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Lesson 30

                                  Who Did It?

                                        Text A

    Inspector Chester of Scotland Yard soon arrived on the scene of the crime. When the newspapermen saw him getting out of the car they immediately realised that matters were serious. Inspector Chester had a fine reputation. He had solved many difficult and complicated crimes during the last few years. Most of them were robberies. This one concerned the theft of jewels belonging to a famous film actress. She was reputed to be a millionairess. So it was not surprising that the missing jewels were valued at a quarter of a million pounds.


    The newspapermen were eager to question the detective. He stood on the pavement outside the house and smiled at the photographers. "Have you a statement to make?" somebody asked. The detective - tall, thick-set, middle-aged, clean-shaven pushed his way through the crowd, climbed a few steps to the front door, turned round and said in a cool, clear voice: "I have no statement to make. 

As soon as there is anything fresh to tell you, I'll let you know. " He beckoned to a policeman, whispered a few words in his ear and went into the house. After a "Move along, please" from the policeman, the crowd gradually dispersed.


    Upstairs , Inspector Chester walked over to the French windows. It was probably through these that the~thieves had come.They had left no clues, no finger-prints. It had apparently not been difficult for them to break into the safe. Just as the detective was about to examine this once again, the telephone rang.


    "Hullo, Inspector", a soft, monotonous voice said. "If you want a clue, why don't you talk to the servant? The one with a small scar on the right cheek. "
    Was this a trick? Would it put the Inspector on the right track?

                                       Text B

    Inspector Robinson was swearing aloud when he arrived at the fine, old house at the top of the hill. The past few weeks had heen rough for him, and it looked as if there was more trouble ahead. It was raining hard , and Carruthers , his assistant, who was waiting for him at the gate, was wet to the skin. As they walked up the path together, Carruthers explained what had happened.


    The woman, Sylvia Fortagne, a daughter of Lord Arthrington, had been found dead in the sitting-room by one of the servants that evening. The police doctor, who had examined the body, was sure that it was a clear case of poisoning. They had not moved the body; it still lay face upwards, where it had fallen.Underneath her body they had found the photograph of an unknown young man. 

There had been no signs of a struggle. The woman's husband had not been seen since lunchtime. According to the cook he had left the house "in anger", as she put it, after a quarrel with his wife, and had gone for a ride on one of his favourite horses.
    Carruthers pushed open the front door, and the two men entered the hall.Inspector Robinson took off his hat and went into the sitting-room.


    -We'll have to wait, said Carruthers wiping his glasses. -It's no use waiting, said the Inspector. I don't think he'll dare to come back. It's pretty obvious he did it.
    Saying this , he put on his hat. They were about to leave the house when they saw a dark figure approaching them from out of the shadows. It was Nigel Fortagne.

    Nigel Fortagne's story
    -Yes, it's true that I knew that my wife was in love with another man, but I trusted her and believed that she would forget about him sooner or later. But when she returned from a weekend in Paris this morning, she told me that she wanted a divorce and threatened to do something terrible if I didn't agree to it. I refused, of course.

 She drank heavily at lunchtime and even opened the bottle which she had brought as a present for me. She insisted that I should join her for a drink, but I didn't, because I had taken my medicine. I'm not supposed to take it, with alcohol. I suffer from a weak heart , you see. She was in a terrible state, so I put some of my pills into my glass when she wasn't looking. Then I exchanged the glasses.

 It was not really rriuch, but, of course, I should have known how dangerous these pills can be. But at that moment I was so angry that I didn't care. I was sic'k and tired of the argument and left the house.She was so drunk she wouldn't have noticed any difference in the taste of the sherry. I came back to see how she was. And , besides, there's no point in running away, because life doesn't mean anything to me without her.

    James Highsmith's story
    Afterwards, James Highsmith, the young man in the photograph, was questioned by Inspector Robinson. When he was told what had happened he broke down.


    -Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that we were in love. We had a wonderful time in Paris, but I was afraid of losing her. Sylvia often talked about killing him because he would never agree to a divorce. I begged her not to do it, but she said that one of us had to. Then I found one of his prescriptions in her hand-bag. I bought the medicine, put some of it into a bottle of sherry and told Sylvia to give it to him as a present.

 It was him or me. I wasn't anxious about her drinking from the bottle because I was fairly sure that it wasn't really enough to kill a normal, healthy grown-up. I must have killed her, though, and the only comfort I can find in her death is that I don't have to share her with him any longer.

    Sylvia Fortagne's story
    James Highsmith did not know that the police had found a message on a slip of paper in Sylvia Fortagne's hand-bag.
   
    Dear James,
    Please forgive me for the terrible thing I am going to do, but it's the only way out. I have considered everything carefully, and I know it's very selfish, but W. has destroyed my life and made me thoroughly unhappy.When you receive this letter he will have been found dead after a heart attack with a glass of sherry in his hand. I tried to phone you earlier this morning, but couldn't reach you. In case they examine the body they will think that he took an overdose of his medicine by mistake. His family will come over to comfort me and will probably stay for a few weeks, so, please,don't try to get in touch. It will all be worth it in the end.
       All my love,
          Yours ever,
               S.

                           Additional Information
                           Crime and Punishment

                       From the court notes of a local reporter

    In court at 9 0' clock.Apart from me there are a few old ladies who have come to sit in the warm and a class of 14-15 year-old with their teacher.
9:00 Court starts. First case: Henry P. , 47, divorced, charged with being  
drunk. He refused to leave a pub at closing time and caused a bit of
damage when the police tried to arrest him. P. said he had had an
argument with his boss.and could not face going home to an empty flat.

 

9:20 Mrs F. , 72, shoplifting. Apparently Mrs F. had stolen a frozen chicken,  
which she had hidden under her hat (At this the school children burst
out laughing and even the magistrates have difficulty keeping a straight
face). The chicken was so cold that she fell unconscious. otherwise she
would probably not have been caught. Mrs F, in tears, says she had not
eaten meat for three weeks. It torns out that, although she has the
old-age pension, she does not know about other forms of support.

 

9:40 James S. , 42, a teacher, charged with beating his wife and two young
children. Mrs S. is in hospital in bad shape; the mother-inlaw
is taking care of the children. The neighbours sent for the police-one
case, thank heavens, where neighbours did not "mind their own business".
Mrs S. had already run away twice, but S. had promised to change and she
had gone home again. S. said that he was ashamed of what he had done,
but that he often lost his temper with his wife, who was quarrelsome and
had no sense of duty. The school children looked thoughtful;they
probably thought that teachers do not do that sort of thing.

 

10:30 Peter D. , 19. D. stole , or rather"borrowed"a motorcycle , intending,
he said, to give it back to the owner after trying it out. D.'s father
is at sea and the mother is left to bring up four children , of whom
Peter is the eldest, by herself:

 

11: 00 Mrs A. , 45 , a doctor's wife , president of a local ladies' club , was  
caught leaving a fashion shop wearing two dresses , only one of which
belonged to her. Admitting that'she had wanted to steal the dress, she
could not explain why.