Four and Twenty Blackbirds
by Agatha Christie — (narrated by Hugh Fraser)

FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS

Hercule Poirot was dining with his friend, Henry Bonnington at the Gallant Endeavour in the King’s Road, Chelsea.

Mr. Bonnington was fond of the Gallant Endeavour. He liked the leisurely atmosphere, he liked the food which was “plain” and “English” and “not a lot of made up messes.” He liked to tell people who dined with him there just exactly where Augustus John had been wont to sit and draw their attention to the famous artists’ names in the visitors’ book. Mr. Bonnington was himself the least artistic of men—but he took a certain pride in the artistic activities of others.

Molly, the sympathetic waitress, greeted Mr. Bonnington as an old friend. She prided herself on remembering her customers’ likes and dislikes in the way of food.

“Good evening, sir,” she said, as the two men took their seats at a corner table. “You’re in luck today—turkey stuffed with chestnuts—that’s your favourite, isn’t it? And ever such a nice Stilton we’ve got! Will you have soup first or fish?”

Mr. Bonnington deliberated the point. He said to Poirot warningly as the latter studied the menu:

“None of your French kickshaws now. Good well-cooked English food.”

“My friend,” Hercule Poirot waved his hand, “I ask no better! I put myself in your hands unreservedly.”

“Ah—hruup—er—hm,” replied Mr. Bonnington and gave careful attention to the matter.

These weighty matters, and the question of wine, settled, Mr. Bonnington leaned back with a sigh and unfolded his napkin as Molly sped away.

“Good girl, that,” he said approvingly. “Was quite a beauty once—artists used to paint her. She knows about food, too—and that’s a great deal more important. Women are very unsound on food as a rule. There’s many a woman if she goes out with a fellow she fancies—won’t even notice what she eats. She’ll just order the first thing she sees.”

Hercule Poirot shook his head.

“C’est terrible.”

“Men aren’t like that, thank God!” said Mr. Bonnington complacently.

“Never?” There was a twinkle in Hercule Poirot’s eye.

“Well, perhaps when they’re very young,” conceded Mr. Bonnington. “Young puppies! Young fellows nowadays are all the same—no guts—no stamina. I’ve no use for the young—and they,” he added with strict impartiality, “have no use for me. Perhaps they’re right! But to hear some of these young fellows talk you’d think no man had a right to be alive after sixty! From the way they go on, you’d wonder more of them didn’t help their elderly relations out of the world.”

“It is possible,” said Hercule Poirot, “that they do.”

“Nice mind you’ve got, Poirot, I must say. All this police work saps your ideals.”

Hercule Poirot smiled.

“Tout de même,” he said. “It would be interesting to make a table of accidental deaths over the age of sixty. I assure you it would raise some curious speculations in your mind.”

“The trouble with you is that you’ve started going to look for crime—instead of waiting for crime to come to you.”

“I apologize,” said Poirot. “I talk what you call ‘the shop.’ Tell me, my friend, of your own affairs. How does the world go with you?”

“Mess!” said Mr. Bonnington. “That’s what’s the matter with the world nowadays. Too much mess. And too much fine language. The fine language helps to conceal the mess. Like a highly-flavoured sauce concealing the fact that the fish underneath it is none of the best! Give me an honest fillet of sole and no messy sauce over it.”

It was given him at that moment by Molly and he grunted approval.

“You know just what I like, my girl,” he said.

“Well, you come here pretty regular, don’t you, sir? I ought to know what you like.”

Hercule Poirot said:

“Do people then always like the same things? Do not they like a change sometimes?”

“Not gentlemen, sir. Ladies like variety—gentlemen always like the same thing.”

“What did I tell you?” grunted Bonnington. “Women are fundamentally unsound where food is concerned!”

He looked round the restaurant.

“The world’s a funny place. See that odd-looking old fellow with a beard in the corner? Molly’ll tell you he’s always here Tuesdays and Thursday nights. He has come here for close on ten years now—he’s a kind of landmark in the place. Yet nobody here knows his name or where he lives or what his business is. It’s odd when you come to think of it.”

When the waitress brought the portions of turkey he said:

“I see you’ve still got Old Father Time over there?”

“That’s right, sir. Tuesdays and Thursdays, his days are. Not but what he came in here on a Monday last week! It quite upset me! I felt I’d got my dates wrong and that it must be Tuesday without my knowing it! But he came in the next night as well—so the Monday was just a kind of extra, so to speak.”

