The River Runs Deep – Episode 10

On the train back to Oxford, Ruth studied her notebook. Terence Greene sat opposite her on the hard third class seat, his long legs wedged against the bench beside her.

“Not a good visit,” she said.

He turned to her.

“Oh, you think so?”

“We learned nothing much in the case.”

He nodded quickly.

“Yes, from that point of view. Nothing.”

“At least . . .” Ruth bit her pencil.

“What?” he asked.

Ruth didn’t hear him.

“Ruth?” he said very clearly, and as she looked up at the sound of her Christian name on his lips for the first time, their eyes met.

“I . . . I think we should visit Mr Carter again,” she said. “I have a task for him.”


Fred was happy to see them in his rooms. He signed in Ruth at the lodge as a guest, and pacified the porters about the presence again of a policeman within their hallowed walls.

“I am quite recovered,” Fred Carter said in answer to their enquiries. He had made them coffee and was cheerful. “All the bruising is gone. In fact, I am not concerned that my case is declining in the police’s interest. Sergeant, your superintendent made me understand that nothing much can be discovered, and I am at peace with that. I have the rest of my life to look to, and my marriage ”

“Congratulations!” Ruth leaped to her feet. “Miss Carrimore has agreed!”

“There is no happier man in Oxford,” Fred said, a huge grin spreading across his face.

“Police time will better be spent on the case of the poor young Merton man.” He became grave. “I cannot bear to think of his parents’ distress.”

Ruth sat forward in her chair.

“Mr Carter, I am convinced that there is a connection, and because of that we cannot so easily forget what was done to you.”

Fred shook his head.

“Maybe I was not pushed. Maybe I was confused.”

“I have never met a less confused person,” Ruth said firmly.

But Fred Carter seemed determined to divert her from her path of questioning. He offered more coffee, and spoke of Miss Carrimore’s intention to dine in Magdalen’s great hall that evening, with himself and George Trescanton.

“And there will be Dover sole, so the kitchen claims, of which I am fond. Which reminds me, Miss Rutherford, that I have not yet completed your challenge.”

“Challenge?” Terence asked, putting down his coffee cup.

“Mr Carter says he has a fine memory,” Ruth explained, “and that this skill makes him a good student of History. And yes, Mr Carter, I came today partly to see if you can recall that public house menu.”

Ruth’s face was set in an expression of determination rather than amusement. Her small, defined chin was thrust forward, her cheeks rosy in the firelight. Terence knew that, as he slept that night, he would dream of this very picture.

Fred smiled at her.

“Do you have your notebook, Miss Rutherford?”

She patted the cloth bag that lay in her lap.

“Safe and sound, Mr Carter, and not to be shown to you until you can prove your worth.”

Greene sat back, astonished.

“Well, we began with mulligatawny soup at twopence,” Fred said carefully. “Next came a white flour dinner roll, which I believe was a mere farthing.”

Ruth was looking at him intently.

“Kippers at an extortionate shilling. I hope a chap gets two for that price.”

Carter listed every item on the menu, and as he did so, Ruth slowly withdrew her notebook from the bag and read it.

“And a blancmange for one and six!” Fred finished with a flourish.

Ruth was very still.

“You have a photographic memory,” she said quietly.

“Is that a bad thing?” Fred said, looking at her questioningly. “You seem rather serious.”

Ruth shook her head as if coming out of a dream.

“Of course not. It is a good thing.” She turned to the sergeant. “We must be going.”

“Tell me about photographic memories,” Terence said as she dragged him down the staircase and into St Swithun’s quad.

“Oh, yes, I will,” she said. “But now we must fetch that map.”


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.