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Deadheads - Reginald Hill

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Death in a rose garden
Mrs Florence Aldermann hated to see her garden looking so neglected. Her old gardener, Caldicott, and his son, Dick, had not been working properly. That was because she had refused to employ Dick's son Brent. Brent had stolen some fruit from her garden, and that was a serious crime to Mrs Aldermann. She would have to get rid of the Caldicotts.
With this thought in her mind, she took her sharp knife and angrily cut the dead flowers from a rosebush. As the deadheads fell into her bucket, she realized that someone was watching her.
'Patrick,' she called crossly, 'come here!'
Slowly the boy came up to her. Aged about eleven, he was still small for his age. His face was pale and expressionless.
Mrs Aldermann could never see Patrick without feeling angry. She had been angry when her niece Penelope had produced this unwanted child. She had been even angrier when Penelope refused to say who the father was. Mrs Aldermann's anger was strong and long-lasting. She still felt angry with poor Eddie Aldermann, her husband, for dying two years ago and leaving her alone to look after Rosemont, this big house and its demanding gardens. Finally, she was angry with herself for growing old and tired, angry with herself for having a heart attack while shopping in London six months ago.
It was lucky that Penelope had been with her when illness struck. Penny was sensible, calm, and an excellent nurse. Nothing upset Penny. She had shown no anger or bitterness, for example, when told that after Mr Aldermann's death the money he had given her for years would stop.
Florence Aldermann came out of her private hospital as soon as she was well enough to travel, and returned to Rosemont. Penny came with her and looked after her perfectly. The only problem was that where Penelope went, Patrick had to go too. Despite this, Mrs Aldermann had asked her niece to stay with her at Rosemont permanently. The house was too big for her to live in alone, and Penny would be grateful, she felt sure, to be offered a home in such a lovely part of Yorkshire. She could not believe her ears when Penelope said she was missing London, and would have to think about her aunt's offer. How could anyone prefer a tiny, dark London flat to a fine old house like Rosemont, with its beautiful gardens!
Mrs Aldermann was about to speak crossly to Patrick, but before she could open her mouth, the boy said, 'Uncle Eddie used to do that. Why do you do it?'
His interest surprised her. She spoke less angrily than she had planned to.
'When the flowers fade and begin to die,' she said, 'we have to cut them off, so that new flowers can grow. We call it deadheading.' As she spoke, she expertly sliced off another faded, sweet-smelling rose.
'Deadheading,' he repeated. 'So that the new young flowers can grow.'
'That's right, Patrick.'
She felt almost pleased with the boy. For the first time, she looked at him with interest. The Caldicotts had failed her, but what if Patrick could be trained to look after her roses? What an excellent — and cheap — gardener he might become!
She smiled at him.
'Here, Patrick, take the knife. I'll show you how to deadhead roses. Be careful. It's extremely sharp. It belonged to your great uncle Eddie.'
Carefully, he took the knife in his hand.
'Let me see you remove this deadhead,' she ordered him. She took hold of a dead flower. 'Cut it just here, Patrick. Patrick! Are you listening to me?'
He looked from the knife to his great-aunt. His face was not quite so expressionless as usual. There was something new there. He ignored the dead rose, and slowly raised the knife so that the sunlight shone on the polished steel.
'Patrick!' said Mrs Aldermann, taking a step back.
The rose that she had been holding towards him escaped from her hand, and its thorns dug painfully into her arm. Then there were other, more violent sensations in her shoulder and neck, which had nothing to do with the rose thorns.
She screamed once before she fell backwards into the rose-bed. Petals from the dying roses rained down on her.
Patrick waited until all movement had stopped. Then he dropped the knife, and ran towards the house, shouting for his mother.
'I think someone is killing people'
Richard Elgood was sixty years old, but as he came towards Peter Pascoe, he moved like a dancer in his soft leather shoes.
Pascoe shook Elgood's hand and smiled.
'Sit down, Mr Elgood. How can I help you?'
Elgood did not smile, although he had a pleasant, cheerful face.
'I'm not sure how to begin, Inspector,' he said.
They both sat down. Pascoe waited, watching the man, noticing his silk tie, the gold tie-pin, the expensive cut of his suit.
'Please, Mr Elgood,' Pascoe said. 'Tell me about it.'
Elgood took a deep breath.
'There's this man. In our company. I think he's killing people.'
Pascoe was tired. He had been working for much of the previous night, waiting in a garden for some burglars who never came. He desperately wanted to sleep.
'Can you give me just a little more detail?' he asked.
'I certainly can,' Elgood said. 'I'd rather tell my friend Andy Dalziel, but if he trusts you, I'll trust you too.'
He smiled at Pascoe, and Pascoe said, 'Mr Dalziel's very sorry he can't see you himself.'
What Detective Chief Superintendent Dalziel had actually said was, 'I haven't got time to waste on old Dick Elgood this morning. You look after him for me. And take him seriously. He's got a sharp mind, he's made more money than you or I will ever see, and he's got a lot of influence in this part of Yorkshire.'
'All right,' Pascoe had said, 'but who is Elgood? What does he do?'
'Oh, you've seen his name,' Dalziel had smiled, showing yellow teeth. 'We've all seen it many times.' Then he had gone, leaving Pascoe puzzled.
'Now, Mr Elgood,' Pascoe said. 'You say this man works for your company. What kind of company is it?'
'Ever use a toilet?' Elgood asked.
Pascoe stared at him, speechless.
'Then you've seen my name,' Elgood went on. 'We make toilets, sinks, all that kind of thing.'
'Of course!' Pascoe exclaimed. 'Elgood Ceramics. I should have known.'
'I built that company up with my own hands,' Elgood said proudly. 'I started with nothing, and got where I am through hard work and hard work alone.'
'And this… er… killer,' Pascoe said. 'He works for you, does he?'
'Well, who is it? You must give me his name.'
Elgood hesitated. Then he said in a low voice, 'It's Aldermann. Patrick Aldermann.'
Later that day, Pascoe went to see Chief Superintendent Dalziel, and told him what Elgood had said.
Dalziel laughed. 'Dick's always been a bit odd, but I never thought he was actually soft in the head before!'
'Do you know him well?' Pascoe asked.
'Known him for years. He's quite a character, is old Dick. Did you notice the way he dresses, all silk shirts and gold rings? You wouldn't look twice at him in London, but you don't expect a plain Yorkshire boy to grow up into something like that. And the women! A new one every week, if you believe the gossip. Wish I had the secret of his success!'
'I see, sir,' Pascoe said. 'What exactly would you like me to do?'
'Tell me what you know so far.'
'Elgood thinks Aldermann has killed two men who worked for his company. Their names were Brian Bulmer and Timothy Eagles. Bulmer died in a car crash after the office party last Christmas. Eagles had a heart attack at his desk.'
