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datatime: 2022-12-04 06:48:21 Author:MsETbfuK

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

"They? Who were 'They'?"

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

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

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

"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?"

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

"And you didn't think this worth mentioning to me," I said heavily. "No importance at all?"

"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."

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"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."

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

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

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

"I don't know. What-why do you ask?"

"I don't know. What-why do you ask?"

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

"And you didn't think this worth mentioning to me," I said heavily. "No importance at all?"

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