Statement of Simon Horatio Miller, 4:00 pm, November 3
Mr. Miller, what was your impression of your sister-in-law's state of health?
I would say it was pretty good, in general. She'd been having a little more trouble with her arthritis than she used to, and she had a bad knee, but considering her age she was doing quite well.
Was she ever ill when you and your wife visited her?
Well, she often complained that she wasn't feeling well and would retreat to her bedroom for an afternoon, but I never actually thought she was sick. I thought she was trying to get away from my wife. Beatrice is very affectionate, and she and Julia did like each other, but Julia found Beatrice rather trying at times. At least, that was my feeling. Julia never saw a doctor about her mysterious illnesses, as far as I know, and they would sometimes go away very conveniently if Beatrice decided to go shopping or something away from the house.
Did she seem ill any time during this visit?
No, actually. She was happy and well the whole time we were here. I think she enjoyed having many different guests around. She was looking forward to meeting George Edward's wife, because even though she and he didn't see eye to eye about ostrich farms she still loved her nephew very much. Having Jake Lewis around to talk ostriches with also cheered her up. She was even gracious about Beatrice's stuffed ostrich, and the taxidermy thing has been a point of tension in the past. I don't mind it, and I'm not sure why Julia did since she's raising ostriches for meat these days, but Julia's always given Beatrice a hard time about it.
What was your impression of Julia at the birthday dinner itself?
Lively, happy. She was enjoying herself wholeheartedly, I would say.
And the others at the party?
Everybody was having a good time, as far as I could tell. Deborah was pretty quiet, but I've noticed she gets that way sometimes. She was enjoying herself, too, though, in a sort of low-key way. I expect she felt she was responsible for making everything flow smoothly; she was keeping a surreptitious eye on everything. As for the others, George Edward's wife was positively bubbling; George Edward was himself-rather intense, but smiling; my wife was just happy, as was I; Jake Lewis was genially not-quite-comfortable.
What can you tell me about the fire at the motel?
I was awakened by pounding on the door. George Edward and his wife were there, screaming at us to get out, that there was a fire and that we were in great danger. I immediately pulled Beatrice from the bed and carried her outside. She was quite startled and started to shake uncontrollably. I was worried she was going to have a heart attack. She has had some heart problems. George Edward went to call 911, and a crowd of people, most from the motel rooms, were gathering. It was a while, I'm afraid, until I remembered that Ms. Forsythe was not among us. Luckily, she made it out. I blame myself for putting her at so much risk. If only we had the presence of mind to make sure everyone was out. It really pains me.
I see you are very upset. That's enough for now.