And if it doesn't say it is a First Edition, it isn't. Baskerville Books. The case of the late pig Margery Allingham. Fourth printing. Harmondsworth : Penguin Books, Penguin Ordering this book To order books please use the form at the right and we will advise you of availability and the total cost, including postage and packing. By filling in this form you are consenting to the storage of your details.
Any personal data collected will be held in accordance with our privacy statement. Before I read it I knew what it was. Its fellow was in my pocket. His voice trailed away, as I knew it would, and he wandered off, not rudely but carelessly, as though there was nothing to keep him in place. He left the note in my hand by mistake, I was convinced. I came out of the churchyard at the end of the straggling procession. As we emerged into the lane the stolid, pleasant-looking person I had noticed glanced at me with inquiry in his eyes and I went over to him.
The question in my mind was not an easy one and I was feeling around for some fairly inoffensive way of putting it when he helped me out. He nodded gloomily. Shouldn't have had it: heart wouldn't stand it. Picked up a touch of pneumonia on the way down and—' he shrugged his shoulders, '—couldn't save him, poor chap. None of his people here. Never had a death there before.
I'm in practice here. I could sympathize with him and I did. It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him if Peters had let him in for a spot of cash. He had not hinted at it but I guessed there was some such matter in his thoughts. However, I refrained; there seemed no point in it.
We stood there chatting aimlessly for some moments, as one does on these occasions, and then I went back to Town. I did not call in at Highwaters after all, much to Lugg's disgust. It was not that I did not want to see Leo or Janet, but I was inexplicably rattled by Pig's funeral and by the discovery that it actually was Pig's. It had been a melancholy little ceremony which had left a sort of 'half heard' echo in my ears. The two letters were identical. I compared them when I got in. I supposed Whippet had seen The Times as I had.
Still it was queer he should have put two and two together. And there had been that extraordinary cough and the revolting old fellow in the topper, not to mention the sly-eyed girl. The worst thing about it was that the incident had recalled Pig to my mind. I turned up some old football groups and had a good look at him. He had a distinctive face. One could see even then what he was going to turn into. I tried to put him out of my head. After all, I had nothing to get excited about. He was dead. I shouldn't see him again.
All this happened in January. By June I had forgotten the fellow. I had just come in from a session with Stanislaus Oates at the Yard, where we had been congratulating each other over the evidence in the Kingford shooting business which had just flowered into a choice bloom for the Judge's bouquet, when Janet rang up. I had never known her hysterical before and it surprised me a little to hear her twittering away on the phone like a nest of sparrows.
Leo was standing on the steps of Highwaters when Lugg and I drove up. The great white pillars of the house, which was built by an architect who had seen the B. He looked magnificent in his ancient shootin' suit and green tweed flowerpot hat—a fine specimen for anybody's album. I've known Leo for some years and I know that the singleness of purpose which is the chief characteristic in a delightful personality is not to be diverted by anything less than a covey of Mad Mullahs.
Leo had one thing in his mind and one thing only. He had been planning his campaign ever since he had heard that I was on my way, and, since I was part of that campaign, my only hope was to comply. He would not open his mouth save to utter road directions until we stood together on the threshold of the shed behind the police station. First he dismissed the excited bobbies in charge and then paused and took me firmly by the lapel. I haven't put a thought in your mind, I haven't told you a particle of the circumstances, I haven't influenced you in any way, have I? He led me into a room, bare save for the trestle table in the centre, and drew back the sheet from the face of the thing that lay upon it.
I said nothing at all. Lying on the table was the body of Pig Peters, Pig Peters unmistakable as Leo himself, and I knew without touching his limp, podgy hand that he could not have been dead more than twelve hours at the outside. Not unnaturally the whole thing was something of a shock to me and I suppose I stood staring at the corpse as though it were a beautiful view for some considerable time.
