Hamish Macbeth - Death Of A Dreamer - novelonlinefull.com
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"In the early part of the twentieth century, the then Lord Derwent killed his wife. A maid witnessed him throwing her down the stairs. It never went to court, and the maid was paid off."
"There you are. The ghost of Lady Derwent haunts the casde, crying for justice."
"So I need to pay someone to play the ghost and keep their mouths shut?"
"No, then they'd all know it wasn't real. I know someone who could fix up ghostly effects for you."
"I'll think about it. Horrible business about that artist having syphilis, and to think he was painting my daughter! I'll be off."
"Aren't you going to thank me for my great ideas?"
"Oh, they are a bit ridiculous. But thank you for trying." He marched out.
Later that day, Hamish did not know whether to be amused or furious when Mr. Johnson said that the colonel had gathered the staff together to tell them about 'his' great ideas about a ghost and murder weekends.
That evening, Gloria Addenfest called on Hamish. "Came to say thanks," she said. "I'm off to the States. I'm glad it's all over. Funny. I liked that Barnard woman. I thought she was the only one around that was any fun. All goes to show what a great judge of character I am. I even asked her to visit me in New York."
"She fooled us all," said Hamish heavily.
"Here's my card anyway. You can come and stay widi me any time."
After she had left, a voice nagged in his head that he should go. Priscilla would be as distant as ever. But what would he do with his cat?
His next caller was Jimmy Anderson.
"Tell me, Jimmy," said Hamish, opening a bottle of whisky and putting it in front of the detective, "did Betty say anything at the subsequent interview about what she did with Effie's mobile phone?"
"Didn't ask her. Doesn't matter now. What's this rumour going around that Jock has syphilis?"
"I put it about to get rid of him. His wife had left, and he was already chatting up some young girl in Cnothan. I hope that's the last we ever see of him. He'll always bring trouble."
"I hear you went to visit Blair," Jimmy said.
"How did you find out?"
"He phoned up drunk and weepy and said n.o.body had bothered to find out how he was except Hamish Macbeth."
"The old scunner. I took him a bottle of whisky. He grabbed it from me and slammed the door in my face. It's a wonder that man isn't dead."
"I think G.o.d keeps him on this earth to remind us that suffering purifies the soul."
Hamish poured himself a small measure of whisky. "I saw Robin in Strathbane."
"How's Auld Iron Knickers getting on?"
"Fine. She likes Inverness."
"Someone said, mind you, and if you can believe this, that they had seen Robin down in Inverness arm in arm with Daviot."
Hamish manufactured a laugh. "Now, that really is daft. Daviot, of all people."
"That's what I said. So are you going to take your holiday now?"
"Starting as soon as possible. Like now."
"So where are you going?"
"Och, I'm chust staying here," said Hamish awkwardly.
"You know, every time I drive into peasantville, I look to see what the h.e.l.l it is that keeps you here, but I'm blessed if I can."
"Never mind. Make that your last whisky this evening. One of these days you're going to run off the road."
"All right, mother." Jimmy swallowed his whisky. "Here's hoping we never have to cope with another murder again."
Hamish was in Patel's shop the next morning when Angela came up to him. "Have you seen the Bugle?"
"Jock's been shot. Elspeth's written the story."
Hamish bought a copy of the newspaper and went outside and sat on the waterfront wall.
Jock had been shot dead in his flat. Neighbours heard the shot. They found his flat door open and Jock lying dead on the floor. Police said that Jock Fleming owed considerable sums of money to loan sharks to pay for his gambling debts, and diey felt that was the reason he was killed. Then there was an inside feature, also by Elspeth, about Jock's connection to the murders in Lochdubh. The article ended by saying that it was reported that prices of his paintings had doubled.
Hamish wondered for a moment whether Dora had decided she'd had enough of Jock's philandering but then came to the conclusion that probably one of his loan sharks had wiped him out.
He pottered about for the rest of the day, feeling the peace of Lochdubh beginning to seep into his bones. In early evening, just as the sun was setting, he decided to go for a walk along the beach.
The air was clear and slightly cool. Thin wisps of cloud trailed the sky above, heralding a change in the good weather.
And then as he looked along the beach, he saw a heron, standing on the flat rock where Betty had stood, looking down into the water.
As he approached, it slowly turned its head and looked at him.
He experienced a sudden superst.i.tious shiver of fear. He ran towards it, waving his arms and shouting, "Go away. Shoo!"
The bird lazily opened its great wings and sailed off down the loch in the direction of the Atlantic.
Hamish Macbeth watched it until it was out of sight.
In Brighton, businessman George Bentinck had just returned from working in South Africa. He was expected to attend a Rotary Club dinner, and he wanted a female companion to take along. His wife was dead, and he didn't want to sit at the table where all the other men would be flanked by their wives or companions.
He phoned various lady friends, but all said they were too busy. He looked through his address book again. Then he saw the name Effie Garrard. He remembered her as a plain little woman he had met at a gallery opening. She had insisted on him writing down her mobile phone number. He had been too busy in South Africa to read any newspapers and was blissfully unaware of murder in the north of Scodand.
Deep in the heather, protected from the elements, down below Geordie's Cleft, Effie's phone, which she had charged up on the night she met her death, began to ring.
Like a faint cry for help, it shrilled tinnily out into the soft clear highland light.
But there was no one to hear it.
Not even the ghost of a dreamer.