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Peterswood Playersby Julie Heginbotham
"Fatty, I'm back!" Bets shouted from the hall, as she hung up her coat. She fussed over Buster who had come racing from the kitchen to greet his mistress.
"In here, dear," came the answering call from the lounge.
Bets entered, excitement glowing on her face, complemented by a huge smile. In her hand she carried a large sheet of papers.
"By the look on your face, I'd say the drama club meeting went extremely well," he smiled, pointing the remote at the T.V. set to switch it off, and standing to his feet. "I've just made some tea; I'll fetch you a cup."
"Thanks," smiled Bets, as she sat down on the settee, putting the sheet of papers down on the table before her. Within minutes Fatty was back and handed Bets her hot drink. "Lovely dear," she said, "I'm just about ready for this."
Fatty silently watched Bets drink her tea, before he said, "So, is this the stage play Pip has written?" He picked up the typed manuscript from the table and glanced quickly through it. Bets had bought two copies home and picked up the other.
"I've not had chance to look through it properly yet," she began, "but Mary brought them over and everyone has a copy. Apparently it's a sort of spoof of an Agatha Christie, with Poirot and Miss Marple taking the leading parts."
"Really." Fatty's brows rose with interest. "I didn't know Pip had it in him."
"Mary said it's been keeping him busy for weeks," replied Bets, "and of course the play is all in a good cause, for the various charities which will benefit from the takings."
Fatty nodded. "How long will it be on for?"
"Just a weekend – Saturday and Sunday evenings in four weeks time."
Fatty nodded, still reading snippets from Pip's play. "It reads well from the bits I've just read."
Bets looked at Fatty, wondering whether or not to spring the surprise on him. On the way home from the village hall, she had been unable to decide whether to tell him that evening, or leave it till the following morning. Seeing that Fatty seemed quite interested in the manuscript, she decided the time was now.
"I'm glad you're impressed, Fatty," she said, with a sweet smile and a wicked gleam in her eye, "because I've told everyone you can take the part of Poirot."
"What!" Fatty almost choked on the words, as he faced Bets, who was looking at him in innocent surprise. He put the manuscript down on the low table. "No, definitely not!"
"You'll be perfect, Fatty," said Bets, appealingly, looking hurt. "You're the right size and you always loved acting out parts and disguising yourself when we were younger. You'll love it."
"I'm sorry, Bets, but the answer is still no," Fatty returned adamantly, shaking his head.
"You'll love it, believe me," she continued, "that's why I've brought you a script home so you can read it through and learn your lines. I'll help you rehearse, so don't worry about that. I'm going to be Miss Lemon! Next week there's a meeting for everyone involved and a read through. Daisy has the part of Miss Marple and Helen has roped Larry in to be Chief Inspector Japp. Mary is breaking the news to Pip this evening that he is to be Hastings."
Fatty watched her silently, shaking his head in exasperation. "Bets, my dear, which part of the word 'no', don't you understand?" His brows rose with assertiveness, that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"I understand that when you say 'no,' Frederick Trotteville, you don't always knowingly mean no. You say it as the first thing that comes into your head without much thought. So therefore, sometimes your meaning of the word 'no' can actually mean 'yes'." Bets sent him a smile of satisfaction, watching the totally confused look which had grown on his face.
"Only you could come up with such an explanation," said Fatty, shaking his head in disbelief.
Bets rose from the settee and kissed his forehead, before picking up the mugs to take back into the kitchen. "And don't you just love me for it," she mocked, before leaving the room, once again the victor.
Fatty looked at Buster, who'd lifted his head as Bets got up to leave, but still remained curled up by the fire. "In all my married years, Buster old chap, I'm still confused as to how the female mind works."
Fatty sat back in his favourite chair and, pointing the remote at the TV, switched on the ten o'clock news, still shaking his head in bewilderment at how Bets could mistake his 'no' for a 'yes'.
* * *
Whilst Fatty and Bets were having elevenses in the kitchen, the back door opened and in walked Daisy, grinning all over her face. Both Fatty and Bets looked at her in stunned disbelief, before bursting into laughter, which set Buster off barking excitedly, until he was told to be quiet.
Daisy tried to remain serious and did a twirl to show off her over exaggerated outfit. "What do you think for Jane Marple?"
"Brilliant," smiled Bets, taking in the long tweed skirt, thick woollen tights, brown brogue shoes and a long woollen cardigan that almost reached her hips. "If you're expecting the laughs, Daisy, you've got the outfit spot on."
"What do you think, Fatty?" grinned Daisy.
"Perfect, absolutely perfect, but don't think you're going to steal the show – my interpretation of Poirot will do that!"
"You'd better go and change into Poirot, Fatty, so we can see who has the edge," said Bets, looking over at him with a raised brow. "Daisy has it spot on so far."
"Right, we'll see about that," said Fatty, taking up the challenge. "Give me ten minutes and I'll surprise you both." He left Daisy and Bets watching his retreat.
"What do you think about the play?" asked Bets, pouring out tea for Daisy.
"It's very good. I didn't think Pip had it in him to be such a good writer. It'll bring the house down, for sure." Daisy took the tea from Bets.
"Have you started to learn your lines yet?" asked Bets.
"Yes, I'm getting through them slowly but surely," nodded Daisy. "What about you both?"
"We read through the scripts last night. I'm sure Fatty will remember his lines better than I will. Fortunately, I've not got too many to learn," finished Bets, sounding relieved.
"I'm really looking forward to it," said Daisy, excitedly. "It's the first time we've ever put anything on like this for a charity fund raising. I'm sure it'll be a great success."
Bets nodded in agreement. "You never know, Daisy, it may be so successful that it will become an annual event!"
The back door opened just then, and in walked Larry with Pip. Buster gave them his usual happy greeting before curling up again under the kitchen table. Bets and Daisy didn't miss their sour expressions and grinned secretly to each other, Bets saying, mischievously. "You don't look very happy."
They sat down and watched Bets pouring their tea. "We're not very happy about being roped into this stupid play," began Larry, and was instantly interrupted by Pip.
"Hey, less of the stupid – it took many hours of hard work to write that play!"
"Sorry old man," grinned Larry, mockingly. "The play is a good one, as I said before; I just don't want to take part in it." He looked his sister up and down in amazement, before saying, "What on earth have you got on, woman?"
Daisy grinned wickedly. "This is my Jane Marple outfit. What do you both think?"
Before they had time to reply the kitchen door opened and in shuffled Fatty, his thick grey hair parted down the middle, a moustache painted expertly above his upper lip, a long great coat almost to his ankles and his hand resting on a walking stick with the head of a duck.
