فصل 20

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فصل 20

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Chapter twenty

At Scotland Yard, Chief Inspector Kemp was interviewing Pierre, one of six junior waiters at the Luxembourg, and having to accept that Pierre had done no more than pick up a lady’s bag from the floor and put it back beside her plate.

‘I am hurrying past with a sauce, when the young lady knocks her bag from the table as she goes to dance, so I pick it up and put it back, and then I hurry on. That is all, Monsieur.’

Kemp dismissed him, and was sitting at his desk, disappointed, when Sergeant Pollock arrived to report that a Miss Chloe West was asking for the officer in charge of the Luxembourg case. ‘Very well, bring her in,’ said Kemp.

Chloe West was twenty-five, tall, brown-haired and very pretty. She looked familiar to Kemp, although he was sure that he had never met her before.

‘What can I do for you, Miss West?’ he asked.

‘I read in the paper about the man who died at the Luxembourg.’

‘George Barton? Did you know him?’

‘Not exactly.’

‘Can I have your full name and address, please?’

‘Chloe Elizabeth West. 15 Merryvale Court, Maida Vale. I’m an actress.’

‘Yes?’

Well, when I read that the police were inquiring into Mr Barton’s death, I thought I should come and tell you something. It may not be anything to do with it, but…’

‘I’ll be the judge of that,’ said Kemp pleasantly. ‘Go on.’

‘Well, Mr Barton saw my photograph in Spotlight, which is the actors’ professional directory. He contacted me and said he had a job for me. He was having a dinner party at the Luxembourg and he wanted to surprise his guests. I met him and he showed me a photograph and told me that he wanted me to dress up as the person in the picture. I looked very similar, he said.’

Of course! That was why she was familiar! Chloe West looked like the photograph of Rosemary that Kemp had seen on the desk in George’s study.

‘He gave me the dress he wanted me to wear - it’s a greyish green silk. He asked me to change my hair to the colour in the photograph, and copy the make-up. Then I was supposed to come into the Luxembourg restaurant during the cabaret show and sit down in the empty seat at Mr Barton’s table.’

‘Why didn’t you keep the appointment, Miss West? ‘

‘Because at about eight o’clock that night, someone telephoned me to say that the party had been cancelled. Then, the next morning, I read about the death in the papers.’

‘And very sensibly you came along to us,’ said Kemp. ‘Thank you very much, Miss West. You’ve explained the mystery of the empty chair. By the way, was the person who telephoned you a man?’

‘I’m not sure. I think so. But it sounded as though he had a cold.’

When Chloe West had gone, Kemp said to Sergeant Pollock, ‘So that was George Barton’s plan. And that’s why he sat looking at that empty chair after the cabaret. His clever plan had gone wrong.’

‘You don’t think it was him who cancelled the job?’

‘No. In fact, it may not have been a man at all. A cold can change your voice. We’re making progress at last!’

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