road bridge towards the old weir, where the water is shallow and stony. That accounts for his coming back wet through, and it accounts for his abrasions. You remember?’

‘But—’ said Gavin, surprised.

‘Yes, I am sure there is some young fellow somewhere – and a girl as well, of course – who can testify that this happened on the night of Bobby Grier’s death,’ Mrs Bradley continued.

‘What is this insect, then – a Peeping Tom?’ asked Gavin, in deep disgust.

‘Very aptly expressed,’ said Mrs Bradley, regarding Mr Tidson with benevolent interest. ‘His nymphs are many and varied. Another swain at a later date punched him in the eye. He bore the mark of it next morning.’

‘Ah, the soap and the nailbrush,’ said Gavin. ‘But—’

‘Mr Tidson was so much annoyed by that particular incident,’ went on Mrs Bradley, ‘that he even struck his wife, providing her with an injury equal to, and similar to, his own. I don’t wonder she does not like you very much,’ she continued, turning to the unfortunate Mr Tidson.

‘I’ve spent all my money on her,’ he said, with a frightened look. Mrs Bradley nodded.

‘So much so,’ she said, ‘that you’ve been suspected of having designs on the life of young Arthur Preece- Harvard so that you could inherit his estate.’

Mr Tidson’s expression of fright and concern deepened. ‘But I don’t even know what the boy looks like!’ he protested. ‘I should not recognize him if I saw him!’

‘Mrs Tidson knows him,’ said Gavin drily.

‘Whether Mr Tidson knows him or not, or has designs on him or not, does not affect our enquiry,’ said Mrs Bradley.

‘Tidson has no alibi, then, for the death of Bobby Grier, but that doesn’t necessarily connect him with the death of young Biggin,’ said Gavin, frowning. ‘Well, that brings us back to Connie Carmody.’

‘Whose motive, as she has informed me several times, was to get me hanged,’ said Mr Tidson, plucking up heart and looking a great deal more cheerful.

‘And not such a bad idea at that,’ said Gavin unkindly. ‘However, we’re interrupting Mrs Bradley.’

‘Connie was the tenant of that flat on the Great West Road,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘I knew that she must be. For one thing, we were told that the tenant was a woman. Besides, I knew that Connie would never have risked going there if she had thought there was the slightest chance of running into Mr Tidson.’

‘But what about the rent?’ asked Gavin.

‘Ask Miss Carmody. Connie had a hundred a year of her own from the late Mr Preece-Harvard’s private fortune, and her aunt, you will discover, supplemented that. Connie’s rather ungracious remarks about charity told me the truth. She did not regard her hundred a year as charity, and there was no earthly reason why she should. Where you went wrong, you know, Mr Tidson,’ she added, turning towards the little man, ‘was in letting her know that Mr Preece-Harvard was her father. That was very unkind, I thought. Naturally prone to brood and to feel ill- used, those tidings had the worst effect upon Connie. They also brought to her notice the full implication of what it would mean to you if Arthur Preece-Harvard should die. She began to see you as a double enemy – for you are right in supposing that Connie intended you mischief. She saw you first as an interloper, a nuisance and an expense to her aunt. It also became obvious to her that the flat on the Great West Road (which she had so very recently rented) would have to be given up, and, with it, every thought of her independence, if you persisted in living on Miss Carmody’s money.’

‘I thought Connie did not show Prissie sufficient gratitude, and that was why I told her about her father,’ protested Mr Tidson.

‘Well, be that as it may, Connie disliked you very much. Her first act of revenge and antagonism was designed to make you look foolish. She wrote the letter to the paper about the naiad. She selected a neighbourhood of which she had some knowledge (she had accompanied her aunt to Winchester during the season of air raids) and it soon became a matter of interesting conjecture whether a stranger (yourself, say) or only someone well acquainted with the neighbourhood, could have staged the two murders so successfully.’

‘Now I know it was Connie Carmody,’ said Gavin, with an innocent look, ‘I can’t see why I ever thought it was you, Tidson. Her character, her temperament, that one brick we found with the blood and the fingerprints on it —’

‘Yes, she was clever in a way about that,’ said Mr Tidson. ‘In fact, she was very clever indeed to risk leaving it with my dog’s blood and her prints. I suppose she had washed off the original human blood in the river.’

