The Final Text

The next Leo Bruce text we shall post chaptermeal, A Louse for the Hangman, will be the last text of an out-of-print Leo Bruce mystery which we need to provide (at least for now) since all his other books are currently in print; we shall regularly check the availability of books and if any go out of print we shall as swiftly as possible configure an e-text thereof.
Once A Louse for the Hangman is completed, however, our work here will not be done.  We shall in the future supply articles and essays on the works of Leo Bruce.

First chapters of the texts which are available:-
Case for Three Detectives ;
Case without a Corpse ;
Case with Ropes and Rings ;
Neck and Neck ;
Cold Blood ;
At Death’s Door ;
Death of Cold ;
Dead for a Ducat ;
A Bone and a Hank of Hair ;
Death on the Black Sands ;
Death on Romney Marsh ; &
Death by the Lake.

Death of Cold, Chapter Twenty-Nine

Death of Cold


“Well, upon my soul,” said Sergeant Cotter.  “I’ve never in all my life heard such a fairy story!  Evidence!  There isn’t a scrap of evidence in the lot of it.  You could tell a yarn like that about anyone in this room.”
“You could,” admitted Carolus.  “You very likely will.”
“Where’s your facts?” went on Cotter.  “How did you know Miss Pepys saw Fyrth and Wirral talking that evening?  What have you got to support your fancy notion that Wirral was drowned in a bath?  I’d like you to see what would happen to us in a Court of Law if we charged anyone on the strength of such a lot of hot air.”
“I haven’t quite finished,” said Carolus mildly.
“Well, let’s hear the rest of it,” said Cotter grudgingly.
“When I found the body of Miss Pepys, therefore,” continued Carolus imperturbably, “I had no more serious doubts.  But I knew that the attitude of the police would be precisely that so succinctly stated by Sergeant Cotter.  To a large extent I could sympathize with it.  I had no facts to support my theory.  One person who had such facts—poor little Miss Pepys who had seen Fyrth drive Wirral away—was dead and had revealed what she knew you to no one.  At least, not to Mrs. Kemp, in whom, if in anyone, she would have confided.  When she first realized the importance of the information that Wirral had left the pier and talked to an unknown man by the telephone booth, she went to the police, but was snubbed.  When later she knew the identity of the unknown man she did not risk a repetition of that.  She died with her information unrevealed.  So I had no concrete facts at all.
“Last Sunday I had unexpected confirmation of one incident, in the testimony of Mr. Tiplock, who not only spoke to Wirral near the Albion (opposite Miss Pepys’s home) soon after half-past six, but saw him go to the telephone box there.  Unfortunately he thought Wirral was going to telephone the police to complain of him and made off quickly before he had time to see Fyrth approaching, but still, his evidence was valuable.  It confirmed my belief that Wirral had left the pier and gone to the ’phone booth.”
Sergeant Cotter smiled.
“That’s not to say he was taken out to the Old Coastguards’ Cottage and all the rest of it.  You still had no facts.”
“But I believed that I could obtain them.  If Fyrth could be told that I intended to go to the beach-hut on the Wednesday night, he would at once assume that I knew him to be the murderer and had guessed where he had concealed the second corpse.  So I persuaded Mrs. Wirral to ’phone him and in the course of a long conversation to say something like this:  ‘Why have you and Greta set this tiresome Carolus Deene on the case?  He’s just asked me if I have a key on the beach-hut and I had to tell him I’ve had one made.  He’s coming down on Wednesday after his school hours finish and wants to borrow it.  Such a nuisance.’  And so on.  Lily Wirral evidently did this very well.  Fyrth fell into the trap and using his own key entered the beach-hut before me.  He was armed.
“Then something happened which I did not anticipate because it was the result of a piece of carelessness of my own.  He found a cigarette lighter in the hut, and knew it was mine.  Indeed, it had my initials C. D. engraved on it.  This told him at once—for he was no fool—that I had been there before him and had found the body.  He saw that the ’phone call from Lily Wirral was part of a trap into which he had walked.  In fact, that he was caught.  He would be found here, beside the body of the woman he had murdered, or be arrested as he left the place.
“He acted without hesitation, I think.  He put the pistol into his mouth and pulled the trigger.”
Mr. Gorringer was the first to speak.
“Good gracious me,” he said.
“There!” put in Mrs. Hammock.
“It’s a story, if you like,” said Carolus.  “You may even call it a fairy story, as Sergeant Cotter has done.  But if it is not true, there are some very awkward questions to be answered.  How else did Wirral die?  How else did he leave the pier unobserved by Old Hammond?  Whose motor-boat came out to the pier that night if it was not Fyrth’s?  Why should anyone else have ’phoned a premature message to the Evening Call ?  What reason had anyone else to murder Miss Pepys?  And if you add to all those to your own satisfaction, then tell me why Fyrth should have gone to the beach-hut last night?  And why, above all, he should have committed suicide?
“Perhaps you suggest that he did not commit suicide, that he, too, was murdered?  How, then, did his body come to be against a locked door of which one key was found in his pocket and the other was in my hands?
“It depends, of course, on what you mean by conclusive proof and what you consider makes evidence.  The police know that a jury will believe their eyes before their common sense, and if they can shew twelve honest men and women the slide of a fingerprint, a burnt match, a couple of human hairs and a spent bullet they are more likely to get a conviction than if they had no object to shew at all.  In this case, then, I recommend them to look for such items.  For all I know there may be some damning evidence in the Old Coastguards’ Cottage or in the beach-hut.  They may find a diary or a witness who saw or heard something which will confirm my story.  Or they may not.  I’m not concerned with proof of that nature.  Unless they arrest anyone else, I have no interest improving Fyrth guilty.  Indeed, from this evening I have no interest in the matter at all.
