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The World Choice Works of Suspense and Detective 2

By Annie Dixon,2014-08-15 18:57
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The World Choice Works of Suspense and Detective 2

    The World Choice Works of Suspense and Detective

Three Is a Lucky Number

    By Margery Alingham

     At five oclock on a September afternoon Ronald Torbay was making preparations for his third murder. He was being very careful. He realized that murdering people becomes more dangerous if you do it often.

     He was in the bathroom of the house that he and recently rented. For a moment he paused to look in the mirror. The face that looked back at him was thin, middleaged and pale. Dark hair, a

    high forehead and well-shaped blue eyes. Only the mouth was unusualnarrow and quite straight.

    Even Ronald Torbay did not like his own mouth.

     A sound in the kitchen below worried him. Was Edyth coming up to have her bath before he had prepared it for her? No, it was all right: she was going out of the back door. From the window he saw her disappearing round the side of the house into the small square garden. It was exactly like all the other gardens in the long street. He didnt like her to be alone there. She was a shy person,

    but now new people had moved into the house next door, and there was a danger of some silly woman making friends with her. He didnt want that just now.

     Each of his three marriages had followed the same pattern. Using a false name, he had gone on holiday to a place where no one knew him. There he had found a middle-aged, unattractive woman, with some money of her own and no family. He had talked her into marrying him, and she had then agreed to make a will which left him all her money. Both his other wives had been shy, too. He was very careful to choose the right type of woman: someone who would not make friends quickly in a new place.

     Mary, the first of them, had had her deadly accident almost unnoticed, in the bathroom of the

    house he had renteda house very like this one, but in the north of England instead of the south. The police had not found anything wrong. The only person who was interested was a young reporter on the local newspaper. He had written something about death in the middle of happiness, and had printed photographs of Marys wedding and her funeral, which took place only three

    weeks after the wedding.

     Dorothy had given him a little more trouble. It was not true that she was completely alone in the world, as she had told him. Her brother had appeared at the funeral, and asked difficult questions about her money. There had been a court case, but Ronald had won it, and the insurance company had paid him the money.

     All that was four years ago. Now, with a new name, a newly invented background, and a different area to work in, he felt quite safe.

     From the moment he saw Edyth, sitting alone at a little table in the restaurant of a seaside hotel, he knew she was his next subject. He could see from her face that she was not happy. And he

    could also see that she was wearing a valuable ring.

     After dinner he spoke to her. She did not want to talk at first, but in the end he managed to start a conversation. After that, everything went as he expected. His methods were old-fashioned and romantic, and by the end of a week she was in love with him.

     He background was very suitable for Ronalds purpose. After teaching at a girls school for ten

    years, she had gone home to look after her sick father and had stayed with him until he died. Now, aged forth-three, she was alone, with a lot of money, and she didnt know what to do with herself.

    The World Choice Works of Suspense and Detective

     Five weeks after they met, Ronald married her, in the town where they were both strangers. The same afternoon they both made a will leaving all their property to each other. Then they moved into the house which he had rented cheaply because the holiday season was at an end. It was a cheap one, with two bars, and it was white, like the walls, and not too noticeable. There was no electric point in the bathroom, but he was able to connect the heater to a point just outside the door.

     He turned on the heater now, and watched the bar becomes red and hot. Then he went out of the room. The controls for all the electricity in the house were inside a cupboard at the top of the stairs. Ronald opened the door carefully and pulled up the handle which turned off the electricity. ( He had a cloth over his hand, so that he would not leave fingerprints.)

     Back in the bathroom the bars of the heater from the shelf and put it into the bath water, at the bottom end of the bath. Of course, you could still see it. It looked as if it had fallen off the shelf by accident.

     Edyth was coming back from the garden: He pulled a small plastic bottle out of his pocket and began to read again the directions on the back.

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