Damnable cad, though. Ought not to say it of a dead man, perhaps, but there you are. Truth must out. Leo really talks like this. I have often thought that his conversation, taken down verbatim, might be worth looking at. Just then I was more concerned with the matter than the form, however, and I said, 'You knew him, then? Extremely awkward in the circumstances. Still, can't be helped. There it is. Since there was a considerable spot of mystery in the business already I saw no point in overburdening Leo's mind by adding my little contribution to it just then. Leo had very bright blue eyes which, like most soldiers', are of an almost startling innocence of expression.
Never thought of it. Untrustworthy customer. More money than was good for him and the manners of an enemy non-commissioned officer. Can't put it too strongly.
- SF Subscriber Prices.
- The Case of the Late Pig : Margery Allingham : .
- The Wrinkletons.
- The Novellas: The Trial of Davy Crockett, Last Tango With Marlon;
- The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham | LibraryThing?
Terrible feller. I looked at the dead man again.
Of course it was Pig all right: I should have known him anywhere—and it struck me then as odd that the boy should really be so very much the father of the man. It's a serious thought when you look at some children. Still, there was Pig and he was dead again, five months after his funeral, and Leo was growing impatient. He has a gift for the obvious. The top of the carrotty head was stove in, sickeningly, like a broken soccer ball, and the fact that the skin was practically unbroken made it somehow even more distressing.
It was such a terrific smash that it seemed incredible that any human arm could have delivered the blow. It looked to me as if he had been kicked through a felt hat by a cart-horse and I said so to Leo. Don't mind admitting don't follow this deducin' business myself, but substitute an urn for a cart-horse and you're absolutely right. Remind me to tell Janet.
Must have seen 'em, Campion. Sometimes have cherry pie in 'em. Madness to keep 'em on the parapet. Said so myself more than once. I was gradually getting the thing straight.
Apparently Pig's second demise had been occasioned by a blow from a stone flower-pot falling on him from a parapet. It seemed pretty final this time. Urn was one of several set all along the parapet. Been up to inspect 'em myself. All firm as the Rock of Gibraltar. Been there for years. Harris's urn couldn't have hopped off the ledge all by itself, don't you know. Must have been pushed by—er—human hands. Devilish situation in view of everything. Got to face it. I covered Pig's body. I was sorry for him in a way, of course, but he seemed to have retained his early propensities for making trouble.
I hesitated. Leo is not one of the great brains of the earth, but I could hardly believe that he had dragged me down from London to confirm his suspicion that Pig had died from a bang on the head. I took it that there was more to come—and there was, of course; no end of it, as it turned out. Have to come out some time.
We ought to go down to Halt Knights and have a look at things. Leo nodded. Decent little woman, you know, Campion. Never a suspicion of—er—anything of this sort before. As we went out to the car I considered the business. To understand Halt Knights is to know Kepesake, and Kepesake is a sort of county paradise. It's a big village, just far enough from a town and a main road to remain exclusive without having to be silly about it.
It has a Norman church, a village cricket green with elms, three magnificent pubs and a population of genuine country folk of proper independent views. It lies in a gentle valley on the shores of an estuary and is protected by a ring of modest little estates all owned by dear good fellers, so Leo says. The largest of these estates is Halt Knights. At one period there was a nobleman at the Knights who owned the whole village, which had been left him by an ancestress who had had it, so the name would suggest, from a boy friend off to the Crusades.
Changing times and incomes drove out the nobleman and his heirs; hence the smaller estates. The house and some nine hundred acres of meadow and salting remained a millstone round somebody's neck until Poppy Bellew retired from the stage and, buying it up, transformed that part of it which had not collapsed into the finest hotel and country pub in the kingdom. Being a naturally expansive person of untiring energy, she did not let the nine hundred acres worry her but laid down an eighteen hole golf course and reserved the rest for anything anyone might think of.
It occurred to some intelligent person that there was a very fine point-to-point course there somewhere and at the time Pig got the urn on his head there had been four meetings there in each of five consecutive springs. It was all very lazy and homely and comfortable. If anyone who looked as if he might spoil the atmosphere came along somehow Poppy lost him.
