Chapter 12

Then Mrs McGillicuddy thought of Misses Hinchcliffe and Murgatroyd. She found this couple somewhat disturbing for reasons she did not like to admit. But she thought that Miss Hinchcliffe’s aggressive manner was understandable – she would have paid a high price for her choice of life and for the unspoken condemnations from which she must have suffered over many years. In truth she was a great source of advice in the village, not the kind of which Dr Haycock approved but still, frequently accessed by villagers who found themselves reluctant to discuss symptoms with the good doctor. She was moody but could consume quantities of liquor, such that poor Miss Murgatroyd could often be the victim of angry denunciations or extravagant and not always appropriate public gestures.

Miss Murgatroyd tolerated all these mood swings with meekness and a tendency to apologise as if it were all her fault. She always had an explanation for Miss Hinchcliffe’s outbursts, but in truth it was Miss Murgatroyd’s private income that kept Miss Hinchcliffe in drink – Miss Murgatroyd was one of the few villagers who confined themselves to soft drinks. I am afraid however that she was rather ignored by the villagers as if she were one of the servants.

And so to Miss Marple who could go anywhere in the village and be treated with respect! She was ‘an ambassador’, and here was good news; the book said ambassadors show “a remarkably good
prognosis when their affiliation is shifted to an active recovery network”.

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