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Part 21

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« on: December 25, 2022, 10:09:27 am »

   Thus she there wayted until eventyde.
   Yet living creature none she saw appeare.
   And now sad shadows gan the world to hyde
   From mortall vew, and wrap in darkness dreare;
   Yet nould she d'off her weary armes, for feare
   Of secret daunger, ne let sleepe oppresse
   Her heavy eyes with nature's burdein deare,
   But drew her self aside in sickernesse,
   And her wel-pointed wepons did about her dresse.
  ---Edmund Spencer

Harriet left word at the Lodge that she would wait for Lord Peter Wimsey in the Fellows' Garden. She had breakfasted early, thus avoiding Miss Hillyard, who passed through the New Quad like an angry shadow while she was talking to Padgett.

She had first met Peter at a moment when every physical feeling had been battered out of her by the brutality of circumstance; by this accident she had been aware of him from the beginning as a mind and spirit localised in a body. Never--not even in those later dizzying moments on the river--had she considered him primarily as a male animal or calculated the promise implicit in the veiled eyes, the long, flexible mouth, the curiously vital hands. Nor, since of her he had always asked and never demanded, had she felt in him any domination but that of intellect. But now, as he advanced towards her along the flower-bordered path, she saw him with new eyes--the eyes of women who had seen him before they knew him--saw him, as they saw him, dynamically. Miss Hillyard, Miss Edwards, Miss de Vine, the Dean even, each in her own way had recognised the same thing: six centuries of possessiveness, fastened under the yoke of urbanity. She herself, seeing it impudent and uncontrolled in the nephew, had known it instantly for what it was; it astonished her that in the older man she should have been blind to it so long and should still retain so strong a defence against it. And she wondered whether it was only accident that had sealed her eyes till it was too late for realisation to bring disaster.

She sat still where she was till he stood looking down at her.

'Well?' he said, lightly, 'how doth my lady? What, sweeting, all amort?... Yes, something has happened; I see it has. What is it, domina?'

Though the tone was half-jesting, nothing could have reassured her like that grave, academic title. She said, as though she were reciting a lesson.

'When you left last night, Miss Hillyard met me in the New Quad. She asked me to come up to her room because she wanted to speak to me. On the way up, I saw there was a little piece of white ivory stuck on the heel of her slipper. She--made some rather unpleasant accusations; she had misunderstood the position--'

'That can and shall be put right. Did you say anything about the slipper?'

'I'm afraid I did. There was another bit of ivory on the floor. I accused her of having gone into my room, and she denied it till I showed her the evidence. Then she admitted it; but she said the damage was already done when she got there.'

'Did you believe her?'

'I might have done ... if ... if she hadn't shown me a motive.'

'I see. All right. You needn't tell me.'

She looked up for the first time into a face as bleak as winter, and faltered.

'I brought the slipper away with me. I wish I hadn't.'

'Are you going to be afraid of the facts?' he said. 'And you a scholar?'

'I don't think I did it in malice. I hope not. But I was bitterly unkind to her.'

'Happily,' said he, 'a fact is a fact, and your state of mind won't alter it by a hair's breadth. Let's go now and have the truth at all hazards.'

She led him up to her room, where the morning sun cast a long rectangle of brilliance across the ruin on the floor. From the chest near the door she took out the slipper and handed it to him. He lay down flat, squinting sideways along the carpet in the place where neither he nor she had trodden the night before. His hand went to his pocket and he smiled up sideways into her troubled face.

'If all the pens that ever poets held had had the feeling of their masters' thoughts, they could not write as much solid fact as you can hold in a pair of callipers.' He measured the heel of the slipper in both directions, and then turned his attention to the pile of the carpet. 'She stood here, heels together, looking.' The callipers twinkled over the sunlit rectangle. 'And here is the heel that stamped and trampled and ground beauty to dust. One was a French heel and one was a Cuban heel--isn't that what the footwear specialists call them?' He sat up and tapped the sole of the slipper lightly with the callipers. 'Who goes there? France--Pass, France, and all's well.'

'Oh, I'm glad,' said Harriet, fervently. 'I'm glad.'

'Yes. Meanness isn't one of your accomplishments, is it?' He turned his eyes to the carpet again, this time to a place near the edge.