“An interesting deviation from habit,” murmured Poirot. “I wonder what the reason was?”

“Well, sir, if you ask me, I think he’d had some kind of upset or worry.”

“Why did you think that? His manner?”

“No, sir—not his manner exactly. He was very quiet as he always is. Never says much except good evening when he comes and goes. No, it was his order.”

“His order?”

“I daresay you gentlemen will laugh at me,” Molly flushed up, “but when a gentleman has been here for ten years, you get to know his likes and dislikes. He never could bear suet pudding or blackberries and I’ve never known him take thick soup—but on that Monday night he ordered thick tomato soup, beefsteak and kidney pudding and blackberry tart! Seemed as though he just didn’t notice what he ordered!”

“Do you know,” said Hercule Poirot, “I find that extraordinarily interesting.”

Molly looked gratified and departed.

“Well, Poirot,” said Henry Bonnington with a chuckle. “Let’s have a few deductions from you. All in your best manner.”

“I would prefer to hear yours first.”

“Want me to be Watson, eh? Well, old fellow went to a doctor and the doctor changed his diet.”

“To thick tomato soup, steak and kidney pudding and blackberry tart? I cannot imagine any doctor doing that.”

“Don’t believe it, old boy. Doctors will put you on to anything.”

“That is the only solution that occurs to you?”

Henry Bonnington said:

“Well, seriously, I suppose there’s only one explanation possible. Our unknown friend was in the grip of some powerful mental emotion. He was so perturbed by it that he literally did not notice what he was ordering or eating.”

He paused a minute and then said:

“You’ll be telling me next that you know just what was on his mind. You’ll say perhaps that he was making up his mind to commit a murder.”

He laughed at his own suggestion.

Hercule Poirot did not laugh.

He has admitted that at that moment he was seriously worried. He claims that he ought then to have had some inkling of what was likely to occur.

His friends assure him that such an idea is quite fantastic.

It was some three weeks later that Hercule Poirot and Bonnington met again—this time their meeting was in the Tube.

They nodded to each other, swaying about, hanging on to adjacent straps. Then at Piccadilly Circus there was a general exodus and they found seats right at the forward end of the car—a peaceful spot since nobody passed in or out that way.

“That’s better,” said Mr. Bonnington. “Selfish lot, the human race, they won’t pass up the car however much you ask ’em to!”

Hercule Poirot shrugged his shoulders.

“What will you?” he said. “Life is too uncertain.”

“That’s it. Here today, gone tomorrow,” said Mr. Bonnington with a kind of gloomy relish. “And talking of that, d’you remember that old boy we noticed at the Gallant Endeavour? I shouldn’t wonder if he’d hopped it to a better world. He’s not been there for a whole week. Molly’s quite upset about it.”

Hercule Poirot sat up. His green eyes flashed.

“Indeed?” he said. “Indeed?”

Bonnington said:

“D’you remember I suggested he’d been to a doctor and been put on a diet? Diet’s nonsense of course—but I shouldn’t wonder if he had consulted a doctor about his health and what the doctor said gave him a bit of a jolt. That would account for him ordering things off the menu without noticing what he was doing. Quite likely the jolt he got hurried him out of the world sooner than he would have gone otherwise. Doctors ought to be careful what they tell a chap.”

“They usually are,” said Hercule Poirot.

“This is my station,” said Mr. Bonnington. “Bye, bye. Don’t suppose we shall ever know now who the old boy was—not even his name. Funny world!”

He hurried out of the carriage.

Hercule Poirot, sitting frowning, looked as though he did not think it was such a funny world.

He went home and gave certain instructions to his faithful valet, George.

Hercule Poirot ran his finger down a list of names. It was a record of deaths within a certain area.

Poirot’s finger stopped.

“Henry Gascoigne. Sixty-nine. I might try him first.”

Later in the day, Hercule Poirot was sitting in Dr. MacAndrew’s surgery just off the King’s Road. MacAndrew was a tall red-haired Scotsman with an intelligent face.

“Gascoigne?” he said. “Yes, that’s right. Eccentric old bird. Lived alone in one of those derelict old houses that are being cleared away in order to build a block of modern flats. I hadn’t attended him before, but I’d seen him about and I knew who he was. It was the dairy people got the wind up first. The milk bottles began to pile up outside. In the end the people next door sent word to the police and they broke the door in and found him. He’d pitched down the stairs and broken his neck. Had on an old dressing gown with a ragged cord—might easily have tripped himself up with it.”

