman of the
name of Duke. That is if you would call him a
gentleman. Of course, he may be and he may not.
There'snosaying,folksaren'tsoparticularnowadays
astheyusedtobe.He'sbeenmadefreeoftheplacein
theheartiestmanner.Abashfulsortofgentlemanhe
ismight be a military gentleman from the look of
him,butsomehowhehasn'tgotthemanner.Notlike
Major Burnaby, that you would know as a military
gentlemanthefirsttimeyouclappedeyesonhim.
"No. 3, that's Mr Rycroft's, little elderly gentleman.
Theydosaythatheusedtogoafterbirdstooutlandish
parts for the British Museum. What they call a
naturalistheis.Alwaysoutandroamingoverthemoor
when the weather permits. And he has a very fine
libraryofbooks.Hiscottageisnearlyallbookcases.
"No.2isaninvalidgentleman's,aCaptainWyattwith
166

SITTAFORD

an Indian servant. And poor fellow he does feel the


cold, he does. The servant I mean, not the Captain.
Coming from warm outlandish parts, it's no wonder.
Theheattheykeepupinsidethehousewouldfrighten
you.It'slikewalkingintoanoven.
"No.1isMajorBurnaby'scottage.Livesbyhimselfhe
does,andIgointodoforhimearlymornings.Heisa
very neat gentleman, he is, and very particular. He
and Captain Trevelyan were as thick as thieves.
Friendsofalifetimetheywere.Andtheybothhavethe
samekindofoutlandishheadsstuckuponthewalls."
"AsforMrs Willett andMiss Willett,that'swhat no
onecanmakeout.Plentyofmoneythere.AmosParker
at Exhampton they deal with, and he tells me their
weeklybookcomestowellovereightpoundsornine
pounds.Youwouldn'tbelievetheeggsthatgoesinto
thathouse!BroughttheirmaidservantsfromExeter
withthem,theydid,buttheydon'tlikeitandwantto
leave,andI'msureIdon'tblamethem.MrsWillet,she
sendsthemintoExetertwiceaweekinhercar,and
what with that and the living being so good, they
agreed to stop on, but if you ask me it's a queer
business,buryingyourselfinthecountrylikethis,a
smartladylikethat.Well,well,IsupposeIhadbetter
beclearingawaytheseteathings."
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SITTAFORD

ShedrewadeepbreathandsodidCharlesandEmily.
Thelotofinformationloosenedwithsolittledifficulty
hadalmostoverwhelmedthem.
Charlesventuredtoputaquestion.
"HasMajorBurnabygotbackyet?"heasked.
MrsCurtispausedatonce,trayinhand."Yes,indeed,
sir,cametrampinginjustthesameaseverabouthalf
anhourbeforeyouarrived.'Why,sir,'Icriedtohim.
'You've never walked all the way from Exhampton?'
Andhesaysinhissternway,'Whynot?Ifamanhas
gottwolegshedoesn'tneedfourwheels.Idoitoncea
weekanywayasyouknow,MrsCurtis.''Oh,yes,sir,'I
says,'butthisisdifferent.Whatwiththeshockand
themurderandtheinquestit'swonderfulyou'vegot
the strength to do it.' But he only grunted like and
walkedon.Helooksbadthough.It'samiracleheever
gotthroughonFridaynight.BraveIcallitathisage,
tramping off like that and three miles of it in a
snowstorm.Youmaysaywhatyoulike,butnowadays
theyounggentlemenaren't apatchontheoldones.
ThatMrRonaldGarfieldhewouldneverhavedoneit,
andit'smyopinion,andit'stheopinionofMrsHibbert
atthepostoffice,andit'stheopinionofMrPound,the
blacksmith,thatMrGarfieldoughtnevertohavelet
168

SITTAFORD

himgooffalonethewayhedid.Heshouldhavegone
with him. If Major Burnaby had been lost in a
snowdrift,everybodywouldhaveblamedMrGarfield.
Andthat'safact."
Shedisappearedtriumphantlytothesculleryamida
clatterofteathings.
MrCurtisthoughtfullyremovedanagedpipefromthe
rightsideofhismouthtotheleftside.
"Women,"hesaid,"talkalot."
Hepausedandthenmurmured.
"Andhalfthetimetheydon'tknowthetruthofwhat
theyaretalkingabout."
Emily and Charles received this announcement in
silence. Seeing that no more was coming, however,
Charles murmured approvingly, "That's very true
yes,verytrue."
"Ah!"saidMrCurtis,andrelapsedintoapleasantand
contemplativesilence.
Charles rose. "I think I'll go round and see old
Burnaby,"hesaid,"tellhimthecameraparadewillbe
tomorrowmorning."
169

SITTAFORD

"I'llcomewithyou,"saidEmily."Iwanttoknowwhat
he really thinks about Jim and what ideas he has
aboutthecrimeingeneral."
"Have you got any rubber boots or anything? It's
awfullyslushy."
"I bought some Wellingtons in Exhampton," said
Emily.
"What a practical girl you are. You think of
everything."
"Unfortunately,"saidEmily,"that'snotmuchhelpto
youinfindingoutwho'sdoneamurder.Itmighthelp
onetodoamurder,"sheaddedreflectively.
"Well,don'tmurderme,"saidMrEnderby.
They went out together. Mrs Curtis immediately
returned.
"TheybegoneroundtotheMajor's,"saidMrCurtis.
"Ah!"saidMrsCurtis."Now,whatdoyouthink?Are
they sweethearting, or are they not? A lot of harm
comes of cousins marrying so they say. Deaf and
dumbsandhalfwitsandalotofotherevils.He'ssweet
onher,thatyoucanseeeasilyenough.Asforher,she's
170

SITTAFORD

adeeponelikemyGreatAuntSarah'sBelinda,sheis.
Gotawaywithherandwiththemen.Iwonderwhat
she'safternow?DoyouknowwhatIthink,Curtis?"
MrCurtisgrunted.
"Thisyounggentlemanthatthepoliceareholdingon
accountofthemurder,it'smybeliefthathe'stheone
she'sseton.Andshe'scomeupheretonoseaboutand
seewhatshecanfindout.Andmarkmywords,"said
MrsCurtis,rattlingchina,"ifthere'sanythingtofind
outshewillfindit!"

171

SITTAFORD

Chapter14

THEWILLETTS
AtthesamemomentthatCharlesandEmilystarted
out to visit Major Burnaby, Inspector Narracott was
seatedinthedrawingroomofSittafordHouse,trying
toformulateanimpressionofMrsWillett.
Hehadnotbeenabletointerviewhersoonerasthe
roadshadbeenimpassableuntilthismorning.Hehad
hardly known what he had expected to find, but
certainly not what hehadfound.It was Mrs Willett
whohadtakenchargeofthesituation,nothe.
She had come rushing into the room, thoroughly
businesslikeandefficient.Hesawatallwoman,thin
faced and keen eyed. She was wearing rather an
elaborateknittedsilkjumpersuitthatwasjustover
theborderlineofunsuitabilityforcountrywear.Her
stockings were of very expensive gossamer silk, her
shoes high heeled patent leather. She wore several
valuableringsandratheralargequantityofverygood
andexpensiveimitationpearls.
172

THEWILLETTS

"Inspector Narracott?" said Mrs Willett. "Naturally,


you want to come over the house. What a shocking
tragedy!Icouldhardlybelieveit.Weonlyheardabout
itthismorning,youknow.Wewereterriblyshocked.
Sitdown,won'tyou,Inspector?Thisismydaughter,
Violet."
Hehadhardlynoticedthegirlwhohadfollowedherin,
andyet,shewasaveryprettygirl,tallandfairwith
bigblueeyes.
MrsWillettherselftookaseat.
"IsthereanywayinwhichIcanhelpyou,Inspector?I
knewverylittleofpoorCaptainTrevelyan,butifthere
isanythingyoucanthinkof"
TheInspectorsaidslowly:
"Thankyou,madam.Ofcourse,oneneverknowswhat
maybeusefulorwhatmaynot."
"Iquiteunderstand.Theremaypossiblybesomething
in the house that may throw light upon this sad
business, but I rather doubt it. Captain Trevelyan
removedallhispersonalbelongings.HeevenfearedI
shouldtamperwithhisfishingrods,poor,dearman."
Shelaughedalittle.
173

THEWILLETTS

"Youwerenotacquaintedwithhim?"
"BeforeItookthehouse,youmean?Oh!no.I'veasked
him here several times since, but he never came.
Terriblyshy,poordear.Thatwaswhatwasthematter
withhim.I'veknowndozensofmenlikeit.Theyare
calledwomenhatersandallsortsofsillythings,and
reallyallthetimeit'sonlyshyness.IfIcouldhavegot
athim,"saidMrsWillettwithdetermination,"I'dsoon
havegotoverallthatnonsense.Thatsortofmanonly
wantsbringingout."
Inspector Narracott began to understand Captain
Trevelyan's strongly defensive attitude towards his
tenants.
"We both asked him," continued Mrs Willett. "Didn't
we,Violet?"
"Oh!yes,mother."
"Arealsimplesailoratheart,"saidMrsWillett."Every
womanlovesasailor,InspectorNarracott."
ItoccurredtoInspectorNarracottatthisjuncturethat
the interview so far had been run entirely by Mrs
Willett.Hewasconvincedthatshewasanexceedingly
clever woman. She might be as innocent as she
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THEWILLETTS

appeared.Ontheotherhandshemightnot.
"The point Iam anxious to get information about is
this,"hesaidandpaused.
"Yes,Inspector?"
"MajorBurnaby,asyoudoubtlessknow,discoveredthe
body.Hewasledtodosobyanaccidentthatoccurred
inthishouse."
"Youmean?"
"Imean,thetableturning.Ibegyourpardon"
Heturnedsharply.
Afaintsoundhadcomefromthegirl.
"PoorViolet,"saidhermother."Shewasterriblyupset
indeed we all were! Most unaccountable. I'm not
superstitious,butreallyitwasthemostunaccountable
thing."
"Itdidoccurthen?"
MrsWillettopenedhereyesverywide.
"Occur?Ofcourseitoccurred.AtthetimeIthoughtit
wasajokeamostunfeelingjokeandoneinverybad
175

THEWILLETTS

taste.IsuspectedyoungRonaldGarfield"
"Oh! no, mother. I'm sure he didn't. He absolutely
sworehedidn't."
"I'msayingwhatIthoughtatthetime,Violet.What
couldonethinkitbutajoke?"
"Itwascurious,"saidtheInspectorslowly."Youwere
veryupset,MrsWillett?"
"Weall were.Uptothenit hadbeen,oh,justlight
heartedfooling.Youknowthesortofthing.Goodfun
onawinter'sevening.Andthensuddenlythis!Iwas
veryangry."
"Angry?"
"Well, naturally. I thought someone was doing it
deliberatelyforajoke,asIsay."
"Andnow?"
"Now?"
"Yes,whatdoyouthinknow?"
MrsWillettspreadherhandsoutexpressively.
"Idon'tknowwhattothink.Itit'suncanny."
176

THEWILLETTS

"Andyou,MissWillett?"
"I?"
Thegirlstarted.
"IIdon'tknow.Ishallneverforgetit.Idreamofit.I
shallneverdaretodotableturningagain."
"MrRycroftwouldsayitwasgenuine,Isuppose,"said
her mother. "He believes in all that sort of thing.
ReallyI'minclinedtobelieveinitmyself.Whatother
explanation is there except that it was a genuine
messagefromaspirit?"
TheInspectorshookhishead.Thetableturninghad
beenhisredherring.Hisnextremarkwasmostcasual
sounding.
"Don't you find it very bleak here in winter, Mrs
Willett?"
"Oh!weloveit.Suchachange.We'reSouthAfricans,
youknow."
Hertonewasbriskandordinary.
"Really?WhatpartofSouthAfrica?"
"Oh! the Cape. Violet has never been in England
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THEWILLETTS

before.Sheisenchantedwithitfindsthesnowmost
romantic.Thishouseisreallymostcomfortable."
"Whatledyoutocometothispartoftheworld?"There
wasjustgentlecuriosityinhisvoice.
"We've read so many books on Devonshire, and
especially onDartmoor.We werereading one onthe
boatall about Widdecombe Fair. I've always had a
hankeringtoseeDartmoor."
"WhatmadeyoufixonExhampton?It'snotaverywell
knownlittletown."
"WellwewerereadingthesebooksasItoldyou,and
therewasaboyonboardwhotalkedaboutExhampton
hewassoenthusiasticaboutit."
"What was his name?" asked the Inspector. "Did he
comefromthispartoftheworld?"
"Now,whatwashisname?CullenIthink.Noitwas
Smythe. How stupid of me. I really can't remember.
Youknowhowitisonboardship,Inspector,yougetto
know people so well and plan to meet againand a
week after you've landed, you can't even be sure of
theirnames!"
Shelaughed.
178

THEWILLETTS

"Buthewassuchaniceboynotgoodlooking,reddish
hair,butadelightfulsmile."
"And on the strength of that you decided to take a
houseintheseparts?"saidtheInspectorsmiling.
"Yes,wasn'titmadofus?"
"Clever," thought Narracott. "Distinctly clever." He
began to realise Mrs Willett's methods. She always
carriedthewarintotheenemy'scountry.
"Soyouwrotetothehouseagentsandinquiredabouta
house?"
"Yesand they sent us particulars of Sittaford. It
soundedjustwhatwewanted."
"Itwouldn'tbemytasteatthistimeofyear,"saidthe
Inspectorwithalaugh.
"Idaresayitwouldn'tbeoursifwelivedinEngland,"
saidMrsWillettbrightly.
TheInspectorrose.
"Howdidyouknowthenameofahouseagenttowrite
to in Exhampton?" he asked. "That must have
presentedadifficulty."
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THEWILLETTS

Therewasapause.Thefirstpauseintheconversation.
Hethoughthecaughtaglimpseofvexation,more,of
angerinMrsWillett'seyes.Hehadhituponsomething
to which she had not thought out the answer. She
turnedtowardsherdaughter.
"Howdidwe,Violet?Ican'tremember."
Therewasadifferentlookinthegirl'seyes.Shelooked
frightened.
"Why,ofcourse,"saidMrsWillett."Delfridges.Their
informationbureau.It'stoowonderful.Ialwaysgoand
inquirethereabouteverything.Iaskedthemthename
ofthebestagenthereandtheytoldme."
"Quick," thought the Inspector. "Very quick. But not
quitequickenough.Ihadyouthere,madam."
He made a cursory examination of the house. There
was nothing there. No papers, no locked drawers or
cupboards.
MrsWillettaccompaniedhimtalkingbrightly.Hetook
hisleave,thankingherpolitely.
Ashedepartedhecaughtaglimpseofthegirl'sface
over her shoulder. There was no mistaking the
expressiononherface.
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THEWILLETTS

Itwasfearhesawonhercountenance.Fearwritten
thereplainlyatthismomentwhenshethoughtherself
unobserved.
MrsWillettwasstilltalking.
"Alas.Wehaveonegravedrawbackhere.Thedomestic
problem, Inspector. Servants will not stand these
countryplaces.Allofminehavebeenthreateningto
leaveus for some time,andthenews ofthe murder
seems to have unsettled them utterly. I don't know
whatIshalldo.Perhapsmenservantswouldanswer
the case.That iswhat the RegistryOffice in Exeter
advised."
The Inspector answered mechanically. He was not
listeningtoherflowoftalk.Hewasthinkingofthe
expressionhehadsurprisedonthegirl'sface.
Mrs Willett had been cleverbut not quite clever
enough.
Hewentawaycogitatingonhisproblem.
If the Willetts had nothing to do with Captain
Trevelyan'sdeath,whywasVioletWillettafraid?
Hefiredhislastshot.Withhisfootactuallyoverthe
thresholdofthefrontdoorheturnedback.
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THEWILLETTS

"Bytheway,"hesaid,"youknowyoungPearson,don't
you?"
There was no doubt of the pause this time. A dead
silenceofaboutasecond.ThenMrsWillettspoke:
"Pearson?"shesaid."Idon'tthink"
She was interrupted. A queer sighing breath came
fromtheroombehindherandthenthesoundofafall.
The Inspector was over the threshold and into the
roominaflash.
VioletWilletthadfainted.
"Poor child," cried Mrs Willett. "All this strain and
shock. That dreadful table turning business and the
murderonthetopofit.Sheisn'tstrong.Thankyouso
much,Inspector.Yes,onthesofaplease.Ifyouwould
ringthebell.No,Idon'tthinkthereisanythingmore
youcando.Thankyousomuch."
TheInspectorwentdownthedrivewithhislipssetin
agrimline.
JimPearsonwasengagedheknew,tothatextremely
charminglookinggirlhehadseeninLondon.
WhythenshouldVioletWillettfaintatthementionof
182

THEWILLETTS

his name? What was the connection between Jim


PearsonandtheWilletts?
Hepausedindecisivelyasheemergedfromthefront
gate.Thenhetookfromhispocketasmallnotebook.
Initwasenteredalistoftheinhabitantsofthesix
bungalowsbuiltbyCaptainTrevelyanwithafewbrief
remarks against each name. Inspector Narracott's
stubby forefinger paused at the entry against No. 6
TheCottages.
"Yes,"hesaidtohimself."I'dbetterseehimnext."
Hestrodebrisklydownthelaneandbeatafirmrattat
on the knocker ofNo. 6the bungalow inhabitedby
MrDuke.

183

THEWILLETTS

Chapter15

VISITTOMAJOR
BURNABY
LeadingthewayupthepathtotheMajor'sfrontdoor,
MrEnderbyrappeduponitinacheeryfashion.The
door was flung open almost immediately and Major
Burnaby,redintheface,appearedonthethreshold.
"It'syou,isit?"heobservedwithnoverygreatfervor
inhisvoice,andwasabouttogooninthesamestrain
when he caught sight of Emily and his expression
altered.
"ThisisMissTrefusis,"saidCharleswiththeairofone
producingtheaceoftrumps."Shewasveryanxiousto
seeyou."
"MayIcomein?"saidEmilywithhersweetestsmile.
"Oh!yes.Certainly.OfcourseOh,yes,ofcourse."
Stumbling in his speech the Major backed into the
184

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

livingroom ofhis cottageandbeganpullingforward


chairsandpushingasidetables.
Emily,aswasherfashion,camestraighttothepoint.
"Yousee,MajorBurnaby,IamengagedtoJimJim
Pearson, you know. And naturally I am terribly
anxiousabouthim."
IntheactofpushingatabletheMajorpausedwithhis
mouthopen.
"Oh dear," he said, "that's a bad business. My dear
younglady,IammoresorryaboutitthanIcansay."
"Major Burnaby, tell me honestly. Do you yourself
believeheisguilty?Oh,youneedn'tmindsayingifyou
do.Iwouldahundredtimesratherpeopledidn'tlieto
me."
"No,Idonotthinkhimguilty,"saidtheMajorinaloud
assertive voice. He hit a cushion once or twice
vigorously,andthensatdownfacingEmily."Thechap
isaniceyoungchap.Mindyou,hemightbeabitweak.
Don'tbeoffendedifIsaythathe'sthekindofyoung
fellowthatmighteasilygowrongiftemptationcamein
hisway.Butmurderno.Andmindyou,Iknowwhat
I am talking abouta lot of subalterns have passed
throughmyhandsinmytime.It'sthefashiontomake
185

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

funatretiredarmyofficersnowadays,butweknowa
thingortwoallthesame,MissTrefusis."
"I'msureyoudo,"saidEmily."I'mawfullygratefulto
youforsayingwhatyou'vedone."
"Havehaveawhiskyandsoda?"saidtheMajor."I'm
afraidthere'snothingelse,"hesaidapologetically.
"No,thankyou,MajorBurnaby."
"Someplainsodathen?"
"No,thankyou,"saidEmily.
"Ioughttobeabletoproducetea,"saidtheMajorwith
atouchofwistfulness.
"We've had it," said Charles. "At Mrs Curtis's," he
added.
"MajorBurnaby,"saidEmily,"Whodoyouthinkdidit,
haveyouanyideaatall?"
"No. I am damnederbotherif I have," said the
Major."Tookitforgranteditwassomechapthatbroke
in,butnowthepolicesaythatcan't beso.Well,it's
their job, and I suppose they know best. They say
nobodybrokein,soIsupposenobodydidbreakin.But
186

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

all the same it beats me, Miss Trefusis, Trevelyan


hadn'tanenemyintheworldasfarasIknow."
"Andyouwouldknowifanybodydid,"saidEmily.
"Yes,IsupposeIknewmoreofTrevelyanthanmanyof
hisrelationsdid."
"Andyoucan'tthinkofanythinganythingthatwould
help,inanyway?"askedEmily.
TheMajorpulledathisshortmustache.
"I know what you're thinking. Like in books there
ought to be some little incident that I should
remember that wouldbea clue.Well, I'm sorry, but
there isn't any such thing. Trevelyan just led an
ordinary normal life. Got very few letters and wrote
less.Therewerenofemalecomplicationsinhislife,I
amsureofthat.No,itbeatsme,MissTrefusis."
Allthreeweresilent.
"Whataboutthatservantofhis?"askedCharles.
"Beenwithhimforyears.Absolutelyfaithful."
"Hehadmarriedlately,"saidCharles.
"Marriedaperfectlydecentrespectablegirl."
187

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"Major Burnaby," said Emily, "forgive me putting it


thiswaybutdidn'tyougetthewinduprathereasily
abouthim?"
TheMajorrubbedhisnosewiththeembarrassedair
thatalwayscameoverhimwhenthetableturningwas
mentioned.
"Yes, there's no denying it, I did. I knew the whole
thingwastommyrotandyet"
"Youfeltsomehowitwasn't,"saidEmilyhelpfully.
TheMajornodded.
"That'swhyIwonder"saidEmily.
Thetwomenlookedather.
"Ican'tquiteputwhatImeaninthewayIwant,"said
Emily."What I meanisthis: You say thatyoudon't
believeinallthistableturningbusinessandyet,in
spiteoftheawfulweatherandwhatmusthaveseemed
to you the absurdity of the whole thingyou felt so
uneasy that you hadtosetout, no matter what the
weatherconditions,andseeforyourselfthatCaptain
Trevelyanwasallright.Well,don'tyouthinkthatmay
have been becausebecause there was something in
theatmosphere.
188

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"I mean," she continued desperately as she saw no


traceofcomprehensionintheMajor'sface,"thatthere
was something in someone else's mind as well as
yours.Andthatsomehoworotheryoufeltit."
"Well, I don't know," said the Major. He rubbed his
noseagain."Ofcourse,"headdedhopefully,"womendo
takethesethingsseriously."
"Women!" said Emily. "Yes," she murmured softly to
herself,"Ibelievesomehoworotherthat'sit."
SheturnedabruptlytoMajorBurnaby.
"Whataretheylike,theseWilletts?"
"Oh,well,"MajorBurnabycastaboutinhismind,he
was clearly no good at personal descriptions "Well
they are very kind you knowvery helpful and all
that."
"Why do they want to take a house like Sittaford
Houseatthistimeofyear?"
"I can't imagine," said the Major. "Nobody does," he
added.
"Don'tyouthinkit'sveryqueer?"persistedEmily.

189

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"Ofcourse,it'squeer.However,there'snoaccounting
fortastes.That'swhattheInspectorsaid."
"That'snonsense,"saidEmily."Peopledon'tdothings
withoutareason."
"Well, I don't know," said Major Burnaby cautiously.
"Somepeopledon't.Youwouldn't,MissTrefusis.But
somepeople"Hesighedandshookhishead.
"You are sure they hadn't met Captain Trevelyan
before?"
TheMajorscoutedtheidea.Trevelyanwouldhavesaid
somethingtohim.No,hewasasastonishedhimselfas
anyonecouldbe.
"Sohethoughtitqueer?"
"Ofcourse,I'vejusttoldyouwealldid."
"What was Mrs Willett's attitude towards Captain
Trevelyan?"askedEmily."Didshetryandavoidhim?"
AfaintchucklecamefromtheMajor.
"No,indeedshedidn't.Pesteredthelifeoutofhim
alwaysaskinghimtocomeandseethem."
"Oh!" said Emily thoughtfully. She paused and then
190

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

said, "So she mightjust possibly she might have


taken Sittaford House just on purpose to get
acquaintedwithCaptainTrevelyan."
"Well,"theMajorseemedtoturnitoverinhismind.
"Yes,Isupposeshemighthave.Ratheranexpensive
wayofdoingthings."
"I don't know," said Emily. "Captain Trevelyan
wouldn't have been an easy person to get to know
otherwise."
"No,hewouldn't,"agreedthelateCaptainTrevelyan's
friend.
"Iwonder,"saidEmily.
"TheInspectorthoughtofthattoo,"saidBurnaby.
Emily felt a sudden irritation against Inspector
Narracott.Everythingthatshethoughtofseemedto
havealreadybeenthoughtofbytheInspector.Itwas
gallingtoayoungwomanwhopridedherselfonbeing
sharperthanotherpeople.
Sheroseandheldoutherhand.
"Thankyouverymuch,"shesaidsimply.

191

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"I wish I could help you more," said the Major. "I'm
ratheranobvioussortofpersonalwayshavebeen.If
I were a clever chap I might be able to hit upon
somethingthatmightbeaclue.Atanyratecounton
meforanythingyouwant."
"Thankyou,"saidEmily."Iwill."
"Goodby, sir," saidEnderby. "Ishall bealonginthe
morningwithmycamerayouknow."
Burnabygrunted.
EmilyandCharlesretracedtheirstepstoMrsCurtis's.
"Comeintomyroom,Iwanttotalktoyou,"saidEmily.
ShesatontheonechairandCharlessatonthebed.
Emilypluckedoffherhatandsentitspinningintoa
corneroftheroom.
"Now, listen," she said. "I think I've got a kind of
startingpoint.ImaybewrongandImayberight,at
anyrateit'sanidea.Ithinkalothingesonthistable
turning business. You've done table turning, haven't
you?"
"Oh,yes,nowandthen.Notseriousyouknow."
192

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"No,ofcoursenot.It'sthekindofthingonedoesona
wetafternoon,andeveryoneaccuseseveryoneelseof
shoving. Well, if you've played it you know what
happens. The table starts spelling out, say, a name,
well, it's a name somebody knows. Very often they
recognizeitatonceandhopeitisn'tgoingtobethat,
andallthetimeunconsciouslytheyarewhatonecalls
shoving.Imeansortofrecognizingthingsmakesone
give an involuntary jerk when the next letter comes
andstopsthething.Andthelessyouwanttodothat
sometimesthemoreithappens."
"Yes,that'strue,"agreedMrEnderby.
"Idon'tbelieveforamomentinspiritsoranythinglike
that.Butsupposingthatoneofthosepeoplewhowere
playing knew that Captain Trevelyan was being
murderedatthatminute"
"Oh, I say," protested Charles, "that's awfully
farfetched."
"Well,itneedn'tbequitesocrudeasthat.Yes,Ithink
itmustbe.Wearejusttakingahypothesisthat'sall.
We are asserting that somebody knew that Captain
Trevelyanwasdeadandabsolutelycouldn'thidetheir
knowledge.Thetablebetrayedthem."

193

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"It's awfully ingenious," said Charles, "but I don't


believeforaminuteit'strue."
"We'llassumethatitistrue,"saidEmilyfirmly."Iam
surethatindetectionofcrimeyoumustn'tbeafraidto
assumethings."
"Oh, I'm quite agreeable," said Mr Enderby. "We'll
assumethatitistrueanythingyoulike."
"So what we have to do," said Emily, "is to consider
verycarefullythepeoplewhowereplaying.Tobegin
withthere's MajorBurnaby andMr Rycroft. Well,it
seemswildlyunlikelythateitherofthemshouldhave
an accomplice who was the murderer. Then there is
thisMrDuke.Well,forthemomentweknownothing
abouthim.Hehasonlyjustarrivedherelatelyandof
course,hemightbeasinisterstrangerpartofagang
or something. We will put X against his name. And
now we come to the Willetts. Charles, there is
somethingawfullymysteriousabouttheWilletts."
"What on earth have they got to gain from Captain
Trevelyan'sdeath?"
"Well,onthefaceofit,nothing.Butifmytheoryis
correcttheremustbeaconnectionsomewhere.We've
gottofindwhatistheconnection."
194

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

"Right," said Mr Enderby. "And supposing it's all a


mare'snest?"
"Well,we'llhavetostartalloveragain,"saidEmily.
"Hark!"criedCharlessuddenly.
Hehelduphishand.Thenhewentovertothewindow
andopenedit,andEmilytoo,heardthesoundwhich
hadarousedhisattention.Itwasthefaroffboomingof
agreatbell.
As they stood listening, Mrs Curtis's voice called
excitedlyfrombelow.
"Doyouhearthebell,Missdoyouhearit?"
Emilyopenedthedoor.
"D'you hear it? Plain as plain, isn't it? Well now, to
thinkofthat!"
"Whatisit?"askedEmily.
"It'sthebellatPrincetown,Miss,neartotwelvemiles
away. It means that a convict's escaped. George,
George, where is that man? D'you hear the bell?
There'saconvictloose."
Hervoicediedawayasshewentthroughthekitchen.
195

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

Charles shut the window and sat down on the bed


again.
"It's a pity that things happen all wrong," he said
dispassionately. "If only this convict had escaped on
Friday, why, there would be our murderer nicely
accounted for. No farther to look. Hungry man,
desperate criminal breaks in. Trevelyan defends his
Englishman'scastleanddesperatecriminalbiffshim
one.Allsosimple."
"Itwouldhavebeen,"saidEmilywithasigh.
"Instead of which," said Charles, "he escapes three
daystoolate.It'sit'shopelesslyinartistic."
Heshookhisheadsadly.

