Foyle's Army

Detective Superintendant Foyle tackles his most perplexing murder case when a member of the local Home Guard is found dead.

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3. Chapter Three

            “Sergeant Wilson, were you in Croft's Wood last night?” Foyle asked, when the private was out of earshot.

            “Yes,” replied Wilson. “Everyone was apart from Private Walker. He called in at the bank to say he'd got some urgent business to do and wouldn't be able to make it.”

            “Was your nephew there?” asked Foyle.

            “Nephew?” muttered Wilson vaguely. “Yes, he and I searched part of the woods together. But he's not my nephew. Her mother and I have known each other a long time. I go round to her house for meals and, er, other things. She has my ration book, you see,” he concluded with a hint of embarrassment, which was relieved – temporarily at least - by another knock on the door.

            “Come in,” said Mainwaring wearily.

            A middle-aged but still attractive blonde-haired woman in a blue headscarf entered the office.

            “Arthur....”

            “Not now, Mavis, please.” The sergeant’s embarrassment returned.

            “When I was washing your uniform this morning, I found this in one of the pockets. I meant to give it to you this evening. I hope it's nothing important.” She handed him an envelope. “Will you be in for supper at the usual time?” Wilson waved her away with his hand and she left the room.

            Mainwaring glanced at the envelope. “That's Fairweather's writing.”

            “Could you pass it to me, please?” asked Foyle. Reluctantly Wilson passed the envelope to him. Inside was a photograph of a birth certificate. On the back were written the words “One hundred pounds or I send a copy to Head Office.”

            “Twenty years ago I had a relationship with a woman I met at a party. The result was a daughter called Lucy,” explained an embarrassed Wilson as an outraged look appeared on Mainwaring's face. “You've met her, sir. She came to visit around the time of the pigeon incident.” Now it was Foyle's turn to look puzzled, but he let it pass.

            “I'll talk to you about this later, Wilson.”

            A loud Scots accent could be heard from the hall. “Yon policemen are spending a long time in Mainwaring's office. He was in a foul mood when Fairweather left his office last night. There's nae doubt in my mind he killed him. Yon policemen'll arrest him and expose him for the man that he is. He'll be hanged! Hanged, I tell you. He's doomed! Doomed! Doomed!” he concluded gleefully.

            Mainwaring was about to get up and say something to the Scotsman when  there was yet another knock on the external door.

            “Really! This is getting too much,” groaned Mainwaring. “Come in.”

            Sam entered the office. “Who are you?” asked Mainwaring.

            “Samantha Stewart,” replied Sam with a smile. “I'm Mr. Foyle's driver.”

            “Samantha. What a pretty name,” commented Wilson. “One of my favourites.”

            Mainwaring glared at him. “We don't need any of that Jack Buchanan stuff,” he intoned.

            “Yes, Sam, what is it?” asked Foyle.

            “Just to let you know sir, the rest of the platoon are starting to arrive.”

            “Thank you, Sam,” nodded Foyle as she left the room, and an elderly Lance Corporal with a waxed white moustache and a chest full of medal ribbons entered from the hall. In his right hand he held a rifle fitted with a bayonet.

            “All the men are ready for inspection.”

            “Thank you, Jones.”

            “That's a fearsome-looking weapon you've got there,” commented Foyle.

            “It's the old cold steel, sir,” replied Jones. “They don't like it up 'em, you know sir, they don't like it up 'em. They don't like it at all.” He stabbed the desk, making a gouge in the surface. “ I remember when I was in the Sudan under General Kitchener...”

            “Would you mind telling me what happened last night?” asked Foyle, impatiently.

            “I was falling the men in for inspection when Mrs. Fox arrived. She's a good woman is Mrs. Fox. Anyway, she was in a right state. She said she'd seen a parachute come down near Croft's Wood. I told her not to panic and to go and tell Captain Mainwaring. When we all got to the woods, we paired off. Private Fraser and I searched the western area of the woods but we got separated. In the end it turned out to be a false alarm so we came back here. It was only then that we realised Fairweather was missing but we thought he'd gone home.”

            “Captain Mainwaring, may I use your office to interview the men?” asked Foyle.

            Mainwaring nodded. “Very well, but I will remain in here to advise the men in the absence of a solicitor.”

           Wilson looked Mainwaring in the eye.  “Do you think that's wise?” he asked.

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