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There was something about those hands, with their strangely crisped fingers, as though they had been arrested in the very act of closing, that somehow gave the lie to the woman’s attitude of sleep.
News travels quickly and mysteriously on board ship. By the time lunch was over, the rumour began to spread that Mr. Smith’s death had not been due to natural causes.
“The blood’s coming from a cut at the back of his neck,” she said slowly. “He couldn’t have done that in falling. Some one must have—”
“There’ll be blue murder here before Christmas!”
Constantine reflected on the various means dentists have at their disposal should they wish to silence their patients …
“He had his enemies, I suppose?”
“Disputes, you mean? Over the merits of Puccini and Wagner, Strauss and Verdi! But people do not entice an old man from his home many years afterwards to avenge Wagner or Puccini!”
“Forty years ago he was Slightly in Peter Pan, and you might say that he has been wholly in Peter Pan ever since.” Kenneth Tynan
‘A highly readable work … Niven emerges as gallant and gracious.’ Chicago Tribune
‘Incredibly good-looking, in a dark way … that curious quality of a man with an eternal secret. … That was what was so arresting. … That and the voice.’ Geraldine Fitzgerald
'Chillingly well told' Sheridan Morley
‘Paolo is the only person to speak about what it was like on the road with us because he’s been there. He’s been there, he’s seen it, he’s done it.’ Noel Gallagher
Late in the afternoon a man, unidentified, had been seen to throw a glove into the Midwych, Wychshire and Southern Canal…
“Ode to a chocolate,” murmured Bobby.
“I wouldn’t come any nearer if I were you. It’s not a thing to see unless you have to.”
“I’ve got to hurry,” Bobby said. “Mr Weston has been found dead from a knife-wound in his study.”
Deep in bucolic Wychshire something dreadful is stirring …
With a slow gesture of one lifted hand, Bobby pointed. There, in a space between the prostrate stag and posturing goddess, was a human leg, a twisted, motionless leg in a strained, unnatural position.
“Give me gossip or Sherlock Holmes, and I take gossip every time. The detective’s first aid and ever present help in time of doubt.”
“I don’t like it, Olive. No good, plain evidence, not so much as the smell of a fingerprint. Nothing but psychology and an atmosphere of doubt, menace, and suspicion.”
“Gets on your nerves, doesn’t it? I mean, that playing of hers. I’ve never heard anything like it.”
Bobby Owen stood for a time in silence, looking down thoughtfully at the dead man’s face. A small, insignificant face, lacking even that touch of repose and dignity which death, even violent death, so often gives, and one that Bobby had never seen before. Of that at least he was sure.
Meg leaned forward suddenly. There was a note of terror in her voice. “Bill—where—is—Robin?”
Not a breath. Nothing. Just a dead man lying there on the tumbled bed…
“The door!” he shouted. “The door!” Every man in the room looked where Fifteen was looking. Above the water-lilies and the storks, where the top panel of the door had shown, there was a dark, empty space. The door was open.
“Thou hast betrayed, and thou hast slain…”
There was a hand pressed against the window, a large hand that looked unnaturally white. The light showed the pale fingers—and the still paler palm crossed by a dark, jagged scar.
“She’s a hula mula wula girl,
She’s a crazy daisy nightmare
My baby’s a scream.”
She had trembled. She had laughed her shaky little laugh. And she had vanished into thin air.
And the door was locked on the inside.
When she had let down her case, she locked her bedroom door. And then she put out the light and climbed out of the window.
“I know what we’ll do. We’ll play Devil-in-the dark.
“Are you sure? Don’t I inherit anything?”
“Not unless something happens to Miss Ann Vernon.”
Thief, kleptomaniac… or innocent victim of a malevolent plot to implicate her?
She held the candle steady and, stooping, touched the smeared patch with the tip of her finger.
The stain was blood.