196

VISITTOMAJORBURNABY

Chapter16

MRRYCROFT
Emilywokeearlythenextmorning.Beingasensible
youngwoman,sherealizedtherewaslittlepossibility
ofMrEnderby'scollaborationuntilthemorningwas
well advanced. So, feeling restless and unable to lie
stillshesetoutforabriskwalkalongthelaneinthe
opposite direction from which they had come last
night.
ShepassedthegatesofSittafordHouseonherright
andshortlyafterthatthelanetookasharpturntothe
rightandransteeplyuphillandcameoutontheopen
moorwhereitdegeneratedintoagrasstrackandsoon
petered out altogether. The morning was a fine one,
coldandcrispandtheviewwaslovely.Emilyascended
totheverytopofSittafordTor,apileofgrayrockofa
fantasticshape.Fromthisheightshelookeddownover
anexpanseofmoorland,unbrokenasfarasshecould
seewithoutanyhabitationoranyroad.Belowher,on
the opposite side of the Tor, were gray masses of
granitebouldersandrocks.Afterconsideringthescene
197

MRRYCROFT

foraminuteortwosheturnedtoviewtheprospectto
thenorthfromwhichshehadcome.Justbelowherlay
Sittaford,clusteringontheflankofthehill,thesquare
grayblobofSittafordHouse,andthedottedcottages
beyond it. In the valley below she could see
Exhampton.
"Oneought,"thoughtEmilyconfusedly,"toseethings
betterwhenyouarehighuplikethis.Itoughttobe
likeliftingoffthetopofadoll'shouseandpeeringin."
Shewishedwithallherheartthatshehadmetthe
deadmanevenifonlyonce.Itwassohardtogetan
ideaofpeopleyouhadneverseen.Youhadtorelyon
other people's judgment, and Emily had never yet
acknowledged that any other person's judgment was
superiortoherown.Otherpeople'simpressionswere
nogoodtoyou.Theymightbejustastrueasyoursbut
youcouldn'tactonthem.Youcouldn't,asitwere,use
anotherperson'sangleofattack.
Meditating vexedly on these questions, Emily sighed
impatientlyandshiftedherposition.
Shehadbeensolostinherownthoughtsthatshehad
beenoblivioustoherimmediatesurroundings.Itwas
withashockofsurprisethatsherealizedthatasmall
elderlygentlemanwasstandingafewfeetawayfrom
198

MRRYCROFT

her, his hat held courteously in his hand, while he


breathedratherfast.
"Excuseme,"hesaid."MissTrefusis,Ibelieve?"
"Yes,"saidEmily.
"MynameisRycroft.Youmustforgivemespeakingto
you,butinthislittlecommunityofoursthesmallest
detailisknown,andyourarrivalhereyesterdayhas
naturally gone the round. I can assure you that
everyone feels a deep sympathy with your position,
MissTrefusis.Weareall,oneandall,anxioustoassist
youinanywaywecan."
"That'sverykindofyou,"saidEmily.
"Not at all, not at all," said Mr Rycroft. "Beauty in
distress,youwillpardonmyoldfashionedmannerof
puttingit.Butseriously,mydearyounglady,docount
onmeifthereisanywayinwhichIcanpossiblyassist
you.Beautifulviewfromuphere,isitnot?"
"Wonderful,"agreedEmily."Themoorisawonderful
place."
"You know that a prisoner must have escaped last
nightfromPrincetown."

199

MRRYCROFT

"Yes.Hashebeenrecaptured?"
"Not yet, I believe. Ah, well, poor fellow, he will no
doubtberecapturedsoonenough.IbelieveIamright
in saying that no one has escaped successfully from
Princetownforthelasttwentyyears."
"WhichdirectionisPrincetown?"
Mr Rycroft stretched out his arm and pointed
southwardsoverthemoor.
"Itliesoverthere,abouttwelvemilesasthecrowflies
overunbrokenmoorland.It'ssixteenmilesbyroad."
Emily gave a faint shiver. The idea of the desperate
huntedmanimpressedherpowerfully.MrRycroftwas
watchingherandgavealittlenod.
"Yes,"hesaid."Ifeelthesamemyself.It'scurioushow
one's instincts rebel at the thought of a man being
hunteddown,andyet,thesemenatPrincetownareall
dangerous and violent criminals, the kind of men
whomprobablyyouandIwoulddoourutmosttoput
thereinthefirstplace."
Hegavealittleapologeticlaugh.
"You must forgive me, Miss Trefusis, I am deeply
200

MRRYCROFT

interestedinthestudyofcrime.Afascinatingstudy.
Ornithologyandcriminologyaremytwosubjects."He
pausedandthenwenton:
"That'sthereasonwhy,ifyouwillallowmetodoso,I
shouldliketoassociatemyselfwithyouinthismatter.
To study a crime at first hand has long been an
unrealized dream of mine. Will you place your
confidenceinme,MissTrefusis,andallowmetoplace
my experience at your disposal? I have read and
studiedthissubjectdeeply."
Emilywassilentforaminute.Shewascongratulating
herselfonthewayeventswereplayingintoherhand.
Herewasfirsthandknowledgebeingofferedheroflife
as it had been lived at Sittaford. "Angle of attack,"
Emily repeated the phrase that had crept into her
mind so short a time before. She had had Major
Burnaby's anglematter of factsimpledirect.
Takingcognizanceoffactsandcompletelyobliviousof
subtleties. Now, shewas being offeredanother angle
which she suspected might open up a very different
field of vision. This little, shriveled, driedup
gentleman had read and studied deeply, was well
versedinhumannature,hadthatdevouringinterested
curiosityinlifedisplayedbythemanofreflectionas
opposedtothemanofaction.
201

MRRYCROFT

"Please help me," she said simply. "I am so very


worriedandunhappy."
"You must be, my dear, you must be. Now, as I
understand the position, Trevelyan's eldest nephew
has been arrested or detainedthe evidence against
himbeingofasomewhatsimpleandobviousnature,I,
of course, have an open mind. You must allow me
that."
"Ofcourse,"saidEmily."Whyshouldyoubelieveinhis
innocencewhenyouknownothingabouthim?"
"Most reasonable," said Mr Rycroft. "Really, Miss
Trefusis,youyourselfareamostinterestingstudy.By
theway,yournameisitCornishlikeourpoorfriend
Trevelyan?"
"Yes,"saidEmily."MyfatherwasCornish,mymother
wasScottish."
"Ah!" said Mr Rycroft, "very interesting. Now to
approach our little problem. On the one hand we
assumethatyoungJimthenameisJim,isitnot?We
assumethatyoungJimhadapressingneedofmoney,
thathecamedowntoseehisuncle,thatheaskedfor
money, that his uncle refused, that in a moment of
passionhepickedupasandbagthatwaslyingatthe
202

MRRYCROFT

doorandthathehithisuncleoverthehead.Thecrime
was unpremeditatedwas in fact a foolish irrational
affairmostdeplorablyconducted.Now,allthatmaybe
so, on the other hand he may have parted with his
uncle in anger and some other person may have
stepped in shortly afterwards and committed the
crime.Thatiswhatyoubelieveandtoputitalittle
differently, that is what I hope. I do not want your
fiancetohavecommittedthecrime,forfrommypoint
ofviewitissouninterestingthatheshouldhavedone
so.Iamthereforebackingtheotherhorse.Thecrime
wascommittedbysomeoneelse.Wewillassumethat
and go at once to a most important point. Was that
someoneelseawareofthequarrelthathadjusttaken
place?Didthatquarrelinfact,actuallyprecipitatethe
murder? You see my point? Someone is meditating
doing away with Captain Trevelyan and seizes this
opportunity,realizingthatsuspicionisboundtofallon
youngJim."
Emilyconsideredthematterfromthisangle.
"Inthatcase,"shesaidslowly
MrRycrofttookthewordsoutofhermouth.
"In that case," he said briskly, "the murderer would
havetobeapersonincloseassociationwithCaptain
203

MRRYCROFT

Trevelyan. He would have to be domiciled in


Exhampton.Inallprobabilityhewouldhavetobein
thehouse,eitherduringorafterthequarrel.Andsince
we are not in a court of law and can bandy about
namesfreely,thenameoftheservant,Evans,leapsto
our minds as a person who could satisfy our
conditions.Amanwhoquitepossiblymighthavebeen
inthehouse.Haveoverheardthequarrelandseized
theopportunity.Ournextpointistodiscoverwhether
Evansbenefitsinanywayfromhismaster'sdeath."
"Ibelievehegetsasmalllegacy,"saidEmily.
"Thatmayormaynotconstituteasufficientmotive.
WeshallhavetodiscoverwhetherornotEvanshada
pressing need of money. We must also consider Mrs
Evansthere is a Mrs Evans of recent date I
understand. If you had studied criminology, Miss
Trefusis,youwouldrealizethecuriouseffectcausedby
inbreeding,especiallyincountrydistricts.Thereareat
least four young women in Broadmoor, pleasant in
manner, but with that curious kink in their
dispositionsthathumanlifeisoflittleornoaccountto
them. Nowe must not leave Mrs Evans out of
account."
"Whatdoyouthinkaboutthistableturningbusiness,
MrRycroft?"
204

MRRYCROFT

"Now, that is very strange. Most strange. I confess,


MissTrefusis,thatIampowerfullyimpressedbyit.I
am, as perhaps you may have heard, a believer in
psychicthings.ToacertaindegreeIamabelieverin
spiritualism.Ihavealreadywrittenoutafullaccount
andsentituptotheSocietyofPsychicalResearch.A
well authenticated and amazing case. Five people
present, none of whom could have the least idea or
suspicionthatCaptainTrevelyanwasmurdered."
"Youdon'tthink"
Emilystopped.Itwasnotsoeasytosuggestherown
ideatoMrRycroftthatoneofthefivepeoplemight
haveguiltyforeknowledge,ashehimselfhadbeenone
of them. Not that she suspected for a moment that
there was anything whatever to connect Mr Rycroft
with the tragedy. Still she felt that the suggestion
mightnotbewhollytactful.Shepursuedherobjectin
amoreroundaboutmanner.
"Itallinterestedmeverymuch,MrRycroft,itis,as
yousay,anamazingoccurrence.Youdon'tthinkthat
any of the people present, with the exception of
yourselfofcourse,wereinanywaypsychic?"
"Mydearyounglady,Imyselfamnotpsychic.Ihave
nopowersinthatdirection.Iamonlyaverydeeply
205

MRRYCROFT

interestedobserver."
"WhataboutthisMrGarfield?"
"Anicelad,"saidMrRycroft,"butnotremarkablein
anyway."
"Welloff,Isuppose,"saidEmily.
"Stonybroke,Ibelieve,"saidMrRycroft."IhopeIam
using that idiom correctly. He comes down here to
danceattendanceonanaunt,fromwhomhehaswhat
Icall'expectations.'MissPercehouseisaverysharp
ladyandIthinksheknowswhattheseattentionsare
worth.Butasshehasasardonicformofhumorofher
ownshekeepshimdancing."
"Ishouldliketomeether,"saidEmily.
"Yes,youmustcertainlymeether.Shewillnodoubt
insistonmeetingyou.Curiosityalas,mydearMiss
Trefusiscuriosity."
"TellmeabouttheWilletts,"saidEmily.
"Charming," said Mr Rycroft, "quite charming.
Colonial, of course. No real poise, if you understand
me.Alittletoolavishintheirhospitality.Everythinga
shade on the ornate side. Miss Violet is a charming
206

MRRYCROFT

girl."
"Afunnyplacetocomeforthewinter,"saidEmily.
"Yes,veryodd,isitnot?Butafterallitisonlylogical.
We ourselves living in this country long for the
sunshine,hotclimates,wavingpalmtrees.Peoplewho
liveinAustraliaorSouthAfricaareenchantedwith
theideaofanoldfashionedChristmaswithsnowand
ice."
"Iwonderwhichofthem,"saidEmilytoherself,"told
himthat."
Shereflectedthatitwasnotnecessarytoburyyourself
in a moorland village in order to obtain an old
fashioned Christmas with snow and ice. Clearly, Mr
RycroftdidnotseeanythingsuspiciousintheWilletts'
choiceofawinterresort.Butthat,shereflected,was
perhapsnaturalinonewhowasanornithologistanda
criminologist. Sittaford clearly appeared an ideal
residencetoMrRycroft,andhecouldnotconceiveofit
asanunsuitableenvironmenttosomeoneelse.
They had been slowly descending the slope of the
hillside and were now wending their way down the
lane.

207

MRRYCROFT

"Wholivesinthatcottage?"askedEmilyabruptly.
"CaptainWyattheisaninvalid.RatherunsociableI
fear."
"WasheafriendofCaptainTrevelyan's?"
"Notanintimatefriendinanyway.Trevelyanmerely
madeaformalvisittohimeverynowandthen.Asa
matteroffactWyattdoesn'tencouragevisitors.Asurly
man."
Emilywassilent.Shewasreviewingthepossibilityof
how she herself might become a visitor. She had no
intention of allowing any angle of attack to remain
unexplored.
She suddenly remembered the hitherto unmentioned
memberofthesance.
"WhataboutMrDuke?"sheaskedbrightly.
"Whatabouthim?"
"Well,whoishe?"
"Well," said Mr Rycroft slowly, "that is what nobody
knows."
"Howextraordinary,"saidEmily.
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MRRYCROFT

"Asamatteroffact,"saidMrRycroft,"itisn't.Yousee,
Duke is such an entirely unmysterious individual. I
shouldimaginethattheonlymysteryabouthimwas
hissocialorigin.Notnotquite,ifyouunderstandme.
Butaverysolidgoodfellow,"hehastenedtoadd.
Emilywassilent.
"Thisismycottage,"saidMrRycroftpausing,"perhaps
youwilldomethehonorofcominginandinspecting
it."
"Ishouldloveto,"saidEmily.
Theywentupthesmallpathandenteredthecottage.
Theinteriorwascharming.Bookcaseslinedthewalls.
Emilywentfromonetotheotherglancingcuriouslyat
thetitlesofthebooks.Onesectiondealtwithoccult
phenomena,anotherwithmoderndetectivefiction,but
byfarthegreaterpartofthebookcaseswasgivenup
tocriminologyandtotheworld'sfamoustrials.Books
onornithologyheldacomparativelysmallposition.
"Ithinkit'salldelightful,"saidEmily."Imustgetback
now.IexpectMrEnderbywillbeupandwaitingfor
me.AsamatteroffactIhaven'thadbreakfastyet.We
told Mrs Curtis half past nine, and I see it's ten
209

MRRYCROFT

o'clock. I shall be dreadfully latethat's because


you'vebeensointerestingandsoveryhelpful."
"Anything I can do," burbled Mr Rycroft as Emily
turnedabewitchingglanceonhim."Youcancounton
me.Wearecollaborators."
Emilygavehimherhandandsqueezedhiswarmly.
"It'ssowonderful,"shesaid,usingthephrasethatin
thecourseofhershortlifeshehadfoundsoeffectual,
"tofeelthatthere'ssomeoneonwhomonecanreally
rely."

210

MRRYCROFT

Chapter17

MISSPERCEHOUSE
Emily returned to find eggs andbacon, and Charles
waitingforher.
Mrs Curtis was still agog with excitement over the
escapeoftheconvict.
"Twoyearsitissincethelastoneescaped,"shesaid,
"andthreedaysitwasbeforetheyfoundhim.Nearto
Moretonhampsteadhewas."
"Do you think he'll come this way?" asked Charles.
Localknowledgevetoedthissuggestion.
"They never comes this way, all bare moorland it is,
andonlysmalltownswhenyoudocomeoffthemoor.
He'll make for Plymouth that's the most likely. But
they'llcatchhimlongbeforethat."
"Youcouldfindagoodhidingplaceamongtheserocks
ontheothersideoftheTor,"saidEmily.

211

MISSPERCEHOUSE

"You'reright,Miss,andthereisahidingplacethere,
the Pixie's Cave they call it. As narrow an opening
betweentworocksasyoucouldfind,butitwidensout
inside.TheysayoneofKingCharles'smenhidthere
onceforafortnightwithaservingmaidfromafarm
bringinghimfood."
"ImusttakealookatthatPixie'sCave,"saidCharles.
"You'llbesurprisedhowharditistofind,sir.Manya
picnicpartyinsummerlooksforitthewholeafternoon
anddoesn'tfindit,butifyoudofinditbesureyou
leaveapininsideitforluck."
"Iwonder,"saidCharleswhenbreakfastwasoverand
he and Emily had strolled out into the small bit of
garden,"ifIoughttogoofftoPrincetown?Amazing
howthingspileuponceyouhaveabitofluck.HereI
amI start with asimplefootball competitionprize,
andbeforeIknowwhereIamIrunstraightintoan
escapedconvictandamurderer.Marvelous!"
"What about this photographing of Major Burnaby's
cottage?"
Charleslookedupatthesky.
"H'm," he said. "I think I shall say the weather is
212

MISSPERCEHOUSE

wrong. I have got to hang on to my raison d'tre of


beinginSittafordaslongaspossible,andit'scoming
over misty. ErI hope you don't mind, I have just
postedoffaninterviewwithyou?"
"Oh!that'sallright,"saidEmilymechanically."What
haveyoumademesay?"
"Oh,theusualsortofthingspeopleliketohear,"said
Mr Enderby. "Our special representative records his
interviewwithMissEmilyTrefusis,thefianceofMr
James Pearson who has been arrested by the police
andchargedwiththemurderofCaptainTrevelyan
Then my impression of you as a highspirited,
beautifulgirl."
"Thankyou,"saidEmily.
"Shingled,"wentonCharles.
"Whatdoyoumeanbyshingled?"
"Youare,"saidCharles.
"Well,ofcourseIam,"saidEmily."Butwhymention
it?"
"Women readers always like to know," said Charles
Enderby."Itwasasplendidinterview.You'venoidea
213

MISSPERCEHOUSE

what fine womanly touching things you said about


standing byyour man, no matter ifthewhole world
wasagainsthim."
"DidIreallysaythat?"saidEmilywincingslightly.
"Doyoumind?"saidMrEnderbyanxiously.
"Oh! no," said Emily. "Enjoy yourself, darling." Mr
Enderbylookedslightlytakenaback.
"It'sallright,"saidEmily."That'saquotation.Ihadit
on my bib when I was smallmy Sunday bib. The
weekdayonehad'Don'tbeaglutton'onit."
"Oh! I see. I put in a very good bit about Captain
Trevelyan'sseacareerandjustahintatforeignidols
lootedandapossibilityofastrangepriest'srevenge
onlyahintyouknow."
"Well,youseem to have doneyour day's gooddeed,"
saidEmily.
"Whathaveyoubeenupto?Youwereupearlyenough
heavenknows."
EmilydescribedhermeetingwithMrRycroft.
ShebrokeoffsuddenlyandEnderby,glancingoverhis
214

MISSPERCEHOUSE

shoulders and following the direction of her eyes,


became aware of a pink, healthylooking young man
leaning over the gate andmaking various apologetic
noisestoattractattention.
"Isay,"saidtheyoungman,"frightfullysorrytobuttin
and all that. I mean, it is awfully awkward, but my
auntsentmealong."
Emily and Charles both said, "Oh," in an inquiring
tone,notbeingmuchthewiserfortheexplanation.
"Yes,"saidtheyoungman."Totellthetruthmyaunt's
ratheraTartar.Whatshesaysgoes,ifyouknowwhat
I mean. Of course, I think it's frightfully bad form
comingalongatatimelikethisbutifyouknewmy
auntandifyoudoasshewants,youwillknowherin
afewminutes"
"IsyourauntMissPercehouse?"brokeinEmily.
"That'sright,"saidtheyoungmanmuchrelieved."So
youknowallabouther?OldMotherCurtishasbeen
talking I suppose. She can wag a tongue, can't she?
Notthatshe'sabadsort,mindyou.Well,thefactis,
myauntsaidshewantedtoseeyou,andIwastocome
alongandtellyouso.Compliments,andallthat,and
would it be troubling you too muchshe was an
215

MISSPERCEHOUSE

invalidandquiteunabletogetoutanditwouldbea
great kindnesswell, you know the sort of thing. I
needn'tsayitall.It'scuriosityreally,ofcourse,andif
yousayyou'vegotaheadache,orhavegotlettersto
writeitwillbequiteallrightandyouneedn'tbother."
"Oh,butIshouldliketobother,"saidEmily."I'llcome
withyouatonce.MrEnderbyhasgottogoalongand
seeMajorBurnaby."
"HaveI?"saidEnderbyinalowvoice.
"Youhave,"saidEmilyfirmly.
Shedismissedhimwithabriefnodandjoinedhernew
friendintheroad.
"Isupposeyou'reMrGarfield,"shesaid.
"That'sright.Ioughttohavetoldyou."
"Oh, well," said Emily, "it wasn't very difficult to
guess."
"Splendid of you coming along like this," said Mr
Garfield. "Lots of girls would have been awfully
offended.Butyouknowwhatoldladiesare."
"Youdon'tlivedownhere,doyouMrGarfield?"
216

MISSPERCEHOUSE

"YoubetyourlifeIdon't,"saidRonnieGarfieldwith
fervor."Didyoueverseesuchagodforsakenspot?Not
somuch as thePictures togo to. Iwondersomeone
doesn'tcommitamurderto"
Hepausedappalledbywhathehadsaid.
"Isay,Iamsorry.Iamthemostunluckydevilthat
everlived.Alwayscomingoutwiththewrongthing.I
nevermeantitforamoment."
"I'msureyoudidn't,"saidEmilysoothingly.
"Here we are," said Mr Garfield. He pushed open a
gateandEmilypassedthroughandwentupthepath
leadingtoasmallcottageidenticalwiththerest.In
thelivingroomgivingonthegardenwasacouchand
onitwaslyinganelderlyladywithathinwrinkled
face and with one of the sharpest and most
interrogative noses that Emily had ever seen. She
raisedherselfonanelbowwithalittledifficulty.
"Soyou'vebroughther,"shesaid."Verykindofyou,my
dear,tocomealongtoseeanoldwoman.Butyouknow
whatitiswhenyouareaninvalid.Youmusthavea
fingerineverypiegoingandifyoucan'tgotothepie,
then,thepiehasgottocometoyou.Andyouneedn't
thinkit'sallcuriosityit'smorethanthat.Ronnie,go
217

MISSPERCEHOUSE

outandpaintthegardenfurniture.Intheshedatthe
end of the garden. Two basket chairs and a bench.
You'llfindthepaintthereallready."
"Rightoh,AuntCaroline."
Theobedientnephewdisappeared.
"Sitdown,"saidMissPercehouse.
Emilysatonthechairindicated.Strangetosayshe
hadimmediatelyfeltconsciousofadistinctlikingand
sympathy for this rather sharptongued middleaged
invalid.Shefeltindeedakindofkinshipwithher.
"Hereissomeone,"thoughtEmily,"whogoesstraight
to the point and means to have her own way and
bosseseverybodyshecan.JustlikemeonlyIhappen
toberathergoodlookingandshehastodoitallby
forceofcharacter."
"I understand you are the girl who is engaged to
Trevelyan'snephew,"saidMissPercehouse."I'veheard
allaboutyouandnowIhaveseenyouIunderstand
exactlywhatyouareupto.AndIwishyougoodluck."
"Thankyou,"saidEmily.
"Ihateaslobberingfemale,"saidMissPercehouse."I
218

MISSPERCEHOUSE

likeonewhogetsupanddoesthings."
ShelookedatEmilysharply.
"Isupposeyoupitymelyinghereneverabletogetup
andwalkabout?"
"No,"saidEmilythoughtfully."Idon'tknowthatIdo.I
suppose that one can, if one has the determination,
alwaysgetsomethingoutoflife.Ifyoucan'tgetitin
onewayyougetitinanother."
"Quiteright,"saidMissPercehouse."You'vegottotake
lifefromadifferentangle,that'sall."
"Angleofattack,"murmuredEmily.
"What'sthatyousay?"
Asclearlyasshewasable,Emilyoutlinedthetheory
thatshehadevolvedthatmorningandtheapplication
ofitshehadmadetothematterinhand.
"Notbad,"saidMissPercehousenoddingherhead.
"Now, my dearwe will get down to business. Not
being a born fool, I suppose you've come up to this
villagetofindoutwhatyoucanaboutthepeoplehere,
andtoseeifwhatyoufindouthasanybearingonthe
219

MISSPERCEHOUSE

murder. Well, if there's anything you want to know


aboutthepeoplehere,Icantellittoyou."
Emily wasted no time. Concise and businesslike she
cametothepoint.
"MajorBurnaby?"sheasked.
"Typical retired army officer, narrowminded in
outlook, jealous disposition Credulous in money
matters. Kind of man who invests in a South Sea
becausehecan'tseeayardinfrontofhisownnose.
Likes to pay his debts promptly and dislikes people
whodon'twipetheirfeetonthemat."
"MrRycroft?"saidEmily.
"Queerlittleman,enormousegoist.Cranky.Likesto
think himself a wonderful fellow. I suppose he has
offeredtohelpyousolvethecasearightowingtohis
wonderfulknowledgeofcriminology."
Emilyadmittedthatthatwasthecase.
"MrDuke?"sheasked.
"Don'tknowathingaboutthemanandyetIought
to. Most ordinary type. I ought to knowand yet I
don't. It's queer. It's like a name on the tip of your
220

MISSPERCEHOUSE

tongueandyetforthelifeofyou,youcan'tremember
it."
"TheWilletts?"askedEmily.
"Ah!theWilletts!"MissPercehousehoistedherselfup
on an elbow again in some excitement. "What about
theWillettsindeed?Now,I'lltellyousomethingabout
them,mydear.Itmaybeusefultoyou,oritmaynot.
Goovertomywritingtablethereandpulloutthelittle
topdrawertheonetotheleftthat'sright.Bringme
theblankenvelopethat'sthere."
Emilybroughttheenvelopeasdirected.
"Idon'tsayit'simportantitprobablyisn't,"saidMiss
Percehouse."Everybodytellsliesonewayoranother
andMrsWillettisperfectlyentitledtodothesameas
everybodyelse."
Shetooktheenvelopeandslippedherhandinside.
"Iwilltellyouallaboutit.WhentheWillettsarrived
here, with their smart clothes and their maids and
their innovation trunks, she and Violet came up in
Forder'scarandthemaidsandtheinnovationtrunks
came by the station bus. And naturally, the whole
thingbeinganeventasyoumightsay,Iwaslooking
221

MISSPERCEHOUSE

outastheypassedandIsawacoloredlabelblowoff
fromoneofthetrunksanddivedownontooneofmy
borders.Now,ifthereisonethingIhatemorethan
anotheritisalitterofpaperormessofanykind,soI
sentRonnieouttopickitup,andIwasgoingtothrow
itawaywhenitstruckmeitwasabright,prettything,
andImightaswellkeepitforthescrapbooksImake
for the children's hospital. Well, I wouldn't have
thought about it again except for Mrs Willett
deliberatelymentioningontwoorthreeoccasionsthat
ViolethadneverbeenoutofSouthAfricaandthatshe
herself had only been toSouth Africa, England,and
theRiviera."
"Yes?"saidEmily.
"Exactly.Nowlookatthis."
Miss Percehouse thrust a luggage label into Emily's
hand. It bore the inscription, Mendle's Hotel,
Melbourne.
"Australia,"saidMissPercehouse,"isn'tSouthAfrica
or it wasn't in my young days. I daresay it isn't
importantbutthereitisforwhatitisworth.AndI'll
tellyouanotherthing,IhaveheardMrsWillettcalling
toherdaughterandshecalledCooeeandthatagain
is more typical of Australia than South Africa. And
222

MISSPERCEHOUSE

whatIsayis,itisqueer.Whyshouldn'tyouwishto
admitthatyoucomefromAustraliaifyoudo?"
"It's certainly curious," said Emily. "And it's curious
thattheyshouldcometolivehereinwintertimeas
theyhave."
"Thatleapstotheeye,"saidMissPercehouse."Have
youmetthemyet?"
"No. I thought of going there this morning. Only I
didn'tknowquitewhattosay."
"I'llprovideyouwithanexcuse,"saidMissPercehouse
briskly. "Fetch me my fountain pen and some
notepaperandanenvelope.That'sright.Now,letme
see."Shepauseddeliberately,thenwithout theleast
warningraisedhervoiceinahideousscream.
"Ronnie,Ronnie,Ronnie!Istheboydeaf?Whycan'the
comewhenhe'scalled?Ronnie!Ronnie!"
Ronniearrivedatabrisktrot,paintbrushinhand.
"Isthereanythingthematter,AuntCaroline?"
"What shouldbethematter?Iwascallingyou,that
wasall.Didyouhaveanyparticularcakeforteawhen
youwereattheWillettsyesterday?"
223

MISSPERCEHOUSE

"Cake?"
"Cake,sandwichesanything.Howslowyouare,boy.
Whatdidyouhavetoeatfortea?"
"There was a coffee cake," said Ronnie very much
puzzled,"andsomesandwiches"
"Coffeecake,"saidMissPercehouse."That'lldo."She
began to write briskly. "You can go back to your
painting, Ronnie. Don't hang about, and don't stand
there with your mouthopen. You hadyouradenoids
out when you were eight years old, so there is no
excuseforit."
Shecontinuedtowrite:
DearMrsWillett,
Ihearyouhadthemostdeliciouscoffeecakefortea
yesterdayafternoon.Willyoubesoverykindastogive
metherecipeforit.Iknowyou'llnotmindmyasking
youthisaninvalidhassolittlevarietyexceptinher
diet. Miss Trefusis has kindly promised to take this
noteformeasRonnieisbusythismorning.Isnotthis
newsabouttheconvicttoodreadful?
Yoursverysincerely,

224

MISSPERCEHOUSE

CarolinePercehouse.
She put it in an envelope, sealed it down and
addressedit.
"Thereyouare,youngwoman.Youwillprobablyfind
the doorstep littered with reporters. A lot of them
passed along the lane in Forder's charabanc. I saw
them.ButyouaskforMrsWillettandsayyouhave
broughtanotefrommeandyou'llsailin.Ineedn'ttell
youtokeepyoureyesopenandmakethemostyoucan
ofyourvisit.Youwilldothatanyway."
"Youarekind,"saidEmily."Youreallyare."
"I help those who can help themselves," said Miss
Percehouse."Bytheway,youhaven'taskedmewhatI
thinkofRonnieyet.Ipresumeheisonyourlistofthe
village.Heisagoodladinhisway,butpitifullyweak.
I am sorry to say he would do almost anything for
money.Lookatwhathestandsfromme!Andhehasn't
got the brains to see that I would like him just ten
timesbetterifhestooduptomenowandagain,and
toldmetogotothedevil.
"TheonlyotherpersoninthevillageisCaptainWyatt.
Hesmokesopium,Ibelieve.Andhe'seasilytheworst
temperedmaninEngland.Anythingmoreyouwantto
225

MISSPERCEHOUSE

know?"
"Idon'tthinkso,"saidEmily."Whatyouhavetoldme
seemsprettycomprehensive."