'Look! now that the sun's out you can see it. Here's where Cuban Heel wiped her soles before she left. There are very few flies on Cuban Heel. Well, that saves us a back-breaking search all over the College for the dust of kings and queens.' He picked the sliver of ivory from the French heel, put the slipper in his pocket and stood up. 'This had better go back to its owner, furnished with a certificate of innocence.'

'Give it to me. I must take it.'

'No, you will not. If anybody has to face unpleasantness, it shan't be you this time.'

'But Peter--you won't--'

'No,' he said, 'I wont. Trust me for that.'

Harriet was left staring at the broken chessmen. Presently she went out into the corridor, found a dustpan and brush in a scout's pantry and returned with them to sweep up the debris. As she was replacing the brush and pan in the pantry, she ran into one of the students from the annexe.

'By the way, Miss Swift,' said Harriet, 'you didn't happen to hear any noise in my room like glass being smashed last night did you? Some time during or after Hall?'

'No, I didn't, Miss Vane. I was in my own room all evening. But wait a moment. Miss Ward came along about half-past nine to do some Morphology with me and'--the girl's mouth dimpled into laughter--'she asked if you were a secret toffee-eater, because it sounded as though you were smashing up toffee with the poker. Has the College Ghost been visiting you?'

'I'm afraid so,' said Harriet. 'Thank you; that's very helpful. I must see Miss Ward.'

Miss Ward, however, could help no further than by fixing the time a little more definitely as 'certainly not later than half-past nine.'

Harriet thanked her, and went out. Her very bones seemed to ache with restlessness--or perhaps it was with having slept badly in an unfamiliar bed and with a disturbed mind. The sun had scattered diamonds among the wet grass of the quadrangle, and the breeze was shaking the rain in a heavy spatter of drops from the beeches. Students came and went. Somebody had left a scarlet cushion out all night in the rain; it was sodden and mournful-looking; its owner came and picked it up, with an air between laughter and disgust; she threw it on a bench to dry in the sunshine.

To do nothing was intolerable. To be spoken to by any member of the Senior Common Room would be still more intolerable. She was penned in the Old Quad, for she was sensitive to the mere neighbourhood of the New Quad as a person that has been vaccinated is sensitive to everything that lies on the sore side of his body. Without particular aim or intention, she skirted the tennis-court and turned in at the Library entrance. She had intended to go upstairs but, seeing the door of Miss de Vine's set stand open, she altered her mind; she could borrow a book from there. The little lobby was empty, but in the sitting-room a scout was giving the writing-table a Sunday-morning flick with the duster. Harriet remembered that Miss de Vine was in Town, and that she was to be warned when she returned.

'What time does Miss de Vine get back to-night? Do you know, Nellie?'

'I think she gets in by the 9.39, miss.'

Harriet nodded, took a book from the shelves at random, and went to sit on the steps of the loggia, where there was a deck-chair. The morning, she told herself, was getting on. If Peter had to get to his destination by 11.30, it was time he went. She vividly remembered waiting in a nursing-home while a friend underwent an operation; there had been a smell of ether, and, in the waiting-room, a large black Wedgwood jar, filled with delphiniums.

She read a page without knowing what was in it, and looked up at an approaching footstep into the face of Miss Hillyard.

'Lord Peter,' said Miss Hillyard, without preface, 'asked me to give you this address. He was obliged to leave quickly to keep his appointment.'

Harriet took the paper and said, 'Thank you.'

Miss Hillyard went on resolutely. 'When I spoke to you last night I was under a misapprehension. I had not fully realised the difficulty of your position. I am afraid I have unwittingly made it harder for you, and I apologise.'

'That's all right,' said Harriet, taking refuge in formula. 'I am sorry too. I was rather upset last night and said a great deal more than I should. This wretched business has made everything so uncomfortable.'

'Indeed it has,' said Miss Hillyard, in a more natural voice. 'We are all feeling rather overwrought. I wish we could get at the truth of it. I understand that you now accept my account of my movements last night.'

'Absolutely. It was inexcusable of me not to have verified my data.'

'Appearances can be very misleading,' said Miss Hillyard.

There was a pause.

