something,â she murmured. âIâm so sorry, Mrs. Bantry. I donât really think that this will take longer than a minute or two.â
âAtmosphere,â said Ella Zielinsky, as Marina went out and closed the door. âDo you think the house has got atmosphere?â
âI canât say I ever thought of it that way,â said Mrs. Bantry. âIt was just a house. Rather inconvenient in some ways and very nice and cosy in other ways.â
âThatâs what I should have thought,â said Ella Zielinsky. She cast a quick direct look at Mrs. Bantry. âTalking of atmosphere, when did the murder take place here?â
âNo murder ever took place here,â said Mrs. Bantry.
âOh come now. The stories Iâve heard. There are always stories, Mrs. Bantry. On the hearthrug, right there, wasnât it?â said Miss Zielinsky nodding towards the fireplace.
âYes,â said Mrs. Bantry. âThat was the place.â
âSo there was a murder?â
Mrs. Bantry shook her head. âThe murder didnât take place here. The girl who had been killed was brought here and planted in this room. Sheâd nothing to do with us.â
Miss Zielinsky looked interested.
âPossibly you had a bit of difficulty making people believe that?â she remarked.
âYouâre quite right there,â said Mrs. Bantry.
âWhen did you find it?â
âThe housemaid came in in the morning,â said Mrs. Bantry, âwith early morning tea. We had housemaids then, you know.â
âI know,â said Miss Zielinksy, âwearing print dresses that rustled.â
âIâm not sure about the print dress,â said Mrs. Bantry, âit may have been overalls by then. At any rate, she burst in and said there was a body in the library. I said ânonsense,â then I woke up my husband and we came down to see.â
âAnd there it was,â said Miss Zielinsky. âMy, the way things happen.â She turned her head sharply towards the door and then back again. âDonât talk about it to Miss Gregg, if you donât mind,â she said. âItâs not good for her, that sort of thing.â
âOf course. I wonât say a word,â said Mrs. Bantry. âI never do talk about it, as a matter of fact. It all happened so long ago. But wonât sheâMiss Gregg I meanâwonât she hear it anyway?â
âShe doesnât come very much in contact with reality,â said Ella Zielinsky. âFilm stars can lead a fairly insulated life, you know. In fact very often one has to take care that they do. Things upset them. Things upset her . Sheâs been seriously ill the last year or two, you know. She only started making a comeback a year ago.â
âShe seems to like the house,â said Mrs. Bantry, âand to feel she will be happy here.â
âI expect itâll last a year or two,â said Ella Zielinsky.
âNot longer than that?â
âWell, I rather doubt it. Marina is one of those people, you know, who are always thinking theyâve found their heartâs desire. But life isnât as easy as that, is it?â
âNo,â said Mrs. Bantry forcefully, âit isnât.â
âItâll mean a lot to him if sheâs happy here,â said Miss Zielinsky.She ate two more sandwiches in an absorbed, rather gobbling fashion in the manner of one who crams food into themselves as though they had an important train to catch. âHeâs a genius, you know,â she went on. âHave you seen any of the pictures heâs directed?â
Mrs. Bantry felt slightly embarrassed. She was of the type of woman who when she went to the cinema went entirely for the picture. The long lists of casts, directors, producers, photography and the rest of it passed her by. Very frequently, indeed, she did not even notice the names of the stars. She was not,