Rural rambles part 2: murder to a tee

'Are you suggesting that Bosanquet was killed by a polar bear who mistook him for one of his family?'
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The Independent Online

Today we continue our country ramble with Uncle Geoff and his two little friends, Robert and Susie. Yesterday, you may remember, they learnt about bats and swallows, and found what looked like the corpse of Farmer Bosanquet. But is Robert right when he says that he knows who the murderer is?

Today we continue our country ramble with Uncle Geoff and his two little friends, Robert and Susie. Yesterday, you may remember, they learnt about bats and swallows, and found what looked like the corpse of Farmer Bosanquet. But is Robert right when he says that he knows who the murderer is?

"What do you mean, there were clues all over the field?" said Uncle Geoff. "I didn't see any!"

"Well, Uncle Geoff, that might be because you were too busy talking and not looking hard enough," said Robert.

Cheeky little whippersnapper, thought Uncle Geoff. One day I'm going to give him the box on the ears he so richly deserves and be damned to the Bill of Rights. But what he said was:

"Let's see these clues of yours, Robert!"

"Well," said Robert," one of the things I noticed as we walked along the field was these little gashes in the ground, where little divots have been torn out. What could have caused that?"

"Cattle," said Uncle Geoff.

"I see no cows," said Robert, "nor do I see any marks of hooves."

"You tell me," said Uncle Geoff.

"Yes, go on - tell us," said Susan.

"All in good time," said Robert. "Now, this is what I wanted you to see."

He had brought them to a rough patch of nettles and long grass which had been quite flattened.

"Any idea what caused this, Uncle Geoff?"

"It bears all the signs of having been rolled flat by an animal," said Uncle Geoff. "Perhaps a deer rested here. Or perhaps some poor orphan animal has made its nest here before being adopted by a passing family."

"Not a thing you find very often in nature," said Robert. "If you have ever watched any of the many nature films to which Sir David Attenborough lends his voice, you will notice that almost invariably when a new male takes over a female mate who already has cubs, he kills the old brood. When you see a picture of a polar bear cub looking pathetically up at the camera, it's because it thinks the cameraman is its new dad and is about to kill it."

"Are you suggesting that Mr Bosanquet was killed by an escaped polar bear who mistook him for one of his rejected new family?" said Uncle Geoff, with more than a tinge of sarcasm.

"The word divot should have given it away," said Robert, as they strolled back down the field. "Divots are made by golfers. These marks too have been made by a golfer. Look at these two side by side. Some sportsman made his way into the field to practise iron shots, and managed to lose a ball in a patch of nettles. Have you ever seen a golfer treading down a patch of rough in order to find his lost ball? Ah! look at this!"

He bent down and pick up a golf tee.

"He has been practising his wood shots too."

"So," said Uncle Geoff slowly, "you think that the farmer found the golfer, had an argument with him which turned violent, and the golfer struck him with his club?"

"The farmer had no reason to fall out with the golfer," said Robert.

"Why not?" said Uncle Geoff, as they arrived back at the farmer's body.

"Because they were one and the same person. Look - here's the farmer's club." He leant over and picked a No 7 iron out of the long grass.

"Are you saying that he hit himself on the head with his own club?" said Uncle Geoff scathingly.

"Not quite," said Robert. "But I think it is quite possible that the farmer, while trying to play a shot from here, almost under this tree, may have misdirected a shot which bounced back at lightning speed from the tree and knocked him out."

"Exactly what happened," said the farmer, sitting up and rubbing his head. "I actually saw stars."

"Good God! I thought you were dead!" said Uncle Geoff.

"If you had taken his pulse as I did, you'd have known better," said Robert.

I swear I will strangle this boy one day, thought Uncle Geoff. But what he said was, "Well done, Robert! Well, time to go home for tea now?"

Will Uncle Geoff ever brain Robert, or will young Robert be clever enough to see it coming? Don't miss the next exciting episode!

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