Coroner's Pidgin

Free Coroner's Pidgin by Margery Allingham

Book: Coroner's Pidgin by Margery Allingham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Margery Allingham
from?” he demanded. He was in command of himself again, but his eyes were wary and there was no longer any hint of a smile on his mouth. They all looked at him blankly. The Onyers appeared puzzled. Gold uncomfortable, and Dolly Chivers slightly amused.
    â€œI found it in the hall,” Ricky repeated.
    Carados turned on Onyer. “Was it there when you came in?”
    â€œI really don’t remember, do you, Campion?”
    â€œI didn’t notice it. It may have been.”
    â€œWell, where did it come from?” Carados had raised his voice and for the first time he seemed aware of the unexpectedness of his own reaction. “I’d like to know,” he said more normally. “Do you make anything of it, Campion?”
    The man in the horn-rimmed spectacles turned over the wrapping. “It’s old stuff,” he said, “that’s what struck me when Silva brought it in. It’s a Welby & Smith parcel, the sort of thing they sent out before the war. There’s no packing like this these days. This is out of someone’s junk cupboard, I should think.”
    â€œI believe I’ve seen that rose before,” said Gwenda. “I don’t know why you’re getting so excited, Johnny. Isn’t it out of the dressing-up box, Dolly?”
    â€œYes, of course it is.” Miss Chivers smiled to find a prosaic explanation. “There’s any amount of rubbish in there, and the brown paper’s kept there too. It’s probably some sort of joke.”
    The big man took up the dilapidated yellow flower, and carried it over to Gwenda. “Are you sure you recognize it?” he said. “Come here, Dolly. Has this been in the house before?”
    The two women glanced at each other.
    â€œI think so,” said Miss Chivers at last. “I’ll go and look in a minute; there may be some more like it. We had a lot of this sort of thing for that musical comedy party in ’thirty-eight. Do you remember? I don’t see the point of it though. Does it matter?”
    Johnny hesitated. “It matters quite a bit if it came from outside,” he said. “If it came from inside—well, I’m not particularly amused.”
    The threat was unmistakable, and once again they all looked at him. In the silence the door burst open, and Admiral Dickon came in.

CHAPTER SEVEN
    UNTIL THAT MOMENT, Mr. Campion had stupidly supposed all great sailors to be uniformly small men, square andirascible, with shining skins and sky-blue eyes. The Admiral was a disappointment to him. Susan’s father was a vast, red Drake of a man, with a head like a Saint Bernard and the same dog’s air of rigidly controlled energy. Everything about him was large and the glance he gave the room was comprehensive and sweeping. Carados, who was a powerful figure himself, looked small beside him.
    â€œI’ve got him,” said the Admiral. “We’re having lunch with him at the Saladin Club. I don’t know if he can do much, but we’ve hooked him anyway.”
    He was clearly pleased, and stood waiting, expecting no doubt the lunching party to set out forthwith.
    Meanwhile, Johnny was looking at Onyer and a silent argument was taking place between them. Finally Johnny shrugged his shoulders.
    â€œWait a bit, sir,” he said slowly. “I’m afraid there’s been a development. The unfortunate woman was murdered; at least, that seems to be the police idea.”
    The Admiral looked down at him for some time.
    â€œOh,” he said.
    An uncomfortable silence followed, during which it seemed to Campion that the full seriousness of the situation came home at last to everyone. Hitherto the little company had been considering its own personal positions, but this exuberant giant was essentially a normal man with normal reactions, and they saw the story for an instant as it must appear in his eyes. A woman had been killed, the unforgivable crime committed;

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