Eternity Ring | Chapter 20 of 52 - Part: 1 of 2

Author: Patricia Wentworth | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1005 Views | Add a Review

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SEVENTEEN

THE CHIEF INSPECTOR was telling Sergeant Abbott about his interview with Lily Amnion, when the telephone bell rang. They were in the Superintendent’s office at Lenton police station, and for the time being only calls for the two Scotland Yard men would be put through to them. Frank Abbott therefore lifted the receiver, listened for a moment, then handed it to his Chief.

‘For you, sir. Wilton speaking from the Yard.’

Standing by the table, Frank was aware of Sergeant Wilton’s voice, thin and small but perfectly distinct.

‘That you, sir? Wilton speaking. They’ve traced the young fellow who was going about with Louise Rogers. Name of Michel Ferrand. French national. Got on to him rather a funny way. Car found abandoned in Hampshire. Traced to him through the registration number. He says he lent it to Mrs Rogers last Friday, the eighth. That’s the day she disappeared.’

Lamb was leaning forward, one elbow on the table, the receiver to his ear. He grunted.

‘How do you mean, abandoned?’

‘Well, it was left in front of a garage near Basingstoke some time after dark. They say someone rang them up and said the car would be called for in a day or two. They didn’t attach any importance to the matter, and they’d no idea where the call came from.’

‘H’m—what make of car?’

‘Old Austin Seven.’

‘What day was it left?’

‘Friday night. The call came through about half past eight.’

‘What about fingerprints on the car?’

‘Not a hope, sir. It’s a fairly big garage and every mechanic in the place must have been handling it. You know how it is in those places—they just push the cars about. The doors and the steering-wheel are a mess.’

‘We’ll have to have this fellow Ferrand down to see if he can identify the body—Mrs Hopper’s coming down on the two-thirty. Send someone with them.’

He went on talking for a few minutes.

When he had rung off Lamb turned to Frank Abbott.

‘I expect you could hear what he was saying. I’ve told them to send the fellow down. Now about that car. It explains how Louise Rogers got here, but—Basingstoke’s a good twenty miles away. Whoever took it there and left it would have to get back again. The question is how. Train to Lenton—just take a look at the timetable and see what sort of a connection he could get. What time was it that girl Stokes ran screaming in on your tea-party?’

‘Just after six. The church clock had just struck.

But that was Saturday. Louise Rogers would have been murdered before then. We haven’t managed to find anyone who saw her after she left Mrs Hopper’s on Friday morning. We don’t know what was going on between then and the time when Mary Stokes saw her lying dead. Look at it this way. It doesn’t seem likely that Mary saw the actual murder. It looks to me as if she’d come to the Forester’s House to meet the man she was in the habit of meeting there. Instead she bumps into a murderer in the act of transporting a corpse to a place of concealment. I don’t think there’s any doubt now that she really did see what she described—it all fits too well. Her footprints show that she ran away from the Forester’s House in a frantic hurry, so it is reasonable to suppose that she saw the corpse in or quite near to the house. But that’s not to say that the murder had only just happened. I can’t believe that Louise was still alive when her car was driven over to Basingstoke and left there. Much more likely that she was already dead and the body hidden somewhere till Saturday evening, when arrangements had been made for burying it in the cellar. In the course of moving it the murderer discovered that one of those very noticeable earrings was missing. It must have put the wind up him. I’d give a good bit to know how it came off and where, and whether he found it again.’

The Chief Inspector turned a stolid face and said,

‘Teach you to talk at college, don’t they? Or maybe it comes natural. Now how much of that did you think up for yourself, and how much did you cook up with Miss Silver?’

Frank looked down his long nose.

Lamb chuckled.

‘You come down off your high horse and look up those trains same as I told you! Remember he’d have twenty miles to cover in an Austin Seven, and the likelihoods are that it would be dark all the way. He’d got to get to the outskirts of Basingstoke, drop the car, and catch a train. Now what is there for him to catch?’

Frank was turning over the pages.

‘Here we are. Let’s see—she’s not so likely to have been murdered by daylight. If you put the murder at five o’clock on the Friday, he’d got to hide the body and get the car off the map. It would be pretty good going if he got to Basingstoke station by a quarter past six. If he did that, he could get a train at six-twenty that would get him to Lenton, with one change, by half past seven. He could ring up the garage from there. Why do you suppose he risked calling them up?’

‘Didn’t want them turning the car over to the police. Wanted to gain time—get any fingerprints well messed up. Even if he wiped off his own, or wore gloves, he wouldn’t want the girl’s prints identified.’

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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