[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.And even if you did, if you really wanted to polish someone off, you’d do it well, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t go in for something as daft as this, where you could be caught out by the first person who came along, because you’d signed the poison with your own initials.It doesn’t make sense, not with someone as clever — and as well informed — as you are.So I’m sure it’s not you.’He stopped and looked at Sister.She gazed back at him and then he grinned at George a little shamefacedly.‘Though I have to tell you, Dr B., there’ll be enough people around here who will believe it.You know what they’re like.’‘Yes,’ George said.‘I know what they’re like.But meanwhile thanks for your vote of confidence.Even if it is a bit back-handed.’He had the grace to look embarrassed, then mulish.‘You shouldn’t have asked me if you didn’t want an answer.You know I don’t lie.’‘Only when it suits you,’ George snapped.Her anger was rising now and making the cold sensation go away.‘Which it has from time to time.’The phone on Sister’s desk tinkled and she answered it with all her usual crispness.‘Ballantyne, Sister speaking.Oh, hello, Mr Selby.’She listened and then switched her eyes to George.‘She’s here now, sir,’ she said.‘Mmm? Oh, I’m sure she will.Just a moment.’ She handed the phone to George.‘George?’ She tightened at the sound of Peter Selby’s sleek voice, which he had cultivated to sound like melted butter mixed with honey.(‘One must hold one’s own with one’s patients from the opera world, mustn’t one?’ he had once said to George at a Christmas party when in the confiding mood engendered by several glasses of the Professor’s white wine.‘I spent hours practising how to speak when I was a young chap.But it’s been worth it, hasn’t it?’ It had.) ‘This is a nasty turn of events, isn’t it?’‘I didn’t send those chocolates, if that’s what you wanted to know,’ she said.Her own voice was harsh.‘I imagine that’s what you wanted to talk to me about?’‘Of course not,’ he said soothingly.‘I never dreamed of it.I would not consider such a thing possible.It’s a very nasty hoax played out on both you and Miss Keen.It could have been a disaster, but as it is, small harm’s been done.Sister coped splendidly.Quite splendidly.I — er — I just wanted to ask you … Hmph.’ He stopped and George stared at the opposite wall and waited.She was damned if she was going to prompt him.He had quite obviously considered such a thing as an attack by herself on Sheila as perfectly possible, which was a horrible fact for her to contemplate.He harrumphed again, then said, ‘Well, my dear, what do we do now?’‘Now? Get her fit again, I imagine.She seems to be doing all right.’ Sister Chaplin had gone out of her office, probably back to the ward to see Sheila, and George lifted her brows at Jerry in query.He understood at once and went after her.‘I’ll see Sheila myself in a moment.I imagine you’ll be back again to see her today?’‘Of course.As soon as I’ve finished my list.I’m in main theatres,’ he said.‘Look, I’m on the spot here, George.You must understand that, of all people.’‘By all means notify the police, Peter,’ she said evenly, recognizing his unspoken question immediately.‘It is right and proper that you should if you are concerned about your patient.I will, of course, be notifying them myself and taking all the evidence we have here to them.The chocolates, the wrapping, the contents of the kidney dish she spat into, all of it.’‘Oh, you won’t be doing the forensic work on them yourself?’ He spoke with an artlessness that did not deceive her for a moment.‘No,’ she snapped.‘I will not.It will go to another pathologist, of course.You needn’t worry that I’ll be covering up any signs of my criminal actions.’‘My dear!’ he cried.‘I didn’t for a moment think —’But she’d hung up on him.By the time George left Ballantyne Ward, Sheila was well and truly on the mend.She’d had the narrowest of escapes, clearly ingesting only a very small amount of the nicotine (if that was what it was: it certainly smelled like it) and responding well to Sister Chaplin’s prompt treatment.But every time George contemplated what might have happened she felt sick.The toxicity of nicotine was high, and there was no doubt there had been enough in the chocolate Sheila had eaten to kill her.And was there still some in the other sweets? Had whoever prepared this revolting thing filled every one of the dozen liqueurs with it? She shook her head in disbelief.No one could be that stupid, could they? This was the stuff of silly TV movies or old-fashioned mystery novels.And then she thought bleakly.Well, I suppose people have to get their ideas from somewhere.She remembered again the way Sister Chaplin had looked at her, the sound of Peter Selby’s voice on the phone, and the way Jerry had admitted he’d reacted.Please, she found herself praying to the God she knew did not exist, please let everyone else think the way that Jerry did eventually, that if I was going to kill someone, I’d make a better job of it…She called Sister Chaplin and one of her nurses and asked them crisply to help her bag the evidence to give to the police.‘I need some heavy plastic bags,’ she said.‘And labels.Then I can arrange for someone from Ratcliffe Street nick — police station — to pick them up and take them to the other lab, over at East Ham.So, if you’ll watch, please, so that you can verify that the chain of evidence is established and that I handled them properly —’‘I’m afraid not,’ Sister Chaplin said.‘I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.Nor can members of my staff.’George stared at her.‘Why not?’‘I rather think one isn’t supposed to touch anything in cases like this? That it should be left to the police? I’m sure you know the right things to do, but under the circumstances …’ She let the words hang in the air and George felt her shoulders slump.‘Yes, of course,’ she said dully.‘Of course, you’re quite right.Do whatever you think is necessary.’ And turned and went.She was sitting in her office in the lab when he arrived.She’d gone straight there, refusing to answer when Jerry tried to speak to her as she left Ballantyne Ward, and had slammed the door to sit at her desk with her hands folded to wait.The only way she could contain her anger was by being very still indeed.When the phone rang she didn’t move to answer it, letting it trill its urgency until someone in the main lab realized she wasn’t going to pick it up, and took it themselves.Once or twice they rang her on the intercom but she ignored that too, and eventually they got the message and gave up.She heard murmured voices outside her door at one point and tightened her shoulders, preparing to send them packing if they tried to come in, but they — whoever they were — clearly thought better of it and went away.She heard cars start up outside as the senior people left and then the revving of Jerry’s motorbike and felt a moment’s pang.It would have been comforting to talk to someone about all this, someone who understood, and Jerry had always been a good guy.But she steeled herself and let him go and sat on.At seven o’clock she heard him.The outer door clattered and banged and his footsteps came pounding down the corridor.Then her door burst open and Gus was there, glaring at her [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]