Today’s things are: admire, loyal, fireplace
The Start of It.
Audrey Patterson hated wearing black. It was such an unbecoming colour, especially on the old. When she was younger, then it had looked fine on her tall frame, with diamonds sparkling around her neck. That had been during the Roaring Twenties and she had been young enough to get away with it. Now black made her old pale skin look even older. She’d had to wear these dreary clothes though. It didn’t do to wear any other colour at a funeral, especially one of an old friend like Claudia Halifax. People would think she was being callous if she’d worn a brighter colour.
She was very sad to lose her friend. Although Claudia was younger than her and had lived a more carefree existence with her entourage of young men she liked to keep about her, she had admired her a lot.
It had been a terrible shock to hear she had died. She’d been the picture of health at the party she’d given just a week ago, the night she died apparently. Audrey cast her mind back to that night. It had been so full of frivolity. Of course, a number of her friends were as old as she was, but she’d invited one or two younger things. Her great-nephew, Charles Lansdowne and his friends from the foreign office, were an example of the younger crowd. Claudia, though old enough to have been their mother, latched on to those boys and encouraged them to push back her dining room carpet and put some music on, culminating in a rather energetic dance called the ‘hokey cokey’. Yes, abundant with vigour she’d been that night and yet the next day she was found dead.
Coming right on top of the mysterious death of her Maid, Elsie, this other death had affected her badly. Looking into the mirror above the fireplace, she could barely recognise the woman who stared back at her. Although in her Sixties, many people used to comment how young she still looked. Not now though, in the past few weeks she felt she had aged another decade. She hadn’t slept at all well.
Elsie’s body had been found outside in the park, under a bush. She’d been strangled. The police had been unable to find out the perpetrator. Some madman, they had put it down to. Poor Elsie didn’t have any family or relations that could be traced. Audrey had hired her from an agency that specialised in domestic staff. Not many people wanted to work in service nowadays but Elsie, being an orphan, had wanted a comfortable roof over her head. She had got on well, although she hadn’t been what you’d call a hard worker, or particularly bright or efficient, she had a pleasant manner. Mrs Buscombe, her faithful and loyal cook, could have a rather prickly nature and had not always got on well with the Maids she’d recruited in the past. She seemed to have liked Elsie though.
The doorbell rang and her new maid, Alice, went to answer it. It was her friend, Sir Alfred Thorpe. He came bustling into the drawing-room banging his cane against a large Chinese vase and nearly knocking it over in his state of agitation. As he entered the room he brought with him the redolent aroma of pipe tobacco.
She had known Alfred Thorpe many years ago when he had been an Inspector at Scotland Yard and in charge of a murder case that she had inadvertently been caught up in. The death of a notable young scientist. Or so they had thought at the time. They had managed to get to the bottom of the crime only to have been silenced by the Secret Service. Although they now knew that everything had not been what it seemed. Alfred Thorpe was older than her by a few years but showed his age more acutely. His hair was entirely grey as was his bushy moustache. He walked slightly stooped and used a cane.
She smiled to see him. She always had known the Inspector had rather admired her, but now they have met again after all these years she had come to admire him too. In fact, these past few weeks he had been a great support and comfort. He was clearly agitated about something though.
“Alfred, you look quite beside yourself, sit down and I’ll ring for a nice cup of tea.”
“You’ll be agitated when I tell you what I have just heard. I just had lunch with an old friend of mine who is still working at Scotland Yard, Gerald Kirkham. He told me that your friend, Lady Halifax, didn’t die of a heart attack at all. She was strangled. Not only that, the Police haven’t a clue what happened. Her husband found her in the morning still in the clothes that she wore at a party the night before, she’d been dead for hours.”
“That was my party. That makes it personal somehow. First Elsie and now Claudia. Both deaths that the Police don’t seem to be able to solve. In Elsie’s case, I don’t suppose they really care. She was only a poor maid with no family. I care though, I care a great deal than here we are with two deaths and no one has been brought to justice. I think it’s about time we did something about this ourselves. You still have abundant connections in the police and I have read just about every crime novel that’s ever been written. If we put our heads together we may be able to find some clue that the police have missed. What do you say?”
The colour had come back to her cheeks as she stood staring down with her bright blue eyes at the man who used to be Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. He smiled back at her.
“OK. You’re On” he said.
That was the start of it.
The End, for now.
This story is a continuation of earlier stories with the same characters. If you enjoyed this you may wish to read these too.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 11/July/2018