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The Coldest Place On Earth. Words, you might not know:

Peter Viney

Words, you might not know:

straw, tuna, bonito, dorado, marlin


Doger, I'm not going to like this place,' said Edna Murgatroyd.'What's wrong, Edna?' asked her husband.There was always something wrong! Mrs Edna Murgatroyd was always complaining. The Murgatroyds had been married for twenty-five years and Edna was never happy about anything or anybody.'It's hot and dirty here,' she said.'Yes, dear,' said Roger Murgatroyd, 'but we're only going to stay here for a week.'An hour earlier, the Murgatroyds had arrived here on the island of Mauritius. Now they were in a taxi, travelling north from the airport towards Trou d'Eau Douce - a village on the east coast of the island.There were three passengers in the taxi - Roger Murgatroyd, Edna Murgatroyd and John Higgins.Roger Murgatroyd was about fifty years old. He was short, he was fat and he wore glasses. Today, he was wearing a dark suit. His wife was a few years younger than Roger but she was heavy too. She was wearing a large, dark red dress. John Higgins was about twenty-five years old. He was wearing a cool white suit and sunglasses.The two men worked for the Midland Bank. Roger Murgatroyd and John Higgins were the Midland Bank's Employees of the Year.Every year, the bank rewarded two of its employees. The two employees who had worked the hardest were given a reward. The bank gave the two employees and their families a holiday. This year, 1977, the reward was a holiday in Mauritius. Edna Murgatroyd had come to Mauritius with her husband. John Higgins was not married - he was travelling alone.The taxi passed through the village of Trou d'Eau Douce. It was a pretty village beside the sea. The village had a small harbour. There were some fishing boats in the harbour.'This is a good place for game-fishing,' said Higgins.After a few more miles, the taxi arrived at the Hotel St Geran. It was a beautiful white building near the sea.Higgins and the Murgatroyds got out of the taxi and Higgins paid the driver. Two hotel porters carried the three travellers' bags to the reception desk. The manager of the hotel welcomed the new guests in the reception area.'I hope that you enjoy your holiday,' he said. 'Mauritius is a beautiful island.'Suddenly, a man who was wearing shorts and a brightly- coloured shirt walked towards the desk. He was holding a can of beer. He had come from the hotel bar, which was near the reception area. He looked at John Higgins and the Murgatroyds.'Are you the new guests?' he asked in a loud voice. He spoke with an Australian accent.'Mmmm. Yes,' said Roger Murgatroyd. Roger was a shy man - he could never think of anything to say to strangers.'I'm from Sydney, Australia,' said the man. 'My name's Harry Foster, what's your name?''I'm Murgatroyd - Roger Murgatroyd. This is my wife - Edna, and this is my colleague, John Higgins.'Edna Murgatroyd looked angrily at the Australian's shirt and his can of beer. She did not speak.'Where are you from?' asked Harry Foster. He was asking them which country they came from but Roger did not understand.'The Midland,' he said. 'Higgins is from the Midland's head office and I'm from a branch of the bank in East London.'Harry Foster laughed. 'So - Murgatroyd of the Midland and Higgins from Head Office,' he said. 'I like it. Good on yer, Murgatroyd!'The hotel manager looked at Edna Murgatroyd's angry face. He spoke quickly.'Please let our new guests relax after their long journey, Mr Foster,' he said. He held Harry Foster's arm and led him back towards the bar.Edna stared at the Australian. 'That man is drunk!' she said loudly.'He's on holiday,' said her husband.'I don't like people who get drunk!' said Edna.When they got to their room, Edna Murgatroyd decided to sleep for an hour after the long journey. Roger Murgatroyd was pleased. He sat quietly and looked out of the window.The next day, Roger Murgatroyd began to enjoy his holiday. When he woke up, he looked out of the bedroom window. The view was beautiful.When he looked out of his bedroom window at home in London, he saw cold, grey, wet streets. But here, in Mauritius, he could see the golden beach, the blue sea and the green palm trees. He looked at the hot sun and at the bright sea and at the white waves. He felt happy and relaxed.Murgatroyd ate some fruit for breakfast. Then he went down to the beach to swim and to lie in the sun. At ten o'clock, Edna came down to the beach too. For the next two hours, she sat under a sun umbrella and told her husband what to do. She told him to bring cold drinks, then she said that she did not like them. She told him to put sun-tan oil on her back, although she did not want to lie in the hot sun.At lunch time, the Murgatroyds went back to their room. Roger put on a pair of brightly-coloured shorts.'Let's go to the restaurant,' he said.'You can't wear those shorts,' his wife said. 'You must wear a pair of trousers.''Yes, dear,' said Murgatroyd. He took off the shorts and put on a pair of dark trousers.The days passed quickly. Every day, the Murgatroyds did the same things. They sat on the beach. Edna sat under a sun umbrella and read romantic novels. Roger did what his wife told him to do.John Higgins had met some young people and he went out with them each day. The Murgatroyds did not see him often. But on the Friday afternoon, Roger did see Higgins. Higgins spoke quietly to Roger Murgatroyd while Edna was asleep.'Tomorrow is the last day of our holiday,' said Higgins. 'Do you want to come game-fishing?''What do you mean - fishing for sharks?' asked Murgatroyd.'Not sharks - tuna, bonito, dorado and other big fish,' Higgins replied. 'I've been to the harbour at Trou d'Eau Douce. Three South African businessmen hired a boat. They wanted to go fishing tomorrow. But now they have to go back to Johannesburg quickly, so they don't have time for fishing. The businessmen have paid half the money for the boat. So we can hire the boat for only fifty dollars. We can go game fishing tomorrow.''Edna won't let me go,' said Murgatroyd sadly.'Then don't tell her,' said Higgins. 'Just go!'For a moment, Roger Murgatroyd was shocked. He always asked his wife before he did anything. But tomorrow was the last day of his holiday. He wanted to enjoy himself. He would never have a holiday like this one again. He wanted to go game-fishing with Higgins!Suddenly, he felt happy. 