226

MISSPERCEHOUSE

Chapter18

EMILYVISITS
SITTAFORDHOUSE
As Emily walked briskly along the lane she noticed
once more how the character of the morning was
changing.Themistwasclosingupandround.
"WhatanawfulplacetoliveinEnglandis,"thought
Emily. "If it isn't snowing or raining or blowing it's
misty.Andifthesundoesshineit'ssocoldthatyou
can'tfeelyourfingersortoes."
Shewas interruptedinthesereflectionsbyarather
hoarsevoicespeakingratherclosetoherrightear.
"Excuseme,"itsaid,"butdoyouhappentohaveseena
bullterrier?"
Emilystartedandturned.Leaningoveragatewasa
tallthinmanwithaverybrowncomplexion,bloodshot
eyesandgrayhair.Hewasproppedupwithacrutch
on one side, and was eyeing Emily with enormous
227

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

interest. She had no difficulty in identifying him as


Captain Wyatt, the invalid owner of No. 3 The
Cottages.
"No,Ihaven't,"saidEmily.
"She'sgotout," saidCaptainWyatt."Anaffectionate
creature,butanabsolutefool.Withallthesecarsand
things"
"I shouldn't think many motors come up this lane,"
saidEmily.
"Charabancs do in the summer time," said Captain
Wyatt grimly. "It's the three and sixpenny morning
runfromExhampton.AscentofSittafordBeaconwith
a halt halfway up from Exhampton for light
refreshments."
"Yes,butthisisn'tsummertime,"saidEmily.
"All the same a charabanc came along just now.
Reporters,Isuppose,goingtohavealookatSittaford
House."
"DidyouknowCaptainTrevelyanwell?"askedEmily.
She was of the opinion that the incident of the bull
terrierhadbeenameresubterfugeonCaptainWyatt's
228

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

partdictatedbyaverynaturalcuriosity.Shewas,she
was well aware, the principal object of attention in
Sittaford at present, and it was only natural that
CaptainWyatt shouldwishtohave alookather as
wellaseveryoneelse.
"Idon'tknowaboutwell,"saidCaptainWyatt."Hesold
methiscottage."
"Yes,"saidEmilyencouragingly.
"Askinflint,that'swhathewas,"saidCaptainWyatt.
"Thearrangementwasthathewastodotheplaceup
tosuitthepurchaser'staste,andjustbecauseIhad
thewindowsashesinchocolatepickedoutinlemon,he
wantedmetopayhalf.Saidthearrangementwasfora
uniformcolor."
"Youdidn'tlikehim,"saidEmily.
"I was always having rows with him," said Captain
Wyatt. "But I always have rows with everyone," he
added as an afterthought. "In a place like this you
have to teach people to leave a man alone. Always
knockingatthedooranddroppinginandchattering.I
don'tmindseeingpeoplewhenIaminthemoodbut
ithasgottobemymoodnottheirs.NogoodTrevelyan
givingmehisLordoftheManorairsanddroppingin
229

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

wheneverhefeltlikeit.There'snotasoulintheplace
comesnearmenow,"headdedwithsatisfaction.
"Oh!"saidEmily.
"That's the best of having a native servant," said
Captain Wyatt. "They understand orders. Abdul," he
roared.
AtallIndianinaturbancameoutofthecottageand
waitedattentively.
"Come in and have something," said Captain Wyatt.
"Andseemylittlecottage."
"I'msorry,"saidEmily,"butIhavetohurryon."
"Ohno,youhaven't,"saidCaptainWyatt.
"Yes,Ihave,"saidEmily."I'vegotanappointment."
"Nobodyunderstandstheartoflivingnowadays,"said
Captain Wyatt. "Catching trains, making
appointments, fixing times for everythingall
nonsense.GetupwiththesunIsay,haveyourmeals
whenyoufeellikeit,andnevertieyourselftoatimeor
adate.Icouldteachpeoplehowtoliveiftheywould
listentome."

230

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

Theresultsofthisexaltedideaoflivingwerenottoo
hopeful, Emily reflected. Anything more like a
batteredwreckofamanthanCaptainWyattshehad
never seen. However, feeling that his curiosity had
been sufficiently satisfied for the time being she
insisted once moreon her appointment andwent on
herway.
SittafordHousehadasolidoakfrontdoor,aneatbell
pull,animmensewiremat,andabrilliantlypolished
brassletterbox.Itrepresented,asEmilycouldnotfail
tosee,comfortanddecorum.Aneatandconventional
parlormaidansweredthebell.
Emilydeducedthejournalistevilhadbeenbeforeher
astheparlormaidsaidatonceinadistanttone,"Mrs
Willettisnotseeinganyonethismorning."
"I have brought a note from Miss Percehouse," said
Emily.
This clearly altered matters. The parlormaid's face
expressedindecision,thensheshiftedherground.
"Willyoucomeinside,please."
Emilywasusheredintowhathouseagentsdescribeas
"a wellappointed hall," and from there into a large
231

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

drawingroom.Afirewasburningbrightlyandthere
weretracesoffeminineoccupationintheroom.Some
glasstulips,anelaborateworkbag,agirl'shat,anda
Pierrot doll with very long legs, were lying about.
Therewere,shenoticed,nophotographs.
Having taken in all there was to see, Emily was
warmingherhandsinfrontofthefirewhenthedoor
openedandagirlaboutherownagecamein.Shewas
a very pretty girl, Emily noticed, smartly and
expensivelydressed,andshealsothoughtthatshehad
never seen a girl in a greater state of nervous
apprehension. Not that this was apparent on the
surface however. Miss Willett was making a gallant
appearanceofbeingentirelyatherease.
"Good morning," she said advancing and shaking
hands. "I'm so sorry mother isn't down, but she's
spendingthemorninginbed."
"Oh, I am so sorry, I'm afraid I have come at an
unfortunatetime."
"No,ofcoursenot.Thecookiswritingouttherecipe
forthatcakenow.WeareonlytoodelightedforMiss
Percehousetohaveit.Areyoustayingwithher?"
Emily reflected with an inward smile that this was
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EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

perhaps the only house in Sittaford whose members


werenotexactlyawareofwhoshewasandwhyshe
was there. Sittaford House had a definite regime of
employers and employed. The employed might know
abouthertheemployersclearlydidnot.
"I am not exactly staying with her," said Emily. "In
fact,I'matMrsCurtis's."
"Ofcoursethecottageisterriblysmallandshehasher
nephew,Ronnie,withher,hasn'tshe?Isupposethere
wouldn'tberoomforyoutoo.She'sawonderfulperson,
isn'tshe?Somuchcharacter,Ialwaysthink,butIam
ratherafraidofherreally."
"She'sabully,isn'tshe?"agreedEmilycheerfully."But
it's an awful temptation to be a bully, especially if
peoplewon'tstanduptoyou."
MissWillettsighed.
"IwishIcouldstanduptopeople,"shesaid."We've
had the most awful morning absolutely pestered by
reporters."
"Oh, of course," said Emily. "This is Captain
Trevelyan's house really, isn't it?the man who was
murderedatExhampton."
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EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

ShewastryingtodeterminetheexactcauseofViolet
Willett'snervousness.Thegirlwasclearlyonthejump.
Something was frightening herand frightening her
badly. She mentioned Captain Trevelyan's name
bluntlyonpurpose.Thegirldidn'tnoticeablyreactto
it in any way, but then she was probably expecting
somesuchreference.
"Yes,wasn'titdreadful?"
"Dotellmethat'sifyoudon'tmindtalkingaboutit?"
"NonoofcoursenotwhyshouldI?"
"There'ssomethingverywrongwiththisgirl,"thought
Emily."Shehardlyknowswhatshe'ssaying.Whathas
madehergetthewindupthismorningparticularly?"
"About that table turning," went on Emily. "I heard
aboutitinacasualsortofwayanditseemedtomeso
frightfully interestingI mean so absolutely
gruesome."
"Girlish thrills," she thought to herself, "that's my
line."
"Oh,itwashorrid,"saidViolet."ThateveningIshall
never forget it! We thought, of course, that it was
somebody just foolingonly it seemed a very nasty
234

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

kindofjoke."
"Yes?"
"Ishallneverforgetwhenweturnedthelightson
everybody looked so queer. Not Mr Duke and Major
Burnabytheyarethestolidkind,theywouldnever
liketoadmitthattheywereimpressedbyanythingof
thatkind.ButyoucouldseethatMajorBurnabywas
really awfully rattled by it. I think that actually he
believedinitmorethananybodyelse.ButIthought
poorlittleMrRycroftwasgoingtohaveaheartattack
orsomething,yethemustbeusedtothatkindofthing
becausehedoesalotofpsychicresearch,andasfor
Ronnie, Ronnie Garfield you knowhe looked as
thoughhehadseenaghostactuallyseenone.Even
motherwasawfullyupsetmorethanIhaveeverseen
herbefore."
"Itmusthavebeenmostspooky,"saidEmily."IwishI
hadbeentheretosee."
"Itwasratherhorridreally.Weallpretendedthatit
wasjustfun,youknow,butitdidn'tseemlikethat.
AndthenMajorBurnabysuddenlymadeuphismind
togoovertoExhamptonandwealltriedtostophim,
and said he would be buried in a snowdrift, but he
would go. And there we sat, after he had gone, all
235

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

feelingdreadfulandworried.Andthen,lastnightno,
yesterdaymorningwegotthenews."
"You think it was Captain Trevelyan's spirit?" said
Emily in an awed voice. "Or do you think it was
clairvoyanceortelepathy?"
"Oh, I don't know. But I shall never, never laugh at
thesethingsagain."
Theparlormaidenteredwithafoldedpieceofpaperon
asalverwhichshehandedtoViolet.
The parlormaid withdrew and Violet unfolded the
paper,glancedoveritandhandledittoEmily.
"Thereyouare,"shesaid."Asamatteroffactyouare
just in time. This murder business has upset the
servants.Theythinkit'sdangeroustoliveinthisout
of the way part. Mother lost her temper with them
yesterdayeveningandhassentthemallpacking.They
are going after lunch. We are going to get two men
insteada houseparlorman and a kind of butler
chauffeur.Ithinkitwillanswermuchbetter."
"Servantsaresilly,aren'tthey?"saidEmily.
"Itisn'tevenasifCaptainTrevelyanhadbeenkilledin
thishouse."
236

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

"Whatmadeyouthinkofcomingtolivehere?"asked
Emily,tryingtomakethequestionsoundartlessand
girlishlynatural.
"Oh,wethoughtitwouldberatherfun,"saidViolet.
"Don'tyoufinditratherdull?"
"Oh,no,Ilovethecountry."
ButhereyesavoidedEmily's.Justforamomentshe
lookedsuspiciousandafraid.
ShestirreduneasilyinherchairandEmilyroserather
reluctantlytoherfeet.
"Imustbegoingnow,"shesaid."Thankyousomuch,
MissWillett.Iduhopeyourmotherwillbeallright."
"Oh,she'squitewellreally.It'sonlytheservantsand
alltheworry."
"Ofcourse."
Adroitly,unperceivedbytheothers,Emilymanagedto
discard her glove on a small table. Violet Willett
accompaniedhertothefrontdoorandtheytookleave
ofeachotherwithafewpleasantremarks.
TheparlormaidwhohadopenedthedoortoEmilyhad
237

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

unlockedit,butasVioletWillettcloseditbehindher
retreating guest Emily caught no sound of the key
being turned. When she reached the gate therefore,
sheretracedherstepsslowly.
Her visit had more than confirmed the theories she
held about Sittaford House. There was something
queer going on here. She didn't think Violet Willett
wasdirectlyimplicatedthatisunlessshewasavery
cleveractressindeed.Buttherewassomethingwrong,
andthatsomethingmusthaveaconnectionwiththe
tragedy.TheremustbesomelinkbetweentheWilletts
andCaptainTrevelyan,andinthatlinktheremight
liethecluetothewholemystery.
Shecameuptothefrontdoor,turnedthehandlevery
gentlyandpassedacrossthethreshold.Thehallwas
deserted.Emilypauseduncertainwhattodonext.She
hadherexcusetheglovesleftthoughtfullybehindin
the drawingroom. She stood stock still listening.
There was no sound anywhere except a very faint
murmurofvoicesfromupstairs.Asquietlyaspossible
Emilycrepttothefootofthestairsandstoodlooking
up.Then,verygingerlysheascendedastepatatime.
Thiswasrathermorerisky.Shecouldhardlypretend
thathergloveshadwalkedoftheirownaccordtothe
first floor,but she hada burning desiretooverhear
238

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

something of the conversation that was going on


upstairs.Modernbuildersnevermadetheirdoorsfit
well,inEmily'sopinion.Youcouldhearamurmurof
voices down here. Therefore, if you reached the door
itselfyouwouldhearplainlytheconversationthatwas
going on inside the room. Another stepone more
again... Two women's voicesViolet and her mother
withoutdoubt.
Suddenly there was a break in the conversationa
soundoffootsteps.Emilyretreatedrapidly.
When Violet Willett opened her mother's door and
came down the stairs she was surprised to find her
lategueststandinginthehallpeeringaboutherina
lostdogkindofway.
"Mygloves,"sheexplained."Imusthaveleftthem.I
camebackforthem."
"Iexpecttheyareinhere,"saidViolet.
They went into the drawingroom and there, sure
enough,onalittletablenearwhereEmilyhadbeen
sittinglaythemissinggloves.
"Oh,thankyou,"saidEmily."It'ssostupidofme.Iam
alwaysleavingthings."
239

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

"Andyouwantglovesinthisweather,"saidViolet."It's
socold."Onceagaintheypartedatthehalldoor,and
thistimeEmilyheardthekeybeingturnedinthelock.
Shewentdownthedrivewithplentytothinkabout
for,asthatdoorontheupperlandinghadopened,she
hadhearddistinctlyonesentencespokeninanolder
woman'sfretfulandplaintivevoice:
"MyGod,"thevoicehadwailed,"Ican'tbearit.Will
tonightnevercome?"

240

EMILYVISITSSITTAFORDHOUSE

Chapter19

THEORIES
Emilyarrivedbackatthecottagetofindherboyfriend
absent. Hehad, Mrs Curtis explained, gone offwith
severalotheryounggentlemen,buttwotelegramshad
come for the young lady. Emily took them, opened
them,andputtheminthepocketofhersweater,Mrs
Curtiseyeingthemhungrilythewhile.
"Notbadnews,Ihope?"saidMrsCurtis.
"Oh,no,"saidEmily.
"Always gives mea turn a telegram does," saidMrs
Curtis.
"Iknow,"saidEmily."Verydisturbing."
At the moment she felt disinclined for anything but
solitude.Shewantedtosortoutandarrangeherown
ideas.Shewentuptoherownroom,andtakingpencil
andnotepapershesettoworkonasystemofherown.
After twenty minutes of this exercise she was
241

THEORIES

interruptedbyMrEnderby.
"Hullo, hullo, hullo, there you are. Fleet Street has
been hard onyourtracks allmorningbut theyhave
justmissedyoueverywhere.Anywaytheyhavehadit
from me that you are not to be worried. As far as
you'reconcerned,Iamthebignoise."
He sat down on the chair, Emily was occupying the
bed,andchuckled.
"Envy and malice isn't in it!" he said. "I have been
handingthemoutthegoods.IknoweveryoneandIam
right in it. It's too good to be true. I keep pinching
myselfandfeelingIwillwakeupinaminute.Isay,
haveyounoticedthefog?"
"Itwon'tstopmegoingtoExeterthisafternoon,will
it?"saidEmily.
"DoyouwanttogotoExeter?"
"Yes.IhavetomeetMrDacresthere.Mysolicitor,you
knowtheonewhoisundertakingJim'sdefence.He
wantstoseeme.AndIthinkIshallpayavisittoJim's
Aunt Jennifer, while I am there. After all, Exeter is
onlyhalfanhouraway."
"Meaning she might have nipped over by train and
242

THEORIES

batted her brother over the head and nobody would


havenoticedherabsence."
"Oh,Iknowitsoundsratherimprobablebutonehasto
go into everything. Not that I want it to be Aunt
JenniferIdon't.IwouldmuchratheritwasMartin
Dering.Ihatethesortofmanwhopresumesongoing
tobeabrotherinlawanddoesthingsinpublicthat
youcan'tsmackhisfacefor."
"Ishethatkind?"
"Very much that kind. He's an ideal person for a
murdereralwaysgettingtelegramsfrombookmakers
andlosingmoneyonhorses.It'sannoyingthathe'sgot
such a good alibi. Mr Dacres told me about it. A
publisher and a literary dinner seems so very
unbreakableandrespectable."
"A literary dinner," said Enderby. "Friday night.
MartinDeringletmeseeMartinDeringwhy,yes
Iamalmostsureofit.DashitallIamquitesureof
it,butIcanclinchthingsbywiringtoCarruthers."
"Whatareyoutalkingabout?"saidEmily.
"Listen. You know I came down to Exhampton on
Fridayevening.Well,therewasabitofinformationI
243

THEORIES

wasgoingtogetfromapalofmine,anothernewspaper
man,Carruthershisnameis.Hewascomingroundto
seemeabouthalfpastsixifhecouldbeforehewent
on to some literary dinnerhe is rather a big bug,
Carruthers,andifhecouldn'tmakeithewouldsend
mealinetoExhampton.Well,hedidn'tmakeitandhe
didsendmealine."
"Whathasallthisgottodowithit?"saidEmily.
"Don'tbesoimpatient,Iamcomingtothepoint.The
oldchapwasratherscrewedwhenhewroteitdone
himselfwellatthedinneraftergivingmetheitemI
wanted, he went on to waste a good bit of juicy
descriptiononme.Youknowaboutthespeeches,and
whatassessoandso,afamousnovelistandafamous
playwright, were. And he said he had been rottenly
placedatthedinner.Therewasanemptyseatonone
sideofhim where thesex specialist,Martin Dering,
oughttohavebeen,buthemovedupneartoapoet,
who is very well known in Blackheath, and tried to
makethebestofthings.Now,doyouseethepoint?"
"Charles! Darling!" Emily became lyrical with
excitement."Howmarvelous.Thenthebrutewasn'tat
thedinneratall?"
"Exactly."
244

THEORIES

"Youaresureyou'verememberedthenameright?"
"I'mpositive.Ihavetornuptheletter,worseluck,but
IcanalwayswiretoCarrutherstomakesure.ButI
absolutelyknowthatI'mnotmistaken."
"There'sthepublisherstill,ofcourse,"saidEmily."The
onehespenttheafternoonwith.ButIratherthinkit
wasapublisherwhowasjustgoingbacktoAmerica,
andifso,thatlooksfishy.Imeanitlooksasthoughhe
hadselectedsomeonewhocouldn'tbeaskedwithout
ratheralotoftrouble."
"Do you really think we have hit it?" said Charles
Enderby.
"Well,itlookslikeit.Ithinkthebestthingtobedone
istogostraighttothatniceInspectorNarracottand
justtellhimthesenewfacts.Imean,wecan'ttackle
anAmericanpublisherwhois ontheMauretaniaor
the Berengaria or somewhere. That's a job for the
police."
"My word if this comes off. What a scoop!" said Mr
Enderby. "If it does, I should think the Daily Wire
couldn'toffermelessthan"
Emily broke in ruthlessly into his dreams of
245

THEORIES

advancement.
"Butwemustn'tloseourheads,"shesaid,"andthrow
everythingelsetothewind.ImustgotoExeter.Idon't
supposeIshallbeabletobebackhereuntiltomorrow.
ButI'vegotajobforyou."
"Whatkindofajob?"
Emily described her visit to the Willetts and the
strangesentenceshehadoverheardonleaving.
"Wehavegotabsolutelyandpositivelytofindoutwhat
isgoingtohappentonight.There'ssomethinginthe
wind."
"Whatanextraordinarything!"
"Wasn'tit?Butofcourseitmaybeacoincidence.Orit
maynotbutyouobservethattheservantsarebeing
cleared out of the way. Something queer is going to
happentheretonight,andyouhavetobeonthespotto
seewhatitis."
"YoumeanIhavetospendthewholenightshivering
underabushinthegarden?"
"Well,youdon'tmindthat,doyou?Journalistsdon't
mindwhattheydoinagoodcause."
246

THEORIES

"Whotoldyouthat?"
"Never mind who told me, Iknow it. You will do it,
won'tyou?"
"Oh, rather," said Charles. "I am not going to miss
anything.IfanythingqueergoesonatSittafordHouse
tonight,Ishallbeinit."
Emilythentoldhimabouttheluggagelabel.
"It's odd," said Mr Enderby. "Australia is where the
third Pearson is, isn't it?the youngest one. Not, of
course, that that means anything, but still itwell,
theremightbeaconnection."
"H'm," said Emily. "I think that's all. Have you
anythingtoreportonyourside?"
"Well,"saidCharles,"I'vegotanidea."
"Yes?"
"TheonlythingisIdon'tknowhowyou'lllikeit."
"WhatdoyoumeanhowI'lllikeit?"
"Youwon'tflyoutoverit,willyou?"
"Idon'tsupposeso.ImeanIhopeIcanlistensensibly
247

THEORIES

andquietlytoanything."
"Well,thepointis,"saidCharlesEnderbyeyeingher
doubtfully, "don't think I mean to be offensive or
anythinglikethat,butdoyouthinkthatladofyoursis
tobedependedonforthestricttruth?"
"Doyoumean,"saidEmily,"thathedidmurderhim
after all? You are quite welcome to that view if you
like.Isaidtoyouatthebeginningthatthatwasthe
naturalviewtotake,butIsaidwehadtoworkonthe
assumptionthathedidn't."
"Idon'tmeanthat,"saidEnderby."Iamwithyouin
assumingthathedidn'tdotheoldboyin.WhatImean
is,howfarishisownstoryofwhathappenedtrue?He
saysthathewentthere,hadachatwiththeoldfellow,
andcameawayleavinghimaliveandwell."
"Yes."
"Well, it just occurred to me, you don't think it's
possiblethathewentthereandactuallyfoundtheold
mandead?Imean,hemighthavegotthewindupand
beenscaredandnotlikedtosayso."
Charleshadpropoundedthistheoryratherdubiously
buthewasrelievedtofindthatEmilyshowednosigns
248

THEORIES

offlyingoutathimoverit.Instead,shefrownedand
creasedherbrowinthought.
"Iamnotgoingtopretend,"shesaid."Itispossible.I
hadn't thought of it before. I know Jim wouldn't
murderanyone,buthemightquitewellgetrattledand
tell a sillylieand then,of course, hewouldhaveto
sticktoit.Yes,itisquitepossible."
"Theawkwardthingisthatyoucan'tgoandaskhim
about it now. I mean they wouldn't let you see him
alone,wouldthey?"
"IcanputMrDacresontohim,"saidEmily."Yousee
yoursolicitoralone,Ibelieve.TheworstofJimisthat
heisfrightfullyobstinate,ifhehasoncesaidathing
hestickstoit."
"That'smystoryandI'mgoingtosticktoit,"saidMr
Enderbycomprehendingly.
"Yes.Iamgladyoumentionedthatpossibilitytome,
Charles, it hadn't occurred to me. We have been
lookingforsomeonewhocameinafterJimhadleft
butifitwasbefore"
She paused, lost in thought. Two very different
theories stretched out in opposite directions. There
249

THEORIES

wastheonesuggestedbyMrRycroft,inwhichJim's
quarrelwithhisunclewasthedeterminingpoint.The
other theory, however, took no cognizance of Jim
whatsoever.Thefirstthingtodo,Emilyfelt,wastosee
thedoctorwhohadfirstexaminedthebody.Ifitwere
possiblethatCaptainTrevelyanhadbeenmurderedat
sayfour o'clock, it might make a considerable
differencetothequestionofalibis.Andtheotherthing
todowastomakeMrDacresurgemoststronglyonhis
clienttheabsolutenecessityofspeakingthetruthon
thispoint.
Sherosefromthebed.
"Well,"shesaid,"youhadbetterfindouthowIcanget
toExhampton.Themanatthesmithyhasacarofa
kindIbelieve.Willyougoandsettlewithhimabout
it?I'llstartimmediatelyafterlunch.There'satrainat
threetentoExeter.Thatwillgivemetimetoseethe
doctorfirst.What'sthetimenow?"
"Half past twelve," said Mr Enderby, consulting his
watch.
"Thenwewillbothgoupandfixupaboutthatcar,"
saidEmily."Andthere'sjustoneotherthingIwantto
dobeforeleavingSittaford."

250

THEORIES

"What'sthat?"
"IamgoingtopayacallonMrDuke.He'stheonly
personinSittafordIhaven'tseen.Andhewasoneof
thepeopleatthetableturning."
"Oh,we'llpasshiscottageonthewaytothesmithy."
MrDuke'scottagewasthelastoftherow.Emilyand
Charlesunlatchedthegateandwalkedupthepath.
And then something rather surprising occurred. For
thedooropenedandamancameout.Andthatman
wasInspectorNarracott.
He, too, looked surprised and, Emily fancied,
embarrassed.Emilyabandonedheroriginalintention.
"Iamsogladtohavemeetyou,InspectorNarracott,"
shesaid."ThereareoneortwothingsIwanttotalkto
youaboutifImay."
"Delighted,MissTrefusis."Hedrewoutawatch."I'm
afraidyouwillhavetolooksharp,I'veacarwaiting.
I'vegottogobacktoExhamptonalmostimmediately."
"How extraordinarily fortunate," said Emily, "you
mightgivemealift,willyou,Inspector?"
TheInspectorsaidratherwoodenlythathewouldbe
251

THEORIES

verypleasedtodoso.
"You might go and get my suitcase, Charles," said
Emily."It'spackedupandready."
Charlesdepartedimmediately.
"It'sagreatsurprisemeetingyouhere,MissTrefusis,"
saidInspectorNarracott.
"Isaidaurevoir,"Emilyremindedhim.
"Ididn'tnoticeitatthetime."
"You've not seen the last ofmebya longway," said
Emilycandidly."Youknow,InspectorNarracott,you've
madeamistake.Jim'snotthemanyou'reafter."
"Indeed!"
"Andwhat'smore,"saidEmily,"Ibelieveinyourheart
thatyouagreewithme."
"Whatmakesyouthinkthat,MissTrefusis?"
"What were you doing in Mr Duke's cottage?"
retaliatedEmily.
Narracott looked embarrassed and she was quick to
followitup.
252

THEORIES

"You're doubtful, Inspectorthat's what you are


doubtful.Youthoughtyouhadgottherightmanand
nowyouarenotsosure,andsoyouaremakingafew
investigations.Well,Ihavegotsomethingtotellyou
that may help. I'll tell it to you on the way to
Exhampton."
Footstepssoundeddowntheroad,andRonnieGarfield
appeared.Hehadtheairofatruant,breathlessand
guilty.
"Isay,MissTrefusis,"hebegan."Whataboutawalk
thisafternoon?Whilemyaunthasanap,youknow."
"Impossible,"saidEmily."I'mgoingaway.ToExeter."
"What,notreally!Forgoodyoumean?"
"Oh,no,"saidEmily."Ishallbebackagaintomorrow."
"Oh,that'ssplendid."
Emilytooksomethingfromthepocketofhersweater
and handed it to him. "Give that to your aunt, will
you?It'sarecipeforcoffeecake,andtellherthatshe
wasjustintime,thecookisleavingtodayandsoare
the other servants. Be sure you tell her, she will be
interested."

253

THEORIES

Afaroffscreamwasborneonthebreeze."Ronnie,"it
said,"Ronnie,Ronnie."
"There'smyaunt,"saidRonniestartingnervously."I
hadbettergo."
"Ithinkyouhad,"saidEmily."You'vegotgreenpaint
on your left cheek," she called after him. Ronnie
Garfielddisappearedthroughhisaunt'sgate.
"Here'smyboyfriendwithmysuitcase,"saidEmily.
"Comeon,Inspector.I'lltellyoueverythinginthecar."

254

THEORIES

Chapter20

VISITTOAUNT
JENNIFER
AthalfpasttwoDrWarrenreceivedacallfromEmily.
Hetookanimmediatefancytothisbusinesslikeand
attractive girl. Her questions were blunt and to the
point.
"Yes,MissTrefusis,Iseeexactlywhatyoumean.You'll
understand that contrary to the popular belief in
novelsitisextremelydifficulttofixthetimeofdeath
accurately.Isawthebodyateighto'clock.Icansay
decidedly that Captain Trevelyan had been dead at
leasttwohours.Howmuchlongerthanthatwouldbe
difficulttosay.Ifyouweretotellmethathewaskilled
atfouro'clock,Ishouldsaythatitwaspossible,though
myownopinioninclinestoalatertime.Ontheother
handhecouldcertainlynothavebeendeadformuch
longerthanthat.Fourandahalfhourswouldbethe
outsidelimit."

