Fete Fatale

Fete Fatale by Robert Barnard Page B

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Authors: Robert Barnard
around the room, giving no sign on that impassive face of whether he approved of our taste in pictures or not. Both he and Parkin had notebooks, in which they made very occasional jottings. When both of them had had a sip or two of the coffee, Coulton started straight in.
    â€˜Mrs Kitterege,’ he began, ‘I believe you became aware of your husband’s death—’
    â€˜When I saw him floating down the river,’ I interrupted, in a metallic voice that surprised me. I lowered it. ‘It’s not a very nice way to learn you’re a widow.’
    â€˜No. It must have been quite horrifying. When did you last see your husband?’
    I had to suppress irrelevant associations with Victorian historical paintings.
    â€˜Just before I took my lunch-break. That was quite late. About two, or a bit later, I think. Mrs Nielson may remember more accurately. I’d been waiting for Mr Horsforth, whom I shared the junk stall with, to come back. When he did, I took off with Mrs Nielson, who had the jam stall opposite.’
    â€˜And did you talk to your husband outside, by the Test Your Strength machine, which I gather he ran?’
    â€˜No—he’d come in, and had been chatting with me by my stall. Colonel Weston was filling in outside, and Marcus said that he was hoping to go home for a longish break around three-thirty. I’m afraid when Mr Horsforth turned up, I just took off.’ Tears welled up as I thought of the briskness of my last leave-taking of Marcus, but I suppressed them. ‘I was afraid he’d disappear again, and we’d never get any lunch.’
    â€˜And you and Mrs Nielson were together the whole time during lunch?’
    I tried not to tense up, or become obviously wary.
    â€˜No. We went to a corner of the meadow to eat our sandwiches. Then her dog demanded a proper walk, so she went off, and I just stayed there for a bit.’
    â€˜Yes, alone . . . Though anyone could have seen me there. I didn’t want to go back to the tent at once. I felt I’d rather been taken advantage of by Mr Horsforth.’
    â€˜But you did eventually go back. How long had you been alone in the meadows by then?’
    â€˜About fifteen minutes, I suppose. Quite long enough to murder my husband.’
    The tired eyes raised themselves from the pad on whichCoulton was making a note of those fifteen minutes. They looked at my flushed face, as if they had been through all this before.
    â€˜We don’t know when your husband was murdered, Mrs Kitterege, but the indications are that it was decidedly later than the time we are talking about at the moment. We are just trying to get our picture of the whole afternoon straight. So—you will have got back to the tent when?’
    â€˜I really don’t know. But somewhere about twenty to three, I imagine.’
    â€˜And you didn’t talk to your husband outside the tent?’
    â€˜No. I didn’t see him. Colonel Weston was running his game. Which is odd, because it was certainly nothing like three-thirty. Perhaps Marcus had gone to do something special—or just gone to the loo, perhaps.’
    â€˜I’ll ask Colonel Weston. And did you leave your stall again before—before you went out and saw your husband’s body?’
    â€˜No. I’ve thought it over. Mr Horsforth never came back to relieve me after my lunch-break.’
    I felt like adding, ‘So if you want to pin the murder of Marcus on me, you’ll have to fix it much earlier than you thought.’ I suppressed it, because I’d had one unwise outburst already; but the tired eyes were on me, and I suppose he recognized that we were both thinking along the same lines. I said:
    â€˜When do you think it happened?’
    â€˜We don’t know. We are obviously going to have to do a lot of interviewing, testing of people’s memories, because of course the medics won’t be able to

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