'Edna will be angry,' he said to himself. 'Well, I don't care!''Yes! All right,' he said to Higgins. 'I'll come with you.''Good!' said Higgins. 'Meet me by the hotel reception desk at four-thirty tomorrow morning.'Murgatroyd was awake all night. He lay quietly beside his wife, but he did not sleep. At four o'clock, he got dressed quickly. He put on his brightly-coloured shorts and a thin shirt. It was dark outside. Murgatroyd left the bedroom very quietly and he met Higgins by the hotel reception desk. Soon they were in a taxi, travelling south towards Trou d'Eau Douce.At the little harbour in Trou d'Eau Douce, they met their guide. He was a tall South African called Andre Kilian. Murgatroyd and Higgins each gave him twenty-five dollars. The guide took them to a boat called the Avant. They met the captain and a young man who worked on the boat.'This is Monsieur Patient,' said Kilian. 'And this is his grandson, Jean-Paul.'Monsieur Patient was a strong old man in his seventies.He was wearing an old straw hat. Jean-Paul was a tall man in his twenties.Jean-Paul carried boxes of food and cans of beer onto the boat while his grandfather talked to Kilian. Finally, Jean-Paul put a large tool-box and a metal bucket full of squid onto the boat's wooden deck.'We are ready to leave,' said Kilian.At about half-past five, the boat left the harbour. The sun was rising.Andre Kilian showed Murgatroyd and Higgins the two long fishing rods which were used to catch big fish. Each rod had a large reel of very strong fishing line.'The reels have eight hundred metres of line,' Kilian said. 'Big fish are very strong. A big fish will pull out several hundred metres of line from the reel. It's difficult to reel in a big fish. It's difficult to pull the fish to the boat.'There was a special seat at the back of the Avant. A fishing rod could be fixed to the deck in front of the seat.'When you catch a big fish, you must fix the rod here,' said the guide. He pointed at the deck. 'You must sit in this seat while you reel in the fish.'At about half-past six, Monsieur Patient slowed down the boat's engine.'We will fish here,' Kilian said.Jean-Paul went to the fishing rods. At the end of each line, there was a very sharp hook. The young man put a small squid onto each hook, and he threw the ends of both lines into the sea. If a big fish ate one of the squid, the hook would cut into the fish's mouth. Then one of the fishermen could pull the fish to the boat. He could reel in the fish.After a few minutes, one of the fishing lines became tight. A fish had eaten the squid and the hook.'We've caught a fish!' shouted Higgins. 'I'll reel it in!' Higgins took the rod and he sat in the seat. He started to reel in the fishing line. He turned the reel slowly and carefully. Soon, the fish was beside the boat. Jean-Paul leant over the side of the Avant. He lifted the fish into the boat and pulled the hook out of its mouth.'It's a bonito,' said Kilian. 'It weighs about two kilos.'Jean-Paul put another squid on the hook and he threw it into the sea. Soon, one of the fishing lines was tight again. This time, Murgatroyd took the rod and sat in the seat. He started to turn the reel.'It's heavy!' he said. 'It must be a big fish.'He turned the reel slowly. He reeled in the fish. Kilian leant over the side of the boat and looked into the water.'Another bonito,' said Kilian. 'A bigger one - about four or five kilos.'At eight o'clock in the morning, the sun was getting hot. Higgins and Murgatroyd caught some more bonitos.Before nine o'clock, Higgins caught a much larger fish. It was the colour of gold.'It's a dorado,' said Kilian. 'Dorados are good to eat. We'll ask the chef at the Hotel St Geran to cook this fish tonight.'Soon after nine o'clock, Monsieur Patient spoke to his grandson. He spoke in Creole French.'Ya quelque chose - nous suit,' he said.'What did he say?' asked Higgins.'He said that there's something following us,' answered Kilian.Higgins looked at the sea behind the boat. He could not see anything.'How does he know?''Monsieur Patient has been fishing here, in this sea, for sixty years.'Jean-Paul reeled in the lines. He took some wire-cutters from the tool-box and he cut the hook from the end of each line. Then he fixed much larger hooks to the lines. He did not put squid on these. On each hook, he put one of the bonitos which they had caught.Half an hour later, one of the lines became tight. Murgatroyd took the rod and sat in the seat. Suddenly, his line was pulled out very quickly. A hundred metres of line was pulled out in less than a minute. The reel made a loud noise as it went round and round.'Hold onto the handle of the reel!' said Kilian. 'Slow down the reel, or all the line will be pulled off it. You've caught something big.'Murgatroyd held the fishing rod tightly. He slowed down the reel. The end of the rod bent over and pointed down towards the sea. After three minutes, the reel stopped turning. Six hundred metres of fishing line had been pulled from the reel.'We must put the harness on you,' said Kilian. 'This is a very big fish!'The harness was fixed to the fishing seat. Quickly, Kilian and Jean-Paul harnessed Murgatroyd to the seat. There were two leather straps over his shoulders and two round his legs. Another strap was round his waist.'Now the fish won't be able to pull you into the sea!' said Kilian.Old Monsieur Patient slowly turned the boat. He looked at the sea behind the boat. 'Marlin!' he said.'You're lucky, Mr Murgatroyd,' said Kilian, 'you've caught a marlin.''Is that good?' asked Murgatroyd.'Marlin are the biggest and best game-fish,' Kilian answered. 'Rich men come here every year. Many of them spend thousands of dollars and they never catch a marlin.'Murgatroyd could not see the marlin, but he knew that it was very strong. Sometimes the fish turned and swam towards the boat. When that happened, Murgatroyd reeled in some of the line. Then the marlin turned away from the boat and pulled the line from the reel again.'That fish will fight you for hours,' said Kilian.Murgatroyd felt the heat of the sun. It was ten o'clock. His arms were aching. Soon the sun would be hotter. Could he hold the fishing rod for hours?Between ten and eleven o'clock, Murgatroyd reeled in the line three times. Each time, he slowly and painfully reeled in a hundred metres of line. Each time, the big fish pulled a hundred metres out again.At eleven o'clock, the marlin tail-walked for the first time. It was five hundred metres from the boat. It came out of the sea and it stood up on its tail.'It's walking on the water!' said Murgatroyd.Monsieur Patient looked at the huge fish. 