Everyone looked at him in surprise and burst into laughter. He over-exaggerated the shuffle and sat at the kitchen table. "Hastings and Chief Inspector Japp," he said, in a strong French accent, "how nice that you should visit my humble abode this morning."
"You're supposed to be Belgian," grinned Bets, in admiration.
"Well, I am a sort of French Belgian," he returned, in the same accent, sitting down with a sigh.
"Your Poirot will bring the house down," said Pip.
"What about you and Larry?" began Fatty in his ordinary voice. "How are you going to portray your characters?"
"We don't really want to do it," groaned Larry, "but our wives have roped us in!"
"Remember, I wrote it," said Pip, indignantly. "I didn't expect to take an acting part as well."
"You'll both be fine," said Fatty, reassuringly. "It'll be great fun and it's for a good cause. When Bets told me I jumped at the chance."
Bets almost choked on her tea and Pip banged her on the back to help.
"Went down the wrong way, my dear?" Fatty said, with a gleam in his eye and a raised brow.
"You could say that," Bets croaked, trying to clear her throat. She eyed him wickedly; just wait till she got Frederick Algernon Trotteville to herself.
* * *
The following afternoon, the Find-Outers went over to the nursing home, where the Super was expecting them. He was sitting waiting patiently for his visitors, by the large window in the lounge. Spotting them walking over, his face lit up.
"How lovely to see you all," he smiled, indicating for them to pull up some chairs. "How are things in Peterswood?"
"Same as usual," said Fatty, in a slightly raised voice.
The Super picked up the newspaper by his side, and opening it at a particular page, handed it over to Fatty. "Read the article titled 'stolen gems', Frederick."
Fatty put on his glasses and read the article, passing it over to the others once he'd finished reading. The eagerly waiting old man before them then said. "About forty years ago, there was a spate of similar burglaries along the lines of what you've just read. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that burglar had started up again."
"By the way it reads, I'd doubt whether that burglar would now be fit enough to continue with his life of crime," said Fatty, looking intently at the Super.
"Exactly what I thought," he nodded, with a gleam in his faded blue eyes. "But someone knows enough to imitate his every move."
The others looked at the Super, having read the article. "You know what it reminds me of," began Bets, with wide eyes, "that film with Cary Grant, To Catch a Thief."
Everyone looked at Bets and nodded. "Exactly what I was thinking," Fatty smiled at her. "What do you think, Super?"
"Well spotted, Bets," the Super nodded in satisfaction. "Forty years ago, this very athletic burglar used to break into 'well to do' houses for the jewellery he could steal. He entered either by shinning up the drainpipe, going across roofs or climbing trees. Nothing seemed to deter him, and he was never captured, nor did we ever suspect any one person. It was a real mystery, then after about three years the burglaries stopped and we heard nothing more."
"What do you think happened?" asked Pip, intrigued as everyone.
"We never knew. If he'd fallen and had an accident no one reported it. He just seemed to stop."
"If this burglar was, say, twenty, forty years ago, that would make him or her sixty now," said Larry, "so it's hardly likely to be the same person."
"No, but it could be their offspring," said Fatty, in a small voice, thinking of the film that Bets had mentioned. In the film, the cat burglar had a daughter, who then became the cat burglar herself.
"Well, no one's been robbed in Peterswood, as far as we know," Daisy put forward, looking at the others, who all nodded their agreement.
"Do you think the burglar will come to Peterswood?" Bets asked the Super, seeing as how he had showed them the newspaper article.
The Super merely shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows? But it's worth keeping your eyes peeled."
Well, at least they could all do that, thought Fatty to himself, hearing the others agreeing with the Super. The conversation then went onto the forthcoming play which Pip had written and the parts they were all to play. The Super was impressed and said that he'd ask one of his family to take him along to one of the night's performances.
"Let us know which night you choose, and we'll save you a front row seat," smiled Fatty.
They stayed with the Super for a couple of hours and enjoyed an afternoon tea of sandwiches and cakes. After tea his eyelids started to close and the Five knew that was their cue for them to leave the Super to a late afternoon nap.
* * *
Intrigued by the burglaries the Super had told them about, Pip spent an afternoon in the library researching. He loved the old library, the books, the special smell it had, the quietness. He gathered up all the information he found and put it all into his note book, ready to surprise the others with his findings.
Daisy popped into the post office, and chattered away with the regulars, asking if they'd heard anything about the spate of robberies reported in the newspaper, but no one had heard anything at all. As far as they knew this athletic burglar hadn't visited the village of Peterswood. He seemed to be focusing on the outskirts of the London area.
Fatty spoke to his son on the telephone who wasn't able to give out much information, other than that certain large houses had been targeted and only jewellery and gem stones had been taken. No-one had seen or heard anything.
"It sounds awfully like the 'invisible thief'," Bets remarked to Fatty, whilst they walked along the river bank with Buster. "No one sees or hears anything. And we know it can't be Twit again and I don't think it could be his daughter or granddaughter."
"I agree," Fatty nodded, "but it's best we keep alert as we certainly don't want any uninvited visits from this burglar."
Bets looked at Fatty and grinned. "We don't have the merchandise he appears to be stealing."
As they walked along chatting, Buster running ahead, a familiar face came walking towards them. "Hello," smiled Hilary, bending down to stroke Buster who'd come up to say 'hello'. "Taking this handsome chap for his afternoon walk, I see." Buster was enjoying the fuss Hilary lavished onto him.
"Hello, Hilary," they spoke simultaneously. "It's a lovely afternoon for a walk along the river," Bets smiled at her.
"Yes, I should be heading back really. I've got a friend and her daughter arriving this evening for a couple of weeks."
"That'll be company for you," said Fatty.
Hilary nodded with a smile. "Have you both been reading through the play?"
"Oh, yes. I'm looking forward to everyone doing the read through next week," said Bets, excitedly. "Pip's written it well. I'm sure we'll have a full house on both nights."
"Which part are you playing, Hilary?" Fatty asked with interest.
"Fortunately I'll be behind the scenes. I'm the prompter, so don't worry too much if you forget your lines," she finished with a grin.
"No fear of Fatty forgetting his," said Bets, with a sly look at him. "It's been a job getting him to put the script down."
"I just want to be a perfect Poirot, that's all, my dear," he returned, lightly, with a raised brow.
"I'm sure you will be, Frederick," said Hilary, smiling. "Well I must be heading back. I'll see you both next week at the read through." She gave them a cheerful wave before walking off.
