Case for Three Detectives
The public bar of the Red Lion was brightly lit, and the beer glowed happily in glass tankards. Enid, behind the bar, watched placidly, while Sergeant Beef and I attempted with zeal to win a game of darts against Fellowes and Miles.
“Police versus criminals, you might call it,” Enid had observed when we started, with pointed reference to my efforts of some months ago to assist investigation of the Thurston Mystery and not without recollection of how we had disinterred the unfortunate past history of the two men who were now our opponents. ‘Criminals’, in this contest anyway, were on top, for the publican, whom I had met as a chauffeur, and his brother-in-law were, as Beef put it, ‘mustard at this game’.
Williams had been hanged a week before. When his trial had come on, the amount of evidence which had been collected against him was enormous, and I suspected that the prosecution had received some kindly hints from two at least of the investigators who had been concerned in the case. They had rallied good-naturedly to the Sergeant, who never lost his admiration for them. He was wont to wonder even to-day at their inventiveness, and envy their remarkable gifts.
Our game was finishing. Fellowes needed a hundred and fifty-seven to get out. Jealously I watched him throw his three darts, treble nineteen, treble twenty, double top—a brilliant bit of work. And when the well-merited beer was brought, we returned, not unnaturally, to talk of the tragedy which had first brought us together.
“It was a funny business, altogether,” commented Fellowes, not, as you will gather, imputing any comedy to the affair, but referring to the element of unexpectedness which had been noticeable in it.
“Wasn’t it?” said Enid, as she crunched potato crisps. “You could have knocked me down with a feather when I knew it was that Williams who had done it. I never liked him, though. Too ’igh and mighty for anyone, he was. But you wouldn’t have thought he was the one to do a person in, would you? Still, there you are. You never know, as they say,”
“I reckon it was a blarsted shame, though,” said Miles. “To go and cut her throat like that. She’d never done anyone any harm.”
“Ah,” said Fellowes, “but when they gets in a mess over money they’ll do anything. How much was it he’d had off of ’er? Six thousand quid, wasn’t it? And nothing to shew for it. He had to do something to keep her quiet.”
“I dare say, but that’s no reason to go on like ’e did,” observed Enid. “And then shooting the Doctor as well. No one can’t say he didn’t deserve all he got. What was it that lawyer called him? A ‘homicidal opportunist’, wasn’t it? He certainly took his opportunity all right.”
“That’s what made it so hard to get him,” I ventured to observe. I have learnt not to give my opinion too freely of late.
“Yes. And what I say now,” said Enid, “is what I’ve said all along—it was really clever of Sergeant Beef to have spotted him. Really clever, it was!”
“Hear, hear!” said Fellowes.
The Sergeant sucked his moustache. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said, “there was nothink in it. I just went a’ead and carried out ordin’ry instructions. ’Ad a look at the bloodstains, and the rest followed. That’s where it came in. I told those gentlemen ’oo came down to investigate right from the start that it was too simple a case for them.”
“Unfortunately, Sergeant, they have been told that so many times by the police that they couldn’t be expected to believe you.”
“Well, but it was. What was there to it? Them inkstains, and then the stains on Williams’s shirt, and that bit of pillow-case wot ’e’d been burning. That’s all it was, and the rest came on top of it as easy as wink. It wasn’t the case for them at all. I mean, wot they want is something complicated. This was just a police business—not even worth bringing the Yard down. There’s things of this sort ’appening every day. And all you ’ave to do is carry out the ordinary instructions, take your notes, and there you are. Only I wish to gawd I could make up a story like they can. Genius I call that. Well, wot about another game of darts?”
— THE END —