The Cat's-Eye



THE trouble was that he could no longer disentangle what he remembered from what he had been told and what he had read. For he had, quite naturally, read every word that he could find on the subject, ever since they first told him about it when he was fourteen. And there had been a good deal published on it; not only books on famous crimes, which almost always had a chapter on the Cawthra case, but there had been a play and two novels based on it, and a movie based on one of the novels. Jim had read or seen them all.

It was only natural, then, that after all this time his memory and his reading should have become fused, and that he should no longer know which details came from which. The cat’s-eye brooch; he knew that he remembered that, because of his childhood fear of it; but Mrs. Pamphlett, and Auntie Lilian’s lace bedspread — did he really remember them? He thought he did, but he had read about them so often now, that he could no longer really be sure. It was twenty-seven years ago, and on the other side of the world, and he had been only seven at the time.

But at least Mrs. Pamphlett and the bedspread had existed, whereas there were other things that he thought he remembered, which he could not find in the accounts. Albert, for instance. There was no mention of him anywhere; yet. he was sure that he remembered him. How did he fit into the story ?

There was nobody to tell him, nobody he could ask. Everyone who could have known was dead, or else four thousand miles away. Except her, Auntie Vi-Vi, and nobody knew where she was. She had disappeared entirely after the trial; he had read in some book that she had gone to America; he supposed she would have changed her name. In any case, she was lost, and it was she alone who could have told him about these things for certain.

There had been an afternoon, for example, when he was on his way home from school, and he had run into her with Albert in the street, and she had walked back with him to the house, and asked him not to say anything about it, not to mention seeing Albert, not to anyone, especially his father. She had given him sixpence as a reward for his silence, and he had had quite a time deciding what to spend it on, for he had never had so much money in one lump before. That must have happened, surely? He couldn’t have imagined a thing like that.

Here in Chicago in 1939, it was hard to believe that any of it had happened. Kilburn, the drab northwestern suburb of London, in 1912, seemed an improbable place in itself. Had he really lived in it, and gone to school in Salisbury Road, and bought Liquorice Allsorts at the sweetshop at the cornel ? What connection was there between that small boy and the married young insurance broker with thinning hair at thirty-four, who lived in a small house in Evanston? None that he could see, except continuity, and that was the odd part of it.

He had been born in the United States, and his mother died in giving birth to him. When he was three, his father took him to England. He thought that he remembered the trip, but he was not sure. Perhaps it was the journey back that he was thinking of. In London, Auntie Lilian became his stepmother. He remembered her, or thought he did, as a tall, languid woman, with huge dreary eyes and untidy masses of black hair that seemed too heavy for her. She was given to invalidism and to lying on sofas, dressed in a tea gown, making lace; there seemed to be yards and yards of it, in his memory.

They lived in a semi-detached house, with dark, sooty evergreens in the front garden, in a long road of exactly similar dwellings. The house, in the photographs he had since seen of it in reports of the case, looked smaller than he remembered it. On the gate was his father’s brass plate, announcing; FREDERICK C. CAWTHRA, TEACHER OF MUSIC.

At the back of the house was an oblong piece of garden of which Mr. Cawthra was very fond. Jim used to potter with him on summer evenings when he did his gardening; digging plantains out of the patch of grass they called the lawn; fetching the trowel and the watering pot from the tool shed, trying to make himself useful.

Apart from those evenings, he seemed to spend most of his time in the kitchen, getting in the way of Annie, the general servant, or being regaled by her with stories of crime or illness; she had a large family which included a consumptive sister and an epileptic brother, and she loved to talk about them. The kitchen was in the basement, and there was always strong, sweet tea and cold bread-pudding.