'Why does Dick think Aldermann was involved?'
'I was about to tell you. Aldermann kept giving Bulmer drinks at the party, almost forcing him to drink too much to drive safely, Elgood says. And Aldermann shared an office with Eagles.'
'Why should Aldermann want to kill Bulmer and Eagles?'
'Aldermann is ambitious. Well, not exactly ambitious...'
'Make up your mind. Is he or isn't he?'
'Elgood doesn't think Aldermann is very interested in his job,' Pascoe explained, 'so he isn't really ambitious. But he needs more money. He would improve his chance of a better-paid job with Bulmer and Eagles out of the way.'
'Does Dick really believe that?' Dalziel said. 'Something else must have happened to make him come to the police. What was it?'
'You're right,' Pascoe said. 'Something did happen. It seems he had a quarrel with Aldermann last Friday. Elgood told Aldermann that he didn't intend to promote him, although Bulmer and Eagles had gone. Then he had to go out to a meeting, and after that he returned to his office and worked until late. When he turned on his desk lamp, he got a powerful electric shock. He thought it was just an accident. Then yesterday morning he went to open his garage door — one of those metal up-and-over doors. It came off its supports and almost crashed down on top of him. Fortunately, he just managed to jump out of the way. That's when he started to feel frightened.'
'Um,' said Dalziel. He scratched his huge stomach thoughtfully. 'Why doesn't Dick want to promote Aldermann?' he asked.
'Two reasons, sir. The first is simply that he doesn't think Aldermann is very good at his job. The second is office politics. There are some people on the company's Board of Directors who would like to weaken Elgood's position as Chairman, to take some of his power from him. They want Aldermann on the Board just because they know Elgood doesn't want him.'
'Is that a fact? I think we'd better have a look at Mr Aldermann for ourselves, don't you? Got any good ideas on how we can go and see him without making him suspicious?'
'Actually, I have, sir,' Pascoe said. 'Sergeant Wield has given me some interesting information about a car which was badly scratched, probably by vandals, while it was parked in town the other day. It seems the owner is a Mrs Daphne Aldermann, who lives at Rosemont House.'
Daphne Aldermann makes a new friend
Patrick Aldermann was standing in the garden at Rosemont, breathing in the perfume of his roses. Golden, pink, yellow, and red, they were a beautiful sight, and he smiled to himself as he inspected the flowers he loved.
Life had been kind to Patrick. In his early thirties he still looked young and handsome. He was happily married, and had a son and a daughter, both at expensive private schools.
His moment of peaceful enjoyment in the garden did not last long. The sound of his daughter Diana's voice reminded him that today he had to drive her to school. Normally his wife Daphne did this, but her car had been damaged by vandals, and was at the garage, being repaired.
He also knew that before he left he must find time to speak to his gardeners. They were the Caldicotts, the same family who had worked for his great-aunt. The old man had died, and now Dick, his son Brent and two young assistants kept the gardens neat and tidy. One of them had left the greenhouse door open, and Patrick wanted to make it clear to all of them that this was a serious offence. In future it would be better if none of them entered the greenhouse at all.
Daphne Aldermann waited patiently for her husband, although she wanted to speak to her daughter's teacher that morning and was eager to go. She knew how important the garden was to Patrick. A tall, good-looking, blonde woman, she had married young, very soon after the terrible accident that had killed her father. Now, twelve years and two children later, she knew that she was very lucky — in every way but one. She did not feel she really knew her husband. He seemed to live in a different world from her, a world in which the future was as certain as the past. It was strange how frightening she found this.
The sun was shining as they left Rosemont, but by the time they reached Diana's school, the sky was black.
'Oh no!' Daphne said.
'Looks like rain, doesn't it?' Patrick said. 'Shall I wait and drive you into town?'
'No, thanks,' Daphne replied. 'I'm not afraid of a bit of rain. Look! That lot are here again.'
She pointed to a small group of women, who were standing near the school gate. Two of them had small children with them, and each was carrying a sign on which she had written her own message. PRIVATE SCHOOLS = PUBLIC DISASTER was one; another was FREE SCHOOLS FOR ALL CHILDREN.
'Don't speak to them,' Patrick advised her. 'Goodbye, dear.'
Fifteen minutes later, finding herself out in the street in a heavy shower, Daphne felt less happy about walking into town in the rain. She looked around for a friend, but all the other mothers had gone. As she hesitated on the pavement, she noticed a young woman with short black hair putting a baby into a rather old car. Daphne wondered if she had seen her before, and smiled hopefully.
'You look as if you need a lift,' the woman said.
'Thanks awfully. That's really most kind of you,' Daphne replied.
She opened the car door. As she did so, something on the back seat caught her eye. The words PUBLIC DISASTER seemed to jump out at her.
'It's all right,' the woman said. 'I won't talk about it.'
A cold wind was blowing rain onto Daphne's legs. She got in.
'What a lovely little boy!' she said brightly, looking at the baby, who was wearing blue clothes.
'Actually, she's a girl,' the woman said, 'and she isn't always lovely. The blue clothes are a test of people's automatic reactions. Why should pink mean a girl and blue a boy? Let me introduce my daughter, Rose.'
'And you,' Daphne said coolly. 'Are you Rose's mother or her father?'
For a moment the woman looked shocked. Then she threw back her head and laughed loudly.
'Mother,' she said. 'My name's Ellie. Ellie Pascoe. Rose and I are on our way to have a cup of coffee. Would you like to join us?'
'Why not?' Daphne said.
Ten minutes later Daphne found herself drinking milky coffee in the Market Cafe, where Ellie and Rose seemed to be well-known customers. It was cheerful and noisy and full of shopkeepers from the market. It was not the sort of place Daphne usually went to for coffee. She wondered if Ellie had brought her there deliberately, hoping to make her feel uncomfortable — a rich woman among the workers. She saw Ellie watching her in amusement, when suddenly all conversation in the cafe stopped. Looking up, Daphne saw that two policemen had come in. One was an elderly man, and the other a young Asian, hardly more than a boy.
The customers relaxed and started talking again as it became clear that the policemen only wanted a cup of tea. They were looking around for an empty table when, to Daphne's surprise, the older man came towards her and Ellie.
'Hello, Mrs Pascoe,' he said. 'How are you? How's little Rose?'
'We're fine, Mr Wedderburn. Who's your friend? I haven't seen him before.'
'This is Police Cadet Shaheed Singh,' Wedderburn said. 'I'm introducing him to the joys of traffic control. Singh, this is Mrs Pascoe, Detective Inspector Pascoe's wife.'
Ellie smiled at Singh.
'Will you join us?' she said.
The young man smiled back at her, but Wedderburn said, 'Thanks, but we can't. A quick cup of tea and then we must get back to work. Nice to see you, Mrs Pascoe.'
'Well,' Daphne said, when the men had gone, 'so I'm in with the police, am I?'
