I started writing a murder mystery some time ago, this is the next instalment.
See here for the previous story in the chain.
A Withered Blossom
Sir Alfred Thorpe had pulled a few strings and managed to arrange an interview with Police Constable Jones. Constable Jones had a regular beat that incorporated Lorrimer Park Crescent, its surrounding streets and the small park itself. Lady Audrey Patterson lived on that particular street and it was her maid, Elsie, who was found murdered in the park one morning a couple of weeks before.
The official enquiry had not uncovered anything at all. There had been no witnesses and so the case had gone cold.
Constable Jones was a smart young man in his early twenties. He stood straight-backed, his blond hair was neatly parted at the side and there was a questioning look in those honest blue eyes.
They were in one of the meeting rooms in Scotland Yard, where Sir Alfred’s connections, as former Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police force had held great sway.
“I suppose you are wondering why I have asked to speak to you” Sir Alfred began.
“Yes, Sir, I have been instructed by my Chief Constable to cooperate with you fully, but I don’t know what help I can be to you Sir” Constable Jones replied in a quiet and gentle voice that had a bit of a lilt to it.
“I understand that your usual beat encompasses Lorrimer Park where a young girl was found murdered a couple of weeks ago.”
“Yes Sir, but as I told the enquiry officer at the time, I was not on duty that night, that was Constable Sweeney. It was my night off and I had gone to the pictures.”
“Yes, but you were familiar with the young lady, weren’t you? You had been seeing her, hadn’t you Lad?”
The young man looked stunned and shaken by this question. Sir Alfred beckoned him to sit down in the chair and Constable Jones collapsed into it looking rather pale.
“I don’t know how you found out about it. I didn’t tell anyone and I was worried that if I declared it, it would blot my copybook, so to speak. I did know the lass, it’s true. We used to see each other regularly. She would make me a cup of tea on some evenings when I was on my beat. I know that isn’t strictly allowed, Sir, but it can be lonely and tiring on an all-night beat and it’s nice to have a cup of tea and someone to chat to.”
Sir Alfred Thorpe remembered his own days as a Constable on the beat. He had been one of the very few who had worked his way up from the very bottom. He too had taken refuge on long nights and been given a cup of tea by some of the servants in the big houses. That was how he had met his own dear departed wife, Molly. She’d been a Cook then. Yes, he understood and sympathised with Constable Jones.
“So you knew the young lady well?” said Sir Alfred, encouragingly.
“Yes, Sir. She was a pretty girl and I hoped it would blossom into a closer friendship If you get my drift. It was progressing quite well too, I used to take her to the pictures with me, for a treat, and she did get quite friendly. Then about a month ago she turned all cold. I invited her to the pictures but she never turned up, then she sent me a note saying as how she’d met someone else and didn’t think it was right to see me anymore. I admit I was quite cut up about it at first.”
“Do you know who this young man she’d started seeing was Constable?” asked Sir Alfred.
“No Sir. I got the impression it was someone with more money than I had. She was a nice girl but she was interested in things. She once wanted me to buy her something she’d seen in a shop window. It was a silk scarf. I told her that my wages didn’t cover buying such things. I think her new man provided them.”
“Really, what makes you think that Constable?” Sir Alfred leaned forward, as was his habit, to encourage the person to whom he was talking to give a little more information. This time the tactic worked.
“Well, I never saw her out with anyone but I did see her sometimes waiting in the park when I was on my beat. One evening she saw me coming and she was wearing her best clothes, very fancy she looked too. She took out a black silk scarf and wrapped it around her neck. It was the scarf that she had wanted but I wouldn’t buy for her. She wanted me to see it. That was the last time I saw her.”
“Thank you, Constable. You may go now.”
The young constable stood up. He didn’t look quite as confident as he had when he walked in. He bowed his head in respect then left the room.
Sir Alfred thought about the information he’d gathered. It was time to go and see Audrey and put their heads together.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 12/August/2018