Complete Short Stories Of Miss Marple
Miss Marple – 16
The Tuesday Night Club
Raymond West repeated the words with a kind of deliberate self-conscious pleasure.
He looked round him with satisfaction. The room was an old one with broad black beams across the ceiling and it was furnished with good old furniture that belonged to it. Hence Raymond West’s approving glance. By profession he was a writer and he liked the atmosphere to be flawless. His Aunt Jane’s house always pleased him as the right setting for her personality. He looked across the hearth to where she sat erect in the big grandfather chair.
‘That’s not what I mean. I was not talking philosophy,’ Raymond said. ‘I was thinking of actual bare prosaic facts, things that have happened and that no one has ever explained.’
‘I know just
the sort of thing you mean, dear,’ said Miss Marple. ‘For instance, Mrs. Carruthers had a very strange experience yesterday morning. She bought two gills of pickled shrimps at Elliot’s. She called at two other shops and when she got home she found she had not got the shrimps with her. She went back to the two shops she had visited but these shrimps had completely disappeared. Now that seems to me very remarkable.’
‘My dear Aunt,’ said Raymond West with some amusement, ‘I didn’t mean that sort of village incident. I was thinking of murders and disappearances – the kind of thing that Sir Henry could tell us about by the hour if he liked.’
‘But I never talk shop,’ said Sir Henry modestly. ‘No, I never talk shop.’ Sir Henry Clithering had been until lately Commissioner of Scotland yard. ‘I suppose there are a lot of murders and things that never are solved by the police,’ said Joyce Lumpier.
‘I wonder,’ said Raymond West, ‘what class of brain really succeeds best in unravelling a mystery? One always feels that the average police detective must be hampered by lack of imagination. The art of writing gives one an insight into human nature.’
‘I know, dear,’ said Miss Marple, ‘that your books are very clever. But do you think that people are really so unpleasant as you make them out to be?’
‘My dear Aunt,’ said Raymond gently, ‘keep your beliefs. Heaven forbid that I should in any way shatter them.’
‘I mean,’ said Miss Marple, puckering her brow a little as she counted the stitches in her knitting, ‘that so many people seem to me not to be either bad or good, but simply, you know, very silly.’
Mr. Petherick gave his dry little cough. ‘Don’t you think, Raymond,’ he said, ‘that you attach too much weight to imagination? Imagination is a very dangerous thing, as we lawyers know only too well. To be able to sift evidence impartially, to take the facts and look at them as facts – that seems to me the only logical method of arriving at the truth.’
‘Bah!’ cried Joyce, flinging back her black hair indignantly. ‘I bet I could beat you all at this game. I am not only a woman – and say what you like, women have an intuition that is denied to men – I am an artist as well. And as an artist I have knocked about among all sorts and conditions of people. I know life as darling Miss Marple here cannot possibly know it.’
‘I don’t know about that, dear,’ said Miss Marple. ‘Very painful and distressing things happen in villages sometimes.’
‘May I speak?’ said Dr. Pender smiling. ‘It is the fashion nowadays to decry the clergy, I know, but we hear things, we know a side of human character which is a sealed book to the outside world.’