'My husband's in the police, yes,' Ellie replied, 'but I'm not. What does your husband do, Daphne?'
'He works for Elgood Ceramics.'
'So you take a big interest in sinks and toilets, do you?'
'Not really,' Daphne said, looking puzzled.
'Exactly,' Ellie said. 'We may be married, but we are still individual people, aren't we?'
'Yes, but it isn't as simple as that. What if I told you that my husband was involved in some crime? Wouldn't you feel you should tell your husband?'
Ellie thought about it for a moment. Then she said, 'I'm not sure. What if I told you my husband was investigating yours? Would you feel you had to tell him?'
Before Daphne could answer, she was interrupted by a well-built, middle-aged lady, dressed in bright colours, who was coming towards them with a cup of coffee in one hand, and a large plate of chocolate cake in the other.
'Hello!' she cried. 'It's Daphne Aldermann, isn't it? Lovely to see you again! I always meant to keep in touch, but life gets so busy, doesn't it?'
She turned and waved at three men, who were sitting at a table on the other side of the cafe.
'Coming, darlings! Must rush, Daphne. Bye!'
'So you do know someone who comes here,' Ellie said. 'You should have asked your friend to sit down. She looks like an interesting character.'
'Do you really think so? Well, Mandy Burke is hardly one of my best friends. Her husband used to work with mine, until he died about four or five years ago. I've only met her once or twice since then. Anyway, I don't think Mandy would want to sit with two women and a baby when there are men she could be entertaining!'
Ellie laughed. She was finding this elegant lady a surprisingly amusing companion.
'Let me get you some more coffee, Daphne,' she said.
The most important thing in life
Patrick Aldermann's office still had the name of Timothy Eagles on the door. That didn't upset him. As his colleagues knew, it was difficult to upset Patrick.
Elgood remembered the party they had had at the office the previous Christmas. He had noticed Aldermann talking to the financial director, Brian Bulmer, and he had also seen that Bulmer was drinking heavily. Dick Elgood, however, had his mind on other things. He was leaving the party early, to meet a lady. Hours later, the news reached him. Bulmer's car had crashed, minutes after the end of the party, and he was dead.
Dick Elgood had spent that Christmas alone at his holiday cottage by the sea. He thought a lot about Bulmer's death and about who should replace him on the Board of Directors. The best man would be the chief accountant, Timothy Eagles, who was good at his job and loyal to the company. Some of the directors, who were led by a man called Eric Quayle, wanted Patrick Aldermann, but Elgood would not listen to them.
Then Eagles had died, suffering a fatal heart attack as he sat at his desk. It soon became clear that Quayle and his group wanted to make a serious attack on Elgood's chairmanship. They supported Aldermann, not because he would make a good director, but because they knew Elgood didn't want him on the Board. During that year, Elgood found himself fighting a battle, a battle for his survival as Chairman of the Board.
Aldermann himself appeared not to care whether he became a member of the Board or not. 'Honestly, Dick,' he had told Elgood last Friday, 'it doesn't bother me at all.'
This made Elgood so angry that he ended up shouting at Aldermann, 'If you ever get a place on the Board, it'll be over my dead body!' Patrick had continued to smile politely.
Yesterday Elgood had gone to the police with his story, but since then he had calmed down and regained his self-control. He knew that for him the most important thing in the world was to hold on to the power he had as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
He called his secretary into the room. 'I want you to check something for me,' he told her. 'Find out exactly when Mr Aldermann is taking his holiday this summer.' Then he rang a London number, and asked for Mr Raymond Easey.
In his office on the floor below, Patrick Aldermann was opening his private letters, one of which contained a thick bundle of papers. He, too, phoned someone in London, and then called his secretary in.
'I'll be away next Thursday and Friday,' he told her. He smiled in a way which made her think how young and handsome he still was. 'I think you can all manage without me for a couple of days,' he said.
When Aldermann got home that evening, he found Daphne's car back in the garage. It had been repaired, and he examined the new paint before he went into the house.
Diana ran to meet him. 'Mummy's outside,' she told him.
He lifted her onto his shoulders, and together they went to find Daphne, who was relaxing in the garden. It had rained earlier, but now it was a perfect June evening.
'I see your car's back,' he said. 'Look! The rain's knocked some petals off the roses.'
'Leave them,' Daphne said. 'I'll get us a drink. Sit down and have a rest after your hard day at the office.'
She went into the house. In the distance, Patrick heard the front doorbell ring. A couple of minutes later Daphne came back, bringing the drinks, but also bringing two men with her. The older man was white, the younger Asian, but what made Patrick stare at them was the ugliness of the one and the beauty of the other.
'I'm Detective Sergeant Wield,' the ugly man said, 'and this is Police Cadet Singh.'
'How can I help you?' Patrick asked politely.
'Actually, darling, they want to see me,' Daphne said. 'It's about the car. We can talk in the house so that we don't disturb you.'
'You won't disturb me,' Patrick said. 'I'd be interested to hear what the police are doing, and to help if possible.'
'Very kind, sir,' Wield said. He wanted to have a good look at Patrick Aldermann, and to include him in the conversation if he could.
Wield turned to Daphne. 'Now, ma'am. On Monday this week you parked your car in the Station Street multi-storey car park. What time did you leave it?'
'Nine fifteen, I think. I took my daughter to school, and then drove into town to do some shopping.'
'And you didn't come back until after three o'clock. Did you spend the whole day shopping?'
'I'm afraid so,' Daphne laughed. 'When I got back, someone else had already found his car damaged, and the police were there.'
'And when you left your car, were there any others there?'
'I can't remember,' Daphne said. 'I might have been the first. Does it matter?'
No, Wield thought, it didn't matter. This plan of getting a good look at Aldermann was not going too well.
'Not many more questions,' he said. 'Do you know anyone who might want to harm you in some way?'
'By damaging my car?' Daphne said, surprised. 'But it wasn't just my car. Others were damaged, too.'
'I know. But the scratchings on your car might have been words. Words which suggest they knew it was a woman's car.'
'I'd left my hat in the car,' Daphne said. 'Anyone could see that.'
'What words were scratched on the car, Sergeant?' Patrick asked.
'Hard to say, sir,' Wield said uncomfortably. Dalziel would say those words, he thought. He'd enjoy embarrassing these people!
'Why would this person damage other cars, if these words were aimed only at my wife?'
'We have to try everything, sir,' Wield told him. 'For example, what about you? Do you have any enemies who might want to do you some harm? Anyone you know through your work?'
Patrick shook his head. 'I work for Elgood Ceramics. I can think of nobody there who dislikes me enough to do this.'
He was getting nowhere, Wield thought desperately. He would have to tell Pascoe this visit was a waste of time.
Suddenly Diana, who had been looking shyly at Police Cadet Singh through her fingers, said, 'Mummy, can I show him my flowers?'
