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Unformatted text preview: the shock. Mr. Waring, a terrible thing has happened."
"Is Clayton seriously injured ?"
She caught her breath.
"Worse than that. He's dead...."
The room spun round.
A feeling as of icy water trickling down
his spine rendered Harold incapable of
speech for a moment or two.
He repeated dully:
Mrs. Rice nodded.
She said, and her voice had the flat level
tones of complete exhaustion: "The corner of that marble paperweight
caught him right on the temple
and he fell back with his head on the iron
fender. I don't know which it was that
killed him--but he is certainly dead. I
have seen death often enough to know.53
Disaster -- that was the word that rang
insistently in Harold's brain. Disaster, disaster, disaster....
He said vehemently:
"It was an accident.... I saw it happen."
Mrs. Rice said sharply:
"Of course it was an accident. / know
that. But--but--is any one else going
to think so ? I'm -- frankly, I'm frightened,
Harold! This isn't England.35
Harold said slowly:
cc! can confirm Elsie's story."
Mrs. Rice said:
"Yes, and she can confirm yours. That --that is just it!"
Harol(Ts brain, naturally a keen and
cautious one, saw her point. He reviewed
the whole thing and appreciated the weakness
of their position.
He and Elsie had spent a good deal of their time together. Then there was the
fact that they had been seen together in
the pinewoods by one of the Polish women
under rather compromising circumstances.
The Polish ladies apparently spoke no
English, but they might nevertheless understand
it a little. The woman might have
known the meaning of words like ^jealously" and "husband" if she had
chanced to overhear their conversation.
Anyway it was clear that it was something
she had said to Clayton that had aroused
his jealousy. And now -- his death. When
Clayton had died, he, Harold, had been in
Elsie Clayton^s room. There was nothing
to show that he had not deliberately assaulted
Philip Clayton with the paperweight.
Nothing to show that the jealous
husband had not actually found them
together. There was only his word and
Elsie's. Would they be believed ?
A cold fear gripped him.
He did not imagine -- no, he really did
not imagine -- that either he or Elsie was
in danger of being condemned to death
for a murder they had not committed. Surely, in any case, it could only be a
charge of manslaughter brought against
them. (Did they have manslaughter in
these foreign countries ?) But even if they
were acquitted of blame there would have
to be an inquiry -- it would be reported in
all the papers. An English man and woman
accused--jealous husband--rising politician. Yes, it would mean the end of his
political career. It would never survive a
scandal like that.
He said on an impulse:
"Can't we get rid of the body somehow ?
Plant it somewhere ?"
Mrs. Rice's astonished and scornful
look made him blush. She said incisively:
"My dear Harold,...
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