Jenny’s mobile rang as she was walking down the main street in Hazel Grove. It was a few days since she and Cynthia had parted. Jenny answered it thinking it was Matt, her husband, who was still away on business. It seemed like a CENTURY ago that he had gone. It was Cynthia.
“Jenny, Hugh’s gone missing.”
“Gone missing!” exclaimed Jenny.
“Yes,” said Cynthia. “And George has broken down. . I have things to tell you. You couldn’t make it to the Dog and Gun tonight could you? I’m going to be a bit late finishing work, so it might be best if you come to me this time. I’m sure we can find a quiet spot in there somewhere.”
“O.K. replied Jenny. And I have something to tell you as well. See you later then.”
Jenny finished her shopping, then went home, and started fingering the contents of the package that had arrived that morning. It was from George. It contained letters and postcards that Jenny had sent to him in the early days of their relationship. One was a postcard of a beautiful sunset and Jenny had written on it quoting the line of a hymn that she loved, to express how she felt about the death that had occurred in her family. Jenny wondered what Cynthia had meant when she said that George had broken down. He was not the breaking down sort, but she had to admit that he had been under stress lately, as evidenced by his outburst in the kitchen at the vicarage a few weeks ago, when Jenny had thought he was going to hit her. And the finding of Sarah’s body in the river must have pushed him over the edge. But she could only wait while the evening to find out what Cynthia had meant.
The pub was quite full when Jenny got there, but Cynthia had managed to find a quiet corner where they could talk without being overheard. There was a lot of noisy chatter going on in the pub anyway, so no one would have been intent on listening to what Jenny and Cynthia were saying.
“What’s this about Hugh going missing then?” asked Jenny. “And what do you mean about George breaking down?”
“Well,” said Cynthia, “I was at a church Meeting last night, and it was the talk of the whole church. Hugh had had to go into hospital for a day with his constipation issues. He had had to undergo various tests to find out if there was anything serious causing it. At least that was what he had said. But when he didn’t return home someone rang the hospital to find out if they had kept him in, but they said that they had not treated a patient of that name. And still, he hasn’t come home.”
“How strange,” replied Jenny. “I remember when I was there at Christmas Hugh had said that he might end up going to hospital, but he wasn’t too bothered if it was something terminal as he had had a good innings and life was starting to get him down a bit now.”
“Well the police have been interviewing George,” said Cynthia. “It was only to be expected with Sarah being his curate, and now, with Hugh going missing. He was very agitated at the Meeting last night, and not his usual self at all. He came to me at the end and asked if he could talk to me. He spilled it all out then, and I can tell you that he’s not the murderer. He started off by talking about the women he’d sent to me to change their names. He realised it must have seemed a bit odd. He explained that he used to have a German Nanny as a child, and he adored her. She used to sing him German songs, and tell him German folk tales. He was fascinated by it all. She was the only one he ever got any affection from as his parents were very distant towards him. Hence him learning to smile from the dog. But he lost the Nanny when his parents got into debt and the bailiffs came. He was beside himself. Eventually his parents got themselves back on their feet again, and he went to Oxford. He wanted to study German, because of his fascination with the German Nanny. But it was a foregone conclusion that he should follow his father into the Church and become a vicar. That was how it was in those days. That was where he met Jill, and she was rich, having inherited a lot of money from the family business. He was immediately attracted to her, and to her money! Having known what it was like to be poor and to have everything taken away, he had determined that he would never be like that again. Plus Jill was quite pretty, and she seemed to crave domesticity, despite her high level of intelligence. She could speak German fluently, and for George, that was a huge plus. And of course being domesticated was good for a vicar’s wife. She would make him a good wife. But it was his fascination with things German that was his downfall. He loved read German philosophy, and he became obsessed with the idea of exchanging one reality for another. He decided to experiment with it, using women as his subjects. He was also a bit of a rascal though, and a risk taker. Jill bored him, and he loved a bit of dalliance with other women. Jill knew about it and hated it, but there was little she could do about it. In a way she had got what she had wanted. But she too was a but bored, and when Hugh started to flatter her she fell for him. Their affair had been going on for years. George wasn’t bothered. It left him free to do what he wanted to do.”
“Phew!” exclaimed Jenny. “But someone murdered Sarah, and he was having an affair with Sarah.”
“Yes,” said Cynthia. “But he didn’t murder her.”
It was by now getting very late, and Cynthia had to be up early in the morning, so they agreed meet the following night so that Cynthia could explain more.