فصل 08

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فصل 08

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CHAPTER EIGHT

The Inspector Sees the Truth

Inspector Ainsworth went back to Mr Larkin’s office in the afternoon. He found the Finance Director studying the company accounts. He seemed depressed.

‘It’s bad, Inspector,’ he confided, ‘very bad I’m afraid. We’ve been in difficulty since Lord Sheffield died, and now!’

‘What will happen to the company, Mr Larkin?’ the Inspector wanted to know.

‘I think we’ll have to close,’ Mr Larkin said sadly. ‘It’s bad for everybody, but there’s no other choice. I’ve been looking at our expenses for the last few months. We can’t afford it any more, Inspector. And look at this!’ he said angrily. He pointed to the section of the accounts dealing with telephone expenses. ‘2,000 pounds on international calls in the last four months - just four months. Inspector!’

‘I’m sorry,’ the Inspector said kindly. He paused for a moment.

‘I’m afraid I have some more questions for you, Mr Larkin.’

‘Of course, Inspector,’ Mr Larkin said. ‘I know you have your work to do. How can I help you?’

‘I’m convinced that Mr Mowbray was working on a new game before he was murdered,’ the Inspector explained. ‘Can you tell me anything about that, sir?’

‘No, I don’t know anything about it,’ the director replied. ‘But you don’t think that had anything to do with the murder, do you?’

‘It might do,’ the Inspector replied. ‘Perhaps somebody wanted to stop him, Mr Larkin.’

The Finance Director smiled.

‘I can’t see why anyone would want to do that, Inspector. What would be the point?’

‘I don’t know,’ the Inspector said gloomily. ‘There must be a reason somewhere!’

He paused.

‘There’s one other thing,’ he said. ‘Apparently Mr Pryce and Mr Mowbray had a fierce quarrel about a week ago. Can you tell me anything about that, Mr Larkin?’

‘Not very much,’ the director said. ‘I was in Bob Johnson’s office when the argument was going on. Mr Mowbray and Mr Pryce were in the dining room. I couldn’t hear what they were saying because the door was shut. They sounded very angry. Then the door of the dining room opened, and I heard Mr Mowbray say, “All right, we’ll do it your way, Mr Pryce. I don’t like it, but we’ll do it your way!” That’s all I heard, Inspector.’

‘What do you think they were arguing about?’ the Inspector asked.

‘They’d been arguing for months about the workshops,’ Mr Larkin said. ‘Mr Pryce said they were too expensive, and he wanted to close them. I imagine they were arguing about that.’

The Mowbray Arms pub was empty when the Sergeant and Inspector Ainsworth got there at about nine that evening.

‘It’s the quietest place I could think of, sir,’ the Sergeant said. ‘And the local beer’s good, I can promise you that!’

The Inspector smiled. It had been a long day, and he wanted to relax. He looked around the pub, and was pleased to see that it was comfortable and old-fashioned. There were pictures on the walls, and there was a large fire in the corner of the bar.

‘This is certainly different to the pubs in London!’ he commented happily. ‘They’re all full of music and noise. At least we can talk in here.’

‘Yes, sir,’ the Sergeant said. ‘Are you making progress with your enquiries?’

‘I don’t know,’ the Inspector replied, ‘it’s too early to tell. But I think I’m beginning to understand what kind of man Arthur Mowbray was. And that’s useful.’

‘He must have been a strange kind of man, if you ask me,’ the Sergeant said. ‘Spending all his life making games for children! Still, I suppose he made a lot of money from it.’

The Sergeant drank some of his beer.

‘That reminds me of something else,’ he added. ‘One of the policemen at the Hall comes from around here. He told me the whole story about the old man and his son. Apparently Charles and his father had a terrible fight over some girl Charles was seeing in London. That’s why the boy went off to America. They never saw each other again. No letters, not even a phone call. Then Charles was killed in the car accident. It’s sad to think of, isn’t it? The old man living alone up there at the Hall. All the money in the world, and no one to share it with.’

‘What worries me,’ the Inspector said, ‘is that any of the directors could have killed Arthur Mowbray. But why, Sergeant? Why? We don’t have a motive yet!’

‘That’s true, sir,’ he said thoughtfully.

‘My job’s difficult enough as it is,’ the Inspector complained, ‘and some of them are making it more difficult because they keep lying to me.’

Just at that moment a group of young people came into the Mowbray Arms. There were about twenty of them, and they were laughing and calling out to each other. The peace of the country pub was broken. One of the young men went over to the jukebox, and inserted a coin. Instantly loud music filled the bar. Another young man approached an electronic game, and inserted a coin. The machine sprang into life, making strange sounds and sending bright colours around the crowded bar.

The Inspector frowned.

‘Mr Pryce thinks computers are “the world of the future”, Sergeant! That’s what he told me. Let’s finish our drinks, shall we? The future’s too noisy for me. This is worse than London!’

Inspector Ainsworth slept badly that night. He dreamt he was playing the Mowbray Murder game with his nephew Tommy. Once again he was going through the list of suspects. He was sure that the answer was there, in front of him, and he tried to concentrate. Suddenly the room was full of noise and flashing lights, and young people laughing and shouting.

An idea began to come to him. He tried to think, but all he could remember were some words from his conversation with the Sergeant.

‘Children’s games… the world of the future… never saw each other… children’s game… no letters… all that money… world of the future… not even a phone call…’

It was no good. He couldn’t think… then the answer came to him.

He was so surprised that he woke up.

‘Of course!’ he said to himself quietly. ‘Now why didn’t I think of it before?’ He smiled happily, and went back to sleep.

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