فصل 06

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فصل 06

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chapter six

The Two Blonds

Ellen quickly found a hotel in Blue River and she took a room for a few days. She unpacked her bag, then she phoned the English Department at Stoddard University. She spoke to the Professor of English, and told him that she was Dorothy Kingship’s sister. She said that she wanted to talk to him about Dorothy. The professor remembered Dorothy, and he agreed to meet Ellen at one o’clock.

Ellen wanted to ask the professor if there had been any handsome blond students in Dorothy’s English class. But she couldn’t tell him, “I think that one of your students is a murderer!” The professor wouldn’t believe her. She needed to give him another reason for her questions - a reason that he would believe. She thought for a few minutes, then she had an idea.

At one o’clock, Ellen was talking to the Professor of English. He was a kind man. He wanted to help her.

“A week before she died,” Ellen began, “Dorothy told me that she had borrowed some money. She’d borrowed it from one of the students in her English class. She was angry with our father, and she didn’t want to ask him for the money. And she only needed it for a few weeks. Recently, I looked at all of Dorothy’s checkbooks. I discovered that she didn’t repay that money. Now my father and I want to repay it for her.”

“Yes, I understand that,” the professor said.

“But we have a problem,” Ellen went on. “We don’t know the name of the student - Dorothy didn’t tell me his name.

And he hasn’t tried to talk to us. Maybe he didn’t want to ask us for the money after Dorothy killed herself. Maybe he is a kind person who didn’t want to make us unhappy.”

“Ah yes, you do have a problem,” said the professor. “How can I help you?”

“Dorothy didn’t tell me this student’s name,” Ellen replied. “But I know that he was in the same second-year English class as Dorothy. And she told me that he had blond hair, and that he was tall and very handsome. If there are only a few male students from that class who are blond and handsome, I’ll try to talk to all of them.”

The professor thought for a moment. “Come with me,” he said.

He took Ellen to the University Office and he asked her to sit down. Then he went to a large closet and he took out about forty brown folders.

“The students from your sister’s English class are in a third-year class now,” he said. “These are their personal files. There are photos of the students in these files.”

The professor looked quickly into each folder, and he put them into two piles on the desk. “Those are the female students,” he said pointing to the bigger pile. Then he pointed to the other pile. “These seventeen folders are for the male students.”

Next he looked more carefully through the male students’ files. He divided them into two groups. “There are seventeen men in the class,” he said. “But twelve of them have dark hair. So there are only five blonds.”

Then he removed three folders from the group of five.

“Nobody would call these three gentleman handsome,” the professor said, smiling. “So now we have two handsome blond males. Here are their names and addresses.”

He opened the two folders at their first pages and put them in front of Ellen. She copied the students’ names and addresses into a notebook.

Gordon C. Gant

1312 West Twenty-sixth Street

Dwight Powell

1520 West Thirty-fifth Street

She gave the files back to the professor.

“Why don’t you write down their phone numbers too?” he said. He read them to her and she added them to her notebook. Then she stood up.

“Thank you, Professor,” she said. “You’ve been very kind.”

When Ellen called Gordon Gant’s number, the phone was answered by a woman.

“Is Gordon there?” Ellen asked.

“No, he isn’t!” the woman replied suspiciously. “He’s gone out. He’ll be out until late this evening.”

“Who am I speaking to?” Ellen asked politely.

“I’m Mrs Arquette,” the woman replied. “This is my house. Gordon rents a room here. Can I give him a message?”

“No, thank you,” Ellen said. “I’ll call again later.”

She put the phone down. She thought for a minute.

“If I go to Mrs Arquette’s house, maybe she’ll talk to me,” Ellen said to herself. “I’ll pretend to be one of Gordon Gant’s relatives. I’ll ask this woman about Gordon’s girlfriends. Maybe she’ll tell me who he was meeting last winter. Then I won’t have to talk to him myself.”

Half an hour later, Ellen rang the doorbell of the house at 1312 West Twenty-sixth Street.

The woman who opened the front door was small and thin. She had untidy gray hair. Ellen smiled at her.

“You must be Mrs Arquette,” Ellen said. “Is Gordon here?”

“No, he isn’t here,” the woman said suspiciously. “Did he know that you were coming?”

“Yes. I’m Gordon’s cousin,” Ellen said. “I wrote him a letter. I told him that I’d be in Blue River today. I told him that I’d come to visit him for an hour.”

“He didn’t tell me about it,” Mrs Arquette said. “Maybe he didn’t get your letter. But please come in and sit down for a while. I’m happy to meet one of Gordon’s relatives. Gordon’s a fine young man.” The woman smiled suddenly. “Come into the living room,” she said. “I’ll make some coffee.”

Ellen followed her into the house.

“Gordon’s at the radio station,” Mrs Arquette said when they were sitting in her living room, with coffee in front of them. “Did you know about his radio program?”

“He did tell me something about it,” Ellen replied.

“He’s a disc jockey on the Blue River radio station,” Mrs Arquette said. “He plays records for two hours every night, except Sundays. Gordon’s a very busy young man. He’s at college most of the day, then in the evenings, he’s on the radio!”

“Is he happy now, Mrs Arquette?” Ellen asked. “I think that he was very unhappy a year ago, when I last saw him.”

“I don’t remember that,” the woman replied. She thought for a moment. “No, I don’t remember that.”

“I think that he’d broken up with a girl - someone he liked a lot,” Ellen said. “I think that her name was Dorothy. Do you remember a girl named Dorothy?”

“No, I don’t,” said Mrs Arquette. “He met lots of girls, but he didn’t have one special girlfriend. And I don’t remember anyone named Dorothy.”

Suddenly Ellen wanted to leave the house. She wasn’t going to learn anything here. She stood up.

“Well, I’ll go now,” she said. “Thank you for the coffee.”

“Aren’t you going to wait for Gordon?” Mrs Arquette said. “He’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“In a few minutes? But you told me that he’d be out until late this evening,” said Ellen. “You told me that when I phoned.” As she spoke the words, she knew that she had said the wrong thing.

“Was that you who phoned earlier?” said Mrs Arquette. “You didn’t say that you were Gordon’s cousin when you phoned. Gordon gets lots of calls from girls who hear him on the radio. They all want to talk to him and meet him. I always tell them that he’ll be out all day.”

Now the woman was suspicious again. “But if you thought that Gordon was going to be out all day, why did you come here?” she said. “I don’t believe that you’re Gordon’s cousin. Who are you?”

At that moment, they heard the front door open, and someone came into the house.

“I’m back, Mrs Arquette!” a man’s voice called.

The woman ran out of the room. Ellen heard her whispering to someone, “She says that she’s your cousin, but I don’t believe her!”

Then the living room door opened, and a tall handsome young man entered. He had short blond hair. He looked at Ellen and she looked at him. Then the young man smiled.

“Cousin Hester!” he said. “I’m happy to see you.”

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