255

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Thankyou,"saidEmily,"that'sallthatIwantedto
know."
Shecaughtthethreetentrainatthestationanddrove
straighttothehotelwhereMrDacreswasstaying.
Their interview was businesslike and unemotional.
Mr Dacres had known Emily since she was a small
child,andhadmanagedheraffairsforhersinceshe
cameofage.
"You must prepare yourself for a shock, Emily," he
said."ThingsaremuchworseforJimPearsonthanwe
imagined."
"Worse?"
"Yes.It'snogoodbeatingaboutthebush.Certainfacts
havecometolightwhichareboundtoshowhimupin
amostunfavorablelight.Itisthosefactswhichledthe
policeactuallytochargehimwiththecrime.Ishould
notbeactinginyourinterestsifIwithheldthesefacts
fromyou."
"Pleasetellme,"saidEmily.
Hervoicewasperfectlycalmandcomposed.Whatever
the inward shock she might have felt, she had no
intentionofmakinganoutwarddisplayofherfeelings.
256

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

It was not feelings that were going to help Jim


Pearson, it was brains. She must keep all her wits
abouther.
"There is no doubt that he was in urgent and
immediateneedofmoney.Iamnotgoingtoenterinto
theethicsofthesituationatthemoment.Pearsonhad
apparentlybeforenowoccasionallyborrowedmoney
to use a euphemismfrom his firmI may say
withouttheirknowledge.Hewasfondofspeculatingin
shares,andononeoccasionpreviously,knowingthat
certaindividendsweretobepaidintohisaccountina
week'stime,heanticipatedthembyusingthefirm's
money to buy certain shares which he had pretty
certain knowledge were bound to go up. The
transaction was quite satisfactory, the money was
replacedandPearsonreallydoesn'tseemtohavehad
any doubts as to the honesty of the transaction.
Apparentlyherepeatedthisjustoveraweekago.This
timeanunforeseenthingoccurred.Thebooksofthe
firm are examined at certain stated times, but for
some reason or other this date was advanced and
Pearson was faced with a very unpleasant dilemma.
Hewasquiteawareoftheconstructionthatwouldbe
putonhisactionandhewasquiteunabletoraisethe
sumofmoneyinvolved.Headmitshimselfthathehad
tried in various quarters and failed when as a last
257

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

resource he rushed down to Devonshire to lay the


matterbeforehisuncleandpersuadehimtohelphim.
ThisCaptainTrevelyanabsolutelyrefusedtodo.
"Now, my dear Emily, we shall be quite unable to
prevent these facts from being brought to light. The
policehavealreadyunearthedthematter.Andyousee,
don't you, that we have here a very pressing and
urgent motive for the crime? The moment Captain
TrevelyanwasdeadPearsoncouldeasilyhaveobtained
thenecessarysumasanadvancefromMrKirkwood
andsavedhimselffromdisasterandpossiblycriminal
prosecution."
"Oh,theidiot,"saidEmilyhelplessly.
"Quiteso,"saidMrDacresdryly."Itseemstomethat
ouronlychanceliesinprovingthatJimPearsonwas
quiteunawareoftheprovisionsofhisuncle'swill."
TherewasapausewhileEmilyconsideredthematter.
Thenshesaidquietly:
"I'm'afraidthat'simpossible.Allthreeofthemknew
Sylvia, Jim and Brian. They often discussed it and
laughedandjokedabouttherichuncleinDevonshire."
"Dear,dear,"saidMrDacres."That'sunfortunate."
258

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Youdon'tthinkhimguilty,MrDacres?"askedEmily.
"Curiously enough I do not," replied the lawyer. "In
somewaysJimPearsonisamosttransparentyoung
man.Hehasn't,ifyouwillallowmetosayso,Emily,a
veryhighstandardofcommercialhonesty,butIdonot
believeforoneminutethathishandsandbaggedhis
uncle."
"Well, that's a good thing," said Emily. "I wish the
policethoughtthesame."
"Quite so. Our own impressions and ideas are of no
practical use. The case against him is unfortunately
strong.Iamnotgoingtodisguisefromyou,mydear
child, that the outlook is bad. I should suggest
Lorimer,K.C.,asthedefence.Forlornhopemanthey
callhim,"headdedcheerfully.
"ThereisonethingIshouldliketoknow,"saidEmily.
"Youhave,ofcourse,seenJim?"
"Certainly."
"Iwantyoutotellmehonestlyifyouthinkhehastold
thetruthinotherrespects."Sheoutlinedtohimthe
ideathatEnderbyhadsuggestedtoher.

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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

The lawyer considered the matter carefully before


replying.
"It'smyimpression,"hesaid,"thatheisspeakingthe
truthwhenhedescribeshisinterviewwithhisuncle.
Butthereislittledoubtthathehasgotthewindup
badly, and if he went round to the window, entered
thatwayandcameacrosshisuncle'sdeadbodyhe
mightjustpossiblybetooscaredtoadmitthefactand
haveconcoctedthisotherstory."
"That'swhatIthought,"saidEmily."Nexttimeyousee
him,MrDacres,willyouurgehimtospeakthetruth?
Itmaymakethemosttremendousdifference."
"Iwilldoso.Allthesame,"hesaidafteramomentor
two'spause,"Ithinkyouaremistakeninthisidea.The
newsofCaptainTrevelyan'sdeathwasbandiedaround
inExhamptonabouteightthirty.Atthattimethelast
trainhadleftforExeterbutJimPearsongotthefirst
trainavailablein the morninga thoroughlyunwise
proceeding by the way as it called attention to his
movements which without, would not have been
arousedifhehadleftbyatrainatamoreconventional
hour.Nowif,asyousuggest,hediscoveredhisuncle's
deadbodysometimeafterhalfpastfour,Ithinkhe
would have left Exhampton straight away. There's a
trainwhichleavesshortlyaftersixandanotherata
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

quartertoeight."
"That's a point," admitted Emily, "I didn't think of
that."
"Ihavequestionedhimnarrowlyabouthismethodof
enteringhis uncle'shouse," wentonMrDacres."He
says that Captain Trevelyan made him remove his
boots,andleavethemonthedoorstep.Thataccounts
fornowetmarksbeingdiscoveredinthehall."
"He doesn't speak of having heard any sound
anything at allthat gives him the idea that there
mighthavebeensomeoneelseinthehouse?"
"Hedidn'tmentionittome.ButIwillaskhim."
"Thankyou,"saidEmily."IfIwriteanotecanyoutake
ittohim?"
"Subjecttoitsbeingread,ofcourse."
"Oh,itwillbeaverydiscreetone."
Shecrossedtothewritingtableandscribbledafew
words.
"DearestJim,
"Everything'sgoingtobeallright,socheerup.Iam
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

workinglikefurytofindoutthetruth.Whatanidiot
you'vebeen,darling.
"Lovefrom
"Emily."
"There,"shesaid.
MrDacresreaditbutmadenocomment.
"Ihavetakenpainswithmyhandwriting,"saidEmily,
"sothattheprisonauthoritiescanreaditeasily.Now,I
mustbeoff."
"Youwillallowmetoofferyouacupoftea."
"No,thankyou,MrDacres.Ihavenotimetolose.Iam
goingtoseeJim'sAuntJennifer."
AtTheLaurels,EmilywasinformedthatMrsGardner
wasoutbutwouldbehomeshortly.
Emilysmiledupontheparlormaid.
"I'llcomeinandwaitthen."
"WouldyouliketoseeNurseDavis?"
Emilywasalwaysreadytoseeanybody."Yes,"shesaid
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

promptly.
A few minutes later Nurse Davis, starched and
curious,arrived.
"Howdoyoudo,"saidEmily."IamEmilyTrefusisa
kindofnieceofMrsGardner's.ThatisIamgoingtobe
aniecebutmyfiance,JimPearson,hasbeenarrested
asIexpectyouknow."
"Oh,it'sbeentoodreadful,"saidNurseDavis."Wesaw
it all in the papers this morning. What a terrible
business.Youseemtobebearingupwonderfully,Miss
Trefusisreallywonderfully."
TherewasafaintnoteofdisapprovalintheNurse's
voice.Hospitalnurses,sheimplied,wereabletobear
upowingtotheirforceofcharacter,butlessermortals
wereexpectedtogiveway.
"Well, one mustn't sag at the knees," said Emily. "I
hope you don't mind very much. I mean, it must be
awkwardforyoutobeassociatedwithafamilythat
hasgotamurderinit."
"It's very unpleasant, of course," said Nurse Davis
unbending at this proof of consideration. "But one's
dutytoone'spatientcomesbeforeeverything."
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Howsplendid,"saidEmily."Itmustbewonderfulfor
Aunt Jennifer to feel she has somebody upon whom
shecanrely."
"Oh, really," said the Nurse simpering, "you are too
kind. But, of course, I have had curious experiences
beforethis.Why,atthelastcaseIattended"Emily
listened patiently to a long and scandalous anecdote
comprising complicated divorce and paternity
questions. After complimenting Nurse Davis on her
tact,discretionandsavoirfaire,Emilyslidbacktothe
topicoftheGardners.
"Idon'tknowAuntJennifer'shusbandatall,"shesaid.
"I'venevermethim.Henevergoesawayfromhome,
doeshe?"
"No,poorfellow."
"Whatexactlyisthematterwithhim?"
NurseDavisembarkedonthesubjectwithprofessional
gusto.
"So,reallyhemightgetwellagainanyminute,"Emily
murmuredthoughtfully.
"Hewouldbeterriblyweak,"saidtheNurse.

264

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Oh, of course. But it makes it seem more hopeful,


doesn'tit?"
The Nurse shook her head with firm professional
despondency.
"Idon'tsupposetherewillbeanycureinhiscase."
Emilyhadcopieddowninherlittlenotebookthetime
tableofwhatshecalledAuntJennifer'salibi.Shenow
murmuredtentatively:
"HowqueeritseemstothinkthatAuntJenniferwas
actuallyatthePictureswhenherbrotherwas being
killed."
"Verysad,isn'tit?"saidNurseDavis."Ofcourse,she
couldn't tellbut it gives one such a shock
afterwards."
Emily cast about in her mind to find out what she
wantedtoknowwithoutaskingadirectquestion.
"Didn't she have some queer kind of vision or
premonition?" she inquired. "Wasn't it you who met
herinthehallwhenshecameinandexclaimedthat
shelookedquitequeer?"
"Oh,no,"saidtheNurse."Itwasn'tme.Ididn'tseeher
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

untilweweresittingdowntodinnertogether,andshe
seemed quite her ordinary self then. How very
interesting."
"IexpectIammixingitupwithsomethingelse,"said
Emily.
"Perhapsitwassomeotherrelation,"suggestedNurse
Davis."Icameinratherlatemyself.Ifeltratherguilty
aboutleavingmypatientsolong,buthehimselfhad
urgedmetogo."
Shesuddenlylookedatherwatch.
"Oh,dear.Heaskedmeforanotherhotwaterbottle.I
mustseeaboutit at once.Will youexcuseme,Miss
Trefusis?"
Emilyexcusedherandgoingovertothefireplaceshe
putherfingeronthebell.
Theslipshodmaidcamewithratherafrightenedface.
"What'syourname?"saidEmily.
"Beatrice,Miss."
"Oh,Beatrice,Imaynotbeabletowaittoseemyaunt
MrsGardner,afterallIwantedtoaskherabout
266

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

someshoppingshedidonFriday.Doyouknowifshe
broughtabigparcelbackwithher?"
"No,Miss,Ididn'tseehercomein."
"Ithoughtyousaidshecameinatsixo'clock."
"Yes,Miss,shedid,Ididn'tseehercomein,butwhenI
went to take some hot water to her room at seven
o'clockitgavemeashocktofindherlyinginthedark
onthebed.'Well,ma'am,'Isaidtoher,'Yougaveme
quiteashock.''Icameinquitealongtimeago.Atsix
o'clock,'shesaid.Ididn'tseeabigparcelanywhere,"
saidBeatricetryingherhardesttobehelpful.
"It's all very difficult," thought Emily. "One has to
invent so many things. I've already invented a
premonitionandabigparcel,butsofarasIcansee
one has to invent something if one doesn't want to
soundsuspicious."Shesmiledsweetlyandsaid:
"That'sallright,Beatrice,itdoesn'tmatter."
Beatricelefttheroom.Emilytookasmalllocaltime
tableoutofherhandbagandconsultedit.
"LeaveExeter,StDavid's,threeten,"shemurmured,
"ArriveExhampton,threefortytwo.Timeallowedfor
going to brother's house and murdering himhow
267

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

beastlyandcoldbloodeditsoundsandsuchnonsense
toosayhalfanhourtothreequarters.Whatarethe
trainsback?There'soneatfourtwentyfiveandthere's
oneMrDacresmentionedatsixten,thatgetsinat
twentythree minutes to seven. Yes, it's actually
possible either way. It's a pity there's nothing to
suspecttheNursefor.Shewasoutalltheafternoon
andnobodyknowswhereshewas.Butyoucan'thavea
murderwithout anymotiveat all. Ofcourse, Idon't
reallybelieveanybodyinthishousemurderedCaptain
Trevelyan but in a way it's comforting to know that
theycouldhave.Hellothere'sthefrontdoor."
Therewasamurmurofvoicesinthehallandthedoor
openedandJenniferGardnercameintotheroom.
"I'mEmilyTrefusis,"saidEmily."Youknowtheone
whoisengagedtoJimPearson."
"SoyouareEmily,"saidMrsGardnershakinghands.
"Well,thisisasurprise."
SuddenlyEmilyfeltveryweakandsmall.Ratherlike
alittlegirlintheactofdoingsomethingverysilly.An
extraordinaryperson,AuntJennifer.Characterthat
was what it was. Aunt Jennifer had about enough
characterfortwoandthreequarterpeopleinsteadof
one.
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Haveyouhadtea,mydear?No?Thenwe'llhaveit
here. Just a momentI must go up and see Robert
first."
A strange expression flitted over her face as she
mentioned her husband's name. The hard, beautiful
voice softened. It was like a light passing over dark
ripplesofwater.
"Shedoesadorehim,"thoughtEmilyleftaloneinthe
drawingroom. "All the same there's something
frightening about Aunt Jennifer. I wonder if Uncle
Robertlikesbeingadoredquiteasmuchasthat."
When Jennifer Gardner returned, she had taken off
herhat.Emilyadmiredthesmoothsweepofthehair
backfromherforehead.
"Doyouwanttotalkaboutthings,Emily,ordon'tyou?
Ifyoudon'tIshallquiteunderstand."
"Itisn'tmuchgoodtalkingaboutthem,isit?"
"Wecanonlyhope,"saidMrsGardner,"thattheywill
findtherealmurdererquickly.Justpressthebell,will
you,Emily?I'llsendNurse'steauptoher.Idon'twant
herchatteringdownhere.HowIhatehospitalnurses."
"Issheagoodone?"
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VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Isupposesheis.Robertsayssheisanyway.Idislike
herintenselyandalwayshave.ButRobertsaysshe's
farandawaythebestnursewe'vehad."
"She'srathergoodlooking,"saidEmily.
"Nonsense.Withheruglybeefyhands?"
Emilywatchedheraunt'slongwhitefingersasthey
touchedthemilkjugandthesugartongs.
Beatrice came, took the cup of tea and a plate of
eatablesandlefttheroom.
"Robert has been very upset over all this," saidMrs
Gardner."Heworkshimselfintosuchcuriousstates.I
supposeit'sallpartofhisillnessreally."
"Hedidn'tknowCaptainTrevelyanwell,didhe?"
JenniferGardnershookherhead.
"He neither knew him nor cared about him. To be
honest,I,myselfcan'tpretendanygreatsorrowover
his death. He was a cruel grasping man, Emily. He
knewthestrugglewehavehad.Thepoverty!Heknew
that a loan of money at the right time might have
givenRobertspecialtreatmentthatwouldhavemade
all the difference. Well, retribution has overtaken
270

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

him."
Shespokeinadeepbroodingvoice.
"What a strange woman she is," thought Emily.
"Beautifulandterrible,likesomethingoutofagreek
tragedy."
"Maybe there's still time," Mrs Gardner went on. "I
wrotetotheExhamptonlawyerstoday,askingifthey
couldforwardmesomeofmyinheritancemoney."
Herfacewasglowing,litupasthoughbyalamp.
Emily was tired. She had had a long day, little or
nothingtoeat,andshewaswornoutbysuppressed
emotion.Theroomkeptgoingawayandcomingback
again.
"Aren'tyoufeelingwell,dear?"
"It'sallright,"gaspedEmily,andtoherownsurprise,
annoyanceandhumiliationburstintotears.
MrsGardnerdidnotattempttoriseandconsoleher,
for which Emily was grateful. She just sat silently
untilEmily'stearsshouldsubside.Shemurmuredina
thoughtfulvoice:

271

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

"Poorchild.It'sveryunluckythatJimPearsonshould
havebeenarrestedveryunlucky.Iwishsomething
couldbedoneaboutit."

272

VISITTOAUNTJENNIFER

Chapter21

CONVERSATIONS
LefttohisowndevicesCharlesEnderbydidnotrelax
hisefforts.Tofamiliarizehimselfwithlifeaslivedin
Sittaford village he had only to turn on Mrs Curtis
much as you would turn on the tap of a hydrant.
Listening slightly dazed to a stream of anecdote,
reminiscence, rumors, surmise and meticulous detail
he endeavored valiantly to sift the grain from the
chaff. He then mentioned another name and
immediatelytheforceofthewaterwasdirectedinthat
direction.
HeheardallaboutCaptainWyatt,histropicaltemper,
his rudeness, his quarrels with his neighbors, his
occasional amazing graciousness, usually to
personableyoungwomen.Thelifeheled,hisIndian
servant,thepeculiartimeshehadhismealsandthe
exactdietthatcomposedthem.
Heheard about MrRycroft's library, his hairtonics,
his insistence on strict tidiness and punctuality, his
273

CONVERSATIONS

inordinate curiosity over other people's doings, his


recentsellingofafewoldprizedpersonalpossessions,
hisinexplicablefondnessforbirds,andtheprevalent
ideathatMrsWillettwassettinghercapathim.
HeheardaboutMissPercehouseandhertongueand
thewayshebulliedhernephew,andoftherumorsof
thegaylifethatsamenephewledinLondon.Heheard
all over again of Major Burnaby's friendship with
CaptainTrevelyan,theirreminiscencesofthepastand
theirfondnessforchess.
He heard everything that was known about the
Willetts,includingthebeliefthatMissVioletWillett
wasleadingonMrRonnieGarfieldandthatshedidn't
reallymeantohavehim.Itwashintedthatshemade
mysterious excursions to the moor and that shehad
beenseenwalkingtherewithayoungman.Anditwas
doubtlessforthatreason,soMrsCurtishadsurmised,
thattheyhadcometothisdesolatespot.Hermother
had takenherright away,"togetrightoverit like."
But there"girls can be far more artful than ladies
everdreamof."
AboutMrDuke,therewascuriouslylittletohear.He
had been there only a short time and his activities
seemedtobesolelyhorticultural.

274

CONVERSATIONS

Itwashalfpastthreeandwithhisheadspinningfrom
the effects of Mrs Curtis's conversation, Mr Enderby
wentoutforastroll.Hisintentionwastocultivatethe
acquaintance of Miss Percehouse's nephew more
closely.Prudentreconnaissanceintheneighborhoodof
MissPercehouse'scottageprovedunavailingbutbya
strokeofgoodfortuneheranintothatyoungmanjust
as he was emerging disconsolately from the gates of
SittafordHouse.Hehadalltheappearanceofhaving
beensentawaywithafleainhisear.
"Hello," said Charles, "I say, isn't that Captain
Trevelyan'shouse?"
"That'sright,"saidRonnie.
"Iwashopingtogetasnapshotofitthismorning.For
mypaper,youknow,"headded."Butthisweatheris
hopelessforphotography."
Ronnie accepted this statement in all good faith
without reflecting that if photography was only
possible on days of brilliant sunshine, the pictures
appearinginthedailypaperswouldbefew.
"Itmustbeaveryinterestingjobyours,"hesaid.
"Adog'slife,"saidCharlesfaithfultotheconventionof
275

CONVERSATIONS

nevershowingenthusiasmaboutone'swork.Helooked
overhisshoulderatSittafordHouse."Ratheragloomy
placeIshouldimagine."
"NoendofadifferencetheresincetheWillettsmoved
in,"saidRonnie."Iwasdownherelastyearaboutthe
sametimeandreallyyouwouldhardlytakeitforthe
sameplace,andyet,Idon'tknowquitewhattheyhave
done.Movedthefurnitureaboutabit,Isuppose,got
cushions and things of that sort about. It's been a
godsendtometheirbeinghere,Icantellyou."
"Can'tbeaveryjollyspotasaruleIsuppose,"said
Charles.
"Jolly? If I lived here a fortnight I should pass out
altogether.Howmyauntmanagestoclingontolifein
thewayshedoesbeatsme.Youhaven'tseenhercats,
haveyou?Ihadtocomboneofthemthismorningand
lookatthewaythebrutescratchedme."Heheldouta
handandanarmforinspection.
"Ratherroughluck,"saidCharles.
"Ishouldsayitwas.Isay,areyoudoinganysleuthing?
Ifso,canIhelp?BetheWatsontoyourSherlock,or
anythingofthatkind?"

276

CONVERSATIONS

"Any clues in Sittaford House?" inquired Charles


casually."ImeandidCaptainTrevelyanleaveanyof
histhingsthere?"
"Idon'tthinkso.Myauntwassayinghemovedlock,
stockandbarrel.Tookhiselephant'strottersandhis
hippopotamus'stoothypegsandallthesportingrifles
andwhatnots."
"Almostasthoughhedidn'tmeantocomeback,"said
Charles.
"Isaythat'sanidea.Youdon'tthinkitwassuicide,
doyou?"
"Amanwhocanhithimselfcorrectlyonthebackof
the head with a sandbag would be something of an
artistinthesuicideworld,"saidCharles.
"Yes,Ithoughttherewasn'tmuchinthatidea.Looks
asifhehadhadapremonitionthough,"Ronnie'sface
brightened."Lookhere,whataboutthis?Enemieson
his track, he knows they're coming, so he clears out
andpassesthebuck,asitwere,totheWilletts."
"TheWillettswereabitofamiraclebythemselves,"
saidCharles.
"Yes,Ican'tmakeitout.Fancyplantingyourselfdown
277

CONVERSATIONS

here in the country like this. Violet doesn't seem to


mindactuallysaysshelikesit.Idon'tknowwhat's
thematterwithhertoday,Isupposeit'sthedomestic
trouble. I can't think why women worry so about
servants.Iftheycutupnasty,justpushthemout."
"That's just what they have done, isn't it?" said
Charles.
"Yes,Iknow.Buttheyareinagreatstewaboutitall.
Mother lying down with screaming hysterics or
somethinganddaughtersnappinglikeaturtle.Fairly
pushedmeoutjustnow."
"Theyhaven'thadthepolicethere,havethey?"Ronnie
stared.
"Thepolice,no,whywouldthey?"
"Well, I wondered. Seeing Inspector Narracott in
Sittafordthismorning."
Ronniedroppedhisstickwithaclatterandstoopedto
pickitup.
"Who did you say was in Sittaford this morning
InspectorNarracott?"
"Yes."
278

CONVERSATIONS

"IsheishethemaninchargeoftheTrevelyancase?"
"That'sright."
"WhatwashedoinginSittaford?Wheredidyousee
him?"
"Oh,Isupposehewasjustnosingabout,"saidCharles,
"checkingupCaptainTrevelyan'spastlifesotospeak."
"Youthinkthat'sall?"
"Isupposeso."
"Hedoesn'tthinkanyoneinSittafordhadanythingto
dowithit?"
"Thatwouldbeveryunlikely,wouldn'tit?"
"Ohfrightfully.Butthenyouknowwhatthepoliceare
alwaysbuttinginonthewrongtack.Atleastthat's
whatitsaysindetectivenovels."
"Ithinktheyarereallyratheranintelligentbodyof
men,"saidCharles."Ofcourse,thePressdoesalotto
helpthem,"headded."Butifyoureallyreadacase
carefully it's amazing the way they track down
murdererswithpracticallynoevidencetogoon."
"Ohwellit'snicetoknowthat,isn'tit?Theyhave
279

CONVERSATIONS

certainlygotontothismanPearsonprettyquick.It
seemsaprettyclearcase."
"Crystalclear,"saidCharles."Agoodthingitwasn't
youorme,eh?Well,Imustbesendingoffafewwires.
Theydon'tseemveryusedtotelegramsinthisplace.If
yousendmorethanhalfacrown'sworthatonegothey
seemtothinkyouareanescapedlunatic."
Charles sent his telegrams, bought a packet of
cigarettes,afewdoubtfullookingbull'seyesandtwo
veryagedpaperbackednovelettes.Hethenreturned
to the cottage, threw himself on his bed and slept
peacefully,blissfullyunawarethatheandhisaffairs,
particularlyMissEmilyTrefusis,werebeingdiscussed
invariousplacesallaroundhim.
Itisfairlysafetosaythattherewereonlythreetopics
of conversation at present in Sittaford. One was the
murder, one was the escape of the convict, and the
otherwasMissEmilyTrefusisandhercousin.Indeed,
atacertainmoment,fourseparateconversationswere
goingonwithherastheirmaintheme.
Conversation No. 1 was at Sittaford House where
VioletWillettandhermotherhadjustwasheduptheir
ownteathingsowingtothedomesticretreat.

280

CONVERSATIONS

"ItwasMrsCurtiswhotoldme,"saidViolet.Shestill
lookedpaleandwan.
"It'salmostadiseasethewaythatwomantalks,"said
hermother.
"I know. It seems the girl is actually stopping there
with a cousin or something. She did mention this
morningthatshewasatMrsCurtis's,butIthought
thatthatwassimplybecauseMissPercehousehadn't
roomforher.Andnowitseemsthatshe'dnevereven
seenMissPercehousetillthismorning!"
"Idislikethatwomanintensely,"saidMrsWillett.
"MrsCurtis?"
"No,no,thePercehousewoman.Thatkindofwomanis
dangerous.Theyliveforwhattheycanfindoutabout
otherpeople.Sendingthatgirlalonghereforarecipe
for coffee cake! I'd like to have sent her a poisoned
cake.Thatwouldhavestoppedherinterferingforgood
andall!"
"I suppose I ought to have realized" began Violet.
Buthermotherinterruptedher.
"Howcouldyou,mydear!Andanywaywhatharmis
done?"
281

CONVERSATIONS

"Whydoyouthinkshecamehere?"
"I don't suppose she had anything definite in mind.
Shewasjustspyingouttheland.IsMrsCurtissure
aboutherbeingengagedtoJimPearson?"
"ThegirltoldMrRycroftso,Ibelieve.MrsCurtissaid
shesuspecteditfromthefirst."
"Well, then the whole thing's natural enough. She's
justlookingaboutaimlesslyforsomethingthatmight
help."
"You didn't see her, mother," said Violet. "She isn't
aimless."
"I wish I had seen her," said Mrs Willett. "But my
nerves were all to pieces this morning. Reaction, I
suppose,afterthatinterviewwiththepoliceinspector
yesterday."
"You were wonderful, mother. If only I hadn't been
suchanutterfooltogoandfaint.Oh!I'mashamedof
myselfforgivingthewholeshowaway.Andtherewere
youperfectlycalmandcollectednotturningahair."
"I'm in pretty good training," said Mrs Willett in a
harddryvoice."Ifyou'dbeenthroughwhatI'vebeen
throughbutthere,Ihopeyouneverwill,mychild.I
282

CONVERSATIONS

trustandbelievethatyou'vegotahappy,peacefullife
aheadofyou."
Violetshookherhead.
"I'mafraidI'mafraid"
"Nonsenseandasforsayingyougavetheshowaway
by fainting yesterdaynothing of the kind. Don't
worry."
"ButthatInspectorhe'sboundtothink"
"That it was the mention of Jim Pearson made you
faint?Yeshe'llthinkthatallright.He'snofool,that
InspectorNarracott.Butwhatifhedoes?He'llsuspect
aconnectionandhe'lllookforitandhewon'tfind
it."
"Youthinknot?"
"Of course not! How can he? Trust me, Violet dear.
That'scastironcertaintyand,inaway,perhapsthat
faintofyourswasaluckyhappening.We'llthinkso,
anyway."
ConversationNo.2wasinMajorBurnaby'scottage.It
wasasomewhatonesidedone,thebruntofitbeing
borne by Mrs Curtis, who had been poised for
283

CONVERSATIONS

departuresforthelasthalfhour,havingdroppedinto
collectMajorBurnaby'slaundry.
"Like my Great Aunt Sarah's Belinda, that's what I
said to Curtis this morning," said Mrs Curtis
triumphantly."Adeeponeandonethatcantwistall
themenroundherlittlefinger."
AgreatgruntfromMajorBurnaby.
"Engaged to one young man and carrying on with
another," said Mrs Curtis. "That's my Great Aunt
Sarah'sBelindaallover.Andnotforthefunofit,mark
you. It's not just flightinessshe's a deep one. And
now young Mr Garfieldshe'll have him roped ir
beforeyoucansayknife.NeverhaveIseenayoung
gentleman look more like a sheep than he did this
morningandthat'sasuresign."
Shepausedforbreath.
"Well,well," said MajorBurnaby."Don't let mekeep
you,MrsCurtis."
"Curtiswillbewantinghisteaandthat'safact,"said
MrsCurtiswithoutmoving."Iwasneveronetostand
aboutgossiping.Getonwithyourjobthat'swhatI
say.Andtalkingaboutjobs,whatdoyousay,sir,toa
284

CONVERSATIONS

goodturnout."
"No!"saidMajorBurnabywithforce.
"It'samonthsinceit'sbeendone."
"No. I like to know where my things are and
everything.Afteroneoftheseturnoutsnothing'sever
putbackinitsplace."
Mrs Curtis sighed. She was an impassioned cleaner
andturnerout.
"It's Captain Wyatt as could do with a Spring
cleaning," she observed. "That nasty native of his
what does he know about cleaning, I should like to
know?Nastyblackfellow."
"Nothing better than a native servant," said Major
Burnaby."Theyknowtheirjobandtheydon'ttalk."
Anyhintthelastsentencemighthavecontainedwas
lost upon Mrs Curtis. Her mind had reverted to a
formertopic.
"Twotelegramsshegottwoarrivinginhalfanhour.
Gavemequiteaturnitdid.Butshereadthemascool
asanything.Andthenshetoldmeshewasgoingto
Exeterandwouldn'tbebacktilltomorrow."
285

CONVERSATIONS

"Didshetakeheryoungmanwithher?"inquiredthe
Majorwithagleamofhope.
"No, he's still here. A pleasant spoken young
gentleman.Heandshe'dmakeanicepair."
GruntfromMajorBurnaby.
"Well,"saidMrsCurtis."I'llbegettingalong."
The Major hardly dared breathe for fear he might
distract her from her purpose. But this time Mrs
Curtis was as good as her word. The door closed
behindher.
WithasighofrelieftheMajordrewforthapipeand
begantoperuseaprospectusofacertainminewhich
was couched in terms so blatantly optimistic that it
wouldhavearousedsuspicioninanyheartbutthatof
awidoworaretiredsoldier.
"Twelve per cent," murmured Major Burnaby. "That
soundsprettygood..."
NextdoorCaptainWyattwaslayingdownthelawto
MrRycroft.
"Fellowslikeyou,"hesaid,"don'tknowanythingofthe
world.You'veneverlived.You'veneverroughedit."
286

CONVERSATIONS

MrRycroftsaidnothing.Itwassodifficultnottosay
thewrongthingtoCaptainWyattthatitwasusually
safernottoreplyatall.
TheCaptainleanedoverthesideofhisinvalidchair.
"Where'sthatbitchgotto?Nicelookinggirl,"headded.
Theassociationofideasinhismindwasquitenatural.
ItwaslesssotoMrRycroftwholookedathimina
scandalizedfashion.
"What'sshedoinghere?That'swhatIwanttoknow?"
demandedCaptainWyatt."Abdul!"
"Sahib?"
"Where'sBully?Hasshegotoutagain?"
"Sheinkitchen,Sahib."
"Well,don'tfeedher."Hesankbackinhischairagain
and proceeded on his second tack. "What does she
wanthere?Who'sshegoingtotalktoinaplacelike
this?Allyouoldfogieswillboreherstiff.Ihadaword
with her this morning. Expect she was surprised to
findamanlikemeinaplacelikethis."
Hetwistedhismustache.