'C'est l'Empereur,' he called to his grandson.'What did he say?' asked Higgins.'He said that it's the Emperor,' answered Kilian. 'All the fishermen on the island know about this fish. They say that the Emperor is the biggest blue marlin that they have ever seen.'At midday, Murgatroyd was feeling tired and ill. His hands were very painful. He had been fighting the fish for two hours. Murgatroyd pulled. The fish pulled. Murgatroyd turned the reel forwards. The marlin made the reel turn backwards. Suddenly, the fish stopped pulling. A few minutes later, its head came out of the water. The fish was only three hundred metres from the boat. After a few seconds, it went back under the water.'Reel in! Quickly! Reel in!' shouted Kilian.Murgatroyd reeled in the line as fast as he could. His hands began to bleed.'You're tired,' said Kilian. 'Shall I hold the rod for an hour? Then you can take it again.''How much longer will the marlin fight?' asked Murgatroyd.Kilian looked at Monsieur Patient. The old man said, 'Deux heures encore.''Two more hours,' said Murgatroyd, 'I'm all right. I can do this for two more hours. It's my fish.'Then the marlin started pulling on the line again, but it did not pull as strongly as before. For another ninety minutes the fish and the man fought each other. Murgatroyd's mouth and lips were dry. There was blood on the fishing rod. Pull. Reel. Pull. Reel. -Murgatroyd forgot that his hands were bleeding.At last, the marlin stopped pulling. Murgatroyd reeled in carefully. Suddenly they all saw the fish.'The Emperor is coming in!' Kilian shouted.The blue marlin came out of the water thirty metres from the boat. Murgatroyd continued to reel in the huge fish. When it was three metres away, he could see the hook in its mouth.Jean-Paul moved to the side of the boat. He had a large, pointed metal bar his hand. He lifted the bar above his head. He was going to kill the fish.'No!' shouted Murgatroyd.Jean-Paul stopped and looked at Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd got out of the harness. Slowly and painfully, he went over to the tool-box. He took the wire-cutters from the tool-box and he walked to the side of the boat.The huge blue body of the marlin lay in the water next to the boat. The fish was tired. It had no strength for fighting.Murgatroyd leant over the side of the boat. He put the wire-cutters round the fishing line and he cut through it.'What are you doing?' shouted Higgins. 'The Emperor will get away!''Yes,' said Murgatroyd.The great Marlin went down slowly beneath the Advant. The fish was free.Murgatroyd tried to stand up but he was too weak and dizzy. He fell heavily onto the deck. He had fainted!The Avant returned to the harbour at Trou d'Eau Douce in the evening. Murgatroyd had drunk some cold beer and he was feeling better. But his hands were still very painful. And the skin of his arms and his legs and his face was sunburnt.There was a crowd of villagers standing at the harbour when Monsieur Patient turned off the Avant's engine. Jean- Paul and his grandfather got off the boat first. They went to talk to the villagers. Then everyone walked back to the Avant.Kilian and Higgins helped Murgatroyd to get off the boat. As Murgatroyd walked away from the Avant, Monsieur Patient took off his straw hat and said, 'Salut, Maitre.'The villagers repeated his words. 'Salut, Maitre, salut,' they said quietly.'What are they saying?' asked Higgins.'They're talking to Mr Murgatroyd,' said Kilian. 'They're calling him a master, a great fisherman.''Because I caught the Emperor?' asked Murgatroyd.'No! Because you gave him his life,' said Kilian.Kilian and Higgins took Murgatroyd to the small hospital in the village. A young Indian doctor put some bandages on Murgatroyd's hands.At nine o'clock, Monsieur Patient came to the hospital. He and Murgatroyd talked for half an hour.It was ten o'clock when Murgatroyd and Higgins walked through the doors of the Hotel St Geran. Murgatroyd was very tired. His skin was burnt by the sun. Both his hands were covered with white bandages.Harry Foster, the Australian, held up a glass of beer. 'Well done!' he said. He was drunk again.Then Edna Murgatroyd came downstairs. She had curlers in her hair. She was very angry.'Murgatroyd!' Edna shouted. She always called her hus-band 'Murgatroyd' when she was angry. 'Where have you been? You look terrible!'Murgatroyd looked at his wife. The curlers in her hair were like snakes. Suddenly, he shouted at her.'And you look terrible too, Edna! Be quiet or go to bed!'Edna Murgatroyd's mouth opened but she said nothing. She had been married to Roger Murgatroyd for twenty-five years and he had never shouted at her.'Edna, for twenty-five years you have made me unhappy,' Murgatroyd said to his wife. 'You have often said that you wanted to go to live with your sister. Well, now you can go to live with her. You are free. I shall not return to England with you tomorrow.'A crowd of people had come from the hotel bar. They stood with Harry Foster and they looked at Roger Murgatroyd.'Have you forgotten your job at the bank?' asked Higgins. 'You can't leave the bank, Murgatroyd. How will you earn money? How will you live?''Edna can have our house and everything in it,' said Murgatroyd. 'I have a little money. I'm going to buy Monsieur Patient's boat and a small house on the beach here. I will learn about the sea and about fishing. Monsieur Patient will teach me. We will go game-fishing with the tourists who come here, to Mauritius. They will pay us well.''But - the bank!' said Higgins.'And me. Have you forgotten about me?' Edna asked angrily.Roger Murgatroyd thought for a moment, then he said, 'To hell with the bank! And to hell with you, Edna!'And Murgatroyd started to walk towards the hotel bar. The crowd of people with Harry Foster followed him. They laughed and shouted.Harry Foster smiled and held up his glass of beer. 'Good on yer, Murgatroyd!' he said. - THE END -


