It is difficult to know where to begin this story, but I have chosen a particular Wednesday at the vicarage. This is because the conversation around the table contained details, which affected later developments.
I had just finished cutting some meat, which was very tough, and said, waving the knife in a way that was not at all appropriate for a vicar, that anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe would be doing the world a favour.
My young nephew, Dennis, said, 'We'll all remember that when the old man is found covered in blood. And Mary will describe how you waved the knife in a violent manner, won't you, Mary?'
But Mary, who is a servant at the vicarage, just put a dish of unpleasant-looking cabbage on the table and left the room.
'I am sorry that I am so useless at taking care of the house,' said my wife, whose name is Griselda. She is twenty years younger than I am, very pretty, and unable to take anything seriously.
'My dear,' I said, 'if you would only try...'
'But when I'm trying things just get worse. So it is better to leave things to Mary, who gives us awful things to eat. Now, tell me more about Colonel Protheroe.'
'Unpleasant man,' said Dennis. 'It is not surprising that his first wife left him.'
'Darling,' said Griselda, 'Why were you so angry with Colonel Protheroe? Was it anything to do with Mr Hawes?'
Hawes is our new curate, whom Colonel Protheroe dislikes.
'No, it was because of Mrs Price Ridley's pound note.'
Mrs Price Ridley, a member of my church, had put a pound note in the collection bag. Later, when she was reading the amount collected on the church notice board, she saw that no pound note had been received. So she complained to Colonel Protheroe, who is a churchwarden.
'He wants to look at all the Church accounts,' I said. 'He's coming here tomorrow evening so we can do it together. Does he think I have stolen Church money? But now I must get on with preparing my sermon. What are you doing this afternoon, Griselda?'
'My duty as the wife of a vicar. Tea and talk at four-thirty.'
'Who is coming?'