“I see,” said Hercule Poirot. “It was quite simple—an accident.”

“That’s right.”

“Had he any relations?”

“There’s a nephew. Used to come along and see his uncle about once a month. Lorrimer, his name is, George Lorrimer. He’s a medico himself. Lives at Wimbledon.”

“Was he upset at the old man’s death?”

“I don’t know that I’d say he was upset. I mean, he had an affection for the old man, but he didn’t really know him very well.”

“How long had Mr. Gascoigne been dead when you saw him?”

“Ah!” said Dr. MacAndrew. “This is where we get official. Not less than forty-eight hours and not more than seventy-two hours. He was found on the morning of the sixth. Actually, we got closer than that. He’d got a letter in the pocket of his dressing gown—written on the third—posted in Wimbledon that afternoon—would have been delivered somewhere around nine twenty p.m. That puts the time of death at after nine twenty on the evening of the third. That agrees with the contents of the stomach and the processes of digestion. He had had a meal about two hours before death. I examined him on the morning of the sixth and his condition was quite consistent with death having occurred about sixty hours previously—round about ten p.m. on the third.”

“It all seems very consistent. Tell me, when was he last seen alive?”

“He was seen in the King’s Road about seven o’clock that same evening, Thursday the third, and he dined at the Gallant Endeavour restaurant at seven thirty. It seems he always dined there on Thursdays. He was by way of being an artist, you know. An extremely bad one.”

“He had no other relations? Only this nephew?”

“There was a twin brother. The whole story is rather curious. They hadn’t seen each other for years. It seems the other brother, Anthony Gascoigne, married a very rich woman and gave up art—and the brothers quarrelled over it. Hadn’t seen each other since, I believe. But oddly enough, they died on the same day. The elder twin passed away at three o’clock on the afternoon of the third. Once before I’ve known a case of twins dying on the same day—in different parts of the world! Probably just a coincidence—but there it is.”

“Is the other brother’s wife alive?”

“No, she died some years ago.”

“Where did Anthony Gascoigne live?”

“He had a house on Kingston Hill. He was, I believe, from what Dr. Lorrimer tells me, very much of a recluse.”

Hercule Poirot nodded thoughtfully.

The Scotsman looked at him keenly.

“What exactly have you got in your mind, M. Poirot?” he asked bluntly. “I’ve answered your questions—as was my duty seeing the credentials you brought. But I’m in the dark as to what it’s all about.”

Poirot said slowly:

“A simple case of accidental death, that’s what you said. What I have in mind is equally simple—a simple push.”

Dr. MacAndrew looked startled.

“In other words, murder! Have you any grounds for that belief?”

“No,” said Poirot. “It is a mere supposition.”

“There must be something—” persisted the other.

Poirot did not speak. MacAndrew said:

“If it’s the nephew, Lorrimer, you suspect, I don’t mind telling you here and now that you are barking up the wrong tree. Lorrimer was playing bridge in Wimbledon from eight thirty till midnight. That came out at the inquest.”

Poirot murmured:

“And presumably it was verified. The police are careful.”

The doctor said:

“Perhaps you know something against him?”

“I didn’t know that there was such a person until you mentioned him.”

“Then you suspect somebody else?”

“No, no. It is not that at all. It’s a case of the routine habits of the human animal. That is very important. And the dead M. Gascoigne does not fit in. It is all wrong, you see.”

“I really don’t understand.”

Hercule Poirot murmured:

“The trouble is, there is too much sauce over the bad fish.”

“My dear sir?”

Hercule Poirot smiled.

“You will be having me locked up as a lunatic soon, Monsieur le Docteur. But I am not really a mental case—just a man who has a liking for order and method and who is worried when he comes across a fact that does not fit in. I must ask you to forgive me for having given you so much trouble.”

He rose and the doctor rose also.

“You know,” said MacAndrew, “honestly I can’t see anything the least bit suspicious about the death of Henry Gascoigne. I say he fell—you say somebody pushed him. It’s all—well—in the air.”

Hercule Poirot sighed.

“Yes,” he said. “It is workmanlike. Somebody has made the good job of it!”

“You still think—”

The little man spread out his hands.

