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chapter sixty-eight

The Light of Lights

Looks always on the motive, not the deed,

The Shadow of Shadows on the deed alone

(W. B. Yeats, The Countess Cathlem)


just simply, Morse! Just simply! I don't want to know what a clever sod you are. Just a straightforward – brief! – account. If vou can manage it.'

Following the final discoveries, new statements had been taken from both David Michaels and Karin Eriksson; and now, the following morning, as he sat in Strange's office, Morse was able to confirm in nearly every respect the pattern of events he'd outlined to Lewis in the White Hart.

Daley had been to the office in Wytham Woods on more than one occasion before, and a meeting had been arranged for o 45 a.m. on Monday, 3 August. At that time there would, with any luck, be virtually no one around; but only if no one was around, would the deed take place. And the deed did take place. When Daley got out of the van, Michaels shot him dead with his.243 rifle – the latter buried later out on the Singing Way. To Michaels himself the report had sounded terrifyingly loud; but following it a strangely eerie silence had reasserted itself, and no one had come rushing into the compound there demanding explanation, seeking causes. Nothing. A newly still, clear morning in early August. And a body – which Michaels had swiftly wrapped in black plastic sheeting and lifted into the back of Daley's own van. Only two or three minutes after the murder, this same van was being driven out through Wolvercote, over to the A44 towards Woodstock, left at Bladon, and then into Long Hanborough – and finally up to Combe Lodge, on the western side of the Blenheim Estate. The keys to the lodge gate would doubtless have been somewhere on the body, but the van-driver waited a while and was very quickly rewarded when the gate was opened for a tractor and trailer; and when the van driver, pulling Daley's khaki-green hat down over her short, black hair, moved into the trailer's wake, raising a hand in acknowledgement to any anonymous observer as she drove gratefully through. A few hundred yards along she had spotted an ideal location in which to leave a van, and a body, and a hat. Daley had not been a heavy man, and she herself was a strong young woman; yet she had been unable to lift the corpse -just to pull it over the tail-board, whence it fell with a thud to the hard soil. The plastic sheet was messily sticky with blood, and she had taken it with her as she ran off, across the road, to the tip of the lake, where she washed the blood from her hands and wedged the sheet beneath some reeds. Then, following the arranged plan, she'd jogged her way back – though not, she claimed, through Combe Lodge, as Morse had suggested (and Williams could have sworn) – but down by the western side of the lake, across the small bridge that spans the River Glyme below the Grand Cascade, and out of the park via Eagle Lodge.

'Helluva long way, whichever route she took,' mumbled Strange.

'Some people are fitter than others, sir.'

'Not thinking of yourself, are you?'

'No!'

'Bit lucky, though – the fellow at the lodge remembering the van going through.'

'With all respect, sir, I don't think that's true. In fact, it led us all to believe that Daley was alive until after ten o'clock – when David Michaels was miles away with his RSPB pals round the bird-boxes. But Michaels could never have done it himself- not by himself- that morning. There was no way at all that he could have got out to Blenheim and somehow – somehow – got back to Wytham.'

'But his wife could. That's what you're saying.'

'His wife did.'

'She was a brave girl.'

'She is a brave girl, sir.'

'You know, if they'd only have played it straight up and down the wicket from the start – either of them – they'd probably have got away with justifiable homicide, self-defence, take your pick.'

'Perhaps.'

'You don't sound very convinced.'

'I think she's a rather more complex woman than that.

Perhaps… perhaps she couldn't quite persuade herself that killing Myton had been purely in self-defence.'

'You mean – you mean she might have enjoyed it?'

'I didn't say that, sir.'

Strange shook his head. 'I see what you're getting at, though. Prepared – wasn't she? – to drive Daley's body out to Blenheim and…'

'She's a complex woman, as I say, sir. I'm not sure I understand her at all really.'

'Perhaps she's a bit of a mystery even to herself.'

Morse got up to leave. 'Same thing in most cases, isn't it? We never really understand people's motives. In all these things it's as if there's a manifestation – but there's always a bit of a mystery too.'

'Now don't you start going all religious on me, Morse!'

'No chance of that.'

'I don't suppose anyone'll miss Daley all that much.'

'No. He was a small man-'

'Was he? How tall was he?'

'No. I didn't mean small in that sense. But he was physically small, yes. Only weighed eight stone, four pounds.'

'How do you know that?'

'They weighed him, sir -post mortem.'


chapter sixty-seven | The Way Through The Woods | chapter sixty-nine







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