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datatime: 2022-12-04 06:18:33 Author:jCvWHOdW

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

"Quite sure. I always peek through the cabin door from time to time, and he was always there."

"Because by knowing who was there, we might find out who wasn't."

"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."

"Quite sure. I always peek through the cabin door from time to time, and he was always there."

"They? Who were 'They'?"

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

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.

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

"Because by knowing who was there, we might find out who wasn't."

"Who were in the front two seats-those nearest the galley?"

"Yes. They all seemed to crowd down past the middle-"

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.

"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."

"Quite sure. I always peek through the cabin door from time to time, and he was always there."

"I'm sorry. It-it did seem unimportant, unrelated to anything. That was hours before the crash, so-"

"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."

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

"All right." I changed my approach. "This was the men's washroom, I take it?"

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

"They? Who were 'They'?"

"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?"

"An hour? But the cigarette end-"

"An hour? But the cigarette end-"

"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."

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