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DEAD IN THE MORNING

By
Jane Homeshaw

Chapter One

But when? When is she going to die?


Shh! She can hear you!
The man looked at the door. Then his eyes came back to the girl. She was young and
very beautiful.
I love you, he said.
Dont say that. I dont want to hear it. Not now! Youre her husband. You mustnt
say these things. After shes deadThen you can say them. But now, today, shes alive.
Shes old, but shes rich and shes alive!

The old woman by the door listened. Then she went to her room and answered the
telephone.
HelloYes, Clarrie Middlemarsh here. Oh, its you again, Mr YassufYou want to
come up and look at my pictures? ... But I dont want to sell You still want to come
and look? All rightCome this afternoon. Theres a train to Bissleton at five oclock.
You can sleep here tonight and go back to London tomorrow morning. Goodbye.
Mrs Middlemarsh looked at her hand on the telephone. It was an old hand, but it was a
good one. Then her eyes went to the picture on the wall.

Anna Wilson and Geoffrey Middlemarsh were still in the sitting room.
Who telephones her? asked Anna.
I dont know, Geoffrey answered. She never tells me anything. Im her husband,
but she never talks to me. She has a lot of money, but she never gives me any.
Does she give money to Michael? Anna asked.
No, never.
But, hes your son.
Hes her son. Its not he same.
Was Michaels father rich?
Yes, he was a banker. Before he died, he had half a million pounds.
Half a million! And now she has it all! said Anna.
Yes, and she makes more money every day. Its very sad because Im never going to
have it.
Arent you? asked Anna.
Chapter Two

The son, Michael Taylor, was not a happy man. He was a schoolteacher near Bissleton.
His friends often asked him why. He always had the same answer.
Im a scientist, but Im not a good one. So I teach science.
Perhaps you like children, they often said.
No, I dont. But I must have money, so I teach.
He had a fast car and he liked to drive it. He was a good driver. Today he was back
home from school at half past four. He went into the kitchen and saw Mrs Flower. He
liked Mrs Flower. She cleaned the house and helped to make the meals every day.
Hello Michael, she said. Youre here, are you? I never hear your car these days.
No, said Michael. Mother doesnt like fast cars. I put it up the road so he doesnt
hear it. Is she asleep?
Yes.
What are we going to eat today? he asked.
She answered him with one word.
Fish!
Oh no! Not again! We eat fish about five times a week in this house.
Its good food, said Mrs Flower.
Its cat-food! said Michael. Wheres Mother?
Mrs Middlemarsh is in her room. Mr Middlemarsh is in the sitting room. And that
Anna Wilson is with him.
He went into the sitting room.
Hello you two. What are you doing here?
Cant you see that? Answered Geoffrey.
Were working.
Geoffrey was a television writer. Anna helped him. He was a good writer but he never
had any money. He liked boats and beautiful women. Michael went to the windows and
looked at the sea.
Why must Mother fish every morning? he asked. Cant you stop her, Geoffrey?
Youre her husband.
Yes, and youre her son, said Geoffrey. Why ask me? Why dont you talk to her?
She never listens to me, said Michael. She thinks Im still a child.
Are we going to have fish again tonight? asked Geoffrey.
Yes. Mrs Flowers in the kitchen now, answered Michael.
Oh! Come on, Anna. Were going out. Theres a new hotel at Grantley. We can take
my boat across and eat there. Michael, tell you mother
Tell her what? asked Clarrie Middlemarsh. She was by the door. She came in and
closed it. I want to talk to you, she said. Come and sit down. You too, Anna. Come
and sit here by me. Its about you
Chapter Three

Mr Ahmed Yassuf was on the train. He looked out of the windows. Green grass, green
fields, green trees. Yes, England was a beautiful country. He liked it. He was on his way
to Bissleton. His home was in Abu Dhabi. Mr Yassuf was a millionaire. He had five big
houses and many pictures. He liked pictures. This Mrs MiddlemarshShe had pictures
too. She had one picture by Tolmadi, the Italian. Mr Yassuf liked Tolmadi pictures. He
had three. He wanted Mrs Middlemarshs picture too. He must buy it. She must sell it.
She must! She must!

A very good dinner! said Mr Yassuf. I love fish.


Good! said Mrs Middlemarsh. Now come and look at my Tolmadi. But I must tell
you, Mr Yassuf Im not going to sell it.

It was a good game of football last night.