'Oh, I don't think...' Daphne began, but Singh jumped to his feet with a smile and said, 'Of course, I'd love to see them. Come and show me.'
'I hope you don't mind, sir,' Wield said to Patrick. 'He's a good lad. And your garden is a real treat to the eyes. Especially the roses.'
Patrick's smile was as happy as Singh's. 'It's a good year for them,' he said. 'Do you grow roses, Sergeant?'
'I'm afraid not,' Wield said. 'I've only got a very small garden.'
'There are roses for every garden.' Patrick's voice had changed, and was full of enthusiasm. 'Even the smallest garden has room for a few roses, if you choose the right varieties. And think of the excitement of planting a new variety, and watching the first roses open!'
'I see plenty of excitement in my job,' Wield laughed.
'Do you?' Patrick asked seriously. 'I find life holds surprisingly few surprises — outside my garden, I mean.'
'I really must see to the dinner,' Daphne said. 'And it's time Diana came in.' She spoke politely, but clearly she was eager for Wield and Singh to leave.
Patrick ignored this. 'Diana's perfectly happy,' he said. 'Just listen to her. And I must show the Sergeant one or two roses I'd like to recommend to him.'
He led Wield to a large greenhouse, where he picked up a bag and took a knife from a high shelf. The greenhouse was full of tools and there was a large wall-cupboard with a heavy lock on the door.
'Good to see you've got strong locks, sir,' Wield said approvingly.
'I have to be careful, Sergeant, with children about,' Patrick replied. 'I keep enough pesticide in that cupboard to poison an army.'
As they walked among the roses, he used the knife to cut off dying flowers, which he dropped into the bag.
'Surely you have help with the garden?' Wield said. 'You can't look after all this by yourself.'
'I have help,' Patrick told him, 'but I do as much as possible myself. This garden is the centre of my life. I dream of having more time to give to it. I think we are all damaged, don't you, by limits on the development of our true nature — limits forced on us by the hard necessities of life.'
Wield felt that the man was speaking directly to him, as if Patrick Aldermann could know his own unhappy story. Ugly as he was, Wield had loved, and had been loved. He was alone now, and he could not bear to think of his loneliness.
'That's a fine knife,' he said, wanting to change the way the conversation was going.
Patrick smiled. 'It belonged to my great-uncle. He created this garden. He loved it very much. Cutting off the dying flowers is a sad but necessary job for a gardener. A true lover of plants like my great-uncle always wants to do it quickly and kindly. He needs the sharpest knife possible.'
The sun flashed on the point of the knife.
'Now, let me show you these.'
His enthusiasm for his roses had something almost religious about it. Wield found he envied the man, not for his house, his garden or his family, but just because he knew so well what he wanted from life, and was able to enjoy it. He felt sad when Daphne called Patrick to dinner, and it was time for them to go.
'I hope it was all right for me to play with the little girl,' Singh said to him as they walked to the car. 'I thought it would give you more time to speak to her mum.'
Wield stared at him for a moment, forgetting that Singh knew nothing about the real reason for their visit.
'That Mrs Aldermann,' the boy went on, 'she was in the Market Cat this morning, and guess who she was with? Mr Pascoe's wife!'
Wield stared at him again, coldly this time. 'You were supposed to be on traffic duty, not hanging around the Market Cafe,' he said roughly. They drove back to the Police Station in silence
Another death at Elgood Ceramics
Peter Pascoe was with dancing baby Rose on his knee. 'Silly old Dalziel, silly old Dalziel,' he sang to her over and over again.
'What's the fat creature done to you now?' Ellie asked, as she came into the room.
'Fat creature! What a way to talk about your daughter,' Pascoe said.
'Very funny. What has Dalziel done?'
'Oh, nothing much. He just goes on about this Elgood and Aldermann thing. But I don't know what he wants me to do. Wield went to see them last night...'
'The Aldermanns?'
'Yes. He pretended it was all about your friend Daphne's car.'
'What did he find out?'
Pascoe did not plan to discuss with his wife all the poisons that Patrick Aldermann kept in his greenhouse. There was no proof that he had used them on anything but insects. There was no proof that Elgood's experiences with the desk lamp and the garage door were anything but accidents.
'I'll have to tell Elgood he's imagining things,' Pascoe said. 'He's been lying in the sun too long at his holiday cottage.'
'All the same,' Ellie said, 'Elgood Ceramics doesn't seem a very healthy place to work. All those sudden deaths. This child is wet, by the way.'
'Only two deaths we know about. It's your turn to change Rose. I'm waiting for a phone call from the office.'
'Don't let Andy Dalziel work you so hard!'
'He's a good policeman,' Pascoe said seriously. 'He knows what he's doing, or I hope he does! Anyway, he's going to a conference in London, and I expect this stupid business about Aldermann will be over by the time he gets back.'
'Well,' said Ellie, 'if it does continue, I hope you'll tell me. It makes it rather awkward for me if my husband is investigating my new friend's husband.'
She picked Rose up and took her upstairs. As she went out of the room, the telephone rang. Pascoe picked it up, spoke a few words, and then listened carefully.
'I asked them to check for me,' he told Ellie when she came back downstairs. 'There has been one more death at Elgood Ceramics. A man called Burke fell off a ladder outside his home. Accidental death, the report said. No suspicious circumstances. He was assistant to Eagles, the chief accountant.'
'And Aldermann got that job?
'Yes. It doesn't mean anything, of course, but I'll ask Elgood about it. By the way, when are you seeing Daphne Aldermann again?'
'We're having coffee tomorrow. Why?'
'Nothing. What's she like?'
'Pleasant. Lively. Very traditional middle-class attitudes, of course, but she's not stupid.'
'Oh, yes. Attractive all right. Rather sexy, really.'
Forget I ever came to see you
Next afternoon Pascoe went to see Elgood in his office. He found him eating a sandwich at his desk, looking rushed and nervous.
'Had your lunch?' Elgood asked him. 'Lucky man! Can't talk to you for long. Got a meeting to go to.'
'These are tough times in business,' Pascoe said.
'Yes. Look, I'm beginning to feel I've been a bit soft, coming to see you. I should have thought about it first. Last thing I want is policemen all over the office, asking people questions. I got a bit upset the other day, that's all.'
Pascoe said nothing. Then he put a bag down on Elgood's desk. 'Your lamp,' he said. 'We've checked it. And the garage door. There's no proof there was any criminal action. No proof there wasn't, either.'
'I see. Looks as if I've made a bit of a fool of myself, doesn't it? Thanks for calling, Inspector.'
'One more thing. A man called Burke used to work here, didn't he?'
'Yes. What about it?'
'He fell off a ladder and broke his neck, didn't he? And then Patrick Aldermann got his job. Looks a bit suspicious.'
