A Suitable Candidate
Within days, I’ve selected him from the saloon passengers as the most suitable candidate. Sensitive, tidy – not flamboyant like some of those men. And always attentive to his son – a family man, if you will. I do like a family man. Especially one with no wife!
If he’s emigrating, he’ll be looking to make friends, that much you can count on. I smile broadly as we pass on deck. His pace quickens. The boy follows, looking down. So, he’s shy – what’s wrong with that? Shy I can work with. Shy I can handle. If only my ex-husband had been so shy!
During lunch, I occupy a nearby table. He orders pea soup. So I order pea soup. He gets out a copy of the Times. And I do the same. His hand shakes as he turns the pages. I might be making him nervous! Is this the right time to introduce myself? Maybe I should bide my time.
Several days pass. On some I don’t see him at all. They must be keeping to their cabin. Once or twice we say a courteous ‘hello’. But never more than that. Not yet. We’re getting to know each other slowly.
On the St. Lawrence River, two pilots board the ship – all suave and sophisticated. Now this is exciting. Captain Kendall invites him to meet the pilots and I stand, looking down from the companionway.
He’s blinking fast. And his son’s hand grips his tightly.
“Remember me, Dr Crippen?” one of the pilots says.
So he’s a doctor - I should have guessed!
The pilot removes his cap. “Chief Inspector Dew from Scotland Yard. We found the remains of your wife’s body under the floorboards.”
He is meek as they handcuff him. Obedient.
Well, if they haven’t got the wrong man, I certainly have.
by James Woolf