فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

That evening, the phone rang and Mr Entwhistle heard Maude Abernethie’s voice. ‘Thank goodness you’re there! This news about Cora has upset Timothy dreadfully - was it really murder?’

‘Yes,’ said Mr Entwhistle.

‘It seems incredible,’ said Maude. ‘And I am very worried about Timothy. It’s so bad for him, all this. He insists that you come up here to Yorkshire and see him. He wants to know if Cora left a will.’

‘There is a will. She left instructions for Timothy to be her executor but I will arrange everything. She left her own paintings and a piece of jewellery to her companion, Miss Gilchrist, and everything else to her niece, Susan.’

‘To Susan? But why Susan?’

‘Perhaps because she thought Susan had made a marriage that the family disapproved of. When all the bills are paid and the furniture is sold, I doubt Susan will get more than five hundred pounds. The inquest will be next Thursday. I will need Timothy’s signature on certain documents as he is the executor, so I think it might be a good thing if I did come and see you.’

‘That is wonderful! Tomorrow? And you’ll stay the night? The best train is the 11.20 from St Pancras.’

‘I will have to take an afternoon train, I’m afraid. I have other business in the morning.’

Mr Entwhistle’s ‘other business’ was visiting George, Rosamund and Susan.

Mr Entwhistle said, ‘I tried to phone you the day after the funeral, but you weren’t in the office.’

‘They never told me,’ said George Crossfield. ‘I thought I should have a day off after the good news!’

‘The good news?’

George’s face went red.

‘Oh, I didn’t mean Uncle Richard’s death. But knowing you’ve inherited money certainly makes you feel lucky, so I went to the horse-races at Hurst Park. And I placed bets on two horses that won. I only made fifty pounds, but it all helps pay the bills.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Mr Entwhistle. ‘And there will now be additional money coming to you as a result of your Aunt Cora’s death.’

‘Poor old girl,’ George said. ‘It does seem bad luck, doesn’t it? I expect the police will question all the strange characters in the neighbourhood and make them prove where they were when the murder happened.’

‘Not so easy if a little time has passed,’ said Mr Entwhistle. ‘I was in a bookshop at half past three on that day. But would I remember that if I was questioned in ten days’ time? Would you remember which day you went to the races in - say - a month’s time?’

‘Oh, I would remember because it was the day after the funeral.’

‘True - true. And then you bet on two winning horses. You wouldn’t forget that! Which were they, by the way?’

‘Gaymarck and Frogg II. Yes, I won’t forget them in a hurry.’

Mr Entwhistle gave a small laugh and left.

‘It’s lovely to see you,’ said Rosamund, ‘but it’s very early in the morning.’

‘It’s eleven o’clock!’ said Mr Entwhistle.

Michael Shane appeared, yawning.

The lawyer did not approve of the young Shanes’ way of living. He disliked the bottles and glasses that lay about the sitting room and the untidiness of it all.

But Rosamund and Michael were certainly a very handsome couple and they seemed very fond of each other.

Mr Entwhistle said, ‘I have just come back from Lytchett St Mary.’

‘Then it was Aunt Cora who was murdered?’ Rosamund said. ‘We saw it in the newspaper. And I said it must be. Two murders, one after another!’

‘Don’t be silly, Rosamund,’ said Michael. ‘Your Uncle Richard wasn’t murdered.’

‘Well, Cora thought he was.’

Mr Entwhistle interrupted. ‘You did come back to London after the funeral, didn’t you? I ask because I phoned you the following day - several times in fact, and couldn’t get an answer.’

‘Oh dear. We were here until about twelve, and then Michael went to lunch with someone. I had a lovely afternoon shopping - and then we had dinner at a Spanish restaurant. We got back here about ten o’clock that night, I suppose.’

Michael was looking thoughtfully at Mr Entwhistle. ‘What did you want to ask us, Sir?’

‘Oh! Just some things about Richard Abernethie’s estate.’ Rosamund asked, ‘Do we get the money now, or not for a long time?’

‘I’m afraid,’ said Mr Entwhistle, ‘that the law is full of delays.’

‘But we can get some money in advance, can’t we?’ Rosamund looked worried. ‘It’s very important. Because of the play.’