287

CONVERSATIONS

"She'sJamesPearson'sfiance,"saidMrRycroft."You
knowthemanwhohasbeenarrestedforTrevelyan's
murder."
Wyattdroppedaglassofwhiskeyhewasjustraising
tohislipswithacrashuponthefloor.Heimmediately
roaredforAbdulandcursedhiminnomeasuredterms
for not placing a table at a convenient angle to his
chair.Hethenresumedtheconversation.
"Sothat'swhosheis.Toogoodforacounterjumper
likethat.Agirllikethatwantsarealman."
"YoungPearsonisverygoodlooking,"saidMrRycroft.
"Good lookinggood lookinga girl doesn't want a
barber'sblock.Whatdoesthatsortofyoungmanwho
works in an office every day know of life? What
experiencehashehadofreality?"
"Perhapstheexperienceofbeingtriedformurderwill
besufficientrealitytolasthimforsometime,"saidMr
Rycroftdrily.
"Policesurehedidit,eh?"
"They must be fairly sure or they wouldn't have
arrestedhim."

288

CONVERSATIONS

"Country bumpkins," said Captain Wyatt


contemptuously.
"Not quite," said Mr Rycroft. "Inspector Narracott
struckmethismorningasanableandefficientman."
"Wheredidyouseehimthismorning?"
"Hecalledatmyhouse."
"He didn't call at mine," said Captain Wyatt in an
injuredfashion.
"Well, you weren't a close friend of Trevelyan's or
anythinglikethat."
"I don't know what you mean. Trevelyan was a
skinflintandItoldhimsotohisface.Hecouldn'tcome
bossingitoverme.Ididn'tkowtowtohimliketherest
ofthepeoplehere.Alwaysdroppingindroppingin
toomuchdroppingin.IfIdon'tchoosetoseeanyone
foraweek,oramonth,orayear,that'smybusiness."
"Youhaven'tseenanyoneforaweeknow,haveyou?"
saidMrRycroft.
"No,andwhyshouldI?"Theirateinvalidbangedthe
table.MrRycroftwasaware,asusual,ofhavingsaid
thewrongthing."WhythebloodyhellshouldI?Tell
289

CONVERSATIONS

methat?"
MrRycroftwasprudentlysilent.TheCaptain'swrath
subsided.
"Allthesame,"hegrowled,"ifthepolicewanttoknow
aboutTrevelyanI'mthemantheyshouldhavecometo.
I'veknockedabouttheworld,andI'vegotjudgment.I
cansizeamanupforwhathe'sworth.What'sthegood
of going to a lot of dodderers and old women. What
theywantisaman'sjudgment."
Hebangedthetableagain.
"Well," said Mr Rycroft, "I suppose they think they
knowthemselveswhattheyareafter."
"Theyinquiredaboutme,"saidCaptainWyatt."They
wouldnaturally."
"WellerI don't quite remember," said Mr Rycroft
cautiously.
"Whycan'tyouremember?You'renotinyourdotage
yet."
"I expect I waserrattled," said Mr Rycroft
soothingly.

290

CONVERSATIONS

"Rattled,wereyou?Afraidofthepolice?I'mnotafraid
ofthepolice.Let'emcomehere.That'swhatIsay.I'll
show them. Do you know I shot a cat at a hundred
yardstheothernight?"
"Didyou?"saidMrRycroft.
TheCaptain'shabitoflettingoffarevolveratrealor
imaginarycatswasasoretrialtohisneighbors.
"Well,I'mtired,"saidCaptainWyattsuddenly."Have
anotherdrinkbeforeyougo?"
Rightly interpreting his hint, Mr Rycroft rose to his
feet. Captain Wyatt continued to urge a drink upon
him.
"You'dbetwicethemanifyoudrankabitmore.Aman
whocan'tenjoyadrinkisn'tamanatall."
ButMrRycroftcontinuedtodeclinetheoffer.Hehad
already consumed one whiskey and soda of most
unusualstrength.
"Whatteadoyoudrink?"askedWyatt."Idon'tknow
anythingabouttea.ToldAbdultogetsome.Thought
thatgirlmightliketocomeintoteaoneday.Darned
pretty girl. Must do something for her. She must be
boredtodeathinaplacelikethiswithnoonetotalk
291

CONVERSATIONS

to."
"There'sayoungmanwithher,"saidMrRycroft.
"Theyoungmenofthepresentdaymakemesick,"said
CaptainWyatt."What'sthegoodofthem?"
This being a difficult query to answer suitably, Mr
Rycroftdidnotattemptit,hetookhisdeparture.
Thebullterrierbitchaccompaniedhimtothegateand
causedhimacutealarm.
InNo.4TheCottages,MissPercehousewasspeaking
tohernephew,Ronald.
"Ifyouliketomoonaboutafteragirlwhodoesn'twant
you, that is your affair, Ronald," she was saying.
"BettersticktotheWillettgirl.Youmayhaveachance
there,thoughIthinkitisextremelyunlikely."
"Oh,Isay,"protestedRonnie.
"TheotherthingIhavetosayis,thatiftherewasa
policeofficerinSittafordIshouldhavebeeninformed
ofit.Whoknows,Imighthavebeenabletogivehim
valuableinformation."
"Ididn'tknowaboutitmyselftillafterhehadgone."
292

CONVERSATIONS

"Thatissolikeyou,Ronnie.Absolutelytypical."
"Sorry,AuntCaroline."
"And when you are painting the garden furniture,
thereisnoneedtopaintyourfaceaswell.Itdoesn't
improveitanditwastesthepaint."
"Sorry,AuntCaroline."
"And now," said Miss Percehouse closing her eyes,
"don'targuewithmeanymore.I'mtired."
Ronnieshuffledhisfeetandlookeduncomfortable.
"Well?"saidMissPercehousesharply.
"Oh!nothingonly"
"Yes?"
"Well, I was wondering if you'd mind ifI blew in to
Exetertomorrow?"
"Why?"
"Well,Iwanttomeetafellowthere."
"Whatkindofafellow?"

293

CONVERSATIONS

"Oh!justafellow."
"If a young man wishes to tell lies, he should do so
well,"saidMissPercehouse.
"Oh!Isaybut"
"Don'tapologize."
"It'sallrightthen?Icango?"
"Idon'tknowwhatyoumeanbysaying,'Icango?'as
thoughyouwereasmallchild.Youareovertwenty
one."
"Yes,butwhatImeanis,Idon'twant"
MissPercehouseclosedhereyesagain.
"Ihaveaskedyouoncebeforenottoargue.Iamtired
and wish to rest. If the 'fellow' you are meeting in
ExeterwearsskirtsandiscalledEmilyTrefusis,more
foolyouthatisallIhavetosay."
"Butlookhere"
"Iamtired,Ronald.That'senough."

294

CONVERSATIONS

Chapter22

NOCTURNAL
ADVENTURESOF
CHARLES
Charleswasnotlookingforwardwithanyrelishtothe
prospect of his night's vigil. He privately considered
thatitwaslikelytobeawildgoosechase.Emily,he
considered,waspossessedofatoovividimagination.
Hewasconvincedthatshehadreadintothefewwords
shehadoverheardameaningthathaditsorigininher
ownbrain.ProbablysheerwearinesshadinducedMrs
Willetttoyearnfornighttocome.
Charleslookedoutofhiswindowandshivered.Itwas
apiercinglycoldnight,rawandfoggythelastnight
one would wish to spend in the open hanging about
andwaitingforsomething,verynebulousinnature,to
happen.

295

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

Stillhedarednotyieldtohisintensedesiretoremain
comfortably indoors. He recalled the liquid
melodiousness of Emily's voice as she said, "It's
wonderfultohavesomeoneyoucanreallyrelyon."
Shereliedonhim,Charles,andsheshouldnotrelyin
vain.What?Failthatbeautiful,helplessgirl?Never.
Besides, he reflected as he donned all the spare
underclotheshepossessedbeforeencasinghimselfin
twopulloversandhisovercoat,thingswerelikelytobe
deucedlyunpleasantifEmilyonherreturnfoundout
thathehadnotcarriedouthispromise.
She would probably say the most unpleasant things.
No,hecouldn'triskit.Butasforanythinghappening

Andanyway,whenandhowwasitgoingtohappen?
Hecouldn'tbeeverywhereatonce.Probablywhatever
was going to happen would happen inside Sittaford
Houseandhewouldneverknowathingaboutit.
"Justlikeagirl,"hegrumbledtohimself,"waltzingoff
toExeterandleavingmetodothedirtywork."
Andthenherememberedoncemoretheliquidtonesof
Emily'svoiceassheexpressedherrelianceonhim,and
296

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

hefeltashamedofhisoutburst.
He completed his toilet, rather after the model of
Tweedledee,andeffectedasurreptitiousexitfromthe
cottage.
Thenightwasevencolderandmoreunpleasantthan
hehadthought.DidEmilyrealizeallhewasaboutto
sufferonherbehalf?Hehopedso.
His hand went tenderly to a pocket and caressed a
hiddenflaskconcealedinanearpocket.
"Theboy'sbestfriend,"hemurmured."Itwouldbea
nightlikethisofcourse."
Withsuitableprecautionsheintroducedhimselfinto
thegroundsofSittafordHouse.TheWillettskeptno
dogsotherewasnofearofalarmfromthatquarter.A
light in the gardener's cottage showed that it was
inhabited.SittafordHouseitselfwasindarknesssave
foronelightedwindowonthefirstfloor.
"Those two women are alone in the house," thought
Charles."Ishouldn'tcareforthatmyself.Abitcreepy!"
HesupposedEmilyhadreallyoverheardthatsentence,
"Willtonightnevercome?"Whatdiditreallymean?
297

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

"Iwonder,"hethoughttohimself,"iftheymeantodoa
flit?Well,whateverhappens,littleCharlesisgoingto
beheretoseeit."
Hecircledthehouseatadiscreetdistance.Owingto
thefoggynatureofthenighthehadnofearsofbeing
observed.Everythingasfarashecouldseeappeared
tobeasusual.Acautiousvisitingoftheoutbuildings
showedthemtobelocked.
"Ihopesomethingdoeshappen,"saidCharlesasthe
hours passed. Hetook a prudent sip from his flask.
"I've never known anything like this cold. 'What did
youdointheGreatWar,Daddy,'can'thavebeenany
worsethanthis."
Heglancedathiswatchandwassurprisedtofindthat
itwasstillonlytwentyminutestotwelve.Hehadbeen
convincedthatitmustbenearlydawn.
An unexpected sound made him prick up his ears
excitedly.Itwasthesoundofaboltbeingverygently
drawn back in its socket, and it came from the
directionofthehouse.Charlesmadeanoiselessspring
frombushtobush.Yes,hehadbeenquiteright,the
smallsidedoorwasslowlyopening.Adarkfigurestood
onthethreshold.Itwaspeeringanxiouslyoutintothe
night.
298

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

"Mrs or Miss Willett," said Charles to himself. "The


fairViolet,Ithink."
Afterwaitingaminuteortwo,thefiguresteppedout
onthepathandclosedthedoornoiselesslybehindher
and started to walk away from the house in the
opposite direction to the front drive. The path in
question led up behind Sittaford House, passing
throughasmallplantationoftreesandsooutontothe
openmoor.
ThepathwoundquitenearthebusheswhereCharles
was concealed, so near that Charles was able to
recognizethewomanasshepassed.Hehadbeenquite
right, it was Violet Willett. She was wearing a long
darkcoatandhadaberetonherhead.
She went on up and as quietly as possible Charles
followedher.Hehadnofearsofbeingseen,buthewas
alive to the danger of being overheard. He was
particularlyanxiousnottoalarmthegirl.Owingtohis
care in this respect she outdistanced him. For a
momentortwohewasafraidlestheshouldloseher,
butasheinhisturnwoundhiswayanxiouslythrough
theplantationoftreeshesawherstandingalittleway
aheadofhim.Herethelowwallwhichsurroundedthe
estate was broken by a gate. Violet Willett was
standingbythisgate,leaningoveritpeeringoutinto
299

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

thenight.
Charlescreptupasnearashedaredandwaited.The
timepassed.Thegirlhadasmallpockettorchwithher
and once she switched it on for a moment or two,
directing it, Charles thought, to see the time by the
wristwatchshewaswearing,thensheleantoverthe
gateagaininthesameattitudeofexpectantinterest.
Suddenly,Charlesheardalowwhistletwicerepeated.
Hesawthegirlstarttosuddenattention.Sheleant
fartheroverthegateandfromherlipscamethesame
signalalowwhistletwicerepeated.
Thenwithstartlingsuddennessaman'sfigureloomed
outofthenight.Alowexclamationcamefromthegirl.
Shemovedbackapaceortwo,thegateswunginward
and the man joined her. She spoke to him in a low
hurriedvoice.Unabletocatchwhattheysaid,Charles
movedforwardsomewhatimprudently.Atwigsnapped
beneathhisfeet.Themanswungroundinstantly.
"What'sthat?"hesaid.
HecaughtsightofCharles'sretreatingfigure.
"Hie,youstop!Whatareyoudoinghere?"
WithaboundhesprangafterCharles.Charlesturned
300

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

andtackledhimadroitly.Thenextmomenttheywere
rolling over and over together locked in a tight
embrace.
Thetusslewasashortone.Charles'sassailantwasby
fartheheavierandstrongerofthetwo.Herosetohis
feetjerkinghiscaptivewithhim.
"Switchonthatlight,Violet,"hesaid,"let'shavealook
atthisfellow."
Thegirlwhohadbeenstandingterrifiedafewpaces
away came forward and switched on the torch
obediently.
"Itmustbethemanwhoisstayinginthevillage,"she
said."Ajournalist."
"Ajournalist,eh?"exclaimedtheother."Idon'tlikethe
breed.Whatareyoudoing,youskunk,nosinground
privategroundsatthistimeofnight?"
ThetorchwaveredinViolet'shand.Forthefirsttime
Charleswasgivenafullviewofhisantagonist.Fora
fewminuteshehadentertainedthewildideathatthe
visitormighthavebeentheescapedconvict.Onelook
attheotherdispelledanysuchfancy.Thiswasayoung
mannot morethantwentyfour orfiveyears of age.
301

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

Tall, goodlooking and determined, with none of the


huntedcriminalabouthim.
"Nowthen,"hesaidsharply,"What'syourname?"
"My name is Charles Enderby," said Charles. "You
haven'ttoldmeyours,"hecontinued.
"Confoundyourcheek!"
A sudden flash of inspiration came to Charles. An
inspiredguesshadsavedhimmorethanonce.Itwasa
longshotbuthebelievedthathewasright.
"Ithink,however,"hesaidquietly,"thatIcanguessit."
"Eh?"
Theotherwasclearlytakenaback.
"I think," said Charles, "that I have the pleasure of
addressingMrBrianPearsonfromAustralia.Isthat
so?"
There was a silencerather a long silence. Charles
hadafeelingthatthetableswereturned.
"HowthedevilyouknewthatIcan'tthink,"saidthe
other at last, "but you're right. My name is Brian
Pearson."
302

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

"Inthatcase,"saidCharles,"supposingweadjournto
thehouseandtalkthingsover!"

303

NOCTURNALADVENTURESOFCHARLES

Chapter23

ATHAZELMOOR
Major Burnaby was doing his accounts orto use a
more Dickenslike phrase, he was looking into his
affairs.TheMajorwasanextremelymethodicalman.
Inacalfboundbookhekeptarecordofsharesbought,
shares sold and the accompanying loss or profit
usuallyaloss,forincommonwithmostretiredarmy
mentheMajorwasattractedbyahighrateofinterest
ratherthanamodestpercentagecoupledwithsafety.
"These oil wells looked all right," he was muttering.
"Seemsasthoughthereoughttohavebeenafortune
init.Almostasbadasthatdiamondmine!Canadian
land,thatoughttobesoundnow."
His cogitations were interrupted as the head of Mr
RonaldGarfieldappearedattheopenwindow.
"Hello,"saidRonniecheerfully,"IhopeI'mnotbutting
in?"
"Ifyouarecomingingoroundtothefrontdoor,"said
304

ATHAZELMOOR

Major Burnaby. "Mind the rock plants. I believe you


arestandingonthematthemoment."
Ronnie retreated with an apology and presently
presentedhimselfatthefrontdoor.
"Wipeyourfeetonthemat,ifyoudon'tmind,"cried
theMajor.
Hefoundyoungmenextremelytrying.Indeed,theonly
youngmantowardswhomhehadfeltanykindliness
foralongtimewasthejournalist,CharlesEnderby.
"A nice young chap," the Major had said to himself.
"And very interested, too, in what I have told him
abouttheBoerWar."
Towards Ronnie Garfield the Major felt no such
kindliness.Practicallyeverythingthattheunfortunate
RonniesaidordidmanagedtorubtheMajorupthe
wrongway.Still,hospitalityishospitality.
"Haveadrink?"saidtheMajorloyaltothattradition.
"Nothanks.AsamatteroffactIjustdroppedintosee
if we couldn't get together. I wanted to go to
ExhamptontodayandIhearElmerisbookedtotake
youin."

305

ATHAZELMOOR

Burnabynodded.
"GottogooverTrevelyan'sthings,"heexplained."The
policehavedonewiththeplacenow."
"Well, you see," said Ronnie rather awkwardly, "I
particularly wanted to go into Exhampton today. I
thoughtifwecouldgettogetherandshareandshare
alikeasitwere.Eh?Whataboutit?"
"Certainly,"saidtheMajor."Iamagreeable.Doyoua
lotmoregoodtowalk,"headded."Exercise.Noneof
youyoungchapsnowadaystakeanyexercise.Abrisk
sixmilesthereandabrisksixmilesbackwoulddoyou
allthegoodintheworld.Ifitweren'tthatIneededthe
car to bring some of Trevelyan's things back here, I
should be walking myself. Getting softthat's the
curseofthepresentday."
"Oh, well," said Ronnie, "I don't believe in being
strenuousmyself.ButI'mgladwe'vesettledthatall
right.Elmersaidyouwerestartingateleveno'clock.Is
thatright?"
"That'sit."
"Good.I'llbethere."
Ronniewasnotquitesogoodashisword,hisideaof
306

ATHAZELMOOR

beingonthespotwastobetenminuteslateandhe
foundMajorBurnabyfumingandfrettingandnotat
allinclinedtobeplacatedbyacarelessapology.
"What a fuss old buffers make," thought Ronnie to
himself."Theyhavenoideawhatacursetheyareto
everybodywiththeirpunctuality,andeverythingdone
onthedotoftheminute,andtheircursedexerciseand
keepingfit."
Hismindplayedagreeablyforafewminuteswiththe
idea of a marriage between Major Burnaby and his
aunt.Which,hewondered,wouldgetthebetterofit?
He thought his aunt every time. Rather amusing to
thinkofherclappingherhandsandutteringpiercing
criestosummontheMajortoherside.
Banishing these reflections from his mind he
proceededtoenterintocheerfulconversation.
"Sittafordhasbecomeaprettygayspotwhat?Miss
Trefusis and this chap Enderby and the lad from
Australiabythewaywhendidheblowin?Therehe
was as large as life this morning and nobody knew
wherehehadcomefrom.It'sbeenworryingmyaunt
blueintheface."
"HeisstayingwiththeWilletts,"saidMajorBurnaby
307

ATHAZELMOOR

tartly.
"Yes,butwheredidheblowinfrom?EventheWilletts
haven't got a private aerodrome. You know, I think
there's something deuced mysterious about this lad
Pearson.He'sgotwhatIcallanastygleaminhiseye
averynastyglint.It'smyimpressionthathe'sthe
chapwhodidinpooroldTrevelyan."
TheMajormadenoreply.
"The way I look at it is this," continued Ronnie,
"fellows that go off to the Colonies are usually bad
hats. Their relations don't likethem andpush them
out thereforthat reason. Very well thenthere you
are. The bad hat comes back, short of money, visits
wealthyuncleintheneighborhoodofChristmastime,
wealthy relative won't cough up to impecunious
nephewand impecunious nephew bats him one.
That'swhatIcallatheory."
"You should mention it to the police," said Major
Burnaby.
"I thought you might do that," said Mr Garfield.
"You'reNarracott'slittlepal,aren'tyou?Bythewayhe
hasn'tbeennosingaboutSittafordagain,hashe?"

308

ATHAZELMOOR

"NotthatIknowabout."
"Notmeetingyouatthehousetoday,ishe?"
"No."
TheshortnessoftheMajor'sanswersseemedtostrike
Ronnieatlast.
"Well,"hesaidvaguely,"that'sthat,"andrelapsedinto
athoughtfulsilence.
At Exhampton the car drew up outside the Three
Crowns.Ronniealightedandafterarrangingwiththe
Majorthattheywouldrendezvousthereathalfpast
four for the return journey, he strode off in the
directionofsuchshopsasExhamptonoffered.
TheMajorwentfirsttoseeMrKirkwood,afterabrief
conversationwithhim,hetookthekeysandstartedoff
forHazelmoor.
HehadtoldEvanstomeethimthereattwelveo'clock
andhefoundthefaithfulretainerwaitingonthedoor
step.Witharathergrimface,MajorBurnabyinserted
thekeyintothefrontdoorandpassedintotheempty
house,Evansathisheels.Hehadnotbeeninitsince
the night of the tragedy, and in spite of his iron
determinationtoshownoweakness,hegaveaslight
309

ATHAZELMOOR

shiverashepassedthedrawingroom.
EvansandtheMajorworkedtogetherinsympathyand
silence.Wheneitherofthemmadeabriefremarkit
wasdulyappreciatedandunderstoodbytheother.
"Unpleasantjobthis,butithastobedone,"saidMajor
BurnabyandEvans,sortingoutsocksintoneatpiles,
andcountingpajamas,responded.
"Itseemsratherunnaturallike,butasyousay,sir,it's
gottobedone."
Evanswasdeftandefficientathiswork.Everything
was neatly sorted and arranged and classified in
heaps. At one o'clock they repaired to the Three
CrownsforashortmiddaymealWhentheyreturned
tothehousetheMajorsuddenlycaughtEvansbythe
armasthelatterclosedthefrontdoorbehindhim.
"Hush,"hesaid."Doyouhearthatfootstepoverhead?
It'sit'sinJoe'sbedroom."
"MyGawd,sir.Soitis."
A kind of superstitious terror held them both for a
minuteandthenbreakingloosefromit,andwithan
angry squaring of the shoulders the Major strode to
thefootofthestairsandshoutedinastentorianvoice:
310

ATHAZELMOOR

"Who'sthat?ComeoutofthereIsay."
Tohisintensesurpriseandannoyanceandyet,beit
confessed, to his slight relief, Ronnie Garfield
appeared at the top of the stairs. He looked
embarrassedandsheepish.
"Hello,"hesaid."Ihavebeenlookingforyou.""What
doyoumean,lookingforme?"
"Well,IwantedtotellyouthatIshan'tbereadyathalf
pastfour.I'vegottogointoExeter.Sodon'twaitfor
me.I'llhavetogetacarupfromExhampton."
"Howdidyougetintothishouse?"askedtheMajor.
"Thedoorwasopen," exclaimedRonnie."NaturallyI
thoughtyouwerehere."
TheMajorturnedtoEvanssharply.
"Didn'tyoulock'itwhenyoucameout?"
"No,sir,Ihadn'tgotthekey."
"Stupidofme,"mutteredtheMajor.
"Youdon'tmind,doyou?"saidRonnie."Icouldn'tsee
anyonedownstairssoIwentupstairsandhadalook
round."
311

ATHAZELMOOR

"Ofcourse,itdoesn'tmatter,"snappedtheMajor."You
startledme,that'sall."
"Well," said Ronnie airily. "I shall be pushing along
now.Solong."
TheMajorgrunted.Ronniecamedownthestairs.
"Isay,"hesaidboyishly,"doyoumindtellingmeer
erwhereithappened?"
The Major jerked a thumb in the direction of the
drawingroom.
"Oh,mayIlookinside?"
"Ifyoulike,"growledtheMajor.
Ronnieopenedthedrawingroomdoor.Hewasabsent
afewminutesandthenreturned.
TheMajorhadgoneupthestairsbutEvanswasinthe
hall.Hehadtheairofabulldogonguard,hissmall
deepset eyes watched Ronnie with a somewhat
maliciousscrutiny.
"Isay,"saidRonnie."Ithoughtyoucouldneverwash
outbloodstains.Ithought,howevermuchyouwashed
them,theyalwayscameback.Oh,ofcoursetheold
312

ATHAZELMOOR

fellowwassandbagged,wasn'the?Stupidofme.Itwas
one of these, wasn't it?" He took up a long narrow
bolster that lay against one of the other doors. He
weighed it thoughtfullyandbalanced it inhis hand.
"Nicelittletoy,eh?"Hemadeafewtentativeswings
withitintheair.
Evanswassilent.
"Well,"saidRonnierealizingthatthesilencewasnota
wholly appreciative one, "I'd better be getting along.
I'mafraidI'vebeenabittactless,eh?"Hejerkedhis
head towards the upper story. "I forgot about them
beingsuchpals andall that.Twoofakind,weren't
they?Well,I'mreallygoingnow.SorryifI'vesaidall
thewrongthings."
Hewalkedacrossthehallandoutthroughthefront
door. Evans stayed impassively in the hall, and only
whenhehadheardthelatchofthegateclosebehind
MrGarfielddidhemountthestairsandrejoinMajor
Burnaby. Without anywordorcomment heresumed
wherehehadleftoff,goingstraightacrosstheroom
andkneelingdowninfrontofthebootcupboard.
Athalfpastthreetheirtaskwasfinished.Onetrunk
ofclothesandunderclotheswasallottedtoEvans,and
another was strapped up ready to be sent to the
313

ATHAZELMOOR

Seamen's Orphanage. Papers and bills were packed


intoanattachcaseandEvanswasgiveninstructions
toseealocalfirmofremoversaboutthestorageofthe
varioussportingtrophiesandheads,astherewasno
room for them in Major Burnaby's cottage. Since
Hazelmoor was only rented furnished no other
questionsarose.
When all this was settled Evans cleared his throat
nervouslyonceortwiceandthensaid:
"Begpardon,sir,butI'llbewantingajobtolookafter
agentleman,sameasIdidtolookaftertheCapting."
"Yes, yes, you can tell anyone to apply to me for a
recommendation.Thatwillbequiteallright."
"Begging your pardon, sir, that wasn't quite what I
meant.Rebeccaandme,sir,we'vetalkeditoverand
wewaswonderingif,sirifmaybeyouwouldgiveusa
trial?"
"Oh!butwellIlookaftermyselfasyouknow.That
oldwhat'shernamecomesinandcleansformeoncea
dayandcooksafewthings.That'seraboutallIcan
afford."
"It isn't the money that matters so much, sir," said
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ATHAZELMOOR

Evans quickly. "You see, sir, I was very fond of the


Captingandwell,ifIcoulddoforyou,sir,thesame
asIdidforhim,well,itwouldbealmostlikethesame
thing,ifyouknowwhatImean."
TheMajorclearedhisthroatandavertedhiseyes.
"Very decent of you, upon my word. I'llI'll think
aboutit."Andescapingwithalacrityhealmostbolted
down the road. Evans stood looking after him an
understandingsmileuponhisface.
"Like as two peas, him and the Capting," he
murmured.Andthenapuzzledexpressioncameover
hisface.
"Wherecantheyhavegotto?"hemurmured."It'sabit
queerthat.ImustaskRebeccawhatshethinks."