'Well,' said Harriet at last, 'I hope we may forget all this.' She knew as she spoke that one thing at least had been said which could never be forgotten: she would have given a great deal to recall it.

'I shall do my best,' replied Miss Hillyard. 'Perhaps I am too much inclined to judge harshly of matters outside my experience.'

'It is very kind of you to say that,' said Harriet. 'Please believe that I don't take a very self-satisfied view of myself either.'

'Very likely not. I have noticed that the people who get opportunities always seem to choose the wrong ones. But it's no affair of mine. Good morning.'

She went as abruptly as she had come. Harriet glanced at the book on her knee and discovered that she was reading The Anatomy of Melancholy.

'Fleat Heraclitus an rideat Democritus? In attempting to speak of these Symptoms, shall I laugh with Democritus or weep with Heraclitus? they are so ridiculous and absurd on the one side, so lamentable and tragical on the other.'


Harriet got the car out in the afternoon and took Miss Lydgate and the Dean for a picnic in the neighbourhood of Hinksey. When she got back, in time for supper, she found an urgent message at the Lodge, asking her to ring up Lord Saint-George at the House as soon as she got back. His voice, when he answered the call, sounded agitated.

'Oh, look here! I can't get hold of Uncle Peter--he's vanished again, curse him! I say, I saw your ghost this afternoon, and I do think you ought to be careful.'

'Where did you see her? When?'

'About half-past two--walking over Magdalen Bridge in broad daylight. I'd been lunching with some chaps out Iffley way, and we were just pulling over to put one of 'em down at Magdalen, when I spotted her. She was walking along, muttering to herself, and looking awfully queer. Sort of clutching with her hands and rolling her eyes about. She spotted me, too. Couldn't mistake her. A friend of mine was driving and I tried to catch his attention, but he was pulling round behind a bus and I couldn't make him understand. Anyhow, when we stopped at Magdalen gate, I hopped out and ran back, but I couldn't find her anywhere. Seemed to have faded out. I bet she knew I was on to her and made tracks. I was scared. Thought she looked up to anything. So I rang up your place and found you were out and then I rang up the Mitre and that wasn't any good either, so I've been sitting here all evening in a devil of a stew. First I thought I'd leave a note, and then I thought I'd better tell you myself. Rather devoted of me, don't you think? I cut a supper-party so as not to miss you.'

'That was frightfully kind of you,' said Harriet. 'What was the ghost dressed in?'

'Oh--one of those sort of dark-blue frocks with spriggy bits on it and a hat with a brim. Sort of thing most of your dons wear in the afternoon. Neat, not gaudy. Not smart. Just ordinary. It was the eyes I recognised. Made me feel all goose-flesh. Honest. That woman's not safe, I'll swear she isn't.'

'It's very good of you to warn me,' said Harriet again. 'I'll try and find out who it could have been. And I'll take precautions.'

'Please do,' said Lord Saint-George. 'I mean, Uncle Peter's getting the wind up horribly. Gone clean off his oats. Of course I know he's a fidgety old ass and I've been doing my best to soothe the troubled breast and all that, but I'm beginning to think he's got some excuse. For goodness' sake, Aunt Harriet, do something about it. I can't afford to have a valuable uncle destroyed under my eyes. He's getting like the Lord of Burleigh, you know--walking up and pacing down and so on--and the responsibility is very wearing.'

'I'll tell you what,' said Harriet. 'You'd better come and dine in College to-morrow and see if you can spot the lady. It's no good this evening, because so many people don't turn up to Sunday supper.'

'Right-ho!' said the viscount. 'That's a dashed good idea. I'd get a dashed good birthday-present out of Uncle Peter if I solved his problem for him. So long and take care of yourself.'


'I ought to have thought of that before,' said Harriet, retailing this piece of news to the Dean; 'but I never imagined he'd recognise the woman like that after only seeing her once.'

The Dean, to whom the whole story of Lord Saint-George's ghostly encounter had come as a novelty, was inclined to be sceptical. 'Personally, I wouldn't undertake to identify anybody after one glimpse in the dark--and I certainly wouldn't trust a young harum-scarum like that. The only person here I know of with a navy sprigged foulard is Miss Lydgate, and I absolutely refuse to believe that! But ask the young man to dinner by all means. I'm all for excitement, and he's even more ornamental than the other one.'

