This story is a continuation of a story I started writing a while ago.
If you’d like to read the previous instalment see here:
You may also wish to read this:
A Questionable Reaction
Sir Alfred Thorpe was carrying out his little investigation. He had entered his club, which was situated on a quiet street in Mayfair. The man at the front desk was a little surprised to see him. It was not his usual time or day. He didn’t usually come to the club midweek, or during the daylight hours, however, the man he was hoping to see preferred the comfort of his own home in the evenings but was likely to be here at this time of day.
“Is Lord Cedric Halifax in the club, George?” he addressed the man behind the desk, whose name was actually Colin but he’d learnt long ago that the distinguished members of the club were not to be corrected. He didn’t mind answering to the name George, it was better than some he’d been called.
“Yes, Sir Alfred, I believe he is currently in the Library on the third floor.”
“Hmm, yes, I wanted to have a word with him, but I know the Library has a strict no talking rule. Is one of the smaller meeting rooms free?”
“Yes Sir, the Green Room is available. Shall I book it for you now, Sir?”
“Thank you, George, and can you send a message to Lord Halifax and ask if he would be so good as to join me in the Green Room? Also, am I right in thinking that Lord Halifax prefers Single Malt Whisky?”
“Yes, Sir Alfred, he likes a nice, dark peaty Whisky, Glendonagh or Tobermory are his favourites.”
“Excellent, please send me in a bottle of the Tobermory, that should oil the wheels a bit.”
As he passed through the various rooms of the club, the aromas of various types of tobacco, Cigarette, Cigar and Pipe, mingled to provide a pungent mix. Several of the old gentlemen were asleep in big armchairs. The atmosphere could hardly be described as effervescent, but after all, that is not what they wanted. A quiet place to read a newspaper, discuss a little politics and escape from their wives is what most members required. Sir Alfred came there to get away from the fact that his house was now missing his wife. He missed having someone to talk to, particularly in the evenings and so the Club provided that, although of course only a masculine version of it. Women were strictly not allowed. He often wished they were, but he had high hopes that his friendship with Audrey Patterson was heading in a profitable direction.
He went into the Green Room, so-called because the carpet and the curtains at the window were a rich green. A large desk stood in the middle of the room and that had a green leather top with matching green leather chairs. It was not a big room, but Ideal for the meeting that he had in mind. He sat back in one of the leather chairs and one of the waiters brought in a bottle of Tobermory Single malt whisky and two lead crystal glasses on a silver tray.
“I have asked Lord Halifax to join you and he said he would come along in a short while, he has something he wished to complete first. Is there anything else you wish, Sir?”
“Some Soda, if you don’t mind.”
The waiter left and returned with the soda syphon, he had a look on his face that clearly disapproved of the Soda. He had detected a bit of Scottish in the man’s accent, so perhaps he was a purist when it came to his whisky. He had never really developed a taste for it neat. The whisky was really for the benefit of his guest.
He had just lit his pipe when a smartly dressed man, aged about seventy, came into the room.
“Ah, you are Sir Alfred Thorpe, I take it?” The man extended his hand.
“And you are Lord Cedric Halifax, I assume?” He shook the hand and indicated the other chair.
He poured out a Whisky and handed it to Lord Halifax, who spoke again. His voice was very refined and gruff.
“I’ve heard of you, you’re a bigwig in the Police, aren’t you?”
“Well, I used to be. I was Chief Commissioner in the Metropolitan police towards the end of the war. I’m retired now, of course.”
“That’s where you earned your title, I suppose. I didn’t have to earn mine. It’s been handed down, generation upon generation since the Normans came.”
He suspected he was supposed to be impressed. He made a noncommittal noise which he hoped would satisfy the noble Lord.
“I wanted to offer you my condolences on the loss of your wife,” he said, looking into the Lord’s eyes to see his reaction.
“It was an abominable thing. An abominable thing” he responded, in a very ‘stiff upper lip’ way. Without any clear emotion.
“I wondered if you’d tell me a bit more about it?” Sir Alfred encouraged.
“What for, eh? Can’t bring the poor girl back, can we? I remember when I first met her. Pretty little thing, not long since she’d stopped playing with her dolls. I was older than her, forty, the gay old bachelor, and my Mother was worried that we weren’t going to have an heir, she urged this young filly on me. She was only twenty, but she seemed to like me well enough. Got married. Never did have any children. The estates going to a distant cousin when I go. Unless he goes first.” The Lord seemed to realise he had actually opened up a bit more than he usually did. It was often said that Sir Alfred had a knack for relaxing people and getting them to talk. Having realised it, however, the Lord pulled himself together and the wall that had briefly come down, went up again quickly.
“What business is it of yours anyway, may I ask?” Lord Halifax asked rather brusquely.
“Well, I could use my skills and influence to find out who murdered your wife.” Sir Alfred responded.
“Who said it was murder? How did you find that out? I told the police, there was no point in dragging the good family name through the mud. I didn’t want any fuss. The poor girl was gone, killed by some maniac, someone completely crackers, off his head. No one in their right mind could have done that to her. Her face was all blotchy and swollen. Such a pretty face it had been too. No, I won’t hear of it.”
“Had she any enemies, or any men friends?” Sir Alfred enquired persistently.
“Look, I don’t know what you’ve heard but it’s all a load of piffle. I don’t have anything more to say.” And with that, Lord Cedric Halifax stormed out of the room.
Sir Alfred thought about Lord Halifax’s rather questionable reaction, then he saw the expensive bottle of Single Malt Whisky with only two glasses gone. He hoped they wouldn’t charge him for the whole bottle.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 10/August/2018
This story was influenced and inspired by the following word prompts:
Today’s things are: dolls, crackers, questionable