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chapter forty-two

To some small extent these Greek philosophers made use of observation, but only spasmodically until the time of Aristotle. Their legacy lies elsewhere: in their astonishing powers of deductive and inductive reasoning

(W. K. C. Guthrie, The Greek Philosophers)


lewis's report from Sweden had been far more interesting, far more potentially suggestive, than Morse could have hoped. The flesh was being put on the bones, as it were – though no longer those particular bones which had been discovered in Pasticks. The thoughts of others too appeared to be shifting away from any guesswork concerning the likeliest spot in which to dig for the Swedish Maiden, and towards the possible identity of the murderer who had dug the hole in the first place – his (surely a 'he'?) interests, his traits, his psychological identikit, as it were. Especially the thoughts behind the latest letter to The Times, which Morse read with considerable interest on the morning of Friday, 2 4 July.


From the Reverend David M. Sturdy

Sir, Like so many of your regular readers I have been deeply impressed by the ingenuity expended by your correspondents on the now notorious Swedish Maiden verses. All of us had hoped that such ingenuity would eventually reap its reward – especially the wholly brilliant analysis (July 13) resulting in the 'Wytham hypothesis'. It was therefore with much disappointment that we read (Tuesday, July 21) the findings of the police pathologist in Oxford.

I cannot myself hope to match the deductive logic of former correspondents. But is it not profitable to take a leaf out of Aristotle's book, and to look now for some inductive hypothesis? Instead of asking what the original author intended as clues, we should perhaps be asking an entirely different question, viz., what do the verses tell us about the person who wrote them, especially if such a person were trying to conceal almost as much as he was willing to reveal.

Two things may strike the reader immediately. First, the archaisms so prevalent in the verses ('tell'st', 'know'st', 'Wither', 'thy', 'thee', etc.) which strongly suggest that the author is wholly steeped in the language of Holy Writ. Second, the regular resort to hymnological vocabulary: "The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended' (1. n); 'As pants the hart for cooling streams' (1. 15); 'When I survey the wondrous cross' (1. 17) – all of which seem to corroborate the view that the author is a man regularly conditioned by such linguistic influences.

May I be allowed therefore to put two and two together and make, not a murderer, but a minister of God's church? May I go even further? And suggest a minister in the Church of Rome, where the confessional is a commonplace, and where in rare circumstances a priest may be faced with a grievous dilemma – the circumstances, say, when a sinner confesses to an appalling crime, and when the priest may be tempted to compromise the sacred principle of confidentiality and to warn society about a self-confessed psychopath, especially so if the psychopath himself has expressed a wish for such a course of action to be pursued.

Might it not be worthwhile then for the Thames Valley CID to conduct some discreet enquiries among the RC clergy within, say, a ten-mile radius of Carfax?


Yours truly,

DAVID M. STURDY

St Andrew's Vicarage,

Norwich.


This letter was also read by Inspector Harold Johnson on holiday with his wife on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales. The small village store was not in the habit of stocking The Times, but he had picked up a copy on a shopping trip to Pwllheli that morning, and felt puzzled by the reference to 'the findings of the police pathologist in Oxford'. Not just puzzled, either; a whole lot pleased, if he were honest with himself. It wasn't very specific, but it must surely mean that the girl still hadn't been found. They'd found some other poor sod. Huh! That must have shot bloody Morse in the foot. Shot him up the arse if Strange had his finger on the trigger. He was reading the letter again quickly as his wife was arranging the supermarket carrier bags in the boot of the Maestro.

'What are you smiling at, darling?' she asked.


On Broadmoor Lea, the erection of bollards and concrete blocks, the construction of humps across the streets, and the simpler expedient of digging several holes to the depth of several feet -these activities had put a virtual stop to any possibility of further joy-riding. All a bit makeshift, but all quite effective. There was revulsion too at the young girl's death. And more public cooperation. The police were winning. Or so it appeared. Marion Bridewell had been knocked down by a car (a shiny new BMW stolen from High Wycombe) with four youths inside. The car itself had been abandoned on the neighbouring Blackbird Leys estate, but a good many of the local inhabitants knew who one or two of them were; and some few bystanders, and some few indeed who had earlier applauded the teenagers' skills, were now semi-willing to testify to names and incidents. Earlier that week fourteen youths and two men in their early twenties had been arrested on the estate, and charged with a variety of motoring offences; six of them were still sitting in the cells. There would very soon be four more of them – the BMW four; and looking at things from the point of view of both the City and the County Constabularies, it was fairly certain that normal police duties could be resumed almost immediately.


The following day, Saturday 25 July, Philip Daley had caught the bus into Oxford at 11 a.m., and his mother had watched him disappear up to the main road before venturing quietly, fearfully, into his bedroom with the hoover. The red-covered pocket diary she'd given him for Christmas had remained unused in his drawer until earlier that month, when the entries had started. The first had been on Saturday the 4th, the writing cramped and ill-fitted into the narrow daily space:


Another tonight. Wow!!! What a squeeler

what a bute. I never been so exited before.


And then the last, a fortnight later:


Finish Finis End! We never meant it

none of us. The screems sounded just like the tires but we never meant it.


Margaret Daley looked down again at the date, Saturday, 18 July. Her heart was sinking again within her, and in her misery she wished that she were dead.


chapter forty-one | The Way Through The Woods | chapter forty-three







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