It was borne in upon Harriet that things were coming to a crisis. 'Take precautions.' A nice fool she would look, going about with a dog-collar round her neck. Nor would it be any defence against pokers and such things.... The wind must be in the south-west, for the heavy boom of Tom tolling his hundred-and-one came clearly to her ears as she crossed the Old Quad.

'Not later than half-past nine,' Miss Ward had said. If the peril had ceased to walk by night, it was still abroad of an evening.

She went upstairs and locked the door of her room before opening a drawer and taking out the heavy strap of brass and leather. There was something about the description of that woman walking wide-eyed over Magdalen Bridge and 'clutching with her hands' that was very unpleasant to think of. She could feel Peter's grip on her throat now like a band of iron, and could hear him saying serenely, like a textbook:

'That is the dangerous spot. Compression of the big blood-vessels there will cause almost instant unconsciousness. And then, you see, you're done for.'

And at the momentary pressure of his thumbs the fire had swum in her eyes.

She turned with a start as something rattled the door-handle. Probably the passage window was open and the wind blowing in. She was getting ridiculously nervous.

The buckle was stiff to her fingers. (Is thy servant a dog that she should do this thing?) When she saw herself in the glass, she laughed. 'An arum-lily quality that is in itself an invitation to violence.' Her own face, in the drowned evening light, surprised her--softened and startled and drained of colour, with eyes that looked unnaturally large under the heavy black brows, and lips a little parted. It was like the head of someone who had been guillotined; the dark band cut it off from the body like the stroke of the headsman's steel.

She wondered whether her lover had seen it like that, through that hot unhappy year when she had tried to believe that there was happiness in surrender. Poor Philip--tormented by his own vanities, never loving her till he had killed her feelings for him, and yet perilously clutching her as he went down into the slough of death. It was not to Philip she had submitted, so much as to a theory of living. The young were always theoretical; only the middle-aged could realise the deadlines of principles. To subdue one's self to one's own end might be dangerous, but to subdue one's self to other people's ends was dust and ashes. Yet there were those, still more unhappy, who envied even the ashy saltness of those dead sea apples.

Could there ever be any alliance between the intellect and the flesh? It was this business of asking questions and analysing everything that sterilised and stultified all one's passions. Experience, perhaps, had a formula to get over this difficulty; one kept the bitter, tormenting brain on one side of the wall and the languorous sweet body on the other, and never let them meet. So that if you were made that way you could argue about loyalties in an Oxford common-room and refresh yourself elsewhere with--say--Viennese singers, presenting an unruffled surface on both sides of yourself. Easy for a man, and possible even for a woman, if one avoided foolish accidents like being tried for murder. But to seek to force incompatibles into a compromise was madness; one should neither do it nor be a party to it. If Peter wanted to make the experiment, he must do it without Harriet's connivance. Six centuries of possessive blood would not be dictated to by a bare forty-five years of over-sensitised intellect. Let the male animal take the female and be content; the busy brain could very well be 'left talking' like the hero of Man and Superman. In a long monologue, of course; for the female animal could only listen without contributing. Otherwise one would get the sort of couple one had in Private Lives, who rolled on the floor and hammered one another when they weren't making love, because they (obviously) had no conventional resources. A vista of crashing boredom, either way.

The door rattled again, as a reminder that even a little boredom might be welcome by way of change from alarms. On the mantelpiece, a solitary red pawn mocked all security ... How quietly Annie had taken Peter's warning. Did she take it seriously? Was she looking after herself? She had been her usual refined and self-contained self when she brought in the Common-room coffee that night--perhaps a little brighter looking than usual. Of course, she had had her afternoon off with Beatie and Carola.... Curious, thought Harriet, this desire to possess children and dictate their tastes, as though they were escaping fragments of one's self, and not separate individuals. Even if the taste ran to motor bikes.... Annie was all right. How about Miss de Vine, travelling down from Town in happy ignorance?--With a start, Harriet saw that it was nearly a quarter to ten. The train must be in. Had the Warden remembered about warning Miss de Vine? She ought not to be left to sleep in that ground-floor room without being forearmed. But the Warden never forgot anything.

