In the Teeth of the Evidence

In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy L. Sayers
Tags: Mystery & Crime
afternoon and brought back just before ten. Have you traced Mrs Winter?’
        ‘Yes, I think so. She landed from the Calais boat this evening. So apparently she’s O.K.’
        ‘I thought she might be. Now listen. Do you know that Harcourt Grimbold’s affairs are in a bit of a mess? He nearly had a crisis last July, but somebody came to his rescue – possibly his Uncle, don’t you think? All rather fishy, my informant saith. And I’m told, very confidentially, that he’s got badly caught over the Biggars-Whitlow crash. But of course he’ll have no difficulty in raising money now, on the strength of Uncle’s will. But I imagine the July business gave Uncle William a jolt. I expect—’
        He was interrupted by a little burst of tinkling music, followed by the eight silvery strokes of a bell.
        ‘Hear that? Recognise it? That’s the big French clock in my sitting-room . . . What? All right, Exchange, give me another three minutes. Bunter wants to speak to you again.’
        The receiver rattled, and the servant’s suave voice took up the tale.
        ‘His lordship asks me to ask you, sir, to ring off at once and go straight into the dining-room.’
        Parker obeyed. As he entered the room, he got an instantaneous impression of six people, sitting as he had left them, in an expectant semi-circle, their eyes strained towards the french windows. Then the library door opened noiselessly and Lord Peter Wimsey walked in.
        ‘Good God!’ exclaimed Parker, involuntarily. ‘How did you get here?’ The six heads jerked round suddenly.
        ‘On the back of the light waves,’ said Wimsey, smoothing back his hair. ‘I have travelled eighty miles to be with you, at 186,000 miles a second.’
    ‘It was rather obvious, really,’ said Wimsey, when they had secured Harcourt Grimbold (who fought desperately) and his brother Neville (who collapsed and had to be revived with brandy). It had to be those two; they were so very much elsewhere – almost absolutely elsewhere. The murder could only have been committed between 7.57 and 8.6, and there had to be a reason for that prolonged phone-call about something that Harcourt could very well have explained when he came. And the murderer had to be in the library before 7.57, or he would have been seen in the hall – unless Grimbold had let him in by the french window, which didn’t appear likely.
        ‘Here’s how it was worked. Harcourt set off from town in a hired car about six o’clock, driving himself. He parked the car at the Road-House, giving some explanation. I suppose he wasn’t known there?’
        ‘No; it’s quite a new place; only opened last month.’
        ‘Ah! Then he walked the last quarter-mile on foot, arriving here at 7.45. It was dark, and he probably wore galoshes, so as not to make a noise coming up the path. He let himself into the conservatory with a duplicate key.’
        ‘How did he get that?’
        ‘Pinched Uncle William’s key off his ring last July, when the old boy was ill. It was probably the shock of hearing that his dear nephew was in trouble that caused the illness. Harcourt was here at the time – you remember it was only Neville that had to be “sent for” – and I suppose Uncle paid up then, on conditions. But I doubt if he’d have done as much again – especially as he was thinking of getting married. And I expect, too, Harcourt thought that Uncle might easily alter his will after marriage. He might even have founded a family, and what would poor Harcourt do then, poor thing? From every point of view, it was better that Uncle should depart this life. So the duplicate key was cut and the plot thought out, and Brother Neville who would “do anything for Mr Harcourt,” was roped in to help. I’m inclined to think that Harcourt must have done something rather worse than merely lose money, and Neville may have troubles of his own. But where was I?’
        ‘Coming in at the

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