Used In Evidence

Frederick Forsyth

Words, you might not know:

tarmac, shed, mortuary, strangled.

In the 1970s, many new houses and apartments were built in Dublin. In some parts of the city, the old houses were very bad. Dublin City Council knocked down these bad homes. The council built new houses and apartments for the people who lived in the old houses.The worst houses were in Mayo Road. These houses were more than a hundred years old. Rain came in through the roofs. The walls were damp. People did not want to live in these old buildings any more.In 1978, Dublin City Council built some new apartments near Mayo Road. The City Council bought the old houses in the road from their owners. The people moved out of their old houses and into the new apartments. Council workmen started to knock down the old buildings. The council was going to build a new shopping centre with a large car park in Mayo Road.The council knocked down all the houses in Mayo Road - except one. One old man did not want to move out of his home. The council sent him many letters, but he refused to leave. At last, the council asked the police to help them. They asked the police to get the old man out of his house.It was nine o'clock on a wet November morning. The sky was grey and the rain was falling heavily. The rain fell on the building site where the houses of Mayo Road had stood. The rain fell on the tarmac of the road and it fell on the only house which remained - Number 38.A police car came along Mayo Road. There were two men in the car - the young police driver and Chief Superintendent Hanley. Bill Hanley was in charge of all the policemen in this part of Dublin.The car stopped outside 38 Mayo Road and the chief superintendent looked around him. A year ago, there had been houses on both sides of the street. But now only one house remained. Number 38 stood alone in the middle of the large muddy building site. The old man was still inside the house.A big crowd of people was standing a few metres from the house. When they saw the police car, the people moved forward. There were council officials, council social workers, and council workmen in the crowd. The officials were from the Housing Department. They had asked the police to get the old man out of Number 38. The social workers were going to help the old man to move into his new home. Then the workmen were going to knock down the house.Chief Superintendent Hanley got out of the police car and spoke to the officials from the City Council.'Have you talked to the old man in the house?' the Chief Superintendent asked.'Mr Larkin won't speak to us,' one of the officials replied. 'We've tried to speak to him. We've told him that he must leave before nine o'clock this morning.'Hanley looked at the crowd. He saw two newspaper reporters. One of them had a camera.Hanley thought about the front page of tomorrow's newspaper. 'There will be a picture of the old man coming out of the house with two policemen,' he thought. 'And there will be a headline above the picture - 'POLICE TAKE OLD MAN FROM HIS HOME.'Bill Hanley spoke to one of the officials.'I don't like this part of my job,' he said, 'but I have to do it.''The City Council has sent many letters to Mr Larkin,' the official said. 'We have told him that he must move out. We have told him that the council has bought his house and built a new apartment for him. But he hasn't replied to any of the letters.'Chief Superintendent Hanley looked at his watch. The time was two minutes past nine. 'Speak to the old man again,' he said to the council officials.The Chief Housing Officer from the council knocked on the door of 38 Mayo Road.'Mr Larkin!' he shouted. There was no answer.'Mr Larkin!' the Chief Housing Officer shouted again, 'we have an order from the court. If you don't come out, we'll knock down the door.'But there was still no reply.Hanley spoke to two workmen who were holding large hammers.'Knock down the door,' he said.The workmen went to the front door. They broke the door with their hammers. Mr Larkin had put a table and some chairs against the inside of the door but the workmen quickly pushed the furniture away. They walked into the house.Hanley spoke to the social workers. 'Go in now, please,' he said.The social workers followed the workmen into the house. A few minutes later, they were leading Mr Larkin out through the broken front door.Mr Larkin was a pale, thin old man. He was ill and hungry and his hands were shaking. Bill Hanley felt sorry for him. A social worker put a woollen blanket round the old man's shoulders. The social workers were going to take Mr Larkin to his new council apartment. But Hanley had an idea.'Put Mr Larkin in the police car,' he said. 'We'll give him a good meal before he goes to his new home. There's a cafe near here.''OK, Chief Superintendent,' said one of the social workers. 'We'll wait in our car while Mr Larkin is eating. It's a cold morning.'As the police took Mr Larkin to the cafe, the workmen were carrying the old man's furniture out of the house. Soon, all the furniture was gone.The workmen opened the back door of the house. Behind Number 38 Mayo Road, there was a small garden. The work-men found two chickens in a shed in the garden.'The old man can't have chickens in his new apartment,' said one of the men. 'I'll take these home with me. I have a little garden. I keep chickens too.'At half-past ten, the council workmen began to knock down the walls of the old house.In the cafe, Bill Hanley bought Mr Larkin a meal of eggs and toast and tea. And he bought a cup of tea for himself and for his driver. The old man ate the food. He did not speak. Hanley and the police driver were drinking their tea when another police car stopped outside the cafe.A policeman came into the cafe and spoke to the chief superintendent.'Will you come back to Mayo Road, sir?' he said. 'The workmen have found something.'The old man stopped eating and looked at Hanley.The chief superintendent stood up. 