فصل 09

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فصل 09

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CHAPTER NINE

Information

‘Come in,’ said the man at the door. He was Bob Steel. John and Peter went into the hall. It was dark and they couldn’t see very much. Bob Steel went on ahead of them up the stairs.

‘It smells bad here, doesn’t it?’ John whispered to Peter.

Peter nodded and they followed Bob Steel up the stairs and into a small room at the back of the house. Although it was the middle of the day, the curtains were drawn in this room too. The only light came from a small lamp on the table by the bed. The bed was untidy and the sheets were very dirty. The floor of the room was covered in old newspapers.

‘Sit down,’ said Bob Steel.

Peter and John sat down and were able to look at Bob Steel in the light for the first time. He was middle-aged and quite short. His hair was red and he had a small, red beard. He was wearing old clothes, but had a big, new gold watch on his wrist.

‘I’m Bob Steel,’ the man said. ‘If you want information, you’ve come to the right person.’

‘We want some information about a murder,’ said Peter quietly.

‘Murder?’ repeated Bob Steel. ‘Which murder?’

‘It was my…’ said John quickly.

‘Wait a minute,’ Peter said to John. ‘Let me do the talking.’ Then Peter turned back to Bob Steel.

‘We want some information about the murder of a teacher called Stevens. He was killed the night before last.’

‘Yes,’ said Bob Steel and then stopped. He looked closely at John. ‘I’ve seen your photograph in the newspaper. Aren’t you the boy the police are looking for?’ Bob Steel asked.

‘Listen,’ Peter interrupted. ‘We came here to ask questions, not to answer them.’

‘OK,’ replied Bob Steel. ‘If you give me a couple of hours, I can find out all you want to know. All I’ve heard about the murder so far is that Mr Stevens wasn’t killed for money. There must have been some other reason.’

‘That’s not much help,’ said Peter.

‘Look,’ said Bob Steel, ‘I can find out a lot more but you must give me a little time. Come back after lunch and bring the money.’

‘What money?’ exclaimed Peter. ‘Jeff Beck told us you would help us because you were a friend of his.’

‘Jeff was right,’ replied Bob Steel. ‘I will help you, but I want a hundred pounds for helping you.’

Peter stood up. ‘We’ll come back at two o’clock,’ he said. ‘Come on, John, let’s go.’

Peter and John left the house and walked down the street. They stopped at a cafe on the corner and went in.

‘I don’t know,’ said John after they had sat down. ‘Bob Steel wasn’t much help, was he?’

‘Let’s wait and see,’ said Peter.

‘But Peter,’ replied John, ‘I haven’t got a hundred pounds to give to Bob Steel.’

‘Neither have I,’ said Peter. ‘I’ve only got twenty pounds on me.’

John laughed. ‘I hope that’s enough,’ he said.

‘It will have to be enough,’ said Peter.

‘But do you trust Bob Steel?’ asked John. ‘Do you believe that he will tell us the truth?’

‘We don’t have any choice,’ Peter said slowly. ‘We must trust him because he’s the only person who can help us.’

Peter and John had lunch in the cafe and afterwards went back to River Street. Bob Steel was waiting for them. He took them upstairs to the same room.

‘Right,’ said Bob Steel when they had sat down. ‘Have you got the money?’

Peter nodded. ‘Have you got the information?’ he asked.

Bob Steel smiled. ‘I’ll tell you what I’ve heard. Mr Stevens wasn’t killed for money. He was killed by someone who knew him. He was killed by someone young.’

John went red in the face and stood up. ‘What do you mean by that?’ he shouted.

‘Be quiet,’ said Peter, ‘and let Bob Steel finish.’

John sat down and stared at Bob Steel.

‘He was killed by someone young,’ Bob Steel repeated. ‘He was killed by a boy who knew him.’

‘Is that all?’ asked Peter.

‘Yes,’ replied Bob Steel. ‘Now give me the money.’

‘Wait a minute,’ said Peter firmly. ‘I’ll give you the money when you tell me the name of the murderer.’

‘Give me the money now,’ said Bob Steel loudly.

‘Don’t give him anything,’ shouted John. ‘He’s a liar. He’s not telling the truth. He wants you to think that I’m the murderer.’

Bob Steel turned and went up to John angrily. ‘Listen, my boy,’ he said. ‘You’d better keep quiet unless you want the police to know where you are.’

‘You can’t frighten me,’ replied John.

Bob Steel turned back to Peter. ‘Now give me the money and get out,’ he said.

‘I tell you what I’ll do,’ said Peter quietly. ‘I’ll give you twenty pounds now and I’ll give you the rest when you tell me the name of the murderer.’

Bob Steel was quiet for a minute. He looked at John and thought for a moment. He took the money. Then he smiled.

‘OK,’ said Bob Steel. ‘Let’s arrange a place to meet. How about under the clock at the railway station at half past three? I’ll be able to tell you the name then.’

‘We’ll see you then,’ said Peter. Peter and John went out together. When they were in the street, Peter turned angrily to John.

‘Why don’t you keep quiet?’ Peter said, turning to John. ‘Bob Steel is our only chance. You shouldn’t shout at him or call him a liar.’

‘I don’t like him,’ replied John. ‘And anyway, he was trying to make you think that I am the murderer.’

‘We’ll find out who is the murderer at half past three,’ said Peter and they walked off down the street.

Bob Steel watched John and Peter from his window. He waited until they had gone. Then he went downstairs and over to the public telephone box across the street. He dialled a number.

‘Hello,’ he said, ‘is that the police?’

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