It was really very simple. She wanted to keep open house and the people round about were willing to pay their own expenses, or that was how it seemed to work out. Leo's story was interesting. I could understand Pig getting himself killed at Halt Knights, but not how he managed to stay there long enough for it to happen. Meanwhile Leo had reached the car and was looking at Lugg with mistrust. Leo's ideas of discipline are military and Lugg's are not. I foresaw an impasse. You'd better go back to Highwaters.
Take a bus or something. Lugg stared at me and I saw rebellion in his eyes. His feet have been a constant source of conversation with him of late. He got out of the car heavily and with dignity and so far demeaned himself as to hold the door open for Leo, but me he regarded under fat white eyelids with a secret, contemplative expression. Save your life in the war? He blew his nose. Thought just crossed my mind. Now to this business, Campion. It's pretty serious and I'll tell you why. One of us must have lost his head, don't you know.
I'm being very frank with you, of course. I pulled the car up by the side of the road. We were on the long straight stretch above the 'Dog and Fowl'. He came out with it quietly and damningly in his pleasant worried voice. It was an enlightening tale in view of the circumstances.
Two of the estates nearby had become vacant in the past year and each had been bought anonymously through a firm of London solicitors. No one thought much of it at the time but the blow had fallen about a week before our present conversation. Leo, going down to Halt Knights for a game of bridge and a drink, also had found the place in an uproar and Pig, of all people, installed. He was throwing his weight about and detailing his plans for the future of Kepesake, which included a hydro, a dog-racing track, and a cinema-dance-hall with special attractions to catch motorists from the none too far distant industrial town.
Taken on one side, Poppy had broken down and made a confession. Country ease and country hospitality had proven expensive, and she, not wishing to depress her clients, who were also her nearest and dearest friends, had accepted the generous mortgage terms which a delightful gentleman from London had arranged, only to find that his charming personality had been but a mask to cloak the odious Pig, who had decided to foreclose at the precise moment when a few outstanding bills had been paid with the greater part of the loan.
Leo, who justified his name if ever man did, had padded forth gallantly to the rescue. He roared round the district, collected a few good souls of his own kidney, held a meeting, formed a syndicate, and approached the entrenched Pig armed with money and scrupulously fair words. From that point, however, he had met defeat. Pig was adamant. Pig had all the money he required. Pig wanted Kepesake—and a fine old silver stye he was going to make of it.
Leo's solicitor, summoned from Norwich, had confirmed his client's worst fears. Poppy had trusted the charming gentleman too well. Pig had an option to purchase. Realizing that with money, Halt Knights, and the two adjoining estates Pig could lay waste Kepesake, and their hearts with it, Leo and his friends had tried other methods. As Leo pointed out, men will fight for their homes. There is a primitive love inspired by tree and field which can fire the most correct heart to flaming passion. Two or three of Halt Knights' oldest guests were asked by Pig to leave.
Leo and most of the others stolidly sat their ground, however, and talk was high but quiet while plots abounded. Devilish awkward, Campion. I let in the clutch and drove on without speaking. I thought of Kepesake and its gracious shadowy trees, its sweet meadows and clear waters, and thought what a howling shame it was.
It belonged to these old boys and their children. It was their sanctuary, their little place of peace. If Pig wanted to make more money, why in heaven's name should he rot up Kepesake to do it? There are ten thousand other villages in England. Well, they'd saved it from Pig at any rate, or at least one of them had. So much looked painfully apparent. Neither of us spoke until we turned in under the red Norman arch which is the main drive gate to the Knights.
There Leo snorted. I looked at the little figure mincing down the drive towards us and all but let the car swerve on to the turf. I recognized him immediately, principally by the extraordinary sensation of dislike he aroused in me. He was a thoroughly unpleasant old fellow, affected and conceited, and the last time I had seen him he had been weeping ostentatiously into a handkerchief with an inch-wide black border at Pig's first funeral. Now he was trotting out of Halt Knights as if he knew the place and was very much at home there.
He looked at me with interest and I think he placed me, for I was aware of two beady bright eyes peering at me from beneath Cairn eyebrows. Leo, on the other hand, received a full salute from him, a wave of the panama delivered with one of those shrugs which attempt old-world grace and achieve the slightly sissy. Had a lot to put up with the last day or two. Wouldn't like to see her browbeaten.