'Doesn't mean a thing,' Elgood said. 'An accident. And anyway, it was four years ago! Well, I'm a busy man, and I suppose you are too. At least I've given Andy Dalziel something to laugh about.'
Pascoe was about to leave the office, when he caught sight of a photograph on the wall. Elgood was in the centre of it, a confident smile on his face. Among the names underneath the photo was Aldermann.
'Who's that?' Pascoe asked. 'Any relation to our Patrick?'
'His great-uncle,' Elgood said. 'Eddie Aldermann. A great man, was Eddie. Very good accountant. Could have been very rich, but he spent it all on that big house, Rosemont. His wife, Florence, wanted the big house, and Eddie wanted the garden, and that's where the money went.'
'Any children?'
'So they left the house to Patrick?'
'No. It went to Flo Aldermann's niece, Penny Highsmith. Nice girl, was Penny. Patrick's her son.'
'So she's Penny Highsmith and he's Patrick Aldermann. How is that?'
'Oh, Patrick thought the sun shone out of Eddie,' Elgood said. 'Changed his name to Aldermann, didn't he? Wanted to be a second Eddie. Well, he can grow roses all right, but he's not the accountant Eddie was, not by a long way.'
'Yet you gave him a job?'
'Why not? For Eddie's sake. Patrick was working for a company in Harrogate for a bit, but then he left. He didn't find a new job too easily. I think myself he was living on his great-uncle's money, spending most of his time on those gardens of his. The job with us was only temporary, but then Chris Burke died, so Patrick took his place.'
'But he isn't a great success?'
'He doesn't do too badly,' Elgood said. 'His heart isn't in it, though. He isn't really interested. People like him. He has charm, has Patrick. Look, I must go now. Forget I ever came to see you. Forget what I said about Patrick Aldermann. You understand me, don't you? Just drop it!'
Pascoe was left alone. As he walked out of the building, a tall dark man went through the door just ahead of him. He stopped to get into a car, and Pascoe noticed the beautifully shaped rose he wore in his buttonhole. It was a most unusual pinky-blue colour. Surely, this had to be Patrick Aldermann.
As Pascoe passed the car, he exchanged greetings with the man, who then said, 'Can I give you a lift?'
'No, thanks,' Pascoe replied, 'I've got my own car here. Excuse me, but I can't help looking at your rose. What a fascinating colour!'
'Do you like it?' the man said. 'It's called Blue Moon. Please take it.'
'Oh, I couldn't!'
'Why not? Blue Moon means improbability. We all need a little improbability in life, don't we? We must find the courage to reach out and take what life offers us.'
He put the rose in Pascoe's hand.
Shaheed Singh investigates
Police Cadet Shaheed Singh was in a difficult situation. Walking past the shops on his way to the Police Station, he had met a couple of his old schoolfriends. They seemed pleased to see him and, as they had no jobs, they had plenty of time to ask him about his, and to admire his uniform.
The trouble was, the group had grown bigger, some silly games had started, and now they had taken his hat, and everyone was trying it on and laughing. He wanted to be friendly, but he also wanted his hat back, and he didn't know how to get it.
'Excuse me, Officer,' a woman's clear voice cut through the laughter. 'Can you help me, please? I'm looking for the Chantry Coffee House. Can you direct me to it? Are you going that way yourself?'
'Yes, of course,' Singh said. He held out his hand, and someone gave him his hat. He put it on carefully.
When they had walked a short distance, he said, 'Thank you, Mrs Pascoe. They're not bad lads, you know. They just haven't got anything else to do.'
'You're luckier than they are,' Ellie said. 'You found a job.'
'Oh, I could have worked in my dad's shop,' Singh said. 'I thought I'd rather be in the police.'
'And are you enjoying it?'
'It gets a bit boring sometimes. I'm ambitious, Mrs Pascoe. I want to do really well and get promoted fast.'
He stopped as they reached the Coffee House, and he could see Mrs Aldermann waiting for her inside. It did not surprise him that she and Mrs Pascoe were friends. To him the two women seemed very similar — confident, middle-class women who never had to worry about things like money. This thought would probably have annoyed Ellie, who considered that she was much more modern and progressive than Daphne.
Police Cadet Singh walked back to the station, thinking about Mrs Aldermann. He could not understand why Sergeant Wield had wanted to talk to her for so long about her car. He had no idea that Wield was interested in Patrick Aldermann.
When he arrived at the station, the first person he saw was David Bradley, one of the men who had been sent to the car park to examine the damaged cars.
'Got a moment?' Singh asked him.
'What's up, young Shady?' Bradley asked.
'That Mrs Aldermann. The one whose car was damaged Wield's been asking her questions.'
'Wield? Why's he interested? There's nothing to say about her. A man called us. He was angry because his car had been scratched. She didn't seem to care. Just wanted to jump in the car and go, without speaking to us.'
'Didn't she have to stop and put all her shopping in the back of the car?'
'Shopping? She didn't have any. What's all this about, young Shady? Are you after Mr Dalziel's job already?'
'Just trying to learn how it's done,' Singh said. 'Did you say all the cars had been parked there by nine?'
'Yes. All right, Sherlock Holmes? Is that enough for you?'
'Thanks.' Singh said. He wished Bradley wouldn't talk to him as if he were an annoying child. Nobody else was treated like that. Did they do it to him just because he was black? He would show Bradley! He would show them all just how good at his job he could be!
'If Elgood says forget it, then forget it.' Dalziel said.
'I'm sorry, sir,' Pascoe told him, 'but I feel there's something wrong. What's strangest of all is that Elgood told us Aldermann had killed Bulmer and Eagles, but he's sure Burke's death was an accident.'
'Dick will have a reason, believe me,' Dalziel said. 'Remember, he's no fool. He's playing some game. We'll find out sooner or later what it is.'
'Well, I didn't have much luck,' Pascoe went on, 'but I did meet Aldermann. He gave me a blue rose.'
'He showed me his roses, too,' said Wield, coming in quietly. 'He was difficult, to talk to at first, but he really came to life when he talked about the roses.'
'More interested in the roses than in his family?' Pascoe asked.
'Plenty of men are more interested in their hobbies than their families,' Dalziel said sharply. 'It's not a crime yet.'
'He really loves those roses,' Wield said. 'You should see him deadheading them, sir. He's got a special sharp knife. He uses it so skilfully.'
'I hope you're not suggesting that just because he cuts the heads off roses with his nice shiny knife, he does the same to people!'
'No, of course not, sir,' agreed Wield.
'So why should we waste time on this business?'
'Curiosity, sir,' Pascoe said immediately.
'Yes. I want to know how this man, who isn't very good at his job, has got so far. He may be about to join the Board of Directors of an important company.'
'Half the people in top jobs don't deserve them,' Dalziel said. 'Listen, he sounds like Mr Average to me. Dull, ordinary; wife and two children, nice house, nice garden. I expect he even has a dear old mother.'
