3 A Reformed Character

3 A Reformed Character by Cecilia Peartree

Book: 3 A Reformed Character by Cecilia Peartree Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cecilia Peartree
they all ignored him, he advanced towards them. Christopher now noticed he was waving a hammer, and instinctively took a step back, bumping into Jock, who was also in retreat. Zak and Stewie, who hadn’t seen the man because they were facing the wrong way, started to laugh at them. Amaryllis stayed exactly where she was.
    ‘Hey, you lot, get out of here! There’s nothing to see!’ The man’s words became clearer as he approached. Zak turned to look, took Stewie’s arm again and hustled him away. Their steps accelerated as they headed out of the estate.
    ‘Go on, then!’ said the man. His voice was still raised. His face was very pink and his eyes seemed to be gazing into the distance, as if he wasn’t really there. Christopher guessed who he was, and said quietly to Amaryllis, ‘I think we should go now.’
    ‘But – ‘
    ‘No, I mean it. Come on.’
    ‘Parasites!’ shouted the man after them, but they didn’t look back to see whether he was still waving the hammer. Christopher considered the possibility that he might be a champion hammer-thrower, and speeded up a bit. He and Jock had a kind of walking race to see who could get out of range first. Amaryllis acted as rearguard.
    ‘He was a bit cross, wasn’t he?’ she commented.
    ‘I think that was Mr Donaldson,’ said Christopher. ‘Alan’s dad. He wasn’t cross, just upset.’
    'Why didn’t you tell me? We could have asked him about it…’
    ‘No, we couldn’t,’ said Christopher firmly.
    He was rather surprised at his own assertiveness. It was almost as if the perceived decline in Amaryllis’s forcefulness had left a vacuum that somebody had to fill.
    ‘Right enough,’ said Jock. ‘He wouldn’t have listened. He’s not a rational man at the moment.’
    ‘We don’t even know if he was ever a rational man in the first place,’ said Christopher.
    ‘I wonder what he meant,’ said Amaryllis.
    ‘What do you mean, what he meant?’ said Jock.
    ‘Parasites. It’s an odd choice of words.’
    ‘He isn’t in the kind of state where you choose your words,’ said Jock. ‘It was maybe the first thing that came into his head that sounded like an insult.’
    ‘But why did it come into his head? Why that particular word?’
    ‘Maybe he’d found death-watch beetle in the house he was working on,’ said Christopher.
    It was a throwaway line, and he hadn’t meant to start an argument about how old a house had to be before it could get death-watch beetle – or indeed a follow-up argument about whether death-watch beetle was really a beetle or not. But it lasted them all the way to the door of the Queen of Scots, where they found it was just about opening time.
    So in a sense it had achieved its purpose.

Chapter 9  Break-out
    Nearly time for the next Cosy Clicks meeting and Amaryllis was frustrated by the lack of progress with what she thought of as her investigation. All right, the police might think they had ownership of it - and they had pulled her in for questioning on Monday morning about Darren's time on the run, which they somehow seemed to have linked to her - but she was the one who was really on top of it. She just wished she had access to their forensic evidence. For all she knew it might point to someone else altogether, someone of whose existence she was still unaware. She would have liked the chance to talk to everyone involved so that she could build up a complete picture in her mind. But maybe speaking to Old Mrs Petrelli would help her to fill in some of the gaps.
    She didn't expect anything dramatic to happen when she came out of the small block of flats in Merchantman Wynd that afternoon, pulling the door closed behind her and hoping it wouldn't rain on the way to the Cultural Centre, where she was planning to put in a couple of hours of voluntary work in the Folk Museum.
    She certainly didn't expect to be surrounded by armed police officers and shouted at through a megaphone by a senior one of their number.

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