'You stay here with Mr Larkin,' he said to his driver.He left the cafe and returned with the other policeman to Mayo Road.The crowd was still standing outside Number 38. A man in the crowd called out, 'Is there some treasure in there? Is that why the old man wouldn't leave? Have you found some money?'Hanley went into the house. The workmen had started to knock down the fireplace and the chimney. Bricks from the wall were lying on the floor. The workmen had made a large hole in a wall by the fireplace and they had found something behind the wall. They had seen something through the hole. They had seen something between the wall and the chimney.'Look in there, sir!' one of the workmen said, as Hanley came into the room.Hanley looked through the hole. Between the wall and the chimney, he saw a human body. It was old and black, but he saw that it was the body of a woman.Hanley went outside to the police car. He made a call on the car's radio. He called Police Headquarters and he spoke to an inspector.'I've found the body of a woman in Mayo Road,' Hanley said. 'She was behind a wall. She has been there for some years. I think that the woman was murdered. Please send someone to take the body to the mortuary. There will be a murder investigation.''Do you have a suspect?' asked the other man.'Yes,' Hanley answered. 'Mr Larkin, the owner of 38 Mayo Road. I'm taking him to the police station now.'The police car took Hanley back to the cafe. He went inside and he spoke quietly to Mr Larkin.'We've found her,' he said. 'You must come with me to the police station.'The old man followed Hanley to the police car. He did not speak.When they were in the car, Hanley asked Mr Larkin a question.'Who is the dead woman in your house?' he asked.The old man refused to say anything.'Is it Mrs Larkin?' Hanley asked. 'We will find out soon. Aren't you worried? You'll feel better if you tell us about it.'But the old man would not speak.When they arrived at the police station, Hanley put Larkin into an interview room. He gave the old man some tea and some cigarettes. Mr Larkin drank the tea and took the cigarettes but still he did not speak.'I'll talk to you later, Mr Larkin,' said Hanley.Hanley went to his office and he phoned the police pathologist. The pathologist looked at dead bodies and found out information about them. Now he would help Hanley by looking at this body - he would do a post-mortem examination.'I'm going to send the body of a woman to the mortuary,' Hanley said. 'I want to know how the woman died and I want to know when she died. I need the information as soon as possible, please. This is a murder investigation.'Next, Bill Hanley spoke to a police sergeant.'Go to the council offices,' Hanley told the sergeant. 'Find out how many years Mr Larkin lived in Mayo Road. Also, try to find out who lived in the house before Mr Larkin.'Then Hanley sent another sergeant to Mayo Road.'Find out if the old man left any papers or documents in his house,' Hanley told the sergeant. 'Also, find out the names of his neighbours - the other people who lived in Mayo Road before the houses were knocked down. Talk to them. Ask them if Larkin was married.'Early in the afternoon, the pathologist phoned Hanley.'The body from Mayo Road is a mummy,' the pathologist said.'What do you mean - a mummy?' asked Hanley.'The dead body was between a wall and the chimney,' the pathologist replied. 'For years, the heat and smoke from the fireplace has dried the body. The body is like an Egyptian mummy.''That's interesting,' said Hanley. 'But can you tell me how the woman died? And can you tell me when she died?''No. I can't tell you that today,' answered the pathologist. 'I have to do a post-mortem examination on the body. I think that the woman was strangled. I think that something was tied tightly round her neck. I think that the woman died many years ago, but I am not sure about that. I will have more information for you after the post-mortem.''When will you be able to give me the information?' Hanley asked. 'I need some help with this investigation.''The body is hard and dry,' said the pathologist. 'I'll have to make the body soft. I'll have to soak it. I'll leave the body in some liquid until the morning. I'll do the post-mortem tomorrow, when the body is soft.'Hanley thanked the pathologist and he put down the phone. A few minutes later, one of the police sergeants brought him some more news.'Sir, we've found some documents at 38 Mayo Road,' he said. 'We've found some papers. There is some information about the house in them. And we've found a British Army pay book and a photograph. Here they are.' He put a large envelope on Hanley's desk.These things gave Hanley a lot of information and he made notes as he looked at them.First, he looked at the army pay book. Every soldier in the British Army had a pay book. It showed how much money the soldier had been paid while he was in the army. And it showed the soldier's date of birth and his army number. Every soldier in the British Army had a number. The pay book which Hanley was holding had belonged to Herbert James Larkin. Larkin was an Irishman. He had been born in Dublin, in 1911. But he had been in the British Army from 1940 to 1946.Hanley phoned the British Embassy in Dublin. He spoke to the military attache at the embassy. Hanley told the attache Larkin's army number and he asked the attache to get some more information about Larkin.'I'll check the Army's files,' said the military attache. 'I'll phone Army Headquarters in London. I'll call you tomorrow, when I have some news.'Next, Hanley looked at the papers. They were the deeds of 38 Mayo Road. These papers told Hanley that Larkin had bought the house in 1954. Now, Hanley wanted to know where Larkin had lived between 1946 and 1954.The chief superintendent phoned an official at the City Council.'I want to find out about Herbert James Larkin who lived at 38 Mayo Road,' said Hanley. 'Please give me any information that you have.'The official asked Hanley to wait while he got some files. After a minute he spoke again.'From 1946 to 1954, Mr Larkin lived in North London,' said the council official. 'He returned to Ireland in 1954. He was a security guard in Dublin from 1954 to 1976. Mr Larkin retired in 1976.'Hanley thanked the official and he put down the phone. Then he looked at the photograph. It was many years old. It showed a soldier and a young woman. The man was Larkin. He was dressed in army uniform. Who was the woman? Was it Larkin's wife?Later that day, the sergeant who had been to speak to Mr Larkin's neighbours came to see Hanley.'I've spoken to some of the people who used to live in Mayo Road,' the sergeant said. 'I spoke to a woman called Mrs Moran. She lived next to the Larkins and she remembers the time when they moved into Number 38.''So, Larkin was married,' said Hanley.'Yes, sir,' said the sergeant. 