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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.
“I think you’re tempting fate when you say that you will never go back to Danesborough.”
Chloe laughed, suddenly, frankly.
“It’s a fate I don’t mind tempting,” she said.
Why can no-one stay at the Dower House?
Ten years! He had been dead ten years!
“I hate him worse than I hate snails, and worms, and slugs, and spiders with hairs down their legs…”
“They are letting me say good-bye. I’m to be shot to-morrow. It will be over by the time you get this…”
“I don’t know…no one knows…nobody knows but me…and they’re the finest emeralds in the world…the Van Berg emeralds…and nobody knows where they are but me…”
She was looking at the place where the mirror had hung. It didn’t reflect anything because the glass was gone. Instead there was a blackness, a dark hole full of shadows. There was a shuffling and a sighing, and a deep and dreadful groan. Then something moved.
“Anybody could have told you what Ross was like.”
“They did tell me,” said Mavis tearfully. “That’s why I did it.”
“I wouldn’t like to make you really angry, darling. You know, the only time I did you nearly scared me dead. I believe if you were really roused you might do something rather frightful.”
The parcel was addressed in sprawling capitals to “Antony Rossiter, Esq. By hand.” There was no more address than that.
‘Like any good cocktail, this book brings together tasty ingredients in a delicious mix.’ Boston Herald