The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop

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Epub ISBN: 9781407064031
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Published by Vintage 2010
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Copyright © the Executors of the Estate of Gladys Mitchell 1930
Gladys Mitchell has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
First published in Great Britain in 1930 by Gollancz
Vintage
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ISBN 9780099546856
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About the Author
Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell – or ‘The Great Gladys' as Philip Larkin described her – was born in 1901, in Cowley in Oxfordshire. She graduated in history from University College London and in 1921 began her long career as a teacher. She studied the works of Sigmund Freud and attributed her interest in witchcraft to the influence of her friend, the detective novelist Helen Simpson.
Her first novel,
Speedy Death
, was published in 1929 and introduced readers to Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, the heroine of a further sixty-six crime novels. She wrote at least one novel a year throughout her career and was an early member of the Detection Club along with G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. In 1961 she retired from teaching and, from her home in Dorset, continued to write, receiving the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger Award in 1976. Gladys Mitchell died in 1983.
ALSO BY GLADYS MITCHELL
Speedy Death
The Longer Bodies
The Saltmarsh Murders
Death at the Opera
The Devil at Saxon Wall
Dead Men's Morris
Come Away, Death
St Peter's Finger
Printer's Error
Brazen Tongue
Hangman's Curfew
When Last I Died
Laurels Are Poison
The Worsted Viper
Sunset Over Soho
My Father Sleeps
The Rising of the Moon
Here Comes a Chopper
Death and the Maiden
The Dancing Druids
Tom Brown's Body
Groaning Spinney
The Devil's Elbow
The Echoing Strangers
Merlin's Furlong
Faintley Speaking
Watson's Choice
Twelve Horses and the
Hangman's Noose
The Twenty-third Man
Spotted Hemlock
The Man Who Grew Tomatoes
Say It With Flowers
The Nodding Canaries
My Bones Will Keep
Adders on the Heath
Death of the Delft Blue
Pageant of Murder
The Croaking Raven
Skeleton Island
Three Quick and Five Dead
Dance to Your Daddy
Gory Dew
Lament for Leto
A Hearse on May-Day
The Murder of Busy Lizzie
Winking at the Brim
A Javelin for Jonah
Convent on Styx
Late, Late in the Evening
Noonday and Night
Fault in the Structure
Wraiths and Changelings
Mingled with Venom
The Mudflats of the Dead
Nest of Vipers
Uncoffin'd Clay
The Whispering Knights
Lovers, Make Moan
The Death-Cap Dancers
The Death of a Burrowing Mole
Here Lies Gloria Mundy
Cold, Lone and Still
The Greenstone Griffins
The Crozier Pharaohs
No Winding-Sheet
CONTENTS
I
Inconsiderate Behaviour of a Passenger to America
II
Farcical Proceedings during an Afternoon in June
III
Midsummer Madness
IV
Spreading the News
V
Another Gardener
VI
Thursday
VII
The Tale of a Head
VIII
Second Instalment of the Same Tale
IX
Inspector Grindy Learns a Few Facts
X
He Puts Two and Two Together
XI
Further Discoveries
XII
The Inspector Has His Doubts
XIII
Margery Barnes
XIV
What Happened at the ‘Queen's Head
'
XV
The Culminster Collection Acquires a New Specimen
XVI
Mrs Bradley Takes a Hand
XVII
The Stone of Sacrifice
XVIII
The Man in the Woods
XIX
The Skull
XX
The Story of a Crime
XXI
Savile
XXII
The Inspector Makes an Arrest
XXIII
Mrs Bradley's Notebook
XXIV
The Murderer
THE MYSTERY OF A
BUTCHER'S SHOP
Gladys Mitchell
VINTAGE BOOKS
London
CHAPTER I
Inconsiderate Behaviour of a Passenger to America
I
T
was Monday. Little requires to be said about such a day.
Charles James Sinclair Redsey, who, like Mr Milne's Master Morrison, was commonly known as Jim, sat on the arm of one of the stout, handsome, leather-covered armchairs in the library of the Manor House at Wandles Parva, and kicked the edge of the sheepskin rug.
Mr Theodore Grayling, solicitor, sat stewing in an uncomfortably hot first-class smoking-compartment on one of England's less pleasing railway systems and wondered irritably why his client, Rupert Sethleigh, had seen fit to drag him down to an out-of-the-way spot like Wandles Parva when he could with equal ease have summoned him to his offices in London.
Mrs Bryce Harringay, matron, lay prone upon her couch alternately sniffing languidly at a bottle of smelling-salts and calling peevishly upon her gods for a cool breeze and her maid for more eau-de-Cologne.
Only the very young were energetic. Only the rather older were content. The very young, consisting of Felicity Broome, spinster, dark-haired, grey-eyed, red-lipped, aged twenty and a half, and Aubrey Harringay, bachelor, grey-eyed, brown-faced, wiry, thin, aged fifteen and three-quarters, played tennis on the Manor House lawn. The rather older, consisting of Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, twice widowed, black-eyed, claw-fingered, age no longer interesting except to the more grasping and avaricious of her relatives, smiled the saurian smile of the sand lizard and basked in the full glare of the sun in the charming old-world garden of the Stone House, Wandles.
The train drew up at Culminster station, and Theodore Grayling alighted. There would be a luxurious limousine to meet him outside the station, he reflected happily. There would be tea under the trees or in the summer-house at the Manor. There might possibly be an invitation to stay to dinner. He had eaten Rupert Sethleigh's dinners before. They were good dinners, and the wine was invariably above criticism. So were the cigars.
The road outside the station was deserted except for a decrepit hansom cab of an early and unpromising vintage. Theodore Grayling clicked his tongue, and shook his head with uncompromising fierceness as the driver caught his eye. He waited, screwing up his eyes against the glare of the sun, and tapping his stick impatiently against the toe of his boot. He waited a quarter of an hour.
‘They've forgot you, like,' volunteered the driver, bearing him no ill-will. He flicked a fly off the horse's back with the whip, and spat sympathetically.
Theodore Grayling laid his neat case on the ground and lit a cigarette. It looked a frivolous appendage to his dignified figure. He glanced up and caught the cabby's eye again. Common humanity compelled him to proffer his gold case, the gift of a grateful client. The cabby lit up, and they smoked in silence for two or three minutes.
‘Wouldn't hurt, like, to take a seat inside while you're waiting,' suggested the man hospitably. ‘It's full 'ot to stand about.'
Theodore Grayling shrugged his shoulders.
‘Doesn't look as though anyone is coming to meet me,' he said. ‘I want the Manor House, Wandles Parva. Know it? All right. Carry on.'
The driver carried on.
The young man who received the lawyer in the fine hall of the Manor House looked apologetic when Grayling asked for Rupert Sethleigh.
‘Come into the library,' said the young man. ‘It seems a bit awkward to explain. In fact, I can't exactly explain it – that is to say' – he paused, as though anxious to be certain that he was using the words he wished and intended to use – ‘it is very difficult to explain it. I mean, the fact is, he's gone to America.'
Feeling more than surprised, Theodore Grayling followed the young man into the library.

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