The bloodstain was still there on the fireside rug where the major’s body had been found in the library, the assegai protruding from his back.
Inspector Cutler and Sergeant Walsh walked back out into the hall and closed the door. The houseguests were assembled in the drawing room, the staff confined to their quarters; they had time to take stock. Cutler ran through the facts, which Walsh ticked off with a stubby pencil in his notebook.
“Time of death: eleven to eleven thirty. Mrs Prendergast was walking into the village with the vicar. The Batterby’s were seen on the golf links. Dr. Johnson was attending Daphne Hewitt in her room. Cook was with the gardener in the kitchen garden, seen by Boucher from the road. Boot boy on his bike coming back from Admiral Bascombe’s with the handbag Miss Glamis had left there.”
“Miss Glamis?” Walsh squinted at his notebook.
“On the ten forty five to Worcester,” sighed Cutler. “Makes no sense. Everyone’s in the clear.”
“Somebody isn’t, sir,” replied Walsh, tersely.
“Time for a smoke eh, Sergeant?” Cutler never carried smokes of his own.
Walsh walked over to where his raincoat was draped across the post table and rummaged in the pockets.
“My lighter,” he cried, “It’s gone!”
“You must have left it at the station, man,” replied Cutler dismissively.
“It was there when I came in, sir!” insisted Walsh, “It never leaves me. Solid gold. Anniversary present. My wife’ll go potty.”
“At home, then.”
“It was in my pocket when we rang the doorbell, sir,” Walsh persisted, “I remember making sure. I knew you’d be cadging a...” he faltered.
“Well, forget it,” snapped Cutler, “We’ve got more important things to do.”
Up in the attic, the boot boy fingered his gleaming prize. Nobody would be bothered with him.