Upstairs, the house was dark, summer and winter, for Auntie Lilian could not bear the sunlight and kept the shades drawn; from the back room came the sound of the piano, and the pupils practicing The Maiden’s Prayer and The Dance of the Little Silver Bells. Sometimes a girl’s voice would float out, singing “The Garden of Sleep,” or “The Blue Alsatian Mountains.” While these went on, Auntie Lilian would lie on her sofa with her eyes closed, dabbing Eau de Cologne on her temples, and say that it was all killing her. Sometimes when he was in bed at night, he would hear their raised voices below, quarreling.


MR. CAWTHRA was a little man with a pointed beard and twinkling eyes. He was mild and jolly, and when he took Jim for walks they always had fun together. At first they used to go alone; later, Auntie Vi-Vi joined them. That was Jim’s own name for her. Her real name was Violet Delcey. According to the books, his father met her in 1911, and she came to live with them the next year. She was a cashier in the local department store, called the Bon Marche, and came to Mr. Cawthra for music lessons. She had a sweet mezzo-soprano voice, and Jim thought her singing of the Flower Song from Faust the most beautiful thing he had ever heard.

Here again, he was not sure what he remembered and what he had read. The books described her as a quiet, modest, gentle-spoken girl, with Titian hair; one of them, more flowery than the rest, said that she had the pale, grave face of a Madonna. Jim thought that he remembered a tip-tilted nose, which gave her face a saucy look. According to the story, she became his father’s mistress, and Auntie Lilian made scenes of violent jealousy, weeping and threatening to kill herself. Jim could almost swear now that he had heard her do so. According to the story, too, Violet Delcey felt her position very keenly and tried to break off the relationship and leave the house. Mr. Cawthra’s evidence was that they ceased to be lovers, but that he begged her to stay on because she was so good with the child.

Good with him? Had she been, Jim wondered? It seemed, as he looked back, that they were always having secrets — secrets from his father and Auntie Lilian; that they used to call at houses when they went for walks alone, and have tea with servants in the kitchen, and that sometimes there were young men present, and a lot of giggling went on; and then on the way home, Auntie Vi-Vi would take him to a tea-shop for a threepenny ice, and tell him not to say anything at home about where they had been. And there was Albert, too. Albert was a sailor.

But on the other hand he could remember her reading aloud to him from the storybooks, sitting in the big armchair while he balanced on her lap, her arm around his waist, her red hair tickling his face; and when he had earache she used to come and sit on his bed, and bring him salt-bags and sing to him until the pain left him and he went to sleep.

She wore a brooch, which she told him was a cat’seye, and this frightened him because he thought of the stone as being a real eye, extracted from a cat’s head and in some way petrified. Even her reassurances, when he confessed to this after a nightmare, failed to remove his fear of the brooch completely; it remained a sinister thing in his memory, even now. He could not recall her wearing any other ornament, and saw her always in his mind as very neatly dressed, in a white blouse and plain gray skirt, and a patent-leather belt at her waist. This was the Violet Delcey of recorded fact; how did the Auntie Vi-Vi of his memory square with her?

In the summer of 1912 Auntie Lilian was taken ill — ill enough to have to stay in bed, this time. It was a hot summer, and Aunt Bet and Uncle Harvey were visiting them from America. They were relatives of Jim’s own mother, childless, and they took to him at once. They stayed in a boardinghouse just dowrn the road, because the only spare room at home was the one in which Violet Delcey slept, and she was needed there to nurse and look after Auntie Lilian. Jim spent his days with them, and presently moved over to the boardinghouse altogether, because the house was upset with illness and he was in the way. After Jim had been with them a little while, Aunt Bet asked him how he would like to go back to America with them.

“We planned to adopt you almost as soon as we saw you,” she told him, when she was giving him the whole history some years afterwards. “You were so like poor Gertrude, and such an unhappylooking little boy. It wasn’t any fit household for a child to be brought up in. We could see that, the minute we arrived, even though your Aunt Lilian was sick in bed, and Violet Delcey was taking care of her and keeping out of everybody’s way. But I caught a couple of looks between her and your father that told me all I needed to know, so we spoke to him about, it — about taking you back with us, I mean — and he didn’t make any objection. Of course, at that time, we hadn’t the least idea what was going to happen.”

