Fog of Doubt

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Authors: Christianna Brand
Tedward held Rosie, for a brief second, trembling in his arms; half a mile away, Thomas Evans crawled homewards again, blear-eyed and sick at heart, a moment away Damien Jones leaned against the solid comfort of a rough brick wall and vomited up his panic-stricken little soul; down in her basement room, Melissa stared into a mirror that reflected back a terrified, sick white face, and, up on the first floor, old Mrs. Evans leaned back panting against her pillows, her wig awry. In the nursery, Matilda Evans put out the light and went softly out and started down the stairs.
    At the turn, she stopped. Ted Edwards was standing in the open doorway, staring up at her, Rosie at his shoulder, the curls of the grey fog eddying about them, like smoke. And, between stairs and door, pitched face-downwards on the floor of the hall, lay Raoul—Raoul Vernet who, two brief hours before, had arrived with his bouquets and his speeches at her door; lying there on the floor of the hall one hand still clutching the receiver of the telephone, with the sloping, round bald patch at the back of his head, smashed in. No little black dots now, but a lake of hideous red.…

CHAPTER SIX
    S O Rosie told Inspector Cockrill.
    Cockie was sitting with his feet up on the mantelpiece—which fortunately was a low one, or his short legs would have been practically vertical and his behind in the fire—languidly reading the Kentish Mercury . It was a strange occupation for the Inspector at ten o’clock in the morning; but Cockie was on a holiday-at-home—and all he could say was that if this were a foretaste of what retirement was going to be like, he had better invest in a couple of disguises forthwith and set up in a private detective agency, to give himself something to do. Not that, down here in Heronsford, concealment would be of much use: no density of beard and whisker could long conceal him from the sheep, black and white, among whom he had moved, the Terror of Kent, for so long; no upturned collar and down-pulled hat disguise the sparse grey hair, the splendid head, the beaky nose, the bird-like bright brown eye. He would have to set up somewhere else, and London, of course, was the place. But Cockie had had his bellyful of London, last time he came up. That Jezebel case—and that maddening young, cock-a-hoop chap, Detective Inspector Charlesworth, forsooth, of Scotland Yard.… Oh, well, he thought; no more of him!
    The telephone rang. A feminine voice concluded what had evidently been a mildly flirtatious skirmish with the male voice of TOL., and asked for Inspector Cockrill. ‘Cockie? Oh, Cockie, it’s Rosie— you know, Rosie Evans. Cockie, we’re in such a thing up here, do come and get us all out of it, I can’t tell you how awful it is.’
    â€˜What are you talking about?’
    â€˜Well, I’m just telling you. Cockie, dear, I’m most terribly sorry to bother you about it, and especially when you’re so busy and terrifically important and everything, but you’re the only person in the police that we can turn to.…’
    Cockie reflected briefly that a great many people prefaced an appeal for help with the not very flattering confession that he was the only person they were able to turn to; still, Rosie at any rate added that he was terrifically important—and, what was more, confidently believed it. ‘Now start at the beginning, my dear child. What’s happened?’
    â€˜Well, Cockie, it seems quite incredible but a chap’s been killed, I mean a friend of ours, killed here in our house. I mean murdered. Some horrible burglar or somebody came in and blipped him on the head and killed him.’
    â€˜You’ve called in the police?’ said Cockrill, quickly.
    â€˜Oh, good lord yes, at least they’ve called themselves in, hundreds of them, milling all over the place. But they’re no good, they’re only making it worse. I mean, Cockie,

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