Murder At Wittenham Park

Murder At Wittenham Park by R. W. Heber

Book: Murder At Wittenham Park by R. W. Heber Read Free Book Online
Authors: R. W. Heber
“Perhaps out of respect for the dead we ought to abandon the play-acting.”
    A murmur of horror came from Priscilla. The next thing she knew Gilroy would kick her out and her miserable fee would shrivel into nothing.
    â€œBut darlings, it’s perfectly lovely here. Why on earth leave just because…” She cut herself short in the nick of time, having been about to say, “… because a dirty old man’s kicked the bucket.”
    â€œWell, I don’t want to stay if everyone else is going,” Loredana said, making it rather too clear that for her only Hamish counted.
    â€œAren’t you going to wait for Trevor?” Dulcie asked.
    â€œWhy should I, when he’s so late?”
    As Loredana stalked out of the library they all heard the scrunch of tyres on the gravel outside. The police had arrived. Dodgson excused himself and hurried through to the hall to let them in.
    The police consisted of a young uniformed constable in a small car emblazoned with chequered flashes and the insignia of the Thames Valley Police. Twenty minutes later, having been shown the corpse and having talked briefly with Dr. Thompson, he demanded that everyone should remain in the house until the cause of George Welch’s death had been established.
    â€œI’m sure there’s nothing untoward, sir,” he said to Gilroy, “but we have our procedures.”
    Jim Savage nudged his daughter. “Lucky I haven’t got a job to get back to!”
    â€œYou may not, Daddy, but I do.” A note of resentment came into her voice, which her father knew only too well. As a tiny girl she had gone into fits of the sulks and she had never completely grown out of it.
    Jim leaned over and whispered in her ear and Jemma’s face brightened. “I hadn’t thought of that,” she said. “D’you really think so?”
    â€œI’d bet on it. There’s hardly a person here who didn’t have something against Welch.”

6
    P OLICE Constable Rutherford was puzzled. The police were required to “attend” any sudden death, unless a doctor had been expecting it for three days. The officer then had to compile a detailed report for the coroner, from the date of birth to the time of death. Rutherford had only done this twice before and was being doggedly methodical. But every police officer is at heart a detective, so he was puzzled because Dr. Thompson himself seemed to be.
    They were in Welch’s room, looking at Welch’s inert body, still propped up on the pillows.
    â€œWhat do you estimate the time of death was, sir?” Rutherford asked, scanning the check-list the sergeant had given him before he came.
    â€œBetween seven-fifteen and eight A.M . The body was still slightly warm when I first got here.”
    â€œWhat about the cause of death?”
    â€œThat’ll need a post-mortem.” Thompson frowned. “Since there’s no visible cause, it’s most likely to be one of two things. A cardiac arrest, due either to a heart attack or a brain haemorrhage, or a cerebral thrombosis.”
    â€œA stroke, sir?”
    â€œExactly.”
    â€œIf he was conscious for long enough he’d have tried to shout for help.” Thompson looked again at the relaxed expression on Welch’s rubicund face. The pupils of his eyes were narrowed, which could be the effect of a drug, but they usually did become smaller at death. Whatever had overtaken the man must have done so in seconds. A heart attack was the most common reason for sudden death among middle-aged men. But …
    â€œExcept, sir?” A query had been implicit in Thompson’s tone.
    â€œExcept that heart attacks are not usually instantaneously fatal and his wife says she never knew he had heart problems. There are nearly always early warning signs, like chest pains. Most wives would have known. They’re well aware of health risks these days. And,” he added breezily,

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