Nevertheless, Harriet was uneasy. From her window she could not see whether any lights were on in the Library Wing. She unlocked the door and stepped out (yes--the passage window was open; nobody but the wind had rattled the handle). A few dim figures were still moving at the far end of the quad as she passed along beside the tennis court. In the Library Wing, all the ground-floor windows were dark except for the dim glow of the passage-light. Miss Barton, at any rate, was not in her room; nor was Miss de Vine back yet. Or--yes, she must be; for the window-curtains were drawn in her sitting-room, though no light shone as yet behind them.

Harriet went into the building. The door of Miss Burrows' set stood open, and the lobby was dark. Miss de Vine's door was shut. She knocked, but there was no answer--and it suddenly struck her as odd that the curtains should be drawn and no light on. She opened the door and pressed down the wall switch in the lobby. Nothing happened. With a growing sense of disquiet, she went on to the sitting-room door and opened that. And then, as her fingers went out to the switch, the fierce clutch took her by the throat.

She had two advantages; she was partly prepared, and the assailant had not expected the dog-collar. She felt and heard the quick gasp in her face as the strong, cruel fingers fumbled on the stiff leather. As they shifted their hold, she had time to remember what she had been taught--to catch and jerk the wrists apart. But as her feet felt for the other's feet, her high heels slipped on the parquet--and she was falling--they were falling together and she was undermost; they seemed to take years to fall; and all the time a stream of hoarse, filthy abuse was running into her ears. Then the world went black in fire and thunder.


Faces--swimming confusedly through crackling waves of pain--swelling and diminishing anxiously--then resolving themselves into one--Miss Hillyard's face, enormous and close to her own. Then a voice, agonisingly loud, blaring unintelligibly like a fog-horn. Then, suddenly and quite clearly, like the lighted stage of a theatre, the room, with Miss de Vine, white as marble, on the couch and the Warden bending over her, and in between, on the floor, a white bowl filled with scarlet and the Dean kneeling beside it. Then the fog-horn boomed again, and she heard her own voice, incredibly far-off and thin: 'Tell Peter--' Then nothing.


Somebody had a headache--a quite unbearably awful headache. The white bright light in the Infirmary would have been very pleasant, if it hadn't been for the oppressive neighbourhood of the person with the headache, who was, moreover, groaning very disagreeably. It was an effort to pull one's self together and find out what the tiresome person wanted. With an effort like that of a hippopotamus climbing out of a swamp, Harriet pulled herself together and discovered that the headache and the groans were her own, and that the Infirmarian had realised what she was about and was coming to lend a hand.

'What in the world--?' said Harriet.

'Ah,' said the Infirmarian, 'that's better, No--don't try to sit up. You've had a nasty knock on the head, and the quieter you keep the better.'

'Oh, I see,' said Harriet. 'I've got a beast of a headache.' A little thought located the worst part of the headache somewhere behind the right ear. She put up an exploratory hand and encountered a bandage. 'What happened?'

'That's what we'd all like to know,' said the Infirmarian.

'Well, I can't remember a thing,' said Harriet.

'It doesn't matter. Drink this.'

Like a book, thought Harriet. They always said, 'Drink this.' The room wasn't really so bright after all; the Venetian shutters were closed. It was her own eyes that were extraordinarily sensitive to light. Better shut them.


'Drink this' must have had something helpfully potent about it, because when she woke up again, the headache was better and she felt ravenously hungry. Also, she was beginning to remember things--the dog-collar and the lights that wouldn't go on--and the hands that had come clutching out of the darkness. There, memory obstinately stopped short. How the headache had come into existence she had no idea. Then she saw again the picture of Miss de Vine stretched on the couch. She asked after her.

'She's in the next room,' said the Infirmarian. 'She's had rather a nasty heart-attack, but she's better now. She would try to do too much, and, of course, finding you like that was a shock to her.'

It was not till the evening, when the Dean came in and found the patient fretting herself into a fever of curiosity, that Harriet got a complete story of the night's adventures.