"We'd best start walking back," said Bets, "I've a leg of lamb cooking slowly in the oven and I don't want it to be over cooked."
"Come on, Buster," called Fatty, "homeward bound."
* * *
That evening the Five met in the 'Water's Edge and Pip proudly presented his information on the burglaries to which the Super had referred. Each of them read his account in turn, which included not only the years of 1968 to 1971 but also dates when the burglaries had taken place in a radius outside London, mainly in the area of Essex. No one had seen or even heard anything untoward, apart from one witness, an elderly lady, whose expensive jewellery had been stolen whilst she slept during the early hours of the morning. It was reported that she saw a figure dressed completely in black, disappearing from a small bathroom window. When the police finally arrived there was no sign of the burglar nor any footprints anywhere, as the ground was baked hard with the summer sunshine. The date was 26th June, 1969. Pip's report went on to read that after 1971 no further robberies were reported.
"Well done, Pip," said Fatty, impressed. You've certainly done your homework on that one."
Pip looked around at everyone, pleased. "I enjoyed doing it. It's pleasant and relaxing spending an afternoon in the library. And when you've something interesting to focus on..." He left the words in the air.
"But as I said yesterday," began Larry, "if the burglar was in his or her twenties, they'd be in their sixties now and so it's highly unlikely it's the same person."
"That's true," began Daisy, "but if someone has read about the burglaries back then, the same as Pip did this afternoon, there's no reason why they couldn't mimic the exact crimes."
Bets nodded in agreement with Daisy. "True. It doesn't necessarily have to be an offspring of the burglar."
Fatty nodded and said, "Yes, I agree, until we hear more of these burglaries and the police come up with some leads, it's all guesswork."
"At least the technology for fighting crime is a lot more advanced now, than it was back then," Pip pointed out, "so if these crimes continue, there's more of a chance of the culprit being caught."
"Anyway, let's get onto the forthcoming play we're all involved in," began Daisy, changing the subject. "How are you getting on with your lines, Pip and Larry?"
"I've been too busy," began Pip, firmly. "But I will give my lines a read through at some point tomorrow."
"What about you, Larry?" She looked at her brother.
Larry looked at his sister. "I've been learning them today, actually." His brows rose knowingly, with a touch of satisfaction. "So there, that's surprised you, hasn't it?"
"Not really," Daisy shrugged. "I knew you wouldn't be able to resist. That's why I pushed Helen into putting you down as Japp.
Everyone laughed at Larry's expression. "I thought you'd have something to do with it," he scoffed.
Whilst the conversation continued, Fatty glanced over towards the door, to see an elderly gentleman enter, before going over to the bar. Thinking no more about it, he turned back to the conversation. In the midst of their chatting, this same gentleman came over to their table and the Five looked up as he drew closer. Daisy watched with a strange expression on her face, which grew paler. He looked at them all, especially Daisy, and apologised for the interruption. When he spoke, Daisy caught her breath in shock, the colour draining from her face completely.
"Excuse the interruption, but am I in the presence of Miss Margaret Daykin?"
The others looked at Daisy, now with growing concern at the paleness of her face. Bets said, "Daisy, are you feeling alright?"
Daisy remained silent, looking at the gentleman standing by their table. "Forgive me, I appear to have upset you," he spoke quietly, "but I had to find you. My name is Paul Simpson and I'm Roger's twin brother."
This was too much for Daisy, who caught her breath in shock. Instantly she was on her feet and blindly making for the door. Larry, concerned for his sister, followed her immediately, saying, "Excuse us," as he rushed after his sister, knowing it best for him to see her safely home.
The gentleman watched them depart, disappointment upmost on his face. Fatty instantly took command and asked Paul to sit down. "I apologise, I really didn't mean to upset anyone," he began, "but I was told at the bar where Margaret was sitting."
"We didn't know Roger was a twin," said Bets, in a quiet voice, just as shocked as Daisy had been.
"It's a long story," he began, "which is why I wanted to find Margaret Daykin, whom I believe was engaged to Roger before he was killed in a car accident. We were separated at birth and adopted to different parents. I didn't know of his existence until a few years ago when the last of my parents died. Once I knew I then set out to find out as much as I could about my biological parents and any siblings."
"Roger would never have known then," said Pip, voicing his thoughts.
Paul shook his head. "Maybe not." He stood to leave and said to Fatty, "I'm staying for a few days at the Tally-Ho Hotel. Would it be possible for you to convey my sincere apologies to Margaret and ask her if she would be kind enough to contact me at the hotel? I would be most grateful."
Fatty stood up and nodded his head, "Yes, of course I will." The three of them watched as he walked slowly away, noticing for the first time that he walked with a stick and a pronounced limp.
* * *
The following evening brought a visit from Daisy. She came in bright and breezy, her eyes sparkling with happy news. Once she'd fussed Buster and flopped down on the settee, Fatty poured her and Bets a sherry and one for himself.
"Well, you look happy," began Bets. "That means the meeting went well with Paul, this afternoon."
Daisy nodded. "He's so like Roger, in his speech, the way he moves, everything about him. It's as though Roger is back with me," she smiled.
Bets and Fatty exchanged silent glances.
"We talked for ages," Daisy carried on. "He told me that it wasn't until his parents died that he'd discovered he was adopted and was a twin. His own wife died a few years ago, and his son and daughter have helped him, through the internet, to discover about his biological parents and the twin he never knew." Daisy took a long drink of the sherry. "I was able to tell him all about Roger, and fill in a few gaps he didn't know, of course. He asked if I was married, but I said I'd never really found anyone who could take Roger's place."
"How long is he staying for?" asked Bets.
"He's decided to stay for a couple of weeks. He's nothing to dash off home for and likes the village. He lives in Essex by the coast. He's invited me to dine with him at the hotel, tomorrow evening," Daisy finished off, glancing evasively at Bets and Fatty.
"Nice," said Fatty, with a nod of his head. "Just remember one thing, though, Daisy. He isn't Roger."
"I know," said Daisy. "But we get on like a house on fire. I'm really looking forward to seeing him again."
"Well, you have a lovely evening," smiled Bets, pleased. "And make sure he walks you home."
* * *
Listening to the local news the following morning, Fatty and Bets learnt of a burglary at Fairlin Hall. "Well, would you believe it," said Bets, in surprise, "the burglaries have come to Peterswood. That's a bit worrying, Fatty. We'll have to keep extra vigilant and make sure our doors are securely locked."
"Don't get paranoid, Bets," Fatty returned, "Buster will alert us if anyone tries to enter this house."
