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CHAPTER SIX

I went home delighted. Once in my room, I studied my precious piece of paper. Here was the clue to the mystery. To begin with, what did the figures represent? There were five of them, and a dot after the first two. ‘17.1 22’ That did not seem to lead to anything. I studied the words. Kilmorden Castle. I had to get to Kilmorden Castle as quickly as possible. I left my room, and returned with a pile of reference books from the Flemmings’ library. I searched with growing annoyance. Finally, I shut the last book with a bang. I could find no such place as Kilmorden Castle. Why should anyone invent a name like that? It was very strange! I sat back miserably and wondered what else I could do? Then I jumped up. Of course! I must visit the ‘scene of the crime’. I must go to Marlow. I would visit the house and pretend that I wanted to rent it.

The Mill House had its own lodge, a small house standing guard at its gates. In answer to my knock, the door of the lodge opened quickly and a tall, middle-aged woman rushed out.

‘Nobody can go into the house, do you hear? I’m sick of you reporters. Sir Eustace’s orders are…’

‘I understood the house was available to rent,’ I said coldly. ‘Of course, if it’s already taken…’

‘Oh, I beg your pardon, miss. I’ve been so bothered by newspaper people. No, the house isn’t rented - nor likely to be now.’

‘Has there been a fire?’ I asked in an anxious whisper.

‘Oh, Lord, nothing like that, miss! But surely you’ve heard about that foreign lady who was murdered here?’

‘I did read something about it in the papers,’ I said carelessly - which brought a fierce reaction.

‘I’m sure you did, miss! It’s been in all the newspapers. The Daily Budget wants to catch the man who did it. Well I hope they get him - although a nice looking man he was. He looked like a soldier. Ah, well, perhaps she treated him badly. Though she was a very good-looking woman.’

‘Did she seem upset at all?’ I asked.

‘Not a bit. She was smiling to herself. And then she was murdered. I shall never forget it. Why, I wouldn’t even stay here if Sir Eustace hadn’t begged me.’

‘I thought Sir Eustace Pedler was at the French Riviera?’

‘So he was, miss. He came back to England when he heard the news, and his secretary, Mr Pagett, offered me double pay to stay on. That young man now,’ said Mrs James, returning suddenly to an earlier point in the conversation. ‘He was a bit excited. His eyes, I noticed them especially, were all shining. But I never thought of anything being wrong. Not even when he came out again looking so upset.’

He was upset.

‘How long was he in the house?’

‘Oh, not long, five minutes maybe.’

‘How tall was he, do you think? About six foot?’

‘I should say so.’

‘He was clean-shaven, you say?’

‘Yes, miss.’

‘Was his chin at all shiny?’ I asked suddenly.

Mrs James was astonished. ‘Well, miss, it was. However did you know?’

‘It’s a strange thing, but murderers often have shiny chins,’ I explained wildly. But Mrs James did not doubt me. ‘Really, now, miss. I never heard that before. I’ll fetch you the keys.’

I accepted them, and went on to the Mill House.

From the beginning I had realized that the differences between the man Mrs James had described and my Tube ‘doctor’ were not important. An overcoat, a beard, eye-glasses with gold frames. The ‘doctor’ had appeared middle-aged, but he had bent over the body like a young man. I believed that the Moth Ball man and Mrs de Castina intended to meet at the Mill House. And I was sure that when the Moth Ball man suddenly saw the ‘doctor’, it was totally unexpected and alarming to him. What had happened next? The ‘doctor’ had quickly removed his disguise and followed the woman to Marlow. But in his hurry to remove the false beard he had left glue on his chin. This explained my question to Mrs James.

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