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CHAPTER TWENTY TWO

Part of a letter from Gina Hudd to her aunt Mrs Van Rydock: - and so you see, darling Aunt Ruth, the whole thing has been just like a nightmare - especially the end of it. I’ve told you all about this funny man Edgar Lawson. He always behaved like a rabbit - and when the Inspector began questioning him and breaking him down, he lost his nerve completely and ran like a rabbit. He jumped out of the window and ran round the house and down the drive and there was a policeman waiting, and Edgar just turned to one side and ran full speed for the lake. He jumped into an old boat that has been lying there falling apart for years - and he pushed off. Quite a mad, senseless thing to do, of course, but as I say, he was just a rabbit in a panic. And then Lewis gave a great shout and said ‘That boat’s got a hole in it,’ and raced off to the lake, too. The boat went down and there was Edgar struggling in the water. He couldn’t swim. Lewis jumped in and swam out to him. He got to him but they were both in difficulty because they’d become caught among the reeds. One of the Inspector’s men went in with a rope round him, but he got trapped in the reeds, too and they had to pull him out. Aunt Mildred said ‘They’ll drown - they’ll drown - they’ll both drown’ in a silly sort of way, and Grandma just said ‘Yes.’ I can’t describe to you just how she made that one word sound. Just ‘YES’ and it went through you like - like a knife.

Am I being silly and dramatic? I suppose I am. But it did sound like that.

And then - when it was all over, and they got them out, the Inspector came to us and said to Grandma, ‘I’m afraid, Mrs Serrocold, there’s no hope.’

Grandma said very quietly, ‘Thank you, Inspector.’

Then she looked at us all. Me wanting to help, hut not knowing how, and Jolly, looking grim and tender and ready to take care as usual, and Stephen reaching out his hands, and funny old Miss Marple looking so sad, and tired, and even Walter looking upset. All so fond of her and wanting to do SOMETHING.

But Grandma just said ‘Mildred.’ And Aunt Mildred said ‘Mother.’ And they went away together into the house, Grandma looking so small and frail and leaning on Aunt Mildred. I never realized, until then, how fond of each other they were. It didn’t show much, you know, but it was there all the time.

Gina paused and sucked the end of her pen. She started again:

About me and Walter - we’re coming back to the States as soon as we can.

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