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datatime: 2022-12-05 22:12:19 Author:uJrMTwdY

"There way a funny smell-" she began slowly.

"It's no good." She shook her head. "I was in the galley most of the time, getting the meal ready."

"They? Who were 'They'?"

"Yes. The powder room is on the port side."

"Quite sure. I always peek through the cabin door from time to time, and he was always there."

"All right." I changed my approach. "This was the men's washroom, I take it?"

"I'm sorry. It-it did seem unimportant, unrelated to anything. That was hours before the crash, so-"

"You bet there was. Can you remember who went there?"

"Quite sure. I always peek through the cabin door from time to time, and he was always there."

"There way a funny smell-" she began slowly.

"Of course." She stared at me, wide-eyed.

"Do you believe now that the fire was caused deliberately?" I asked.

"Mrs Dansby-Gregg did, I'm sure."

"Miss LeGarde and Mr Corazzini. And I'm afraid that's not much help. We know Marie LeGarde can't have had anything to do with it. And Mr Corazzini is the one person I'm sure didn't leave his seat before dinner. He had a gin soon after take-off, then switched off his reading light, draped a newspaper over his head and went to sleep."

"Who were in the front two seats-those nearest the galley?"

"Right. And we're dealing, obviously, with hardened professional criminals. The whole success of their plan depended on causing this excitement. Do you for a moment believe that they were going to let the whole thing hinge on the mere off-chance of a smouldering butt-end setting some papers alight-especially setting them alight at the correct moment?"

"All right." I changed my approach. "This was the men's washroom, I take it?"

"I'm sorry," she repeated helplessly. "I was a little upset for a moment, then Captain Johnson was in front of me shooing everybody back to their seats and I couldn't see."

"It doesn't matter. Who could have gone into the galley then -anybody in the front seats, I suppose?"

She looked at me for a long moment before answering, and even in the fading light of the aurora I could see the understanding coming into her eyes.

"Mrs Dansby-Gregg did, I'm sure."

"Easy. You can get a little plastic tube with a central composition shield dividing it into two compartments. In one compartment you have a free acid, in the other a different acid enclosed in a glass tube. All you have to do is to crush the tube, break the glass, drop the tube in your chosen spot, walk away and after a predetermined time the acid that was in the glass eats through the shield, meets the other acid and starts a fire. It's been used hundreds of times, especially in war-time sabotage. If you're an arsonist looking for a cast-iron alibi and want to be five miles away when the fire starts, it's the perfect answer."

"Can you remember who went in there, say, any time up to an hour beforehand?"

"It's no good." She shook her head. "I was in the galley most of the time, getting the meal ready."

"That seems to cut him out," I said thoughtfully. "And reduce the number of suspects-though, I suppose, he could still have got an accomplice to plant the acid tube." Then, suddenly, I had what was, for me, an inspiration. "Tell me, Miss Ross, did anyone ask you earlier in the evening when dinner would be?"

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