“Let’s get to know each other better,” said Melissa firmly. “Then I’ll know it’s you I want and not your money!”


Hamish Macbeth was sitting in the village cafe with Priscilla. He had previously arranged to meet her there. He told her all about the confrontation and Betty’s confession, ending with, “I’ll neffer do that again.”

“What?” asked Priscilla, guessing by the sudden sibilancy of his Highland accent that he was really upset.

“I will neffer again try tae frighten a confession out o’ someone. Next time I will hae the proof, rock-solid proof. If Melissa hadnae appeared at the window complete wi’ punk make-up, I might still ha’ been waiting for a confession, and that scunner Blair laughing at me. And do you know what Blair has done?”

“I should guess, as you told me Daviot wasn’t there, that he is going to take all the credit,” said Priscilla. “So what’s new? You usually let him.”

“Aye, but this time I wass going to bargain. I wass going to haff the central heating put in at the police station.”

“Maybe that will teach you to be a little more ambitious in future, Hamish Macbeth.”

“Oh, aye?” said Hamish. “And end up in Strathbane? You wouldnae see me. Would you miss me, Priscilla?”

“Of course I would. But I would be happy to see you getting on. How is Charles Trent taking it? He must be devastated.”

“I think he’ll get over it quick. He’s getting money from Jeffrey and Angela. The man’s a born hedonist.”

“You underrate him,” said Priscilla, “just because he’s handsome.”

“Regretting you didn’t go for dinner with him?”

“Madly,” said Priscilla crossly. “I’d better get back to Lochdubh. What about you?”

“I’ll call at Arrat House and pick up the Land Rover and follow you.”

They emerged from the cafe together and then stood staring down the street. Charles and Melissa were emerging from the pub. A taxi was waiting for them. They were very tipsy and laughing and giggling. Charles kissed Melissa full on the mouth and then they both got into the taxi.

“Shattered, isn’t he?” said Hamish.

“How could it all happen just like that?” marvelled Priscilla.

“Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to happen?” asked Hamish.

She avoided his eyes. “My car’s here. I’ll run you to Arrat House.”

Priscilla waited outside while Hamish went in to say goodbye. He emerged after ten minutes, followed by Enrico. The Spaniard said something to Hamish and handed him a small parcel.

Then Hamish came up to Priscilla’s car. “What was that?” she asked.

“A wee present,” said Hamish with a grin. “Lead the way home, Priscilla, and I’ll give you a police escort.”


That evening at police headquarters in Strathbane, Jimmy Anderson held the phone out to Blair. “It’s Hamish Macbeth,” he said.

Blair laughed. “Whit does our local yokel want now?” he asked. He took the phone.

“Whit dae ye want, laddie?”

“Central heating,” said Hamish.

“Och, away and bile yer heid, ye daft pillock.”

“Pity if you refuse to help.” Hamish’s voice sounded amused. “By the way, I got a farewell present from Enrico at Arrat House. That tape.”

“Wipe it out, man,” howled Blair.

“Aye, that I will. After.”

“After whit?”

“After I get the central heating,” said Hamish gently and replaced the receiver.

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