'Now, if you'll keep quiet,' said the Dean, 'I'll tell you. If not, not. And your beautiful young man has sent you a young gardenful of flowers and will call again in the morning. Well, now! Poor Miss de Vine got here about 10 o'clock--her train was a bit late--and Mullins met her with a message to go and see the Warden at once. However, she thought she'd better take her hat off first, so she went along to her rooms--all in a hurry, so as not to keep Dr. Baring waiting. Well, of course, the first thing was that the lights wouldn't go on; and then to her horror she heard you, my dear, snorting on the floor in the dark. So then she tried the table-lamp and that worked--and there you were, a nasty bluggy sight for a respectable female don to find in her sitting-room. You've got two beautiful stitches in you, by the way; it was the corner of the bookcase did that.... So Miss de Vine rushed out calling for help, but there wasn't a soul in the building, and then, my dear, she ran like fury over to Burleigh and some students tore out to see what was happening and then somebody fetched the Warden and somebody else fetched the Infirmarian and somebody else fetched Miss Stevens and Miss Hillyard and me who were having a quiet cup of tea in my room, and we rang up the doctor, and Miss de Vine's groggy heart went back on her, what with shock and running about, and she went all blue on us--we had a lovely time.'

'You must have. One other gaudy night! I suppose you haven't found who did it?'

'For quite a long time we hadn't a moment to think about that part of it. And then, just as we were settling down, all the fuss started again about Annie.'

'Annie? What's happened to her?'

'Oh, didn't you know? We found her in the coal-hole, my dear, in such a state, what with coal-dust and hammering her fists on the door; and I wonder she wasn't clean off her head, poor thing, locked up there all that time. And if it hadn't been for Lord Peter we mightn't even have begun to look for her till next morning, what with everything being in such an uproar.'

'Yes--he warned her she might be attacked.... How did he--? Did you get him on the 'phone, or what?'

'Oh, yes. Well, after we'd got you and Miss de Vine to bed and had made up our minds you wouldn't either of you peg out yet awhile, somebody brightly remembered that the first thing you said when we picked you up was "Tell Peter." So we rang up the Mitre and he wasn't there; and then Miss Hillyard said she knew where he was and 'phoned through. That was after midnight. Fortunately, he hadn't gone to bed. He said he'd come over at once, and then he asked what had happened to Annie Wilson. Miss Hillyard thought the shock had affected his wits, I think. However, he insisted that she ought to be kept an eye on, so we all started to look for her. Well, you know what a job it is tracking anybody down in this place, and we hunted and hunted and nobody had seen anything of her. And then, just before two, Lord Peter arrived, looking like death, and said we were to turn the place upside down if we didn't want a corpse on our hands. Nice and reassuring that was!'

'I wish I hadn't missed it all,' said Harriet. 'He must have thought I was an awful ass to let myself be knocked out like that.'

'He didn't say so,' said the Dean, drily. 'He came in to see you, but of course you were under the weather. And of course he explained about the dog-collar, which had puzzled us all dreadfully.'

'Yes. She went for my throat. I do remember that. I suppose she really meant to get Miss de Vine.'

'Obviously. And with her weak heart--and no dog-collar--she wouldn't have had much chance, or so the doctor said. It was very lucky for her you happened to go in there. Or did you know?'

'I think,' said Harriet, her memory still rather confused, 'I went to tell her about Peter's warning and--oh, yes! there was something funny about the window-curtains. And the lights were all off.'

'The bulbs had been taken out. Well, anyway, somewhere about four o'clock, Padgett found Annie. She was locked up in the coal-cellar under the Hall Building, at the far end of the boiler-house. The key'd been taken away and Padgett had to break in the door. She was pounding and shouting--but of course, if we hadn't been searching for her she might have yelled till Doomsday, especially as the radiators are off, and we're not using the furnace. She was in what they call a state of collapse and couldn't give us a coherent story for ever so long. But there's nothing really the matter with her except shock and bruises where she was flung down on the coal-heap. And of course her hands and arms were pretty well skinned with battering on the door and trying to climb out of the ventilator.'

'What did she say happened?'

'Why, she was putting away the deck-chairs in the loggia about half-past nine, when somebody seized her round the neck from behind and frog's-marched her off to the cellar. She said it was a woman, and very strong--'

'She was,' said Harriet. 'I can bear witness to that. Grip like steel. And a most unfeminine vocabulary.'

