The September Society
interesting colleges at Oxford historically, as well as probably the oldest; it was the only one not to side with the Royalists in the Civil War, and among its early alumni was Sir Thomas Bodley, the namesake of the Bodleian. Lenox relished seeing it again, though too soon the narrow perspective of the path had opened out into the fields of Christ Church Meadow. About two hundred yards away from the rear of Merton was a still-bustling crime scene.
    “This looks to be it,” said McConnell, “and there’s Goodson.”
    The Oxford inspector spotted Lenox and McConnell just as they spotted him.
    “Mr. Lenox,” he said, putting out his hand, “I’m afraid you caught my sergeant at a bad moment yesterday evening. Glad to have you here.”
    He was a medium-sized man, brown-haired and freckled, with a look of intensity in his face. There was also honesty there, and in his green eyes a hint of amiability.
    “Not at all. It’s a damnable business from top to bottom.”
    “If you come this way, you can have a look around.” Goodson motioned for a constable to lift the rope and beckoned Lenox and McConnell inside. “The body was here, sprawled on its back with its arms behind its head. There were footprints all around the area, unfortunately. People tramping around here all day, I’m afraid, and leaving every conceivable kind of shoe mark.”
    “Clever of the killer, that,” said Lenox. “A good place to leave the body—or indeed to kill someone—if you have verylittle time, because it’s completely empty at night and yet still bears the signs of an active thoroughfare.”
    “Precisely.”
    “Where do you think they came in from, the murdered man and his murderer?”
    “Came in from?”
    “Where did they enter the park, I mean?”
    The meadow was triangular and bound by Christ Church, Merton, and the two rivers. Away from the city of Oxford toward the south end of the park, there was a lower meadow, which sometimes flooded, and past which there were mostly fields.
    “We haven’t considered that,” said Goodson.
    “Down at the south end, I’d reckon,” said Lenox. “To come from any other direction would have meant either passing porters, students, and dons or else scaling a high fence. But it would have been easy enough to come in over the rivers, and the fields in that direction are empty, aren’t they?”
    “I suppose that’s right,” said Goodson dubiously. “You mean they were hiding out just past the rivers there?”
    “Exactly. Before yesterday the lads were probably south of here, by the least crowded part of the meadow, but still not that far from Oxford.”
    It dawned on Goodson how significant this was, and in unison the three men strode south. When they got there they found the ground less worked over by pedestrians. Goodson beckoned to the crime scene, and two constables came over to see him. There were a few walking bridges over the rivers.
    “Look on these bridges here for any marks of struggle—”
    “Blood,” said Lenox.
    “Blood, yes,” Goodson said.
    “I would also recommend sending people south of the city, even farther than here,” said Lenox, “to check in the small hotels and the pubs, the little shops, that sort of thing.”
    “I will,” said Goodson, noting it down.
    As they walked back, Lenox said, “We should all realize the intelligence it took the murderer to disobey his instincts and return to a
more
populated area to kill George Payson. Of course, the killer’s first thought would have been to go somewhere remote—but it would have taken time, first of all, to find somewhere so remote that a body would remain hidden for long. He didn’t have time to be that careful.”
    McConnell said, “I don’t believe it negates your point, Charles, but it’s worth mention that George Payson was dead before he came to lie here. We also learned from the body that he had been sleeping rough, outdoors, at best in barns or lean-tos. Only his face and hands had been recently

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