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The Loudwater Mystery
by Edgar Jepson
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Lord Loudwater was paying attention neither to his breakfast nor to the cat Melchisidec. Absorbed in a leader in The Times newspaper, now and again he tugged at his red-brown beard in order to quicken his comprehension of the weighty phrases of the leader-writer; now and again he made noises, chiefly with his nose, expressive of disgust. Lady Loudwater paid no attention to these noises. She did not even raise her eyes to her husband's face. She ate her breakfast with a thoughtful air, her brow puckered by a faint frown. She also paid no attention to her favourite, Melchisidec. Melchisidec, unduly excited by the smell of grilled sole, came to Lord Loudwater, rose on his hind legs, laid his paws on his trousers, and stuck some claws into his thigh. It was no more than gentle, arresting pricks; but the tender nobleman sprang from his chair with a short howl, kicked with futile violence a portion of the empty air which Melchisidec had just vacated, staggered, and nearly fell.
Mr. Flexen drove back to the Castle, considering Hutchings carefully. There was no doubt that he was, indeed, badly frightened; but he had reason to be. Mr. Flexen could not decide whether he had worn the air of a guilty man or an innocent. He could not decide whether the butler had been too deeply absorbed in his own affairs to hear the snoring of Lord Loudwater as he went through the library. It was possible that Lord Loudwater was alive, asleep, and yet not snoring at the time. Snoring is often intermittent.
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