'And Mrs Moran remembers the man who lived at Number 38 before the Larkins. That man's wife was dead when Mrs Moran moved to Mayo Road. The man himself died in 1954. Five weeks after the man died, the Larkins moved into the house. Mrs Moran said that Mr Larkin was about forty-five years old at that time. But his wife was nearly twenty years younger than him. Mrs Moran said that Mrs Larkin was English - she came from London.''And what happened to Mrs Larkin?' Hanley asked.'Mrs Moran says that Mrs Larkin disappeared late in 1963.''Disappeared? Is Mrs Moran certain about the date?''Yes,' replied the sergeant. 'She said that Mrs Larkin dis-appeared in the autumn of 1963. She had disappeared before President John F. Kennedy was killed in November 1963.''Was Mrs Moran worried when Mrs Larkin disappeared?''I don't think that she was worried,' the sergeant said.'Mrs Larkin had an argument with her husband and she disappeared. The neighbours thought that she had gone back to London.''Sergeant, I think that Larkin killed his wife,' said Hanley. 'I think that he hid her body. That's why Larkin didn't want to move out of 38 Mayo Road. He knew that someone would find the body when the house was knocked down. That's why he didn't want the council workmen to knock down the house.''I think that you're right, sir,' said the sergeant.Hanley went to the interview room and sat down opposite Mr Larkin. The old man looked very worried.'Mr Larkin, we know that your wife disappeared in 1963 - fifteen years ago,' said Hanley. 'Tell me what happened. You knew that someone would find your wife's body one day. Now we have found it. You must speak to me. This is a murder investigation, Mr Larkin. Now, tell me about your wife. You'll feel much better!'Larkin said nothing.'Was the woman behind the wall in the house your wife, Mr Larkin?' asked Hanley.Larkin looked at the chief superintendent for a moment. Then he smiled. Suddenly his eyes were bright and calm. But still he said nothing.'Herbert James Larkin,' said Hanley. 'I charge you with the murder of your wife. You do not have to say anything. But anything that you do say will be written down. It will be used in evidence in a court of law.'The next morning, Hanley waited for a phone call from the pathologist. But the first call that he received was from an official at the City Council.'Chief Superintendent Hanley, your men are stopping our work at Mayo Road,' said the council official. 'We want to cover the ground with concrete and tarmac. The building site is going to be a shopping centre and a car park. There is a lot of work to do. Can we start work today?''Yes, OK,' said Hanley. 'We've looked at the house. You can knock down all the walls now. You can build your shopping centre. You can make your car park.'Twenty minutes later, Hanley received the phone call from the pathologist.'I'm going to start the post-mortem examination now,' said the pathologist. 'I'll call you again in a few hours.'While Hanley was waiting, the military attache at the British Embassy phoned. He gave Hanley some information about Larkin's life in the British Army.'Herbert James Larkin joined the army in 1940,' said the attache, Major Dawkins. 'Mr Larkin fought in the Second World War. He fought in Egypt in 1941. The German Army captured Larkin at the end of 1941 and he was taken to a prison camp in Poland. He was at that camp until 1945.''Thank you, Major Dawkins,' said Hanley. 'Do you have any information about Larkin's marriage ?''Yes, I do,' said Major Dawkins. 'Mr Larkin was still in the army when he got married. He got married in London, in November 1945. His wife's name was Violet Mary Smith. She was seventeen years old and she worked in a hotel in London.'Hanley thanked Major Dawkins again and said goodbye to him. Then he waited for the pathologist to phone again.'So, Violet Smith married a man who was more than twice her age,' Bill Hanley said to himself. 'When Violet disappeared in 1963, she was thirty-five years old and Herbert Larkin was fifty-two.'The phone rang. 'Hanley, I've found out how the woman died,' said the pathologist. 'She was murdered. Someone hit on her the head and then strangled her.'Hanley wrote down the information. 'Thank you,' he said. 'Can you tell me when she died now?''The body had been in the house for more than thirty years,' said the pathologist. 'The woman died between 1940 and 1945.''But the Larkins did not move to 38 Mayo Road until 1954,' said Hanley.'I'm telling you what I have found out, Hanley,' replied the pathologist.'And how old was the woman when she died?' asked Hanley.'She was more than fifty years old,' said the pathologist.Chief Superintendent Hanley put down the phone. Then he spoke to the sergeant who had talked to Mrs Moran.'Sergeant, who was the man who lived at 38 Mayo Road before the Larkins?' Hanley asked.'I couldn't find out his name, sir,' answered the sergeant. 'But I know that the man lived alone. His wife was dead.''Yes,' said Hanley. 'It was his wife's body in the house! Let Mr Larkin go, sergeant. Let him go to his new apartment. Tell the social workers at the City Council that the old man is free. Tell them that Mr Larkin isn't a murderer. The City Council must take care of him now!'That afternoon, Mr Larkin moved into his new apartment. But a few days later, he wanted to visit Mayo Road.The old man walked to Mayo Road. His house was no longer there. The council workmen had knocked down all the walls and they had covered the ground with concrete. When Mr Larkin arrived, the foreman was walking round the building site. He was looking at the new concrete. He was finding out if the concrete had become hard.'What's this?' he called to one of his men. He pointed to a piece of concrete which was a different colour. 'This piece of concrete is old.'Mr Larkin watched the two men carefully.'There was a chicken shed in the back garden of Number 38,' said the workman. 'This concrete was the floor of the chicken shed. The old concrete is very hard and strong, so we put new concrete around it.''OK,' said the foreman. He called to the driver of a bull-dozer. 'Cover all this concrete with tarmac!' he shouted.The bulldozer pushed soft, hot tarmac over the concrete. Mr Larkin watched the black tarmac covering the floor of his chicken shed. Then the old man smiled and he started to walk back to his new home. - THE END -