“I’m an obstinate man—a man with a little idea—and nothing to support it! By the way, did Henry Gascoigne have false teeth?”

“No, his own teeth were in excellent preservation. Very creditable indeed at his age.”

“He looked after them well—they were white and well brushed?”

“Yes, I noticed them particularly. Teeth tend to grow a little yellow as one grows older, but they were in good condition.”

“Not discoloured in any way?”

“No. I don’t think he was a smoker if that is what you mean.”

“I did not mean that precisely—it was just a long shot—which probably will not come off! Good-bye, Dr. MacAndrew, and thank you for your kindness.”

He shook the doctor’s hand and departed.

“And now,” he said, “for the long shot.”

At the Gallant Endeavour, he sat down at the same table which he had shared with Bonnington. The girl who served him was not Molly. Molly, the girl told him, was away on a holiday.

It was only just seven and Hercule Poirot found no difficulty in entering into conversation with the girl on the subject of old Mr. Gascoigne.

“Yes,” she said. “He’d been here for years and years. But none of us girls ever knew his name. We saw about the inquest in the paper, and there was a picture of him. ‘There,’ I said to Molly. ‘If that isn’t our ‘Old Father Time’ as we used to call him.”

“He dined here on the evening of his death, did he not?”

“That’s right, Thursday, the third. He was always here on a Thursday. Tuesdays and Thursdays—punctual as a clock.”

“You don’t remember, I suppose, what he had for dinner?”

“Now let me see, it was mulligatawny soup, that’s right, and beefsteak pudding or was it the mutton?—no pudding, that’s right, and blackberry and apple pie and cheese. And then to think of him going home and falling down those stairs that very same evening. A frayed dressing gown cord they said it was as caused it. Of course, his clothes were always something awful—old-fashioned and put on anyhow, and all tattered, and yet he had a kind of air, all the same, as though he was somebody! Oh, we get all sorts of interesting customers here.”

She moved off.

Hercule Poirot ate his filleted sole. His eyes showed a green light.

“It is odd,” he said to himself, “how the cleverest people slip over details. Bonnington will be interested.”

But the time had not yet come for leisurely discussion with Bonnington.

Armed with introductions from a certain influential quarter, Hercule Poirot found no difficulty at all in dealing with the coroner for the district.

“A curious figure, the deceased man Gascoigne,” he observed. “A lonely, eccentric old fellow. But his decease seems to arouse an unusual amount of attention?”

He looked with some curiosity at his visitor as he spoke.

Hercule Poirot chose his words carefully.

“There are circumstances connected with it, Monsieur, which make investigation desirable.”

“Well, how can I help you?”

“It is, I believe, within your province to order documents produced in your court to be destroyed, or to be impounded—as you think fit. A certain letter was found in the pocket of Henry Gascoigne’s dressing gown, was it not?”

“That is so.”

“A letter from his nephew, Dr. George Lorrimer?”

“Quite correct. The letter was produced at the inquest as helping to fix the time of death.”

“Which was corroborated by the medical evidence?”

“Exactly.”

“Is that letter still available?”

Hercule Poirot waited rather anxiously for the reply.

When he heard that the letter was still available for examination he drew a sigh of relief.

When it was finally produced he studied it with some care. It was written in a slightly cramped handwriting with a stylographic pen.

It ran as follows:

Dear Uncle Henry,

I am sorry to tell you that I have had no success as regards Uncle Anthony. He showed no enthusiasm for a visit from you and would give me no reply to your request that he would let bygones be bygones. He is, of course, extremely ill, and his mind is inclined to wander. I should fancy that the end is very near. He seemed hardly to remember who you were.

I am sorry to have failed you, but I can assure you that I did my best.

Your affectionate nephew,

GEORGE LORRIMER

The letter itself was dated 3rd November. Poirot glanced at the envelope’s postmark—4:30 p.m. 3 Nov.

He murmured:

“It is beautifully in order, is it not?”

Kingston Hill was his next objective. After a little trouble, with the exercise of good-humoured pertinacity, he obtained an interview with Amelia Hill, cook-housekeeper to the late Anthony Gascoigne.

Mrs. Hill was inclined to be stiff and suspicious at first, but the charming geniality of this strange-looking foreigner would have had its effect on a stone. Mrs. Amelia Hill began to unbend.

She found herself, as had so many other women before her, pouring out her troubles to a really sympathetic listener.