315

ATHAZELMOOR

Chapter24

INSPECTOR
NARRACOTT
DISCUSSESTHECASE
"Iamnotentirelyhappyaboutit,sir,"saidInspector
Narracott.
TheChiefConstablelookedathiminquiringly.
"No," said Inspector Narracott. "I'm not nearly as
happyaboutitasIwas."
"Youdon'tthinkwe'vegottherightman?"
"I'm not satisfied. You see, to start with, everything
pointedtheonewaybutnowit'sdifferent."
"TheevidenceagainstPearsonremainsthesame."
"Yes,butthere'sagooddealoffurtherevidencecome
tolight,sir.There'stheotherPearsonBrian.Feeling
316

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

that we had no further to look I accepted the


statementthathewasinAustralia.Now,itturnsout
that he was in England all the time. It seems he
arrivedbackinEnglandtwomonthsagotraveledon
thesameboatastheseWillettsapparently.Looksas
though he had got sweet on the girl on the voyage.
Anyway, for whatever reason he didn't communicate
with any of his family. Neither his sister nor his
brotherhadanyideahewasinEngland.OnThursday
of last week he left the Ormsby Hotel in Russell
Square and drove to Paddington, from there until
Tuesday night, when Enderby ran across him, he
refusestoaccountforhismovementsinanyway."
"Youpointedouttohimthegravityofsuchacourseof
action?"
"Saidhedidn'tgiveadamn.Hehadhadnothingtodo
withthemurderanditwasuptoustoprovehehad.
The way he had employed his time was his own
businessandnoneofours,andhedeclineddefinitely
to state where he had been and what he had been
doing."
"Mostextraordinary,"saidtheChiefConstable.
"Yes,sir.It'sanextraordinarycase.Yousee,there'sno
usegettingawayfromthefacts,thisman'sfarmore
317

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

the type than the other. There's something


incongruousaboutJamesPearsonhittinganoldman
on the head with a sandbagbut in a manner of
speaking it might be all in the day's work to Brian
Pearson.He'sahottempered,highhandedyoungman
andheprofitstoexactlythesameextent,remember.
Yeshe came over with Mr Enderby this morning,
verybrightandbreezy,quitesquareandaboveboard,
thatwashisattitude.Butitwon'twash,sir,itwon't
wash."
"H'myoumean"
"It isn't borne out by the facts. Why didn't he come
forwardbefore?Hisuncle'sdeathwasinallthepapers
Saturday. His brother was arrested Monday. And he
doesn'tgiveasignoflife.Andhewouldn'thave,either,
ifthatjournalisthadn'trunacrosshiminthegarden
ofSittafordHouseatmidnightlastnight."
"Whatwashedoingthere?Enderby,Imean?"
"You know what journalists are," said Narracott,
"alwaysnosinground.They'reuncanny."
"They are a darned nuisance very often," said the
ChiefConstable."Thoughtheyhavetheirusestoo."

318

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

"Ifancyitwastheyoungladyputhimuptoit,"said
Narracott.
"Theyounglady?"
"MissEmilyTrefusis."
"Howdidsheknowanythingaboutit?"
"She was up at Sittaford nosing around. And she's
whatyou'dcallasharpyounglady.There'snotmuch
getspasther."
"What was Brian Pearson's own account of his
movements?"
"SaidhecametoSittafordHousetoseehisyounglady,
MissWillett,thatis.Shecameoutofthehousetomeet
himwheneveryonewasasleepbecauseshedidn'twant
hermothertoknowaboutit.That'stheirstory."
InspectorNarracott'svoiceexpresseddistinctdisbelief.
"It'smybelief,sir,thatifEnderbyhadn'trunhimto
earth,heneverwouldhavecomeforward.He'dhave
gone back to Australia and claimed his inheritance
fromthere."
AtaintsmilecrossedtheChiefConstable'slips.
319

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

"How he must have cursed these pestilential prying


journalists,"hemurmured.
"There'ssomethingelsecometolight,"continuedthe
Inspector. "There are three Pearsons, you remember,
andSylviaPearsonismarriedtoMartinDering,the
novelist. He told me that he lunched and spent the
afternoonwithanAmericanpublisherandwenttoa
literarydinnerintheevening,butitnowseemsthat
hewasn'tatthatdinneratall."
"Whosaysso?"
"Enderbyagain."
"I think I must meet Enderby," said the Chief
Constable."Heappearstobeoneofthelivewiresof
this investigation. No doubt about it the Daily Wire
doeshavesomebrightyoungmenontheirstaff."
"Well, of course, that may mean little or nothing,"
continuedtheInspector."CaptainTrevelyanwaskilled
beforesixo'clock,sowhereDeringspenthiseveningis
really of no consequencebut why should he have
deliberatelyliedaboutit?Idon'tlikeit,sir."
"No," agreed the Chief Constable. "It seems a little
unnecessary."
320

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

"Itmakesonethinkthatthewholethingmaybefalse.
It's a farfetched supposition, I suppose, but Dering
mighthaveleftPaddingtonbythetwelvetentrain
arrivedatExhamptonsometimeafterfive,havekilled
theoldman,gotthesixtentrainandbeenbackhome
againbeforemidnight.Atanyrateit'sgottobelooked
into,sir.We'vegottoinvestigatehisfinancialposition,
seeifhewasdesperatelyhardup.Anymoneyhiswife
cameintohewouldhavethehandlingofyou'veonly
got to look at her to know that. We've got to make
perfectlysurethattheafternoonalibiholdswater."
"The whole thing is extraordinary," commented the
ChiefConstable."ButIstillthinktheevidenceagainst
Pearsonisprettyconclusive.Iseethatyoudon'tagree
withmeyou'veafeelingyou'vegotholdofthewrong
man."
"The evidence is all right," admitted Inspector
Narracott,"circumstantialandallthat,andanyjury
ought to convict on it. Still, what you say is true
enoughIdon'tseehimasamurderer."
"Andhisyoungladyisveryactiveinthecase,"saidthe
ChiefConstable.
"MissTrefusis,yes,she'saoneandnomistake.Areal
fineyounglady.Andabsolutelydeterminedtogethim
321

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

off.She'sgotholdofthatjournalist,Enderby,andshe's
workinghimforallshe'sworth.She'sagreatdealtoo
goodforMrJamesPearson.BeyondhisgoodlooksI
wouldn't say there was much to him in the way of
character."
"Butifshe'samanagingyoungwomanthat'swhatshe
likes,"saidtheChiefConstable.
"Ah well," said Inspector Narracott, "there's no
accountingfortastes.Well,youagree,sir,thatIhad
bettertakeupthisalibiofDering'swithoutanymore
delay."
"Yes, get on to it at once. What about the fourth
interested party in the will? There's a fourth, isn't
there?"
"Yes,thesister.That'sperfectlyallright.Ihavemade
inquiries there. She was at home at six o'clock all
right,sir.I'llgetrightonwiththeDeringbusiness."
ItwasaboutfivehourslaterthatInspectorNarracott
foundhimselfoncemoreinthesmallsittingroomof
The Nook. This time Mr Dering was at home. He
couldn'tbedisturbedashewaswriting,themaidhad
saidatfirst,buttheInspectorhadproducedanofficial
cardandbadehertakeittohermasterwithoutdelay.
322

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

Whilstwaitinghestrodeupanddowntheroom.His
mind was working actively. Every now and then he
picked up a small object from a table, looked at it
almostunseeingly,andthenreplacedit.Thecigarette
box of Australian fiddlebacka present from Brian
Pearsonpossibly.Hepickeduparatherbatteredold
book."PrideandPrejudice."Heopenedthecoverand
saw scrawled on the flyleaf in rather faded ink the
name,MarthaRycroft.Somehow,thenameofRycroft
seemed familiar, but he could not for the moment
rememberwhy.Hewasinterruptedasthedooropened
andMartinDeringcameintotheroom.
The novelist was a man of middle height with thick
ratherheavychestnuthair.Hewasgoodlookingina
somewhat heavy fashion, with lips that were rather
fullandred.
Inspector Narracott was not prepossessed by his
appearance.
"Good morning, Mr Dering. Sorry to trouble you all
hereagain."
"Oh,itdoesn'tmatter,Inspector,butreallyIcan'ttell
youanymorethanyou'vebeentoldalready."
"Wewereledtounderstandthatyourbrotherinlaw,
323

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

MrBrianPearson,wasinAustralia.Now,wefindthat
he has been in England for the last two months. I
mighthavebeengivenaninklingofthatIthink.Your
wife distinctly told me that he was in New South
Wales."
"Brian in England!" Dering seemed genuinely
astonished."Icanassureyou,Inspector,thatIhadno
knowledgeofthefactnor,I'msure,hadmywife."
"Hehasnotcommunicatedwithyouinanyway?"
"No, indeed, I know for a fact that Sylvia has twice
writtenhimletterstoAustraliaduringthattime."
"Oh,well,inthatcaseIapologize,sir.ButnaturallyI
thought he would have communicated with his
relationsandIwasabitsorewithyouforholdingout
onme."
"Well,asItellyouweknewnothing.Haveacigarette,
Inspector? By the way, I see you've recaptured your
escapedconvict."
"Yes,gothimlateTuesdaynight.Ratherbadluckfor
himthemistcomingdown.Hewalkedrightroundina
circle. Did about twenty miles to find himself about
halfamilefromPrincetownattheendofit."
324

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

"Extraordinaryhoweveryonegoesroundincirclesina
fog. Good thing he didn't escape on the Friday. I
supposehewouldhavehadthismurderputdownto
himasacertainty."
"He'sadangerousman.FreemantleFreddy,theyused
to call him. Robbery with violence, assaultled the
mostextraordinarydoublelife.Halfthetimehepassed
asaneducated,respectablewealthyman.Iamnotat
all sure myself that Broadmoor wasn't the place for
him.Akindofcriminalmaniausedtocomeoverhim
from time to time. He would disappear and consort
withthelowestcharacters."
"Isupposemanypeopledon'tescapefromPrincetown?"
"It's wellnigh impossible, sir. But this particular
escape was extraordinarily well planned and carried
out.Wehaven'tnearlygottothebottomofityet."
"Well,"Deringroseandglancedathiswatch,"ifthere's
nothingmore,InspectorI'mafraidIamratherabusy
man"
"Oh,butthereissomethingmore,MrDering.Iwantto
know why you told me that you were at a literary
dinnerattheCecilHotelonFridaynight?"

325

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

"IIdon'tunderstandyou,Inspector."
"I think you do, sir. You weren't at that dinner, Mr
Dering."
Martin Dering hesitated. His eyes ran uncertainly
fromtheInspector'sface,uptotheceiling,thentothe
door,andthentohisfeet.
TheInspectorwaitedcalmandstolid.
"Well,"saidMartinDeringatlast,"supposingIwasn't.
Whatthehellhasthatgottodowithyou?Whathave
my movements, five hours after my uncle was
murdered,gottodowithyouoranyoneelse?"
"Youmadeacertainstatementtous,MrDering,andI
want that statement verified. Part of it has already
provedtobeuntrue.I'vegottocheckupontheother
half.Yousayyoulunchedandspenttheafternoonwith
afriend."
"YesmyAmericanpublisher."
"Hisname?"
"Rosenkraun,EdgarRosenkraun."
"Ah,andhisaddress?"
326

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

"He'sleftEngland.HeleftlastSaturday."
"ForNewYork?"
"Yes."
"Thenhe'llbeontheseaatthepresentmoment.What
boatisheon?"
"IIreallycan'tremember."
"Youknowtheline?WasitaCunardorWhiteStar?"
"IIreallydon'tremember."
"Ahwell,"saidtheInspector,"we'llcablehisfirmin
NewYork.They'llknow."
"ItwastheGargantua,"saidDeringsullenly.
"Thankyou,MrDering,Ithoughtyoucouldremember
ifyoutried,Now,yourstatementisthatyoulunched
withMrRosenkraunandthatyouspenttheafternoon
withhim.Atwhattimedidyouleavehim?"
"Aboutfiveo'clockIshouldsay."
"Andthen?"
"Ideclinetostate.It'snobusinessofyours.That'sall
327

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

youwantsurely."
Inspector Narracott nodded thoughtfully. If
Rosenkraun confirmed Dering's statement then any
caseagainstDeringmustfalltotheground.Whatever
hismysteriousactivitieshadbeenthateveningcould
notaffectthecase.
"What are you going to do?" demanded Dering
uneasily.
"WirelessMrRosenkraunonboardtheGargantua."
"Damn it all," cried Dering, "you'll involve me in all
sortsofpublicity.Lookhere"
Hewentacrosstohisdesk,scribbledafewwordsona
bitofpaper,thentookittotheInspector.
"Isupposeyou'vegottodowhatyou'redoing,"hesaid
ungraciously,"butatleastyoumightdoitinmyway.
It'snotfairtorunachapinforalotoftrouble."
Onthesheetofpaperwaswritten:
RosenkraunS.S."Gargantua."
Please confirm my statement I was with you lunch
timeuntilfiveo'clockFriday14th.
328

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

MartinDering.
"HavethereplysentstraighttoyouIdon'tmind.But
don'thaveitsenttoScotlandYardoraPoliceStation.
You don't know what these Americans are like. Any
hintofmebeingmixedupinapolicecaseandthisnew
contractthatI'vebeendiscussingwillgotothewinds.
Keepitaprivatematter,Inspector."
"I'venoobjectiontothat,MrDering.AllIwantisthe
truth.I'llsendthisreplypaid,thereplytobesentto
myprivateaddressinExeter."
"Thank you, you are a good chap. It's not such easy
going earning your living by literature, Inspector.
You'llseetheanswerwillbeallright.Ididtellyoua
lieaboutthedinner,butasamatteroffactIhadtold
mywifethatthatwaswhereIhadbeen,andIthought
I might as well stick to the same story to you.
Otherwise I would have let myself in for a lot of
trouble."
"If Mr Rosenkraun confirms your statement, Mr
Dering,youwillhavenothingelsetofear."
"An unpleasant character," theInspector thought, as
heleft the house. "But he seems pretty certain that
thisAmericanpublisherwillconfirmthetruthofhis
329

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

story."
AsuddenremembrancecametotheInspector,ashe
hoppedintothetrainwhichwouldtakehimbackto
Devon.
"Rycroft,"hesaid,"ofcoursethat'sthenameofthe
old gentleman who lives in one of the cottages at
Sittaford.Acuriouscoincidence."

330

INSPECTORNARRACOTTDISCUSSESTHECASE

Chapter25

ATDELLER'SCAF
EmilyTrefusisandCharlesEnderbywereseatedata
smalltableinDeller'sCafinExeter.Itwashalfpast
threeand at that hour therewas comparativepeace
andquiet.Afewpeoplewerehavingaquietcupoftea,
buttherestaurantonthewholewasdeserted.
"Well,"saidCharles,"whatdoyouthinkofhim?"
Emilyfrowned.
"It'sdifficult,"shesaid.
Afterhisinterviewwiththepolice,BrianPearsonhad
lunched withthem. Hehadbeenextremely polite to
Emily,rathertoopoliteinheropinion.
Tothatastutegirlitseemedashadeunnatural.Here
wasayoungmanconductingaclandestineloveaffair
andanofficiousstrangerbuttsin.
BrianPearsonhadtakenitlikealamb,hadfallenin
331

ATDELLER'SCAF

withCharles'ssuggestionofhavingacaranddriving
overtoseethepolice.
Whythisattitudeofmeekacquiescence?Itseemedto
EmilyentirelyuntypicalofthenaturalBrianPearson
asshereadhischaracter.
"I'll see you in hell first!" would, she felt sure, have
beenfarmorehisattitude.
Thislamblikedemeanorwassuspicious.Shetriedto
conveysomethingofherfeelingstoEnderby.
"I get you," said Enderby. "Our Brian has got
somethingtoconceal,thereforehecan'tbehisnatural
highhandedself."
"That'sitexactly."
"Do you think he might possibly have killed old
Trevelyan?"
"Brian,"saidEmilythoughtfully,"iswell,apersonto
bereckonedwith.Heisratherunscrupulous,Ishould
think, and if he wanted anything, I don't think he
wouldletordinaryconventionalstandardsstandinhis
way.He'snotplaintameEnglish."
"Puttingallpersonalconsiderationsononeside,he'sa
332

ATDELLER'SCAF

morelikelystarterthanJim?"saidEnderby.
Emilynodded.
"Much more likely. He would carry a thing through
wellbecausehewouldneverlosehisnerve."
"Honestly,Emily,doyouthinkhedidit?"
"II don't know.He fulfills theconditionsthe only
personwhodoes."
"Whatdoyoumeanbyfulfillstheconditions?"
"Well (1) Motive." She ticked off the items on her
fingers."Thesamemotive.Twentythousandpounds.
(2) Opportunity. Nobody knows where he was on
Friday afternoon, and if he was anywhere that he
couldsaywellsurelyhewouldsayit?Soweassume
thathewasactuallyintheneighborhoodofHazelmoor
onFriday."
"They haven't found anyone who save him in
Exhampton," Charles pointed out, "and he's a fairly
noticeableperson."
Emilyshookherheadscornfully.
"Hewasn'tinExhampton.Don'tyousee,Charles,ifhe
333

ATDELLER'SCAF

committedthemurder,heplanneditbeforehand.It's
onlypoorinnocentJimwhocamedownlikeamugand
stayedthere.There'sLydfordandChagfordorperhaps
Exeter. He might have walked over from Lydford
that'samainroadandthesnowwouldn'thavebeen
impassable.Itwouldhavebeenprettygoodgoing."
"Isupposeweoughttomakeinquiriesallround."
"Thepolicearedoingthat,"saidEmily,"andthey'lldo
italotbetterthanweshall.Allpublicthingsaremuch
better done by the police. It's private and personal
things likelisteningtoMrs Curtis and picking up a
hintfromMissPercehouseandwatchingtheWilletts
that'swherewescore."
"Ordon't,asthecasemaybe,"saidCharles.
"TogobacktoBrianPearsonfulfillingtheconditions,"
saidEmily."We'vedonetwo,motiveandopportunity,
andthere'sthethirdtheonethatinawayIthinkis
themostimportantofall."
"What'sthat?"
"Well,Ihavefeltfromthebeginningthatwecouldn't
ignorethatqueerbusinessofthetableturning.Ihave
tried to look at it as logically and clearsightedly as
334

ATDELLER'SCAF

possible.Therearejustthreesolutionsofit.(1)Thatit
wassupernatural.Well,ofcourse,thatmaybeso,but
personallyIamrulingitout.(2)Thatitwasdeliberate
someonediditonpurpose,butasonecan'tarriveat
anyconceivablereason,wecanrulethatoutalso.(3)
Accidental. Someone gave himself away without
meaning to do soindeed quite against his will. An
unconscious piece of selfrevelation. If so, someone
among those six people either knew definitely that
CaptainTrevelyanwasgoingtobekilledatacertain
time that afternoon,or thatsomeone was having an
interviewwithhimfromwhichviolencemightresult.
None of those six people could have been the actual
murderer,butoneofthemmusthavebeenincollusion
with the murderer. There's no link between Major
Burnabyandanybodyelse,orMrRycroftandanybody
else,orRonaldGarfieldandanyoneelse,butwhenwe
come to the Willetts it's different. There's a link
betweenVioletWillettandBrianPearson.Thosetwo
areonveryintimatetermsandthatgirlwasallonthe
jumpafterthemurder."
"Youthinksheknew?"saidCharles.
"Sheorhermotheroneorotherofthem."
"There's one person you haven't mentioned," said
Charles."MrDuke."
335

ATDELLER'SCAF

"Iknow,"saidEmily."It'squeer.He'stheoneperson
weknowabsolutelynothingabout.I'vetriedtoseehim
twiceandfailed.Thereseemsnoconnectionbetween
himandCaptainTrevelyan,orbetweenhimandanyof
Captain Trevelyan's relations, there's absolutely
nothingtoconnecthimwiththecaseinanyway,and
yet"
"Well?"saidCharlesEnderbyasEmilypaused.
"AndyetwemetInspectorNarracottcomingoutofhis
cottage. What does Inspector Narracott know about
himthatwedon't?IwishIknew."
"Youthink"
"Supposing Duke is a suspicious character and the
policeknowit.SupposingCaptainTrevelyanhadfound
out something about Duke. He was particular about
histenants,remember,andsupposinghewasgoingto
tellthepolicewhatheknew.AndDukearrangeswith
an accomplice to have him killed. Oh, I know it all
soundsdreadfullymelodramaticputlikethat,andyet,
afterall,somethingofthekindmightbepossible."
"It'sanideacertainly,"saidCharlesslowly.
Theywerebothsilent,eachonedeepinthought.
336

ATDELLER'SCAF

SuddenlyEmilysaid:
"Do you know that queer feeling you get when
somebody is looking at you. I feel now as though
someone'seyeswereburningthebackofmyneck.Isit
all fancy or is there really someone staring at me
now?"
Charles moved his chair an inch or two and looked
roundthecafinacasualmanner.
"There's a woman at a table in the window," he
reported."Tall,darkandhandsome.She'sstaringat
you."
"Young?"
"No,notveryyoung.Hello!"
"Whatisit?"
"RonnieGarfield.Hehasjustcomeinandhe'sshaking
handswithherandhe'ssittingdownathertable.I
thinkshe'ssayingsomethingaboutus."
Emilyopenedherhandbag.Ratherostentatiouslyshe
powderedhernose,adjustingthesmallpocketmirror
toaconvenientangle.

337

ATDELLER'SCAF

"It'sAuntJennifer,"shesaidsoftly."Theyaregetting
up."
"Theyaregoing,"saidCharles."Doyouwanttospeak
toher?"
"No,"saidEmily."Ithinkit'sbetterformetopretend
thatIhaven'tseenher."
"Afterall,"saidCharles,"whyshouldn'tAuntJennifer
knowRonnieGarfieldandaskhimtotea?"
"Whyshouldshe?"saidEmily.
"Whyshouldn'tshe?"
"Oh,forgoodnesssake,Charles,don'tlet'sgoonand
onlikethis,shouldshouldn'tshouldshouldn't.Of
courseit'sallnonsense,anditdoesn'tmeananything!
Butwewerejustsayingthatnobodyelseatthesance
hadanyrelationwiththefamily,andnotfiveminutes
laterweseeRonnieGarfieldhavingteawithCaptain
Trevelyan'ssister."
"Itshows,"saidCharles,"thatyouneverknow."
"Itshows,"saidEmily,"thatyouarealwayshavingto
beginagain."

338

ATDELLER'SCAF

"Inmorewaysthanone,"saidCharles.
Emilylookedathim.
"Whatdoyoumean?"
"Nothingatpresent,"saidCharles.
Heputhishandoverhers.Shedidnotdrawitaway.
"We've got to put this through," said Charles.
"Afterwards"
"Afterwards?"saidEmilysoftly.
"I'ddoanythingforyou,Emily,"saidCharles."Simply
anything"
"Would you?" said Emily. "That's rather nice of you,
Charlesdear."

339

ATDELLER'SCAF

Chapter26

ROBERTGARDNER
ItwasjusttwentyminuteslaterwhenEmilyrangthe
frontdoorbellofTheLaurels.Ithadbeenasudden
impulse.ShesmiledbeaminglyonBeatricewhenthe
latteropenedthedoortoher.
"It'smeagain,"saidEmily."MrsGardner'sout,Iknow,
butcanIseeMrGardner?"
Sucharequestwasclearlyunusual.Beatriceseemed
doubtful.
"Well,Idon'tknow.I'llgoupandsee,shallI?"
"Yes,do,"saidEmily.
BeatricewentupstairsleavingEmilyaloneinthehall.
Shereturnedinafewminutestoasktheyoungladyto
pleasestepthisway.
RobertGardnerwaslyingonacouchbythewindowin
abigroomonthefirstfloor.Hewasabigman,blue
340

ROBERTGARDNER

eyed and fair haired. He looked, Emily thought, as


TristranoughttolookinthethirdactofTristranand
IsoldeandasnoWagneriantenorhaseverlookedyet.
"Hello,"hesaid."Youarethecriminal'sspousetobe,
aren'tyou?"
"That'sright,UncleRobert,"saidEmily."IsupposeI
docallyouUncleRobert,don'tI?"sheasked.
"IfJenniferwillallowit.What'sitlikehavingayoung
manlanguishinginprison?"
Acruelman,Emilydecided.Amanwhowouldtakea
malicious joy in giving you sharp digs in painful
places.
Butshewasamatchforhim.Shesaidsmilingly:
"Verythrilling."
"NotsothrillingforMasterJim,eh?"
"Oh,well,"saidEmily,"it'sanexperience,isn'tit?"
"Teach him life can't be all beer and skittles," said
RobertGardnermaliciously."Tooyoungtofightinthe
Great War, wasn't he? Able to live soft and take it
easily.Well,well...Hegotitintheneckfromanother
341

ROBERTGARDNER

source."
Helookedathercuriously.
"Whatdidyouwanttocomeandseemefor,eh?"
Therewasatingeofsomethinglikesuspicioninhis
voice.
"Ifyouaregoingtomarryintoafamilyit'sjustaswell
toseeallyourrelationsinlawbeforehand."
"Knowtheworstbeforeit'stoolate.Soyoureallythink
youaregoingtomarryyoungJim,eh?"
"Whynot?"
"Inspiteofthismurdercharge?"
"Inspiteofthismurdercharge."
"Well," said Robert Gardner, "I have never seen
anybodylesscastdown.Anyonewouldthinkyouwere
enjoyingyourself."
"I am. Tracking down a murderer is frightfully
thrilling."
"Eh?"

342

ROBERTGARDNER

"I said tracking down a murderer is frightfully


thrilling,"saidEmily.
RobertGardnerstaredatherthenhethrewhimself
backonhispillows.
"Iamtired,"hesaidinafretfulvoice."Ican'ttalkany
more.Nurse,where'sNurse?Nurse,I'mtired."
Nurse Davis had come swiftly at his call from an
adjoiningroom."MrGardnergetstiredveryeasily.I
thinkyouhadbettergonowifyoudon'tmind,Miss
Trefusis."
Emilyrosetoherfeet.Shenoddedbrightlyandsaid:
"Goodby,UncleRobert.PerhapsI'llcomebacksome
day."
"Whatdoyoumean?"
"Aurevoir,"saidEmily.
Shewasgoingoutofthefrontdoorwhenshestopped.
"Oh!"shesaidtoBeatrice."Ihaveleftmygloves."
"Iwillgetthem,Miss."
"Oh,no,"saidEmily."I'lldoit."Sheranlightlyupthe
343

ROBERTGARDNER

stairsandenteredwithoutknocking.
"Oh,"saidEmily."Ibegyourpardon.Iamsosorry.It
wasmygloves."Shetookthemupostentatiouslyand
smilingsweetlyatthetwooccupantsoftheroomwho
weresittinghandinhandrandownthestairsandout
ofthehouse.
"Thisgloveleavingisaterrificscheme,"saidEmilyto
herself. "This is the second time it's come off. Poor
AuntJennifer,doessheknow,Iwonder?Probablynot.
ImusthurryorI'llkeepCharleswaiting."
Enderby was waiting in Elmer's Ford at the agreed
rendezvous.
"Anyluck?"heaskedashetuckedtherugroundher.
"Inaway,yes.I'mnotsure."
Enderbylookedatherinquiringly.
"No,"saidEmilyinanswertohisglance,"I'mnotgoing
to tell you about it. You see, it may have nothing
whatevertodowithitandifso,itwouldn'tbefair."
Enderbysighed.
"Icallthathard,"heobserved.
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ROBERTGARDNER

"I'msorry,"saidEmilyfirmly."Butthereitis."
"Haveityourownway,"saidCharlescoldly.
They drove on in silencean offended silence on
Charles'spartanobliviousoneonEmily's.
TheywerenearlyatExhamptonwhenshebrokethe
silencebyatotallyunexpectedremark.
"Charles,"shesaid,"areyouabridgeplayer?"
"Yes,Iam.Why?"
"I was thinking. You know what they tell you to do
whenyou'reassessingthevalueofyourhand?Ifyou're
defendingcountthewinnersbutifyou'reattacking
countthelosers.Now,we'reattackinginthisbusiness
ofoursbutperhapswehavebeendoingitthewrong
way."
"Howdoyoumean?"
"Well,we'vebeencountingthewinners,haven'twe?I
mean going over the people who could have killed
CaptainTrevelyan,howeverimprobableitseems.And
that'sperhapswhywe'vegotsoterriblymuddled."
"Ihaven'tgotmuddled,"saidCharles.
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ROBERTGARDNER

"Well,Ihavethen.I'msomuddledIcan'tthinkatall.
Let's lookat it theother way round. Let's count the
losersthe people who can't possibly have killed
CaptainTrevelyan."
"Well, let's see" Enderby reflected. "To begin with
there's the Willetts and Burnaby and Rycroft and
RonnieOh!andDuke."
"Yes,"agreedEmily."Weknownoneofthemcanhave
killed him. Because at the time he was killed they
wereallatSittafordHouseandtheyallsaweachother
andtheycan'tallbelying.Yes,they'realloutofit."
"AsamatteroffacteveryoneinSittafordisoutofit,"
said Enderby. "Even Elmer," he lowered his voice in
deferencetothepossibilityofthedriverhearinghim.
"BecausetheroadtoSittafordwasimpassableforcars
onFriday."
"Hecouldhavewalked,"saidEmilyinanequallylow
voice. "If Major Burnaby could have got there that
eveningElmercouldhavestartedatlunchtimegotto
Exhampton at five, murdered him, and walked back
again."
Enderbyshookhishead.

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ROBERTGARDNER

"I don't think he could have walked back again.


