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Iain stood for a few minutes on the little bridge that crossed the burn and looked at the house—he felt that he had betrayed it. No people save his own had ever lived in the house, and now he had sold it into slavery. For three months it would shelter strangers beneath its roof, for three months it would not belong to him.

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Frances was free. She had enough money for her holiday, and when it was over she would find useful work. Her plans were vague, but she would have plenty of time to think things out when she got to Cairn. One thing only was certain—she was never going back to prison again.

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There is so much War News in News Bulletins, in Newspapers, and so much talk about the war that I do not intend to write about it in my diary. Indeed my diary is a sort of escape from the war . . . though it is almost impossible to escape from the anxieties which it brings.

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Miss Clutterbuck would like me to run the bar—no, it can’t be that—run the car, which has seen its best days but is still useful for shopping. Grace has told her I am patient and tactful, so (as she herself is neither the one nor the other) she thinks I am the right person to look after the social side.

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Sometimes it is difficult to see clearly in what direction one’s duty lies (and especially difficult for people like myself with a husband in one part of the world and children in another) but Tim and I, talking it over together in cold blood, decided that I ought to go home.

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But the servants! Anything might happen to them. They might go in a train to Woolwich and meet the love of their lives, or be murdered almost for the asking. Not that one wanted to be murdered exactly, but there was frustration in being denied the possibility.

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‘The trouble with you, Anne, is that you’re always imagining things.’ Who had said that? Probably mother. Or the governess before she left to get married. How disagreeable, and it was all the fault of the sub-conscious. . . . Why didn’t the sub-conscious ever turn up things like: ‘Anne, how beautiful you are looking today.’

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‘As far as I am concerned, Aunt Violet, I don’t want another penny of your money. I can go out and earn my bread’ and she saw a distinct picture of herself working her fingers to the bone and being seduced by goodness knows whom.

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As I waited for the carriage I realized that whereas before I had been accustomed to think of her as a selfish and often foolish woman I now regarded her as a veritable ogress.

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“Lomas was poisoned, shaved after death, and placed in the river. He is full of whisky and the post-mortem examination will undoubtedly prove that cocaine was in the alcohol. The murderer worked on him with a lavish hand, one so lavish that it may eventually prove to be his undoing.”

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If Lesley Dexter had not been a snob her husband might have lived out his three-score-and-ten years.

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“Death has no manners as a general rule. In this instance he was a reformed character, and knocked twice before entering.”

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“Inspector, it’s—it’s dastardly!”

“Mrs. Huntingdon,” said Knollis, “your choice of words is admirable!”

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Madeleine Burke is prepared to swear that she was Dr. Challoner’s last patient on Tuesday evening, and that he was alive and in good spirits when she bade him good night.

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He shone the torch into the depths of the well. There was water at the foot of the shaft. Something dark and mis-shapen was huddled against the brickwork.

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“He’s dead all right. Taken him clean through the heart. It’s murder, Rose!

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Frank Jennings was a keen murder-mystery fan, but no one was more surprised than he to find himself mixed up in a murder mystery in real life, and that the victim was the wife of one of his own neighbours.

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“Where are you going?” asked Knollis, as Brother Ignatius pushed back his chair.

“To try to prevent a murder.”

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Grayson tipped back his head, and stared at the ceiling. Herby was certainly not liked, but who on earth, apart from himself, hated him sufficiently to think of murder

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As Travers’s finger touched the dead hand, he felt the warmth, and wondered if the man were still alive. Then he saw the knife that stuck sideways in the ribs.

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An attendant had come in with the cage. He stooped and held the rope taut. The cage door was opened, Jules called from high in the roof and at once the rat began to climb. Then something went wrong. All at once Auguste scampered down and shot back into his cage.

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The tea had brought a pleasant warmth and Travers snuggled down in bed. Once more he was busy with something that had vastly cheered him of late—a perfect scheme for the murder of Stirrop.

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The curtain had been drawn back and there was the bed. Wharton and a stranger were standing by it, and when Wharton moved to meet me, I saw on the bed the body of Penelope Craye.

“She’s dead,” I said.

Wharton merely nodded.

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What was I to be this time? A Commandant again of a Prisoner of War Camp? Was I to get a sedentary job at the War Office itself, and begin the slow process of fossilisation? Was I due for some wholly new job of which the rank and file had never even heard? As it turned out, I most certainly was.

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“Good God!” I was staring like a lunatic. “Murdered, you say? When?”

“Less than half an hour ago, sir.”

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“Is he bad, sir?”

“Worse than that,” I said. “In fact, he’s dead.”

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“It’s about a murder. . . . Here. Five Oaks, they call it. . . . A man, he’s murdered. . . . Oh, no, it isn’t a joke. I wish it was. . . . I said I wished it was. . . . You’ll send someone at once?”

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It wasn’t I who discovered the body. I want to make that perfectly clear, if only for the benefit of a couple of club acquaintances of mine.

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““This is something desperately secret,” she said. “Something I want you to do for me . . . But I can’t tell you now. It’s something I’m frightened about.”

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