فصل 07

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

The Detective

Ellen ran past Gordon Gant and Mrs Arquette, out of the front door, and into the street. She saw a taxi and she waved her arm at it. The taxi stopped and she jumped in. She told the driver the address of her hotel, then she lay back in the seat. Her body was shaking.

Half an hour later, sitting in her hotel room, she was feeling a little better. But she was angry with herself.

“I was so stupid,” she thought. Her afternoon had not been successful. She hadn’t discovered anything which helped her. And now, because of the lies she had told, she wouldn’t be able to speak to Mrs Arquette again. And she wouldn’t be able to speak to Gordon Gant again.

“I can try to find out about the other man, Dwight Powell,” she told herself. “But if I find out that Powell wasn’t Dorothy’s boyfriend, I’ll have to go back to Caldwell. Because if Gordon Gant is the murderer, he won’t let me discover anything new. He’ll know what I’m trying to do. And if he is the killer, he might try to kill me.”

From her purse, she took the letter which she had written to Bud on the train. She put it on a table by the window. She had decided to add a few more lines to it before she mailed it.

At that moment, someone knocked on the door of her room. “Clean towels for you,” said a high female voice. Ellen opened the door.

“Hello again,” said Gordon Gant. “I can pretend to be someone else too!” He pushed past her into the room and closed the door behind him.

“Please don’t shout for help,” he said. “If you do, I’ll tell the police about your visit to Mrs Arquette’s house. I won’t hurt you. I followed your taxi here because I want to know what’s happening. Why were you pretending to be my cousin? Why did you ask Mrs Arquette those questions about me?”

“I can’t tell you,” Ellen said. “Please leave me alone.” She was terrified.

But as she spoke, Gant saw the letter on the table by the window. He picked it up, ran into the bathroom and locked the door. Ellen started to cry.

“Please don’t read that letter,” she said miserably, through the door. “It’s private!”

Gant didn’t reply.

Five minutes later, he came out of the bathroom. He gave Ellen the letter.

“I understand now,” he said. “I’m sorry. Am I on your list of handsome blond students?”

“Yes,” said Ellen quietly.

“What’s your name?” Gant asked her. “Please tell me.”

“I’m Ellen Kingship,” she replied.

“Listen to me,” Gant said. “I didn’t know your sister. I saw her in English class, but until she died I didn’t know her name. I didn’t kill her. There were other blond men in that class, Ellen. But I’d like to help you. Will you let me help you?” He smiled at her.

Ellen wanted to believe his words. But she had to be sure. The man who killed her sister must have been a good actor, because Dorothy had trusted him. Perhaps Gordon Gant was acting now.

“No,” she replied. “I can’t let you help me.”

There was a book on the table next to the bed. Gant picked it up.

“You don’t trust me,” he said. “But I swear on this Bible that I didn’t kill your sister.”

“No, I don’t trust you,” Ellen said. “If you had killed her, you’d swear on twenty Bibles that you weren’t the murderer.”

“That’s true,” Gant replied sadly. “OK, I’ll go now.”

After Gordon Gant had left, Ellen thought about him. Gant hadn’t tried to hurt her, and she didn’t really believe that he was the murderer. Dwight Powell was probably Dorothy’s killer. She had to find out about him.

She sat down with her letter to Bud. She picked up a pen and wrote the address of her hotel after her signature. Then she added a few lines to the letter.

I’ve got a nice room in this hotel in Blue River. The Professor of English was very helpful. I think that I know now who killed Dorothy. His name is Dwight Powell and he lives at 1520 West Thirty-fifth Street. I’m going to find out about him tomorrow.

Ellen went down to the lobby of the hotel and mailed the letter. Then she went back to her room. She filled the bath with hot water and she sat in it for an hour, listening to the Blue River radio station. She heard Gordon Gant’s voice on the radio. And when she heard him say, “The next record is for my good friend Ellen from Caldwell,” she smiled.

The next morning, Ellen phoned the house where Dwight Powell lived. The owner of the house answered the phone.

