When I married my second wife, Emily, I went to live in her house in northern California. It’s a big house with a lot of land around it, just outside a smalltown. The next house is almost exactly the same, and that belongs to Emily’s sister Millicent.
Millicent and Emily. Sisters. But completely different in looks and in character. Millicent is tall andrather thin. She is very strong-minded and likes to control everyone around her including Emily. She wasn’t at all pleased when I came and took Emily away from her influence.
Emily is rather short,and – well, fat. As she says, she weighs eleven or twelve kilos too much. She doesn’t claim to be very clever, and usually she does what other people want. Not always, though.
For three weeks now,Emily had been away. But Millicent had been watching me closely. She was with me now, drinking coffee in our sitting room. The telephone rang, and I answered it. ‘Yes?’ ‘Hello, dear, this is Emily.’‘Emily – er – what is your surname?’ ‘Oh, really, dear. Emily, your wife.’
‘I’m sorry, you must have a wrong number.’ I put the telephone down.
Millicent was watching me. ‘You look as white as asheet. You seem frightened. Shocked. Who telephoned?’
‘It was a wrong number.’
Millicent drank some coffee. ‘Oh, Albert, I thought I saw Emily in town yesterday. But that’s not possible.’
‘Ofcourse it’s not. Emily is in San Francisco.’ ‘Yes, but where in San Francisco?’ ‘She didn’t say. She’s visiting friends.’ ‘Emily doesn’t have any friends in San Francisco! I know all her friends. Whenwill she be back?’
‘She wasn’t sure when it would be.’ ‘I’ve heard, Albert, that your first wife died in a boating accident? She fell out of the boat and died in the water?’ ‘I’m afraid so. Shecouldn’t swim.’ ‘And you were the only witness to the accident.’
‘I believe so. No one else ever came forward.’ ‘Did she leave you any money, Albert?’
‘That’s nothing to do with you, Millicent.’...