“I myself made one serious blunder, and I reproach myself bitterly for it, since it may have caused the death of Miss Pepys.  I did not go to see her before leaving Oldhaven.  I can make excuses for this.  I had interviewed so many people whose information was all more for less relevant.  I was tired of being given voluble details which did not help me at all.  I did not see, at the time, how anything Miss Pepys might tell me that the of use.  But I should have gone to see her.  Afterwards I remembered Fyrth casually asking if I was going to do so, and my saying no.  If I had, it might have saved her life.”
“In the circumstances, my dear Deene, a handsome admission.”  Mr. Gorringer was speaking.  “I see no blame attaching to you at all.  Your investigation in the first place was a voluntary matter.  How far you carried it was for you to decide.  The unfortunate death of this retired governess was caused by her own inquisitiveness, and cannot be laid at your door.”
“If only she’d of said a word to me, who was the only friend except for Mrs. Firth, that you could really lay claim to, if you see what I mean,” exclaimed Mrs. Kemp breathlessly, “none of this might never have been thought of and she might have been walking about to this day, and not of being done away with.  Only you can’t tell with people what they get into their heads about anything, really, can you?  Any more than you never know whatever they might do next.  I’m sure I gave her every encouragement to take advantage of having a friend under the same roof, as you might say, but there you are.  It doesn’t bear thinking about.
“She spied and peeped once too often,” said Mrs. Thump uncharitably.  “And it wasn’t the first time, as I’ve good reason to know.”
“Still, I think it was very clever the way you worked it out,” said Mrs. Hammock to Carolus.
“So do I!” cried Gladys Rowlands.  “I’m ever so pleased no one can say now that poor Mr. Wirral did for himself.  It was a horrid thing to think, and he was ever so nice to everyone.  You’d think they’d be ashamed of saying anything like that.”
“People will say anything,” reflected Mr. Tiplock, “especially if they can get you into trouble by it.”  He stared ferociously at Sergeant Cotter.
“Never you mind what people will say,” put in his wife.  “You’ve got something better to think about, and the past’s past.”
“I’ve thought all along Wirral was murdered,” remarked John Rowlands.  “I didn’t see how it could be anything else.  I always say . . .”
“What a bore you must be,” retorted Rupert Priggley, “if you always say anything at all.”
“Ah,” smiled Mr. Gorringer indulgently.  “You score a point there.  We are all given to repetition at times, I fear.  Though Mr. Deene has spoken to us with admirable clarity and precision this evening, I must concede.”
“Oh admirable,” said Paul Wirral bitterly.  “He’s accused my brother-in-law of two murders and a suicide with nothing more than a few bits of circumstantial theorizing to support him.”
“Never mind, darling,” said his wife.  “You might have been Suspect Number One yourself if Deene hadn’t come along.  Have another drinky and don’t moan.”
“So might you, for that matter, darling,” said Paul.  “You were swimming round the pier at the time, remember, as the hut attendant has told us.”
“I never said anything about where she was swimming,” said Mr. Swipely.  “And I don’t suppose the costume she wore was worse than hundreds of others who come down here shewing themselves.  If you’d seen half what I do in the summer, you’d blush to think of it.
“And do you blush, Mr. Swipely?” asked Rupert Priggley, eyeing the crimson of the other’s nose.
“Blush?  I shudder,” said Swipely.
“You should have been round the world couple of times,” said Old Hammond.  “Foreign ports, and that.”
“Oh, go on with you!” called Violette Bonner.  “That has nothing to do with what we’ve been hearing about.  I for one want to tell Mr. Deene how grateful I am for clearing up the mystery round my poor old Poopy’s passing.  We all might have been involved, if he hadn’t.”
“Yes, jolly sporting show, old boy,” said Mr. Slicker heartily.  “Cleared the family name, I mean.”
Mr. Grool, however, was not pleased.
“Far more likely Wirral did for himself than her,” he said.
“You’ve certainly told them, tosh,” said Clocker Starkie.  “But you wouldn’t have been able to if I hadn’t told you about the paper, would you?”
“What about my boy’s evidence, then?” shouted Len’s mother, who had been waiting to speak for some time.  “Where would he have been if my boy hadn’t been on the spot to see what went on?  Even if he couldn’t manage to tell anyone but his mum.  Could you?” she shouted at Len.  “What a silly!  Haven’t you got a tongue in your head?”
“However,” summarized Mr. Gorringer, “it has been a most enlightening evening.  I notice that the two police officials have taken their departure, perhaps in some discomfiture.  I trust they will take full advantage of the analysis given to us by Mr. Deene.”
“Thank you,” said Carolus.  “It was a beastly case.  Greed, treachery, cruelty and complete ruthlessness.  It will be a long time before I allow a casual interest in the circumstances surrounding a death to drag me into this sort of thing again.”
“Indeed, Deene?  You feel as strongly as that?  I thought that such mysteries were meat and drink to you.”
“This one, at least, has sickened me.”
“Oh, don’t give us that, sir,” said Rupert Priggley.  “You know you’ve loved every minute of it.”
“Hush, Priggley!” said Mr. Gorringer grandly.  “We must all pay tribute to genius, however sadly misdirected.  I could wish that Mr. Deene concentrated his talents on mysteries of the past, but I shall be the last tonight to repeat that wish.”
“Still, he can’t pretend he doesn’t enjoy it,” said Rupert.
“I have hated most of this,” Carolus asserted.
“But if I were to tell you, my dear Deene, of another murder—say in our own little community?  If Hollingbourne, for instance, had been obliterated by some cunning fiend whose identity was a mystery, would you not gird at your loins again?  I deem you would.  You would find it irresistible. 
“Hollingbourne?” said Carolus rather stupidly.  He was very tired.
“Or Tubley.  I quote but examples.”
“Oh. . . .”
“You see?  Already you are crestfallen to know that your colleagues are yet in excellent health.  A ghoulish hobby yours, my dear Deene.”
“Yes,” said Carolus.  “A ghoulish hobby.”
He rose to drive them home.