For fourteen years she had had charge of Mr. Gascoigne’s household—not an easy job! No, indeed! Many a woman would have quailed under the burdens she had had to bear! Eccentric the poor gentleman was and no denying it. Remarkably close with his money—a kind of mania with him it was—and he as rich a gentleman as might be! But Mrs. Hill had served him faithfully, and put up with his ways, and naturally she’d expected at any rate a remembrance. But no—nothing at all! Just an old will that left all his money to his wife and if she predeceased him then everything to his brother, Henry. A will made years ago. It didn’t seem fair!

Gradually Hercule Poirot detached her from her main theme of unsatisfied cupidity. It was indeed a heartless injustice! Mrs. Hill could not be blamed for feeling hurt and surprised. It was well known that Mr. Gascoigne was tightfisted about money. It had even been said that the dead man had refused his only brother assistance. Mrs. Hill probably knew all about that.

“Was it that that Dr. Lorrimer came to see him about?” asked Mrs. Hill. “I knew it was something about his brother, but I thought it was just that his brother wanted to be reconciled. They’d quarrelled years ago.”

“I understand,” said Poirot, “that Mr. Gascoigne refused absolutely?”

“That’s right enough,” said Mrs. Hill with a nod. “ ‘Henry?’ he says, rather weak like. ‘What’s this about Henry? Haven’t seen him for years and don’t want to. Quarrelsome fellow, Henry.’ Just that.”

The conversation then reverted to Mrs. Hill’s own special grievances, and the unfeeling attitude of the late Mr. Gascoigne’s solicitor.

With some difficulty Hercule Poirot took his leave without breaking off the conversation too abruptly.

And so, just after the dinner hour, he came to Elmcrest, Dorset Road, Wimbledon, the residence of Dr. George Lorrimer.

The doctor was in. Hercule Poirot was shown into the surgery and there presently Dr. George Lorrimer came to him, obviously just risen from the dinner table.

“I’m not a patient, Doctor,” said Hercule Poirot. “And my coming here is, perhaps, somewhat of an impertinence—but I’m an old man and I believe in plain and direct dealing. I do not care for lawyers and their long-winded roundabout methods.”

He had certainly aroused Lorrimer’s interest. The doctor was a clean-shaven man of middle height. His hair was brown but his eyelashes were almost white which gave his eyes a pale, boiled appearance. His manner was brisk and not without humour.

“Lawyers?” he said, raising his eyebrows. “Hate the fellows! You rouse my curiosity, my dear sir. Pray sit down.”

Poirot did so and then produced one of his professional cards which he handed to the doctor.

George Lorrimer’s white eyelashes blinked.

Poirot leaned forward confidentially. “A good many of my clients are women,” he said.

“Naturally,” said Dr. George Lorrimer, with a slight twinkle.

“As you say, naturally,” agreed Poirot. “Women distrust the official police. They prefer private investigations. They do not want to have their troubles made public. An elderly woman came to consult me a few days ago. She was unhappy about a husband she’d quarrelled with many years before. This husband of hers was your uncle, the late Mr. Gascoigne.” George Lorrimer’s face went purple.

“My uncle? Nonsense! His wife died many years ago.”

“Not your uncle, Mr. Anthony Gascoigne. Your uncle, Mr. Henry Gascoigne.”

“Uncle Henry? But he wasn’t married!”

“Oh yes, he was,” said Hercule Poirot, lying unblushingly. “Not a doubt of it. The lady even brought along her marriage certificate.”

“It’s a lie!” cried George Lorrimer. His face was now as purple as a plum. “I don’t believe it. You’re an impudent liar.”

“It is too bad, is it not?” said Poirot. “You have committed murder for nothing.”

“Murder?” Lorrimer’s voice quavered. His pale eyes bulged with terror.

“By the way,” said Poirot, “I see you have been eating blackberry tart again. An unwise habit. Blackberries are said to be full of vitamins, but they may be deadly in other ways. On this occasion I rather fancy they have helped to put a rope round a man’s neck—your neck, Dr. Lorrimer.”

“You see, mon ami, where you went wrong was over your fundamental assumption.” Hercule Poirot, beaming placidly across the table at his friend, waved an expository hand. “A man under severe mental stress doesn’t choose that time to do something that he’s never done before. His reflexes just follow the track of least resistance. A man who is upset about something might conceivably come down to dinner dressed in his pyjamas—but they will be his own pyjamas—not somebody else’s.

