A Trick of the Trade

Miss Flanagan was horrified at what she was hearing after returning from her short Autumn break.

Winnie Burke’s beau, 69-year-old newcomer to the area, Harry Beresford, had been accused of robbing a house half a mile away from Winnie’s house.

He was seen on his bicycle in the vicinity of the house by Benford native, Teresa Cunningham.

“Winnie’s in bits,” Essie Corcoran told her friend, Miss Flanagan, over the corner shop counter. “Apparently, apart from Teresa spotting Harry getting away in a hurry on his bike a bit of that chewing gum – you know the stuff that people chew to help them stop smoking – was found in Tom Rafferty’s house and they’re saying it was definitely Harry’s so it’s looking like he hasn’t a leg to stand on. He’s denying it, of course, and Winnie doesn’t know what to believe, and her planning on marrying him! She’d want to be thinking twice, I’d say!” “It looks like I haven’t come back a minute too soon,” Miss Flanagan said, concerned.

Her opinion of Harry, someone that she’d met on only two occasions, was that he was a big teddybear of a man.

This accusation just didn’t fit. Just then her phone rang. It was Winnie Burke. “Thank God you’re back, Brigid. Please come over straight away.”

Miss Flanagan rang her friend, Sergeant Reilly, before she hopped on her bike. “Can’t tell you much, Brigid, but you have it right – Harry Beresford was seen and the forensics are tying him to the place. A good bit of jewellery was stolen so it’s considerable enough of a theft.” Harry was at Winnie’s house when she got there, along with Winnie’s nephew, Cecil, and Cecil’s girlfriend, Dot. Harry was looking very downcast. “I can’t believe it – that anyone would think I’d do such a dreadful thing! I’d never rob anyone!” “You have to find out who did, Brigid, so that everyone will know that Harry didn’t do it,” Winnie said.

Miss Flanagan took copious notes. No, Harry had no alibi for the morning of the robbery. He was at his own house in the village he said and had stayed in bed late as he had a cold. The first thing he knew about the robbery was when the Gardai turned up at his door. “It’s a mess all right,” Cecil Burke said. “Nothing’s worse than being accused in the wrong.” “Bummer, yeah,” said Dot, his girlfriend.

At least Harry had support from Winnie and her family. It would be important that people believed him until she could sort this out properly. “I will certainly try to do all I can,” she said, before leaving for the witness, Teresa Cunningham’s house. “It was him all right,” Teresa said. “You’re sure? Perhaps you’d tell me exactly what you told the Gardai?” “Certainly. I was coming home from Kilmullen after leaving my daughter to school like I do every morning and as I approached the Rafferty’s house I saw that English man, Harry Beresford, cycling out of the entrance, at speed, and up the road. I’d have known him anywhere. Who else is that stout build, has side-locks and wears them tweedy-looking trousers tucked into his socks?” “You saw his face?” Teresa now looked a bit flustered. “Well, not exactly, he was wearing that cycling helmet of his and his glasses! Of course it was him!”

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