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Authors: Edmund Crispin

Buried for Pleasure

BOOK: Buried for Pleasure
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Table of Contents
About the Author
Edmund Crispin's real name was Bruce Montgomery. He was born in 1921 of Scots-Irish parentage. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' and St John's College, Oxford, where he read Modern Languages. He worked for two years as assistant master at a public school and later established himself as a composer.
In previous editions of his books, Crispin listed his recreations as swimming, excessive smoking, Shakespeare, the operas of Wagner and Strauss, idleness and cats. His antipathies were dogs, the French Film, the Renaissance of the British Film, psychoanalysis, the psychological-realistic crime story, and the contemporary theatre. He wrote nine detective novels and two volumes of short stories and also worked as a crime fiction reviewer for the
Sunday Times
from 1967 until his death in September 1978.
ALSO BY EDMUND CRISPIN
The Case of the Gilded Fly
Holy Disorders
The Moving Toyshop
Swan Song
Love Lies Bleeding
Frequent Hearses
The Long Divorce
The Glimpse of the Moon
BURIED FOR PLEASURE
Edmund Crispin
‘Buried on Monday, buried for health,
Buried on Tuesday, buried for wealth;
Buried on Wednesday, buried at leisure,
Buried on Thursday, buried for pleasure;
Buried on Friday, buried for fun,
Buried on Saturday, buried at one;
Buried on Sunday after eleven,
You get the priest and you go to heaven.'
Traditional
VINTAGE BOOKS
London
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
Epub ISBN: 9781407092164
Version 1.0
  