Death of Cold, Chapter Twenty-Eight

Death of Cold


No one in the room seemed anxious for Carolus to pause at this point, but he laid down his notes firmly to indicate that he needed a break.
Mr. Gorringer addressed him.
“Lucid,” he said, “so far as it goes, my dear Deene.  But it does not seem to go very far.  I suggest, meanwhile, a trifle of refreshment.”
“I’ll have a large whisky,” said Carolus firmly, and the headmaster had no remedy but to ask Gladys Rowlands for it.
“Mine’s an orangeade,” put in Rupert Priggley tentatively, but it seems that this did not reach Mr. Gorringer’s large but selective ears.
Conversation hummed round them.  A group had been formed of those attended St. Winifred’s Church—Mrs. Thump, Mrs. Kemp, Mr. and Mrs. Hammock, Mrs. Rowlands, the Tiplocks and Len’s mother.  John Rowlands stood ostentatiously apart, and Paul and Lily Wirral remained at another isolated table, drinking rather heavily it was noticed.  Old Hammond sat with Mr. Swipely.  It was not a festive occasion.  There was a certain awed anxiety in many of the faces.  Mr. Gorringer was the only person present who seemed to be enjoying himself.  There was hushed expectancy as Carolus resumed.
“Miss Pepys disappeared,” he said, “and I refused to consider it a coincidence.  I knew that she was one of the several people who believed that she was the last to see Wirral alive, a claim that had not so far been taken very seriously, because she was known to finish her afternoon walk on the pier before half-past four.  But when she disappeared I thought over that claim again and realized that it could very well be a good one.  She was, as her landlady Mrs. Kemp admitted, a somewhat inquisitive little woman given to spending long hours behind her lace curtains.  That day she had been in her room for the rest of the evening after coming in at half-past four.  What, I asked myself, could she have seen from her window?  And the first thing I noticed when I looked out of it, as she had so often done, was the telephone booth opposite.  I knew that when Wirral left Gladys Rowlands on the pier he had been going to find out about his new-born grandchild.  I knew that no telephone was available on the pier itself.  I realized that this booth was the nearest convenient public telephone to the pier itself.  I began to think that Miss Pepys’s claim might be a true one.  But for the murderer, she could easily have been the last person to see Mr. Wirral alive.
“This revolutionized all the half-formed theories about his death.  He had left his rod on the pier and been found drowned, so that inevitably I had roughly supposed that he had entered or been forced or enticed into the water from the pier itself.  Why?  I began to wonder.  Suppose he left it in search of a telephone.  It seemed likely in that case that he had never returned to it.  All theory which centred on the pier might be nonsense.
“But one difficulty remained here.  If my new supposition held water, how had he managed to leave the pier unnoticed by Old Hammond?  Then I remembered what Old Hammond himself had told me about Jack Fyrth’s visit to him at six-thirty that evening.  ‘Shook hands with me—well, nearly pulled my arm off.  You know what a man’s like when he’s just had that news.’  I could picture the scene.  And Old Hammond, who likes to shew his kindly spirit, would have turned right round from his pay-window to congratulate the excited father who had looked in at the door at the back of the booth.  During this little scene Wirral could have walked right through the turnstile unnoticed.
“Then I had my first very sickening suspicions.  You see, I don’t much care for a theory based on coincidence.  I began to wonder whether it was by chance that Jack Fyrth was almost pulling Old Hammond’s arm off at the very minute that Wirral was leaving the pier.  Suppose his heartiness was deliberate and carefully planned?  Suppose he had waited until he saw his father-in-law coming down the pier, bound as he knew he would be for the telephone and having just read a premature announcement in the paper?  Suppose that just before Wirral came into the limited range of sight from the pay-box, Fyrth had opened the door behind Old Hammond and made his announcement?  In that case Wirral had been got from the pier neatly and invisibly.  If afterwards he was found drowned, no one would look anywhere but on the pier for evidence, no one would suppose that—however Wirral died—it had been in any place unconnected with the pier.
“Thereafter things began to fall into place.  I decided to assume that Fyrth had murdered Wirral and see how the whole thing would look.  I had almost nothing to go on, but I was desperate for some theory which would fit the facts, so I decided to try this one.  I did not like it.  I liked Greta Fyrth and found her husband affable and pleasant.  I did not want to think him a murderer.  I started only to see how it fitted.
“He had as much motive as anyone else connected with the case.  No more, but certainly as much.  His wife would inherit a very large sum of money—a fortune one might say—and Wirral, he knew, was in excellent health.  He planned a very clever way of disposing of Wirral.  He would get him off the pier.  Wirral would die by drowning, and his body would be found in a place which was consistent with his having been drowned from the pier that evening.
“He ’phoned the Evening Call and made sure that an announcement would appear in the five-thirty edition of that paper.  Then he waited, as we have seen, till he saw Wirral leaving the pier, and held Old Hammond’s attention while he passed.  He doubled back to the telephone box, and before Wirral had obtained his number burst in and said something like, ‘Don’t wait to ’phone.  I’ve got the car here.  We’ll go straight there.’  Wirral then got into Fyrth’s car.
“This, then, was what Miss Pepys watched and what made her say that she was the last person to see Wirral alive.  She was merely excited about that.  But sometime later she went out one morning and came back (as Mrs. Kemp tells us) as white as a sheet and said that something dreadful had happened.  What was this dreadful thing?  The only people we know she had met that day were the Fyrths.  A short time before Fyrth had told me that he did not know Miss Pepys, and I knew from Mrs. Kemp that she was not at the Fyrth’s wedding.  Suppose that on her walk that morning she had seen Jack Fyrth for the first time and recognized him as the man she had last seen persuading Wirral into his car?  Small wonder that she described the event as ‘dreadful’ and did not know what she should do about it.
