Fog of Doubt

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Authors: Christianna Brand
that’s what it sounded like, but of course I may not have heard properly. Only how could anybody have come in and hit Raoul with a mastoid mallet? It’s simply mad!’
    â€˜But, do you mean this Raoul Vernet? Why on earth should you think it was him?’
    â€˜Well, he sounded foreign, Tedward, and of course I went on and on saying, “Tell me where you are,” and at last he sort of gasped it out and it was our address. Our address! ’
    â€˜Come on!’ said Tedward. He caught up her hat and coat from the chair and thrust them into her arms and ran out with her through the hall and into the warmly purring car. She tumbled in beside him and he let in the clutch. ‘And then, Tedward, it was too awful, but there was a sort of bonk, and nothing more.’
    â€˜You mean as if he’d dropped the receiver?’
    â€˜Well, I don’t know; just a bonk and then nothing.’
    A bumper scraped against wood as the car crept out of the gate and into the street that ran along the side of the canal. He said: ‘My God, this fog’s worse than I thought. I wonder if we ought to ring up the house, first, and see.’
    â€˜Well, it did come into my head but then I thought that if he’d dropped the receiver, it wouldn’t be any good.’
    â€˜Well, I think we’d just better get there as quick as we can.’
    But as quick as they could was still not very quick. Muttering curses, he steered the car through the network of streets that in the daytime he knew so well. Rosie sat huddled beside him in the scarlet coat. Could it be Raoul, Tedward.…? But Tedward, how could Raoul have known to ring up your number.…? And what about Tilda.…? And what about Granny …? And why didn’t Tilda ring up? and, don’t you think that surely Thomas would be back by now.…? ‘Rosie, darling, how on earth can I know?’ he said, nervously irritable; making good headway here, creeping at snail’s pace there, finally giving up and confessing that he had hopelessly lost the way, climbing out to reconnoitre, coming back, shivering—for he had not waited even to snatch up his overcoat—having discovered that they were in Sutherland Avenue after all. ‘Won’t be long now, chicken. I know exactly where we are, don’t worry.’
    â€˜That’s what you said before.…’
    â€˜Yes, but this time I really do.…’
    Until at last he said: ‘This is Maida Vale now—we shan’t be long,’ and edged the car round a corner, hugging the kerb, and crept along the broad, straight level of the main road, and, after a little while, pulled up. ‘It must be somewhere just here, Rosie; I’ll edge her across the road.’ She got out and stood on the step, directing him, looking over the roof of the car at the row of houses on the other side of the street. Not even an outline, not even the outline of the familiar, rather lumpy gateposts, but—dimly, dimly glowing through the thick veils of the fog, lights where lights should be at this hour if this was home: a light in the ground-floor right-hand window, a light in the hall, a light on the first floor, in the nursery.… (Goodness knew, Tilda was a maniac about the baby’s routine, but surely to heavens she wasn’t serenely potting Emma while Raoul lay slain with a mastoid mallet on the floor below?)
    The gateposts loomed suddenly up before them. ‘Yes, this is us—whoa! Well, you’ve overshot it a bit, but never mind.…’ She leapt off the running-board and scrambled round, with a hand for a moment on the warm bonnet, fumbling, almost before the car had stopped, at the handle of his door. He got out, thrusting the ignition key into his pocket. ‘Steady on now!’ He held her for a moment, quietening her; and up in the nursery, the light went out.
    Up in the nursery, the light went out. By the little car at the gates,

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