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By Robert Hans van Gulik

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Extra resources for The willow pattern: A Judge Dee detective story (Warner paperback library)

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The judge interrupted. 36 'Yes sir. There was a man with her every time. I ... I spied on them once. Because I had heard her sing, here in the gallery. . Such a sweet, beautiful voice! ' the judge asked impatiently. The youngster hesitated. He wiped his face with his sleeve, then he began slowly: 'Well, I couldn't see him clearly, sir, the courtyard being so badly lighted. He was a tout or ... a bully, I suppose, for he was heavily built, a real giant. And he carried a hand drum. But her I saw clearly sir.

As you see from the shards I put together, it was a vase with a long thin neck and a heavy base. But the murderer struck him down before he could use it, for there is no trace of blood on any of the shards. Yee let the vase drop, and it broke to pieces on the floor. ’ Judge Dee said. 'But how do you know that Yee took the flower vase in his hand? ' Tao Gan picked up one larger shard and held it close to the candle. With his thin, bony forefinger he pointed at a brown, sticky smudge. "This shard formed part of the slender neck of the vase.

To the right the steep outer wall of the mansion terminated in another square watchtower. The canal made a sharp bend there, so the rest of its course was concealed from his view. 37 He threw a casual look at the two-storeyed house on the opposite bank of the canal, in the bight. So that was the house of Yee's friend Hoo, 'the marshal'! It was built in the elegant style of a country villa, the curved roof-points of its upper storey standing out against the lowering sky. There was a narrow balcony above a row of willow trees; their long branches hung limply down.

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