“But to return to Fyrth.  He persuaded Wirral to enter his car and then, on some pretext, called at the Old Coastguards’ Cottage before going to the nursing home.  Something Greta wanted from there, I expect he said.  I already knew from Greta that the woman who worked for them did not come to the cottage during her absence in the nursing home.  So there, at about seven-o’clock that evening, he murdered his father-in-law.”
Carolus did not mean to pause for effect, but someone—was it Paul?—said “How?” very loudly, and this only seemed to increase the tension in the room.
“I must remind you that I am putting forward a theory.  I must narrate it as fact, but it was until last night without any adequate backing of evidence.  I will tell you how Fyrth killed Wirral, but it will be for the police, if they can, to prove it.  I am, if you like, doing no more than telling a story.
“I could not myself understand how Fyrth had killed Wirral till Fyrth’s body was found, and in the pocket of his overcoat was a bottle of chloroform.  Then I saw this very brutal murder as it must have been.  Wirral was chloroformed, then put into the bath.  This, as I noticed when I visited the Fyrths, is a combination of bath and table such as one finds in flats in which bathroom and kitchen are combined.  The bath has a large hinged lid which lets down to form a table-top, with gaps cut for the taps.  The unconscious body of Wirral was put in the bath, the lid lowered and sufficiently weighted, Fyrth perhaps adding his own weight, then the taps were turned on.  In half an hour Wirral had died by drowning and, so far as any indication would shew it, by drowning only.  He had been drowned as much as if he had been lost at sea.  By half-past seven Fyrth called at my hotel to dine with me as he had carefully arranged on the previous day.  It was a diabolically well-arranged murder.
“When later I obtained evidence from John Rowlands for what took place during the night while he was on duty of the pier, it seemed to fit admirably with the theory I had already formed.  He heard a motor-boat approach the pier, and when it was almost underneath its engine was switched off for a few moments, then started again when the boat moved away.  It had at first seemed as though the boat had come to take someone off, but I now realized that, on the contrary, it had come to bring someone to the pier—a dead man who would be supposed to have died there, whose body must be found where it would be found if he had died there and at that time.  Fyrth brought Wirral’s corpse and dropped it near the pier.  A number of days in the sea would clear all traces of chloroform from its lungs and, of course, sea-water would almost instantly replace the fresh water in which the man had been drowned.  So far as any possible investigator of the affair was concerned, Wirral had never left the pier.  Neat, don’t you think?  If poor little Miss Pepys had not been looking out from behind her lace curtains that evening, that would have been the end of it.  The police were not interested, having more important things to do, and I should never have discovered how Wirral died.
“But fortunately or not, as you view the matter, Miss Pepys was looking out, and saw Wirral drive away with a strange man.  When some weeks later she met Greta with her husband and recognized Jack Fyrth as the man she had seen with Wirral, she must have betrayed herself.  Fyrth already knew that she claimed to be the last person to see Wirral alive, and when he noticed her behaviour on meeting and recognizing him, he realized the danger of what she knew.  He came down to Oldhaven on the following Monday and met her during her afternoon walk.  Quite how he persuaded her to come out and meet him in the evening we shall never know, but he did that.  He may have undertaken to take her to Greta.  He may have had some plausible story to account for his presence with Wirral at the telephone booth.  He may even have suggested that they go together to the police.  At all events he persuaded her to enter his car, and after, perhaps, using chloroform again, on the dark night which, as Mrs. Kemp remembers, that particular Monday was, he could carry that frail little body across to the bathing-hut unseen.  Or, if he was ingenious enough, he may have found some way of enticing her across while still in possession of her senses.*
“But his use of the bathing-hut as a place in which to dump the body was his undoing and led to my knowing he was the murderer by more than speculation.  It is odd that in this affair it was almost a guess which brought me the only direct evidence against the murderer.  I knew from Lily Wirral that two nights before Wirral disappeared she had lost the key of her private beach-hut, number seventeen.  In her own words, ‘I used our hut two nights before and I could have sworn I brought the key back to the flat.  But although I hunted for hours I could not find it.’  I also knew that on the night she lost the key Jack Fyrth had been in her flat.  He told me:  ‘She certainly had not lost it two nights before the Mayor disappeared.  I went to their flat for cocktails, and while I was with Paul she came in from the beach.  She was twirling the thing—a rather large heavy key—in her hand.’
“Now, this is even more a matter of speculation than the things I have already told you.  But suppose that Fyrth had already decided to kill Wirral but had not seen how best he could dispose of the body—what better place could he have thought of than Lily Wirral’s beach-hut?  He may have pocketed the key with this in mind and later evolved be far more ingenious method we know.  Then, when he was driven on to the murder of Miss Pepys, he remembered the key and used it.  It was now far more useful than before because the hut would not be opened probably until the spring. 
“I suspected him of having taken the key from the Wirral’s flat.  I suspected him of being responsible for the disappearance of Miss Pepys.  It did not take much deduction, or putting two and two together, to guess that the body of Miss Pepys might be in the hut.  And, as you know, it was.  When I found it I knew that Fyrth was the murderer.”

