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Destination Unknown
Агата Кристи


‘No trouble over any other woman?’

‘Of course not. I’ve told you. We were only married last April.’

‘Please believe that I’m not suggesting such a thing is likely, but one has to take every possibility into account that might allow for his going off in this way. You say he had not been upset lately, or worried—not on edge—not nervy in any way?’

‘No, no, no!’

‘People do get nervy, you know, Mrs Betterton, in such a job as your husband had. Living under exacting security conditions. In fact’—he smiled—‘it’s almost normal to be nervy.’

She did not smile back.

‘He was just as usual,’ she said stolidly.

‘Happy about his work? Did he discuss it at all with you?’

‘No, it was all so technical.’

‘You don’t think he had any qualms over its—destructive possibilities, shall I say? Scientists do feel that sometimes.’

‘He never said anything of the kind.’

‘You see, Mrs Betterton,’ he leaned forward over the desk, dropping some of his impassiveness, ‘what I am trying to do is to get a picture of your husband. The sort of man he was. And somehow you’re not helping me.’

‘But what more can I say or do? I’ve answered all your questions.’

‘Yes, you’ve answered my questions, mostly in the negative. I want something positive, something constructive. Do you see what I mean? You can look for a man so much better when you know what kind of a man he is.’

She reflected for a moment. ‘I see. At least, I suppose I see. Well, Tom was cheerful and good-tempered. And clever, of course.’

Jessop smiled. ‘That’s a list of qualities. Let’s try and get more personal. Did he read much?’

‘Yes, a fair amount.’

‘What sort of books?’

‘Oh, biographies. Book Society recommendations, crime stories if he was tired.’

‘Rather a conventional reader, in fact. No special preferences? Did he play cards or chess?’

‘He played bridge. We used to play with Dr Evans and his wife once or twice a week.’

‘Did your husband have many friends?’

‘Oh, yes, he was a good mixer.’

‘I didn’t mean just that. I mean was he a man who—cared very much for his friends?’

‘He played golf with one or two of our neighbours.’

‘No special friends or cronies of his own?’

‘No. You see, he’d been in the USA for so long, and he was born in Canada. He didn’t know many people over here.’

Jessop consulted a scrap of paper at his elbow.

‘Three people visited him recently from the States, I understand. I have their names here. As far as we can discover, these three were the only people with whom he recently made contact from outside, so to speak. That’s why we’ve given them special attention. Now first, Walter Griffiths. He came to see you at Harwell.’

‘Yes, he was over in England on a visit and he came to look up Tom.’

‘And your husband’s reactions?’

‘Tom was surprised to see him, but very pleased. They’d known each other quite well in the States.’

‘What did this Griffiths seem like to you? Just describe him in your own way.’

‘But surely you know all about him?’

‘Yes, we know all about him. But I want to hear what you thought of him.’

She reflected for a moment.

‘Well, he was solemn and rather long-winded. Very polite to me and seemed very fond of Tom and anxious to tell him about things that had happened after Tom had come to England. All local gossip, I suppose. It wasn’t very interesting to me because I didn’t know any of the people. Anyway, I was getting dinner ready while they were reminiscing.’

‘No question of politics came up?’

‘You’re trying to hint that he was a communist.’ Olive Betterton’s face flushed. ‘I’m sure he was nothing of the sort. He had some government job—in the District Attorney’s office, I think. And anyway when Tom said something laughingly about witch hunts in America, he said solemnly that we didn’t understand over here. They were necessary. So that shows he wasn’t a communist!’

‘Please, please, Mrs Betterton, now don’t get upset.’

‘Tom wasn’t a communist! I keep telling you so and you don’t believe me.’

‘Yes, I do, but the point is bound to come up. Now for the second contact from abroad, Dr Mark Lucas. You ran across him in London in the Dorset.’

‘Yes. We’d gone up to a show and we were having supper at the Dorset afterwards. Suddenly this man, Luke or Lucas, came along and greeted Tom. He was a research chemist of some kind and the last time he had seen Tom was in the States. He was a German refugee who’d taken American nationality. But surely you—’

‘But surely I know that? Yes, I do, Mrs Betterton. Was your husband surprised to see him?’

‘Yes, very surprised.’

‘Pleased?’

‘Yes, yes—I think so.’

‘But you’re not sure?’ He pressed her.

‘Well, he was a man Tom didn’t much care about, or so he told me afterwards, that’s all.’

‘It was just a casual meeting? There was no arrangement made to meet at some future date?’
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