When Freddie left the Vixen, he headed toward Foxgrove along a path that skirted the outer garden wall. Inspector Deffords stood waiting for him. “I thought you’d gone.”
“I had some business with my men before they packed up, but I wanted to talk to you before I went into Foxborough.” He offered a cigarette and Freddie was grateful to take it; he hadn’t had one since before breakfast.
“I can’t say I’m surprised to find you in the middle of this,” Deffords told him. “Not after that business with Bertram Marsh, then the Putey girl who was mixed up with your cousin Wilfrid. Now a body turns up in your uncle’s back garden.”
“Do you mind that Uncle Percy’s engaged me?” asked Freddie.
“I won’t object. I can’t if Sir Percival insists and my superiors allow it–and they do. Even the higher-ups know to stay on the good side of the local nobs, and not just where murder’s concerned. As long as everybody important in Norfolk is an uncle of yours, I might as well make use of it. I know how your class closes ranks. Sir Percival’s family won’t tell me a thing, but they’ll tell you. You can ask them questions. Play detective all you like, but I want you to be careful. It’s safer to stay out of murders. I’ve said so before.”
“It couldn’t be avoided this time. I was in it before it’d happened. We were all together in the garden when we heard Evelyn scream.” He told Deffords the circumstances of how the body had been discovered, then clarified who precisely he meant by “we.” He explained the relationships between the numerous Tollarhithes and those members of the Marsh family the inspector was already familiar with. Deffords made careful notes. “I’m not investigating the murder, as such. Aunt Emily’s asked me to clear Evelyn of suspicion, and Uncle Percy is interested in ensuring that the Tollarhithes aren’t involved in Toby’s death. If your investigation turns up evidence that he was stabbed because of a drunken quarrel or something of the sort with a local ruffian, then my work is done.”
“There’s one Tollarhithe you don’t need to worry about.” Deffords lit a cigarette for himself before he confided, “When I first arrived, Mr. Thornton told me privately that if we find any evidence of what he calls ‘a special friendship’ between Evelyn Tollarhithe and the dead lad, we’re to disregard it.”
Freddie was astonished. “You mean, you’re not allowed to suspect Evelyn?”
“I’m here to find a murderer, not dig up a morals charge against a baronet’s nephew. You won’t have to lie this time to protect anybody,” Deffords told him bluntly. “If we find any real evidence against Evelyn Tollarhithe, I won’t hesitate to arrest him for murder. As it stands, he’s out of the running. The doctor who examined the body says that Toby Glovins died around half-past six. Sunset yesterday was at six minutes past seven.”
“Then he was killed at least half an hour before Evelyn left us.”
“That’s right. Evelyn Tollarhithe has ten witnesses to say where he was at the time of the murder. Your work for Lady Marshbourne is done. That leaves Sir Percival.”
“If I’m satisfied none of the family has a part in it, then I’ll tell Uncle Percy so.” Freddie didn’t mention Sir Percival’s unspoken suspicions. “Of course, I’ll tell the police too.”
“If you stumble on any real evidence against one of the Tollarhithes, bring it straight to me. Don’t do anything stupid and put yourself in danger. A murderer will kill again to protect himself, even if he’s related to a baronet. Now, we might find out that Toby Glovins had enemies in Foxborough or other ‘special friends’, but it’s also possible that someone you know had good reason to want him dead.”
The inspector seemed to have a specific person in mind. “Who?” Freddie asked.
“Look at that list of names you gave me, the young people who were in the garden last night. Miss Amelia Marsh didn’t join you until after sunset. The rest of you were together all afternoon–you and Captain Marsh, the two younger Marsh boys, Evelyn, Felix, and Phillip Tollarhithe, and all those Tollarhithe girls. Where was Miss Marsh at half-past six?”
Freddie felt a cold chill run up his spine. This wasn’t a name he’d expected to hear. “She was in her room at her fiancé’s home.”
“Did you see her there?”
“No,” he answered reluctantly.