Rememberthesnowstartedtofallabouthalfpastsix.
Anyway,you'renotaccusingElmer,areyou?"
"No," said Emily, "though, of course, he might be a
homicidalmaniac."
"Hush," said Charles. "You'll hurt his feelings if he
hearsyou."
"Atanyrate,"saidEmily,"youcan'tsaydefinitelythat
hecouldn'thavemurderedCaptainTrevelyan."
"Almost," said Charles. "He couldn't walk to
Exhampton and back without all Sittaford knowing
aboutitandsayingitwasqueer."
"It certainly is a place where everyone knows
everything,"agreedEmily.
"Exactly," said Charles, "and that's why I say that
everyoneinSittafordisoutofit.Theonlyonesthat
weren'tattheWillettsMissPercehouseandCaptain
Wyattareinvalids.Theycouldn'tgoplowingthrough
snowstorms.AnddearoldCurtisandMrsC.Ifanyof
them did it, they must have gone comfortably to
Exhampton for the weekend and come back when it
wasallover."
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ROBERTGARDNER

Emilylaughed.
"Youcouldn'tbeabsentfromSittafordfortheweekend
withoutitsbeingnoticed,certainly,"shesaid.
"CurtiswouldnoticethesilenceifMrsC.was,"said
Enderby.
"Ofcourse,"saidEmily,"thepersonitoughttobeis
Abdul.Itwouldbeinabook.He'dbeaLascarreally,
andCaptainTrevelyanwouldhavethrownhisfavorite
brotheroverboardinamutinysomethinglikethat."
"Ideclinetobelieve,"saidCharles,"thatthatwretched
depressedlookingnativeevermurderedanybody."
"Iknow,"hesaidsuddenly.
"What?"saidEmilyeagerly.
"The blacksmith's wife. The one who's expecting her
eighth. The intrepid woman despite her condition
walked all the way to Sittaford and batted him one
withthesandbag."
"Andwhy,pray?"
"Because,ofcourse,althoughtheblacksmithwasthe
fatheroftheprecedingseven,CaptainTrevelyanwas
348

ROBERTGARDNER

thefatherofhercomingchild."
"Charles,"saidEmily."Don'tbeindelicate.
"Andanyway,"sheadded,"itwouldbetheblacksmith
whodidit,nother.Areallygoodcasethere.Thinkhow
thatbrawnyarmcouldwieldasandbag!Andhiswife
wouldnevernoticehisabsencewithsevenchildrento
look after. She wouldn't have time to notice a mere
man."
"Thisisdegeneratingintomereidiocy,"saidCharles.
"It is rather," agreed Emily. "Counting losers hasn't
beenagreatsuccess.
"Whataboutyou?"saidCharles.
"Me?"
"Wherewereyouwhenthecrimewascommitted?"
"Howextraordinary!Ineverthoughtofthat.Iwasin
London,ofcourse.ButIdon'tknowthatIcouldprove
it.Iwasaloneinmyflat"
"Thereyouare,"saidCharles."Motiveandeverything.
Youryoungmancomingintotwentythousandpounds.
Whatmoredoyouwant?"
349

ROBERTGARDNER

"Youareclever,Charles,"saidEmily."Icanseethat
reallyI'mamostsuspiciouscharacter.Ineverthought
ofitbefore."

350

ROBERTGARDNER

Chapter27

NARRACOTTACTS
Two mornings later Emily was seated in Inspector
Narracott's office. She had come over from Sittaford
thatmorning.
Inspector Narracott looked at her appraisingly. He
admiredEmily'spluck,hercourageousdetermination
nottogiveinandherresolutecheerfulness.Shewasa
fighter and Inspector Narracott admired fighters. It
washisprivateopinionthatshewasagreatdealtoo
good for Jim Pearson, even if that young man was
innocentofthemurder.
"It'sgenerallyunderstoodinbooks,"hesaid,"thatthe
policeareintentonhavingavictimanddon'tinthe
leastcareifthatvictimisinnocentornotaslongas
theyhaveenoughevidencetoconvicthim.That'snot
thetruth,MissTrefusis,it'sonlytheguiltymanwe
want."
"Do you honestly believe Jim to be guilty, Inspector
351

NARRACOTTACTS

Narracott?"
"I can't give you an official answer to that, Miss
Trefusis.ButI'lltellyouthisthatweareexamining
not only the evidence against him but the evidence
againstotherpeopleverycarefully."
"YoumeanagainsthisbrotherBrian?"
"Averyunsatisfactorygentleman,MrBrianPearson.
Refusedtoanswerquestionsortogiveanyinformation
about himself, but I think" Inspector Narracott's
slowDevonshiresmilewidened,"IthinkIcanmakea
prettygoodguessatsomeofhisactivities.IfIamright
I shall know in another half hour. Then there's the
lady'shusband,MrDering."
"You'veseenhim?"askedEmilycuriously.
InspectorNarracottlookedathervividface,andfelt
temptedtorelaxofficialcaution.Leaningbackinhis
chairherecountedhisinterviewwithMrDering,then
from a file at his elbow he took out a copy of the
wireless message he had dispatched to Mr
Rosenkraun."That'swhatIsent,"hesaid."Andhere's
thereply."
Emilyreadit.
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NARRACOTTACTS

NarracottDrysdaleRoadExeter.
Certainlyconfirm MrDering's statement.Hewas in
mycompanyallFridayafternoon.
Rosenkraun.
"Oh!bother," said Emily, selecting a milder word
than that she had meant to use knowing that the
policeforcewasoldfashionedandeasilyshocked.
"Yees," said Inspector Narracott reflectively. "It's
annoying,isn'tit?"
AndhisslowDevonshiresmilebrokeoutagain.
"But I am a suspicious man, Miss Trefusis. Mr
Dering's reasons sounded very plausiblebut I
thoughtitapitytoplayintohishandstoocompletely.
SoIsentanotherwirelessmessage."
Againhehandedhertwopiecesofpaper.
Thefirstran:
InformationwantedremurderofCaptainTrevelyan.
DoyousupportMartinDering'sstatementofalibion
Fridayafternoon.
DivisionalInspectorNarracottExeter.
353

NARRACOTTACTS

Thereturnmessageshowedagitationandareckless
disregardforexpense.
HadnoideaitwascriminalcasedidnotseeMartin
Dering Friday agreed support his statement as one
friend to another believed his wife was having him
watchedfordivorceproceedings.
"Oh,"saidEmily."Oh!youareclever,Inspector."
The Inspector evidently thought that he had been
ratherclever.Hissmilewasgentleandcontented.
"How men do stick together," went on Emily looking
overthetelegrams."PoorSylvia.InsomewaysIreally
thinkthatmenarebeasts.That'swhy,"sheadded,"it's
sonicewhenonefindsamanonwhomonecanreally
rely."
AndshesmiledadmiringlyattheInspector.
"Now,allthisisveryconfidential,MissTrefusis,"the
Inspector warned her. "I have gone further than I
shouldinlettingyouknowaboutthis."
"Ithinkit'sadorableofyou,"saidEmily."Ishallnever,
neverforgetit."
"Well,mind,"theInspectorwarnedher."Notawordto
354

NARRACOTTACTS

anybody."
"You mean that I am not to tell CharlesMr.
Enderby."
"Journalists will be journalists," said Inspector
Narracott. "However well you have got him tamed,
MissTrefusiswell,newsisnews,isn'tit?"
"Iwon'ttellhimthen,"saidEmily."IthinkI'vegothim
muzzledallright,butasyousaynewspapermenwill
benewspapermen."
"Neverpartwithinformationunnecessarily.That'smy
rule,"saidInspectorNarracott.
AfainttwinkleappearedinEmily'seyes,herunspoken
thoughtbeingthatInspectorNarracotthadinfringed
thisruleratherbadlyduringthelasthalfhour.
A sudden recollection came into her mind, not of
course that it probably mattered now. Everything
seemedtobepointinginatotallydifferentdirection.
Butstillitwouldbenicetoknow.
"InspectorNarracott?"shesaidsuddenly."WhoisMr
Duke?"
"MrDuke?"
355

NARRACOTTACTS

ShethoughttheInspectorwasrathertakenabackby
herquestions.
"Youremember,"saidEmily,"wemetyoucomingoutof
hiscottageinSittaford."
"Ah,yes,yes,Iremember.Totellyouthetruth,Miss
Trefusis,IthoughtIwouldliketohaveanindependent
accountofthattableturningbusiness.MajorBurnaby
isnotafirstratehandatdescription."
"Andyet,"saidEmilythoughtfully,"ifIhadbeenyou,I
shouldhavegonetosomebodylikeMrRycroftforit.
WhyMrDuke?"
TherewasasilenceandthentheInspectorsaid:
"Justamatterofopinion."
"Iwonder.Iwonderifthepoliceknowsomethingabout
MrDuke."
InspectorNarracottdidn'tanswer.Hehadgothiseyes
fixedverysteadilyontheblottingpaper.
"The man who leads a blameless life!" said Emily.
"ThatseemstodescribeMrDukeawfullyaccurately,
but perhaps he hasn't always led a blameless life?
Perhapsthepoliceknowthat?"
356

NARRACOTTACTS

ShesawafaintquiveronInspectorNarracott'sfaceas
hetriedtoconcealasmile.
"Youlikeguessing,don'tyou,MissTrefusis?"hesaid
amiably.
"Whenpeopledon'ttellyouthingsyouhavetoguess!"
retaliatedEmily.
"If a man, as you say, is leading a blameless life,"
Inspector Narracott said, "and if it would be an
annoyanceandaninconvenienceforhimtohavehis
past life raked up, well, the police are capable of
keepingtheirowncounsel.Wehavenowishtogivea
manaway."
"Isee,"saidEmily,"butallthesameyouwenttosee
him,didn'tyou?Thatlooksasthoughyouthought,to
beginwithatanyrate,thathemighthavehadahand
init.IwishIwishIknewwhoMrDukereallywas?
Andwhatparticularbranchofcriminologyheindulged
ininthepast?"
ShelookedappealinglyatInspectorNarracottbutthe
latterpreservedawoodenface,andrealizingthaton
this point she could not hope to move him, Emily
sighedandtookherdeparture.

357

NARRACOTTACTS

When she had gone the Inspector sat staring at the


blottingpad,atraceofasmilestilllingeringonhis
lips. He rang the bell and one of his underlings
entered.
"Well?"demandedInspectorNarracott.
"Quite right, sir. But it wasn't the Duchy at
Princetown,itwasthehotelatTwoBridges."
"Ah!"TheInspectortookthepaperstheotherhanded
tohim.
"Well,"hesaid."Thatsettlesthatallright.Haveyou
followed up the other young chap's movements on
Friday?"
"HecertainlyarrivedatExhamptonbythelasttrain,
butIhaven'tfoundoutyetwhattimeheleftLondon.
Inquiriesarebeingmade."
Narracottnodded.
"HereistheentryfromSomersetHouse,sir."
Narracottunfoldedit.Itwastherecordofamarriage
in1894betweenWilliamMartinDeringandMartha
ElizabethRycroft.

358

NARRACOTTACTS

"Ah!"saidtheInspector,"anythingelse?"
"Yes,sir.MrBrianPearsonsailedfromAustraliaona
BlueFunnelBoat,thePhidias.ShetouchedatCape
TownbutnopassengersofthenameofWillettwere
abroad. No mother and daughter at all from South
Africa.TherewasaMrsandMissEvansandaMrs
andMissJohnsonfromMelbournethelatteranswer
thedescriptionoftheWilletts."
"H'm,"saidtheInspector"Johnson.Probablyneither
JohnsonnorWillettistherightname.IthinkI'vegot
themtapedoutallright.Anythingmore?"
Therewasnothingelseitseemed.
"Well,"saidNarracott,"Ithinkwehavegotenoughto
goonwith."

359

NARRACOTTACTS

Chapter28

BOOTS
"But,mydearyounglady,"saidMrKirkwood,"what
can you possibly expect to find at Hazelmoor. All
Captain Trevelyan's effects have been removed. The
police have made a thorough search of the house. I
quiteunderstandyourpositionandyouranxietythat
MrPearsonshallbeerclearedifpossible.Butwhat
canyoudo?"
"Idon'texpecttofindanything,"Emilyreplied,"orto
noticeanythingthatthepolicehaveoverlooked.Ican't
explaintoyou,MrKirkwood,IwantIwanttogetthe
atmosphereoftheplace.Pleaseletmehavethekey.
There'snoharminit."
"Certainly there's no harm in it," said Mr Kirkwood
withdignity.
"Then,pleasebekind,"saidEmily.
SoMrKirkwoodwaskindandhandedoverthewithan
indulgent smile. He did his best to come with her
360

BOOTS

whichcatastrophewasonlyavertedbygreattactand
firmnessonEmily'spart.
That morning Emily had received a letter. It was
couchedinthefollowingterms:
"DearMissTrefusis,"
wroteMrsBelling,
"Yousaidashowyouwouldliketohearifanythingat
all should happen that was in any way out of the
commonevenifnotimportant,and,asthisispeculiar,
thoughnotinanywayimportant,Ithoughtitmyduty
Misstoletyouknowatonce,hopingthiswillcatchyou
bythelastposttonightorbythefirstposttomorrow.
My niece she come round and said it wasn't of any
importancebutpeculiarwhichIagreedwithher.The
policesaid,anditwasgenerallythoughtthatnothing
wastakenfromCaptainTrevelyan'shouseandnothing
wasinamannerofspeakingnothingthatisofany
value, but something there is missing though not
noticedatthetimebeingunimportant.Butitseems
Miss that a pair of the Captain's boots is missing
which Evans noticed when he went over the things
withMajorBurnaby.ThoughIdon't supposeitisof
any importance Miss, I thought you would like to
know.Itwasapairofboots,Miss,thethickkindyou
361

BOOTS

rubsoilintoandwhichtheCaptainwouldhavewornif
hehadgoneoutinthesnowbutashedidn'tgooutin
thesnowitdoesn'tseemtomakesense.Butmissing
theyareandwhotookthemnobodyknowsandthough
Iwellknowit'sofnoimportanceIfeltitmydutyto
write and hoping this finds you as it leaves me at
present and hoping you are not worrying too much
abouttheyounggentlemanIremainMissYourstruly,
MrsJ.Belling."
Emily had read and reread this letter. She had
discusseditwithCharles.
"Boots,"saidCharlesthoughtfully."Itdoesn'tseemto
makesense."
"Itmustmeansomething,"Emilypointedout."Imean
whyshouldapairofbootsbemissing?"
"Youdon'tthinkEvansisinventing?"
"Whyshouldhe?Andafterallifpeopledoinvent,they
inventsomethingsensible.Notasillypointlessthing
likethis."
"Bootssuggestssomethingtodowithfootprints,"said
Charlesthoughtfully.

362

BOOTS

"I know. But footprints don't seem to enter intothis


caseatall.Perhapsifithadn'tcomeontosnowagain
"
"Yes,perhaps,buteventhen."
"Couldhehavegiventhemtosometramp,"suggested
Charles,"andthenthetrampdidhimin."
"Isupposethat'spossible,"saidEmily,"butitdoesn't
soundverylikeCaptainTrevelyan.Hemightperhaps
have found a man some work to do or given him a
shilling,buthewouldn'thavepressedhisbestwinter
bootsonhim."
"Well,Igiveitup,"saidCharles.
"I'mnotgoingtogiveitup,"saidEmily."Byhookorby
crookI'mgoingtogettothebottomofit"
AccordinglyshecametoExhamptonandwentfirstto
theThreeCrownswhereMrsBellingreceivedherwith
greatenthusiasm.
"Andyouryounggentlemanstillinprison,Miss!Well,
it'sacruelshameandnoneofusdon'tbelieveitwas
himatleastIwouldliketohearthemsaysowhenI
am about. So you got my letter? You'd like to see
Evans?Well,helivesrightroundthecorner,85Fore
363

BOOTS

Streetitis.IwishIcouldcomewithyou,butIcan't
leavetheplace,butyoucan'tmistakeit."
Emilydidnotmistakeit.Evanshimselfwasout,but
MrsEvansreceivedherandinvitedherin.Emilysat
down and induced Mrs Evans to do so also and
plungedstraightintothematteronhand.
"I'vecometotalkaboutwhatyourhusbandtoldMrs
Belling. I mean about a pair of Captain Trevelyan's
bootsbeingmissing."
"It'sanoddthing,tobesure,"saidthegirl.
"Yourhusbandisquitecertainaboutit?"
"Oh,yes.Worethesebootsmostofthetimeinwinter,
the Captain did. Big ones they were, and he wore a
coupleofpairsofsocksinsidethem."
Emilynodded.
"Theycan'thavegonetobemendedoranythinglike
that?"shesuggested.
"NotwithoutEvansknowing,theycouldn't,"saidhis
wifeboastfully.
"No,Isupposenot."
364

BOOTS

"It'squeerlike,"saidMrsEvans,"butIdon'tsuppose
ithadanythingtodowiththemurder,doyou,Miss?"
"Itdoesn'tseemlikely,"agreedEmily.
"Havetheyfoundoutanythingnew,Miss?"Thegirl's
voicewaseager.
"Yes,oneortwothingsnothingveryimportant."
"Seeing as that the Inspector from Exeter was here
againtoday,Ithoughtasthoughtheymight."
"InspectorNarracott?'
"Yes,that'stheone,Miss."
"Didhecomebymytrain?"
"No,hecamebycar.HewenttotheThreeCrownsfirst
andaskedabouttheyounggentleman'sluggage."
"Whatyounggentleman'sluggage?"
"Thegentlemanyougoaboutwith,Miss."
Emilystared.
"TheyaskedTom,"wentonthegirl,"Iwaspassingby
just after and he told me about it. He's a one for
365

BOOTS

noticingisTom.Herememberedthereweretwolabels
ontheyounggentleman'sluggage,onetoExeterand
onetoExhampton."
A sudden smile illuminated Emily's face as she
pictured the crime being committed by Charles in
order to provide a scoop for himself. One could, she
decided,writeagruesomelittlestoryonthattheme.
ButsheadmiredInspectorNarracott'sthoroughnessin
checking every detail to do with anyone, however
remotetheirconnectionwiththecrime.Hemusthave
left Exeter almost immediately after his interview
withher.Afastcarwouldeasilybeatthetrainandin
anycaseshehadlunchedinExeter.
"WheredidtheInspectorgoafterwards?"sheasked.
"ToSittaford,Miss.Tomheardhimtellthedriver."
"ToSittafordHouse?"
BrianPearsonwas,sheknew,stillstayingatSittaford
HousewiththeWilletts.
"No,Miss,toMrDuke's."
Duke again. Emily felt irritated andbaffled. Always
Duketheunknownfactor.Sheought,shefelt,tobe
abletodeducehimfromtheevidencebutheseemedto
366

BOOTS

haveproducedthesameeffectoneveryoneanormal,
ordinary,pleasantman.
"I've got to see him," said Emily to herself. "I'll go
straightthereassoonasIgetbacktoSittaford."
Then she had thanked Mrs Evans, gone on to Mr
Kirkwood's and obtained the key and was now
standinginthehallofHazelmoorandwonderinghow
andwhatshehadexpectedtofeelthere.
Shemountedthestairsslowlyandwentintothefirst
room at thetopofthestairs. This was quite clearly
CaptainTrevelyan'sbedroom.Ithad,asMrKirkwood
had said, been emptied of personal effects. Blankets
were folded in a neat pile, the drawers were empty,
there was not so much as a hanger left in the
cupboard. The boot cupboard showed a row of bare
shelves.
Emily sighed and then turned and went downstairs.
Here was the sittingroom where the dead man had
lain,thesnowblowinginfromtheopenwindow.
She tried to visualize the scene. Whose hand had
struckCaptainTrevelyandown,andwhy?Hadhebeen
killedatfiveandtwentypastfiveaseveryonebelieved
or had Jim really lost his nerve and lied? Had he
367

BOOTS

failedtomakeanyonehearatthefrontdoorandgone
round to the window, looked in and seen his dead
uncle'sbodyanddashedawayinanagonyoffear?If
onlysheknew.AccordingtoMrDacres,Jimstuckto
hisstory.YesbutJimmighthavelosthisnerve.She
couldn't besure.Hadtherebeen,asMrRycrofthad
suggested, someone else in the housesomeone who
hadoverheardthequarrelandseizedhischance?
Ifsodidthatthrowanylightonthebootproblem?
Had someone been upstairsperhaps in Captain
Trevelyan's bedroom? Emily passed through the hall
again.
Shetookaquicklookintothediningroom,therewere
acoupleoftrunksthereneatlystrappedandlabeled.
Thesideboardwasbare.ThesilvercupswereatMajor
Burnaby'sbungalow.
She noticed, however, that the prize of three new
novels, an account of which Charles had had from
Evansandhadreportedwithamusingembellishments
toher,hadbeenforgottenandlaydejectedlyonachair.
Shelookedroundtheroomandshookherhead.There
wasnothinghere.
Shewentupthestairsagainandoncemoreentered
368

BOOTS

thebedroom.
Shemustknowwhytheseboots weremissing! Until
shecouldconcoctsometheoryreasonablysatisfactory
to her herself which would account for their
disappearance,she felt powerless toput them out of
hermind.Theyweresoaringtoridiculousproportions,
dwarfing everything else to do with the case. Was
therenothingtohelpher?
She took each drawer out and felt behind it. In
detectivestoriestherewasalwaysanobligingscrapof
paper.Butevidentlyinreallifeonecouldnotexpect
such fortunate accidents, or else Inspector Narracott
andhismenhadbeenwonderfullythorough.Shefelt
forlooseboards,shefeltroundtheedgeofthecarpet
withherfingers.Sheinvestigatedthespringmattress.
What she expected to find in all these places she
hardly knew but she went on looking with dogged
perseverance.
And then, as she straightened her back and stood
upright, her eye was caught by the one incongruous
touchinthisroomofapplepieorder,alittlepileofsoot
inthegrate.
Emilylookedatitwiththefascinatedgazeofabirdfor
asnake.Shedrewnearereyeingit.Itwasnological
369

BOOTS

deduction, no reasoning of cause and effect, it was


simply that the sight of soot as such, suggested a
certainpossibility.
Emilyrolleduphersleevesandthrustbotharmsup
thechimney.
A moment later she was staring with incredulous
delightataparcelwrappedlooselyinnewspaper.One
shakedetachedthenewspaperandthere,beforeher,
wereThemissingpairofboots.
"Butwhy?"saidEmily."Heretheyare.Butwhy?Why?
Why?Why?"
She stared at them. She turned them over. She
examined them outside and inside and the same
questionbeatmonotonouslyinherbrain.Why?
Granted that someone had removed Captain
Trevelyan's boots and hidden them up the chimney.
Whyhadtheydoneso?
"Oh!"criedEmilydesperately,"Ishallgomad!"
Sheputthebootscarefullyinthemiddleofthefloor
anddrawingupachairoppositethemshesatdown.
And then deliberately she set herself to think out
thingsfromthebeginning,goingovereverydetailthat
370

BOOTS

sheknewherselforhadlearnedbyhearsayfromother
people.Sheconsideredeveryactorinthedramaand
outsidethedrama.
And suddenly, a queer nebulous idea began to take
shapean idea suggested by that pair of innocent
bootsthatstoodtheredumblyonthefloor.
"Butifso,"saidEmily"ifso"
She picked up the boots in her hand and hurried
downstairs.Shepushedopenthediningroomdoorand
wenttothecupboardinthecorner.HerewasCaptain
Trevelyan's motley array of sporting trophies and
sporting outfits, all the things he had not trusted
within reach of the female tenants. The skis, the
sculls,theelephant'sfoot,thetusks,thefishingrods
everythingstillwaitingforMessrs.YoungandPeabody
topackthemexpertlyforstore.
Emilybentdownbootsinhand.
In a minute or two she stood upright, flushed,
incredulous.
"Sothatwasit,"saidEmily."Sothatwasit."
Shesankintoachair.Therewasstillmuchthatshe
didnotunderstand.
371

BOOTS

After some minutes she rose to her feet. She spoke


aloud.
"IknowwhokilledCaptainTrevelyan,"shesaid."ButI
don'tknowwhy.Istillcan'tthinkwhy.ButImustn't
losetime."
ShehurriedoutofHazelmoor.Tofindacartodrive
hertoSittafordwastheworkofafewminutes.She
orderedittotakehertoMrDuke'sbungalow.Hereshe
paidthemanandthenwalkedupthepathasthecar
droveaway.
Sheliftedtheknockerandgavealoudrattat.
Afteramomentortwo'sintervalthedoorwasopened
byabigburlymanwitharatherimpassiveface.
Forthefirsttime,EmilymetMrDukefacetoface.
"MrDuke?"sheasked.
"Yes."
"IamMissTrefusis.MayIcomein,please?"
There was a momentary hesitation. Then he stood
aside to let her pass. Emily walked into the living
room.
372

BOOTS

Heclosedthefrontdoorandfollowedher.
"IwanttoseeInspectorNarracott,"saidEmily."Ishe
here?"
Againtherewasapause.MrDukeseemeduncertain
how to answer. At last he appeared to make up his
mind.Hesmiledarathercurioussmile.
"Inspector Narracott is here," he said. "What do you
wanttoseehimabout?"
Emilytooktheparcelshewascarryingandunwrapped
it.Shetookoutapairofbootsandplacedthemonthe
tableinfrontofhim.
"Iwant,"shesaid,"toseehimaboutthoseboots."

373

BOOTS

Chapter29

THESECONDSANCE
"Hullo,hullo,hullo,"saidRonnieGarfield.
Mr Rycroft, slowly ascending the steep slope of the
lanefromthepostoffice,paused,tillRonnieovertook
him.
"Been to the local Harrods, eh?" said Ronnie. "Old
MotherHibbert."
"No,"saidMrRycroft."Ihavebeenforashortwalk
alongpasttheforge.Verydelightfulweathertoday."
Ronnielookedupatthebluesky.
"Yes,abitofadifferencefromlastweek.Bytheway,
you'regoingtotheWilletts,Isuppose?"
"Iam.Youalso?"
"Yes. Our bright spot in Sittafordthe Willetts.
Mustn't let yourself get downhearted, that's their
motto.Carryonasusual.Myauntsaysitisunfeeling
ofthemtoaskpeopletoteasosoonafterthefuneral
374

THESECONDSANCE

andallthat,butthat'sallbunkum.Shejustsaysthat
because she's feeling rattled about the Emperor of
Peru."
"TheEmperorofPeru?"saidMrRycroftsurprised.
"One of the blinking cats. It's turned out to be an
Empress instead and Aunt Caroline's naturally
annoyedaboutit.Shedoesn'tlikethesesexproblems
so, as I say, she got her feelings off her chest by
making catty remarks about the Willetts. Why
shouldn'ttheyaskpeopletotea?Trevelyanwasn'ta
relation,oranythinglikethat."
"Very true," said Mr Rycroft turning his head and
examining a bird which flew past and in which he
thoughtherecognizedararespecies.
"How annoying," he murmured. "I haven't got my
glasseswithme."
"Eh! I say, talking of Trevelyan, do you think Mrs
Willett can have known the old boy better than she
says?"
"Whydoyouaskthat?"
"Because of the change in her. Have you ever seen
anythinglikeit?She'sagedabouttwentyyearsinthe
375

THESECONDSANCE

lastweek.Youmusthavenoticedit."
"Yes,"saidMrRycroft."Ihavenoticedit."
"Well,thereyouare.Trevelyan'sdeathmusthavebeen
themostfrightfulshocktoherinsomewayorother.
Queerifsheturnedouttobetheoldman'slonglost
wife whom he deserted in his youth and didn't
recognize."
"Ihardlythinkthatlikely,MrGarfield."
"BittoomuchofaMoviestunt,eh?Allthesamevery
odd things happen. I've read some really amazing
thingsintheDailyWirethingsyouwouldn'tcreditif
anewspaperdidn'tprintthem."
"Aretheyanymoretobecreditedon that account?"
inquiredMrRycroftacidly.
"YouhavegotadownonyoungEnderby,haven'tyou?"
saidRonnie.
"I dislike illbred nosing into affairs that do not
concernyou,"saidMrRycroft.
"Yes,butthentheydoconcernhim,"Ronniepersisted.
"Imeannosingaboutisthepoorchap'sjob.Heseems
to havetamedoldBurnabyallright. Funny, theold
376

THESECONDSANCE

boycanhardlybearthesightofme.I'mlikearedrag
toabulltohim."
MrRycroftdidnotreply.
"ByJove,"saidRonnieagainglancingupatthesky.
"Doyourealizeit'sFriday?Justaweekagotodayat
about this time we were trudging up tothe Willetts
just as we are now. But a bit of a change in the
weather."
"A week ago," said Mr Rycroft. "It seems infinitely
longer."
"Morelikeaballyyear,doesn'tit?Hullo,Abdul."
They were passing Captain Wyatt's gate over which
themelancholyIndianwasleaning.
"Goodafternoon,Abdul,"saidMrRycroft."How'syour
master?"
Thenativeshookhishead.
"Master bad today, Sahib. Not see anyone. Not see
anyoneforlongtime."
"Youknow,"saidRonnieastheypassedon,"thatchap
could murder Wyatt quite easily and no one would
377

THESECONDSANCE

know.Hecouldgoonforweeksshakinghisheadand
saying the master wouldn't see anyone and no one
wouldthinkittheleastodd."
MrRycroftadmittedthetruthifthestatement.
"Buttherewouldstillbetheproblemofthedisposalof
thebody,"hepointedout.
"Yes, that's always the snag, isn't it? Inconvenient
thing,ahumanbody."
TheypassedMajorBurnaby'scottage.TheMajorwas
in his garden looking sternly at a weed which was
growingwherenoweedshouldbe.
"Goodafternoon,Major,"saidMrRycroft."Areyoualso
comingtoSittafordHouse?"
Burnabyrubbedhisnose.
"Don'tthinkso.Theysentanoteaskingme.Butwell
Idon'tfeellikeit.Expectyou'llunderstand."
MrRycroftbowedhisheadintokenofunderstanding.
"Allthesame,"hesaid,"Iwishyou'dcome.I'vegota
reason."
"Areason.Whatsortofareason?"
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THESECONDSANCE

MrRycrofthesitated.Itwasclearthatthepresenceof
Ronnie Garfield constrained him. But Ronnie,
completely oblivious of the fact, stood his ground
listeningwithingenuousinterest.
"I'dliketotryanexperiment,"hesaidatlastslowly.
"Whatsortofexperiment?"demandedBurnaby.
MrRycrofthesitated.
"I'drathernottellyoubeforehand.Butifyoucome,I'll
askyoutobackmeupinanythingIsuggest."
Burnaby'scuriositywasaroused.
"Allright,"hesaid."I'llcome.Youcancountonme.
Where'smyhat?"
He rejoined them in a minute, hat on head and all
threeturnedinatthegatesofSittafordHouse.
"Hear you are expecting company, Rycroft," said
Burnabyconversationally.
Ashadeofvexationpassedovertheolderman'sface.
"Whotoldyouthat?"
"Thatchatteringmagpieofawoman,MrsCurtis.She's
379

THESECONDSANCE

cleanandshe'shonest,buthertongueneverstops,and
shepaysnoattentiontowhetheryoulistenorwhether
youdon't."
"It'squitetrue,"admittedMrRycroft."Iamexpecting
myniece,MrsDering,andherhusband,tomorrow."
They had arrived at the front door by now, and on
pressing the bell it was opened to them by Brian
Pearson.
Astheyremovedtheirovercoatsinthehall,MrRycroft
observedthetallbroadshoulderedyoungmanwithan
interestedeye.
"Fine specimen," he thought. "Very fine specimen.
Strongtemper.Curiousangleofthejaw.Mightbea
nasty customer to tackle in certain circumstances.
Whatyoumightcalladangerousyoungnan."
AqueerfeelingofunrealitystoleoverMajorBurnaby
asheenteredthedrawingroom,andMrsWillettrose
togreethim.
"Splendidofyoutoturnout."
Thesamewordsaslastweek.Thesameblazingfireon
the hearth. He fancied, but was not sure, the same
gownsonthetwowomen.
380

THESECONDSANCE

Itdidgiveoneaqueerfeeling.Asthoughitwerelast
weekagainasthoughJoeTrevelyanhadn'tdiedas
thoughnothinghadhappenedorwerechanged.Stop,
that was wrong. The Willett woman hadchanged. A
wreck, that was the only way of describing her. No
longertheprosperousdeterminedwomanoftheworld,
but abrokennervycreaturemakinganobvious and
patheticefforttoappearasusual.
"ButI'mhangedifIcanseewhatJoe'sdeathmeantto
her,"thoughttheMajor.
Forthehundredthtimeheregisteredtheimpression
that there was something deuced odd about the
Willetts.Asusual,heawoketotherealizationthathe
was being silent and that someone was speaking to
him.
"Our last little gathering, I am afraid," Mrs Willett
wassaying.
"What'sthat?"RonnieGarfieldlookedupsuddenly.
"Yes." Mrs Willett shook her head with a wouldbe
smile."Wehavegottoforegotherestofthewinterin
Sittaford.Personally,ofcourse,Iloveitthesnowand
thetorsandthewildnessofitall,Butthedomestic
problem! The domestic problem is too difficultit
381

THESECONDSANCE

defeatsme!"
"Ithoughtyouweregoingtogetachauffeurbutlerand
ahandyman,"saidMajorBurnaby.
AsuddenshivershookMrsWillett'sframe.
"No,"shesaid,"IIhavehadtogiveupthatidea."
"Dear,dear,"saidMrRycroft."Thisisagreatblowto
us all. Very sad indeed. We will sink back into our
littlerutafteryouhavegone.Whendoyougo,bythe
way?"
"OnMonday,Iexpect,"saidMrsWillett."UnlessIcan
get away tomorrow. It's so very awkward with no
servants. Of course, I must arrange things with Mr
Kirkwood.Itookthehouseforfourmonths."
"YouaregoingtoLondon?"inquiredMrRycroft.
"Yes,probably,tostartwithanyway.ThenIexpectwe
shallgoabroadtotheRiviera."
"Agreatloss,"saidMrRycroftbowinggallantly.
MrsWillettgaveaqueeraimlesslittletitter.
"Tookindofyou,MrRycroft.Well,shallwehavetea?"