“A man who dislikes thick soup, suet pudding and blackberries suddenly orders all three one evening. You say, because he is thinking of something else. But I say that a man who has got something on his mind will order automatically the dish he has ordered most often before.

“Eh bien, then, what other explanation could there be? I simply could not think of a reasonable explanation. And I was worried! The incident was all wrong. It did not fit! I have an orderly mind and I like things to fit. Mr. Gascoigne’s dinner order worried me.

“Then you told me that the man had disappeared. He had missed a Tuesday and a Thursday the first time for years. I liked that even less. A queer hypothesis sprang up in my mind. If I were right about it the man was dead. I made inquiries. The man was dead. And he was very neatly and tidily dead. In other words the bad fish was covered up with the sauce!

“He had been seen in the King’s Road at seven o’clock. He had had dinner here at seven thirty—two hours before he died. It all fitted in—the evidence of the stomach contents, the evidence of the letter. Much too much sauce! You couldn’t see the fish at all!

“Devoted nephew wrote the letter, devoted nephew had beautiful alibi for time of death. Death very simple—a fall down the stairs. Simple accident? Simple murder? Everyone says the former.

“Devoted nephew only surviving relative. Devoted nephew will inherit—but is there anything to inherit? Uncle notoriously poor.

“But there is a brother. And brother in his time had married a rich wife. And brother lives in a big rich house on Kingston Hill, so it would seem that rich wife must have left him all her money. You see the sequence—rich wife leaves money to Anthony, Anthony leaves money to Henry, Henry’s money goes to George—a complete chain.”

“All very pretty in theory,” said Bonnington. “But what did you do?”

“Once you know—you can usually get hold of what you want. Henry had died two hours after a meal—that is all the inquest really bothered about. But supposing the meal was not dinner, but lunch. Put yourself in George’s place. George wants money—badly. Anthony Gascoigne is dying—but his death is no good to George. His money goes to Henry, and Henry Gascoigne may live for years. So Henry must die too—and the sooner the better—but his death must take place after Anthony’s, and at the same time George must have an alibi. Henry’s habit of dining regularly at a restaurant on two evenings of the week suggest an alibi to George. Being a cautious fellow, he tries his plan out first. He impersonates his uncle on Monday evening at the restaurant in question. It goes without a hitch. Everyone there accepts him as his uncle. He is satisfied. He has only to wait till Uncle Anthony shows definite signs of pegging out. The time comes. He writes a letter to his uncle on the afternoon of the second November but dates it the third. He comes up to town on the afternoon of the third, calls on his uncle, and carries his scheme into action. A sharp shove and down the stairs goes Uncle Henry. George hunts about for the letter he has written, and shoves it in the pocket of his uncle’s dressing gown. At seven thirty he is at the Gallant Endeavour, beard, bushy eyebrows all complete. Undoubtedly Mr. Henry Gascoigne is alive at seven thirty. Then a rapid metamorphosis in a lavatory and back full speed in his car to Wimbledon and an evening of bridge. The perfect alibi.”

Mr. Bonnington looked at him.

“But the postmark on the letter?”

“Oh, that was very simple. The postmark was smudgy. Why? It had been altered with lamp black from second November to third November. You would not notice it unless you were looking for it. And finally there were the blackbirds.”

“Blackbirds?”

“Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie! Or blackberries if you prefer to be literal! George, you comprehend, was after all not quite a good enough actor. Do you remember the fellow who blacked himself all over to play Othello? That is the kind of actor you have got to be in crime. George looked like his uncle and walked like his uncle and spoke like his uncle and had his uncle’s beard and eyebrows, but he forgot to eat like his uncle. He ordered the dishes that he himself liked. Blackberries discolour the teeth—the corpse’s teeth were not discoloured, and yet Henry Gascoigne ate blackberries at the Gallant Endeavour that night. But there were no blackberries in the stomach. I asked this morning. And George had been fool enough to keep the beard and the rest of the makeup. Oh! plenty of evidence once you look for it. I called on George and rattled him. That finished it! He had been eating blackberries again, by the way. A greedy fellow—cared a lot about his food. Eh bien, greed will hang him all right unless I am very much mistaken.”

A waitress brought them two portions of blackberry and apple tart.

“Take it away,” said Mr. Bonnington. “One can’t be too careful. Bring me a small helping of sago pudding.”