“Dwight is working this morning,” the woman said, when Ellen asked for Powell. “He has a job at Folger’s Coffee Shop in the town center.”

Ellen made a decision. She was almost sure that Powell had been her sister’s boyfriend. She would go to Folger’s Coffee Shop and talk to Powell about Dorothy. If he didn’t know that she was Dorothy’s sister, he would have no reason to lie to her.

Ten minutes later, Ellen walked into the coffee shop. It was clean and pleasant. Powell was working behind the counter. Ellen had seen his photo in his student file. She recognized him immediately.

She sat down at the counter.

“I’d like a coffee and a cheeseburger, please,” she said.

As she ate, Powell started to talk to her.

“I haven’t seen you here before,” he said. “Do you live in Blue River?”

“I’ve been here a few days,” Ellen replied. “I want to get a job here. I’m a secretary.”

Powell seemed a pleasant, quiet young man. But Ellen remembered that Dorothy’s killer was a good actor. They talked for ten minutes about Powell’s life as a student at Stoddard University. But he didn’t talk about anybody named Dorothy until Ellen had finished her meal.

“When you walked in, you reminded me of someone,” he told her. “And I’ve been trying to remember who you remind me of. Now I have remembered. She was a girl in my class. Her name was Dorothy. She was a nice girl.” He smiled sadly.

As Ellen stood up to leave, Powell said, “Are you free this evening? Can I take you to a movie?”

She thought for a moment. Maybe she could find out more about this young man.

“OK,” she said. “I’d like that.”

He told her that he would come to the lobby of her hotel at eight o’clock.

“What’s your name?” he asked. “Evelyn Kittridge,” she replied.

“OK,” Powell said. “I’ll see you at eight o’clock then, Evelyn.”

Ellen was sitting in the lobby of the hotel at half past seven. She didn’t want Dwight Powell to ask the clerk about someone named Evelyn Kittridge!

At five to eight, Powell arrived. He took Ellen to a movie theater in the town center. During the movie, he put his arm round her shoulders. And as they left the theater, he kissed her.

After the movie, the two young people went to a restaurant for some coffee. Then Powell took Ellen back to her hotel. They sat in the lobby and talked for a while.

“You told me this morning that I reminded you of somebody,” Ellen said. “Her name was Dorothy. Please tell me about her, Dwight.”

“She was a very nice girl,” Powell replied. “She was in my English class. She was my girlfriend for a few months.”

“Why did you break up with her?” Ellen asked.

“She was very possessive,” Powell said. “She got too serious about me. She wanted to get married. She was a nice girl, but I didn’t want to marry her.”

They talked for a few more minutes. Then Powell stood up.

“May I meet you again tomorrow night?” he asked. “We’ll go to a dance.”

“OK,” Ellen said. “I’d like that. Come here at half past seven.”

Powell kissed her, and he left the hotel.

Ellen went to her room. She was in bed when the phone rang. She picked it up. She heard Gordon Gant’s voice.

“I’ve been worried about you,” Gant said. “I thought that you might be in danger. Have you talked to any other handsome, blond English students?”

“Yes,” Ellen replied. “I talked to Dwight Powell. He’s a strange person. He talked about somebody named Dorothy. He said that she was his girlfriend for a short time. I’m sure that he was talking about my sister. I think that he killed her. He said that this girl wanted to get married, but he didn’t want to marry her. Maybe that’s why he killed her!”

“Maybe you’re right,” Gant said. “Are you going to meet him again?”

“Yes,” Ellen replied. “I’m going to meet him again tomorrow evening. But don’t worry about me. I’ll be safe. He doesn’t know who I am. I told him that my name was Evelyn Kittredge. Tomorrow, I’ll ask him some questions about Dorothy’s death. Maybe he will tell me something that he couldn’t have read in the newspapers. Then I’ll be sure that he was the murderer.”

“Please be careful, Ellen,” Gant said.

“OK. I’ll be careful,” Ellen said. “Thank you for playing a record for me. Goodnight.”

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