‘Yes,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘One needs to take pains. And what do you think happened to-day?’

‘Oh, I think there was a fight with the nephew, perhaps,’ answered Crete. ‘Or maybe he just tumbled in. Or maybe Connie Carmody killed him. She did not like us. We were displacing her with her aunt. There was jealousy there, do you think?’

‘It would be interesting to know,’ said Mrs Bradley, even more interested in Crete’s attitude towards Mr Tidson’s mishap than in the actual occurrence itself, which, from the cowman’s account of the matter, she had little doubt had been brought about by Connie. ‘I feel you need more sunshine and less criticism than we have here,’ she went on. ‘How would you like to return to Tenerife as soon as the inquest is over?’

‘I must get my fare from Prissie,’ said Crete in cool, business-like tones. ‘She will like to get rid of me, no doubt.’

Mrs Bradley agreed with this estimate of Miss Carmody’s probable reactions, but did not say so. She merely observed in an offhand way and with her snake-like grin:

‘Will you need to borrow your husband’s fare, too?’

‘Oh, Edris!’ said Crete with something very like contempt in her tone. ‘He must be buried in England. Here in the city, no doubt. I could not support him on a ship. Suppose perhaps someone should fall in love with me on the vessel? With one’s husband dead in the baggage room—’

‘Well, one’s husband is not dead yet,’ said Mrs Bradley. Crete looked at her enquiringly.

‘It is a joke?’ she asked.

‘Oh, no. He was not quite dead when I found him,’ said Mrs Bradley. Crete, after taking a minute at least to absorb these obviously unwelcome tidings, took them philosophically, much to Mrs Bradley’s appreciative admiration.

‘Drowning was too good for him,’ she remarked. ‘What has been done with him now?’

‘He fled from the scene of the contretemps, and is now at large. I hardly anticipated that he would return to the Domus,’ replied Mrs Bradley. ‘I expect, though, that Detective-Inspector Gavin will want to find him.’

‘For the murders? I am afraid I have given him away. Do you think so? No matter. I take back everything I said, and I will not make any statements.’

‘They would be valueless,’ said Mrs Bradley calmly. ‘The evidence of a wife will not be sought for.’

‘So?’ Crete smiled. ‘Then I think I ask Thomas for champagne. You will pay for me for a bottle and we shall share it?’

‘Very well,’ Mrs Bradley agreed. Laura came in whilst they were talking. She gave them a glance, caught Mrs Bradley’s eye, and went out again, to find Gavin in the hotel vestibule. She buttonholed him at once.

‘So it’s up to you to look for proof,’ said she. ‘I rather hope you’ll find it.’

‘Proof of what?’

‘Of the fact that Connie Carmody tried to murder this Tidson.’

‘We can’t possibly prove it. According to Mrs Bradley the only witness was the cowherd, and he was quite certain that Connie did her best to rescue the fellow. There isn’t any doubt about that. Besides, you’ll find that Tidson won’t accuse her.’

‘How do you mean – won’t accuse her? I’d have thought, for his own safety, that he would.’

‘If he does, he will have to explain why she should want to murder him. Still, that might not fickle a downy old bird like Tidson.’

‘I don’t think he’d risk telling lies, in case Connie should tell the truth about Arthur Preece-Harvard.’

‘But there isn’t any truth about Arthur.’

‘So far, no. But if you think Tidson’s guns are spiked, you’ve got another thought coming. He doesn’t want to kill the kid himself, but he means to have the fortune, I should say.’

‘Guesswork, my sweet. Don’t be feminine.’

‘I hardly ever am,’ returned the Amazonian Laura. ‘And that’s why I’ll make a far better grandmother than wife. Anyhow, I don’t see why you want to worry this Connie. Haven’t you ever said you wanted to murder someone?’

‘Rather a lot of difference between saying it and trying to do it, don’t you think?’

‘Not according to Scripture,’ said Laura, ‘and, in any case, it’s only an academic difference, isn’t it? It simply means you haven’t got the pluck.’

‘I can’t allow that. The difference between committing a murder and not committing one is fundamental,’ argued Gavin. ‘And as for Scripture – well, never mind about that.

You’ve got something to tell me about Crete’s clothes, haven’t you?’

‘Oh, yes, I got them all right. They were weighted with stones, all small ones.’

‘In the river?’

‘Yes. I can show you the place.’

Chapter Twenty-One

‘. . . but I had gained a little sense, dropped my point, pulled off line and finally hand-lined him out.’

J. W. HILLS (A Summer on the Test)

‘OH, YES, your clue,’ said Mrs Bradley.

‘Well,’ said Gavin, ‘it’s a button off the boy Biggin’s shirt.’

‘Found where?’

‘Do you remember telling Laura about that walk you took with Tidson when you climbed Saint Catherine’s Hill?’

‘I remember, yes.’

‘And how, when you went with Connie, you found what looked like a tramp’s lair?’


‘The police, of course, have combed the whole neighbourhood very thoroughly indeed, and among the rubbish at the bottom of that hole they discovered this button which, we can say with certainty, came off Biggin’s clothing and has his prints on it. It’s really a trouser button, and has taken an identifiable impression of part of the boy’s left thumb. And there are other things.’

‘Including, of course, one sandal, and a pair of badly-stained gloves,’ said Mrs Bradley.

‘And another sandal has been seen in Tidson’s possession,’ said Gavin, looking reproachfully at her. ‘Unfortunately, I should not think it can any longer exist. I do wish you’d mentioned it earlier in the enquiry.’

‘I should have misled you,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘And it was a very well-worn sandal Mr Tidson lodged on the municipal dustcart on the morning after the death of Bobby Grier. I doubt—’

‘Yes, well, we must get that sandal,’ said Gavin, interrupting her. ‘It’s got to be found. That and the button should hang Tidson if the sandals match up, as they will. Besides, there are those gloves—’

‘The gloves are indeed a master touch, and have been very carefully planted,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘As to the sandal, I don’t know what you could prove from it. Mr Tidson is not likely to dispute that it was at one time in his possession, since several people actually saw him with it.’

‘Yes, that’s true,’ agreed Gavin.

‘Very queer, though, about that sandal,’ observed Laura. ‘I can’t see why he should have brought it with him to the Domus. Isn’t that a very odd thing?’

‘Not particularly odd. It is the sort of thing people do subconsciously,’ said Mrs Bradley.

‘He made no mystery of it, certainly.’

‘Well, of course, we have to remember that it had not been the property of Bobby Grier, and it was Bobby’s death which, at that time, and for some time afterwards, occupied our attention.’

‘True enough. We didn’t know about Biggin then.’

‘I do hope you will find the other sandal, if you think it can possibly help you.’

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