After a couple of weeks in London, his uncle and aunt went on a trip to Scotland, where Uncle Harvey’s family had come from, two generations back. Jim went with them, and it was while they were away that Auntie Lilian died. They hurried back to London. Jim thought he could remember the funeral, and being given seedcake to eat, and Auntie Vi-Vi wearing black, with a large black hat that had a big pearl hatpin in it.

At any rate, it was two weeks later, so Aunt Bet told him, that they sailed for America, and after that there was the house in Rockford, Illinois, and school, and new playfellows; a new life and new interests. Everything was different. He missed his father sometimes, and when he asked for him, Aunt Bet said, “You’re our boy now,” and took him into the kitchen, where she gave him something to eat. One day she told him that his father was dead. He was surprised, and worked himself up into crying a little in bed that night. Then he forgot him.


IT WAS when he was fourteen that Aunt Bet told him the whole story. Uncle Harvey had died two years before, and she herself was ill at the time. She must have known or guessed that she had not long to live. She sent for him to come to her room, on a sweltering summer afternoon and, sitting up in the double bed, pushing the streaks of her gray hair off her damp, red forehead, she told him as kindly as she could the facts of the Cawthra case.

“It’s a dreadful thing I’ve got to tell you, Jim, and I’ve dreaded having to do it, ever since you came to live with us. But if I don’t tell you, somebody else will, and not in a nice way, either.”

He sat on his chair by her bedside, and fidgeted. He wanted to be out with the other boys, and not in here listening to her.

“Come up on the bed, Jim,” she said, “and give me your hand.”

He seated himself on the high bed, and put his hand unwillingly into hers, which was moist and work-scarred.

“It’s about your father,” she said, “and I don’t know how to tell you now any better than I’d have done in the beginning, even though I’ve had seven years to think about it. Your father was hanged, Jim; he was hanged for murdering your Aunt Lilian; and that’s all there is to it. And you’d better know it from me than from gossiping busybodies later on.”

Father; Auntie Lilian; it was so long now since he had thought of them. Their names brought back another life: the dark house with the drawn shades, and the sound of the piano from the back room.

“It all happened that summer we were over there and brought you back with us. It’s all dead and forgotten, and I hope you’ll never think about it, any more than you can help or will have to. Uncle Harvey and I made you our own son from that time on, and gave you our name, for your poor mother’s sake, and it hasn’t anything to do with you, except that it did happen, and he was your father, God forgive him.”

She was sparing with the details, telling him only that it was poison — some kind of weed-killer, she said. Jim, with a memory of the summer evenings when they used to spray the stunted rosebushes to destroy the green-fly, could not escape a childish picture of his father turning the syringe on Auntie Lilian, or forcing her to drink from the bucket into which the syringe was dipped.

“Why did he do it?” he asked. “Why did he want to kill her?”

“It was on account of that girl. Violet Delcey. He wanted to marry her.”

Jim, who was by then beginning to be acquainted with the facts of sex, wondered whether his aunt was using a euphemism out of regard for his supposed innocence. He blushed; this part of the story affected him more than any other.

After that, Aunt Bet refused to talk about it. He knew enough, she said. When she went to the hospital to have her operation the next year, she told Jim that if anything happened to her he would find the press clippings about his father in an envelope in a secret drawer in the bureau.

“You can read them or not, as you want,” she said. “Your uncle and I kept them for when you were old enough to know about it all.”

Nothing did happen to her then except to return from the hospital and linger another year in pain. But Jim read the clippings, all the same. She had hardly left the house before he did so, kneeling on one of the green plush chairs in the living room, with the faded sheets of newspaper spread on the table cover before him. He read them greedily and guiltily, as though they were a dirty book.