'Annie says she never saw who it was, but she thought that the arm that was round her face had a dark sleeve on. Annie's own impression was that it was Miss Hillyard; but she was with the Bursar and me. But a good many of our strongest specimens haven't got alibis--particularly Miss Pyke, who says she was in her room, and Miss Barton, who claims to have been in the Fiction Library, looking for a "nice book to read." And Mrs. Goodwin, and Miss Burrows aren't very well accounted for, either. According to their own story, they were each seized at the same moment with an unaccountable desire to wander. Miss Burrows went to commune with Nature in the Fellows' Garden and Mrs. Goodwin to commune with a higher Authority in the Chapel. We are all looking rather askance at one another to-day.'

'I wish to goodness,' said Harriet, 'I'd been a trifle more efficient,' she pondered a moment. 'I wonder why she didn't stay to finish me off.'

'Lord Peter wondered that, too. He said he thought she must either have thought you were dead, or been alarmed by the blood and finding she'd got the wrong person. When you went limp, she'd probably feel about and she'd know you were not Miss de Vine--short hair and no spectacles, you see--and she'd hurry off to get rid of any blood-stains before somebody came along. At least, that was his theory. He looked pretty queer about it.'

'Is he here now?'

'No; he had to go back.... Something about getting an early 'plane from Croydon. He rang up and made a great to-do, but apparently it was all settled and he had to go. If any of his prayers are heard, I shouldn't think anybody in the Government would have a whole place in his body this morning. So I comforted him with hot coffee and he went off leaving orders that neither you nor Miss de Vine nor Annie was to be left alone for a single moment. And he's rung up once from London and three times from Paris.'

'Poor old Peter!' said Harriet. 'He never seems to get a night's rest.'

'Meanwhile the Warden is valiantly issuing an unconvincing statement to the effect that somebody played a foolish practical joke on Annie, that you accidentally slipped and cut your head and that Miss de Vine was upset by the sight of blood. And the College gates are shut to all comers, for fear they should be reporters in disguise. But you can't keep the scouts quiet--goodness knows what reports are going out by the tradesmen's entrance. However, the great thing is that nobody's killed. And now I must be off, or the Infirmarian will have my blood and there really will be an inquest.'


The next day brought Lord Saint-George. 'My turn to visit the sick,' he said. 'You're a nice, restful aunt for a fellow to adopt, I don't think. Do you realise that you've done me out of a dinner?'

'Yes,' said Harriet. 'It's a pity--Perhaps I'd better tell the Dean. You might be able to identify--'

'Now don't you start laying plots,' said he, 'or your temperature will go up. You leave it to Uncle. He says he'll be back to-morrow, by the way, and the evidence is rolling in nicely and you're to keep quiet and not worry. Honour bright. Had him on the 'phone this morning. He's all of a doodah. Says anybody could have done his business in Paris, only they've got it into their heads he's the only person who can get on the right side of some tedious old mule or other who has to be placated or conciliated or something. As far as I can make out, some obscure journalist has been assassinated and somebody's trying to make an international incident of it. Hence the pyramids. I told you Uncle Peter had a strong sense of public duty; now you see it in action.'

'Well, he's quite right.'

'What an unnatural woman you are! He ought to be here, weeping into the sheets and letting the international situation blow itself to blazes.' Lord Saint-George chuckled. 'I wish I'd been on the road with him on Monday morning. He collected five summonses in the round trip between Warwickshire and Oxford and London. My mother will be delighted. How's your head?'

'Doing fine. It was more the cut than the bump, I think.'

'Scalp-wounds do bleed, don't they? Completely pig-like. Still, it's as well you're not a "corpse in the case with a sad, swelled face." You'll be all right when they get the stitches out. Only a bit convict-like that side of the head. You'll have to be cropped all round to even matters up and Uncle Peter can wear your discarded tresses next his heart.'

'Come, come,' said Harriet. 'He doesn't date back to the seventies.'

'He's ageing rapidly. I should think he's nearly got to the sixties by now. With beautiful, golden side-whiskers. I really think you ought to rescue him before his bones start to creak and the spiders spin webs over his eyes.'

'You and your uncle,' said Harriet, 'should be set to turn phrases for a living.'
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