“This is going to be a bit of a shock to you, I’m afraid,” he said.  “But I’ve thought about it a good deal and I’ve decided the only thing to do is tell you right away.  I hope you won’t blame me too much.”

And he told her.  It didn’t take long, four or five minutes at most, and she stay very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror as he went further and further away from her with each word.

“So there it is,” he added.  “And I know it’s kind of a bad time to be telling you, but there simply wasn’t any other way.  Of course I’ll give you money and see you’re looked after.  But there needn’t really be any fuss.  I hope not anyway.  It wouldn’t be very good for my job.”

………

“I’ll get the supper,” she managed to whisper, and this time he didn’t stop her.

……..

At that point, Mary Maloney simply walked up behind him and without any pause she swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it down as hard as she could on the back of his head.

She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.

………

She carried the meat into the kitchen, placed it in a pan, turned the oven on high, and shoved t inside.  Then she washed her hands and ran upstairs to the bedroom.  She sat down before the mirror, tidied her hair, touched up her lops and face.  She tried a smile.  It came out rather peculiar.  She tried again.

………

“Well,” she said.  “Here you all are, and good friends of dear Patrick’s too, and helping to catch the man who killed him.  You must be terrible hungry by now because it’s long past your suppertime, and I know Patrick would never forgive me, God bless his soul, if I allowed you to remain in his house without offering you decent hospitality.  Why don’t you eat up that lamb that’s in the oven.  It’ll be cooked just right by now.”

………

There was a good deal of hesitating among the four policemen, but they were clearly hungry, and in the end they were persuaded to go into the kitchen and help themselves.  The woman stayed where she was, listening to them speaking among themselves, their voices thick and sloppy because their mouths were full of meat.

“Have some more, Charlie?”

“No.  Better not finish it.”

“She wants us to finish it. She said so.  Be doing her a favor.”

“Okay then.  Give me some more.”

“That’s the hell of a big club the gut must’ve used to hit poor Patrick,” one of them was saying.  “The doc says his skull was smashed all to pieces just like from a sledgehammer.”

“That’s why it ought to be easy to find.”

“Exactly what I say.”

“Whoever done it, they’re not going to be carrying a thing like that around with them longer than they need.”

One of them belched.

“Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.”

“Probably right under our very noses.  What you think, Jack?”

And in the other room, Mary Maloney began to giggle.

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