فصل 09

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter nine

Cat among the pigeons

Letter from Jennifer Sutcliffe to her mother:

Dear Mummy,

We had a murder last night - Miss Springer, the Games teacher. It happened in the middle of the night and the police came and this morning they’re asking everybody questions.

We were told not to talk about it but I thought you’d like to know.

With love,

Jennifer

Miss Bulstrode knew some important people, so very little about Miss Springer’s murder appeared in the newspapers. Ann Shapland was busy, sending letters to the girls’ parents telling them what happened. And Miss Bulstrode had a meeting with Inspector Kelsey.

‘We’ll search the school to try to find the gun,’ Inspector Kelsey told her. And we’ll need to interview the staff and the pupils. Until we’re finished, you can’t use the Sports Pavilion, I’m afraid.’

‘I’ll ask the girls if they know anything about Miss Springer’s death,’ said Miss Bulstrode. ‘I’ll let you know if they tell me anything.’

‘I’ve looked through all the lockers in the Sports Pavilion, sir,’ said the Sergeant. ‘None of them were locked. But I didn’t find anything important.’

Kelsey looked around thoughtfully. The hockey sticks and tennis racquets had been replaced tidily on their stands.

‘Oh well,’ he said, ‘I’m going up to the house now to have a talk with the staff.’

‘Do you think it was one of them, sir?’

‘It could have been,’ said Kelsey. ‘Nobody’s got an alibi except Miss Chadwick and Miss Johnson. Everyone has separate rooms, so if they say they were asleep in bed, we don’t know if they’re lying. Anyone could have met Miss Springer or followed her to the Sports Pavilion. After shooting her, they could easily come back to the house without being seen. But we need a motive - why was Miss Springer shot?’

Kelsey walked slowly back to the house. Old Briggs, the gardener, stopped working as the Inspector approached.

‘You’re working late,’ Kelsey said to him, smiling. ‘But I can see you do a good job - the gardens here are very well looked after.’

‘It’s hard work,’ said Briggs, ‘but it’s easier now I’ve got a strong young man to help me.’

‘Have you got a new gardener?’ Kelsey asked.

‘Yes, I have,’ said Briggs. ‘Adam Goodman, his name is. Came and asked for a job. He’s been here since the start of term.’

‘He’s not on my list of people who work here,’ replied Kelsey sharply.

‘You can talk to him tomorrow,’ said Briggs. ‘But I’m sure he can’t tell you anything.’

That evening Miss Bulstrode spoke to the girls about Miss Springer’s death. ‘Please come and tell me,’ she said, ‘if Miss Springer said anything to you that could be important.’

‘I wish we did know something,’ said Julia Upjohn sadly, as she and Jennifer Sutcliffe went back to their rooms. ‘But Miss Springer always seemed so ordinary.’

Inspector Kelsey was interviewing the teachers. He started with Miss Vansittart, but she hadn’t seen or noticed anything. Miss Springer had been good at her job, but she was rude and people didn’t like her very much.

The next teacher was Eileen Rich, who said that she hadn’t heard or noticed Miss Springer say anything important. But when Kelsey asked if there was anyone who didn’t like - or even hated - Miss Springer, he got an answer he didn’t expect.

‘Oh no,’ said Eileen Rich. ‘She just wasn’t important enough to hate. She annoyed people but nothing she did really mattered. I think she knew that, and that’s why she was so rude, and eager to find out people’s secrets. She tried to make herself important, but she just wasn’t. I’m sure she wasn’t killed for herself - she probably was in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

‘I see,’ said Inspector Kelsey. ‘Did you like her, Miss Rich?’

‘I never really thought about her. I know it’s a horrible thing to say, but she was just the Games teacher.’

Kelsey looked at her curiously. She was a strange young woman, he thought.

‘How long have you been at Meadowbank?’ he asked.

‘Just over a year and a half.’

‘Has there ever been any trouble here before?’

‘Oh no. Everything’s been all right until this term.’

‘What else has been wrong this term?’ Kelsey asked quickly. ‘I don’t know if I can explain,’ Eileen Rich said slowly. ‘But I do feel that there’s someone here who’s wrong - someone who doesn’t belong.’ She looked at him. ‘There’s a cat among the pigeons. We’re the pigeons, all of us, and the cat’s among us. But we don’t know who the cat is…’

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