Published by Vintage 2009
2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1
Copyright © 1948 Rights Limited (a Chorion company).
All rights reserved
Edmund Crispin has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
First published in Great Britain in 1948 by Victor Gollancz
Vintage
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
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The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 9780099542124
The Random House Group Limited supports The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading international forest certification organisation. All our titles that are printed on Greenpeace approved FSC certified paper carry the FSC logo. Our paper procurement policy can be found at:
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Printed and bound in Great Britain by
CPI Cox & Wyman, Reading, RG1 8EX
For
PETER OLDHAM
CHAPTER 1
‘S
ANFORD
A
NGELORUM
all change,' said the station-master. ‘Sanford Angelorum, all change.'
After a moment's thought: ‘Terminus,' he added, and retired from the scene through a door marked
PRIVATE.
Gervase Fen, dozing alone in a narrow, stuffy compartment whose cushions, when stirred, emitted a haze of black dust, woke and roused himself.
He peered out of the window into the summer twilight. A stunted, uneven platform offered itself to his inspection, its further margins cluttered with weed-like growths which a charitable man might have interpreted as attempts at horticulture. An empty chocolate-machine lay rusting and overturned, like a casualty in some robot war. Near it was a packing-case from which the head of a small chicken protruded, uttering low, indignant squawks. But there was no trace of human kind, and beyond the station lay nothing more companionable than an apparently limitless expanse of fields and woods, bluish in the gathering dusk.
This panorama displeased Fen; he thought it blank and unenlivening. There was, however, nothing to be done about it except repine. He repined briefly and then extracted himself and his luggage from the compartment. It seemed at first that he was the only passenger to alight here, but a moment later he found that this was not so, for a fair-haired, neatly-dressed girl of about twenty emerged from another compartment, glanced uncertainly about her, and then made for the exit, where she dropped a square of green pasteboard into a tin labelled
TICKETS
and disappeared. Leaving his luggage where it lay on the platform, Fen followed.
But the station-yard – an ill-defined patch of gravel – was empty of conveyances; and except for the retreating footsteps of the girl, who had vanished from sight round a bend in the station approach, a disheartening quietude prevailed. Fen went back to the platform and sought out the station-master's room, where he found the station-master sitting at a table and sombrely contemplating a small, unopened bottle of beer. He looked up resignedly at the interruption.
‘Is there any chance of my getting a taxi?' Fen asked.
‘Where are you for, sir?'
‘Sanford Angelorum village. The Fish Inn.'
‘Well, you might be lucky,' the station-master admitted. ‘I'll see what I can do.'
He went to a telephone and discoursed into it. Fen watched from the doorway. Behind him, the train on which he had arrived gave a weak, asthmatic whistle, and began to back away. Presently it had disappeared, empty, in the direction whence it came.
The station-master finished his conversation and lumbered back to his chair.
‘That'll be all right, sir,' he said; and his tone was slightly complacent, as of a midwife relating the successful issue of a troublesome confinement. ‘Car'll be here in ten minutes.'
Fen thanked him, gave him a shilling, and left him still staring at the beer. It occurred to Fen that perhaps he had taken the pledge and was brooding nostalgically over forbidden delights.
The chicken had got its head out of a particularly narrow aperture of the packing-case and was unable to get it in again; it was bewilderingly eyeing a newish election poster, with an unprepossessing photograph, which said: ‘A Vote for Strode is a Vote for Prosperity.' The train had passed beyond earshot; a colony of rooks was flying home for the night, dark blurs against a grey sky; flickering indistinctly, a bat pursued its evening meal up and down the line. Fen sat down on a suitcase and waited. He had finished one cigarette, and was on the point of lighting another, when the sound of a car-engine stirred him into activity. He returned, burdened with cases, to the station-yard.
Against all probability, the taxi was new and comfortable; and its driver, too, was unexpectedly attractive – a slim, comely, black-haired young woman wearing blue slacks and a blue sweater.
‘Sorry to keep you waiting,' she said pleasantly. ‘I occasionally meet this train on the off-chance that someone will want a car, but there are evenings when no one's on it at all, so it's scarcely worth while. . . . Here, let me give you a hand with your bags.'
The luggage was stowed away. Fen asked and obtained permission to sit in front. They set off. In the deepening darkness there was little outside the car to repay attention, and Fen looked instead at his companion, admiring what the dashboard light showed of her large green eyes, her full mouth, her fine and lustrous hair.
‘Girls who drive taxis,' he ventured, ‘are surely uncommon?'
She took her eyes momentarily from the road to glance at him; saw a tall, lean man with a ruddy, cheerful, clean-shaven face and brown hair which stood up mutinously in spikes at the crown of his head. In particular, she liked his eyes; they showed charity and understanding as well as a taste for mischief.
‘Yes, I suppose they are,' she agreed. ‘But it isn't at all a bad life if you actually own your car, as I do. It's been a good investment.'
‘You've always done this, then?'
‘No. For a time I worked in Boots – the book department. But it didn't suit me, for some reason. I used to get dizzy spells.'
‘Inevitable, I should think, if you work in a circulating library.'
A fallen tree appeared out of the gloom ahead of them: it lay half across the lane. The girl swore mildly, braked, and circumnavigated it with care.
‘I always forget that damned thing's there,' she said. ‘It was blown down in a gale, and Shooter ought to have taken it away days ago. It's his tree, so it's his responsibility. But he's really intolerably lax.' She accelerated again, asking: ‘Have you been in this part of the world before?'
‘Never,' said Fen. ‘It seems very out-of-the-way,' he added reprovingly. His preferences were not bucolic.
‘You're staying at the Fish Inn?'
‘Yes.'
‘Well, I ought perhaps to warn you – –' The girl checked herself. ‘No, never mind.'
‘What's all this?' Fen demanded uneasily. ‘What were you going to say?'
‘It was nothing. . . . How long are you here for?'
‘It can't have been
nothing
.'
‘Well, anyway, there's nowhere else for you to stay, even if you wanted to.'
‘But
shall
I want to?'
‘Yes. No. That's to say, it's an extremely nice pub, only . . . Oh, damn it, you'll have to see for yourself. How long are you staying?'
Since it was clear that no further enlightenment was to be expected, Fen answered the question. ‘Till after polling day,' he said.
‘Oh! . . . You're not Gervase Fen, are you?'
‘Yes.'
She glanced at him with curiosity. ‘Yes, I might have known. . . .'
After a pause she went on:
‘You're rather late starting your election campaign, you know. There's only a week to go, and I haven't seen a single leaflet about you, or a poster, or anything.'
‘My agent,' said Fen, ‘is dealing with all that.'
The girl considered this reply in silence.
‘Look here,' she said, ‘you're a Professor at Oxford, aren't you?'
‘Of English.'
‘Well, what on earth . . . I mean,
why
are you standing for Parliament? What put the idea into your head?'
Even to himself Fen's actions were sometimes unaccountable, and he could think of no very convincing reply.
‘It is my wish,' he said sanctimoniously, ‘to serve the community.'
The girl eyed him dubiously.
‘Or at least,' he amended, ‘that is one of my motives. Besides, I felt I was getting far too restricted in my interests. Have you ever produced a definitive edition of Langland?'
‘Of course not,' she said crossly.
‘I have. I've just finished producing one. It has queer psychological effects. You begin to wonder if you're mad. And the only remedy for that is a complete change of occupation.'
BOOK: Buried for Pleasure
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