It was nine oclock in the morning at Bissleton Police Station. There wasnt much
work for the police in Bissleton. It was an old peoples town. Old people dont drive
their cars fast. They dont fight on Saturday nights. They sit at home and look at
television. Then they go to bed.
So, on that Thursday morning, the two policemen talked. Stone was a young man. He
liked football and he played the game well, too. Nixon was fat with a red face. He came
from London and he was a good policeman. He was a newcomer to Bissleton.
Can you run fast? he asked Stone.
Yes, I can, said Stone. Every morning I run three kilometres round the town before
breakfast.
Good! said Nixon. You can run and get some tea. Heres the money.
After a little time, Stone came back. Nixon was by the telephone.
Drink your tea fast, then get your coat, he said. An old woman, a Mrs
Middlemarsh, is dead.
Mrs Middlemarsh? said Stone. But I saw her this morning!
Chapter Four

Mrs Flower opened the door for the policemen. Her eyes were red and wet.
Come in, she said. Mrs Middlemarsh is in her bedroom. The poor old woman! That
husband of hers, Geoffrey Middlemarsh! He killed her!
Thats all, Mrs Flowers!
Geoffrey Middlemarsh was at the sitting room door. He walked across to them.
Mrs Flowers very sad, he said. You mustnt listen to her. She worked here for
many years. She loved Mrs Middlemarsh.
He said to Mrs Flower, Go back into the kitchen. You can make some tea for the
policemen.
Wheres the bedroom? asked Nixon.
Come with me, said Geoffrey.
Clarrie Middlemarsh was on her bed. She was in her nightdress. The window was open.
Her day clothes were on a chair. There was a table by the bed. On it was an open bottle
and a glass.
What was in the bottle?
Sleeping pills. She takes them every night. She doesnt sleep well.
But there arent any now, said Nixon.
No, said Geoffrey, and yesterday there were a lot. Perhaps she had them all last
night. Perhaps those sleeping pills killed her.
But why? asked Nixon.
Geoffrey walked up and down the room. His face was white. Then he said, I loved
Anna Wilson. Clarrie wasnt happy about it. She wanted to change things
Change things? How? questioned Nixon.
Yesterday afternoon, she came into the sitting room. Anna and I were there. She said
to me I dont want you here. You must go. So I went to my boat. Then, this morning,
I came back for some clothes. Clarrie was in bed. She was dead. Perhaps she was sad
about Anna and me and so she wanted to die.
What time this morning? asked Nixon.
OhI came back at eight thirty.
Was Miss Wilson on the boat with you?
No. She went back home last night. She lives with her mother and father at Cradley.
Wheres the son?
Michael Taylor? Hes coming back from school. I telephoned him. Oh, here he is
now.

Michael came into the room fast. His face was red. He stopped by the bed and looked at
the wall.
The Tolmadi picture isnt there, he said. Mrs Yassuf has got it. He wanted it and so
he killed my mother.
Whos Mr Yassuf? asked Nixon.
Tell him about Yassuf, Geoffrey, said Michael. Im going to find him.
Go with Mr Taylor, Stone, said Nixon.
The two young men went out the room. Geoffrey talked about Mr Yassuf. Then Nixon
said to him, Look at this glass. No, dont touch it. Theres a little yellow water in it.
What is it?
Its her orange drink, said Geoffrey. She had it every morning.
Every morning? questioned Nixon.
Yes! said Geoffrey. He looked at Nixon.
But why?
Mr Middlemarsh, please go and find Stone. Ask him to come here.
Nixon went across to the body and put his nose near Mrs Middlemarshs hand.
Stone came into the room and asked, What are you doing?
Come and see. Theres fish on the hand. Put your nose by it. Am I right?
Yes, youre right! said Stone. But why does she have fish on her hands. Does she
eat fish in bed?
Wheres Mr Yassuf? asked Nixon.
Hes in his room. Theres not going to be a fight now.
Good, said Nixon. Well, Stone, you saw Mrs Middlemarsh this morning?
Oh yes, and she
What time was it?
Half past six. She was by the sea. She talked to me. She said. Hello, Mr Stone, its
beautiful morning! Look at my two beautiful, big fish!