‘That is certainly an idea,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘And when one comes to think, she was very slow to enter that grove of trees the day she and I took a walk to the top of Saint Catherine’s Hill.’

‘You remember that I mentioned repressed spinsters,’ said Mr Tidson.

‘I do remember. You meant me to think you were referring to Miss Carmody, but, as I realize now, you were really giving me a pointer to Connie,’ Mrs Bradley agreed. Mr Tidson began to preen himself a little.

‘Well, I knew I hadn’t killed anyone,’ he said. ‘And if it had to be one of our party, naturally I fastened on Connie. She was out that night alone —’

‘Oh, yes! She left her aunt at the west front of the Cathedral and went off by herself, did she not? Of course,’ Mrs Bradley added, eyeing Mr Tidson with that expression of kindly curiosity to which she had subjected him before, ‘she is so much stronger than you are that I did wonder whether you would have been able to transport Biggin’s body from the top of the hill to the weir.’

‘Oh, I am not so puny!’ said Mr Tidson shortly. ‘Besides, I could have rolled it down the slope.’

‘When did you come across it, by the way?’ asked Mrs Bradley?’

‘Why, when I was searching for my dog,’ replied Mr Tidson. ‘I found it in the bushes with the dead animal, and I thought our friend the inspector ought to know what had happened. I therefore pushed it out where I knew it would immediately be seen. I suppose I ought to have reported it, but I thought – well, no doubt even the inspector, prejudiced as he is against me, can understand the feelings of an uncle.’

‘Even a wicked uncle, eh?’ said Gavin, scowling at the toes of his boots. Mr Tidson sniggered.

‘I do like a good loser, Inspector,’ he remarked.

‘Yes, indeed,’ said Mrs Bradley. ‘But, since the dog is going to figure largely in the enquiry, it would be interesting to know how you recognized it as your dog. It was in a sorry state when Laura Menzies found it.’

‘The dog? Oh, I recognized it by the collar, of course,’ said Mr Tidson eagerly. ‘That was how I came to connect poor Connie with the second murder. I never thought there was any doubt about the first one.’

‘Got an answer to everything, haven’t you?’ said Gavin, still with his eyes on his boots. Mr Tidson giggled happily.

‘And where is this collar now?’ Mrs Bradley enquired.

‘Ask the inspector,’ Mr Tidson replied. ‘I have no doubt he has it in safe keeping.’

‘You, too, I hope,’ said Gavin, touching the bell on his desk. ‘Ah, come in, Sergeant. Edris Tidson, I arrest you for the wilful murders of Robert Grier and John Biggin, and it is my duty to warn you that anything you say will be taken down in writing and may be used in evidence.’

‘But why, why, why?’ screamed Mr Tidson. ‘I tell you – I tell you—!’

‘There, there, sir. Best take it easy,’ said the sergeant.

‘I want to know why!’ yelled Mr Tidson.

‘In a word, you gave yourself away over the dog-collar,’ said Gavin. ‘In fact, you’ve given yourself away over the dog altogether. Mrs Bradley and I have been playing ball, and you’ve dropped neatly into a trap. – Got his statements down, Sergeant? – You couldn’t have seen the body when you were looking for your dog. It had been discovered before you even bought your dog. That’s one thing. Then, that sandal you brought to the hotel. Your having retained possession of it was inadvertent; your disposal of it was masterly; but you forgot that if you had really picked it up in all innocence it would have had your fingerprints on it, didn’t you? Even you do not keep your gloves on when you go fishing!’

‘But my fingerprints are on it! Of course they’re on it!’ shrieked Mr Tidson, struggling ineffectually with the sergeant.

‘It was Connie who faked all the evidence, of course,’ said Mrs Bradley, ‘just as it was Connie who wrote the truth to Crete Tidson from Lewes.’

‘But it was Tidson who attempted to murder Crete when she taxed him with his crimes! We found the forked

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