The Blind Spot
Youve just come back from Adelaides funeral, havent you? said Sir Lulworth to his nephew; I suppose it was very like most other funerals?
Ill tell you all about it at lunch, said Egbert.
Youll do nothing of the sort. It wouldnt be respectful either to your great-aunts memory or to the lunch. We begin with Spanish olives, then a borsch, then more olives and a bird of some kind, and a rather enticing Rhenish wine, not at all expensive as wines go in this country, but still quite laudable in its way. Now theres absolutely nothing in that menu that harmonises in the least with the subject of your greataunt Adelaide or her funeral. She was a charming woman, and quite as intelligent as she had any need to be, but somehow she always reminded me of an English cooks idea of a Madras curry.
She used to say you were frivolous, said Egbert. Something in his tone suggested that he rather endorsed the verdict.
I believe I once considerably scandalised her by declaring that clear soup was a more important factor in life than a clear conscience. She had very little sense of proportion. By the way, she made you her principal heir, didnt she?
Yes, said Egbert, and executor as well. Its in that connection that I particularly want to speak to you.
Business is not my strong point at any time, said Sir Lulworth, and certainly not when were on the immediate threshold of lunch.
It isnt exactly business, explained Egbert, as he followed his uncle into the dining-room. Its something rather serious. Very serious.
Then we cant possibly speak about it now, said Sir Lulworth; no one could talk seriously, during a borsch. A beautifully constructed borsch, such as you are going to experience presently, ought not only to banish conversation but almost to annihilate thought. Later on, when we arrive at the second stage of olives, I shall be quite ready to discuss that new book on Borrow, or, if you prefer it, the present situation in the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. But I absolutely decline to talk anything approaching business till we have finished with the bird.
For the greater part of the meal Egbert sat in an abstracted silence, the silence of a man whose mind is focussed on one topic. When the coffee stage had been reached he launched himself suddenly athwart his uncles reminiscences of the Court of Luxemburg.
I think I told you that great-aunt Adelaide had made me her executor. There wasnt very much to be done in the way of legal matters, but I had to go through her papers.
That would be a fairly heavy task in itself. I should imagine there were reams of family letters.
Stacks of them, and most of them highly uninteresting. There was one packet, however, which I thought might repay a careful perusal. It was a bundle of correspondence from her brother Peter.
The Canon of tragic memory, said Lulworth.
Exactly, of tragic memory, as you say; a tragedy that has never been fathomed.
Probably the simplest explanation was the correct one, said Sir Lulworth; he slipped on the stone staircase and fractured his skull in falling.
Egbert shook his head. The medical evidence all went to prove that the blow on the head was struck by some one coming up behind him. A wound caused by violent contact with the steps could not possibly
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