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chapter fifty-two

Everything comes if a man will only wait

(Benjamin Disraeli, Tancred)


an hour after Hardinge had left had been allowed to leave -Lewis came back into Morse's office with three photocopies of the document.

Morse picked up one set of the sheets and looked fairly cursorily, appeared, at the transcript of Hardinge's statement. 'What did you make of things?'

'One or two things a bit odd, sir.'

'Only one or two?'

'Well, there's two things, really. I mean, there's this fellow Daley, isn't there? He's at Park Town that afternoon and that night he shoves the girl's body into the lake at Blenheim.'

Yes?'

'Well, then he leaves the girl's rucksack in a hedge-bottom at Begbroke. I mean-'

'I wish you'd stop saying "I mean", Lewis.'

Well, you'd think he'd have left it miles away, wouldn't you? He could easily have dumped it out at Burford or Bicester or somewhere. I me '

'Why not put it in the blanket? With the body?'

'Well, yes. Anywhere except where he left it.'

'I think you're right.'

'Why don't we ask him then?'

'All in good time, Lewis! You just said two things, didn't you?'

'Ah, well. It's the same sort of thing, really. They decided to put Myton's body in Wytham Woods, agreed? And they did put it there, because we've found it. What I can't understand is why Michaels told you where it was. I mean- Sorry, sir!'

'But he didn't, did he? He didn't exactly give us a six-figure grid-reference.'

'He told you about Pasticks, though.'

'Among other places, yes.' For a while Morse looked out across the tarmac yard, unseeing it seemed, though nodding gravely. 'Ye-es! Very good, Lewis! You've put your finger two fingers -on the parts of that statement that would worry anyone; anyone even half as intelligent as you are.'

Lewis was unsure whether this was exactly the compliment that Morse had intended; but the master was beginning his own analysis:

'You see ask yourself this. Why did Daley have to dump the rucksack, and then find it himself? As you rightly say, why so close to the place they'd just dumped her body? What's the reason? What could be the reason? Any reason? Then, again just as you say, why was Michaels prepared to be so helpful to us? Crackers, isn't it if he didn't want anyone to find the body? So why? Why give us any chance of finding it? Why not give us a duff list of utterly improbable sites? God! Wytham's as big as' (Morse had difficulty with the simile) 'as the pond out at Blenheim.'

' "Lake", sir about two hundred acres of it. Take a bit of dragging, that.'

'Take a lot of dragging.'

'Forget it, then?'

'Yes, forget it! I think so. As I told you yesterday, Lewis

'You still think you were right about that?'

'Oh, yes! No doubt about it. All we've got to do is to sit back and wait. We're going to have people come to us, Lewis. We're losing nothing. You can take it from me there'll be no more casualties in this case unless unless it's that silly young sod, Philip Daley.'

'We might as well take a bit of a breather then, sir.'

'Why not? Just one thing you can do on your way home, though.

Look in at Lonsdale, will you? See who was on duty at the Porters' Lodge last night, and try to find out if our friend Hardinge had any visitors in his rooms. And if so, how many, and who they were.

For the moment, however, Lewis seemed reluctant to leave.

'You sure you don't want me to go and pick up Daley and Michaels?'

'I just told you. They'll be coming to us. One of 'em will, anyway, unless I'm very much mistaken.'

'Which you seldom are.'

Which I seldom am.'

'You don't want to tell me which one?'

Why shouldn't I want to tell you which one?'

Well?'

'All right. I'll bet you a fiver to a cracked piss-pot that the Head Warden, the Lone Ranger, or whatever his name is, will call here in person or on the phone before you sit watching the six o'clock news on the telly.'

Earlier than that, sir on a Saturday the TV news.'

Oh, and before you go, leave these on Johnson's desk, will you? He won't be in till Monday, I shouldn't think, but I promised to keep him fully informed.' He handed over the third set of photocopied pages, and Lewis rose to depart.

