The Magician 'I have come about Margaret's death,' said Arthur. Haddo, as was his habit, did not immediately answer. He looked slowly from Arthur to Dr Porhoet, and from Dr Porhoet to Susie. His eyes rested on her hat, and she felt uncomfortably that he was inventing some gibe about it. 'I should have thought this hardly the moment to intrude upon my sorrow,' he said at last. 'If you have condolences to offer, I venture to suggest that you might conveniently send them by means of the penny post.' Arthur frowned. 'Why did you not let me know that she was ill?' he asked. 'Strange as it may seem to you, my worthy friend, it never occurred to me that my wife's health could be any business of yours.' A faint smile flickered once more on Haddo's lips, but his eyes had still the peculiar hardness which was so uncanny. Arthur looked at him steadily. 'I have every reason to believe that you killed her,' he said. Haddo's face did not for an instant change its expression. 'And have you communicated your suspicions to the police?' 'I propose to.' 'And, if I am not indiscreet, may I inquire upon what you base them?' 'I saw Margaret three weeks ago, and she told me that she went in terror of her life.' 'Poor Margaret! She had always the romantic temperament. I think it was that which first brought us together.' 'You damned scoundrel!' cried Arthur. 'My dear fellow, pray moderate your language. This is surely not an occasion when you should give way to your lamentable taste for abuse. You outrage all Miss Boyd's susceptibilities.' He turned to her with an airy wave of his fat hand. 'You must forgive me if I do not offer you the hospitality of Skene, but the loss I have so lately sustained does not permit me to indulge in the levity of entertaining.' He gave her an ironical, low bow; then looked once more at Arthur. 'If I can be of no further use to you, perhaps you would leave me to my own reflections. The lodgekeeper will give you the exact address of the village constable.' Arthur did not answer. He stared into vacancy, as if he were turning over things in his mind. Then he turned sharply on his heel and walked towards the gate. Susie and Dr Porhoet, taken completely aback, did not know what to do; and Haddo's little eyes twinkled as he watched their discomfiture. 'I always thought that your friend had deplorable manners,' he murmured.
Published on Apr 1, 2012