For weeks he was terrified — terrified at the memory of the little house, and of his picture of his father stealing out to the tool shed that he so clearly remembered, getting the weed-killer from the shelf, and mixing it with Auntie Lilian’s medicine, carrying it up the narrow stairs to her room. Worse were the descriptions of Auntie Lilian’s symptoms, the exhumation, and the post-mortem examination. They were appalling, but they fascinated him, and he gloated over the details in his room at night.


Now, it was all a tale so old and so familiar that it was like a book that he had read too many times. The story of the murder was simple enough. Auntie Lilian was taken ill in July, 1912. The doctor attended her, and diagnosed gastrit is. He prescribed medicine, and within a couple of weeks she was better. It was during those weeks that Violet Delcey nursed her. When she was out of danger, Violet went on a holiday.

This, Jim figured, must have been about the time that he himself was in Scotland with his aunt and uncle. Mr. Cawthra and his wife were alone in the house with Annie. Auntie Lilian was up again, and spending her time on the sofa, taking a tonic that the doctor had ordered her three times a day. Mr. Cawthra used to pour it out for her. Suddenly, she had a relapse; the former symptoms returned, and in three days she was dead. The doctor gave a death certificate, and the funeral look place at Kensal Green, Violet Delcey returning from her holiday specially for it. It was clear she had nothing to do with the murder.

Two weeks after the funeral (which must, Jim reckoned, have been just after he himself left for America), she returned to the house to live, chaperoned now only by Annie. Auntie Lilian’s friends were scandalized, and one of them, a Mrs. Pamphlett, paid a visit to the house to question Annie about what was going on. Finding Violet Delcey absent, she went on a tour of inspection and discovered that the girl had moved into the best bedroom, and that Mr. Cawthra was sleeping in the little room that she had occupied.

This, thought Mrs. Pamphlett, was outrageous, but what was worse was that across the bed, the marriage bed in which her poor friend had breat hed her last, and in which her supplanter was now sleeping, was a lace bedspread that Auntie Lilian had finished making just before she died and had promised to Mrs. Pamphlett. She had a further conference with Annie, who had taken a dislike to Violet Delcey since she became mistress of the house. Encouraged, Annie now voiced dark suspicions; other friends joined in, and an exhumation order was applied for. Arsenic was found in large quantities in the body, and the police paid a visit to the house. They found the weed-killer in the tool shed, but they did not find Mr. Cawthra and Violet Delcey. They had fled.

They were discovered ten days later in Boulogne, living as father and daughter in a tiny pension, where they might have remained completely unsuspected, had not Violet Delcey had occasion to visit a dentist and objected to going to a French one. There was one English dentist in the town, and it happened that he had that day seen the police description in the London papers. It was the cat’seye brooch which gave her away; the dentist recognized it and communicated with the police. Faced with them, Mr. Cawthra confessed his guilt immediately, but stated passionately that Violet Delcey knew nothing about it. After some trouble, they were extradited and brought home to stand their trials.

These were brief in the extreme. Mr. Cawthra persisted in his plea of guilty, all hope and interest seeming to have deserted him. “I did it,” he said in his statement to the police, “and even if I hadn’t, now that she knows I’ve been accused of it, there couldn’t be any possibility of happiness for us. She’s all I care about in life.” The rest of the statement was concerned with establishing her innocence. It was the only thought he had left. Her trial as an accessory followed his by a couple of days, and she was acquitted without witnesses being called. Three weeks later he was hanged at Pentonville.

It was Mr. Cawthra’s single-mindedness and his solicitude for her that appealed to the public imagination, turning him almost into a hero and a martyr, and giving to what would otherwise have been a sordid and commonplace story of wifepoisoning an enduring quality of tragedy and romance. It was this angle, too, that attracted the dramatist and the novelists who Actionized it; all three told the same essential story, with the same central characters: the nagging, fretful, or shrewish wife; the mild, agreeable little husband who murdered her from motives of respectability, so that he could marry the other woman whom he loved with a tenderness and an intensity that flooded the drab suburban background like a radiance; and the girl herself, meek, shrinking, and refined, inspiring by her gentleness and her devotion a depth of passion that she could never have dreamed of, dragged by it into the tragic whirlpool of the flight and the trial.

