Death of a Charming Man | Chapter 16 of 21 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: M.C. Beaton | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4883 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Eleven

When we were a soft amoeba, in ages past and gone,
Ere you were the Queen of Sheba, or I King Solomon,
Alone and undivided, we lived a life of sloth,
Whatever you did, I did; one dinner served for both.
Anon came separation, by fission and divorce,
A lonely pseudopodium I wandered on my course.

– Sir Arthur Shipley

‘So,’ said detective Jimmy Anderson gleefully, ‘you’ve been reduced to the ranks, Hamish. Stripped o’ yer stripes, and nae wonder. You dig up a fine example o’ Pictish man in a bog, accuse a minister’s wife o’ murdering it, and she confesses to murdering Peter Hynd. Och, we havena’ had such a laugh down at Strath-bane for years and years.’

Anderson and Hamish were sitting in the police office at Lochdubh several days later, sharing a bottle of whisky.

‘Man, man,’ said Anderson, pouring another shot of Scotch, ‘I think the super must have had complaints from every prof, museum and archaeological society from here to Australia. Such a valuable relic in the hands of a clodhopping policeman.’

‘Oh, shut up,’ said Hamish moodily. ‘Do you know what got to all of you lazy fools in Strathbane? It wass that I knew there had been the murder, and proved it too.’

‘Aye, you did that. Car in the loch, body in the boot, and Hynd’s typewriter up at the manse. What put you on to her?’

‘It was when I saw her on the stage dressed up as a principal boy with her hair pushed up under one of those Tudor hats. I remembered thinking that she made a fine-looking man. I had been uneasy about her in the back of my mind, or I must have been. It wass her vanity, you see. Priscilla told me she seemed to think herself a good cut above the women of the village, and I could see that vanity in the way she strutted about the stage and the way she ordered the women about during that rehearsal. But she had seemed such a controlled and quiet woman that her vanity was not immediately evident. She was the only one in the village with the sophistication to keep cool and to plan, and to impersonate Peter. I don’t know how I knew it, but I somehow knew Peter had been killed and one o’ them had done it. I’m right glad it didn’t turn out to be Harry Baxter.’

‘It’s a wonder it wasn’t that cold wee daughter o’ his.’

‘Och, the lassie wasnae cold at all,’ said Hamish. ‘She wass chust holding herself together because she loves her father and she thought he had done it. When she heard about Annie, she broke down and cried her eyes out wi’ relief that the nightmare wass over for her. It was her that put me on to it. She came here one night and said she had seen the murder of Peter in her head.’

‘Well, it’s all over,’ said Anderson, ‘although I could do without Blair being so happy about your demotion. Then the super got to hear from his wife that your engagement was at an end and that made you even more of a failure, Hamish. Aye, and there’s something else.’

‘There can’t be,’ said Hamish, reaching for the bottle.

‘But there is. Do you ken a wee man called Hendry, school-teacher?’

‘The wife-beater? What’s happened?’

‘He’s put in a complaint about you.’

‘What did he say, not but what it’ll be all lies,’ added Hamish quickly, thinking of how he had banged the school-teacher’s head into the wall.

‘He says you got his missus into some sort o’ brainwashing cult.’

‘Havers. I suggested she go to Al-Anon.’

‘Aye, well, so she did, and she put the children into Ala-Teen. That house, Craigallen, was in her name. She’s got her ain money. Well, she sells the house, pockets the money, takes the kids and goes off tae Glasgow saying she’s finished wi’ being a martyr, and the wee drunk man she married can either come tae his senses or drink himself tae death. It looks as if he’s chosen the latter solution.’

‘But surely Strathbane didn’t take the complaint seriously?’

‘Relax, they didn’t. Blair was all for sobering Hendry up and presenting him to the super, but Hendry had a half bottle in his pocket and showed no signs of wanting to sober up. So what are you going to do with yourself now?’

‘Same as I did before,’ said Hamish. ‘Police Lochdubh and stay as far away from Strathbane as possible. Is Annie Duncan still talking?’

‘Aye, and the more she talks, the weirder she gets. Now she’s over the shock o’ being caught, she seems almost proud of what she’s done.’

‘It’s odd,’ said Hamish. ‘When the estate agents reported that Peter Hynd had had a bad cold and was muffled up to the eyebrows, I thought that must be someone impersonating him. But that was him. It was her that signed the final papers. It’s come out that he did have a bad cold. And now they tell me happily about the night of the film show. If they had told me before and I had learned that Peter wasn’t there, then I would have known that was the ideal time to get rid of him. Did the minister know about his wife’s affair while it was going on?’

‘Annie says he didn’t know a thing,’ said Jimmy. ‘In fact, she says the one great thing about going to prison is that she’ll get away from him. Makes ye think hanging a good idea.’

Anderson drained the last Scotch from the bottle into his glass, tossed it off and got to his feet. ‘I’d better be off, Hamish. Can’t be caught socializing wi’ the enemy. See you around at the next murder.’

Hamish sat with his feet up on the desk after Anderson had left. He had a sudden impulse to go to Drim and see how they were all settling down. He could not drive because he had drunk well over the limit, and so he got up and went out to the shed at the back and wheeled out a rusty bike and set off up the hill on it.

Comments

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

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