*  Later examination of the body of Miss Pepys revealed chloroform.  Fyrth had used his already tried method.

Death of Cold, Chapter Twenty-Seven

Death of Cold


“There has only been one mystery in this affair,” began Carolus.  “An elementary mystery, if I may use so strong a word, which underlay everything.  I knew very early in my investigations that if I could solve it all other questions, including the identity of the persons concerned, would be clear.  It was not a mystery of time or place.  It was not a question of ‘who done it’.  It was a question of how.  How did the late Mayor of Oldhaven meet his death?  Hs disappearance was dramatic.  He left his fishing-rod in the water with its little bell signalling that some unfortunate dabs had taken the hooks and were struggling for life and freedom in the water below.  A keen angler who came every day to the pier, he had done an inexplicable thing—walked away leaving his rod.  Later he was found drowned.  He was a good swimmer, a man highly unlikely to commit suicide and no marks of any violence suffered before he reached the water were found on him.  How in the name of heaven had he died?  That was what I had to answer, and in a sense all I had to answer.
“The police seem to have found it too difficult.  The coroner gave a noncommital verdict and the matter was dropped.  I decided that I would discover the answer, however far it took me and whomsoever it might involve.  I began by following the last movements and remarks of the dead man.  Mr. Grool left the pier at six, and when he packed his rod Wirral was still fishing.  Times after that are not very accurate, but we know that between six and half-past Wirral bought a copy of the Evening Call from the youth known as Clocker Starkie . . .”
“What’s wrong with my name?” put in Clocker belligerently.
“Beyond its inelegance, nothing.  Wirral grabbed the paper, found something he was looking eagerly for and at once made a dive for the bar, where he told Gladys Rowlands that he was a grandfather.  It is safe to assume that he gained his information of this from the announcement printed in the five o’clock edition.  But there was something odd about that announcement.  It was telephoned to the newspaper office by someone calling himself a hospital receptionist (an office that does not exist).  The call was made before the child was born and gave the sex incorrectly.
“Now, if this was some sort of bad joke, it was a startling coincidence.  I decided it that it was not only deliberate, but directly concerned with Wirral’s death.  And from that I concluded—provisionally, of course—that the call to the newspaper had been made by someone who knew that the Evening Call would print the news that its proprietor was a grandfather, by someone who knew when Wirral would first see his evening paper that night, by someone who wanted him to read that announcement at that time.
“So Wirral told Gladys to put some champagne on the ice and hurry to find out details.  Where?  That was very much the question.  It remained the question till Mrs. Thump later obliged me with the information that between quarter-past six and a quarter to seven she met Wirral hurrying towards the pier gates.  His only information then was from the Evening Call, for when he spoke to Mrs. Thump he still bought he was grandfather to a girl.  It is not jumping to conclusions to suppose that he was on his way to telephone the nursing-home.  There was no telephone available on the pier, and he must have intended to ’phone from outside.
“But how did you get off the pier?  Old Hammond was told by Dr. Fyrth at half-past six to watch for him and give him a message.  He says that in any case he would have seen Wirral going off even before that, and I believe him.”
Old Hammond, in his most twinkling, ancient mariner manner, said, “I’ve always got my weather eye out for the Mayor going ashore, and he always hailed me.  I should have seen him.”
“So there, it seemed, Wirral vanished into thin air.  After Gladys Rowlands no one, that I knew of at this time, saw him again.  I could get no nearer to knowing how he died.  The basic mystery remained.”
There was tension in the Elizabethan Bar.  When Carolus had been silent for a moment, Paul Wirral broke in.
“I think it’s time we had a drink,” he said.  “This is getting on my nerves.”
“I never touch it,” pointed out Mr. Swipely.  “It’s death to me.  Death.”
“Still, there’s others,” Mrs. Thump told him.  “I could do with something, I’m sure.”
This was a popular sentiment, and Gladys was kept busy for some minutes.  Carolus drank absently and seemed scarcely aware of his ill-assorted audience.  He began speaking again clearly but quietly.
“So, having reached a dead end, I retraced my steps and began to consider the information I had about Wirral’s life, and particularly the earlier hours of the last day.  But all thinking was balked and pointless because it ended in the same question mark.  It was no good thinking of this or that person as a ‘suspect’ when I did not know what to suspect him of.
“However, I reconsidered all I had as evidence.  I knew from my own observation that Wirral was gallant in an old-fashioned across-the-bar sort of way with Gladys Rowlands and that her father disapproved of this.  I knew that Mr. Grool bitterly resented Wirral’s success as an angler and the fact that he had taken the annual cup from him.”
Mr. Grool made a noise which the literal-minded writers of the past used to set down as “Grrrr!”
“A comprehensive list of suspects might have included both Mr. Grool and Rowlands, for the jealousy of the one and the parental concern of the other could easily be supposed to be motives.  Mr. Grool claimed to have left the pier at six, and Old Hammond confirmed that.  Rowlands was off duty during the afternoon, but came on for the night.  Both of them seemed anxious to shew themselves contrary in mind and spirit to be late Mayor, Mr. Grool by an affectation of ill-humour and surliness which I felt was deliberately exaggerated, and Rowlands by his aggressive atheism.”