After speaking to the others by telephone, the Five decided to walk Buster to the other side of the village where Fairlin Hall stood and see if they could find out anything about the burglary.
Fairlin Hall stood on the corner at the bottom of Cockers Hill, a large impressive house that had once been known as the 'Ivies' many, years ago. It had seen quite a few owners, since the Find-Outers were children, and according to Daisy, it was now restored and owned by a Mr & Mrs. Kingston, who had been there for over thirty years and ran a very successful bed and breakfast business.
At luck with have it, Mrs Kingston herself was at the large gates, giving them 'a wipe down', as she put it, as the police had gone over most the house looking for finger prints, but had found nothing. Daisy, knowing the owner, introduced her friends, making a point of telling her that Frederick was a retired Commander of the Police.
"Did you hear anything?" asked Fatty.
"Nothing at all. The burglar must have got in through an opened guest bedroom window on the first floor. Thankfully, only my jewellery was stolen and nothing belonging to the guests. I am insured but the burglar took a bracelet which has been in our family for years, a beautiful gold bracelet which had rubies and diamonds set in heart shapes. It's the sentimental value of the piece that's worth much more than anything to me. And now I'll never see it again." Mrs Kingston had tears in her voice for the loss of the family heirloom.
"The local news said the burglary took place around tea-time," said Daisy. "Still daylight, this thief must be sure of himself to take such a risk."
Mrs Kingston merely nodded, but was thankful that at least no one was actually harmed.
"Did anyone call at the house?" asked Larry, knowing that any caller could be a suspect.
"No, no one," was the surprising answer. "My husband was out at the cash-and-carry and the two lots of guests were out. It wasn't until I went upstairs to change the towels that I noticed my bedroom door was open."
"What time was that?" asked Fatty.
"Around five-thirty, something like that. Our rooms are on the second floor and it wasn't until I was up there that I noticed the bedroom door open and all my jewellery boxes and drawers all over the floor. I called the police immediately."
It was obvious that they could learn no more and wishing Mrs Kingston well, they walked away with the anxious Buster who was eager to continue his walk.
"She's so unhappy about that bracelet," said Daisy, as they walked on. "I would be too."
"Just you make sure that this Paul brings you home after dinner and checks your cottage before he leaves," Larry insisted in strong tones.
"Okay, brother of mine," replied Daisy, firmly. "I am in my seventies, not seventeen – unfortunately," she tagged on, quietly.
* * *
Over the week-end the Five heard of another burglary on the road to Marlow, not too far away from where Hilary lived. The radio reported similarly to the burglary in Peterswood. There were no clues and the thief left as quietly as he came. It didn't even get too much of a mention and so Fatty decided it wasn't really worth their walking over there to investigate to be told the same as Mrs Kingston had told them.
The following evening, a Monday, they all met up for the group reading at the village hall where the play was to be staged. A few tables had been grouped together and many helpful hands were already on the stage, sorting out the sets and repainting scenery.
"Quite a hive of industry," Larry remarked, as he walked in with Helen and got a fierce nudge and a 'shush' from his wife.
Hilary was already there and greeted everyone, introducing her friend, Alison and her daughter Lisa who had both wanted to come along to help.
"Now, all those who are in the play please come and sit around these tables," shouted out Hilary, suddenly taking charge. "and we can have a complete read through, with everyone reading out their own parts."
At the designated interval, everyone got up and helped themselves to tea and biscuits which had been prepared by some of the others, not involved in the read through. Lisa, who had heard all about the Find-Outers from Hilary, came over to chat to them and was asking Fatty about his career in the force.
Fatty loved talking about his favourite subject and was soon in gross conversation with her. Every now and then, Daisy gave Bets a nudge as you could hear Lisa laughing at something that Fatty had said. Bets merely raised her eyes skywards. Lisa was a pretty petite woman in her twenties, with long fair hair and stunning dark eyes. Everyone had now formed their own little groups, chatting away enjoying the break.
"Okay, everyone," called Hilary, half an hour later, "Let's get back to the read through." Everyone walked slowly back to their appointed jobs and Fatty took his seat once more next to Bets, who shot him a sly look, as Lisa passing by him, said, "See you later, Frederick."
"What?" whispered Fatty in innocent tones, glancing at his wife. "I can't help it if she finds my animal magnetism attractive."
"In his dreams," grinned Daisy, sitting opposite Fatty, over hearing.
Fatty threw her a wicked grin and picked up the rubber on the table, throwing it at Daisy.
"Frederick, please. Remember where you are!" scolded Hilary, putting on her glasses and picking up a script.
"Yes, Miss...er Hilary," he quickly replied in mocking tones.
Bets giggled into her handkerchief and the read-through continued.
At the end of the meeting everyone said how thoroughly enjoyable the evening had been and that they were all now eager to put on the play and make it a great success. Rehearsals on the stage were set for Wednesday evening.
* * *
The following evening the Five met in the 'Water's Edge'. Daisy had invited Paul along to meet everyone. He explained to them all how he had traced his family tree with the help of his son and daughter and the others listened politely, having heard all this from Daisy.
"What profession were you in, Paul?" asked Larry.
"I was in the army, a Physical Training Instructor, but that came to an end when I had a climbing accident, hence the stick," he lifted it slightly. "So I became a recruitment officer, until I retired."
"When did you have your accident?" Fatty asked.
"Many years ago, towards the end of 1971, I think it was." He smiled. "Memory's not quite as it was."
"I know what you mean," smiled Fatty, innocently, having got the information he was after.
Daisy was glowing in Paul's company, Bets noticed, and felt sure the others noticed too. When the evening was over, Paul walked Daisy back to her cottage and the others chatted outside.
"I noticed you asked when he'd injured his leg," said Larry to Fatty. "You don't think he was the burglar do you?"
"I don't know," confessed Fatty, "but a lot of pieces fit. The burglaries ended in 1971, he did live in Essex, and he was a fitness instructor."
"And there have been a couple of local burglaries," Pip put forward. "Coincidence?" His brow rose in question.
"I don't think it could be Paul." Bets frowned. "He's a lovely old gentleman. How could he climb with that injured leg?"
"How do we know it's injured?" asked Fatty. "We've no proof."
"Daisy is going to be awfully upset if it turns out that Paul has got something to do with those robberies," said Larry, shaking his head, sadly.
"Then let's hope our suspicions are wrong," said Fatty.
Everyone agreed – a sobering thought to take home with them.