Michael said pleasantly, ‘Oh, there’s no real hurry. It’s just a question of deciding whether to finance the play or not.’

‘It will be very easy to advance you some money,’ said Mr Entwhistle.

‘Then that’s all right.’ Rosamund gave a sigh of relief. ‘Did Aunt Cora leave any money?’

‘A little. She left it to your cousin Susan.’

‘Why Susan? Is it much?’

‘A few hundred pounds and some furniture.’

‘Nice furniture?’

‘No,’ said Mr Entwhistle.

Rosamund lost interest. ‘It’s all very strange, isn’t it?’ she said. ‘There was Cora, after the funeral, suddenly saying, “He was murdered!” and then, the very next day, she is murdered? I mean, it is strange, isn’t it?’

Mr Entwhistle said quietly, ‘Yes, it is very strange.’

Mr Entwhistle studied Susan Banks as she talked. In many ways she reminded him of her uncle, Richard Abernethie. She had the same energy he had. And yet Richard Abernethie had left her no more than the others. The reason must be because he didn’t like her husband.

Mr Entwhistle looked at Gregory Banks, a thin, pale young man with reddish hair. He was quite pleasant, and yet there was something about him that made Mr Entwhistle uneasy. What had attracted Susan to him? It was obvious that her world revolved around her husband.

‘Have they any idea at all who the murderer might be?’ Susan asked.

‘They wouldn’t tell me if they did - and the murder took place only the day before yesterday,’ said Mr Entwhistle.

‘It’s definitely got to be a certain kind of person,’ Susan was thoughtful. ‘Someone violent, perhaps insane - I mean, to use a hatchet like that. But thinking of possible motives - did Cora leave her companion anything?’

‘A small piece of jewellery of no great value and some watercolours of fishing villages of sentimental value only.’

‘Well, no motive there - unless one is insane.’

Mr Entwhistle gave a little laugh. ‘As far as I can see, the only person who had a motive is you, my dear Susan.’

‘What’s that?’ An ugly light showed in Greg’s eyes. ‘How is Sue involved? What do you mean - saying things like that?’

‘Just my little joke,’ said Mr Entwhistle apologetically. ‘Cora left her estate to you, Susan. But nobody can suggest than an estate of a few hundred pounds at the most is a motive for murder, for a young lady who has just inherited several hundred thousand pounds from her uncle.’

‘She left her estate to me?’ Susan sounded surprised. ‘How extraordinary. She didn’t even know me!’

‘I think she had heard rumours that there had been a little difficulty - er - over your marriage. There had been a certain amount of trouble over her own marriage - and I think she felt you were alike.’

‘She married an artist, didn’t she? Was he a good artist?’

Mr Entwhistle shook his head.

Are there any of his paintings in the cottage?’

‘Yes.’

‘Then I shall judge for myself,’ said Susan. ‘Is there anybody at the cottage now?’

‘I have arranged for Miss Gilchrist to stay there,’ Mr Entwhistle said. ‘Your aunt made your Uncle Timothy her executor, so I will tell him of your decision to go down to the cottage. And what are your plans for the future?’

‘I’ve got my eve on a building in Cardigan Street where I want to open a beauty salon. I suppose you can advance me some money? I may have to pay a deposit.’

‘I can arrange that,’ said Mr Entwhistle. ‘I telephoned you the day after the funeral several times - but could get no answer. I thought perhaps you might like an advance. I wondered whether you might have gone out of town.’

‘Oh no,’ said Susan quickly. ‘We were in all day.’

Greg said gently, ‘You know Susan, I think our telephone wasn’t working that day. I couldn’t get through to someone I telephoned in the afternoon. I meant to report it, but it was all right the next morning.’

‘Telephones,’ said Mr Entwhistle, ‘can be very unreliable sometimes.’

Susan said suddenly, ‘How did Aunt Cora know about our marriage?’

‘Richard may have told her. She changed her will about three weeks ago - just about the time he had been to see her.’

Susan looked surprised. ‘Did Uncle Richard go to see her? I’d no idea! So that was when…’

‘When what?’

‘Nothing,’ said Susan.

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