The story and its interpretation were so familiar to Jim now that, like the public at large, he accepted them without question. All that bothered him was the puzzle of how to resolve the inconsistency of the two figures — the Violet Delcey of fact and fiction, and the gay, mysterious Auntie Vi-Vi of his recollections. He would have liked to be able to assure himself that those recollections were untrustworthy; in his heart, he knew that they were not.

But in any case, it was all so long ago. So much had happened since then, to him as well as to the world. He was married to a wife who knew nothing of the case or his connection with it; he had a house, and a job, and the future to worry about; what did the dead remote past matter? It mattered only to the playwrights and the novelists, and to the compilers of books on criminology; to himself, it was hardly more, now, than would have been a mystery story he had read in his childhood and left without reaching the solution, in a volume long since lost and out of print.


AND then one afternoon he saw her. It was in a department store in St. Louis, which he was visiting on business. She was standing at a counter a few feet away from him, and at the first glance he was certain that it was she. She had aged, changed, and filled out, and her Titian hair had faded to a pale ginger, but the tilt of her nose, the discontented, down-drawn line of her mouth, and the flat, level set ting of her eyes in her face took him back suddenly across the years to his little room in the house in Kilburn, where she used to come and sit on his narrow bed and sing to him.

The next moment, doubt assailed him. Was it really she? How could he be sure? He could not possibly remember, after all this time. He stared at her, and his doubt grew. He was crazy to think of it; it was ridiculous to suppose that he would know her any more. And then, as he was about to abandon the idea, she turned towards him, and he saw that she was wearing a cat’s-eye brooch, the brooch that used to frighten him in childhood.

Jim felt as though his heart had stopped for a moment; then it began to beat violently, choking him in his throat. She had passed him by, now, and was making for the street. In a moment she would be lost to him. He hurried after her, leaving his order uncompleted at the counter. As he went, he tried to think how he should greet her. If he said: “Aren’t you Violet Delcey?” she would be certain to deny it.

He came abreast with her at the entrance to the store, and, as she was about to pass him, he said casually — as casually as he could for the excitement that was throttling him: “Hello, Auntie Vi-Vi!”

She started violently, and looked around to see who had spoken. He was smiling at her, with a nerve twitching uncontrollably at the corner of his mouth.

“Were you speaking to me?” she asked.

The moment she spoke, he knew her voice, English, and pseudo-refined, with impure vowel sounds. He had not heard a voice like that for years.

“Yes. Don’t you remember me?” he said.

She looked at him for a moment and then dropped her eyes, assuming the indignation of a woman who is being accosted.

“No, I don’t,” she answered, and started to move on.

He caught at her arm.

“ It’s Jim — Jim Cawthra,” he said, speaking the name he had not borne for nearly thirty years.

And now she turned to him again, her eyes widening, and her mouth falling open in surprise.

“Jim!” she breathed in amazement. “Not little Jim?”

“That’s me,” he said.

He could see that she was trembling as she tried to laugh and to treat the situation as a social coincidence.

“Well!” she said, but her voice was shaking, too.

“Can’t we go somewhere and talk?” he asked, urgently. “I want to talk to you.”

They went to a place near the store, choosing it because it was dark and empty, and seated themselves in a far corner. Violet Delcey ordered a banana split. She had put on a good deal of weight in the years; she was plump now, and matronly, and her face had lost the delicate contours that he remembered. It was the face of a resentful, selfindulgent woman.

“How did you recognize me?” she asked. “You were only a little boy when I last saw you. I’ve changed, too. How did you know me?”

“By that.” He pointed to the brooch.

She squinted down at it.

“Oh, that!” she said. “Well, fancy your remembering that!”