* * *
Rehearsals for the play were really going well. Everyone was getting into the spirit of the play and giving it their all. Daisy's portrayal of Miss Marple was excellent, even Fatty had to congratulate her. She'd really made the character her own. Everyone behind the scenes stopped to watch when she and Fatty entered the stage for their performance.
Bets put it all down to Paul. He'd taken to coming along occasionally watching the fun and helping out where he could. Hilary's friend Alison and her daughter Lisa, were also a great help and fitted into the little company as though they'd lived amongst them for years. No more burglaries had been reported during the week and Fatty was beginning to think they were obviously a one-off occurrence.
During a break from rehearsals, Lisa came over to Fatty and sat on the chair besides him.
"What do you make of the local burglaries that have been reported, Frederick?"
He looked at her, surprised. "Why would they interest me, Lisa?"
"Being an ex-commander in the force, I would have thought you would be biting at the bit to find out more," she grinned. "Such as, how clever this person seems to be."
"Clever?" Fatty grinned. "I'd have thought more on the lines of lucky, agile and probably nimble. But not clever."
Fatty didn't miss the flash of antagonism in her dark eyes that quickly disappeared. "To be almost invisible in coming and going without being noticed is remarkably clever in my book."
"There's nothing clever in stealing other people's possessions," Fatty returned in iron tones.
"From what I've read in the papers it's only jewellery and you can't tell me that they're not insured – so the victims will hardly be out of pocket." Lisa shrugged, nonchalantly.
"True," Fatty nodded, "but that's not the case when something of sentimental value is stolen, such as an heirloom."
Lisa nodded in quiet contemplation. "That's true, but I guess the thief wouldn't know that."
"Then he shouldn't take what isn't his," came Fatty's stern reply.
Before Lisa could comment, Daisy came over with Alison, who cast a sly glance at her daughter.
"Time for my co-star to join me back on stage," Daisy grinned at Lisa.
"Co-star?" Fatty said in mused tones. "Without me, your performance would be flat, Daisy Daykin." He stood, linking his arm with Daisy. "Come on, Miss Marple, we've work to do."
Lisa and Alison once more exchanged sly glances as they watched them walking away.
Once the evening's rehearsals ended, everyone filed out of the village hall saying their 'goodbyes'. The Five grouped together before they went home and chatted about the play, and then Fatty went on to tell them of the conversation he'd had with Lisa.
"Are you saying that you think she could be the thief?" asked Pip, in quiet tones.
"I wouldn't have thought so," said Larry instantly. "Lisa and her mother don't seem the criminal type."
"Just a feeling I had," said Fatty.
"The robberies did start when they arrived," said Daisy, knowingly.
"Don't let's get carried away," said Bets. "They could be innocent."
Just then, the side door of the hall opened and Hilary walked out. The Five turned to look at her in surprise as they thought everyone had left the hall. She smiled at them before saying a cheery 'goodnight.'
"Do you think she could have heard our conversation?" said Pip, rather embarrassed.
"I hope not," said Fatty, feeling awkward, "if she has, then her house guests will be put on their guard."
* * *
Everything went by uneventfully during the next couple of days. Daisy informed the others that Paul was heading back home and that he'd invited her and her 'friends' to tea the following afternoon over at the hotel. Buster having been walked along the river and left curled up in his basket in the kitchen, Fatty and Bets set off to meet everyone over at the hotel.
The others were all waiting for them in the conservatory and tea was served immediately. The more everyone spoke to Paul the better they got to know him and like Daisy couldn't help noticing the similarities between him and Roger.
Daisy glowed in Paul's presence. Her eyes shone like sparkling gems and her face shone with happiness. Paul also seemed to love being in Daisy's company and the smiles he sent her whilst they spoke radiated affection.
When it was time for the others to leave, he shook hands with them all and said how lucky Daisy was to have such wonderful close friends and a brother on hand when needed.
"Have a safe journey back tomorrow," said Fatty, with a smile, "and if you're ever over this way again, don't forget to call."
"Oh I won't," said Paul, firmly, "especially as Daisy has only told me about half of the mysteries you all solved when young. I've got to come back so she can tell me about the rest."
Everyone smiled politely.
"Shall we walk that tea off along the river?" he asked, smiling at Daisy.
"That'll be nice," she nodded, before walking away with Paul, her arm linked into his, whilst the others watched in silence.
* * *
With two weeks left before the play was to be performed for the public, a dress rehearsal was fixed for that evening.
"I don't know what we'll do when this is all over," said Bets, as they left the house, after leaving Buster with a large bone to keep him busy. "I'm really enjoying the play."
"I'll miss it too, funnily enough," said Fatty. "It's a pity in a way that Paul had to go back home – I'm sure he would have enjoyed watching the final performances."
"I've got a feeling he'll be back, I don't think he'll let Daisy down, not on the first night."
Fatty nodded, thinking that Bets could be right. "Hilary's guests go back home tomorrow, so she was telling me. They'll be watching the dress rehearsal tonight, though."
"Lisa will have eyes only for you, my dear." Bets grinned wickedly.
Fatty grinned at her silently, giving her arm a squeeze.
Entering the village hall, they could see the director was already taking charge and congratulating the actors on their chosen costumes. Larry was dressed in a long trench coat and trilby for his part as Chief Inspector Japp. Pip was dressed in an old army uniform as Hastings, Daisy was the perfect Miss Marple and Hilary was gathering everyone together with the script in her hand. Pip's wife, Mary was to make a small entrance as a maid and Helen, Larry's wife was getting ready to play the murdered victim. The stage was set up as a lounge area in a 1930's hotel; even the lightening was set up and being moved around in various positions.
Fatty and Bets went into the one of the back rooms to change into their roles as Poirot and Miss Lemon before making their entrance onto the stage. Everything went well and only a couple of them forgot their lines but Hilary was on the ball and prompted when required. During the interval, as one of the men working the curtains had some difficulty getting them to close, a few others gathered together to see if they could sort out the problem.
"We'll have to have that put right for the opening night," said Hilary to the director, coming forwards to see what the problem was.
"It looks like some of the wires are caught up at the top," said one of the helpers, glancing up and jigging around with the ropes. "We'll have to get an expert to climb up and sort that out."
By now a few more people had gathered around to see if they could sort out the problem. "Aren't there any tall ladders around?" asked Alison, looking at Hilary, "then one of the men could climb up and have a look properly."
"That thick rope will be easy enough to climb up," said Lisa, coming forward. "I could manage that, no problem."
"Certainly not," said her mother, firmly, with a scowl. "There are enough men around to do that."
"Let her have a go, if she can manage it," someone put forward. "She's a lot younger than we are."
