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Release date: 2022-12-01 07:25:56 Author:JEBBdvfY

"It's hard to be sure. I'm not a specialist in brain or head injuries, and even a specialist would hesitate to say. The damage may have penetrated deeper than we think. There may be haemorrhaging-it's often delayed in these cases."

"What-what do you think now, Dr Mason?"

"I see. By the way, isn't it a bit unusual to have only one stewardess aboard? On a trans-Atlantic flight, I mean?"

"I don't care. That was his name on the passenger list.... If I'd known, he wouldn't be dead now-and Miss Fleming wouldn't have had her collar-bone broken."

"We had an 'X' flight-an extra or duplicate charter for an overflow of passengers-out from London yesterday. Day before yesterday it is now, I suppose. We just stayed the night in Idlewild and had to return after we'd slept. The office phoned up people who had booked out on the evening plane, giving the chance of an earlier flight: ten of them accepted."

"I won't hold it against you," I smiled. There was no answering smile from her. Tell me, Miss Ross, why was the plane so empty?"

I looked at her, looked at the washed-out face, the faint blue circles forming under her eyes, and almost felt touched with pity. Almost. She was exhausted, and shivering with cold.

"You've nothing to reproach yourself with, Miss Ross. The captain must have been flying blind in the storm-and we're more than 8000 feet up here. Probably he'd no knowledge of what was going to happen until the actual moment of crashing." In my mind's eye I saw again the doomed airliner, landing lights on, circling our cabin for at least ten minutes, but if Miss Ross had any such thing in her mind's eye, it was impossible for me to detect it. She had no idea at all-or she was an extraordinarily good actress.

So that's what has been worrying her, I thought. That accounts for her strange distraught behaviour. And then a moment later I realised that it didn't account for it all-she had been behaving like that before ever she had known what had happened to any of the passengers. My slowly forming suspicions came back with renewed force: the lady would bear watching.

"Sorry, Miss Ross-it wasn't really meant as a dig. It doesn't matter anyhow."

I suggested that the four women sleep in the top bunks-not from any delicacy of sentiment but because it was at least twenty-five degrees wanner there than it was at ground level, and the proportional difference would increase as the night wore on after the stove had been put out. There were some half-hearted protests when they learnt that I intended to shut down the fire, but I didn't even bother arguing with them. Like all people who have lived for any length of time in the Arctic, I had an almost pathological dread of fire.

"Bed," I said. "You're dying for sleep and warmth, Miss- I'm so sorry, I forgot to ask your name."

So that's what has been worrying her, I thought. That accounts for her strange distraught behaviour. And then a moment later I realised that it didn't account for it all-she had been behaving like that before ever she had known what had happened to any of the passengers. My slowly forming suspicions came back with renewed force: the lady would bear watching.

"Bed," I said. "You're dying for sleep and warmth, Miss- I'm so sorry, I forgot to ask your name."

"It's hard to be sure. I'm not a specialist in brain or head injuries, and even a specialist would hesitate to say. The damage may have penetrated deeper than we think. There may be haemorrhaging-it's often delayed in these cases."

I suggested that the four women sleep in the top bunks-not from any delicacy of sentiment but because it was at least twenty-five degrees wanner there than it was at ground level, and the proportional difference would increase as the night wore on after the stove had been put out. There were some half-hearted protests when they learnt that I intended to shut down the fire, but I didn't even bother arguing with them. Like all people who have lived for any length of time in the Arctic, I had an almost pathological dread of fire.

"That wasn't fair!" I hadn't been as clever as I thought, and her white cheeks were stained with red. "That's never happened to me before. Never!"

"Of course. Hardly worth stewarding, you might say. Still," I went on smoothly, "it at least gives you time for the odd forty winks on these long night-flights."

"Ross. Margaret Ross."

"Yes," she murmured. "Thank you."

"Fifty-fifty. I wouldn't have said so a couple of hours ago, but he seems to have quite astonishing powers of resistance and recuperation. Better than an even chance, I would say-if he had the warmth, the food, the skilled nursing he would have in a first class hospital. As it is-well, let's leave it at that, shall we?"

"Probably," she murmured dully, "I don't know."

"Sorry, Miss Ross-it wasn't really meant as a dig. It doesn't matter anyhow."

"Probably," she murmured dully, "I don't know."

"Probably," she murmured dully, "I don't know."

"We had an 'X' flight-an extra or duplicate charter for an overflow of passengers-out from London yesterday. Day before yesterday it is now, I suppose. We just stayed the night in Idlewild and had to return after we'd slept. The office phoned up people who had booked out on the evening plane, giving the chance of an earlier flight: ten of them accepted."

So that's what has been worrying her, I thought. That accounts for her strange distraught behaviour. And then a moment later I realised that it didn't account for it all-she had been behaving like that before ever she had known what had happened to any of the passengers. My slowly forming suspicions came back with renewed force: the lady would bear watching.

"Yes. The man in the back seat-the dead man."

"But he hadn't a uniform on when-"

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