Rich Man, Poor Man

T.C. Jupp


Words, you might not know:

cousin, money order, indentity card, receipt, proudly.


CHAPTER ONEA Letter for Adam One day a postman came to my village. The postman brought me a letter from my son, Saul.'Is your name Adam?' the postman asked. 'Yes,' I said.'I've got a letter for you.' The postman read the envelope: 'Adam of the village of Minta.''A letter for me. Who is it from?' I asked. The postman looked at the envelope again. 'From Saul' he said. He gave me the letter and walked away.'Martha, Martha,' I called to my wife. 'Come here. We have a letter from our son, Saul.'Martha came out and looked at the letter. She was excited but she was also worried.'A letter from Saul,' slie said. 'Is he alive and well? I'm going to find the school teacher. He can read the letter.There was no school fifty years ago. So I cannot read or write. I live in a small village. The only work is farming. My only son, Saul, left the village two years ago and my three daughters are married. Saul is making a lot of money in a foreign country.Martha and the school teacher came back. A lot of other people came. Everyone wanted to hear my letter. The school teacher opened the envelope and read the letter.Dear Father,I am living in London. I have a job in a factory. The work is very hard. But the pay is good.I am well and I live with people from my country.I am sending you $100 in this letter. This is for you and my mother.Love to you and mother.Saul 'One hundred dollars!' I said to the school teacher. 'You're wrong. It's a mistake.''No', the school teacher said. 'I'm not wrong. It's not a mistake. Here is the money.' And he gave me a piece of paper.'What is this?' I asked.'A money order,' the school teacher said. 'Go to Darpur. Take this money order to the Post Office in Darpur. The money order is worth one hundred dollars. The Post Office official will give you the money.''One hundred dollars!' I said again.Everyone laughed and said, 'Adam, you are a rich man. You can buy many things for your farm and for your house.''And I can buy some good food and drink in Darpur. I am going to give a party for you all,' I told my friends.Martha said, 'Saul is a good son.'That evening, the village people talked about the money order and my money. Martha and I also talked about the money. We needed many things for the farm. CHAPTER TWOAdam Goes to Darpur The next morning I got up very early. It was dark and everyone was asleep. But I was going to Darpur.I washed and dressed carefully. I put on my best clothes and I carried my best stick. I put the money order carefully in my pocket and I said goodbye to Martha.I walked ten miles to the main road. I sat down at the main road and ate my breakfast.I waited for the bus. I waited for two hours. Then the bus came and I got on.It is a long way to Darpur. The bus takes three hours. I arrived in Darpur and walked to the Post Office immediately.I do not often go to Darpur. I only know the market, and one shop. This is the shop of Rick. I buy things for my farm from Rick.There were a lot of people in the Post Office. I asked about money orders. A man showed me the queue. There was a long line of people and I waited at the back.Finally it was my turn; I was at the front of the queue. But the official did not serve me.'Excuse me,' I said. 'It's my turn. I'm next.''You are next? Old man, I'm very busy,' the official said. 'Look at my papers. Look at all these people. I am very busy. And you must wait.'So I waited. Finally the official looked at me.'What do you want?' he asked.I gave him my money order. 'This is my money order for one hundred dollars,' I replied.The official held out his hand. 'Identity Card,' he said.'Excuse me. I don't understand,' I replied.'Your Identity Card,' the official said again. 'Give me your Identity Card.''What is an Identity Card?' I asked.'I can't give you any money for this money order. First I must see your Identity Card. Your Identity Card gives your name and your address. Your Identity Card describes you. There is a photograph of you in your Identity Card. I don't know you. Who are you?' The official was a little angry.But I was also angry. 'Who am I?' I said. 'Everyone knows me. I am Adam of the village of Minta. I haven't got an Identity Card and I don't need an Identity Card.''Old man, I'm very busy and you're very stupid,' the official said. 'Who are you? Where is Minta?''Give me my money. Give me my one hundred dollars,' I said.The official looked angry and said, 'Show me your Identity Card. I don't know you.'The official gave back my money order and he turned away.'Where can I buy an Identity Card?' I asked the official. He did not speak to me. He did not answer.'Go to the Ministry of the Interior,' a man said. He was standing in the queue. And he told me the way. CHAPTER THREEAn Identity Card I walked to the Ministry of the Interior. I waited in another queue. I spoke to another official. I asked for an Identity Card.'Fill in this application form,' the official said. 'And bring the form and three photographs of yourself and two dollars. Come back tomorrow.''Tomorrow?' I said. 'Can I have an Identity Card today, please? I live in Minta. I live five hours' journey from Darpur. I'm an old man.''Yes, come back tomorrow.' And the official turned away.I walked away from the Ministry of the Interior. I walked to the market. At the market I looked at everyone. I was looking for a man from my village. But I could not find a villager. So then I walked to the shop of Rick. I spoke to Rick.'I want an Identity Card,' I told him. 'But I need three photographs of myself.''I see. You need some photographs.' And he showed me the way to a photographer.I found the house. The photographer was asleep but he came to me quickly. The man's clothes were dirty and he looked tired.'I need an Identity Card,' I said. 'I want three photographs of myself.''Yes, you want three photographs of yourself,' the photographer replied. 'And I take very good photographs. Come and see my camera.'We walked into his room. In the middle of the room was a large camera.'This is the best camera in Darpur. This camera is very, very good,' the photographer said proudly.'I've never seen a camera,' I said. 'I don't know about cameras. Hurry up and take a photograph of me.''Please do not hurry me, old man,' the photographer said. 'I am an artist.' And he gave me a mirror and a comb.'I don't want a mirror, I don't want a comb. Please take my photograph. I'm going to Minta this afternoon. And I'm in a hurry,' I said.'Yes,' he said. 'But first the price. This is the best camera in Darpur and I'm the best photographer. Three photographs will cost you two dollars fifty.''Two dollars fifty!' And I laughed.'Two dollars fifty - and pay me now please,' the photographer answered.I did not know the price of photographs. What could I do? Then the photographer said, 'You are an old man. For you, the price is two dollars.'So I gave him the money and he took the photographs. 'Come back tomorrow morning,' he said.'I want my three photographs now, immediately,' I said.'Don't be stupid,' the photographer said. 'Photographs take twenty-four hours. Come back tomorrow.'What could I do? So I said, 'Yes. Tomorrow morning.''Good,' said the photographer. 