"Whoever climbs up that rope will have to be fit," said the director. "And we do have to consider health and safety."
"I've climbed up ropes before in my profession as a gym teacher," Lisa insisted. "I could have them untangled by the time we're all looking at it."
"Sorry, but I can't let you try," came the director's voice. "We'll just carry on without the closure of the curtains everyone, and I'll make sure it's all sorted for next time."
Over the interval break with a much needed cup of tea, Fatty asked Lisa how she'd been lucky enough to take time off in term time. The other Find-Outers who were sat grouped near Fatty, turned to listen to what Lisa had to say.
"I'm between posts at the moment," she smiled, "we go home tomorrow and I start at my new school the day after."
Fatty smiled with a nod and a gleam in his eyes. Not mistaking the look, Lisa leaned forward in her seat, tantalizingly close to Fatty, a wicked sparkle shining in her dark eyes. "Why do you ask, Frederick. Do you suspect I'm the 'invisible thief'?"
"Why should I think that?" he returned, wisely.
"Just a feeling I get," she mused teasingly. "Don't tell me you've never worked on a 'gut feeling'."
The others remained silent, engrossed with the clash of wills.
"A lot of police work is based on 'gut feeling', Lisa," he smiled, knowingly, "and I can safely say I've hardly ever been wrong."
"Lucky you," she leaned back in her chair. "Work satisfaction, something we both have in common, believe it or not." She rose elegantly, shaking her hair back from her face, before walking away.
"I feel almost breathless," said Larry, leaning forward to whisper the words by Fatty's ear.
Fatty grinned, still watching Lisa as she strolled with an elegance of nonchalance to speak with another group.
As Fatty and Bets walked home from the village hall, after saying 'goodnight' to everyone and wishing Alison and Lisa a safe journey home, Bets said. "You do suspect her, don't you, Fatty?"
Fatty looked at Bets in silent contemplation for a second, before saying, "Yes, I do. But with no proof and nothing definite to go on, I don't think it's right for me to say anything."
"There's something else bothering you, isn't there?"
Fatty glanced at Bets. He could never hide anything from her, as she had known him too long.
"I can't help but feel, that the Super has known all along who the almost 'invisible thief' was and I'd bet my pension on the fact that he also knows who it is now. When I think back to the day when we went to see him and he brought up this subject, he was in his own way trying to tell me something, and I very much think it also involves Hilary.
* * *
The following afternoon whilst the Five were having a discussion on the play and the 'thief', there was a phone call from Hilary herself. "Frederick," she began in breathless tones, "I'm glad you're in. There has been an intruder in my home."
"What!" Fatty was surprised with this information. "Have you called the police?"
"No, not yet. I wanted to speak to you first, as nothing seems to have been stolen."
"Nothing's stolen?" questioned Fatty, rather puzzled. "The others are all here with me. Can we pop over?"
"Yes of course," came Hilary's answer. "I'll see you all soon."
Fatty put down the receiver, still rather puzzled with what he'd just heard. Turning to the others he said. "That was Hilary; she says she's had a visit from the 'thief'."
"That's your theory out the window then, Fatty," said Larry. "Alison and Lisa were leaving for home, first thing this morning."
Fatty nodded silently, still thinking. "We'd better go over there in my car." They all rose to leave, Buster getting up to, he wasn't going to be left out.
It didn't take long for them to arrive at Hilary's home. The front door was opened almost before they walked down the front path. "Thanks for coming," she said. "I was rather shaken up, but I'm feeling a lot better now."
Buster ran in ahead, he remembered the last time he was here, and the biscuits, kept especially for dogs. He wasn't disappointed, as Hilary had a few on a small plate waiting for him in the kitchen.
The others sat down at her invitation and Fatty asked her to explain, exactly what happened.
"It's all a bit vague," she began. "I was in the kitchen, which as you know faces the front of the house and I heard a thump, from upstairs. I quickly dried my hands and stood at the bottom of the stairs looking up. I couldn't hear anything else and I called up, 'who's there'. I thought I heard another sound and I went back into the kitchen for my rolling pin, before I cautiously made my way upstairs."
"You were very brave to do that," interrupted Bets, "I would have rushed out of the house, shouting for help." The others looked at Bets and nodded.
"I didn't really think," said Hilary, hurriedly. "Anyway once I was upstairs I went into the back bedroom and found the window fully opened. I rushed over to it but couldn't see anyone at all. I then checked my room and the bathroom, but there was no sign of anyone. So I went back downstairs and phoned you."
"Right," nodded Fatty, "and that was about 1.30pm, so we could say that you heard something around 1.15pm?" His brows rose for confirmation.
"Yes, about that, I guess," nodded Hilary.
"And you said nothing was stolen," said Pip.
"No, nothing was disturbed at all," Hilary confirmed. "I guess my shouting alerted him and he quickly made his escape."
"There can be no other explanation," said Daisy.
Fatty was silently contemplating, before he said. "We'll go outside and look around in the back garden, Hilary."
"You don't need Daisy and me, do you?" asked Bets, looking at Fatty. It seemed pointless them all going into the garden.
"No, you stay here with Hilary," answered Larry, following Fatty and Pip outside. Buster went with them. He loved having new and exciting smells to sniff at.
The three of them stood below the back bedroom window, looking up. The window was now closed and along the side of the wall rose a drainpipe attached to the guttering.
"Must have climbed up there," said Pip, indicating the drainpipe.
"There are no footprints," said Larry, looking around him. "Not surprising as the ground is so dry at the moment."
Fatty was looking around and watching Buster who was walking nonchalantly around the lawn and borders.
"This chap is amazing the way he comes and goes, without being noticed," said Pip, amazed.
"We'll go out through the gate," said Fatty, suddenly, "just to check out there."
They all went though the rear gate and saw nothing at all. Fatty walked along the pathway, glancing over into the rear gardens as he walked, and Pip and Larry followed him. At the house next door but one, Fatty stopped at the gate, hearing someone in the garden. Peering over the fencing, he saw a couple by the greenhouse.
Fatty indicated to the others, as he opened the gate.
"Hello," he started off, "sorry to interrupt you both, but my friend, next door but one has had an intruder in her home. I was just wondering whether you'd seen or heard anything?"
The couple looked at Fatty rather shocked and glanced quickly at Pip and Larry. "Not Hilary," said the elderly woman. "Is she alright?"
Fatty nodded. "She's fine. We think the intruder got in by shinning up the drainpipe to the rear window." Fatty pointed over to the window that was clearly visible from the couple's garden.
