The Unusual Suspects – Episode 8

© Andrew Joyner 2001
© Andrew Joyner 2001


Dr Thompson said Lane’s explanation sounded scurrilous but Victor Trumper confirmed that his fellow cricketers often took to corsets and stockings in the name of fundraising. Tom Roberts told us to arrest Lane and be done with it. “I have to be getting off,” he said. “I have a big day tomorrow – the fourth anniversary of the Society of Artists.” “Wait a moment,” said Miss Franklin, as if somebody had lit a gas lamp in her brain. She pointed at Roberts. “I recall now. You were standing on the opposite side to me, checking your own luggage in the overhead rack, when we entered a tunnel.”

“I was not,” swore Roberts. “You were indeed. The ticket inspector had just asked to view our tickets and you said you had left yours in your bag.” Lane and Borchegrevink both recalled the moment. Roberts sputtered that he’d had a few lagers and had probably forgotten. “Wait a moment,” Stella was rounding on him. “I recall now that as we entered the tunnel, I felt you above me.” Roberts shouted it was a lie but Stella was adamant. “I felt the chain of your fob watch dangling against my face in the dark! You took the opportunity afforded by the tunnel to remove the letter, did you not?” Roberts smiled. “I do not wear a fob watch.

But Doctor Thompson does!” “I wear a fob watch but I am not a thief,” the doctor declared. But I said he must be the culprit, since nobody else wore a fob watch. “I can prove I am innocent,” blurted Thompson. “For when we entered the tunnel I took the opportunity to pinch the posterior of Mrs Bates, which was nowhere near Miss Franklin.” Daisy Bates looked at him askance. “And I thought it was a rat biting me,” she said. “Sure you did,” drawled Roberts. “Somebody is lying – or everybody,” said Trumper, starting to raise his bat ominously. And then I had it. “No, they are not, Victor. Of course, there was a seventh person in that carriage – someone wearing a fob watch. You said so yourself, Stella. The ticket inspector!” Time was of the essence. We had to find the ticket inspector. In 24 hours democracy was to be overthrown.