The Affair of the Thirty-Nine Cufflinks
    'Gosh, yes, you couldn't keep me away. I've got two days off. A funeral's one thing they can't refuse it for. You?'
    'Yes, me and Daddy.'
    'And staying overnight?'
    'Yes. I've never been there, have you?'
    'Once, years ago. I'm really looking forward to it. I want to see where all the murders were committed.'
    'Don't! Those are the last places I want to see.'
    'They were the last places the people who were murdered wanted to see, but they were.' Tommy gave a subdued chortle.
    Penny giggled. 'Tommy, you are awful!'
    This had been so frequently said to Tommy that he had come to take it as a compliment. He smiled to himself.
    'Anyway,' she said, 'you will be on your best behaviour, won't you?'
    'What d'you mean?' he said indignantly.
    'Don't do anything Daddy would disapprove of.'
    He was about to say that that left very few things it was possible to do at all, but stopped himself in time.
    'Butter won't melt in my mouth, Pen.'
    'Good. So I'll see you there Wednesday, then.'
    'You bet.'
    'Bye, Tommy.'
    Penny rang off. She looked thoughtful. Surely, No. 47 buses didn't go past Tommy's flat.
    * * *
    'All right, all right,' Poppy muttered, as she hurried to answer the furiously ringing door bell. She opened the door with a cross expression on her face, which was instantly transformed when she saw the visitor.
    'Greggy, darling, what a lovely surprise!'
    Gregory cast a quick glance behind him before hurriedly stepping inside.
    'Sorry about the bell, but I haven't got my key and I could hear someone coming up the stairs.'
    'I didn't expect to see you today. You said you'd phone.'
    'I know, but I had to see you.' He threw his hat onto the couch, crossed to the cocktail cabinet and poured himself a gin and tonic.
    'What about?'
    'Well, just to apologise, really. Fact is, I won't be able to see you for the next few days, after all.'
    'Oh, Greggy, you promised!'
    'I know and I'm frightfully sorry. But tomorrow I've got to go to a funeral. Old great aunt of mine just died, aged ninety- six.'
    'But that'll only take a couple of hours!'
    'No, it's down in Westshire, and I won't be back till Thursday.'
    'Oh Greggy, do you have to go?'
    'I want to.'
    'Want to? But she's only a great aunt!'
    'I know, but it seems I'm in her will.'
    'For a lot?'
    'I don't know. I don't even know how much she was worth. But I am hopeful. Anyway, they can't hold the reading until five o'clock for some reason, by which time the last train back will have left, so I'm going to have to stay overnight. The rest of Thursday I'll be catching up and then Friday evening Alex has invited a few quite important people round for drinks.'
    'But if you're staying in a hotel, couldn't I come with you? Nobody's likely to recognise you down there. I'd love a trip out of town - no matter where. I get so bored sometimes.'
    'I know, my sweet. But I'll be staying at Lord Burford's place.'
    Poppy's eyes grew large. 'Alderley?'
    'That's right. I told you he's a sort of cousin of mine.'
    'But that's where they had all those murders. There were dozens of pictures of it in the papers at the time. Alderley's absolutely divine. Oh, you are so lucky! I'd give anything to stay there. Do you think one day . . . ?'
    'My dear, when we're married I'll wangle an invitation for us both. That's a promise.' One, he thought, he could safely make. 'Anyway,' he went on, 'we've got this evening.'
    'Can we go out - do a West End show? You know, I've got this friend, who can always get tickets for anything.'
    'That would be lovely,' he said enthusiastically. Then he looked doubtful. 'But perhaps it would be better if we stayed in. Or maybe a local cinema, eh? If we slip in before the second feature's finished, there shouldn't be too many people around.'
    Poppy pouted.
    * * *
    Stella Simmons stared at her face in the mirror. She was quite pleased with what she saw. Not delighted. There was much room for improvement. But, on the whole, not bad. She looked, she thought,

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