A Question of Proof

A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake

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Authors: Nicholas Blake
told him what the superintendent had said to her: Mr. Evans had altered his evidence and would she corroborate his new story. ‘So of course I did. Michael, it’s a shaming thing to have to tell you, but I must. I thought at first you’d done it because you’d lost your nerve. Please forgive me.’
    Michael forgave her with many kisses, ‘Well, I suppose I did,’ he said, ‘it broke me up altogether when he said that he believed you’d done the deed. I could have killed him.’
    ‘I wish you would, Michael. I don’t like him at all; his horrid pig’s eyes and his smarmy manners. I believe he’s capable of anything – he’s probably ordering ropes for both of us now,’ she added, laughing.
    ‘Oh, I don’t think he’s as bad as all that. After all, he might have made a nasty fuss about the lies we told him. And he did give me every chance to prove his theory wrong.’
    ‘Well, I wouldn’t trust him an inch. You know, Michael,’ she went on irrelevantly, ‘I feel as if I’d just been reprieved and let out of prison. The grass is extra green and the sky extra blue and the birds singing specially for us. I feel good. I think we ought to be good. I think we ought to tell Percy.’
    ‘Get in our word before it all comes out in the general washing of dirty linen. Your psychological motives are highly questionable.’
    Hero flushed and stiffened a little. ‘You have rather a mean mind sometimes. I hate this talk about psychological motives. What’s the point in rooting out all the bad reasons that one does a good thing for?’
    ‘I didn’t say “bad reasons”.’
    ‘Oh, don’t be silly. You know that whenever you say “psychological motives” you mean to imply the worst . Presumably there are psychological motives behind our loving each other, but you don’t talk about them. No doubt you’ll start to when you get tired of it.’
    ‘Hero, don’t turn away from me like that. We mustn’t start quarreling now. It’s this damned murder business which is upsetting me. You can’t imagine what it’s like in the common room. Every one seems on the point of flying at every one else’s throat. Gadsby and Wrench have had a dustup already, and Tiverton simply snaps every one’s head off. Griffin seems the only one of us left who is not qualifying for the loony-bin. But I think you’re right. We ought to tell Percy.’
    ‘I’m so glad. My sweet, you know I didn’t mean it – about your having a mean mind. Let’s wait a few days, though, till he’s got over this shock.’
    ‘Is he taking it badly?’
    ‘Oh, just what you’d expect. The school will be ruined, and so on. He’s forgotten all about Algernon, I think. But one oughtn’t to talk about him like that. Poor dear, the school is the only thing he can see.’
L’école, c’est moi
. Well, let’s hope that Nigel finds the murderer outside it.’
    ‘Tell me about Nigel. We’d better start off again. You can tell me on the way.’
    ‘Nigel? Oh, he’s a very good stick indeed. Up at Oxford with me – for goodness’ sake keep your eye on the road and not me; you nearly ditched us then –’
    ‘You look so nice, I can’t take my eyes off you.’
    ‘Up at Oxford with me, I repeat. Could not stick two years of the place, the spectacle of so many quite decent youths being got at and ruined for life was too much for him. Heard that at Cambridge the hearties were still heartier and the intelligentsia even less intelligent, so decided to dispense with any further education. So he answered all his examinations in limericks – very good answers, I believe – he’s a first-rate brain, but it alienated the dons, they have no taste for modem poetry, and he got sent down. Travelled about for a bit, learning languages. Then settled down to investigate crime; said it was the only career left which offered scope to good manners and scientific curiosity. He’s been very successful; made pots of money. He did all the stuff in the Duchess of

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