'I can tell you about that lady,' Pascoe said. 'Mrs Penelope Highsmith. Lives in London.'
'Highsmith? Why not Aldermann? Did she marry again?'
'She's never been married. Patrick chose to take his great-uncle's name. She's never told anyone who Patrick's father was.'
Dalziel didn't seem to be listening. Suddenly he burst out, 'Penny Highsmith! Did she live here?'
'Yes. Patrick went to school here.'
'I know her! I remember her well. She was a grand girl, full of fun. It must be her!'
The look in his eye told Pascoe that he had happy memories of Penny Highsmith. A smile lit up his fat face.
'I'll tell you what,' Dalziel said. 'I've got to go to this bloody conference in London. I'll be away a couple of days. You can see what you can do with this business while I'm away. Don't waste time on it, though. Now go away. I've got things to do.'
How Daphne's father died
Daphne Aldermann was amused to find that Ellie and Rose visited the Chantry Coffee House as often as the Market Care.
'The coffee's better here,' Ellie said.
'But I'm sure you disapprove of the people, don't you?' Daphne said, looking round at all the middle-aged, middle-class ladies.
'I'm not sure I like crowds of any kind of people,' Ellie said. 'One at a time they're different.'
'When you're in the church, as my father was,' Daphne said, 'you have to accept all kinds of people. And they usually bang on your door asking for help just at dinner time!'
'Your poor father,' Ellie said. 'Or do you feel sorry for your mother, who had cooked the dinner, and then had to see it go cold?'
Daphne smiled. 'I suppose you want to suggest my mother had a miserable life in a male-centred family. In fact, I did the cooking. Mummy died when I was just a child.'
'Well,' Ellie said, 'people shouldn't have to ask the church for help. The state should provide for their needs.'
Daphne laughed. 'Come on! You don't know a lot about human nature, do you? Everyone knew Daddy was a kind man, and he had plenty of money. Mummy came from a rich family, you see.'
She looked sad, so Ellie said cheerfully, 'At least that meant he could afford some help in the house after you got married.'
'No.' Daphne looked close to tears. 'He was dead by that time. It was awful. He had to go to Little Leven to inspect the church, because the tower needed repairing. A stone fell on him and killed him.'
'I'm so sorry,' Ellie said gently. 'What a terrible thing to happen.'
She wondered whether to put an arm around Daphne, but was uncertain what to do. Fortunately, at that moment Rose plunged her hand into a chocolate cake, and Daphne's sad story was forgotten in the confusion. They talked for another hour before arranging to meet again the following week.
Ellie and Peter Pascoe had a late dinner that night. He had been delayed by another burglary at a local country house, while she had a crying baby to keep her busy.
Over dinner she told him about Rose's adventure with the chocolate cake, and went on to talk about Daphne.
'She was only seventeen when she met Patrick. He was an accountant in Harrogate, and did some work for her father's church. When they decided to get married, her father wasn't happy about it. Thought she was too young. Then he died. I think she still feels guilty for upsetting him just before his death.'
'How did he die?'
'The church killed him,' Ellie said mysteriously.
'No. A stone from Little Leven church tower fell on him.'
Pascoe whistled. 'People seem to drop dead right and left around Patrick Aldermann, don't they?' he said. 'Interesting information! You're doing well!'
'Now look!' Ellie said. 'Daphne's my friend. I was just having a nice gossip, not acting as a police informer. I thought you told me all the business about Patrick murdering people was just nonsense.'
'I think it is,' Pascoe said. 'But do you mean you wouldn't tell me if you knew something that suggested he was a murderer?'
A sudden cry from Rose put an end to their discussion of this interesting but puzzling question.
Daphne's secret
Shaheed Singh was at the top of the multi-storey car park where Daphne Aldermann's car had been damaged.
Ever since his visit to Rosemont with Sergeant Wield, he had been thinking about the case. He wanted so badly to do something right, to be a success as a policeman. Most of his old schoolfriends had no jobs. He supposed he was lucky, but at the moment he didn't feel it. Important men like Dalziel and Pascoe never noticed him, Sergeant Wield seemed to think he was a fool, and some of the others — well, he was sure they disliked him just because he was black.
He looked at his watch. Time to go. Wedderburn would be waiting for him for more boring traffic control.
At that moment the lift doors opened and five youths got out. He knew two of them, Jonty Marsh and Mick Feaver. They had been in his class at school.
'Hello, Shady!' they yelled. 'What's going on?'
'Someone's been damaging cars,' he told them, thinking quickly. 'We've got to catch them.'
'We!' laughed Jonty. 'There's only you here. You'll never catch anyone!'
'No,' Singh said seriously. 'You don't understand. The others are hidden, waiting. I've been sent out to have a word with you, because I said I knew you at school.'
He wasn't sure if Jonty believed him, but Mick and the others looked frightened and guilty. Singh had suspected his old friends. Now he was becoming sure that they had done the damage. He went on, half proud of himself, half ashamed of his power over these boys.
'The thing is, there's more to this than damage to a few cars. There's one car we're very interested in. If you have any information about it, you'll be helping us, and we always try to be nice to people who do that.'
He described Daphne's car to them. What happened next was better than anything he could have expected.
'Yeah, we saw her all right!'
'Blonde hair, yeah, tasty piece she was!'
'We know what she was getting into his car for!'
In a few minutes Shaheed Singh discovered that Daphne Aldermann had parked her car and got straight into another one. It was a big car, a BMW, and there was a man at the wheel.
Is Patrick Aldermann a thief?
Peter Pascoe also found he couldn't stop thinking about the Aldermann case. It was nonsense, he was sure, but it fascinated him. Elgood must be suffering from overwork, and his imagination was working overtime. Pascoe knew all about stress, and the peculiar things it did to the mind. He had no time to spare for this nonsense, he told himself, as he picked up the phone and asked for Detective Inspector Skelwith of Harrogate police. He asked him to find out if they had any information about Patrick Aldermann, who used to work as an accountant in Harrogate.
'I'll try,' Skelwith promised. 'I wanted to talk to you, anyway. It looks as if the burglars you've had in your area have been at work over here.'
'Does it?' Pascoe said. 'Why don't I come over and see you this afternoon?'
He spent an hour at the burgled house with Skelwith, comparing the methods used with his own burglaries, and later, over tea at the office, came the reward Pascoe had hoped for.
'Aldermann worked for Bailey and Capstick,' Skelwith told him. 'He lost his job, it seems, and he was lucky it ended there. My advice, if you want the whole story, is to go and see old Capstick. He's retired, now. His address is Church House, Little Leven.'
Herbert Capstick seemed pleased to meet Pascoe. The old man lay in a wheelchair, looking out of the window at his pretty garden, beyond which Pascoe could see a church. This must be the church where Daphne's father had been killed.