“Agnosticism,” corrected Rowlands contentiously.  “Atheism is believing that there is no God.  I don’t believe that.  My God is the rainbow in the sky, the breeze in the treetops . . .”
“The bee in the bonnet?” suggested Carolus.  “At all events, I kept the two of them on my list.  Then I interviewed Mrs. Hammock, the Original Gypsy Lee.  I found that one that his last afternoon Wirral had gone to her booth to have his fortune told. . . .”
“You mean, for a consultation,” put in Mrs. Hammock.  “I don’t tell fortunes.  I sell lucky charms at two-and-six and five shillings.  You didn’t ought to take anyone’s character away in front of police by talking about fortune-telling.”
“I beg your pardon,” said Carolus mildly.
“So you ought,” said Mrs. Hammock.
“I meant he had gone to her for a consultation.  And it appeared that he had been expecting a visit from a certain lady that afternoon, for he gave Mrs. Hammock a description of her and asked her if possible to predict disaster if she remained in Oldhaven.”
“Not little me?” said Violette Bonner, smiling roguishly from the place where she sat attended by her diminutive maid.
“It seems certain.  Miss Bonner figured prominently in the various accounts I had of Wirral’s last day.  Mr. Grool described her as ‘the new one’.  Then there was the evidence of Len . . .”
There was a rush of speech from the boy’s mother.
“That’s my son,” she said.  “This is him, only he won’t speak for himself.  Lost his voice, he has, whenever it’s wanted.  He seen the lady that afternoon with Mr. Wirral. . . .”
“Do you recognise the lady now?” asked Carolus sharply to Len.
Len looked at his boots and was silent.
“Just look round the room,” invited Carolus in vain.
“Do you recognise me, dear?” asked Mr. Bonner graciously.
Yes,” said Len as though the word hurt his tongue.
“There we are, then!”
“Wirral had an interview with Miss Bonner on the landing-stage below the pier that afternoon and was to dine with her at the Queen’s Hotel that evening.  But all her movements were quite easy to trace.  She had recently by letter resumed an old acquaintance with Wirral and come down to see him.  He knew she was staying at the Queen’s and had been up the evening before to catch a glimpse of her.”
“The sly old thing!” beamed Violette Bonner.
They met on the pier and talked discreetly out of sight.  But of course Wirral never kept his appointment to dine with Miss Bonner that evening.  Later it was found that she benefited by his Will.
“So I was a suspect?” asked Miss Bonner archly.
“I certainly remembered these circumstances as I reconsidered matters,” admitted Carolus.  “Then there was the Mr. Tiplock, a man with a clear motive—revenge.  He suspected Wirral of causing trouble for him.”
“Why don’t you say straight out that the old blighter grassed me?” asked Mr. Tiplock.
“You mind what you’re saying,” snapped his wife.  “We don’t want any more of that.  Why can’t you forget about it for five minutes?”
“Mr. Tiplock came on the pier that afternoon and quarrelled violently with Wirral, and at one point actually threatened to throw him into the sea.  And he remained on or near the pier till after the evening performance of the pier concert party.”
“There!  You see?  Now perhaps you’re satisfied!” said Mrs. Tiplock to her husband. 
“Then there was Mrs. Thump,” went on Carolus calmly.  “She came and spoke to Mr. Wirral during the afternoon and—though I did not know this till later—after a visit to her bookmaker returned some time after six to find him hurrying towards the gates.”
“You didn’t think I’d done for him, did you?” asked Mrs. Thump, with a little smile.
“I am recalling all the people connected with Wirral’s last day.  And I mustn’t forget Old Hammond, who remained at the pier gates.  But there were three other people who are here this evening, two of them most closely connected with the dead man—his son Paul Wirral, his daughter-in-law Lily Wirral and a chauffeur he had dismissed named Bridger.  At a little before six o’clock Mrs. Wirral hired one hut and Bridger another, both from Mr. Swipely the attendant.  Both were good swimmers who went out as far as the end of the pier.  Paul Wirral, meanwhile, was on the pier observing them.  He denied this to me later, but there is a fairly clear evidence on the point.  I noted these facts and kept them in mind.  I also knew that Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wirral had lunched with the Mayor that day and proposed an investment which he had rejected.
“Finally there was the pier manager, Mr. Slicker.  He had had a stormy interview with Wirral that morning before lunch, and it will be sufficient if I say here that they did not see eye to eye about certain items of expenditure.  Wirral threatened to take a certain course which would have been unwelcome to Slicker.  Slicker had a nap that afternoon and went to the Elizabethan Bar at six for a reviver, returning to his office, he said, immediately afterwards.  He too remained on my list.”
“Very friendly of you, old boy,” said Slicker sarcastically.
“But with all these facts assembled, all these people interviewed, all these times established, I found myself back to where I began, with no solution in sight of the original mystery.  Nothing I have learnt gave me the least indication of how Wirral had died.  Without that all my information was meaningless.  How could I suspect anyone when I had nothing to suspect him of?  How could I establish the time and place of a murder when I did not know that there had been a murder?  I had a plethora of facts, but they lead nowhere.  I had a fine gallery of potential suspects, but nothing to suspect them of.  It was at this point that the school term recommenced and I went back to Newminster.  Then the first really indicative thing happened—Miss Pepys disappeared.”