'Do you want me to ring you if I find anything?'

'If it's interesting, yes,' said Morse, with apparent indifference.


Earlier that day, Lewis thought he'd had a pretty clear idea of what the case was all about; or what Morse had told him the case was all about. But now on leaving Kidlington HQ his mind was far more confused, as if whatever else had been the purpose of Hardinge's statement it had certainly muddled the waters of his, Lewis's, mind, though apparently not that of his chief's.

As it happened (had he remembered it) Morse would have lost any bet that might have been made, for no one, either in person or on the telephone, was to call on him that afternoon. In fact he did nothing after Lewis left. At one point he almost decided to attend the last night of The Mikado at Wytham. But he hadn't got a ticket, and it would probably be a sell-out; and in any case he'd bought a CD of Mozart's Requiem.


Cathy saw him there that final evening, ten minutes before the curtain was scheduled to rise: the bearded, thick-set, independent soul she'd been so happy to marry in spite of the difference in their ages. He was talking quite animatedly to an attractive woman on the row in front of him, doubtless flirting with her just a little, with that dry, easy, confidential tone he could so easily assume. Yet Cathy felt not the slightest spasm of jealousy for she knew that it was she who meant almost everything to him.

She let the drape fall back across her line of vision, and went back to the ladies' dressing room where, over her left shoulder, she surveyed herself in the full-length mirror. The simple, short black dresses, with their white collars and red belts, and the suspender-held black stockings, had proved one of the greatest attractions of the show; and each of the three perhaps not-so-little maids, if truth were known, was enjoying the slightly titillating exhibitionism of it all. Cathy had omitted to ask David if he really approved; or if he might be just a teeny bit jealous. She hoped he was, of course; but, no, he needn't be. Oh no, he needn't ever be.


Like most amateur and indeed professional productions, The Mikado had been put together in disparate bits, with almost all chronological sequencing impossible until the dress rehearsal. Thus it was that David Michaels, though attending a good many practices during the previous month, had little idea of what, perhaps rather grandly, was sometimes called the opera's 'plot'. Nor had his understanding been much forwarded as a result of the first night's performance, for his mind was dwelling then on more important matters. And now, on this final night, his mind was even further distanced, while he watched the on-stage action as if through some semi-opaque gauze; while he listened to the squeaky orchestra as if his ears were stuffed with cotton wool

He recalled that phone call the previous evening, after which he'd driven down to Oxford, had luckily found a parking place just beside Blackwell's bookshop in the Broad, and then walked through Radcliffe Square and across the cobbles into Lonsdale College, where he'd followed his instructions, walked straight past the Porters' Lodge as if on some high behest, and then into Hardinge's rooms in the front quad, where McBryde had already arrived, and where Daley was to appear within minutes.

Over a year it had been since they'd last met a year in which virtually nothing had occurred; a year during which the police files had been kept open (he assumed); but a year in which he and the others, the quartet of them, would have assumed with ever-growing relief and confidence that no one would, or ever could, now discover the truth about that hot and distant sunny day.

It was that bloody letter in the paper that had stirred it all up again as well as that man Morse. What a shock it had been then they'd found the body since he, Michaels, had no idea watsoever it had been there at all. Bad luck, certainly. What a slice of good luck though that he'd found the antler-handled knife, because no one was ever going to find that again, lying deep as it was in the lake at Blenheim Park. Yes, the last vestige of evidence was at last obliterated, and the situation was beginning to right itself again; or rather had been so beginning until he'd taken the second phone call, early that very morning; the call from that cesspit of a specimen out at Begbroke. But Daley could wait for a while; Daley would play along with them for a little longer yet. The one thing Michaels was quite unable to understand was why Morse was waiting. And that made him very uneasy. Perhaps every-body was waiting

Suddenly he was conscious of the applause all around him, as the curtain moved jerkily across to mark the end of Act I of The Mikado.


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







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