'Now go. I have a lot of work. I'm very busy.'I went back to the bus station. I sat on the bus for three hours. I walked ten miles back to my village.It was night time and I was very tired. Martha and my friends were waiting for me. 'Where is the money?' Martha asked.'I have no money. I cannot change the money order. First I must have an Identity Card.' And I told Martha everything.'Tomorrow I am going to Darpur again,' I said. Then I did not talk again. I was very tired and it was late at night. I lay on my bed and I slept. CHAPTER FOURNo Photographs I woke up late the next morning. The sun was already high. I did not walk to the main road and catch a bus. All the buses go to Darpur early in the morning.So I stayed at home on Wednesday. I was still very tired. I rested and talked to the villagers about the money order. I told them about the Identity Card and the photographer.The school teacher said, 'Yes, the official is correct. In a Post Office, you always show your Identity Card.'The school teacher filled in my application form for an Identity Card.On Thursday I travelled to Darpur again. I walked to the main road and I caught a bus. In Darpur, I walked to the house of the photographer.I knocked on the door of the house. No one came to the door. I knocked again loudly with my stick. A woman opened the door.'Who are you? What do you want?' she asked.'Can I have my photographs, please?' I said.'Your photographs? I have no photographs,' the woman replied.'I came here on Tuesday. Where is the photographer?' I asked.'He's out. He's not here.' And the woman closed the door.I shouted at her, 'I'm waiting here for him.'After a long time the photographer came back. He looked tired and he smelt of beer.'Give me my photographs,' I said. 'I have waited a long time for you.'The photographer looked at me and said, 'I don't know you, old man. What photographs are you talking about?''My three photographs for my Identity Card. I paid you two dollars for them on Tuesday. Give me my photographs immediately or my money.''Your photographs? Your money? What are you talking about?' the photographer said. 'Show me the paper. Show me the receipt for your money.''My receipt?' I asked.'Yes. Where is your receipt?' the photographer asked.'You didn't give me a receipt,' I shouted. 'Give me my photographs or my money immediately.' And I hit the photographer hard with my stick. I am old, but I am still strong.The photographer fell on the ground. He shouted, 'Help! Help! This old man is killing me.' And I hit him hard again.Lots of people ran out of their houses. I hit the photo-grapher again and two men held me. I could not get away from the two men.The photographer was very angry and I was very angry. Lots of people were shouting.Then a policeman came. The photographer shouted to the policeman, 'This old man hit me three times with his stick. He's a thief and a murderer. He wants my money.'The policeman held my arm and said, 'Come with me to the police station.' I did not say anything. We walked to the police station.At the police station, the policeman asked me, 'Did you hit that man three times?''Yes,' I said, 'he didn't give me my photographs.''Show me your Identity Card,' said the policeman.'I am Adam of Minta village,' I replied, 'and I haven't got an Identity Card.''Old man,' said the policeman. 'Go back to your village. Don't come here and fight. Keep out of Darpur.' And he pushed me into the street.I went back to my village. I was tired and angry. CHAPTER FIVEAdam Changes his Money Order Next day I told my story to all the villagers. The villagers were angry. Martha was very unhappy.She said, 'Saul is working very hard. He is sending money and we can't have the money. What are we going to do?I did not know. Then in the evening the school teacher came to my house again.'Adam. Perhaps I can help you,' the school teacher said. 'Here is a letter to Mr Sheth.''Mr Sheth?' I said, 'Who is he?'He's an important man in Darpur and he's a friend of my wife's cousin,' replied the school teacher. 'This letter is to Mr Sheth. The letter is about your money order. Perhaps he can help you.'I took the letter and thanked the school teacher.So I travelled to Darpur again on Saturday, for the third time. After a long time, I found Mr Sheth's house. The door was opened by a tall man.'Can I see Mr Sheth?' I asked.'And who are you?' the tall man asked.'I have a letter for Mr Sheth,' I replied.'I see. Can I have the letter, please?' And the tall man held out his hand.'The letter is here,' I said. And I took the letter out of my pocket. 'But I must see Mr Sheth.''Many people want to see Mr Sheth,' the tall man told me. 'He is a very busy man and a very important man. Mr Sheth is not here at the moment. But give me your letter, and Mr Sheth will read it later.'I gave the tall man the letter. Then I waited. Later, a large black car came and a man went into the house. A long time later, the tall man opened the door again.'Come in now, please, and follow me,' he said.I followed the tall man. We went into a large room with fine carpets and big chairs. Another man was in the room. He was drinking.'This is Mr Sheth,' said the tall man.'I am Adam of Minta village,' I replied.'Yes, I know,' said Mr Sheth. 'Thank you for the letter. I hope I can help you. I like to help people. Please, sit down.' Mr Sheth smiled. His clothes were new and smart.'Thank you,' I said.'Can I see the money order, please?' Mr Sheth asked.I took the money order out of my pocket. By now, the money order was dirty and looked very old. I gave it to Mr Sheth.'This money order is for one hundred dollars,' I said. 'My son sent it from a foreign country.'Mr Sheth unfolded the money order and looked at it. 'You can't change this money order,' he said. 'This money order is not worth one hundred dollars. This money order is worth nothing.''Worth nothing! Worthless?' I asked.Then Mr Sheth looked at the money order again. 'Yes, worthless. Your son does not understand about money orders. This money order is not correct for our country,' Mr Sheth said. Then he looked at the money order again and said, 'And this money order is also old. It is out-of-date.'I said nothing. Mr Sheth gave me the money order back.Then Mr Sheth smiled and said, 'I am very sorry. You are an old man. You came a long way from your village. What can I give you to eat and drink?'I was not hungry. But Mr Sheth went out of the room. Then he brought me some coffee and some cakes. I drank my coffee.'Old man,' said Mr Sheth, 'I like to help people. I am a rich man. Give me your money order.'I gave my money order to Mr Sheth. 'Yes, this money order is worthless,' he said again. 'But I am going to help you. I am going to change this money order for you. I am going to give you some money.'Mr Sheth went out of the room. I felt very happy again. After a few minutes, the tall man came into the room. He gave me an envelope. 'This is from Mr Sheth. You can go now,' the tall man said.I went out of the house. I walked along the road to the bus station. I opened the envelope and I took out my money. I counted the money. It was ten dollars. I thought about my only son, Saul.My son, Saul, had sent me a money order for one hundred dollars. Mr Sheth had given me ten dollars. I felt old and I felt poor again. - THE END -


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