“You’ve not eaten much, Mrs Drake,” Mrs Norris said.
“It was delicious, Mrs Norris. I have a bit of a headache, that’s all.”
Her husband chimed in.
“That’s with not wearing your glasses. Vanity. And now you don’t know where they are. Typical.”
“You usually leave them on your bedside table,” Mrs Norris said. “Shall I run up and see?” She turned towards the door.
“No! No need,” Olivia said quickly. “I remember. They’re in my handbag.”
“I’ll serve coffee, then.”
David sat in the darkness. Occasionally he stood up. He needed to keep his circulation going. His hands were hot in the gloves. He looked at his watch. Time to hide.
“Right, I’ve got things to do.” Andrew Drake walked to the door of the drawing-room. Olivia followed and watched as her husband climbed the stairs. She heard the study door open and close.
David heard the study door open and close. He heard another click. The desk lamp? He tried to keep his breathing steady.
A few minutes later he heard a knock.
“Yes,” Drake called.
“Here you are, sir.”
“Thank you.” David heard the door close, then the clink of a bottle against a glass.
In the drawing-room Olivia poured a whisky. Just one. She had to keep a clear head.
Mrs Norris was doing the dishes while she listened to “The Man In Black” with Valentine Dyall on the wireless.
Fifteen minutes later, David lifted the lid. He thought he could hear the sound of faint snoring. He lifted the lid of the seat higher. There was definite snoring. He pushed the lid right back and stood up carefully, slowly, a figure in black. His mouth was dry as he took four paces to the side of the chair.
Andrew Drake sat slouched in a drunken sleep, his breathing heavy. David took the Webley revolver from his pocket. It was heavy in his hand. But Drake’s head was resting against the side of the chair, the right-hand side of his head. David knew that Drake was right handed.
He waited but Drake seemed settled. David stretched out his left hand and gave Drake a gentle prod. Nothing. Again. This time Drake stirred and moved to his left. David lifted the gun. It shook slightly.
* * * *
Olivia gasped and jumped at the sharp report. She stood, and walked steadily to the kitchen.
David quickly grabbed Drake’s right hand and placed it round the pistol, pressing the right forefinger for a second on the trigger. Hand and pistol lay in Drake’s lap.
There were wisps of smoke and the powerful smell of cordite. From his left coat pocket he took the suicide note and placed it on the desk on top of the papers Drake had been looking at. Then he suddenly realised there was no pen on the desk! Only a pencil!
David flipped open Drake’s jacket. Clipped to the inside pocket was a green fountain pen. He grabbed it, put it in the ink stand and slipped back into the window seat, his heart hammering.
* * * *
“Mrs Norris, did you hear that noise?”
Mrs Norris was already turning off the wireless.
“I did, Mrs Drake. I did. Whatever . . .”
“Perhaps a light bulb exploded,” Olivia said. “It was upstairs.”
Olivia opened the door of the study and both women hurried in but stopped short when they saw the body of Andrew Drake and the blood on the side of the chair. There was the sharp smell of cordite, stronger than the usual smell of tobacco.
Mrs Norris’s hands went to her face in horror.
“Look!” she cried. “He has a gun.”
“Oh, Andrew, why? Why?” Olivia wailed.
“I’ll get a towel. Stop the blood,” Mrs Norris said and started towards the window seat.
“No! No! I’ll do that,” Olivia shouted. “You go and phone for an ambulance. And stay by the door to let them in as soon as they get here. Quickly now.”
Mrs Norris hurried out and as soon as Olivia heard her foot on the stairs she opened the window seat.
David scrambled out. They both hurried along the landing, down the steps, through the door, which Olivia bolted as he disappeared into the night. They never exchanged a single word.