Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The Casebook of Sheraton Howell: Part XI The First Case IV

The incident was most definitely worth investigating and at four o’ clock in the morning, Howell and I found ourselves clambering over the same low rooftops that the woman had reportedly been on. A number of timber shingles appeared to have been recently disturbed and a small piece of cloth was still attached to a tile nail. We later determined this to be a blue taffeta, a not inexpensive fabric, which was at odds with the ragged description the constables reported. We were, however, once more at a loss and no further forward in locating the missing girl or finding the mystery spring heeled woman, who seemed to be heavily involved. What did we know of this woman? We knew that she had considerable athletic ability, may be French or at least a native French speaker and possibly wore a once expensive, yet now tattered, dress. This was hardly evidence likely to lead to an imminent arrest, but it was a start.

The Gilliat daughter had been very distraught at the disappearance of her cousin and the death of her dog had been a further blow to her condition. Mrs Gilliat’s nerves were frayed by the events and they required some reassurance from ourselves and the police. The Gilliats had been questioned about the woman in blue but they knew nothing of her. Howell and I agreed that we would spend a few evenings in surveillance of the property, hidden away in their summerhouse, which afforded good view across the length of their substantial garden, taking in both the rear doors and the gate into the street beyond. The police could not apparently afford the manpower to join the venture, but as we feared their presence may have restricted any potential activity, this did not trouble us. We did decide to arm ourselves for the occasion, however.

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