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By Barry Maitland

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Sample text

She brought these with her.  well, you know. ’ ‘Is that her? ’ He said it with some feeling. ’ Emerson smiled. ‘Well, we were both married then, to other people. But yes, I did admire her. And she was talented, very artistic. She painted in watercolours—New England landscapes mainly. They were much sought after. She sold them through a local gallery. ’ He showed John a photo of people at a fancy-dress party. ‘That’s Nancy as a bird of paradise. She made the costume herself, and the mask. ’ ‘Oh yes.

I’m really sorry about your friend,’ John said. ’ ‘Yeah. I still can’t get my head around it. ’ He suddenly looked over John’s shoulder and bit his lip. ’ John turned and saw the blonde police inspector outside in the lobby talking to Deb. She wasn’t wearing the dark suit she’d had on TV, but a light shirt and pants, and she looked faintly flushed, as if she’d been running. Her features were rather lean, tending almost to severe, he thought, and he guessed that she didn’t eat enough. Deb said something and the cop turned and came into the sitting room, smiling at Emerson, who gave a cautious smile in return and began to struggle out of his chair.

John turned, crossed the street and pushed open the gate in the cast-iron railings. Emerson didn’t appear to have moved, hunched over something on his knees. As he got closer John saw that it was a pouch of photographs. ‘Hi, Emerson,’ he called out, and the other man looked up, blinking to focus. ’ ‘What? Oh, no, John. ’ ‘It looked so pleasant in here. ’ ‘Not at all. ’ John nodded at the photographs. ’ ‘Yes. She brought these with her.  well, you know. ’ ‘Is that her? ’ He said it with some feeling.

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