The elderly gentleman looked up at the window and shook his head. "That's impossible. I've been here in the garden for a couple of hours and I would have seen anyone climbing up that pipe."
"Maybe you popped into the house, just as the intruder was gaining entry," said Pip, thinking this must be the only explanation.
The elderly gentleman shook his head. No, I've been out here all the time. My wife bought me out a cup of tea about an hour ago."
"That's right," she agreed, "and I went into the greenhouse for about fifteen minutes after that, and I never saw or heard anyone."
Fatty looked at them puzzled, and then turned to Pip and Larry.
"What time did this all happen?" asked the gentleman.
"Around 1.15pm," said Larry, looking at him, hoping that would jog his memory.
"That's the time I came out with Joe's tea," said his wife. "If anyone had been up that drainpipe, they would have been clearly visible from this garden."
"The thief must indeed be invisible," said Pip in amazement.
"Or never there," said Fatty, quietly. "Well thank you both," he said a little louder. "We'll leave you to it."
They left the garden and Pip and Larry were both anxious to ask Fatty what he had meant.
"There never was an intruder," he said, as they walked through into Hilary's garden. "She made the whole thing up, and so now we have to ascertain why."
Larry and Pip both looked at each other, then at Fatty. Whatever was going on?
* * *
Buster was the first to go into the house, followed by the others. They found the women sitting in the lounge drinking tea and on their approached Hilary poured them a cup, saying help yourself to milk and sugar.
"Did you find any clues?" asked Bets, watching Fatty stir his tea.
Fatty looked at Bets, then over at Hilary, who was watching him closely. "We did learn that there couldn't possibly have been an intruder."
Bets and Daisy looked at Fatty, rather puzzled. Pip felt slightly awkward and Larry was watching Hilary's reaction, as indeed was Fatty.
"What makes you say that?" asked Daisy, in bewilderment.
"Maybe Hilary would like to explain," said Fatty, noticing the flush of colour which highlighted her cheeks.
All eyes were now on Hilary, as they awaited her explanation.
Hilary put down the cup and saucer she was holding, and said to Fatty. "You really are quite a detective."
"You can't fool Frederick," said Bets, casting a quick glance over at her husband. "What's it all about, Hilary?" Bets' voice was laced with sympathy and Hilary looked at her and nodded her head.
"I guess I've no choice but to tell you. I was hoping that this secret would die with my uncle, being the last to know, but now..." She left the words in the air, her voice full of regret.
As understanding as ever, Bets leaned forward and touched Hilary's hand. "Whatever you tell us, will remain a secret, if it means that much to you." She looked around for the support and reassurance that Hilary was in need of. The others all agreed and said the same as Bets.
Hilary smiled her appreciation, looking at the supportive faces of the Find-Outers. "It all began when I seventeen years old. I was home from college for the holidays and the travelling circus was in town. The inevitable happened; I fell for one of the boys – an acrobat, Ricardo. He was gorgeous looking and a charmer," she smiled, with sadness in her eyes. "We met up on numerous occasions, but once my parents found out, they forbade me to see him. We still met in secret though; I was even tempted to run away with the circus, just to be with him." She looked at the others who were listening closely to what she had to say. They knew how hard it was back in those days, when parents didn't approve of anyone they knew nothing about.
"Well, cutting a long story short, I found out I was expecting his child. My parents were horrified and ashamed of me. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had the support and love from my uncle David Jenks. My parents insisted I went away to an aunt who lived out in the country, where I had the child at the nearby cottage hospital. My parents insisted the child be adopted straight away and so she was taken from me at birth, and I never saw Ricardo again." Tears welled up in Hilary's eyes, as she relived that heart breaking moment, all those years ago, still strong and heart rendering even to this day.
The others listened with sympathy in their eyes. How terrible for Hilary to have to go through such an ordeal without the support of those she loved around her. "Are you feeling okay to carry on," asked Fatty, softly.
Hilary nodded. "I've carried this secret around for years and years. Only my parents knew and Uncle David. The secret died with my parents, and I thought it would die with my uncle. Even my own children don't know," she confessed, with a shake of her head.
"You're secret will die with us too, Hilary," said Daisy, gently. "You have our word on that."
"Thank you," she smiled, gratefully. "As you've probably guessed, Alison is my daughter, who was adopted, and Lisa is my grand-daughter."
"Alison is the thief, isn't she?" asked Fatty, gently.
"Yes," came the reply. "I got a little worried when I heard you discussing the burglaries the other evening, outside the village hall. I knew you didn't have any proof but I thought that if I ring you and tell you the burglar had broken into my home, once Lisa had left, you'd be thrown off the scent."
Fatty smiled gently. "You would have been better to just leave it. As you say, there's no proof, just a 'gut feeling' I had. We'd never have known. But by trying to cover up by saying you had an intruder, which has proved impossible..." Fatty left the words in the air, with a slight shrug of his shoulders.
"How did you know there was no intruder?" Asked Hilary.
"The couple next door but one," began Larry, "he was in the garden, and had been there all the time. He would have seen anyone climbing up the drainpipe to the rear window."
"His wife brought him out a cuppa at about 1.15pm, around the time you say you had an intruder," said Pip. "She didn't notice anything either."
Hilary nodded in defeat. "I never even gave it a thought that anyone would be watching. I only wanted to divert your attention from Lisa."
"It's understandable you wanted to protect your granddaughter," said Bets, "but as Frederick says, we would never have gone to the police without evidence."
"I've made things worse," began Hilary, wiping her eyes. "Now you know it's Lisa, but I promise you, she only did it for a few weeks. She promised me she'd stop, and I believed her – so did her mother."
"Did she want to prove to her mother, that she could do the job just as well as she had, maybe?" said Fatty, surprising Hilary with his words.
You've heard then about the same burglaries over forty years ago?"
"I looked them up and told the others," said Pip. "From 1968 to 1971, then they suddenly stopped."
Hilary nodded. "That's when Alison had her first child, and so she gave up her life of petty crime. Then Lisa was born is 1985."
"Did you manage to trace Alison after the adoption, then?" Asked Daisy, wondering how they'd met up again.
"Apparently, Uncle David, always knew who had adopted Alison and had kept a discreet eye on her through the years. Like most adopted children, they're always curious as to whom their biological parents are and so I discovered that not only was I desperate to see her, but she was trying to trace me. We met up secretly and I gave her the information about her father, on the understanding that she didn't tell him where I was, as I was married by that time. She traced the circus and met up with him. In fact, she stayed there for a while in her teens and that's where she learned her acrobatic skills."
