Peter considered. “I think we'll start from Cathcart's bedroom,” he said.
The bedroom was of moderate size, with a single window overlooking the front door. The bed was on the right-hand side, the dressing-table before the window. On the left was the fireplace, with an arm-chair before it, and a small writing-table.
“Everything's as it was,” said Parker. “Craikes had that much sense.”
“Yes,” said Lord Peter. “Very well. Gerald says that when he charged Cathcart with bein' a scamp, Cathcart jumped up, nearly knockin' the table over.
Wimsey is downplaying the accusation. But what is a scamp? Origin: 1775–85; obsolete scampto travel about idly or for mischief, perhaps < obsolete Dutch schampento be gone < Old French escamperto decamp.
That's the writin'-table, then, so Cathcart was sittin' in the arm-chair. Yes, he was—and he pushed it back violently and rumpled up the carpet. See! So far, so good. Now what was he doin' there? He wasn't readin', because there's no book about, and we know that he rushed straight out of the room and never came back. Very good. Was he writin'? No; virgin sheet of blottin'-paper——”
Blotting paper is a highly absorbent type of paper or other material, used to absorb an excess of liquid substances (such as ink or oil) from the surface of writing paper or objects. Up until the 1960s or so, in England, hotels and private houses provided their guests with blotting paper, since everyone wrote with fountain-pens which had a tendency to smear if the excess ink were not blotted up.
“He might have been writing in pencil,” suggested Parker.
“That's true, old Kill-Joy, so he might.
The meaning is self evident. The term has been in use since from about 1770–80.
Well, if he was he shoved the paper into his pocket when Gerald came in, because it isn't here; but he didn't, because it wasn't found on his body; so he wasn't writing.”
“Unless he threw the paper away somewhere else,” said Parker. “I haven't been all over the grounds, you know, and at the smallest computation—if we accept the shot heard by Hardraw at 11.50 as the shot—there's an hour and a half unaccounted for.”
“Very well. Let's say there is nothing to show he was writing. Will that do? Well, then——”
Lord Peter drew out a lens and scrutinized the surface of the arm-chair carefully before sitting down in it.
“Nothing helpful there,” he said. “To proceed, Cathcart sat where I am sitting. He wasn't writing; he—you're sure this room hasn't been touched?”
“Then he wasn't smoking.”
“Why not? He might have chucked the stub of a cigar or cigarette into the fire when Denver came in.”
“Not a cigarette,” said Peter, “or we should find traces somewhere—on the floor or in the grate. That light ash blows about so. But a cigar—well, he might have smoked a cigar without leaving a sign, I suppose. But I hope he didn't.”
“Because, old son, I'd rather Gerald's account had some element of truth in it. A nervy man doesn't sit down to the delicate enjoyment of a cigar before bed, and cherish the ash with such scrupulous care. On the other hand, if Freddy's right and Cathcart was feelin' unusually sleek and pleased with life, that's just the sort of thing he would do.”
“Do you think Mr. Arbuthnot would have invented all that, as a matter of fact?” said Parker thoughtfully. “He doesn't strike me that way. He'd have to be imaginative and spiteful to make it up, and I really don't think he's either.”
“I know,” said Lord Peter. “I've known old Freddy all my life, and he wouldn't hurt a fly. Besides, he simply hasn't the wits to make up any sort of a story. But what bothers me is that Gerald most certainly hasn't the wits either to invent that Adelphi drama between him and Cathcart.”
The Adelphi Theatre is a 1500-seat West End theatre, located on the Strand in the City of Westminster. The present building is the fourth on the site. The theatre has specialised in comedy and musical theatre, and today it is a receiving house for a variety of productions, including many musicals. The theatre was Grade II listed for historical preservation on 1 December 1987.
In its early years, the theatre was known for melodrama, called Adelphi Screamers.
“On the other hand,” said Parker, “if we allow for a moment that he shot Cathcart, he had an incentive to invent it. He would be trying to get his head out of the—I mean, when anything important is at stake it's wonderful how it sharpens one's wits. And the story being so far-fetched does rather suggest an unpractised story-teller.”
“True, O King. Well, you've sat on all my discoveries so far. Never mind. My head is bloody but unbowed. Cathcart was sitting here——”
From the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
At the age of 12, Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and at age 17 his leg was amputated just below the knee. Stoicism inspired him to write this poem. Henley led an active life until his death at the age of 53.
The poem was written in 1875 in a book called Book of Verses, where it was number four in several poems called Life and Death (Echoes). At the beginning it bore no title. Early printings contained only the dedication To R. T. H. B.—a reference to Robert Thomas Hamilton Bruce (1846–1899), a successful Scottish flour merchant and baker who was also a literary patron. The title "Invictus" (Latin for "unconquered") was put in The Oxford Book of English Verse by editor Arthur Quiller-Couch.
“So your brother said.”
“Curse you, I say he was; at least, somebody was; he's left the impression of his sit-me-down-upon on the cushion.”
“That might have been earlier in the day.”
“Rot. They were out all day. You needn't overdo this Sadducee attitude, Charles. I say Cathcart was sitting here, and—hullo! hullo!”
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the 2nd century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society As a whole, the sect fulfilled various political, social and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. The Sadducees are often compared to other contemporaneous sects, including the Pharisees and the Essenes. Their sect is believed to have become extinct sometime after the destruction of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, but it has been speculated that later Karaites may have had some roots or connections with old Sadducee views.
The religious responsibilities of the Sadducees included the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem. Their high social status was reinforced by their priestly responsibilities, as mandated in the Torah. The Priests were responsible for performing sacrifices at the Temple, the primary method of worship in Ancient Israel. This also included presiding over sacrifices on the three festivals of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Their religious beliefs and social status were mutually reinforcing, as the Priesthood often represented the highest class in Judean society. It is important to note that the Sadducees and the priests were not completely synonymous. Cohen points out that “not all priests, high priests, and aristocrats were Sadducees; many were Pharisees, and many were not members of any group at all.” It is widely believed that the Sadducees were descended from the House of Zadok and sought to preserve this priestly line and the authority of the Temple.