فصل 06

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فصل 06

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Chapter six

They all have a secret

That afternoon, the Inspector announced: ‘We now have the results of the autopsy. Mrs Blakemore was poisoned. She was probably given small amounts of arsenic for some time, to make her weak. Then another poison, cyanide, finally killed her.’

He looked around at us all. Everyone seemed nervous and uncomfortable.

‘Now then…’ he continued. ‘What was the motive for this murder? Well, money’s usually a good motive. And… in her will, Mrs Blakemore left all her money to her nephew several million pounds. Nothing to anyone else. Nothing to her husband. This seems a bit strange.’

The Reverend John Palmer looked down at his hands, embarrassed.

‘There’s nothing strange about it,’ said Mr Blakemore quietly. ‘Kitty always said that she was going to leave everything to her nephew. She had no children, you see. And she was very fond of her sister. So, when her sister died, she decided to look after her sister’s son. Anyway, she didn’t need to leave me any money. I have plenty. And this house is all mine.’

‘I see,’ said the Inspector. ‘Well, Vicar. Now you’ve got plenty of money too, haven’t you? You can mend that church roof now, can’t you?’

The Reverend Palmer’s face went red, but he said nothing.

The Inspector continued. ‘PC Hemmings, please read those lines about Doctor Spencer in the will.’

The policewoman stood up and read from the will. ‘Doctor Spencer is expecting a reward. But it was only a little joke. I am sure that he will understand.’

‘So, Doctor,’ said the Inspector. ‘Mrs Blakemore said that she would leave you some money, did she?’

‘Well, yes…’ The doctor was cleaning his glasses nervously. ‘A little reward, a little thank you for my help.’

‘Oh, how terrible!’ cried Charlotte. ‘What a cruel joke!’

‘If you expected some money,’ said the Inspector, ‘then perhaps you too had a motive for murder, Doctor.’

‘Oh, really!’ Doctor Spencer stood up. ‘I won’t listen to any more of this. I’m a doctor, not a murderer!’

‘We shall see,’ said the Inspector. ‘Sit down again please, sir. Now… Mrs Blakemore was not an easy person to live with. Am I right? She was often very rude and unkind. Is this correct?’

‘Well,’ said Mr Blakemore. ‘She could be difficult sometimes. She was an intelligent woman and she didn’t like fools.’

‘But sir,’ said the Inspector. ‘You are an intelligent man… but you do not seem to be rude and unkind.’

‘That’s because he’s a nicer person than she was,’ said Charlotte hotly.

‘I see.’ The Inspector looked closely at her. ‘You didn’t like Mrs Blakemore, did you?’

‘No, I didn’t,’ said Charlotte angrily.

‘Perhaps she didn’t like you either. But she gave you a job here, didn’t she? You were dismissed from your last job, because you stole things. You left without any references. And yet Mrs Blakemore accepted you here.’

‘How do you know all that?’ cried Charlotte.

‘We’ve been asking a lot of questions,’ said the Inspector. Then he turned to Bernard.

‘Tell us something about yourself, Bernard.’

‘What do you want to know?’

‘How long have you known Mrs Blakemore?’

‘I’ve worked here for four years,’ he answered.

‘Ah, yes, but you first met her a long time ago,’ said the Inspector. ‘I’ve been talking to your mother. She said she used to be Mrs Blakemore’s maid, years ago, in London.’

Bernard said nothing. He touched his bad leg and looked unhappy.

‘You remember, don’t you Bernard? You were the maid’s child. A poor little boy with a damaged leg. Your mother worked for the rich lady in the big house.’

Stella Vixon was looking at Bernard. She seemed sorry for him.

The Inspector continued. ‘You needed an operation on your leg, didn’t you? But it was too expensive. And Mrs Blakemore wouldn’t help you, would she?’

Bernard suddenly spoke. ‘She was so mean!’ he cried angrily. ‘My mother asked her for some money. But she refused. Then she dismissed my mother, for no reason.’

‘Yes, I know,’ said the Inspector calmly. ‘Then years later, you came to work for Mrs Blakemore yourself. You wanted to kill her, didn’t you?’

Bernard laughed. ‘I certainly hated her,’ he said. ‘But at first I didn’t know that it was the same woman. Believe me, Inspector, I was surprised to see her again. I stayed because I like the country. There are other reasons, too.’ He looked over at Charlotte with a smile, but she looked away from him angrily.

‘I’m sorry, Inspector, but I didn’t kill Mrs Blakemore. It wasn’t me.’

‘We shall see,’ said Inspector Braddock. ‘Now… I have a little problem. We have examined the things from Mrs Blakemore’s bedroom, but we can’t find any evidence of poison. It’s very strange. She was certainly poisoned. We found arsenic and cyanide in her stomach. But how did they get there? Perhaps something was thrown away before we arrived.’

I remembered that Bernard had thrown away some milk. Was he guilty? I even began to feel guilty myself.

Inspector Braddock wrote some notes on a piece of paper. I looked around at everyone. The Reverend Palmer sat very straight in his seat, his lips tightly closed. Bernard looked angry. Doctor Spencer was wiping his face and glasses again. Charlotte looked frightened. Stella Vixon’s face was embarrassed. She was looking down at her hands, like someone in pain. I looked quickly across the room and noticed something. For a second, only a second or two, Mr Blakemore lifted his head and looked at her. There was something mysterious in his eyes.

‘OK. That’s all for today,’ said Inspector Braddock. ‘We’ll come back tomorrow.’

I was worried, but I didn’t know why. I had forgotten something. But what?

Stella Vixon was very quiet during dinner. Why had Mr Blakemore looked at her in that strange way?

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