I have always been fascinated by bees. Their clockwork society would be of an inevitable attraction to someone of my interests, I suppose, and now that I have retired to the rural pleasures of Sussex I can indulge myself with a slow placed learning of their intricacies. I check my post with a rare sense of anticipation for the arrival of some queerly printed magazine from the north or my latest dusty find in the advertisements in the papers of a rare and out-of-print book on the subject that might offer me some new insight into processes I might try and even modify or improve. Yet there is no real need for improvement. Often I feel that the bees continue on in their own perfect way oblivious to my actions.
There is something more than mechanical about them. As with my other, more famous, creation they are greater than the sum of their parts. There is a sense, an instinct there that I do not claim to ever be able to understand, nor do I wish to, but I am slowly coming to perceive it and even trust it.
When I go out that morning there is a certain agitation about them. I put it down to the prediction for rain later in the day and make a note to myself that I should go to the village shop early. After my usual inspections I hear the rare sound of an automobile coming along the road and wonder if, perhaps, the bees are warning me of something else. I remove my veil and pack it away slowly. The vehicle appears to have stopped in front of my house although I am not able to see it yet. Visitors always irritate me. I consider for a moment whether to feign absence. The knock at the door, however, is one of those that indicates the person is likely to be persistent and best dealt with quickly. Although I rarely have much need for one these days I miss having a house keeper to handle such people for me.
I open the door to a middle-aged large-set man wearing a dark, oversize overcoat that gives him the appearance of a rather shabby beatle. His bearing, moustache and grubby boots tell me that he is a policeman.
"Doctor," he says. "Sir. My name is Inspector Grande. May I come in? The matter I need to discuss is of some urgency."
I look at him with a sense of annoyance.
"It always is." I say. I turn, leaving the door open to allow him to follow me. "The kitchen is through here. I imagine you'd like some tea."