"I always knew there was something I didn't like about him," said Ryland Vaughan, as he sat at the counter with his second Guinness close to hand. "He kept creeping around Phil, having him to dinner, asking him to live in his house – the gentleman protested too much. And one could never tell what he was thinking. When I was in the witness-box, I looked at him all throughout – I felt I owed it to Phil, you know – and he never turned a hair."
"Really?" breathed young Mr Conley from Insurance and Research. "It must have been a frightful experience. Even reading about it in the papers was enough to make my hair stand on end. Why, he must have been planning it all for years – and poor old Boyes never suspecting a thing, nor anyone else. Miss! I'd like another, please. Have you any matches, Vaughan?"
"Here, just a tic." He presented the matches with the benevolent air of one who has infinite riches to bestow.
After a few puffs on his cigarette, Conley leaned in a little closer and said quietly, "It must have been a tricky sort of experience for her, mustn't it? Testifying against him, when a few months ago it was the reverse."
"What, for Miss Vane? I imagine it must have been."
"Didn't she say anything about it?"
"Certainly not to me. Miss Vane and I are not acquainted."
"That's a pity," said Conley, his smile a shade less animated. "I should have thought you had at least a few things in common."
"We both write, certainly – my new editions of Phil's books should be out in July. I'd be happy to send some copies round to you."
"Oh certainly, certainly." The cigarette was stubbed out and Conley picked up his briefcase. "But I say – would you happen to know the best address for writing to Miss Vane? You see, I write a bit myself, trying my hand at the Hawkshaw sort of thing –" he snapped the briefcase open, revealing a depressingly large sheaf of smudged typescript – "And if someone could persuade her to take a look at it, I'd be very grateful."