Death of Cold, Chapter Twenty-Six

Death of Cold


For once, it was Carolus who sought out the headmaster.  He walked back from chapel with him.
“You will be pleased to hear that there will be no publicity,” he said a little bitterly.
“Ah,” said Mr. Gorringer.  “And what does that portend, my dear Deene?  Don’t tell me you have failed to ‘get your man’, as I understand the expression is among persons concerned with these matters.
The headmaster appeared to be at high good humour, his great ears were flushed with pleasure.  Carolus made no direct reply.
“A third dead body was found last night,” he said.
“Really!” exclaimed Mr. Gorringer.  “Isn’t that overdoing it somewhat, my dear Deene?  Two murders in sequence are not, I understand, uncommon.  But a third seems almost ostentatious.  Who was it this time?”
“The young doctor for whom I was investigating.”
“Ah!  But does that not suggest something like carelessness on your part?”
“I certainly did not anticipate it.”
“No.  I don’t suppose you did.  But you assure me that you will have no public connection with the case, as in that unfortunate local affair?  You know my feelings on that.”
“Yes, I know.  You may rest assured that no one will know I have been connected with the thing.  The police are only too anxious that nothing of the sort shall transpire.”
“Spel-endid,” said Mr. Gorringer loudly.  “Presumably you have your theory to account for all this violence?”
“And you had given the police the benefit of it?”
“Not yet.”
“When do you propose to do so?”
“This evening.”
“Ah.  Do you know, my dear Deene, I am half inclined to lend my presence to the occasion?  In the interests of the school, I mean.  To assure myself that no word reaches the ears of the Press.  And also, I own, with a touch of natural curiosity.”
“Perhaps, yes.  I fear you have failed to realize, my dear Deene, that beneath this gown and mortar-board their beats a very human heart.  I cannot fail to feel a certain interest in the results of your investigations, much though I deplore your wilful connection with matters so out of keeping with the responsibilities of my senior history master.  It is, perhaps, a weakness of mine, but I should like to listen to your elucidation.”
“I am meeting with the police in a bar,” said Carolus warningly.
“Most appropriate,” boomed Mr. Gorringer.  “A case of this kind could scarcely be recapitulated anywhere else.  Besides, it is many miles from our quiet town, and I shall not, I assume, be recognized as the headmaster of the Queen’s School, Newminster.  I make no demur at the rendezvous you have chosen.”
“There will be a pretty miscellaneous audience,” said Carolus.  “All the people who have been, or are still, suspects.”
Entendu! ” cried Mr. Gorringer.  “You could ill make such a statement without their presence.  It will be interesting to meet them.”
Carolus made one last attempt to discourage the headmaster.
“I have promised Priggley that he shall come,” he said.
“A very sensible step,” pronounced Mr. Gorringer, contradicting, in his enthusiasm, many previously held opinions.  “It is an excellent thing for the senior boys to have their interests widened.  I often think our system is too much hic, haec, hoc.  Too hidebound.  Too severe.  Let them see something of the world which awaits them when their school days are no more.  ‘I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue.’  An excellent notion of yours, my dear Deene, thoroughly in keeping with your modern outlook.  You will, I assume, be driving down to Oldhaven.”
“Then I will venture to propose myself for a seat in your large automobile.  I shall enjoy this little break in the term’s curriculum, I make no doubt.  Now about the Middle Fourth’s history period on Fridays.  I have been discussing with Hollingbourne a small change in the time-table.  Perhaps you would put yourself in accord with him?  A third murder, eh?  Very violent and extreme.  It will be interesting to see how you account for it.”  He caught sight of the music master running for cover and hailed him boisterously.  “Ah, Tubley . . .”
So that evening after school Carolus set out for Oldhaven with somewhat incongruous passengers.  Beside him in the Bentley Continental sat Mr. Gorringer, while in the back seat Rupert Priggley disported himself.
There was a busy hour or two after their arrival, for Carolus insisted on the presence of everyone connected with the case.  He had already been on the ’phone to Violette Bonner, who agreed at once to set up for Oldhaven.
“I do not feel I wish to travel alone,” she said.  “I shall bring my little maid with me and stay the night at the Queen’s Hotel, as on the previous occasion.  I feel I owe it to Poopy’s memory to be present.”
Carolus had also ’phoned Lily Wirral and her husband and Mr. Slicker, who had readily agreed to the use of Gladys Rowlands’s bar for the gathering.  Now he had to round up, as Rupert Priggley put it, all the others.
Mrs. Thump was not very enthusiastic about the occasion.
“I’ve had a Bad Day,” she said, without more precisely specifying the nature of her reverses.  “But I suppose I better come and hear what it was all about.”
Mrs. Hammock, the Original Gypsy Lee, was less grudging.
“I should like to hear about it ever so much,” she said.  “So would my husband.  He’s a one for anything like that.  Soon as ever we’ve had our tea and had time to get ready we’ll be down.”
At Mr. Tiplock’s he found the shop shut and had to ring at the side door.  It was furtively opened a few inches by Tiplock himself.
“Oh, it’s you.  Got anything for me?” he whispered.  “No.  You came about Wirral, didn’t you?  I was mixing you with someone else.  What is it this time?”
Carolus told him.
“Of course I’d like to be there,” he said in a low voice.  “Trouble is, what about Her?  She’s bound to think it’s something to do with business.”
At that moment, indeed, the shrill voice of Mrs. Tiplock became audible from the landing above.
“Who is it?” she called raucously.
“Only a gent on business,” said Tiplock.
“Well, tell him you don’t want any and come back and have your tea.  I’ve told you this before.  We don’t want . . .”
“All right, chum,” said Mr. Tiplock to Carolus.  “I’ll be there.  I may have to bring her, though.”
John Rowlands also made the stipulation that his wife should accompany him.
“It’s all apiece with the sort of mumbo-jumbo she believes in.  I’ve told her if she can believe in Church and that, there’s nothing she can’t believe.  I should like to hear you proving it was murder.”
Old Hammond looked saltily merry when he heard.
“So you’re going to chart it out,” he said.  “I’ll stow myself in a quiet corner and no doubt have a chuckle or two to myself.  And old sea-dog like me is not much put out by a couple of deaths, you know.”
“Three,” Carolus pointed out.
Mr. Grool nodded silently at the invitation.
“If you really know what put an end to Wirral,” he said.  “I should like to hear it.”
Mr. Swipely, the bathing-hut attendant, was hard to find, since he was employed by the corporation only in the summer, but he too agreed to attend.  So did Clocker Starkie, the boy who had sold Wirral his last newspaper.  This youth also asked whether Carolus wanted Len and his mother to be present.
“You know, tosh, the one who saw him talking to the red-haired piece of homework on the landing-stage that afternoon.”
“All right,” agreed Carolus. 
A slight problem was presented by Bridger, since Paul Wirral would be present with Lily.  But by a masterstroke of diplomacy Carolus persuaded him to escort Mrs. Thump so that Carolus would not have to face such a notable absentee.
Mrs. Kemp agreed instantly to come and hear the fate of her friend, and Mr. Slicker, the pier manager, said “Certainly, old boy.”
It was to be a very complete gathering.  But first Carolus had to face dinner with the headmaster at the Aberdare.  From this Rupert Priggley tactfully excused himself.
“I will get a sandwich somewhere,” he said.  “Be waiting for you in the bar afterwards.”
“You’ll be nothing of the sort.  You’ll sit in the lounge.”
“Why?  The barmaid in the American Snuggery is rather a cup of tea.”
“You’ll behave yourself in front of the headmaster.”
“What a drear you are, sir.  All right.  I’ll wait in the lounge.”
In the dining-room the headmaster expanded notably.
“Ah, Deene, you have a good appetite, I trust?  Let us see what the new catering in English hotels can do for us.  To attract foreign tourists, I am given to understand.  Hm.  Pea soup.  Nourishing, I make no doubt.  Cod fillets.  A very sustaining meal, you will agree.  Croquettes of veal or cold mutton with salad.  One cannot help questioning the wisdom of offering such a very simple repast.  This is reputed to be the best local hotel.  I could have fancied a less hum-drum meal.”
Carolus, for the first time since his discovery last night in the beach-hut, smiled thinly.
“Particularly when the soup is tinned and thinned with poor stock, the cod is glutinous and smothered in batter and the croquettes have about ten per cent. of twice-cooked meat in them.  But there is an orange blancmange to follow.”
The headmaster looked sour.
“However,” he said more cheerfully, we did not come down here to find an unusual dinner, but to hear some unusual details of crime.  Are you quite ready to deliver your exposé ?”
“Yes.  Quite.”
“You will name the murderer?”
“There is only one?”
“That’s all.”
“You will substantiate your accusation with facts?”
“Oh yes.”
“In the presence of all the suspects?”
“Yes.  Certainly.”
“The police will be present, prepared to make the necessary arrest?”
“What about the widow of the last victim, Deene?  You surely have not invited her?”
“No,” said Carolus.
“She knows, of course?”
“Yes, she knows.  She happens to be a very courageous woman, headmaster.”
“You have seen her since it happened?”
“No.  I’ve spoken to her though.  I admire her more than I can say.”
“Indeed?  Well, well.  It is perhaps better, though, that she does not join us, since she’s not a suspect.  The only person, it would seem to me from what I have learnt, who is not.”
“I suppose the only one.” 
The headmaster masticated vigorously for some moments.
“It should be a remarkable occasion.”
“It will,” said Carolus quietly.
And by all who were present in the Elizabethan Bar the evening it was admitted that it was.  They gathered according to schedule, and when Carolus and the headmaster arrived there they found their guests awaiting them.  There were some marked divisions between groups, but there seemed to be a good deal of excited chatter.
“Now then, Mr. Deene,” said Sergeant Cotter brusquely.  “Let’s have it.  No beating about the bush.  You say you know all about it.”
Mr. Gorringer joined in. 
“We are all ears!” he exclaimed superfluously.
“Very well,” said Carolus.  “I’ll do my best.”
He glanced at his notes, then began to talk quietly.

