Lonely Road

Free Lonely Road by Nevil Shute

Book: Lonely Road by Nevil Shute Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nevil Shute
replied. “We only knew that something of the sort might be on foot.”
    I nodded. “Stenning may be able to tell you some more about where the guns came from,” I observed. “But as for where they were going to, you want the driver of the lorry.” I was silent for a minute then, thinking of that painted, kindly girl serving her profession to the beating rhythm and the changing lights.
    Sir David Carter nodded: “Exactly so. In fact, our next step should be to secure a little more information than you havebeen able to give us from the woman in Leeds. The professional dancer, Miss Gordon.”
    “Well,” I said, “that’s easy enough.”
    Fedden coughed. “I’m not so sure about that,” he said dryly.
    I eyed him in surprise. “Well,” I said, “you can have her up and ask her where her brother is?”
    The man called Norman spoke up then: “You must understand, Commander Stevenson, that the police have no power to interrogate a witness. They can invite the witness to make a voluntary statement, but the whole conduct of these matters is not so easy as it was.”
    Sir David Carter leaned forward in his chair. “I see no reason for dissembling,” he said. “Frankly, Commander Stevenson, we find ourselves faced with a difficulty in this investigation. I will put it to you as briefly as I can.”
    He paused for a little time, and then he said: “I would have you understand that in this office our business is to keep the peace. To surprise and to suppress any rising whatsoever that may be attempted against the elected government of the country—no matter what political aspect that rising may assume. Our business is to keep the peace of the country.”
    He considered for a moment. “In this instance the disturbance which we suspect is identical in character with the Left Wing of the Government. I see no point in mincing matters. We have in this country a moderate Labour Government, and here, in the seclusion of this office, we suspect that these guns are intended to arm a Communist rising of some sort.”
    I nodded slowly. I was beginning to see something of the difficulty.
    Sir David continued: “I trust most sincerely that further investigation will show that our suspicions have no foundation in fact. But if they should have such foundation, then I have confidence that the Government will allow no political complexities to interfere with the proper suppression of any attempt against the peace of the realm, and with the punishment of the offenders. I have that confidence.”
    He eyed me for a moment. “Supposing, however, a mistakewere made in this affair. Suppose that from this office we made public our suspicions of a rising in the Communist interest, which events proved to be groundless. It is not difficult to see the play which would be made with such a mistake by the Left Wing. In this matter, we must have a cast-iron case before publicity occurs.”
    “I see that,” I said.
    “I do not think that anyone would describe this as a cast-iron case at the moment,” he remarked dryly.
    He paused for a minute, and then he went on: “Therefore, we cannot afford to give any publicity to this matter at the moment. And now we come to a further difficulty. You spoke just now of the possibility that we might interrogate this woman in Leeds about the movements of her brother. I wonder if you realise our difficulties, to-day, in the interrogation of feminine witnesses?”
    I stared at him for a moment, and then I realised what he was driving at. “I see,” I said. “You mean Lord Lee’s Commission.”
    He inclined his head. “Exactly. Consider our position in this matter. If we were to interrogate this woman in the manner which occurred to you—and as we might have done a year ago—what should we be doing? We should be taking information from her which might lead, in the end, to the arrest of her brother upon a criminal charge. In all probability we should not have indicated to her the result of any statement

Similar Books

The Sunday Hangman

James McClure

Big Girls Don't Cry

Gretchen Lane

The Do Over

A. L. Zaun

Fools' Gold

Philippa Gregory

A Noble Radiance

Donna Leon