Tea was served by a housekeeper, and Pascoe explained carefully that his enquiries were not really official; he only wanted to satisfy his own curiosity.
'Any information you give me,' he said to the old man, 'will of course remain confidential.'
Herbert Capstick looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, and then smiled. 'Very well, Mr Pascoe. I will tell you about Patrick. He came here as a young, newly qualified accountant. He was quiet, not particularly good at his job, but pleasant enough. I knew his great-uncle Edward very well. He was a very successful accountant. He made enough money to buy that old house, Rosemont, and rebuild that wonderful garden. Patrick loved Eddie, loved to talk about him, although he had only met him a few times. You know he changed his name from Highsmith to Aldermann? He had Eddie's love of roses, too.'
The old man pointed out into the garden.
'Look at those roses. Eddie planted some for me, more than thirty years ago. I've got just one of those left now. Patrick replaced the rest for me when they got too old. Roses grow old, Mr Pascoe, just like people. Patrick said the old must give way to the new, but the new must deserve their place. Look at them. Aren't they beautiful?'
They were, Pascoe could see, lovely roses, but he was eager for Capstick to get on with his story.
'Why did Patrick leave Bailey and Capstick?' he asked.
The old man looked sad.
'He was dishonest. Quite unexpected. A terrible shock to me. You see, there was an old lady, Mrs McNeil. She had a lot of money, and she wanted Patrick to manage it for her. He's very charming, you see, and she trusted him. She thought he was wonderful. Then one day he was not in the office when she called. There was a lot of flu around at the time, and he had caught it. Mrs McNeil wanted something, and I had to look at the books. Then I discovered what he had been doing. For three or four years, Mr Pascoe, he had been carefully and steadily stealing her money.'
He paused, and shook his old head sorrowfully. 'I had to tell him what I had found. He didn't deny it, just listened to me quietly.'
'Didn't you go to the police?'
'First I had to tell Mrs McNeil,' Capstick said. 'With her lawyer present, of course. Bur I had no opportunity. Patrick was soon well again, but Mrs McNeil had also got the flu. She was an old lady, and it was enough to kill her. So she died, you see, before I could tell her.'
Pascoe kept his face expressionless. 'But what about her will, and the relations who would have inherited?'
'She had left her money to Patrick Aldermann,' Capstick said. 'The only person he had cheated was himself. In the end, I decided, there was no point in going to the police. I told him to leave, and I said I intended never to see him again. I miss him sometimes,' he added sadly. 'I should like to talk about roses with him again.'
As Pascoe got up to leave, he said, 'That must be the church where the Reverend Somerton was killed. Daphne Aldermann's father.'
'Yes,' Capstick said. 'Oliver Somerton was a good man. A little too serious in his ways, but a very good man.'
'You knew him? Of course, your company took care of his church accounts.'
'Yes,' Capstick said, 'but not just the church accounts. We looked after his own money, too. He was quite a rich man, as I expect you know.'
As Pascoe drove away, he could not help imagining the scene. Patrick Aldermann meeting the pretty young daughter, and then later finding some excuse to look at the account books to see how much money her father had.
Back at the station, he was surprised to find Sergeant Wield waiting for him with Shaheed Singh.
'Police Cadet Singh has something interesting to tell you, sir,' Wield said.
Dalziel meets Penny Highsmith
Andrew Dalziel was bored. He didn't much like conferences. It was all right meeting old friends and having a few drinks with them, but apart from that he hadn't found much to interest him.
On his second afternoon in London he took a street map and set out to find Penelope Highsmith's flat. He found the house, and wandered around for a while, keeping an eye on the front door. He was lucky. He was just passing the building for the third time when a taxi stopped just outside and a woman got out. He recognized her at once. Tall and well-dressed, with thick black curly hair, she looked much younger than he had expected. He stopped, as if in sudden surprise.
'Penny?' he called. 'Is it really you, Penny Highsmith?'
'Yes,' the woman said. 'Who the hell are you?'
'Andy Dalziel,' he said. 'Do you remember me?'
'Of course. Weren't you in the police? You've put on weight.'
'Just a bit,' Dalziel said, smiling. 'I'm down here for a conference.'
'Still a policeman?'
'Still married?'
He waited.
'Coming in for a cup of tea, then?' she said.
Once inside her comfortable flat, he relaxed in a deep armchair and watched her as she moved around, making the tea.
She was much as he'd known her years before; warm, independent, cheerful — and very attractive. It's not fair, he thought. I've got old and fat, and she hasn't.
'Why did you leave Yorkshire?' he asked.
'I always intended to come back to London,' she told him. 'I only went to Yorkshire to look after Aunt Florence for a short while. Then she died, and I got the house and the money. By that time my son was at school. He loved Yorkshire.'
'Is he still there?'
'Oh yes. Still at Rosemont. He married a nice girl. They've got two children. I go up and visit sometimes, just for a day or two. I prefer my little flat here to that great big house.'
'I'm surprised you didn't sell it.'
'I nearly did,' she said. 'Patrick was just about to finish school and start work. It would have been a good time to make a move.'
'What happened to stop you?'
'The buyer died,' Penny Highsmith said.
Who was Daphne meeting?
'You must tell us their names,' Wield said.
Shaheed Singh felt trapped, ashamed of being disloyal to his old friends, yet desperate to succeed in his job.
'Why?' he asked. 'I thought you were just interested in that Mrs Aldermann.'
'Let us decide who or what we're interested in,' Wield thundered. 'Your job is to obey orders!'
Why does he hate me so much? Singh thought miserably.
In fact, Wield felt sorry for the boy. But Pascoe had spoken to Dalziel on the telephone, and Dalziel had decided the boy must be questioned.
'You've got to tell us,' Wield said more gently. 'Maybe it won't be so serious for them, not if they can help us.'
Singh looked a little happier.
'I only know two of them,' he said. 'They were in my class at school. Mick Feaver and Jonty Marsh.'
'Feaver and Marsh,' Pascoe said. 'Do we know anything about them already?'
'Feaver's got no record,' Wield said. 'Marsh has been in trouble once or twice. You'll know his brother Arthur. Got a record as long as your arm. Stealing from houses, mainly.'
'OK,' Pascoe said. 'I'll speak to Marsh first. Bring him in.'
Wield watched quietly, admiring Pascoe's skill as he led the boy through his memories of what he had seen in the car park. Marsh remembered the BMW clearly, and its colour — dark blue.
'You're a good witness,' Pascoe said. 'Now, are you sure that the car the woman got out of was the car that got scratched?'
'Oh, yeah,' Marsh said. 'Dead certain.'
Pascoe said nothing, but let the boy realize for himself that his guilt was now clear.
Next, he talked to Mick Feaver. Mick remembered more details about the BMW. He also admitted that he had scratched Daphne's car.