Kid gloves, Campion. Kid gloves all the way. I was naturally aggrieved. I have never been considered brutal, having if anything a mild and affable temperament.
The Case of the Late Pig (An Albert Campion mystery)
I'm worried about Poppy, Campion. Poor charmin' little woman. I felt my eyebrows rise. The man who could visualize Poppy as a poor little woman must also, I felt, be able to think of her being actually ill-treated. I like Poppy. Charming she certainly is, but little—no. Leo was confusing the ideal with the conventional, and I might have told him so and mortally offended him had we not come through the trees at that moment to see the house awaiting us.
No English country house is worthy of the name if it is not breathtaking at half past six on a June evening, but Halt Knights is in a street by itself. It is long and low, with fine windows. Built of crushed strawberry brick, the Georgian front does not look out of place against the Norman ruins which rise up behind it and melt into the high chestnuts massed at the back.
As in many East Anglian houses the front door is at the side, so that the lawn can come right up to the house in front. As we pulled up I was glad to see that the door was open as usual, though the place seemed deserted save for the embarrassed bobby in bicycle clips who stood on guard by the lintel. I could not understand his acute discomfort until I caught the gleam of a pewter tankard among the candytuft at his feet. Poppy has a great understanding of the creature man. Make the examination first if you want to, by all means. This is where the feller was sittin'.
He led me round to the front of the house where the deck-chairs, looking flimsy and oddly Japanese in their bright colours, straggled along under the windows. I bent down and pulled aside the couple of sacks which had been spread over the exhibit. As soon as I saw it I understood his depression. It was a large stone basin about two and a half feet high and two feet across and was decorated with amorelli and pineapples. It must have weighed the best part of three hundredweight with the earth it contained, and while I could understand it killing Pig I was amazed that it had not smashed him to pulp.
I said so to Leo and he explained. He had a hat on, you know. There's the chair—nothing much to see. He kicked aside another sack and we looked down at a pathetic heap of splintered framework and torn canvas. Leo shrugged his shoulders helplessly. I walked a little way down the lawn and looked up at the parapet. It is one of those long strips of plastered stone which finish off the flat fronts of Georgian houses and always remind me of the topping of marzipan icing on a very good fruit cake. The little windows of the second floor sit behind it in the sugarloaf roof.
There were seven other urns set along the parapet at equal distances, and one significant gap. There was obviously nothing dangerous about them; they looked as if they had been there for ever. What an extremely dangerous thing to do. Leo looked at me as though I had begun to gibber and I laboured on, trying to make myself clear.
Someone might have come up to him to chat. The man who pushed the flowerpot over couldn't have made certain he was going to hit the right man unless he'd actually climbed out on the parapet to look first, which would have been lunatic. Leo grew very red. We left him where he was. He ignored us and no one felt like speakin' to him, so we all went inside. I was playin' a game of cards in the lounge through this window here when the infernal thing crashed down on him. You may think it childish,' he added a little shamefacedly, 'but there you are. The feller was an unmitigated tick.
As soon as we set foot on the stone flags of the entrance hall and sniffed the sweet cool fragrance of old wood and flowers which is the true smell of your good country house, Poppy appeared, fat, gracious, and welcoming as always. Leo, you're a lamb to send for him.
Isn't it awful? Come and have a drink. She piloted us down the broad stone corridor to the big white-panelled lounge with the deep, comfortable, chintz-covered chairs, chattering the whole time. It is not easy to describe Poppy. She is over fifty, I suppose, with tight grey curls all over her head, a wide mouth, and enormous blue eyes.
That is the easy part. The rest is more difficult. Her clothes are outrageous, vast flowery skirts and bodices embellished with sufficient frills to rig a frigate. However, they suit her personality if not her figure. You see her and you like her and that's all there is to it. How he tried to pinch the place He has! Oh, well, that's all right. You see how it happened. Still, it's very wrong of someone, very wrong indeed—although, my dear, I'm sure they meant to be kind. I said quite distinctly "This will lead to trouble" and of course it did.
