Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope by Dorothy Gilman Read Free Book Online

Book: Kaleidoscope by Dorothy Gilman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy Gilman
Tags: Fiction
“You’re implying that Mrs. Epworth killed her husband and deliberately used a helpless child to conceal it?”
    â€œCould this possibly be true?” demanded the chief. “You’ve met her, what’s she like?”
    Swope nodded. “I’ve met her—under the worst of circumstances, of course—when completely hysterical. Attractive, younger than I expected—mid-forties, I’d guess. Mrs. Hobson at the Home for Disabled Children said she was very charming, devoted to her husband and enthusiastic about his charity work.”
    Pruden said, “If it
should
be true you’ve got to admit it would be a damn clever murder, using a witness like Jenny who can’t tell anyone what she saw, or protect herself if accused.” He frowned. “Swope, look at your notes again; didn’t you say that Mrs. Hobson, the director at the Home for Disabled Children, told you that Mrs. Epworth specifically asked for Jenny to stay that weekend? She
insisted
on Jenny, didn’t she?”
    Swope nodded. “That’s true. My God, if that’s why— But how fiendish if . . . if—”
    Madame Karitska said, “Fiendish, yes.”
    Frowning, the chief said, “If we believe this, surely there had to be another woman there, a maid, a cook? I can’t believe—”
    Swope interrupted him to say, “We checked all that, sir. Maid left at five, the cook at six. Mrs. Epworth . . .” He took out his notebook again. “She was in the kitchen—she said—at the counter, making out recipes to give the cook for a party later in the week. A party planned,” he added dryly, “to elicit more contributions for the Home for Disabled Children.”
    â€œBut this is unbelievable,” said the chief. “Why would Mrs. Epworth—what possible motive could she have?”
    Swope shook his head. “We never looked into that, sir, never dreamed—it was taken for granted, assumed— I mean, there was all that blood and Mrs. Epworth distraught, hysterical, the blood on the doorknob, the child gone and leaving a trail of blood in the hall.”
    â€œIf this is true,” said the chief, looking dazed, “if this
should
be true, deliberately using a disabled child to cover her crime, she would deserve to be hanged.” Startled, he added, “Sorry, damn it; forget I said that.”
    â€œForgiven,” said Madame Karitska with a smile.
    Pruden said slowly, “But if true—how clever, how shrewd. It would be the perfect crime, wouldn’t it? Absolutely the perfect crime.”
    â€œSwope,” said the chief in a hard voice, “drop everything you’re working on, and start checking out Mrs. Epworth’s past; check Epworth’s will, see if Mrs. Karitska—sorry,
Madame
Karitska’s right, impossible as it seems, damn it. Start from the beginning, a fresh inquiry.” To Madame Karitska he said angrily, “If you’re wrong—”
    â€œThat,” said Pruden, “is for us to find out, isn’t it?”
    Madame Karitska rose from her chair to say quietly, “I’ll go now, but I do hope, in the meantime, the child Jenny can be given happier surroundings while you investigate.” Picking up her purse she nodded to Pruden and Swope and left the chief to cope with his confusion and his shock. But he was a good man, Pruden had always said so, and she could be certain that he would be thorough.

4

    Pruden, joining Swope the next morning for their new assignment, said, “The hell of it is, if Madame Karitska should be right about Mrs. Epworth, how can there be any possibility of proving her guilty and the child innocent, with Jenny’s bloody fingerprints all over the dagger and door?”
    Swope nodded. “I’ve had time to realize that, too. A lot of footwork ahead, and dare I add that it comes down to a test of Madame Karitska’s clairvoyance?

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