The Hangman's Row Enquiry by Ann Purser

The Hangman's Row Enquiry by Ann Purser

Author:Ann Purser [Purser, Ann]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published: 2010-03-11T23:00:00+00:00

THE GAMBLING THREESOME was the object of great interest in the lounge after supper. Four ladies, all somberly dressed as befitted their widow status, had their usual game of whist, but could not concentrate. The frequent bursts of laughter and whoops of triumph from Gus and Mr. Goodman disturbed them. One of them put her finger to her lips as she caught Ivy’s eye. “Ssshh!” she said. Her message fell on deaf ears. Ivy was enjoying herself, taken right back to the rare occasions when her mother was out for the day, and she and her father settled down to a hand or two of pontoon. They had played for matches, as they were doing now, but she remembered that her father had a bar of chocolate at the ready for the winner. And Ivy was always the winner.

This time, Gus won, and Ivy miraculously produced a bar of Fruit & Nut from her capacious handbag. “Well done, Gus,” she said, and suggested another game tomorrow evening.

“Ra-ther!” enthused Roy. Really, things were definitely brightening up at Springfields.

With coffee all round, they settled back comfortably, and began to talk. As Ivy had hoped, Roy did most of the talking. With very little encouragement, he told them the story of his life. His family had been farmers in Barrington for generations, and when he, the last of the line, failed to get married and produce an heir for the old farmhouse and acres, he had decided to sell and use the proceeds to pay for luxury care in his old age. Naturally, he had chosen Springfields. He soon knew that he had made a mistake. Although he was physically infirm now, he still had all his faculties intact. He had been bored to tears, in spite of his best efforts to make friends and get something lively and interesting going amongst the other residents.

A reading group had ground to a halt when members pleaded they could no longer read well enough to keep it going. Failing eyesight and lack of concentration were blamed. Then, remembering his love of amateur drama in his youth, he had rounded up enough residents to attempt a Christmas revue to entertain the others. All the old songs, he had assured them, and a few jokes from old time music hall. He would be master of ceremonies, and Miss Pinkney had unexpectedly agreed to play the piano for them. They had made a start, but one by one the volunteers had backed out, mostly with feeble excuses, but nothing he could do would persuade them to return. The revue had been cancelled.

But now here were Gus and Ivy, playing pontoon with him and listening with interest to his reminiscences. He had reached the point where he had told his father he had no wish to continue at school, but wanted to be a full-time farmer and keep the family tradition going. He had been fifteen, and his father was delighted.

“Were you an only child?” asked Ivy. Gus’s eyelids were drooping, but at Ivy’s intervention he snapped awake.


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