That Saturday the first winds of autumn pushed the sea into long swells of thundering waves boiling round the shining rocks. As David waited for Olivia he was reminded of a poem by Robert Browning a dramatic monologue. “Porphyria’s Lover”. The weather reflected the man’s disturbed state of mind. David recalled that Browning had called it a study in madness.
Their love had ended in tragedy. In murder. Poor Porphyria.
He heard a car draw up outside and he opened the door to Olivia. A few leaves, blown by the wind, swirled in with her.
“You weren’t followed?” he said as he helped her off with her coat. She shook her dark hair. He could smell the wind and the sea and her perfume.
She opened her bag, reached inside and brought out an object wrapped in a green silk scarf. It was heavy, and as she laid it on the table David knew what it was.
His heart beat faster as Olivia carefully unwrapped the scarf and the great, ugly revolver lay uncovered.
“I haven’t touched it,” she said, her voice almost a whisper. The barrel pointed towards David. “I think it’s an Army gun,” she said, her eyes moving from the weapon to David.
He stared at it.
“It’s a point four five Webley Service revolver. In fact, I have one somewhere. My Army issue. Lots of men kept them after the war. Where did you get it?”
“It’s Andrew’s. He’s had it for years.” They both looked at it for a moment. “Will it work?”
Using the scarf to avoid touching it, he took hold of the butt and broke open the magazine. In the cylinder six brass bullets lay like six eyes looking at him. He clicked the pistol shut and laid it very carefully on the table.
“Yes. It will work.”
He looked at her across the table, the gun between them.
“Suicide.” He looked up as she spoke, at that pale, beautiful face. “Can you do it?”
The window-pane rattled. She reached across the table and took both his hands in hers, the gun between their arms.
“I’ve fired a Webley revolver before,” he said. “In training. But never in anger. Or in cold blood.”
“Can you do it?” she repeated.
He nodded slowly.
They sat hand in hand for a moment, then she released his hand and reached again into her bag. She took out a white envelope and, using the edge of the scarf removed a piece of white card from the envelope and laid it on the table next to the revolver.
“A few months ago a business acquaintance of Andrew’s died, after a long illness. He went to the funeral. Before he left the house he wrote a sympathy card for the widow, but he forgot to take it. He left it on the table in the hall.I found it and kept it.”
David looked at the card. Written in black ink were the words, I know you will find it hard to accept but in the end it is for the best. Andrew Drake.
Olivia went on.
“I’ve cut the printed sympathy card off. It’s a message, a suicide note, David, in Andrew’s handwriting and signed by him. What do you think?”
“I think it’s essential. It’s essential for the police investigation. You do know, don’t you, that the police are going to be very quickly involved? You will be questioned. He’s a very wealthy man, leaving a very wealthy widow.”
“Why do people commit suicide?” she said. “I can say that he had violent mood swings, was an alcoholic who in a sudden fit of alcoholic depression . . . and once the police find that note by the . . . by the body . . .” Her voice trailed off.
They could hear the waves pounding in the distance.
“How do I do it?”
“Can you come to the house tomorrow morning? He’ll be out, and Mrs Norris will be in town for some shopping. I’ll show you what you have to do.”