owner of Beechgrove had had wide experience of boys of their age and disposition. The minute they appeared at his gate he made savagely threatening gestures with either syringe or spade and they fled incontinently down the road. These episodes kept alive William's interest in criminology.
" I bet you anything," he said, " that that bucket he puts his squirt into is full of poison. Bet you anything he killed hundreds of folks that way. Squirting them with poison out of a bucket like that. He looks jus' the sort that would squirt poison at people. I bet he's got poison on his spade, too. D'you remember the man in ' The Mystery of the Odd Glove' what had poison in his garden forks ? To me he looks just that sort of man. If we hadn't run away quick we'd 've been dead now. An' the police would've come along and found us dead an' took for granted we'd died natural 'cause of being so stupid. Jolly good thing we c'n run. Bet you we shouldn't be alive now if we couldn't."
" But why should he want to kill us, William ? ' said Henry the practical.
" Why not ! " said William. " A murderer's gotter be murderin' someone or else he isn't a murderer, is he ? You get sort of fond of it same as you do of anythin' else. Football or cricket or draughts or collectin' stamps. When you've murdered one person you want to go on an' murder another. You keep thinkin' out better ways of murd'rin' people an' then nacherally you want to try 'em on someone. I bet he'd jus' thought out that way of squirtin' poison at someone an' wanted to try it on us jus' to see if it acted all right. Of course he may've got a real reason. He may've found out that one of us is goin' to come into a lot of money what we don't know anythin' about yet an' he may be the next heir though none of us know him 'cause of everyone thinkin' his father was drowned in a shipwreck. It was like that in ' The Mystery of