Angela’s heart sank as she saw her prospects of a peaceful holiday receding even further.
‘Now, Barbara, I don’t think it’s quite fair to impose on Miss Trout like that,’ she said.
‘Oh, but—’ began Barbara in disappointment, but Miss Trout was nodding in agreement.
‘Your godmother is quite right,’ she said. ‘You are here on holiday and I shouldn’t dream of bothering you with my little problem. I should feel far happier knowing that you were outside enjoying yourself in the sun, rather than grubbing about in this gloomy old house looking for something that might not even be here. If nobody has found the necklace in the last hundred and forty-odd years, then it’s hardly likely that we will find it in the next two weeks.’
‘Have you searched for it?’ asked Angela.
‘I am rather frail these days,’ replied Miss Trout, ‘and to be perfectly truthful it had not, until recently, occurred to me to try and find it, since there seemed little use in looking for a mysterious object that was known about only by legend. Other than making the most cursory of investigations, therefore, I have done nothing.’
‘Did Preacher Dick leave any clues?’ asked Barbara eagerly.
‘Not as far as I know.’
‘Oh, but he must have,’ said Barbara. ‘What would be the use in hiding something so well that nobody could ever find it? I’ll bet he left a secret message somewhere in those memoirs.’
She picked up the leather-bound book and turned the pages carefully.
‘It’s awfully difficult to read,’ she said, frowning, ‘but there must be a clue or a map here, or something.’
‘I should love to believe it,’ said Miss Trout, ‘but I fear that the secret died with my ancestor. It is useless to place any reliance on finding the necklace. No,’ she went on with a sigh. ‘Whoever wrote those letters was right: I should be far better off if I were to leave Poldarrow.’
Angela saw Clifford Maynard shoot his aunt a warning glance.
‘Which letters do you mean?’ she asked.
‘Oh, didn’t I mention them?’ said Miss Trout, shaking her head at her nephew. ‘I thought I had. It’s nothing really, but someone has been sending me some rather silly anonymous letters.’