382

THESECONDSANCE

Tea was laid ready. Mrs Willett poured out. Ronnie


and Brian handed things. A queer kind of
embarrassmentlayovertheparty.
"What about you?" said Burnaby abruptly to Brian
Pearson."Youofftoo?"
"ToLondon,yes.NaturallyIshan'tgoabroadtillthis
businessisover."
"Thisbusiness?"
"Imeanuntilmybrotherisclearedofthisridiculous
charge."
He flung the words at them defiantly in such a
challengingmannerthatnobodyknewquitewhatto
say.
MajorBurnabyrelievedthesituation.
"Neverhavebelievedhedidit.Notforamoment,"he
said.
"None of us think so," said Violet, flinging him a
gratefulglance.
Thetinkleofabellbroketheensuingpause.
"That's Mr Duke," said Mrs Willett. "Let him in,
383

THESECONDSANCE

Brian."
YoungPearsonhadgonetothewindow.
"It'snotDuke,"hesaid."It'sthatdamnedjournalist."
"Oh!dear,"saidMrsWillett."Well,Isupposewemust
lethiminallthesame."
Briannoddedandreappearedinafewminuteswith
CharlesEnderby.
Enderby entered with his usual ingenuous air of
beaming satisfaction. The idea that he might not be
welcomedidnotseemtooccurtohim.
"Hullo, Mrs Willett. How are you? Thought I'd just
drop in and seehow things were. I wondered where
everyoneinSittafordhadgotto.Now,Isee."
"Havesometea,MrEnderby?"
"Awfullykindofyou.Iwill.IseeEmilyisn'there.I
supposeshe'swithyouraunt,MrGarfield."
"NotthatIknowof,"saidRonniestaring."Ithought
she'dgonetoExhampton."
"Ah!butshe'sbackfromthere.HowdoIknow?Alittle
birdtoldme.TheCurtisbird,tobeaccurate.Sawthe
384

THESECONDSANCE

carpassthepostofficeandgoupthelaneandcome
back empty. She is not in No. 5 and she's not in
Sittaford House. Puzzlewhere is she? Failing Miss
Percehouse, she must be sipping tea with that
determinedladykiller,CaptainWyatt."
"She may have gone up Sittaford Beacon to see the
sunset,"suggestedMrRycroft.
"Don'tthinkso,"saidBurnaby."Shouldhaveseenher
pass.I'vebeeninthegardenforthelasthour."
"Well, I don't think it's a very vital problem," said
Charles cheerfully. "I mean I don't think she's been
kidnappedormurderedoranything."
"That'sapityfromthepointofviewofyourpaper,isn't
it?"sneeredBrian.
"Even for copy, I wouldn't sacrifice Emily," said
Charles."Emily,"headdedthoughtfully,"isunique."
"Verycharming,"saidMrRycroft."Verycharming.We
areercollaborators,sheandI."
"Has everyone finished?" said Mrs Willett. "What
aboutsomebridge?"
"Eronemoment,"saidMrRycroft.
385

THESECONDSANCE

Heclearedhisthroatimportantly.Everyonelookedat
him.
"MrsWillett,Iam,asyouknow,deeplyinterestedin
psychic phenomena. A week ago today, in this very
room, we had an amazing, indeed an awe inspiring
experience."
TherewasafaintsoundfromVioletWillett.Heturned
toher.
"Iknow,mydearMissWillett,Iknow.Theexperience
upsetyou,itwasupsetting.Idonotdenyit.Now,ever
sincethecrimethepoliceforcehavebeenseekingthe
murderer of Captain Trevelyan. They have made an
arrest.Butsomeofus,atleast,inthisroom,donot
believe that Mr James Pearson is the guilty party.
WhatIproposeisthis,thatwerepeattheexperiment
of last Friday, though approaching it this time in a
ratherdifferentspirit."
"No,"criedViolet.
"Oh!Isay,"saidRonnie."That'sabittoothick.I'mnot
goingtojoininanyway."
MrRycrofttooknonoticeofhim.
"MrsWillett,whatdoyousay?"
386

THESECONDSANCE

Shehesitated.
"Frankly,MrRycroft,Idonotliketheidea.Idon'tlike
it at all. That miserable business last week made a
mostdisagreeableimpressiononme.Itwilltakemea
longtimetoforgetit."
"What are you getting at exactly?" asked Enderby
interestedly. "Do you propose that the spirits should
tell us the name of Captain Trevelyan's murderer?
Thatseemsaprettytallorder."
"It was a pretty tall order, as you call it, when last
week a message came through saying that Captain
Trevelyanwasdead."
"That'strue,"agreedEnderby."Butwellyouknow
thisideaofyoursmighthaveconsequencesyouhaven't
considered."
"Suchas?"
"Supposinganamewasmentioned?Couldyoubesure
thatsomeonepresentdidnotdeliberately"
HepausedandRonnieGarfieldtenderedtheword.
"Shove. That's what he means. Supposing somebody
goesandshoves."
387

THESECONDSANCE

"This is a serious experiment, sir," said Mr Rycroft


warmly."Nobodywoulddosuchathing."
"Idon'tknow,"saidRonniedubiously."Iwouldn'tputit
pastthem.Idon'tmeanmyself.IswearIwouldn't,but
supposeeveryoneturnsonmeandsaysIhave.Jolly
awkward,youknow."
"MrsWillett,Iaminearnest."Thelittleoldgentleman
disregarded Ronnie. "I beg of you, let us make the
experiment."
Shewavered.
"Idon'tlikeit.Ireallydon't.I"Shelookedroundher
uneasily, as though for a way of escape. "Major
Burnaby,you wereCaptainTrevelyan's friend.What
doyousay?"
The Major's eyes met those of Mr Rycroft. This, he
understood,wasthecontingencywhichthelatterhad
foreshadowed.
"Whynot?"hesaidgruffly.
Ithadallthedecisionofacastingvote.
Ronniewentintotheadjoiningroomandbroughtthe
smalltablewhichhadbeenusedbefore.Hesetitin
388

THESECONDSANCE

the middle of the floor and chairs were drawn up


roundit.Noonespoke.Theexperimentwasclearlynot
popular.
"That is correct, I think," said Mr Rycroft. "We are
about to repeat the experiment of last Friday under
preciselysimilarconditions."
"Notpreciselysimilar,"objectedMrsWillett."MrDuke
ismissing."
"True,"saidMrRycroft."Apityheisnothere.Agreat
pity.Wellerwemustconsiderhimasreplacedby
MrPearson."
"Don'ttakepartinit,Brian.Ibegofyou.Pleasedon't,"
criedViolet.
"Whatdoesitmatter?It'sallnonsenseanyway."
"That is quite the wrong spirit," said Mr Rycroft
severely.
BrianPearsondidnotreplybuttookhisplacebeside
Violet.
"Mr Enderby," began Mr Rycroft, but Charles
interruptedhim.

389

THESECONDSANCE

"Iwasnotinonthis.I'majournalistandyoumistrust
me.I'lltakenotesinshorthandofanyphenomena
that'sthewordisn'tit?thatoccur."
Mattersweresettledlikethat.Theothersixtooktheir
placesroundthetable.Charlesturnedoffthelights
andsatdownonthefender.
"Oneminute,"hesaid."What'sthetime?"Hepeeredat
hiswristwatchinthefirelight.
"That'sodd,"hesaid.
"What'sodd?"
"It'sjusttwentyfiveminutespastfive..."
Violetutteredalittlecry.
MrRycroftsaidseverely:
"Silence."
Theminutespassed.Averydifferentatmospherethis
timethanaweekago.Therewasnomuffledlaughter,
nowhisperedcommentsonlysilence,brokenatlast
byashortcrackfromthetable.
MrRycroft'svoicerose,"Isthereanyonethere?"

390

THESECONDSANCE

Anotherfaintcracksomehowaneeriesoundinthat
darkenedroom.
"Isanyonethere?"
Noknockthistimebutadeafeningtremendousrap.
VioletscreamedandMrsWillettgaveacry.
BrianPearson'svoicerosereassuringly.
"It'sallright.That'saknockatthefrontdoor.I'llgo
andopenit."
He strode from the room without a comment from
anybody.
Suddenlythedoorflewopen,thelightswereswitched
on.
InthedoorwaystoodInspectorNarracott.Behindhim
wereEmilyTrefusisandMrDuke.
Narracotttookastepintotheroomandspoke.
"John Burnaby, I charge you with the murder of
Joseph Trevelyan on Friday the 14th instant, and I
hereby warn you that anything you may say will be
takendownandmaybeusedinevidence."

391

THESECONDSANCE

Chapter30

EMILYEXPLAINS
Itwasacrowdofpeoplealmosttoosurprisedforwords
thatcrowdedroundEmilyTrefusis.
Inspector Narracott had led his prisoner from the
room.
CharlesEnderbyfoundhisvoicefirst.
"For heaven's sake, cough it up, Emily," he said. "I
want to get to the telegraph office. Every moment's
vital."
"ItwasMajorBurnabywhokilledCaptainTrevelyan."
"Well, I saw Narracott arrest him. And I suppose
Narracott'ssanehasn'tgoneoffhisnutsuddenly.But
howcanBurnabyhavekilledTrevelyan?Imeanhowis
it humanly possible? If Trevelyan was killed at five
andtwentypastfive"
"Hewasn't.Hewaskilledataboutaquartertosix."
392

EMILYEXPLAINS

"Well, but even then" "I know. You'd never guess


unless youjust happenedtothink of it. Skisthat's
theexplanationskis."
"Skis?"repeatedeveryone.
Emilynodded.
"Yes.Hedeliberatelyengineeredthattableturning.It
wasn'taccidentanddoneunconsciouslyaswethought,
Charles.Itwasthesecondalternativethatwerejected
doneonpurpose.Hesawitwasgoingtosnowbefore
verylong.Thatwouldmakeitperfectlysafeandwipe
outalltracks.HecreatedtheimpressionthatCaptain
Trevelyanwasdeadgoteveryoneallworkedup.Then
hepretendedtobeveryupsetandinsistedonstarting
offforExhampton.
"Hewenthome,buckledonhisskis(theywerekeptin
a shed in thegardenwitha lot ofother tackle)and
started.Hewasanexpertonskis.It'salldownhillto
Exhamptona wonderful run. It would only take
abouttenminutes.
"He arrived at the window and rapped. Captain
Trevelyan let him in, all unsuspecting. Then, when
Captain Trevelyan's back was turned he seized his
opportunity, picked up that sandbag thing andand
393

EMILYEXPLAINS

killedhim.Ugh!Itmakesmesicktothinkofit."
Sheshuddered.
"Itwasallquiteeasy.Hehadplentyoftime.Hemust
havewiped andcleanedtheskis andthenput them
intothecupboardinthediningroom,pushedinamong
all the other things. Then, I suppose he forced the
windowandpulledoutallthedrawersandthingsto
makeitlookasthoughsomeonehadbrokenin.
"Thenjustbeforeeighto'clock,allhehadtodowasto
goout,makeadetourontotheroadhigherupand
comepuffingandpantingintoExhamptonasthough
he'dwalkedallthewayfromSittaford.Solongasno
one suspected about the skis, he'd be perfectly safe.
Thedoctorcouldn'tfailtosaythatCaptainTrevelyan
hadbeendeadatleasttwohours.And,asIsay,solong
asnoonethoughtofskis,MajorBurnabywouldhavea
perfectalibi."
"ButtheywerefriendsBurnabyandTrevelyan,"said
MrRycroft."Oldfriendsthey'vealwaysbeenfriends.
It'sincredible."
"Iknow,"saidEmily."That'swhatIthought.Icouldn't
seewhy.IpuzzledandIpuzzledandatlastIhadto
cometoInspectorNarracottandMrDuke."
394

EMILYEXPLAINS

ShepausedandlookedattheimpassiveMrDuke.
"MayItellthem?"shesaid.
MrDukesmiled.
"Ifyoulike,MissTrefusis."
"Anywayno,perhapsyou'dratherIdidn't.Iwentto
them, and we got the thing clear. Do you remember
telling me, Charles, that Evans mentioned that
Captain Trevelyan used to send in solutions of
competitionsinhisname?HethoughtSittafordHouse
wastoograndanaddress.Wellthat'swhathedidin
that Football Competition that you gave Major
Burnaby five thousand pounds for. It was Captain
Trevelyan's solution really, and he sent it in in
Burnaby's name. No. 1, The Cottages, Sittaford,
soundedmuchbetter,hethought.Well,youseewhat
happened?OnFridaymorningMajorBurnabygotthe
lettersayinghe'dwonfivethousandpounds(andby
the way, that ought to have made us suspicious. He
told you he never got the letterthat nothing had
come through on Friday owing to the weather. That
wasalie.Fridaymorningwasthelastdaythingsdid
come through). Where was I? Oh!Major Burnaby
getting the letter. He wanted that five thousand
wanted it badly. He'd been investing in some rotten
395

EMILYEXPLAINS

sharesorotherandhadlostaterriblelotofmoney.
"The idea must have come into his head quite
suddenly,Ishouldthink.Perhapswhenherealizedit
was going to snow that evening. If Trevelyan were
deadhe could keep that money and no one would
everknow."
"Amazing,"murmuredMrRycroft."Quiteamazing.I
neverdreamedButmydearyounglady,howdidyou
learnallthis?Whatputyouontherighttrack?"
Foranswer,EmilyexplainedMrsBelling'sletter,and
toldhowshehaddiscoveredthebootsinthechimney.
"Itwaslookingatthemthatputitintomymind.They
wereskiboots,yousee,anditmademethinkofskis.
And suddenly I wondered if perhapsI rushed
downstairs to the cupboard, and sure enough there
weretwopairsofskisthere.Onepairwaslongerthan
theother.Andthebootsfittedthelongpairbutthey
didn'tfittheother.Thetoeclipthingswereadjusted
foramuchsmallerpairofboots.Theshorterpairof
skisbelongedtoadifferentperson."
"He ought to have hidden the skis somewhere else,"
saidMrRycroftwithartisticdisapproval.

396

EMILYEXPLAINS

"Nono,"saidEmily."Whereelsecouldhehidethem?
It was a very good place really.In a day ortwothe
whole collection would have been stored, and in the
meantimeitwasn'tlikelythatthepolicewouldbother
whetherCaptainTrevelyanhadhadoneortwopairsof
skis."
"Butwhydidhehidetheboots?"
"Isuppose,"saidEmily,"thathewasafraidthepolice
might do exactly what I didThe sight of ski boots
mighthavesuggestedskistothem.Sohestuffedthem
upthechimney.Andthat'sreally,ofcourse,wherehe
madehismistake,becauseEvansnoticedthatthey'd
goneandIgottoknowofit."
"DidhedeliberatelymeantofastenthecrimeonJim?"
demandedBrianPearsonangrily.
"Oh!no.ThatwasjustJim'susualidioticluck.Hewas
anidiot,poorlamb."
"He'sallrightnow,"saidCharles."Youneedn'tworry
about him. Have you told me everything, Emily,
becauseifso,Iwanttorushtothetelegraphoffice.
You'llexcusemeeverybody."
Hedashedoutoftheroom.
397

EMILYEXPLAINS

"Thelivewire,"saidEmily.
MrDukespokeinhisdeepvoice.
"You've been rather a live wire yourself, Miss
Trefusis."
"Youhave,"saidRonnieadmiringly.
"Oh!dear,"saidEmilysuddenlyanddroppedlimplyon
achair.
"What you need is a pickmeup," said Ronnie. "A
cocktail,eh?"
Emilyshookherhead.
"Alittlebrandy,"suggestedMrRycroftsolicitiously.
"Acupoftea,"suggestedViolet.
"I'd like a spot offace powder," saidEmily wistfully.
"I'veleftmypowderpuffinthecar.AndIknowI'm
simplyshiningwithexcitement."
Violetledherupstairsinsearchofthissedativetothe
nerves.
"That's better," said Emily dabbing her nose firmly.
"Whatanicekind.Ifeelmuchbetternow.Haveyou
398

EMILYEXPLAINS

gotanylipstick?Ifeelalmosthuman."
"You'vebeenwonderful,"saidViolet."Sobrave."
"Notreally,"saidEmily."Underneaththiscamouflage
I'vebeenaswobblyasajelly,withasortofsickfeeling
inmymiddle."
"Iknow,"saidViolet."I'vefeltmuchthesamemyself.I
havebeensoterrifiedthislastfewdaysaboutBrian,
you know. They couldn't hang him for murdering
CaptainTrevelyan,ofcoursebutifoncehehadsaid
wherehewasduringthattime,theywouldsoonhave
ferreted out that it was he who engineered father's
escape."
"What'sthat?"saidEmilypausinginherfacialrepairs.
"Fatherwastheconvictwhoescaped.That'swhywe
came here. Mother and I. Poor father, he's always
been queer at times. Then he does these dreadful
things.WemetBrianonthewayoverfromAustralia,
andheandIwellheandI"
"Isee,"saidEmilyhelpfully."Ofcourseyoudid."
"Itoldhimeverythingandbetweenusweconcocteda
plan. Brian was wonderful. We had got plenty of
moneyfortunately,andBrianmadealltheplans.It's
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EMILYEXPLAINS

awfullyhardtogetawayfromPrincetown,youknow,
but Brian engineered it. Really it was a kind of
miracle. The arrangement was that after father got
away he was to go straight across country here and
hideinthePixie'sCaveandthenlaterheandBrian
were to be our two men servants. You see with our
arrivingsolongbeforehandweimaginedwewouldbe
quite free from suspicion. It was Brian who told us
aboutthisplace,andsuggestedusofferingabigrent
toCaptainTrevelyan."
"I'm awfully sorry," said Emily"I mean that it all
wentwrong."
"It'sbrokenmotherupcompletely,"saidViolet."Ithink
Brian'swonderful.Itisn'teverybodywhowouldwant
to marry a convict's daughter. But I don't think it's
reallyfather'sfault,hehadanawfulkickonthehead
fromahorseaboutfifteenyearsago,andsincethenhe
has been a bit queer. Brian says if he had a good
counselhewouldhavegotoff.Butdon'tlet'stalkabout
meanymore."
"Can'tanythingbedone?"
Violetshookherhead.
"He's very illthe exposure, you know. That awful
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EMILYEXPLAINS

cold.It'spneumonia.Ican'thelpfeelingthatifhedies
wellit may be the best for him really. It sounds
dreadfultosayso,butyouknowwhatImean."
"PoorViolet,"saidEmily."Itisarottenshame."
Thegirlshookherhead.
"I'vegotBrian,"shesaid."Andyou'vegot"
Shestoppedembarrassed.
"Yees,"saidEmilythoughtfully,"That'sjustit."

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EMILYEXPLAINS

Chapter31

THELUCKYMAN
TenminuteslaterEmilywashurryingdownthelane.
CaptainWyatt,leaningoverhisgate,triedtoarrest
herprogress.
"Hie,"hesaid,"MissTrefusis.What'sallthisIhear?"
"It'salltrue,"saidEmilyhurryingon.
"Yes,butlookhere.Comeinhaveaglassofwineora
cupoftea.There'splentyoftime.Noneedtohurry.
That'stheworstofyoucivilizedpeople."
"We'reawful,Iknow,"saidEmilyandspedon.
She burst in on Miss Percehouse with the explosive
forceofabomb.
"I'vecometotellyouallaboutit,"saidEmily.
Andstraightwayshepouredforththecompletestory.
It was punctuated by various ejaculations of "Bless
us!""Youdon'tsayso?""Well,Ideclare,"fromMiss
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THELUCKYMAN

Percehouse.
When Emily had finished her narrative, Miss
Percehouseraisedherselfonherelbowandwaggeda
fingerportentously.
"WhatdidIsay?"shedemanded."ItoldyouBurnaby
was a jealous man. Friends indeed! For more than
twenty years Trevelyan has done everything a bit
betterthanBurnaby.Heskiedbetter,andheclimbed
better and he shot better and he did Cross Word
Puzzlesbetter.Burnabywasn'tabigenoughmanto
standit.Trevelyanwasrichandhewaspoor.
"It's been going on a long time. I can tell you it's a
difficultthingtogoonreallylikingamanwhocando
everythingjustalittlebetterthanyoucan.Burnaby
wasanarrowminded,smallnaturedman.Heletitget
onhisnerves."
"Iexpectyou'reright,"saidEmily."Well,Ihadtocome
andtellyou.Itseemedsounfairyoushouldbeoutof
everything. By the way, did you know that your
nephewknewmyAuntJennifer?Theywerehavingtea
togetheratDeller'sonWednesday."
"She'shisgodmother,"saidMissPercehouse."Sothat's
the 'fellow' he wanted to see in Exeter. Borrowing
403

THELUCKYMAN

money,ifIknowRonnie.I'llspeaktohim."
"Iforbidyoutobiteanyoneonajoyfuldaylikethis,"
saidEmily."Goodby.Imustfly.I'vegotalottodo."
"Whathaveyougottodo,youngwoman?Ishouldsay
you'ddoneyourbit."
"Not quite. I must go up to London and see Jim's
InsuranceCompanypeopleandpersuadethemnotto
prosecutehimoverthatlittlematteroftheborrowed
money."
"H'm,"saidMissPercehouse.
"It's all right," said Emily. "Jim will keep straight
enoughinfuture.He'shadhislesson."
"Perhaps. And you think you'll be able to persuade
them?"
"Yes,"saidEmilyfirmly.
"Well,"saidMissPercehouse."Perhapsyouwill.And
afterthat?"
"Afterthat,"saidEmily."I'vefinished.I'llhavedone
allIcanforJim."
"Then suppose we saywhat next?" said Miss
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THELUCKYMAN

Percehouse.
"Youmean?"
"What next? Or if you want it put clearer: Which of
them?"
"Oh!"saidEmily.
"Exactly.That'swhatIwanttoknow.Whichofthemis
tobetheunfortunateman?"
Emilylaughed.Bendingovershekissedtheoldlady.
"Don't pretend to be an idiot," she said. "You know
perfectlywellwhichitis."
MissPercehousechuckled.
Emilyranlightlyoutofthehouseanddowntothegate
justasCharlescameracingupthelane.
Hecaughtherbybothhands.
"Emilydarling!"
"Charles!Isn'teverythingmarvelous?"
"Ishallkissyou,"saidMrEnderbyanddid.

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THELUCKYMAN

"I'm a made man, Emily," he said. "Now, look here,


darling,whataboutit?"
"Whataboutwhat?"
"WellImeanwell,ofcourse,itwouldn'thavebeen
playingthegamewithpooroldPearsoninprisonand
alltherestofit.Buthe'sclearednowandwell,he
hasgottotakehismedicinejustlikeanybodyelse."
"Whatareyoutalkingabout?"saidEmily.
"YouknowwellenoughIamcrazyaboutyou,"saidMr
Enderby,"andyoulikeme.Pearsonwasjustamistake.
What I mean iswellyou and I, we are made for
eachother.Allthistime,wehaveknownit,bothofus,
haven'twe?DoyoulikeaRegistryOfficeoraChurch,
orwhat?"
"Ifyouarereferringtomarriage,"saidEmily,"there's
nothingdoing."
"WhatbutIsay"
"No,"saidEmily.
"ButEmily"
"If you will have it," said Emily. "I love Jim.
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THELUCKYMAN

Passionately!"
Charlesstaredatherinspeechlessbewilderment.
"Youcan't!"
"I can! And I do! And I always have! And I always
shall!"
"Youyoumademethink"
"Isaid,"saidEmilydemurely,"thatitwaswonderfulto
havesomeoneonecouldrelyon."
"Yes,butIthought"
"Ican'thelpwhatyouthought."
"Youareanunscrupulousdevil,Emily."
"Iknow,Charlesdarling.Iknow.I'meverythingyou
liketocallme.Butnevermind.Thinkhowgreatyou
aregoingtobe.You'vegotyourscoop!Exclusivenews
for the Daily Wire. You're a made man. What's a
womananyway?Lessthanthedust.Noreallystrong
man needs a woman. She only hampers him by
clingingtohim liketheivy.Everygreat manisone
who is independent of women. A careerthere's
nothingsofine,soabsolutelysatisfyingtoaman,asa
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THELUCKYMAN

greatcareer.Youareastrongman,Charles,onewho
canstandalone"
"Willyoustoptalking,Emily?It'slikeatalktoYoung
Men on the Wireless! You've broken my heart. You
don'tknowhowlovelyyoulookedasyoucameintothat
roomwithNarracott.Justlikesomethingtriumphant
andavengingoffanarch."
A footstep crunched on the lane, and Mr Duke
appeared.
"Oh!thereyouare,MrDuke,"saidEmily."Charles,I
want to tell you. This is ExChief Inspector Duke of
ScotlandYard."
"What?" cried Charles recognizing the famous name.
"NottheInspectorDuke?"
"Yes,"saidEmily."Whenheretired,hecamehereto
live, and being nice and modest he didn't want his
renown to get about. I see now why Inspector
NarracotttwinkledsowhenIwantedhimtotellme
whatkindofcrimesMrDukehadcommitted."
MrDukelaughed.
Charleswavered.Therewasashorttusslebetweenthe
loverandthejournalist.Thejournalistwon.
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THELUCKYMAN

"I'mdelightedtomeetyou,Inspector,"hesaid."Now,I
wonder if we could persuade you to do us a short
article, say eight hundred words, on the Trevelyan
Case."
Emily stepped quickly up the lane and into Mrs
Curtis'scottage.Sheranuptoherbedroomandpulled
outhersuitcase.MrsCurtishadfollowedherup.
"You'renotgoing,Miss?"
"I am. I've got a lot to doLondon, and my young
man."
MrsCurtisdrewnearer.
"Justtellme,Miss,whichof'emisit?"
Emily was throwing clothes haphazard into the
suitcase.
"Theoneinprison,ofcourse.There'sneverbeenany
other."
"Ah!Youdon'tthink,Miss,thatmaybeyou'remaking
amistake.You'resuretheotheryounggentlemanis
worthasmuchasthisone?"
"Oh!no,"saidEmily."Heisn't.Thisonewillgeton."
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THELUCKYMAN

SheglancedoutofthewindowwhereCharleswasstill
holding ExChief Inspector Duke in earnest parley.
"He'sthekindofyoungmanwho'ssimplyborntoget
onbutIdon'tknowwhatwouldhappentotheother
oneifIweren'ttheretolookafterhim.Lookwherehe
wouldbenowifitweren'tforme!"
"And you can't say more than that, Miss," said Mrs
Curtis.
Sheretreateddownstairstowhereherlawfulspouse
wassittingandstaringintovacancy.
"ThelivingimageofmyGreatAuntSarah'sBelinda
sheis,"saidMrsCurtis."Threwherselfawayshedid
onthatmiserableGeorgePlunketdownattheThree
Cows.Mortagedandallitwas.Andintwoyearsshe
had the mortgage paid off and the place a going
concern."
"Ah!"saidMrCurtisandshiftedhispipeslightly.
"Hewasahandsomefellow,GeorgePlunket,"saidMrs
Curtisreminiscently.
"Ah!"saidMrCurtis.
"But after he married Belinda he never so much as
lookedatanotherwoman."
410

THELUCKYMAN

"Ah!"saidMrCurtis.
"Shenevergavehimthechance,"saidMrsCurtis.
"Ah!"saidMrCurtis.

411

Related Interests