Leo avoided my eyes. They were going to get Harris drunk and friendly first and then they were going to put the whole thing to him as man to man and in a burst of good fellowship he was going to sign a document they'd prepared, relinquishing the option or whatever it is. She paused and eyed me dubiously, as well she might, I thought.
As my face did not change she came a little nearer. But they said Harris hadn't been honest with us and of course that was right too, so they sat up in here with him last night. It might have been all right only instead of getting friendly he got truculent, as some people do, and while they were trying to get him beyond that stage he passed out altogether and they had to put him to bed. This morning he had a terrible hangover and went to sleep it off on the lawn.
- Which Self Are You?.
- The Case of the Late Pig - AbeBooks - Margery Allingham: .
- Navigation menu?
He hadn't moved all the morning when that beastly thing fell on him. Poppy gave me the names of the conspirators. They were all eminently respectable people who ought to have known a great deal better. It sounded to me as if everybody's uncle had gone undergraduate again and I might have said so in a perfectly friendly way had not Poppy interrupted me.
I'm afraid there's going to be a dreadful scandal. It must be one of the visitors, you see, and I only have such dear people. I said nothing, for at that moment a pudding-faced maid, who certainly did not look as though she had sufficient intelligence to drop an urn or anything else on the right unwanted guest, came in to say that if there was a Mr Campion in the house he was wanted on the telephone.
I took it for granted it was Janet and I went along to the hall with a certain pleasurable anticipation. Considering I had left the city unexpectedly two hours before with the intention of going to Highwaters, and no one in the world but Lugg and Leo knew that I had come to Halt Knights, I thought there must be some mistake and I echoed her. London call,' she repeated with gentle patience. You're through Still there was no reply, only a faint sigh, and the someone at the other end hung up. That was all. Before going back to the others I wandered upstairs to the top floor to have a look at the parapet.
No one was about and most of the doors stood open, so that I had very little difficulty in finding the spot where Pig's urn had once stood. It had been arranged directly in front of a boxroom window and must, I thought, have obscured most of the light. When I came to look at the spot I saw that any hopeful theory I might have formed concerning a clumsy pigeon or a feather-brained cat was out of the question. The top of the parapet was covered with lichen save for the square space where the foot of the urn had stood. This was clear and brown save for the bodies of a few dead bugs of the kind one gets under stones, and in the centre of it there was a little slot some three inches wide and two deep, designed to hold some sort of stone peg incorporated in the bottom of the urn all for safety's sake.
There was no question of the fall being accidental, therefore. Someone both strong and determined must have lifted the heavy thing up before pushing it out. There was nothing unusual about the vacant space, as far as I could see, save that the lichen at the edge of the parapet was slightly damp. How important that was I did not dream. I went down again to the lounge. I am a naturally unobtrusive person and I suppose I came in quietly, because neither Leo nor Poppy seemed to hear me, and I caught his words, which were loud and excited.
Hang it all, Poppy, the feller was a bounder, and there he was striding out of this place as though it belonged to him. However, don't tell me who he was if you'd rather not.
That's good, my boy,' he bellowed suddenly, getting up and clapping me on the shoulder with unnecessary fervour. We always say that, don't we? Well, Poppy, ought to go now, m'dear. People to dinner, you know. Come along, Campion. Glad you had good news. The old boy was frankly blethering, and I was sorry for him. Poppy was still annoyed.
Her cheeks were very pink and her eyes were tearful. I made him come on to the lawn again where I had another look at the urn. The peg was intact. It protruded nearly two and a half inches from the flat surface of the stand. Leo was very thoughtful when I pointed it out to him, but his mind could hardly have been on his work, for I had to explain the primitive arrangement to him twice before he saw any significance in it.
We drove back on to the main road in silence. I was glad of the spot of quiet because I took it that a little constructive thinking was overdue. I am not one of these intellectual sleuths, I am afraid. My mind does not work like an adding machine, taking the facts in neatly one by one and doing the work as it goes along. I am more like the bloke with the sack and spiked stick. I collect all the odds and ends I can see and turn out the bag at the lunch hour.
