فصل 01

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فصل 01

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  • زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
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CHAPTER ONE

The Body

Inspector Barry Ainsworth considered the problem carefully. The general’s body had been found in the dining room of the house. He had been shot through the heart with his own revolver. No one had broken into the house, and nothing had been stolen. Someone in the house must have killed him - but who?

He looked again at the list of people who were in the house. Any of them could be the murderer. There was the general’s servant, Deakin. Everyone had heard the general shouting furiously at Deakin the day before the murder. What had they quarrelled about, the Inspector wondered? Or was the murderer one of the general’s sons, perhaps? They were a peculiar bunch, the Inspector thought to himself. The eldest, Arthur, was the owner of an art gallery in London. He had beautiful clothes and he drove an expensive car, but the Inspector had made his inquiries. He knew that the art gallery was losing money. Perhaps Arthur had asked his father for money, and the old man had refused to give it to him. Had Arthur killed him in a sudden outburst of anger? Then there was Reginald, the second son. Reginald certainly knew how to use a revolver - he was the editor of Gun Monthly. Reginald loathed his father, everyone knew that. The two men had usually avoided each other. Why had Reginald come down to the house for the weekend? And what about the third son, the shy and innocent-looking doctor Richard? The Inspector had made inquiries about him, as well. He knew that Richard gambled heavily. Was he in financial trouble, too? Was that why he had come to see his father?

It was a difficult case, the Inspector said to himself.

Suddenly the answer came to him. He looked at the small boy in front of him.

‘I know everything,’ he said very seriously. ‘It was you. You took the general’s revolver when no one was looking, and you carried it up to your bedroom. You waited until everyone had gone to bed except the general. You knew that he always listened to the midnight news on the radio in the dining room. You came down the stairs just after midnight, and you shot him. It was you, I tell you!’

The small boy laughed excitedly and clapped his hands. Then he picked up the little metal figure of the general and began waving it around his head.

‘Well done, uncle!’ he cried. ‘You’ve solved it again. That’s the third Mowbray Murder game you’ve won in a row! I don’t know how you do it, really I don’t!’

‘It’s because I’m a detective in real life,’ Inspector Ainsworth told him with a laugh. ‘And you know the police always win in the end, Tommy!’

‘You two aren’t playing that old game again!’ Tommy’s mother said, as she came into the room. ‘We must have had it for years. We used to play it when we were children, do you remember, Barry?’

‘Of course I remember, Mary - I should think every family in England had a copy of the Mowbray Murder game in those days. It was a huge success, the first really popular board game.’

Tommy’s mother picked up the little metal figure, and looked at it.

‘Poor old general! You’re always the victim, aren’t you? I used to feel so sorry for you,’ she said with a laugh.

Inspector Ainsworth looked cheerful as he climbed the stairs to his office on Monday morning. He had enjoyed the evening at his sister’s house, and he was very fond of his nephew Tommy.

‘You’re pleased with yourself,’ the Superintendent said, catching sight of the smile on the Inspector’s face.

‘I had a good weekend,’ the Inspector replied. ‘Now it’s back to work, I suppose. What is there today. Bill?’

‘The Chief wants to see you in his office,’ the Superintendent told him.

A few minutes later Inspector Ainsworth was sitting in the Chief’s office. He wasn’t smiling now.

‘Mowbray, sir? Did you say “Mowbray”, sir?’ he asked.

‘That’s right,’ the Chief said. ‘Mowbray. You know, the Mowbray Murder game. Come on, Inspector, surely you’ve heard of that!’

The Inspector took a deep breath.

‘Of course I know the game, Chief. But I didn’t know there was a real Mowbray Hall. And now you’re telling me there’s been a real murder there!’

‘That’s correct,’ the Chief told him. ‘Arthur Mowbray has been murdered.’

‘I think you’d better tell me everything, sir,’ the Inspector said slowly. ‘From the beginning, if you don’t mind.’

‘Very well,’ the Chief agreed. ‘We had a telephone call earlier this morning from the local police. Arthur Mowbray, the head of the Mowbray company, was found dead at his home, about nine o’clock this morning.’

‘Where was the body found?’ the Inspector asked,

‘You won’t like this part. Inspector,’ the Chief said with a grim little smile, ‘Arthur Mowbray’s body was discovered in the dining room.’

‘The dining room!’ Inspector Ainsworth interrupted.

The Inspector began to feel rather strange. He felt weak, and a little dizzy. He tried to concentrate. Then he asked as casually as he could, ‘I suppose he was shot?’

‘Precisely,’ the Chief confirmed. Again he gave a grim little smile. ‘With his own army revolver, naturally.’

The Inspector took a deep breath.

‘What do we know about the victim, sir?’

‘The Mowbray story is pretty well known, Inspector, but I’ll give you the background all the same. Arthur Mowbray came from a rich family, but his father lost most of the family money through bad investments. The father died when Arthur was still at university. The young man suddenly discovered that he didn’t have a penny. He had the house, of course, but apart from that, nothing.’

‘What happened then?’ the Inspector asked.

‘He invented the Mowbray Murder game,’ the Chief explained. ‘That was a long time ago. He made the first game himself, out of cardboard and Plasticine figures. Then he thought of a clever plan for raising the money he needed to start the company. He invited another student, Lord Sheffield, to his rooms at the university to try the game out. Lord Sheffield enjoyed the game so much that he lent Mowbray 1,000 pounds to produce it commercially.

‘The rest is history, Inspector. Mowbray sold copies to everyone he knew. Within three years he was a rich man. He made other board games, and the company grew from there.’

He paused for a moment.

‘That’s all we know at the moment,’ he said, ‘except for one other thing.’

‘What’s that, sir?’ the Inspector asked.

Again the Chief smiled.

‘Just this. You are going to investigate the murder, my dear Inspector!’

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