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chapter fifty-seven

falstaff: We have heard the chimes at midnight,

Master Shallow. shallow: That we have, that we have, that we have; in faith, Sir John, we have

(Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2)


of the four men who had agreed to concoct (as Morse now believed) a joint statement about the murder of Karin Eriksson, only McBryde had ranged free in the city of Oxford that night. At 6.30 p.m. he had called in at the Eagle and Child, carrying his few overnight possessions in a canvas hold-all, eaten a cheese sandwich, drunk two pints of splendidly conditioned Burton Ale. and begun thinking about a bed for the night. At 7.45 p.m. he had caught a number 20 Kidlington bus outside St Giles' Church and gone up the Banbury Road as far as Squitchey Lane, where he tried the Cotswold House (recommended to him by Hardinge) but found the oblong, white notice fixed across the front door's leaded glass: no vacancies. Just across the way however was the Casa Villa, and here one double room was still available (the last): which McBryde took, considering as many men had done before him that the purchase of an extra two square yards of bed space was something of a waste – and something of a sadness.


At about the time that McBryde was unpacking his pyjamas and sticking his toothbrush into one of the two glasses in his en suite bathroom, Philip Daley stood up and counted the coins.

He had caught the coach from Gloucester Green at 2.30 p.m. Good value, the coach – only lb4 return for adults. Disappointing though to learn that a single fare was virtually the same price a; a return, and sickening that the driver refused to accept his only marginally dishonest assertion that he was still at school. At 6.30 p.m. he had been seated against the wall of an office building next to the Bonnington Hotel in Southampton Row, with a grey and orange scarf arranged in front of him to receive the coins of a stream (as he trusted) of compassionate passers-by; and with a notice, black Biro on cardboard, beside him: unemployed homeless hungry. One of the Oxford boys had told him that cold and hungry was best, but the early summer evening was balmy and warm, and anyway it didn't matter much, not that first night. He had lb45 in his pocket, and certainly had no intention of letting himself get too hungry. It was just that he wanted to see how things would work out – that was all.

Not very well, though, seemed the answer to that experiment: for he was stiff and even (yes!) a little cold; and the coins amounted to only 83p. He must look too well dressed still, too well fed, too little in need. At nine o'clock he walked down to a pub in Holborn and ordered a pint of beer and two packets of crisps: lb2.70. Bloody robbery! Nor were things made easier when a shaven-headed youth with multi-tattooed arms and multi-ringed ears moved in beside him. and asked him if he was the prick who'd been staking out his pitch in the Row; because if so he'd be well advised to fuck off smartish – if he knew what was best for him.


Cathy Michaels repeatedly bent forwards, sideways, backwards, as the heat from the dryer penetrated her thick, raven-black hair, specially cut for The Mikado in a horizontal bob, the original blonde just beginning to show again, even if only a few millimetres or so at the roots. For a moment she felt sure she'd heard the Land-rover just outside, and she turned off the dryer. False alarm, though. Usually she experienced little or no nervousness when left alone in the cottage, even at night; and never when Bobbie was with her. But Bobbie was not with her: he was down at the pub with his master… and with the policemen. Suddenly she felt fear almost palpably creeping across her skin, like some soft-footed, menacing insect.


Midnight was chiming, and Morse was pouring himself a night-cap from the green, triangular-columned bottle of Glenfiddich -when the phone went: Dr Hobson. She had agreed to ring him if she discovered anything further before the end of that long, long day. Not that there was anything startlingly new, and she realized it could easily wait till morning. But no, it couldn't wait till morning, Morse had insisted.

The bullet that had killed Daley had fairly certainly been fired from a seven-millimetre or a.243 rifle, or something very similar; the bullet had entered the back about 2 inches below the left scapula, had exited (no wince this time from Morse) about 1 inch above the heart, and (this certain now) had been instantly fatal. Time? Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. – with just a little leeway either side? – 9.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m., say? Most probably Daley had been shot from a distance of about 50-80 yards: ballistics might just amend this last finding, but she doubted it.

He'd seemed pleased, and she knew she wanted to please him. There was some music playing in the background, but she failed to recognize it.

'You're not in bed yet?' she ventured.

'Soon shall be.'

'What are you doing?'

'Drinking Scotch.'

'And listening to music.'

'Yes, that too.'

'You're a very civilized copper, aren't you?'

'Only half the time.'

'Well, I'd better gor.'

'Yes.'

'Goodnate, then.'

'Goodnight, and thank you,' said Morse quietly.


After putting down the phone Laura Hobson sat perfectly still and wondered what was happening to her. Why, he was twenty-five years older than she was!

At least.

Blast him!

She acknowledged to herself the ludicrous truth of the matter, but she could barely bring herself to smile.


предыдущая глава | The Way Through The Woods | chapter fifty-eight







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