So far, I had netted one or two things.
- Companion Reader on Violence Against Women;
- See a Problem?.
- The Coming Darkness (An Augustus Mallory Novel (Book One) 1).
- People who bought this also bought....
- THE CASE OF THE LATE PIG [CAMPION].
- A Letter to Al Gore;
- Nathaniel Hawthornes Marble Faun: Art, Eros & Italy.
I had satisfied myself that Pig had been murdered; that is to say, whoever had killed him had done so intentionally, but not, I thought, with much premeditation. This seemed fairly obvious, since it was not reasonable to suppose that anyone could have insisted on him sitting just in that one spot, or made absolutely certain that he would stay there long enough to receive the urn when it came. Considering the matter, I fancied some impulsive fellow had happened along to find the stage set, as it were; Pig sitting, porcine and undesirable, under the flower pot, and, not being able to curb the unworthy instinct, had trotted upstairs and done the necessary shoving all in the first fierce flush of inspiration.
Having arrived at this point, it struck me that the actual identification of the murderer must depend upon a process of elimination after an examination of alibis, and this, I thought, was definitely a job for the Inspector.
The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham - AbeBooks
After all, he was the young hopeful out for promotion. The real trouble, I foresaw, would be the question of proof. Since finger-prints on the rough cast would be too much to hope for, and an eye-witness would have come forward before now, it was in pinning the crime down that I imagined the real snag would arise. Perhaps I ought to mention here that at that moment I was absolutely wrong. I was wrong not only about the position of the snag but about everything else as well. However, I had no idea of it then. I leant back in the Lagonda with Leo at my side, and drove through the yellow evening light thinking of Pig and his two funerals, past and present.
At that time, and I was hopelessly mistaken, of course, I was inclined to think that Pig's murderer was extraneous to the general scheme. The clever young gentleman from London innocently looked forward to a nice stimulating civil mystery with the criminal already under lock and key in the mortuary, and this in spite of the telephone call and Poppy's unpleasant visitor. Which proves to me now that the balmy country air had gone to my head. I was sorry for Leo and Poppy and the over-zealous old gentlemen who had come so disastrously to the aid of Halt Knights.
I sympathized with them over the scandal and the general rumpus. But at that moment I did not think that the murder itself was by any means the most exciting part of the situation. Of course, had I known of the other odds and ends that the gods had in the bag for us, had I realized that the unpleasant Old Person with the Scythe was just sitting up in the garden resting on his laurels and getting his breath for the next bit of gleaning, I should have taken myself in hand, but I honestly thought the fireworks were over and that I had come in at the end of the party and not, as it turned out, at the beginning.
As we drove down the narrow village street past 'The Swan', I asked Leo a question as casually as I could. Nursin' home? Oh, yes, excellent place—excellent. Run by young Brian Kingston. A good feller. Very small, though, very small—the nursin' home, not Kingston.
You'll like him. Big feller. Dear chap. Comin' to dinner tonight. Vicar's comin' too,' he added as an afterthought. Informal, you know. Father used to practise there years ago. Left the son a large house and he, bein' enterprisin' chap, made a going concern of it. Good doctor—wonderful doctor. Cured my catarrh. Leo sighed. Funny thing, I was playin' a hand with him and two other fellers this mornin' when that confounded urn fell on that bounder outside and made all this trouble.
Came right down past the window where we were sittin'. Terrible thing. Leo looked scandalized. The free Foxed News newsletter featuring articles from the quarterly, extracts from books, event invitations, latest releases, news from behind the scenes at Foxed HQ, offers from our partners, and other bookish content goes out to readers around the world by email several times each month. By signing up for our free email newsletter or our free printed catalogues, you will not automatically be subscribed to the quarterly magazine. Slightly Foxed undertakes to keep your personal information confidential.
Sign-in or Register Basket: 0 View Basket. Join our mailing list Sign-up. Description Albert Campion is summoned to the village of Kepesake to investigate a particularly distasteful death. Allingham, Margery Robshaw, Brandon. Read more. Your Name:.