Chapter Five

Stone and Nixon were in the bedroom for a long time. More policemen came to the
house. They asked questions. Then they went away with boxes and bottles. A car came
for the body.
Stone and Nixon went into the kitchen. Mrs Flower was there.
Mrs Flower, do you make the orange drink for Mrs Middlemarsh?
Yes. I make it every evening. I put the glass on the table by her bed. Every morning
she goes down to the sea to fish. Then she comes back and drinks it. Why are you
asking me these questions?
Perhaps you put something in the drink, answered Nixon.
It wasnt me! said Mrs Flower. I put nothing in it.
Where do you live? asked Nixon.
Two kilometres away, said Mrs Flower. The last bus goes at eight oclock at night.
Then, in the morning, Im here at eight fifteen. I make breakfast for Mrs
Middlemarsh
What time were you here this morning? asked Nixon.
At the same time, said Mrs Flower. Mr Yassuf was in the garden. He can tell you.
Oh yesMr Yassuf! said Nixon. Thank you for your help, Mrs Flower.
Are you going to see Mr Yassuf now? asked Stone.
No, said Nixon. I want a walk. Come into the garden.
Beautiful day! said Nixon. Beautiful garden! Is there a gardener?
Yes, said Stone. He comes three times a week. Can you see that old building? He
puts his garden things in there.
You know a lot about this family, Stone, said Nixon.
Yes. Bissletons a small place. And everyone knows the Middlemarshes. Shes very
rich, said Stone.
Whos going to get her money? asked Nixon.
Her sons going to get it. It was his fathers money. Then his father died and the
money went to Mrs Middlemarsh. But its going to come to Michael now.
Does the husband get any of it?
Yes. Geoffrey Middlemarsh is going to get some of it, but not muchOh, look at that
cat! A black cat came out of the old building. It had a fish in its mouth.
Come on! said Nixon.
The two men went into the building. There on the ground was a big box. Stone looked
into it.
Whats in the box? asked Nixon.
Stone said, One fish and one picture.

Chapter Six

Im going to tell you a story, said Stone. Mr Yassuf wants to buy the Tolmadi
picture. But Mrs Middlemarsh says no. This morning Mrs Middlemarsh goes out and
Mr Yassuf sees her. Shes going to fish in the sea. Mr Yassuf goes to her room, and
takes the picture. Then he puts something in the orange drink. Mrs Middlemarsh comes
back. She puts the fish into the kitchen. Then she goes into the bedroom. She drinks the
orange and dies. Then Mr Yassuf dresses the body in the nightdress. He puts it on the
bed. He takes the sleeping pills out of the bottle
Why? asked Nixon.
Well, what are people going to drink? asked Stone. Theyre going to see the bottle
and theyre going to say The sleeping pills killed her. She put them all in her drink last
night..
Yes. Geoffrey Middlemarsh says that, said Nixon. But the police arent saying it.
You saw Mrs Middlemarsh at six thirty this morning.
Yes, said Stone, but Mr Yassuf doesnt know that. So he takes the sleeping pills out
of the bottle. He finds the fish and puts them in this box with the picture. He wants to
take away the box but then Mrs Flowers and Geoffrey Middlemarsh come to the house.
So the box is still here. We find it.
No, noits not a very good storyMr Yassuf isnt one of the family. He doesnt
know about the orange drink, does he?
I dont know, said Stone. Perhaps he saw it in the kitchen last night. But I still want
to know the answer to the question - What was in the orange drink? What killed Mrs
Middlemarsh?
Well, Im going to talk to Mr Yassuf. You take that box to the police station. The
science boys are going to want it. Perhaps they know the answer to your question too.

Mr Yassuf was in the sitting room.


I wanted to see you, he said to the policeman. I have a question for you. This
morning, at seven oclock, I looked out of my bedroom window. Mrs Middlemarsh was
on the grass. The question came to me Why is Mrs Middlemarsh fighting the cat?
Tell me, Mr Nixon, do you know the answer?
Fighting the cat? Is that true?
Nixon and Stone were back at the police station. Stone had a piece of paper in his hand.
Listen to this. There was Atropine in Mrs Middlemarshs glass of orange. Atropine
comes from a flower. The name of de flower is Deadly Nightshade. It kills people.
Atropine can kill you in half an hour. You drink it. Then youre very sad or very happy.
Some people want to fight.
Very happy or very sad? said Nixon. Perhaps you want to fight the cat! Then, after a
little time, you die.
There was one gramme of Atropine in the body, said Stone. Thats a lot. But who
was the killer? Was it the husband?
No, said Nixon. He was on his boat. Two boatmen saw him last night and a
fisherman saw him again this morning.
Oh! said Stone. What about Anna Wilson?
Where was she last night and this morning?
Anna Wilson was at home with her mother an father, said Nixon. Her father was ill.
Anna was with him. No, she isnt the killer.
Oh! said Stone. So the killer is
Yes! said Nixon. Are you going to come with me?

Chapter Seven

Michael Taylor had the bottle of Atropine in his hand.


Perhaps Im not a band scientist, he said. I can make Atropine from Deadly
Nightshade.
He put some Atropine in a glass of water. He looked at the letter on the table.
Dear Mr Nixon, it said. I killed my mother. I wanted her money. She wasnt a very
good woman and so I killed her. I killed her this morning and then I went to school. I
think you know about that. And now Im sorryI want to die
Michael looked up.
Yes, its good letter. It tells everything. Ok, my boy, you can drink your glass of water
now

Stone and Nixon came into the sitting room and then stopped. Michael Taylor was dead.

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