فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen

Miss Chadwick Lies Awake

Shaista had not returned by eight o’clock, and there was no news of her. Miss Chadwick had rung Inspector Kelsey, who said he would deal with it. He didn’t sound worried.

But Miss Chadwick was worried. That night she lay in bed, unable to sleep. She kept thinking about kidnapping - and murder. It was terrible that such things could happen at her beloved Meadowbank. She loved the school dearly. She didn’t want Miss Bulstrode to retire when everything was going so well. Though after the murder, perhaps parents would take their children away…

With a sigh, Miss Chadwick sat up, switched on the light and looked at her watch. It was just after a quarter to one. Just about the time that poor Miss Springer … No, she wouldn’t think about that.

She got out of bed and went to get a drink of water. On her way back to bed she lifted the curtain and looked out of the window.

There was a light in the Sports Pavilion.

Miss Chadwick quickly got dressed and picked up a torch. She rushed down the stairs and out towards the Sports Pavilion. She didn’t stop to wake anyone else - all she wanted to do was find out who was there. She did, however, stop to pick up a weapon. She walked quietly to the open door of the Sports Pavilion, pushed it fully open and looked in…

At the same time as Miss Chadwick got out of bed, Ann Shapland, looking very attractive in a black evening dress, was sitting at a table in a fashionable London restaurant. She smiled at the young man sitting opposite her. Dear Dennis, she thought, he’s always the same.

‘How’s your new job?’ Dennis asked.

‘I’m rather enjoying it, actually,’ said Ann.

‘I didn’t think you’d like working in a school,’ Dennis said. ‘I’d hate to be a teacher,’ Ann said, ‘but I like being a secretary at Meadowbank. Miss Bulstrode is a very impressive woman. I don’t dare make any mistakes!’

‘I wish you’d stop working, Ann, and marry me instead.’

‘I’m not ready to do that yet,’ Ann replied. ‘And of course I have to think about my mother. Sometimes, when she gets really bad, I have to leave my job and go and look after her.’

‘I think it’s wonderful,’ said Dennis, ‘that you take such good care of your mother. Of course I’ve never met her, but wouldn’t she be better living in an old people’s home?’

‘No,’ said Ann firmly. ‘Mother’s happy most of the time. But sometimes she forgets who she is and where she is. She has a nice woman who looks after her, and when Mother gets too difficult, I go and help.’

‘But don’t you mind giving up your jobs?’

‘No, not really,’ replied Ann. ‘I like doing different things. And I don’t like to stay in one job for too long.’

‘I’m sure you won’t stay too long at Meadowbank,’ said Dennis. ‘You’ll get tired of all those women.’

‘There’s a very good looking gardener,’ said Ann. She laughed when she saw Dennis’s expression. ‘Don’t worry. I’m only trying to make you jealous.’

‘Tell me about the murder,’ Dennis said. ‘It was the Games teacher, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes.’ Ann became serious. ‘It was all very strange,’ she said thoughtfully. ‘I’ve been thinking about it, and I do know one piece of information that’s rather interesting.’

‘Ann!’

‘Oh, don’t worry,’ Ann said. ‘It doesn’t seem to fit in with anything properly. Perhaps there’ll be a second murder,’ she added cheerfully. ‘That might help me understand better.’

At exactly that moment, back at Meadowbank, Miss Chadwick pushed open the door of the Sports Pavilion.

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