“It used to scare me, don’t you remember? I used to think it was a real cat’s eye.”

“Did you?” she said. “How silly! I don’t know why I still wear it. It isn’t very pretty. Habit, I suppose. It’s sort of silly, too, seeing it was that that really gave the show away before.”

She gave a little laugh, and he stared at her. This could not be Violet Delcey speaking. But it could be Auntie Vi-Vi; he remembered that laugh: it recalled to him the afternoons in other people’s kitchens, and the giggling conversations with the servants.

“Do you live here in St. Louis?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’m not telling,” she said. “I’m not telling you anything about me now.”

“I wouldn’t give you away.”

“Well, that’s as may be,” she said, and the phrase struck him as odd and old-fashioned. “But I’m not taking any chances. What I was, or used to be, is all over, and no one knows about it. I wouldn’t have come here with you now, except that — well, you’re different. You were only a kid, and it’s nice to get a chance to talk about old times, just for once.”

“Do you think about it — much?” he asked. It was something he had long wondered about.

Again she shook her head.

“Not really,” she said. “No. Now and then, of course, I suppose you can’t help it, but it doesn’t do you any good.”


SHE took a spoonful of whipped cream. He could not think of what to ask her, what to say next. What did he want to know? “Was it awful?” That was really what he wanted to say, but it sounded such a silly question. Besides, what could she answer? Yes or no — neither would take him any further. He wanted to know what it had meant to her — what it felt like to have lived through all that she had lived through and to have come out on the other side, as she had done; but he could think of no way of putting the question so that she would understand it.

“Will you tell me about it?” he asked, at length. It was the best he could do.

“What? What do you want to know?”

He could not say. He thrust for a question of fact, rather than of point of view.

“Did you ever suspect what he had done? He never told you, did he?”

“No, of course he didn’t. He didn’t want me to know. That was the whole point. He knew I wouldn’t have anything to do with him if I did.”

“But when you were looking after her — the first time she was sick? He’d alreadv started then, hadn’t he?”

“Oh, that was only to make her ill enough to have the doctor in. For the sake of the death certificate the next time, you know. At least, that’s how I figured it out afterwards. I suppose there was weedkiller in the medicine he used to pour out and give me to take up to her. But he always used to pour it out himself, and never let me do it. Just so that I couldn’t be mixed up in it, I expect. He was always very thoughtful of me.”

“Did you love him?” The questions were beginning to come of their own accord now.

Violet Delcey stared at; him.

“Love him?” she repeated, incredulously. “How could I have loved him? He was old enough to be my father. But he was always respectful to me. And kind. You wouldn’t believe how kind he was. Of course, he was crazy about me.”

“But you were his mistress, weren’t you?”

She looked offended. “Mistress? I don’t know what you mean,” she said.

There was no point in pursuing that.

“When you went away together — when you ran away — what did you think?” he asked. “He didn’t tell you then what was wrong?”

“No. Of course, I knew there was trouble. I caught that Mrs. What’s-her-name in the kitchen one day, talking to the skivvy. That girl had always hated me, and taken Mrs. Cawthra’s side against me, and I guessed that she’d been saying things, so it wasn’t any surprise to me when Freddie came and said there was a lot of gossip going on, and that it would be a good idea if we were to go away for a while till it had blown over. He said we could get married on the Continent. We were going to get married, you know,” she went on. “ I wouldn’t have had anything to do with him in the first place if we hadn’t been. Right from the beginning, he said he wanted to marry me, and that he would, as soon as she died. She was always being ill, you know, and I think he sort of hoped from the beginning that she wouldn’t last. I suppose he got tired of waiting, same as I did.”

“What — what do you mean?” Jim stammered.

“Well, wouldn’t you have? I told him that I wasn’t going to put up with it any longer. I mean, I wasn’t getting any younger, and I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life just waiting for her to die.”

“And what did he say?”