"Is she still involved with the circus?" asked Larry.
"No, she hardly sees them now. She's a respectable woman, and has been since her first daughter was born. Apparently, Lisa got hold of some old photos from the circus days and spotting her mother wanted to know all about it. Alison didn't think it would do any harm by telling her daughter of her past and Lisa was fascinated. Funnily enough it's in her blood too – she's a fitness instructor and a gym teacher, between posts at the moment, though, and so she just had this wild mad fling wanting to imitate her mother's past crimes."
"Does the Super know of Alison's past life," asked Fatty, evasively.
"I always thought he did," said Hilary, slowly. "But he never spoke of it and I never spoke of it. Then of course after 1971 the crimes stopped and so nothing was ever said anyway."
Fatty nodded, and looking around at the other's said. "So, what happens now?"
Hilary looked alarmed. "Surely you won't say anything? You all promised. She won't do anything like this again; she gave me and her mother her word."
The others looked at Hilary, then at Fatty. "We did give our word, Fatty," said Daisy, seriously.
Bets nodded. "We promised this would secret would die with us."
"Let's face it," said Larry, "although Lisa and her mother were wrong to steal, everything they did steal would have been insured, and so the victims would have been compensated for their losses."
"You needn't worry about the heirloom and other jewellery that was stolen from Fairlin Hall," Hilary suddenly put forward. "That's been returned anonymously. Lisa insisted on doing that before they went back home. In fact, she said that she's going to return everything that she stole. She made us a solemn promise. So in fact, no crimes have been committed, have they?" Hilary looked at the others appealingly.
"Well if she keeps her word and returns all the jewellery, then that doesn't make it as bad, does it Fatty?" said Pip, with a raised brow.
Now all the others looked at Fatty appealingly.
"I'll only deny any of this conversion if you go to the police," said Hilary, firmly.
Even Buster left his spot on the rug by the fire to come and sit by Fatty, putting his head on his lap and looking up appealingly at his master. "Well, as this conversation hasn't taken place, there's no need for any of us to say anymore."
Everyone looked pleased and Hilary rose from her chair feeling much better and looking more cheerful. "Right, I'll pop the kettle on again then, and we can all chat about the play."
* * *
A few days later the newspaper headlines read. 'Stolen Gems Return Mysteriously'.
"Well it looks like Lisa has kept her word to her mother and Hilary," said Bets, after reading the heading out to Fatty, "it also says that no charges will be sought as the victims are delighted to have their goods returned. So doesn't that make you feel better? All's well that ends well," finished off Bets, hoping that Hilary had read the paper.
"Let's just hope she does keep her word," said Fatty, looking at Bets across the breakfast-table.
"I'm sure she will. If she doesn't, I rather think that Hilary will beat you to it, informing the police."
A tap on the back door had them facing Daisy as she entered. "Morning, you two. I've just got a letter from Paul. He can't come to the first night's performance, but he's coming to the second and he's bringing his daughter with him. They'll arrive on the Sunday afternoon and stay overnight at the Tally-Ho Hotel. I can hardly wait to see him again." Her eyes lit up with excitement. Buster not wanting to be left out came up to Daisy for his usual greeting.
"That's lovely," smiled Bets, pouring out a tea for Daisy. "You've spoken on the phone a few times though, haven't you?"
"Oh yes," but it's always nice to have a letter too."
"I don't know why you don't get a computer – then you can email each other as well as phoning and writing letters," said Fatty, with an amused tone of sarcasm.
Daisy merely grinned. Not even Frederick Algernon Trotteville's teasing could take away the gleam in her eyes and the smile lighting up her face.
* * *
The first night's performance arrived and the cast all dressed and ready to perform their parts, waited anxiously in the wings. As the village hall filled up, the players watched the arriving audience and Hilary noticed Alison and Lisa taking front row seats.
"Have you ever thought about contacting Ricardo?" asked Daisy, watching Hilary's face light up as soon as she'd spotted them.
Hilary sighed. "I've thought about it many a time, Daisy. But you can't really go backwards in life, you have to move forwards. It's such a pity that I didn't really get on with my husband, there's nothing like your first love."
Daisy nodded understandingly. "Life's also too short to hold back. Why not just contact him and see how it goes?"
"Daisy's got a point, Hilary," said Bets in agreement. "He's probably wanted to contact you himself over the years but didn't have the courage."
Hilary smiled her heart lifting slightly at the thought of seeing her first love again. "Maybe I will," she nodded.
Fatty noticed the Super also sitting in the front row seats that had been reserved for him. His daughters sat either side of their father. Fatty had taken a phone call from the nursing home, advising him when the Super had chosen to see the play. True to his word, Fatty had reserved seats in the front row.
At precisely 7.30pm the curtain rose and Pip's wife, Mary was the first to walk on stage as a maid. The audience were a splendid lot. They laughed at the parts they should laugh at, and gasped in awe when the murder took place. During the interval, the cast took a much needed break, before the curtain rose for the second part.
When the play had ended the hall almost burst with the applause and whistles from the appreciation of the audience, as everyone took a box. The final bow went to Fatty and Daisy, who hand in hand, stepped forward to much more cheering and whistling.
Fatty glanced down at the Super who was clapping and smiling and mouthed the words 'thank you' which Fatty did not miss. He also knew that it wasn't the play for which he was being thanked.
The players were all absolutely delighted, and they had the chance to do it all over again the following evening.
Daisy was looking forward very much to that final evening, as Paul would be in the audience with his daughter. And on that final night, there he was, smiling up at her as she put more effort into that final portrayal of Miss Marple.
As the night before, the audience went wild with their applause and appreciation, stamping, clapping and cheering until they were hoarse.
As the final curtain went down, the cast gathered together behind the scenes to congratulate each other and the director for the success they had had. A lot of money had been raised for various charities, which was the main purpose for the play's production.
On that final night, friends and families came behind the scenes to voice their appreciation and drink the champagne which someone had brought along for all their hard work and efforts.
Once everyone had changed out of their costumes and back into normal clothes a small party began with champagne and cakes. Paul introduced his daughter to Daisy and all her friends, praising them all for their performances.
As the champagne was flowing, Paul took Daisy to one side. He brought out a box from his pocket, opened it and said, "Daisy, will you do the honour of marrying me?"
Hearing his words, the other Find-Outers and their partners turned in surprise and looked at each other in astonishment before looking back towards Daisy and Paul. For the first time in their lives they were all utterly speechless as they watched the surprised look on Daisy's face and the anxious wait on Paul's.
THE END... OR IS IT JUST THE BEGINNING?
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