فصل 02

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CHAPTER TWO

Before she caught her train back to St Mary Mead, Miss Marple, in a business-like way, asked for details.

‘It’s just the facts I need, Ruth dear - and some idea of who I will meet at Stonygates.’

‘Well, you know about Carrie Louise’s marriage to Gulbrandsen. There were no children and Carrie Louise was very upset by that. Gulbrandsen was a widower, and had three grown-up sons. Eventually he and Carrie Louise adopted a child. Pippa, they called her - a lovely little girl just two years old. And the next thing that happened was that Carrie Louise had a baby after all. I understand from doctors that that quite often happens.’

Miss Marple nodded. ‘I believe so.’

‘Anyway, it did happen, but then their daughter Mildred, when she arrived, was a very unattractive child. She looked like the Gulbrandsens, who are good people but very plain. Carrie Louise was so anxious to make no difference between the adopted child and her own that I think she gave even more attention to Pippa - which made Mildred unhappy. Pippa grew up a very beautiful girl and Mildred grew up a plain one. Gulbrandsen left an equal amount of money to both daughters - and at twenty Pippa married an Italian aristocrat. Mildred married Canon Strete - a nice man, but he often had colds in the head. He was about fifteen years older than she was. It was quite a happy marriage, I believe.

‘He died a year ago and Mildred has come back to Stonygates to live with her mother. But I’ve missed a marriage or two. I’ll go back to them. Pippa married her Italian, Guido. A year later Pippa had a daughter called Gina and died in childbirth. It was a terrible tragedy and Guido was in a very bad way. Carrie Louise went to Italy so very often, to see him and his daughter - and it was in Rome that she met Johnnie Restarick and married him. Guido married again and he was happy for his daughter to be brought up in England by her very wealthy grandmother. So they all lived at Stonygates, Johnnie Restarick and Carrie Louise, and Johnnie’s two boys, Alex and Stephen, and the baby Gina. Then came this business with the Yugoslavian woman. But the boys are devoted to Carrie Louise - and then in 1938, Carrie Louise married Lewis Serrocold.’ Mrs Van Rydock paused for breath. ‘You’ve not met Lewis?’

Miss Marple shook her head. ‘No, I think I last saw Carrie Louise in 1928. She very kindly took me to the opera.’

‘Well, Lewis was a very appropriate person. He was the head of a very respectable company of accountants. I think he met her first concerning some questions about the finances of the Gulbrandsen charitable organizations. He was wealthy enough, her own age, and very respectable. But he was a crank. He was absolutely determined to save young criminals.’

Ruth Van Rydock sighed.

‘As I said just now, Jane, there are fashions in philanthropy. And the Gulbrandsen Trust and Education Fund was in some difficulties because the government was taking over its functions. Then Lewis came along with his passionate enthusiasm about training for juvenile delinquents. It all began with his work, examining accounts where clever young men had committed frauds. He was sure that juvenile delinquents had good brains and abilities and only needed to be shown the right direction.’

‘That is a good idea,’ said Miss Marple. ‘But it is not entirely true. I remember…’ She broke off and looked at her watch. ‘Oh dear - I mustn’t miss the 6.30 train home.’

Ruth Van Rydock said urgently, ‘And you will go to Stonygates? Promise, Jane?’

Jane Marple promised.

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