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Passage eighteen





"Now, sir," said Inspector Robinson, drawing a chair up close to the injured man's bed and sitting down, "I hope you feel well enough to answer a few questions."
    "Yes, of course," said Topham. He sat up in bed. The nurse placed another pillow behind his head and left the room.
    "First of all," said the inspector, opening his notebook, "we have to establish your identity."
    Topham looked astonished. "My identity? Don't you even know who I am? How long have I been lying in hospital?"

    "Three days," the inspector told him. "But we found no papers on you at all. Whoever attacked you also stole your wallet."
    But what about my car?" asked Topham. "Surely you could have found out my identity from that?"
    "Your car was stolen, too," the inspector explained patiently. "So, you see, we've been completely in the dark. You were discovered on Tuesday night lying unconscious in the car park of the Sun Inn, where you had stopped for dinner that evening. That is all we know about you. Anyway, perhaps now you can give us the information we require."
    Topham told the inspector his name and address.
    "You're not married, are you, sir?" the inspector asked.

    "I'm a widower," Topham said." I've lived alone ever since my wife died three years ago. This year, as always, I went to spend my holiday by the sea. I decided to come back early because of the bad weather. On my way back to London I stopped at the Sun Inn for dinner…"
    The inspector nodded and waited for Topham to go on.
    "It was raining pretty hard when I came out of the hotel. I dashed towards the car park, where I had left my car. I had just unlocked the door and was getting in when a man stepped out of the shadows and asked me for a lift to London. Before I had time to reply, he attacked me. After that I can remember nothing until I woke up in hospital."

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