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chapter sixty-four

The lips frequently parted with a murmur of words. She seemed to belong rightly to a madrigal

(Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native)

on the evening of the day following these events, Wednesday 5 August, Morse, Lewis, and Dr Laura Hobson had enjoyed a little celebration in Morse's office; and at 8.30 p.m. a sober Lewis had driven the other two down to Morse's flat in North Oxford.

'You won't want another drink?' Morse had asked of Lewis, as if the question were introduced by num., the Latin interrogative particle expecting the answer 'no'.

'What elegant equipment!' enthused Laura Hobson as she admired Morse's new CD player.

Ten minutes later the pair of them were sitting together, drinking in a diet of Glenfiddich and the finale of Gotterddmmerung.

'Nothing quite like it in the whole history of music,' announced Morse magisterially, after Briinnhilde had ridden into the flames and the waves of the Rhine had finally rippled into silence.

'You think so?'

'Don't you?'

'I prefer Elizabethan madrigals, really.'

For a few moments Morse said nothing, saddened by her lack of sensitivity, it seemed.


'I loved it. Don't be silly!' she said. 'But I've got to be on my way.'

'Can I walk you home?'

'I live too far away. I'm in a temporary flat in Jericho.'

'I'll drive you home, then.'

'You've had far too much to drink.'

'You can stay here, if you like? I've got a spare pair of pyjamas.'

'I don't usually wear pyjamas.'


'How many bedrooms do you have?'


'And bedroom number two is free?"

'Just like bedroom number one.'

'No secret passage between them?'

'I could get the builders in.'

She smiled happily, and rose to her feet. 'If there ever is going to be anything between us, Chief Inspector, it'll have to be when we're borth a bit more sorber. Better that way. I think you'd prefer it that way too, if you're honest.' She laid a hand on his shoulder. 'C'mon. Ring for a taxi.'

Ten minutes later she kissed him lightly on the lips, her own lips dry and soft and slightly opened.

Then she was gone.

An hour later Morse lay awake on his back. It was still hot in the bedroom and he had only a light cotton sheet over him. Many varied thoughts were crowding in upon his mind, his eyes ever darting around in the darkness. First it had been the lovely woman who had been there with him that evening; then the case of the Swedish Maiden, with only those last few lines of the complex equation to be completed now; then his failure thus far to locate the bullet that had killed George Daley this last problem gradually assuming a dominance in his brain

The bullet had been fired from about sixty or so yards that seemed a firm assumption. So So why hadn't it been found? And why could no one in Blenheim be far more definite about hearing it being fired: shooting in Blenheim was not the common occurrence it was in other areas in Wytham, for example. The rifle itself concerned him to a lesser extent: after all, it was far easier to get rid of a rifle than to get rid of a bullet that could have landed up anywhere Morse got out of bed and went to find the Blenheim Park brochure -just as Johnson had done so recently before him. The place where Daley's body had been found could be only what? four hundred yards or so from that narrow north-westerly tip of the lake, shaped like the head of one of those cormorants he'd seen in Lyme Regis not all that long ago Yes! He would double the men on the search on both searches, rather. There could be little doubt that Philip Daley must have dumped his father's rifle there somewhere in the lake itself, like as not. And once they'd found either of them, either the rifle or the bullet-

The phone rang, and Morse grabbed at it.

'That was quick, sir.'

'What do you want?'

'The Met, sir. They rang HQ, and Sergeant Dixon thought he ought to let me know-'

'Let you know, Lewis? Who the hell's in charge of this bloody case? Just wait till I see Dixon!'

'They thought you'd be asleep, sir.'

'Well, I wasn't, was I?'

'And, well-'

'Well, what?'

'Doesn't matter, sir.'

'It bloody does matter! They thought I was in bed with a woman! That's what they thought."

'I don't know,' admitted the honest and honourable Lewis.

'Or pretty much the worse for booze!'

'Perhaps they thought both,' said Lewis simply.


'Young Philip Daley, sir. Just over an hour ago. Threw himself under a westbound train on the Central Line, it seems train coming into Marble Arch from Bond Street driver had no chance, just as he came out of the tunnel.'

Morse said nothing.

'Police knew a bit about the boy. He'd been picked up for shoplifting from a wine store in the Edgware Road and taken in; but the manager decided not to prosecute he got away with a right dressing-down-'

That's not all you've got to tell me, is it?' said Morse quietly.

'No, sir. You've guessed, I suppose. That was Monday morning, half an hour after the store opened.'

'You're telling me he couldn't have shot his dad, is that it?'

'Not even if he'd been the one to hire that helicopter, sir.'

'Does Mrs Daley know?'

'Not yet.'

'Leave her, Lewis. Leave her. Let her sleep.'

chapter sixty-three | The Way Through The Woods | c