Death of Cold, Chapter Twenty-Five

Death of Cold


When Carolus set out for beach-hut number seventeen he did so very coolly, with no sense of drama and certainly no pleasurable excitement.  He knew that he would find the murderer or that the murderer would find him.  He was quietly confident that the trap he had laid would work.  The essential ’phone call had been made—the murderer knew that Carolus would come to the hut this evening.  His only chance was to wait for Carolus and obliterate him while there was yet time.
Whether he would wait in or near the beach-hut was another matter.  There were arguments in favour of each alternative.  Carolus must be prepared for him anywhere after he had left the road.
He felt very much alone.  He knew that within earshot Sergeant Cotter and his men were waiting, but it made little difference to his sense of isolation.  He had to go to the murderer who had killed twice already and was determined to kill him.
He left his car—this time in a cinema car-park a quarter of a mile away—and set out on foot.  It was a warm night with a sea-mist blowing into the town and very few pedestrians out.  There came to the mind of Carolus old phrases from the thrillers of his boyhood—‘dirty work at the cross-roads’, ‘what a night for murder’—and he smiled a little grimly as he went forward.
He checked on the situation.  The murderer had first been responsible for the death of one.  He had intended to stop there.  One murder for a reason that seemed to him adequate.  At first it had seemed a remarkable success.  There was nothing to indicate to the police that Wirral had been murdered, and the whole matter seemed likely to be forgotten.  Then Jack and Greta Fyrth had asked Carolus to look into it and he had started investigating.  He had collected facts without much coherence for a time, encouraged to go on only by his instinct that Wirral’s death was neither accident or suicide.  Perhaps the murderer had not taken Carolus very seriously.  He may have felt as safe as ever during those weeks.
Then he had had an unpleasant shock.  He had realized that Miss Pepys knew something which, if it were revealed to someone intelligently studying the matter, pointed straight at him as the murderer.  He had acted swiftly and ruthlessly, and Miss Pepys lay dead in the beach-hut.  She might have remained there till the following spring or summer if Carolus had not looked at the place.  What has made him?  Deduction?  A guess?  A little of each, perhaps.
‘No peace for the wicked’, the old adage said.  No peace of mind for this particularly wicked murderer, anyway.  Today he had learnt—as Carolus intended—that this evening Carolus was going to the beach-hut.  There was only one thing for him to do, and he could be relied upon to attempt it.  At all costs he must prevent Carolus finding the body concealed there, or living to report it.  He must strike again.  Perhaps his third time would be lucky.  Perhaps with Carolus out of the way he would feel safe at last.
As he left the road to cross the grass, Carolus had one sudden misgiving.  Suppose he was not the first to take this way tonight.  Suppose Cotter had tried to anticipate him—or someone else got wind of the matter and come here before him?  Suppose Lily Wirral had talked too much?  Carolus was willing to take the risk of approaching the beach-hut himself, but would not willingly send anyone else there.  It did not seem likely, but he gave him a chilling sense of apprehension as he came nearer.
Somewhere, by the breakwater, the police were concealed.  Somewhere, in the shadows of the beach-huts or in one of them, was the murderer.  Carolus pictured him standing alone and alert in number seventeen, his eyes grown used to the darkness, but not looking towards the poor little corpse in the corner, ready at all events for Carolus to approach.  It was not a comfortable thought.
He took precautions with a wariness learnt long ago when he was under training.  He first looked down on the beach-huts from the little cliff behind them, examining their roofs carefully, as though someone might be lying there waiting.  He noted that they joined the cliff itself—no one could be concealed behind them.  There was enough light from the misty moon to be sure of this.
Carolus felt as fit and as ready to deal with the murderer as he had felt when he had been dropped with a parachute during the war.  Fear had no meaning for him now.  He knew, as if by some occult assurance, that he would not die or even be harmed.  He approached the first of the beach-huts cautiously, but quite confidently.
The moonlight shewed him that no one was in front of any of them.  He could see the line of them from end to end, and there was no one waiting before them.  The space between them was too narrow to conceal a man, but he did not trust this fact entirely.  The gaps through which a human being can pass are deceptively small, and it seemed possible to Carolus that two huts might be slightly farther apart that others, and as he walked along the line he made sure of this.
When he came to number seventeen it was with something like relief.  Now he knew what he was up against.  Inside, he was convinced, the murderer awaited him.  He sidled quietly up to the door.  Standing flat against the beach-hut next door, he stretched out his hand towards the handle of number seventeen.  It took him a few moments to grip this securely without bringing more than his hand and wrist into range from within.  But when his fingers were round it he tried to open the door—and failed.  It was locked.
He did not hurry.  He drew out his key and slowly, rather than laboriously, inserted it, while he remained always out of range.  Then he turned the key in the lock and again gripped the handle.
The next few seconds gave Carolus a surprise, and a particularly hideous one.  Once the handle was turned, the door seems to be pushed open by a dead weight against it.  He soon realized that ‘dead weight’ was a horribly apt expression.  There fell forward out of the doorway a man very obviously dead—obviously, because the top of his head had been blown off by a shot fired into it.  But the man was recognizable as soon as Carolus shone his torch on him.  It was Jack Fyrth.
In a few moments Sergeant Cotter and his men had come up.  Almost nothing was said as they examined the place, saw the two corpses and realized the full horror of it.
Carolus stood by, quite impassive.  Cotter seemed to think he was stunned or at least bewildered by what it happened.  When the Sergeant at last addressed him, it was with scarcely repressed fury.
“You see what comes of pandering to amateurs, Mr. Deene?  Another murder, under my very nose.  This man has not been dead many hours.”
“Less than one hour, I should say,” put in Carolus quietly.
“While I allowed myself to be persuaded by you to play hide-and-seek with the murderer.  I shall lose promotion over this.”
“Think so?” asked Carolus hopefully.
“And deserve to.  If you knew the woman’s corpse was here, why couldn’t you say so?  You might have saved this man’s life.”
“Yes, I might,” admitted Carolus sadly.
“You were so sure that you would get the murderer.  All wrapped up in silver paper.  He was going to have a go at you, and it would prove he had done for Wirral and Miss Pepys.  Now look what you’ve done.”
“I know.”
“It’s the last time I’ll ever listen to any damned amateur.  I can’t think what made me do it.  And now we’re no nearer knowing who done for Miss Pepys than ever we were.”
“Aren’t you?”
“How are we?  And I still don’t see what it’s got to do with Wirral.  That case was closed long ago.  All we’ve got is this slaughter-house here.”
“It’s a pity you ever left your more important work.”
“You’re telling me.  We’ve missed a nice little conviction over this.  Going back to London tomorrow.”  Sergeant Cotter bit his lip.  Then he spoke more quietly and with a touch of slyness to Carolus.  “Still think you know who did it?”
“Yes, I know.”
“What?  Killed all three?”
Carolus nodded ruefully.
“Yes.  Killed all three.”
“Know for certain?  Can you prove it?”
Carolus thought for a moment.
“I am not sure about proof.  Such a tricky word.  I think I could convince any unprejudiced person.”
“Going to tell us?” asked Sergeant Cotter.
“If you really want to know.”
“We should find out, of course.  Wouldn’t take us long, either.  We always get our man.”
“That is a very silly claim.  Do you know how many murderers go unhanged in Great Britain?”
“Not many.”
“A great many.  There’s a nice comfortable popular belief that murderers are always brought to book in England.  Rubbish.  Even of the murders which come to light not nearly all are solved.  What about all the murders which are never even discovered?  Quiet little poisonings in the family, disappearances that are never even noticed.  There are scores of men and women who have taken life and never stood trial for it.  Scores of them.”
“That may or may not be,” said Sergeant Cotter grandly, “but in a case like this, where there are two corpses to go on, is different.  We should get our man here all right.”
“Get him, then.”
“But if you can tell us anything that would save time and trouble, you might as well do so.”
“I will,” said Carolus wearily.  “But not here.  Not now.”
“Why not?”
Carolus looked down at the remains of Jack Fyrth and said, “Because I feel a little sick.  And I’m very tired.”
“So while you’re having a nice rest someone else will be for it, I suppose?”
Carolus thought for a moment.
“No,” he said.  “No one else.”
“And when is it going to be convenient for you to tell me what you know?” asked Sergeant Cotter with heavy sarcasm.
“Tomorrow evening.  I have to be in school all day tomorrow.  In the evening I’ll come down and tell you what I can.”
“If we don’t already know the answer,” said Sergeant Cotter.  “We shan’t be idle, you know.  We shall be working on this most of the night.  Two corpses.  There’s work to be done here.  No amateur messing about, but real work.”
“I’m glad to hear it.  There seems to be a good deal of cleaning up, in any case.  I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
At this point Detective Constable Hawkins approached.
“This was all there was in his pockets,” he said.
He displayed in a handkerchief three objects—a bottle of chloroform, a cigarette lighter and the key of the beach-hut.
“I suppose these tell you a lot, Mr. Deene?  Like Sherlock Holmes, you can deduce the whole story?”
“I certainly understand two salient matters,” admitted Carolus.
“The lighter’s got the initials C. D. on it,” said Hawkins.
“Yes.  It is mine.”
Carolus seemed anxious to escape.  “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said.
“You’ll come to the police station?”
“Well, I’d rather not.  I never find police stations conducive to clear thinking.  Let’s make it the bar on the pier.  The Elizabeth Bar.  All right?  Good night, then.”
He left the policeman to stare after him resentfully.  Sergeant Cotter could not have looked more hostile if Carolus himself had been the murderer.
Ten minutes later he could have taken his revenge, for the speed at which Carolus drove out of Oldhaven very generously passed the limit allowed.  Nor did he slacken it as he took the main road towards London from which he would branch off to his home.  The grimness which had shewed itself when he recognised the body of Jack Fyrth kept his mouth tight and his eyes hard, even when he went down to the school next morning.