“What you doing here?” Clive asked Margaret. It unnerved him that she was right outside of the Four Seasons Hotel where he was staying. He had just returned from visiting his Aunt Caroline who was out on bail and staying with his older brother Robert and his wife while awaiting her trial.
“I wanted to see if I could persuade you to stay at the estate instead of in a hotel. I had your room fixed up for you.” How she longed for him to take her in his arms and hold her tightly against him like he used to.
“No thanks. I’m perfectly fine here.”
“How long will you be in London?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is-is Ndeshi with you?”
“No.” Ndeshi had wanted to come but he told her that she should wait and then come for his father’s funeral.
“When’s your wedding?” She almost choked over the word, wedding.
“It was supposed to be in September but we have rescheduled it for next Spring.”
“I’m sorry that you had to change your plans.” It was the proper thing to say even if it wasn’t true. She wished that he would break off his engagement, leave Namibia and move back into the mansion. It would be just the two of them. In time, he would forget about Ndeshi and the whole dreadful business about his father and Aunt. Perhaps he would fall in love with her again when he realized that she was the only woman for him just like he was the only man for her. Perhaps, they would sell the estate, leave England altogether and move to the South of France or to Italy where they would buy a home by the sea, get married and spend the rest of their lives rediscovering each other.
“You’re not wearing your wedding ring.”
His abrupt change of the subject startled her. Nonplussed, she replied, “Oh. I–I took it off when I was doing a bit of gardening, you know, to take my mind off things and–and I forgot to put it back on.”
For some reason, he didn’t believe her but he didn’t press the point. “I have to go.”
“May I come up to your suite?”
“We can talk here.”
“Would–would you prefer to come over to the house this evening then? You can come for dinner and then afterwards, we can talk in the drawing-room.”
“We can talk here.”
“Why are you so cold towards me, Clive?” She looked and sounded hurt.
“I’m not being cold towards you,” he replied. “I have a lot on my mind. My father is dead and Aunt Caroline is in jail.”
“I’m heartbroken about Charles but Caroline is responsible for his death.”
“Anyone who knows her knows that she’s not capable of murder.”
“She tried to kill me, Clive.”
“I refuse to believe that.”
“I didn’t want to believe it either but the police found the evidence in her bedroom and that’s why they arrested her. You can’t argue with evidence.”
“It’s not rocket science to see that this is a frame-up. Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it appear that she’s guilty.”
“Who would do such a thing?”
“I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”
“They found the bottle of Cyanide in her room.”
“I don’t care what they found. It’s all circumstantial. Fortunately, Aunt Caroline has the best solicitor. And now, I really must go. Goodbye, Margaret.” Before she would say anything else, he turned and walked away. It was the first time he didn’t call her Elle.
Clive walked over to the reception to get his key. “Oh, Mr. Whitmore, there’s a young lady waiting for you by the bank of elevators.”
“Oh, thank you.” Curious, he made his way to the elevators and was surprised to see Agnes standing there. She looked relieved to see him. “Agnes, what on earth are you doing here? Has something else happened?”
“No, Mr. Clive. Nothing’s happened since your aunt was arrested. I came here because I need to talk to you.”
“All right. Let’s go up to my suite where we can talk.”
“Now, Agnes, tell me what’s on your mind .”
“Does anyone know that I’m here?”
“No. You look scared. Tell me what’s troubling you.”
She sat down on the chair, wringing her hands. “I thought I’d come to you first, Mr. Clive before going to the police.”
“I didn’t think anything of it at the time but I saw Mrs. Whitmore going into Miss Taylor’s room. The door was slightly ajar so I peaked in and saw her opening the drawer and putting something inside it. She didn’t know that I was there because her back was turned to me. Do you suppose it was the bottle of Cyanide which the detective found?”
Clive’s face turned pale and he sank down on the sofa, his head spinning at the thought of Margaret doing such a thing. It meant that not only did she attempt to implicate his Aunt Caroline but that she herself was guilty of…He couldn’t bear the thought. “I can’t believe this.”
“It’s true, Mr. Clive. I saw her. And it was she who told the police to search Miss Taylor’s room. I heard her. Why would she do that unless…”
“Unless, she knew that they would find something and they did.” His head was spinning.
“Are you all right, Mr. Clive?”
“I–I’m fine. Just in a state of shock.”
“I could hardly believe it myself but I know what I saw and that I had to tell you about it before going to the police.”
“You did the right thing in coming to me first. You haven’t told anyone else, have you?”
“No. You’re the only person whom I’ve told.”
“Good. I’ll-I’ll telephone the police and ask them to send someone here. I think you will be more comfortable talking to them here.” He said that because he feared that Margaret might still be outside and that if she saw him leaving the hotel with Agnes, she would follow them. He didn’t want her to know that she was now under suspicion. He still couldn’t believe that she was capable of–he didn’t want to believe it.
“While you call them, I’ll fix you something to drink. You look a bit peaked.”
“Sure. Thanks, Agnes.”
Margaret stood outside the hotel, tempted to go inside and up to his room but she thought better of it. She would only make things worse. She decided she would give him time and space to cool off. She walked to her car which parked nearby and pulled away from the curb just as a tall, familiar figure entered the hotel. He went the elevator. Minutes later, he knocked on the door of room 406. It opened and he identified himself as Detective Chief Superintendent Allen.
Source: Prison Reform Trust;