Watson's Choice

Watson's Choice by Gladys Mitchell Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Watson's Choice by Gladys Mitchell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gladys Mitchell
masters when she was at school and college. It had been fired by her fiancé’s report of two rooms which, having been left in the game at the beginning, had been taken out of it during the course of the competition.
    These rooms she was determined to reopen. Her plan was simple and bold. She was certain she knew which of the rooms had been placed out of bounds originally, and the other two she was prepared to march into and inspect, making neither apology nor excuse if they proved to be occupied. Of course there might have been a change of mind in the baronet himself, and over him Laura wrinkled her brow. She did not like Sir Bohun. He was an oddity, and Laura, although she did not know it, disliked and distrusted any deviation from the normal, at any rate so far as men were concerned.
    Before she inspected the two extra out-of-bounds rooms, she decided to enter an open room which, so far, she had not searched. She collected, almost immediately, a prize. It was lying on a walnut table and a paperweight kept it in place. It was a bill. Laura inspected it and said aloud:
    ‘ Oct. 4th, rooms eight shillings, breakfast two and sixpence, cocktail one shilling – (cocktail? Didn’t think they were invented before 1920) – lunch two and sixpence, glass sherry eightpence . Golly! Wonder whether I’ve got a scoop? This is Francis H. Moulton’s hotel bill.’
    She wrote this down on her list, and added: The Noble Bachelor . Then she continued upon her rounds, and, finding nothing to arouse her suspicions, she mounted to the first floor again, cast a grateful eye upon the white goose with the barred tail, and then began to go from door to door.
    She had not far to go before she found what she had been looking for. It was a bathroom – the one, in fact, which she herself had used that evening. She remembered quite well that when she had passed it on her way down to dinner it had borne no label. But now it bore a notice similar to those on the bedroom doors.
    ‘Now, why?’ muttered Laura. She tried the handle. ‘If anybody decided to take a bath he’d only to lock the door. Why the phoney notice?’ The handle turned and the door opened. There was nobody within. On the window-ledge stood a bottle of laudanum. ‘Well!’ thought Laura wrathfully. ‘What a dirty little trick! Somebody spotted the laudanum and put the label on so that nobody else should get it! Wonder which of them would do a thing like that!’
    She wrote on her paper:
    Isa Whitney’s Laudanum. The Man with the Twisted Lip .
    Then she took the notice off the door and left the door wide open so that the phial was in full view of anybody who cared to look in. As she was cramming the notice into the pocket of her suit there was a gasping sound, and she looked up to see the tutor Grimston, white-faced and horror-stricken.
    ‘Hullo,’ she said. ‘This door had one of the notices on it. It shouldn’t have, should it?’
    ‘I’ve – I’ve no idea,’ Grimston stammered. ‘I – I shouldn’t think so.’
    ‘Pretty feeble of somebody,’ said Laura, severely. She went off to find Gavin and to tell him, casually, that she had removed one of the new notices. She found him helping Ethel Mildren to get Mildren to his room, and waited while, between them, they dumped him on the bed and took off his boots, his collar, and his tie. When Gavin emerged she told him about the bathroom, but, keeping to the rules of the competition, she did not mention the laudanum.
    ‘Funny ideas some people have,’ said Gavin. ‘Have you identified the other room which was sealed off?’
    ‘Oh, yes, but I haven’t been into it yet. Well, I’ll be seeing you. I’ve still to find two or three more items.’
    She found the first of these in the room which held the buffet supper. Poked in among a dish of oranges was an envelope.
    ‘Eureka!’ said Laura, extracting the five dried orange pips which it contained. She put them back again, replaced the envelope, and added the item to

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