“Oh, he cried,” she said, lightly. “Said he couldn’t live without me, and if I’d only give him a little time, he’d see if he couldn’t do something about a divorce, or something. So I said I’d give him three months, and after that I’d have to give Mr. Joplin his answer.”

“Mr. Joplin?”

“Yes, don’t you remember Joplin’s, the paper shop? Old Joplin had been after me for ages.”


A FORGOTTEN cupboard opened in Jim’s memory. He saw a tall, stooping figure with thin streaks of hair plastered on a shiny scalp, steel-rimmed spectacles, and a prominent Adam’s apple, giving him t he pink, paper “Books for the Bairns” in exchange for his weekly penny. Old Joplin; he hadn’t thought of him for years.

“Were you going to marry him?” he asked.

“ Well, I might have. He had a nice little business, and he was crazy about me, and I wasn’t getting any younger. That’s what I told Freddie, and he saw my point.”

“When was that?”

“Oh, about a month before she was taken queer.”

It was odd to hear the old expressions again.

“It wasn’t till we were in France that I really began to put two and two together, but by that time there wasn’t anything I could do. Of course, I knew there was nothing against me, but it did look bad. I was scared to death of the trial, because you never know how they can twist things, those lawyers, but he saw to it that it was all right. I knew he would, of course. I knew that I could trust him. He was always the gentleman, your father was.”

She looked at her watch.

“Here, I’ve got to go,” she said.

“Not yet,” Jim pleaded.

“I must.” She began gathering up her things.

“Tell me just one thing more,” he asked.


“Who was Albert?” That memory had to be cleared up.

She looked at him blankly.

“Albert?” she repeated. “I don’t remember any Albert.”

“He was a sailor.”

Recognition came into her face.

“Oh, Albert,” she said, laughing. “Fancy you remembering him. Yes, Albert — what was his other name? I’ve forgotten.”

“Who was he?”

“He was a friend of mine. He treated me very badly, Albert did. That was the time I first started going to Freddie for singing lessons. I was having trouble with Albert, and I remember one day when I had a headache, it all sort of got too much for me, and I began crying, and Freddie tried to comfort me. That’s bow it all started, really. I mean, he sort of asked me questions, and I told him all about it, and that’s what really started him getting keen on me, I think. Funny, I’d forgotten all about Albert.”

“But you went on seeing him. I remember meeting you with him, and your telling me not to say anything about it at home.”

“Well, I didn’t want to upset Freddie, when he was being so kind to me,” she said. “I was supposed to have been all through with Albert, and I didn’t want to worry Freddie, knowing that I wasn’t. I remember wondering whether I’d hear from Albert when the trouble came, but of course I didn’t. He was a bad lot, really, but he was very good-looking, and he had a way with him. I wonder what’s become of him.”

A thought seemed to strike her suddenly, and she smiled, looking down at the cat’s-eye brooch.

“What is it?” Jim asked. “Have you thought of something?”

“ I’ve just remembered,” she said. “It was Albert gave me this brooch. Funny, my forgetting that!”

She fingered the brooch, and then unpinned it, taking it out and looking at it as though she had not seen it for a long time. It was a meager little thing, Jim thought ; queer that it should have seemed sinister to him all these years.

“Yes,” she said, as she replaced it. “He said it was good luck, or something. Well, I dare say it has been. I’ve been lucky. Did I tell you I was married, by the way?”

“No,” said Jim.

“Oh, yes, I’ve been married nearly twenty years,” she said. “He really does very well. We’re getting one of the new Plymouths next month. I haven’t done badly for myself. There is just one drawback, though, to no one knowing who I am.”

“What’s that?” Jim Cawthra asked.

“Well,” she said, a smug and almost coy look coming into her face. “You see, they don’t know, and looking at me now, no one would believe that I was once good enough for a man to commit a murder and get himself hung for me. But.,” she sighed philosophically, “I suppose you can’t have everything.”