The street was almost deserted and not one driver assisted me. So, I got out of the car, and I carried on walking through the countryside heading towards Dovercourt. Meanwhile, it started to rain, it was almost dark, and in a state of confusion, I saw the villa and rang the bell. Here for the first time I met the countess and her stepson. Along with them there was Lawyer Tedder, an acquaintance Judge King and I have in common, who then took me back home. The weather worsened, so I left the car on the main road, and this morning I went to take it back. At that point I made the macabre discovery.â
âTherefore, you have never seen the victim before this morning?â
âAbsolutely, I havenât.â
âEr!â murmured the other, lighting his briar pipe which had meanwhile gone out.
âI need to drink something,â enjoined Carol, shaken. She got up and extracted a bottle of sherry from the cocktail cabinet. She asked the inspector if he would like something to drink. To her great surprise, Baxter accepted the sherry, and remained to sip it slowly, while watching the sea.
From the large window one could see the grey and frothy sea, rippled by the whitening shine of the waves. âIn winter it is sad here,â said the superintendent, as if speaking to himself.
âDo you think so? It is not so for me or my husband Alfred. We love the sea a lot, especially in winter when there isnât much chaos in the city. We own a sailing boat. My husband is a member of the local Nautical Club.â
The man nodded pensive. âWell, where were we? Ah, yes! At what time did you leave London precisely?â
âAt about five oâclock in the eveningâ
âDid you carry out a check on the car before leaving?â
âDo you mean from London or from Harwich?â
âNo, the car is rather old, but in the last few months it has not given me any particular problems. I rarely use the car. I generally go to work by walk. I take the car when it rains, or when I have to go out of town to London. It seemed fine to me, for as much as we women understand when it comes to engines, at least women of my age.â
âHow old are you?â
âFifty-six years oldâ
âAt what time did the breakdown happen?â
âI would say about an hour later, around six oâclock in the evening more or less. I stayed in the car for a good quarter of an hour, trying to put it in motion, but with no success. I got off the car hoping to get help from some driver, but in vain. As I did not have any lights with me or anything else, and considering the main road not very safe, I thought to reach Dovercourt through the countryside. I walked until I saw the villa, and I rang the bell. Here everyone was very kind to me, I stayed at the villa for about an hour, and then Lawyer Tedder took me back home.â
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