When Mrs le Planter was found murdered there was precious little excuse for surprise, for she was a disagreeable old woman who richly merited her extremely unpleasant end. On the other hand the considerable fortune that thereby fell into the pockets of her nephew, Michael, was to prove anything but an undisguised blessing. Taken by and large Michael had had an unhappy evening. He had seen the girl he was in love with disappear into the garden for an unspecified period with his best friend ; he had later become engaged to Claudia only to have it broken off after a shocking scene ten minutes later ; and finally his wretched aunt, with whom he had had a furious row earlier in the evening, was found dead. Truly this was a house-party that was to remain long in the memory of tlic guests, but not nearly so long as the second house-party that Michael was to arrange with the same set of people after an interval of two years. The only member whose memory was not to be permanently scarred by its recollections was Claudia's husband, and he, poor creature, was to share Mrs le Planter's .fate about all they ever did share.
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