This is a continuation of a story I wrote some time ago.
If you would like to read it from the beginning, here is the link
The Investigation Begins
Having agreed to enter into a partnership to solve two murders that had recently taken place, Audrey Patterson got down to business with her new partner, Sir Alfred Thorpe, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan police.
In her elegantly decorated drawing-room, they sat and discussed tactics.
“So which of the two murders shall we tackle first, my dear?” Asked Alfred Thorpe, taking out his pipe and filling it.
“Personally I’d rather tackle the murder of my maid, Elsie, first. I take it personally that someone should want to murder my maid. She was only a young girl and, in a way, I was as responsible for her as a Mother. Even more so since she didn’t have one. She was a poor orphaned girl and only just turned twenty-one. She’d only been with me a few months, six at the most, but she had nice manners and my Cook liked her, which is saying something” responded Audrey.
“I think you will struggle, the police have combed the area the body was found and they asked around the community and couldn’t find any witnesses at all. You’d be better off tackling the other murder. That was personal in a way too. She was last seen at your party after all” He took out a match and puffing away at it, lit the contents, then realised he wasn’t in his home. “Oh, sorry, I forgot to ask if you mind my smoking? It helps me think.”
“No, not at all. I rather like the smell of Pipe tobacco, much more than cigarettes. Must we linger on the fact Claudia Halifax died after coming to my party, it does make me feel rather squeamish.”
“Come, come, my dear. You’ve got to have a stronger stomach than that if you’re serious about undertaking our own investigation.”
“Yes, you are quite right. I mustn’t be all weak and feeble. I need to toughen up. Firstly, I am going to do something I should have done first thing. I am going to speak to my Cook. She’ll be able to tell us something about Elsie, whether she had any boyfriends or anything like that. Then I am going to see Lord Halifax and talk to him about his wife, or actually, you might be better off doing that. He might discuss things with you about his true feelings about his wife that he mightn’t tell me. I was her friend, after all.”
“OK, you speak to your Cook and I’ll speak to Lord Halifax. We are members of the same club after all. Not that we move in the same circles. He is rather an ultra-conservative, you know, the hunting, shooting, fishing brigade.”
“You’re not into hunting are you?” Audrey asked, a look of concern in her china-blue eyes.
“No, That’s never been my cup of tea at all. Unless you count hunting criminals that is” He replied jokingly. They were becoming closer, he could feel it. He had never quite forgotten her. Even twenty years ago when he was looking into the murder of that scientist, he remembered one of the first things she’d said to him, ‘Was it Strychnine?’, and she was right too, it had been strychnine. Yes, Audrey Patterson was one of those women who’s memory would linger long after they’d left the room.
He stood up and pulled the bell pull to summon the maid.
The new maid, Alice, came in and bobbed a curtsey to her mistress.
“Yes Mam,” She said, in time-honoured fashion.
“Can you ask Mrs Buscombe if she could come and see me for a minute please Alice?”
“I’ll ask her Mam, but she’s up to her elbows in flour at the moment and she doesn’t like being disturbed mid-baking.”
“No, indeed, that’s quite so. Ask her if she’ll come and see me when she’s finished. Thank you, Alice.
Looking at his watch, It was half-past two in the afternoon, Alfred said “I’ll just go to my Club now. Lord Halifax is often there this time of day and I can tackle him about his wife.”
Having taken those first steps, the investigation had begun.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 08/August/2018