Finally, Pascoe saw the two boys together.
'You have admitted damaging four cars,' he told them. 'This is serious, and we shall keep a record of it. However, you are both known to be of good character. One of my own officers tells me so. At the moment we shall go no further with this case. Please understand that you are very lucky, and keep out of trouble in future. Is that clear?'
'Yes, sir.' The boys were eager to escape.
When they had gone, Pascoe told Wield, 'You know, there's something very interesting about this dark blue BMW.'
'What's that, sir?'
'I know who it belongs to. I had to look at it recently because a garage door had fallen on it.'
'You mean it's Elgood's?'
'Yes. I've checked the description. It's definitely his.'
'Which means...'
'Which means — knowing Dick Elgood's reputation with women — we can be sure of one thing. The day before he came to tell us Patrick Aldermann was trying to murder him, he'd been off at his holiday cottage, making love to Aldermann's wife!'
End of an affair
Dick Elgood was totally relaxed, floating on his back in the warm sea.
If he raised his head, he could look across the beach to his holiday cottage, which stood near the edge of a cliff.
Twenty years ago, when he had bought the cottage, it had not been so near the edge, but every winter the sea brought more of the cliff crashing down onto the beach.
Elgood did not worry about that. He had no child to leave the cottage to. He had bought it cheaply. He was rather fascinated by its impermanence and the way the coast was always changing.
Here he could relax, with a woman friend or alone. Today he wanted to be alone. He had had to deal with a difficult meeting the day before. Times were hard, and some of his workers were to lose their jobs, but he had managed the situation well, and now this sunny day of peace was his reward.
Or perhaps not. A car was stopping by the cottage. He thought for a moment of hiding, but knew he must face her. It was Daphne Aldermann. He swam to the beach.
'Hello, love,' he said. 'This is a nice surprise. How did you know I was here?'
'Patrick was talking to Eric Quayle on the phone last night. He told him.'
Talking, were they, Elgood thought. Perhaps Patrick thought Quayle could get him onto the Board. Good thing he had made that phone call to London yesterday. That should put a stop to Aldermann's little plan.
He smiled at Daphne. 'Come up to the cottage, love, and have a cup of coffee. How long can you stay?'
As they climbed the cliff path, Daphne said, 'Doesn't it frighten you, the sea getting closer every year? It's pretty here, but it's so impermanent.'
'Not like Rosemont, you mean? But even Rosemont won't last for ever. Nothing will. I like change. It doesn't worry me.'
Daphne made the coffee while he got dressed. As soon as they sat down, she said, 'Dick, I came to tell you that it's over between us.'
He wasn't surprised. She had never been really interested in him, he could tell. This was no disappointment, and he found it easy to smile and say, 'Well, we're still friends. We've hurt no one. Don't feel guilty about it.'
His affair with Daphne had been unplanned and unexpected.
He had met her when Aldermann joined the company as assistant to Chris Burke. He was charming to her, more from habit than because she attracted him, but he found her eager to meet him to discuss her husband's job and salary. He supposed that they were short of money. Or several occasions he took her out for lunch.
Then Burke died, and Patrick took his job. Later, after Eagles had died, Elgood saw that Patrick hoped for a place on the Board, and knew that he didn't want him there. He was honest with Daphne, telling her how he felt. It was later the same day that he told Patrick, 'If you ever get a place on the Board, it'll be over my dead body!'
Dick Elgood did not expect to hear from Daphne again, but to his surprise she had telephoned, asking to see him. He had already planned a visit to his cottage next day, so he invited her to come with him. He was not sure she would come until the moment she had driven into the car park and jumped into his car.
All the way to the coast she talked nervously about Patrick. He still seemed to be so sure of success. It was as if he knew the future, knew for certain that he would be all right, and that he would always have Rosemont.
A few drinks at the cottage relaxed her, but she still looked worried and nervous when Elgood finally took her in his arms.
The next morning back at home the garage door had crashed down, narrowly missing him.
Now Daphne said, 'I'm really not the type to have an affair like this. I had to see you to make you understand. I felt so awful when the police came to ask questions about my car. I kept remembering those boys in the car park and wondering if they remembered me.'
The police were interested in your husband, not you, Elgood thought, but he could hardly tell her that!
'I must go in a minute. I feel better now we've talked,' Daphne said. 'I worry about such silly things. You know, recently I've met a woman and become friendly with her. She happens to be a policeman's wife. I like her a lot. She's really bright and independent. But I find myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking she's been told to spy on me!'
'Have you told Patrick about your new friend?' Elgood asked.
'Oh, yes. He wasn't bothered. He just told me to ask her and her husband to dinner.'
'What's her name?'
'Ellie Pascoe.'
To Daphne's horror, Elgood put his head in his hands and made a strange noise.
'Are you all right?' she asked in alarm.
'I wish I knew,' he said. 'Sit down again, Daphne. I've got something to tell you.'
Past deaths and a future burglary
Dalziel laughed loudly when Pascoe told him over the phone about Elgood and Daphne Aldermann.
'It doesn't surprise me,' he said. 'It's just like Dick. Typical. Gives Aldermann a motive, though. And it explains why Dick seems so sure Aldermann's trying to kill him.'
'It surprised me,' Pascoe said. 'Ellie's got to know Daphne Aldermann quite well, and she doesn't seem the type.'
'Ask your Ellie what she can find out about the Aldermann woman,' Dalziel said.
'I don't think she'd like it if I asked her to spy on her friend, sir!'
'Why ever not?' Dalziel asked, sounding surprised. 'Here's some more information for you,' he went on. 'Another death close to Aldermann. Someone who wanted to buy Rosemont from Penny Highsmith about the time Patrick left school. Edgar Masson's the Aldermanns' family lawyer. He could tell you the details.'
'Anything else?'
'Yes. Ask him about Florence Aldermann's will. I'm so bloody bored with this conference, I've been out on the case instead. It seems Aunt Flo died without making a will. Another thing. Daphne's father had plenty of money to leave, but he didn't leave it all to her. If Aldermann expected to get rich that way, he was disappointed!
'I'd best be going now,' he went on. 'Somebody's giving a talk on the part policewomen can play in community relations.'
'And you don't want to miss it, sir?' said Pascoe, surprised.
'Don't be daft, lad. It'll be finishing soon, and the fool who's giving it has left his office open. I'm using his phone. He's locked his whisky away, though. Awful what suspicious minds some people have.'
'Why is Andy so interested in this case?' Pascoe said later to Wield. 'Before he went to London, he told us not to waste time on it. Now he's full of it. Why?'
'Because he's met Mrs Highsmith?' Wield suggested. 'Is he going to see her again soon?'
'I think he is,' Pascoe replied. 'Come on. Let's take a good look at what we already know.'
Wield listened, as Pascoe started to go through the list of events.
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