Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton

Book: Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton Read Free Book Online
Authors: MC Beaton
end of my stay. She was talking about money and business and told me she was running a charity. She
said that everyone had money worries today and I said I was quite comfortably off, thank you, and she asked me if I would contribute to her charity, but when I heard it was for the homeless, I
refused. I said if these people were homeless, then it was their own fault.’
    To Agatha’s relief, James abruptly lost interest in anything further that Miss Purvey might have to say. He put down his cup.
    ‘Thank you for your hospitality. We really must be going.’
    ‘Oh, must you? I could be of help to you, I think.’
    ‘You have already been of great help,’ said James courteously.
    ‘That’s very kind of you,’ Agatha said, getting to her feet and gathering up her handbag and gloves. ‘But I don’t see –’
    ‘My powers of observation,’ she cried. ‘I would make a very good detective. Now, now, Mr Lacey,’ she said roguishly, ‘you have already marked me down as an expert
    ‘Quite,’ he said hastily. He took out a card and gave it to her. ‘If you find anything, I will be at this address.’
    After they had gone, Miss Purvey paced up and down her small cottage living-room. She felt excited, elated. That handsome Mr Lacey had looked at her in such a way! She
walked to the window and peered up, rubbing the glass. The mist had taken on a yellowish light showing that, far above, the sun was trying to struggle through.
    Miss Purvey had a sudden longing for the lights and shops of Mircester. She had one close friend, Belinda Humphries, who ran a small dress shop in a shopping arcade in Mircester. Miss Purvey
decided to go and see her, relishing the joys of describing James Lacey and the way he had looked at her. Of course, he had had Mrs Raisin with him, but she had asked him in the kitchen if they
were going to be married after all and he had said quietly, ‘Not now,’ and she, Miss Purvey, was only a teensy bit older than Mrs Raisin.
    She put on her coat and that sort of felt hat beloved by middle-class Englishwomen and damned as ‘sensible’, and made her way out to her Ford Escort, which was parked on the road
outside the cottage.
    Driving slowly and carefully, she joined the dual carriageway road some miles outside the village, and moving into the fast lane, drove at a steady thirty miles per hour, seemingly deaf to the
furious horns and flashing lights of the drivers behind her.
    To her dismay, the fog began to thicken as she approached Mircester. She found a parking place in the central square, got out, locked her car and went to the shopping arcade. A neat sign hanging
on the glass door said CLOSED. She gave a little cluck of dismay. She had forgotten it was half-day in Mircester.
    She felt too strung up to go home. Of course she could have gone to Belinda’s cottage, but that lay in a village twenty miles in the opposite direction out of Mircester from where she
herself lived.
    Miss Purvey decided to treat herself to a visit to the cinema. A Bruce Willis Die Hard movie was showing and Miss Purvey found Bruce Willis exciting. She had seen it before but knew she
would enjoy seeing it again.
    She bought a ticket at the kiosk and took a seat in the still-lit cinema. The programme was due to start in a few minutes.
    Miss Purvey settled down and took a packet of strong peppermints out of her handbag, extracted one and popped it in her mouth. There were not many people in the cinema. She twisted round to see
if there was anyone she knew and then her gaze fastened on the person in the row behind her, a little to her left. She turned away and then stiffened in her seat. Surely she had seen that face
    She twisted round again and said in her loud, plummy voice, ‘I’ve seen you somewhere before, haven’t I?’
    Rose, the usherette, was fifty-something, with bad feet. The days when usherettes were pert young things with trays of ices had long gone. The ices and popcorn were bought

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